Lots happened at City Council besides train whistles

I recently attended the Nov. 12 City Council meeting and have a few observations. I wanted to see if as many people were concerned about the train whistles as had been about the City Council attempting to ban the roosters in Baker City last August. As I climbed the stairs to the first floor there was a group of five or six people standing there with white tags on their shirts with the words “Safer, Quieter and Healthier Baker City (SQHBC).” A young woman approached me and asked if I was going to the Safer, Quieter and Healthier meeting. I said, “No, I’m going to the City Council meeting.” Upon with she lost total interest in me.

The City Council room was packed, standing room only. The SQHBC group leaders gave a Powerpoint presentation about the problems that the whistles create. After the City Council voted to file a notice of intent to apply for a Quiet Zone designation, there was applause and a few cheers from the crowd. Then all but eight or 10 people got up and filed out of the room, victorious. This was too bad as the next topics, Curfew/Truancy; Simplot buying land at the Elkhorn Industrial Park for $235,620 to build a storage and distribution plant, thus creating jobs; Economic and Community Development did not seem to hold their interest.

The SQHBC group could have heard some very important discussions between County Commission Chairman Bill Harvey and the City Council. Mr. Harvey’s passion for economic and community development for the entire Baker County, not just the town’s Main Street was heartfelt. He said that the County’s most valuable resource is its children and if we want them to stay here we had better develop decent jobs for them around the whole county. Baker City gets two chances at tourists’ dollars, while the outlying areas only get one.

The Chief of Police, Duman, had been sitting behind me and got up to leave the meeting. Since the meeting was almost over, it was 9:45 p.m., and things were getting kind of heated between Mr. Harvey and Mayor Joseph I got up and followed the Chief out. I introduced myself to him and thanked him for attending the lengthy meeting. He said that he tries to attend as many of the meetings as he can. And then he said something else, “how else am I getting to know just what all is going on in this town?” WOW.

Roger LeMaster

Baker City

School district needs to be more thrifty with budget

My father graduated high school from the historical Central School. I attended kindergarten there and my husband and son went to junior high in that grand old building. Through neglect and abuse, the school board tried to condemn it, but failed because it was built strong to last. They tried selling it and finally gave it to some program?!

Many of us answered surveys and gave suggestions for two different committees, with no results reported. Now a third committee has been formed. Why? Transparency is not the school board’s policy.

First, the Central Building debacle mentioned above.

Second, purchasing land for a new megaschool that we voters rejected.

Third, hiring an architect to design that school we neither need or want.

Fourth, your expensive campaign “For the Kids” to shame voters into compliance was insulting. We saw through it and voted you down.

Fifth, purchasing property near Brooklyn for parking space.

Sixth, the Baker Charter Schools are buying a new office building across town that was not built for a school or students.

What is going on with this rogue spending? It is our hard-earned tax money and we want to see it spent wisely.

There are common-sense solutions. Like: modernize the Central Building for K-6. Create a beautiful K-8 campus for our students, where they are in a safer and central location. (Portland passed a bond to fix up three 100+-year-old schools.) Use Brooklyn for the online school and other programs. You already own this property and it can house offices as well as students. Use some of the playground for parking, not new lots. In time South Baker could be sold to help finance the Helen Stack campus.

Since Baker High has extra room, keep it for high school students only and bring back vocational programs. Teach them job skills and help solve Oregon’s graduation rate, which is disgracefully the lowest in the nation.

We citizens are taxed to the teeth and trying to be thrifty — the school board needs to show respect and do the same.

Patricia Hanley

Baker City

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(1) comment

Dan Collins

If we're counting numbers in regards to the train whistle, you ain't got them. Many of us enjoy that train whistle. Are we just supposed to roll over because you don't? Unless you want to bareknuckle it, you should put your gloves on. Fight coming...

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