Why did commissioners even consider a new 2nd Amendment ordinance?
As one of the chief petitioners of the Baker County Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance that was passed by our county voters in 2018 by nearly 70%, I have watched with skepticism at the recent attempt by our county commissioners to install yet another ordinance of the same type, but with some glaring and contrasting differences.
First off, the commissioners’ proposed ordinance moves from our understanding of the Second Amendment as articulated in the 2018 ordinance to now be at the sole discretion of judicial review. Second, their ordinance omitted the entire section of the 2018 ordinance which clearly listed the penalties for local government servants violating the clear meaning of the state and federal constitutions. Third, gone is the people’s reasonable expectation of our Sheriff if and when the Oregon partisan supermajority Legislature passes unconstitutional laws affecting our right to bear arms. Lastly, the commissioners list several ORS rules that stand in stark contrast to the Bill of Rights by giving them full acknowledgement as to not be challenged.
I find it suspicious that Commissioner Bennett chalks this attempt up to a “clerical” error wherein he and Bill Harvey weren’t aware of the existing 2018 ordinance that is already in effect by the voice of we the people. How could they have not known the 2018 ordinance existed when it has been posted on their county website and was the topic of much discussion in open forums leading up to the general election 15 months ago?
With extreme anti-Second Amendment legislation gripping the country in a way that clearly eviscerates the Bill of Rights and the very foundation of America, it appears that our county leadership attempted to further empower the government, not the people. I understand they are now withdrawing their proposal. But my question still remains, why this attempt in the first place?
Anthony Lakes officials explain goals behind their application
After receiving feedback concerning the article published by the Baker City Herald editor on Friday, January 30, 2020, titled “Jubilee Future Unsure,” the Baker County Development Corporation (BCDC) and Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort (ALMR) seeks to clarify our goals and priorities with regards to our endeavors and how they relate to the community. The article implied that if ALMR/BCDC receives the visitor services contract for Baker County that Miners Jubilee would be in jeopardy. This statement is inaccurate as there are not Miners Jubilee responsibilities that go with the Visitor Center contract. It seems to us that the future of Miners Jubilee is up to 0the new group assuming the Broncs and Bulls event and the Chamber of Commerce.
There has been some misinformation about BCDC/ALMR that we want to clear up. In 2009, BCDC was gifted ALMR by four individual owners based on the west side of Oregon. The BCDC board of directors was established in 2009, which consists of five local businessmen and women. The board members of BDCD understood the importance of keeping the ski area operating; not only for local ski enthusiasts and for the local youth, but also the importance of the ski area’s local tourism impact on Eastern Oregon. BCDC is a nonprofit organization that is the sole owner of ALMR, a for-profit business. 100% of the revenues of these organizations are used to create local jobs, improve upon existing infrastructures and promote local economic development.
The BCDC Mission Statement reads:
“To have local economic development enrich the lives of Baker, Union, and Grant County residents through educating, and encouraging year-round outdoor cultural, historic, and tourism activities, improve the physical and mental well-being of the general public, and ensure that all activities are provided in an affordable manner.”
Last year, ALMR was approached by local business owners and community members asking if ALMR would consider submitting a proposal for the Visitor Services contract. BCDC and ALMR reviewed the Request for Proposal (RFP) and identified areas where Baker County could expand and grow current Visitor Services in line with the BCDC Mission and benefit Baker County Tourism as a whole. As a result, ALMR submitted a proposal to the Transient Lodging Tax Committee (TLTC) in response to the RFP for Visitor Services for Baker County in December of 2019. The RFP as well as the past budget for the Visitors Center was and is public information.
Over the last 11 years, BCDC and ALMR have embarked on ventures directly related to growing tourism for our County and region, providing youth outdoor recreation opportunities, creating local jobs, as well as maintaining and improving essential community resources. This has included assuming management of seven Forest Service campgrounds which were previously managed by an out-of-state company with all dollars generated through these campgrounds leaving the County and State. The primary reason behind ALMR assuming management of these campgrounds was and is local job creation, employee retention, growing tourism in our region, and it is our mission statement.
In 2017, ALMR worked with Flagstaff Sports on opening The Trailhead in order to maintain an outdoor recreation retail store in Baker City when Flagstaff Sports was planning to close. ALMR worked closely with Flagstaff to see this much needed asset to our community continue. The Trailhead was created to be an information hub for all locals and visitors alike for all things outdoors as well as providing ski and bike service. We continue to see more and more visitors coming to Baker County specifically for outdoor recreation and we did feel the importance of having this asset continue.
In spring of 2019, the City of Baker approached BCDC and asked if BCDC would consider assuming the management of Quail Ridge Golf Course. BCDC was approached by the city because of the city’s familiarity with the positive results BCDC has achieved in similar ventures over the past 10 years. While this is the first year under BCDC management, BCDC is viewing Quail Ridge very similar to Anthony Lakes Ski Area. Quail Ridge should be a significant asset to tourism in Baker County. It is viewed as an opportunity to draw more visitors not just to the course itself, but to Baker County.
From 2009 to 2020, BCDC/ALMR has grown from employing one year-round employee and 20 part-time winter employees to employing 78 employees during the winter months and 43 employees during the summer months. We have a total annual payroll of over $850,000, all of which is generated and stays in Baker County. The proposal ALMR submitted to assume management for Visitor Services was accepted and recommended by the TLTC by a vote of 5-1 based on ALMR’s consideration of how to grow this service in a way that will complement our County’s needs and will invest back into our County. In addition, BCDC has the resources to ensure that the County dollars designated for Visitor Services are applied directly to Visitor Services and not misallocated to other areas or considered personal income. The proposal is public record and we encourage anyone interested to review it.
Based on the “Jubilee Future Unsure” article, BCDC/ALMR would like to provide further information with regards to how we plan to grow the Visitor Center for Baker County. ALMR plans to send the Visitor Center Director to all of the towns in Baker County on a regular basis to meet in person with city officials to listen to community tourism goals and address concerns. In addition, ALMR will research other visitor centers and review comparable services throughout the state and region to identify new creative and productive methods to improve the Visitor’s Center and reach a higher return on investment for the $70,000 contract. This report will be provided to the TLTC prior to the contract date starting April 1 of this year. ALMR is also looking to provide more opportunities to capitalize on the approximately 10,000 vehicles that pass through our county each day.
We did find it disappointing to not have an opportunity to speak to the “Jubilee Future Unsure” article prior to it being published as a lot of facts are misrepresented or missing. Most importantly that the RFP for Visitor Services was written for exactly that, Visitor Services, and in no way mentioned these dollars should be used for anything other than Visitor Services. ALMR general manager has already met with the Chamber Board and had a very productive meeting to ensure all activities by the Chamber are supported in any way possible. ALMR will provide the Chamber of Commerce with any support they require to ensure Miners Jubilee continues. BCDC’s successful business model has been built on transparent partnerships with our local community, agencies, volunteers and a phenomenal local employee base. The goal going forward is to continue that trend.
Peter Johnson is general manager for Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort. John Wilson is chairman of the board of directors for the Baker County Development Corporation.