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LOSTINE, OR: Man please not guilty at growing over 160 pot plants


A Lostine man charged with growing 161 pot plants and endangering six children has pleaded not guilty in Wallowa County Circuit Court.

Jay Butzien failed to appear for his plea hearing earlier this month. Butzien's lawyer told Judge Brian Dretke he had been admitted to Wallowa Memorial Hospital the morning of his court date.


Dretke asked the court to schedule a three-day trial for Butzien, who is up on charges of unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful manufacture of marijuana, six counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, six counts of reckless endangering, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm.


Butzien’s wife, Angela Eckhardt, is on probation for unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful manufacture of marijuana, six counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, six counts of reckless endangering and frequenting a place where controlled substance are used.

LA GRANDE, OR: Tourism on the rise in Union County

Tourism officials say visitors are increasing

Getting tourists to stop in Union County can sometimes be a tough sell- but tourism efforts have been paying off in recent years.  Union County Tourism Director Kristen Dollarhide says that, contrary to some rumors, the number of tourists locally is on the rise.  Dollarhide says someone looked at one report showing transient room funds were down and concluded that meant tourism was down overall when in fact it’s been increasing every year for several years:  "We look at many different reports- one that everyone bases theirs on is the Dean Runyan reports and the numbers look good- the numbers are up."

But, she admits that thing can always be better.  Dollarhide says to get where people want the county to be is going to take a little work and cooperation: "I think we need to figure out what’s going to draw people here.  One of the things is working cooperatively with our surrounding counties- so Umatilla, Wallowa and Baker County."

Dollarhide says it’s also important for Union County residents to remember that they’re often the best ambassadors for the county when they encounter people passing through the area that ask questions.

LA GRANDE, OR: EOU softball drops their final two regular season games

Regular season ends for EOU softball

The College of Idaho Yotes used two strong pitching performances and kept the Eastern Oregon University softball teams offense quiet for the majority of the day as the Yotes swept the Mountaineers, 3-0 and 6-3, in Cascade Collegiate Conference action on Wednesday.  The Mountaineers were limited to nine hits on the day and only scored in the final inning of game two.
Game One – Nickayla Skinner kept the Mountaineers off balance during game one, as she struck out 12 batters, walked one and hit one batter in seven innings of work to defeat Eastern Oregon, 3-0.
Mariebeth Watanabe led off the game with a double down the left field line. She advanced to third base on a Katie Martell ground out. With two out and a runner on third Stephanie Maestretti drew a walked but both Watanabe and Maestretti were stranded on base and Cassie Wendt grounded out to end the inning.
The Yotes broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the second inning. Destiny Turner led off the inning with a walk. With Katie Rowe up to bat, Turner stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Mountaineer's catcher. Turner scored on a fielding error by EOU and took a 1-0 lead. McKensie Stanton drove home the second run of the inning for College of Idaho as she doubled to left center.
College of Idaho added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Yotes loaded the bases with two outs, but a passed ball allowed Skinner to score from third base to extend its lead to 3-0 over the Mountaineers.
After the first inning the Mountaineers did not get a runner past first base. Brittnee Carman-Rice recorded the second hit for EOU in the top of the fifth inning but the next three hitters were retired.
EOU dropped game one, 3-0, to College of Idaho.
Game Two – The Yotes and Mountaineers were locked in a pitching duel to start the second game as neither team's offenses could figure out the pitchers.  Lindsey Walchli and Cortni Pena kept the teams off the bases until the bottom of the fourth.

College of Idaho broke the game wide open in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Yotes scored six runs in the frame. With the bases loaded and one out, Paige Gabiola singled to left field, which scored the first two runs of the game. College of Idaho was not done, as the Yotes loaded the bases after a Briana Brace walk. With the bases loaded and Ashley Van Horne at bat, Walchli threw a wild pitch which allowed every runner to advance a base and put College of Idaho on top 3-0. Van Horne followed with a single up the middle to score two more and extend the lead to 5-0. Van Horne came around to score on a single by Turner extending the Yotes lead to 6-0 after four innings of play.
The Mountaineers offense came to live in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Andrea Roeder singled to lead off the inning. She advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Pena. With Roeder on second base, Pena got Watanabe to fly out for the second out of the inning. JoElla Smith reached base on a Yotes fielding error, which scored Roeder putting EOU on the board. On a 2-2 count Katie Martell put the Mountaineers down three, 6-3, after hitting a two run home run over the left field fence. However that would be all the Mountaineers would get as EOU dropped game two, 6-3.
Eastern Oregon recorded seven hits in the second game and was led by Mariebeth Watanabe and Katie Martell, who had two hits apiece.

BAKER CITY, OR: Books, books and more books coming to Baker


How many books can Baker County buy with 49K?

It’s a question The Baker County Community Literacy Coalition will have to answer - after receiving an early literacy grant in the amount of $49,122.

Community literacy coordinator, Jim Tomlinson says the grant will be used to help improve children’s early literacy skills and increase readiness for kindergarten.

For more information email Jim Tomlinson jst03171@yahoo.com

BAKER CITY, OR: Man accused of trying to strangle a woman

Baker City man accused of trying to strangle a woman in her Baker City apartment

A Baker City man is in jail accused of trying to strangle a woman in her Baker City apartment.

Baker city officers responded to an apartment complex in the city, where a tenant could hear a woman screaming for help.

After officers investigated – they said 42 year old, James Keister had forcibly held down his domestic partner and blocked her airway.

Keister was arrested for strangulation and harassment.

The parole and probation department also issued a detainer for Keister, for violating terms of his probation.

This case will be taken to the grand jury for review of these charges and potentially additional charges.

BAKER CITY, OR: Water rate hike


Last night the Baker City Council unanimously voted in favor of a 6.6 percent water rate increase.

The fee hike consists of two parts. Five percent of the fee boost will cover the cost of projected debt service for a safe drinking water revolving loan fund.

The other portion of the hike — about 1.6 percent — is routine boost tied to the consumer price index. The fee increase takes effect in July.

Along with the water hike, the council passed a 1.6 percent cost of living increase on ambulance rates.

City Manager, Mike Kee said by far the highlight of Tuesday’s council meeting was a surprise check presentation.

The South Baker student council raised $1000.00 for the Geiser-Pollman Park project and handed over the check at last night’s meeting.

The group of students are also collecting money to buy a bench for the park project worth $750.00. Kee says they’ve raised $500.00 so far.


LA GRANDE: Interim EOU President wants to build bridges with region

With so much going on at Eastern Oregon University right now- a sharp decline in enrollment, financial issues forcing another 5% budget cut and the departure of the top two administrators- it’s easy to see how some people could look at it in a negative light.  Incoming Interim President Jay Kenton says part of what his job as will be is to reconnect EOU with the region:  "I have this notion of shared responsibility for EOU in the region, for people that have gone there or care very deeply for the institution."

That includes connections with high school students, EOU grads and businessmen.  But Kenton says his early focus will be on finances during the time he’s on campus:  "Hopefully we can find ways to increase and diversify revenues, but I think we’ll also be in the situation where we have to look at the expenditure side."

Dr. Kenton says the trick is to make cuts that will help strengthen the University and not minimize the quality education.

EOU Home icon and link

LA GRANDE: Union County Republicans to hold candidates forum

Union County Republicans will be hosting a candidates forum next Wednesday evening at the Homestead Country Gathering Building on McAlister Lane.  The evening will feature both candidates for House District 58- JohnTurner and Greg Barreto.  They will also have Congressional candidate Dennis Linthicum  who is challenging Greg Walden, and three of the five Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will be at the meeting.  The forum begins at 6:30.

Community Outreach

BAKER: Congressman Greg Walden to hold townhall Saturday

Congressman Greg Walden will make a swing through parts of Eastern Oregon this weekend.  He will travel 1,600 miles through ten counties on Friday and Saturday.  Part of his plans include a townhall meeting Saturday morning at the Geiser Grand in Baker City.  The meeting starts at 8 am and is open to members of the public.

Greg Walden Congressman.jpg

LA GRANDE: EOU softball team ends their season on the road

The Eastern Oregon University softball team will travel to Caldwell this afternoon for a Cascade Conference doubleheader against the College of Idaho.  It’s the last regular season games for the Lady Mountaineers.

Gracie Flyg

BAKER CITY, OR: Baker has the best beer in the world?


Barley Brown’s Brew Pub in Baker City has won gold in the 2014 World Beer Cup.

The World Beer Cup takes place every two years. This year’s competition was held in Denver, Colorado and included more than 4,754 entries from 1,403 breweries in 58 countries.

Turmoil, the Cascadian Dark Ale now gives the Baker City brewery bragging rights to boast the best American Black Ale in the world.

World beer cup winners were selected by an international panel of over 200 beer judges from 31 countries.

BAKER CITY, OR: Baker City Mayor has served the city demanding money

Baker City Mayor Richard Langrell has served the city with papers demanding that the city honor what he terms a contract and reimburse him several thousand dollars in water and sewer bills he and his wife paid over a 10-year period.

In January Langrell’s attorney wrote the city a letter demanding almost 15 thousand dollars.

City officials denied the request and insist the city doesn't owe Langrell anything.

City Manager Mike Kee says he was served with a copy of Langrell's request this morning.

Kee referred questions to the city's attorney, Brent Smith.

BAKER CITY, OR: Special medical marijuana meeting

The Baker County Board of Commissioners will have a special meeting Wednesda at the Courthouse, 1995 Third St. in Baker City.

The agenda includes a proposed ordinance instituting a moratorium on opening medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Baker City Council has already approved a one-year moratorium on such businesses, as allowed by a law the legislature passed in March.

BAKER CITY, OR: Baker City Council will decide if the water rate will rise

Baker City Council will decide if your water rate will rise tonight.

The proposed 6.6-percent fee hike consists of two parts.

Five percent of the fee boost will cover the cost of projected debt service for a safe drinking water revolving loan fund.

That low-interest, $2 million loan will be used to underwrite part of the UV water treatment project.

The other portion of the hike — about 1.6 percent — is routine boost tied to the consumer price index.









LA GRANDE: School district has 'wish list' for facilities

Over the winter, nearly fifty members of the La Grande community met monthly to discuss the facility needs of the La Grande School District in preparation to ask voters to approve a bond levy.  What the committee came up with was a list of nearly $32 million in dire needs for the district- but their wish list included even more according to Superintendent Larry Glaze:  "One is the replacement of Greenwood elementary.  It’s a little new than Central, but not a lot."

Glaze says at some point in the near future, the district will have to look at replacing that school, too.  Some of the other things on the wish list include adding more room to the Middle School:  "Our Middle School is running full up, and they’re converting staff rooms into classrooms, and it’s a tight fit."

The list also includes rebuilding the track and the tennis courts at the high school.  District officials are working now to gather community input on what they want to see done.


ELGIN: The search begins for three councilors, Mayor

Four seats on the Elgin City Council will be up for grabs in the November election, and city officials want people to start thinking about running now if they’re interested.  The council seats and the seat of Mayor Brent Linville are up for election, and so far none of the incumbents have indicated whether or not they will run.  Anyone interested in running can get information on the petition process at City Hall.  The deadline to turn petitions in is in late August.

NE OREGON: Baker baseball loses, La Grande, Union in action today

The Baker baseball team lost to Bishop Kelly in Boise 8-0 last night.  Tonight the La Grande Varsity will take on DeSales at 4:00 while the JV will play in Union at 4:00.


Photo courtesy of The La Grande Observer

LA GRANDE: Chad Smith hired as new La Grande football coach

Chad Smith has been hired as the new head football coach at La Grande High School according to Athletic Director Bill Burns.  Smith has spent several seasons as an assistant coach in South Albany and in Madras.  He was one of nine people that applied for the open position, and members of the search committee were pleased with his football knowledge and his enthusiasm.  He replaced Kenny Mace who resigned at the end of last season.  Smith was also hired as a special education instructor at the high school.  He will begin meeting with players next week.

Chad S.

LA GRANDE: Firefighters make quick work of Boise Cascade fire

A fire yesterday morning at the Boise Cascade particle board plant could have been much worse.  According to officials, the fire was reported just before 8:30.  The La Grande Rural Fire Department responded with two engines and called for mutual aid from departments around the valley.  Firefighters were able to quickly control the fire and no significant damage was reported.

Boise Cascade

BAKER CITY, OR: Man injured near Huntington

A Baker City man received minor injuries Monday morning after reportedly falling asleep while driving and crashing into a metal highway sign post along Interstate 84 about ten miles west of Huntington in eastern Oregon. The man was extricted and taken to a Baker City hospital for treatment of injuries.

According to Sergeant Ty Duby, on April 21, 2014 at approximately 7:30 a.m., a 1993 Geo four-door driven by HECTOR TORRES, age 25, from Baker City, was westbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 333 when the car traveled off the freeway and rolled before coming to rest against a metal highway sign post. TORRES was extricated by personnel from Huntington Fire Department and Baker City Fire/Ambulance. He was using safety restraints and was transported by ambulance to St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City.

OSP troopers from the Baker City work site responded to investigate. TORRES was cited by OSP for Fail to Drive Within Lane.

ODOT assisted at the scene.

Photographs - Oregon State Police

BAKER: Regional Forester extends comment period on Forest Management Plan

Wallowa Whitman National Forest Regional Forester Kent Connaughton announced last week that the public comment period for the proposed Blue Mountain Forest Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be extended by at least sixty days.  Forest officials had received several letters from county commissioners and other local officials asking for the extension.  The public comment period opened March 15th and was supposed to end June 15th.  It will now run until at least August 15th.

Kent Connaughton

LA GRANDE: Interim EOU President says there's a lot to do

As we told you Friday morning, the State Board of Higher Education named Dr. Jay Kenton the Interim President at Eastern Oregon University.  Dr. Kenton just retired from the State Board and is looking forward to returning to La Grande where he began his career in administration in the early 1980’s.  And, while he may be an Interim President, he says there’s a lot of work for him to do:  "First job is to get the institutions finances in order, get the recruitment and enrollment stabilized."

Kenton says it’s going to take a collaborative effort to keep Eastern moving in the right direction:  "I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have a silver bullet, I’m not a hatchet guy- I’m coming in to try and listen and try to help get the institution back on track."

Kenton says a nationwide search will begin in the fall with finalists coming on campus next year.  He says it’s possible he will apply for the permanent job as well.

ELGIN: City of Elgin looking for volunteers for Planning Commission

The City of Elgin is now accepting applications for the new City Planning Commission.  It will be made up of five members who are not officials or employees of the city.  Two members will be appointed for one year, one will be appointed for two years and one for three years.  If you’re interested in sitting on the commission, contact City Administrator Laird Allen at City Hall or log on to the city's website www.cityofelginor.com

BAKER: Public works takes care of sinkhole near Auburn Street

The Baker City Public Works Department found themselves with a big problem last week.  A sinkhole opened up in the alley behind Auburn Street.  Officials say the hole was at least four feet deep but thankfully it wasn’t big in diameter.  Crews filled the hole using crushed rock and will monitor it.  If it continues to expand, crews will have to excavate the hole to find out what’s causing it.


NE OREGON: La Grande, Baker baseball unbeaten in league play

The La Grande and Baker baseball teams are both unbeaten in Greater Oregon League play as they prepare to go head-to-head this week.  La Grande beat Ontario 8-1 and 5-1 while Baker pounded Mac Hi 8-4 and 12-0.  Vale beat Elgin 10-7 and 21-4 and Union took a pair from Wallowa 10-0 and 13-3.  The Baker baseball team travels to Bishop Kelly this afternoon in Boise.

Photo courtesy of the Baker City Herald

NE OREGON: Union softball sweeps, other area softball scores

The La Grande softball team split with Ontario losing 9-6 before winning 11-9.  Mac Hi hammered Baker 17-0 in game one and 6-3 in game two.  Vale swept Elgin 11-1 and 12-8 and Union swept Grant Union 13-1 and 5-2.


Photo courtesy of the La Grande Observer 

LA GRANDE: EOU softball team goes 0-4 this weekend

it wasn’t a good weekend for the Eastern Oregon University softball team.  On Friday they were swept by Corban University 9-1 and 4-1, and on Saturday they were swept by Northwest Christian 11-6 and 5-2.  He will play the College of Idaho in Caldwell tomorrow.

Gracie Flyg

BAKER CITY, OR: Baker City Fire Department offers Knox Box

A system designed specifically for firefighters is now available in Baker City. It’s called a Knox Box and with one master key, the Baker City Fire Department can gain instant access to your home. Baker City Fire Department, spokesperson Sarah Blair says a Knox Box reduces response time, property damage and can save your life. More than 11,500 departments in North America use Knox® products. The Knox System includes UL listed lock boxes, storage cabinets, heavy-duty padlocks and electronic override key switches. Complimentary products include the Sentralok® and KeySecure® Master Key Retention Systems. The system has grown to include locking FDC plugs and caps providing protection to the intake and discharge sides of water-based fire protection systems. With the new Knox MedVault Drug Locker, narcotic access can be controlled and audited.

Many of these departments use Sentralok® or KeySecure®, master key security systems, to control the Knox Master Key. These Master Key Retention units provide accountability with an audit trail giving the date, time and user ID for each key release. Knox also offers an optional Remote Administration program for these units.

Property owners in your community store entrance keys, access cards and floor plans in high-security Knox-Box® key boxes mounted near their building entrances. Each Knox-Box purchased by the property owner is keyed to a single master key controlled by your department. With the Knox System, there is no cost to the fire department, no waiting for a property owner to unlock the door in the middle of the night, and no forcing the door open to gain entry. The Knox Rapid Entry System reduces response time, property damage and the liability for lost keys.

For more information contact the Baker City Fire Department  541.523.3711

BAKER CITY, OR: Beef & produce prices rising

Grocery shoppers are feeling a sudden pinch on their food budgets, a result of a convergence of events that have spiked prices for everyday items like meat, eggs and dairy.

Food prices rose 0.4 percent in February, the most since September 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this week. Beef shoppers face some of the biggest increases, with prices jumping 4 percent from January, the highest seen in almost three decades.

Ron Rowan, director of Beef Northwest in North Powder says beef has been hit by the combination of a dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand.

Rowan says consumers should expect higher prices through summer but overall, the high demand is good for not only our local ranchers and producers, it stimulates the economy for our region.

However, the price increases are forcing consumers to make tough choices at the grocery store, considering lower-cost cuts of meat or eliminating some items altogether. And businesses are feeling the sticker shock and making adjustments. Some high-end restaurants are reducing the size of steaks or cutting them thinner to avoid raising menu prices; fast food giant McDonald's has warned customers that it may have to raise prices on some Dollar Menu items and some U.S. airlines have eliminated limes from their in-flight drink service.

Here's a look at some of the foods that have been most affected, along with some consumer strategies for dealing with price increases:

Beef: Consumers are facing the highest beef prices they've seen since 1987. The average retail cost of fresh beef in February was $5.28 a pound, up from $5.04 in January, according to the Department of Agriculture. The rising cost is caused by growing export demand for beef from countries such as China and Japan. That's combined with dwindling U.S. cattle herds, which ranchers thinned in the wake of the 2012 Midwest drought, when the price of feed went soaring.

How you can save: Switch to cheaper cuts of meat like beef chuck short ribs, beef back ribs and shoulder roasts, which require longer cooking times to become tender. Learn how to make a good marinade, which can help break down tougher, stringy cuts of beef. Make beef less of a focal point in meals, using it as an accent in stir-fried vegetable dishes, or cut into thin strips as a garnish for salads.

Pork: With beef prices rising, some consumers have turned to pork as a cheaper option. But pork prices have risen to an average $3.73 a pound in February. A virus that kills piglets spread to 28 states and played a role in reducing the nation's pig herd by 3 percent, according to Department of Agriculture estimates. The lack of supply has driven up prices for pork, and bacon in particular, which could go up as much as 20 percent this year.

How you can save: Spiral-cut hams go on sale after Easter, and can be kept unopened in the refrigerator for up to a month. Once baked, leftovers packed in a freezer bag will keep for three months in the freezer. Buy bacon by the full slab, which is significantly discounted, and break it down into one-pound portions and freeze for up to two months.

Chicken: Poultry prices increased 4.7 percent last year, the Department of Agriculture says, but 2014 is shaping up as one of the most-profitable years ever for chicken producers, as consumers switch from beef and pork. The government projects that Americans will eat the most chicken in three years.

How you can save: Whole chickens sell for significantly less than precut pieces, so buy whole chickens to roast or cut up. Use the bones and neck to make homemade chicken broth, which freezes well.

Produce: Just a month ago, you could buy fresh limes at Portland-area grocery stores priced three for a dollar. But this week, non-organic limes were selling for 79 cents apiece at Safeway stores, and 98 cents each at Fred Meyer. That sudden price spike is the result of a drought has decimated the lime crop in Mexico, where almost all of the limes that are sold in the U.S. come from. And with limes suddenly becoming produce gold, Mexico's drug cartels are reported to be extorting growers and taking over distribution networks to cash in on the crop's sudden windfall.

Limes are just the start of the price increases consumers will see with produce this year. According to an Arizona State University study that's scheduled for release next week, the ongoing drought in California could bump up the price for a head of lettuce by 34 percent, or roughly $2.44. Avocados could go up 28 percent, or $1.60 each.

How you can save: Produce spoils quickly, and Americans throw away a lot of wilted veggies. Buy only produce that you know you'll use in the next two days. And shop for produce that's in season, since it typically is less expensive when it's readily available.

Grocery staples: Many packaged goods, particularly those that contain corn, are still selling at higher prices after a severe drought in 2012 wiped out much of the Midwest's corn crop. That makes it crucial to look for specials on everything from crackers to cereal. Using coupons can help trim costs, but that's not for everyone.

How you can save: Spend a few minutes each week with grocery store advertising inserts to learn which stores offer the best prices on particular staples you use regularly, and seek out those deals. Use coupons that come with the Sunday paper, but only if they'll help you save on products you would buy anyway.



SALEM: Jay Kenton named interim president at EOU

The State Board of Higher Education this morning named Jay Kenton the interim president at Eastern Oregon University.  Kenton recently retired as the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration for the Oregon University System.  He will replace President Bob Davies who will step down in July to take over at Murray State in Kentucky.  Kenton has ties to the EOU campus.  He started as an administrator at EOU in 1983.  Boosting enrollment and dealing with financial challenges will be his priorities while a national search for a permanent replacement is conducted. 

Ben Rawlins Picture

UNION COUNTY: Marijuana moratoriums the result of lack of state leadership

The marijuana dispensary moratorium that was the subject of public hearings in Union County and La Grande Wednesday has left many residents either upset about the decisions made or confused about why the moratorium is necessary in the first place.  Local officials feel they were put in a bad position by the state who failed to do their job.  La Grande Mayor Dan Pokorney:  "In my view, the legislature has not done their work properly to hand down direction on what cities and counties should do."

Mayor Pokorney says it’s about knowing what the rules governing the dispensares will be.  Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson says there are still a lot of questions still to answer:  "We want to take that time to consider how we will regulate it locally and see how the state chooses to regulate it statewide."

Some of the questions local leaders would like the state to answer are where the dispensaries can be located, what hours they can operate and how they will licensed.  Union County Commissioners unanimously passed a one year moratorium, the La Grande City Council will hold a special session on Monday, April 28th to take a vote on it.


LA GRANDE: Schools bond would allow work on the high school

In addition to a new elementary school and new classroom space in Island City, the Strategic Facilities Committee that looked at the needs of the La Grande School District also recommended some work at the high school- starting with a new facility that could be a big boost to the community according to Superintendent Larry Glaze:  "One of those is a new industrial arts building.  Our current facility is outdated and outmoded, and it needs to be replaced."

With the Governor’s emphasis on vocational education, a new vo-tech building could provide adult education opportunities as well.  Additionally, two of the most visible parts of the La Grande School District could see some much needed improvements if district patrons were to pass a bond levy according to Glaze: "Gymnasium improvements is also on the list for the high school- anyone that’s been in our gym knows what those things are including the bleachers that need to be replaced and the gym floor."

Also on the list is the auditorium.  Neither facility has had any major upgrades for decades, and the gym bleachers are on the verge of being condemned.  District officials are working on gathering input from patrons on what they would like to see done in the district.

NE OREGON: Easter egg hunts spring up throughout the area

This Sunday is Easter, and that means it’s time to get the kids ready for those annual Easter egg hunts tomorrow.  In La Grande, the annual Sunrise Rotary/Elkhorn Media Group Easter egg hunt will take place at Riverside Park.  The Easter Bunny arrives at 9:45 and the hunt begins at 10:00.  Kids will also be hunting for Easter eggs in Geiser-Pollman Park in Baker City starting at 9:45.  There will also be an Easter egg hunt in Imbler.  The Elgin Easter egg hunt takes place at Stella Mayfield elementary at 10:00, and in Cove the Easter egg hunt will be at the Ascension school starting at 1:00.

Rabbit easter eggs

LA GRANDE: Local attorney calls for change in Urban Renewal Board

Former city councilor Steve Joseph says the city needs a new Urban Renewal Managing Board during public testimony at Wednesday’s La Grande City Council meeting.  Joseph, who has been an opponent of the agency, says the City of La Grande has lost more than a million dollars in property taxes to the agency, and that has helped to force water and sewer rates up by more than 100% in recent years.

LA GRANDE: La Grande named a Tree City U.S.A.

La Grande has been named a Tree City U.S.A. for the 24th time.  Teresa Gustafson, La Grande’s tree care educator, says the city also received their 22nd Tree City Growth Award.  Gustafson also made an appeal for volunteers for the annual tree planting effort.  The city will try and plant 100 trees on May 3rd.

La Grande is a Tree City USA

NE OREGON: Local high school baseball teams in action this weekend

The La Grande baseball team travels to Ontario this afternoon for a Greater Oregon League double header.  The first game begins at 3:00.  The Elgin/Imbler baseball team will travel to Vale for a doubleheader starting at 1:00 and Union/Cove hosts Wallowa starting at noon.  Tomorrow the Baker baseball team will host Mac Hi starting at noon.

Troy Jones

NE OREGON: Baker softball beats Fruitland, this weekend's softball schedules

The Baker softball team is 6-6 this season after they beat Fruitland last night 3-2.

The La Grande softball team will be on the road in Ontario this afternoon.  Game time 2:00.  The Elgin/Imbler softball team will take on Vale in a league doubleheader starting at 1:00, and Union/Cove will play at Grant Union.  Tomorrow the Baker softball team will host Mac Hi starting at noon.

Photo courtesy of the Baker City Herald

LA GRANDE: EOU softball team heads to Oregon's Westside

The Eastern Oregon University softball team is on the road this weekend.  They will play Corban University in a Cascade Conference doubleheader today at 2:00, and tomorrow they will be at Northwest Christian at 11 am.


NE OREGON: Wallowa Whitman to conduct controlled burns

The Wallowa Whitman National Forest will be conducting three controlled burns in Northeast Oregon today.  The Kenny 32 Underburn will start about 10:30 on the North Fork of the John Day District, the Bald Angel burn will be on the Grande Ronde District seven miles of Medical Springs, and the Rattlesnake burn will take place on the Burnt Powder District.  Smoke from the fires may be visible for several days.


HELLS CANYON: Body found in Snake River IDd as missing Caldwell man

A body identified as missing Caldwell resident Ricky Flores was found Wednesday in the Snake River about 13 miles downstream of the Hells Canyon Dam boat launch, the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office has reported. The remains will be examined by the Baker County medical examiner, but identification found on the body and investigation results lead deputies to believe the body was Flores. Next of kin has been notified. Flores, 42, has been missing since March 21, when a jet boat capsized in the Wild Sheep rapids 6 miles north of Hells Canyon Dam. He was a correctional officer at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario. Two of his co-workers were in the boat with him but were able to make it to shore. Flores was presumed dead, and memorial services were held April 11.

Photo submitted by Snake River Correctional Institution

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/04/16/3137799/body-found-in-snake-river-idd.html?sp=/99/1687/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

LA GRANDE: Two public hearings on marijuana bans, two different votes

There were two hearings yesterday on passing local moratoriums on marijuana dispensaries- and while one passed, the other will have to wait.  In the first of two hearings yesterday to discuss a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries, Union County Commissioners voted unanimously to enact the ban after hearing arguments on both sides.  While those in favor of the ban brought up the potential negative impacts on local youth, dispensary backers said there are other more harmful things kids should be protected from- energy drinks and fast food.  Commissioner Mark Davidson said part of his guidance on the issue came from voters who turned down a dispensary system just three years ago:  "It failed here in Union County by a nearly 2:1 margin, and I don’t believe our voters opinion has changed in the succeeding years."

The La Grande City Council, meanwhile, will have to wait for a vote on a moratorium after an attempt to have the issue declared an emergency failed.  Councilor Jerry Sebastian, who supports the dispensaries, voted against the emergency action:  "I wanted to make sure we gave the ordinance proper consideration, I wanted time to give our testimony more in depth thought."

Councilors said the moratorium would give them a little more local control.  The council will hold a special session on April 28th to take a vote on the moratorium.

LA GRANDE: La Grande City Council holds hearing on street vacation

The La Grande City Council held a lengthy public hearing last night on the proposed vacation of ‘K’ Avenue to Union County.  County Planner Handley Jenkins told councilors that the county agrees with four of the five conditions placed on the vacation, but they didn’t agree with the last condition which was to conduct a traffic study it was a waste of tax money.  In the end, Councilor John Bozarth thought the vacation idea was a good one:  "I think it was just one of the most common sense solutions I’ve ever seen two government bodies work together and come up with."

The city council will hold a final reading of the vacation ordinance and take a vote at their May 7th meeting.

John Bozarth

UNION: Union City Council weighs in on courthouse issue, street vacation

The City of Union weighed in on the proposed Union County Courthouse at yesterday’s commission meeting.  Mayor William Lindsley told commissioners that the Union City Council feels that the counties smaller communities were left out of the discussion on the courthouse and they don’t agree that tearing down the Shelter from the Storm building is the best use of county resources.  Mayor Lindsley said there’s also doubt that a new courthouse can be built for $2 million.  The City of Union also sent a letter to the La Grande City Council recommending that the council vote against the vacation of ‘K’ Avenue.

Union Mayor William Lindsley

Mayor William Lindsley

LA GRANDE: Troy Pointer appointed to fill McGee's council position

Troy Pointer has been appointed to the La Grande City Council to replace Kelly McGee who is resigning effective Friday.  Pointer filed to run for council position six and is unopposed, so he will fill McGee’s seat until the end of the year when a new councilor is seated.  A vote on who will fill the rest of her two year term will be held in November.

LA GRANDE: Commissioners ask to extend Forest Service comment period

Union county Commissioners are joining other county commissions in trying to get the Forest Service to extend the public comment period on the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision.  Commissioners voted yesterday to send a letter to the Regional Forester asking for the extension.  Commissioner Steve McClure said it’s taken the Forest Service ten years to come up with the plan, there’s no reason to limit comments to just 90 days.

LA GRANDE: EOU soccer team signs two more athletes

LA GRANDE, Ore. – Kendra Corless and Makensie Forsyth signed Letters of Intent to play soccer for Eastern Oregon University in the fall of 2014, announced head coach Jennifer Simonetti. Corless and Forsyth are the seventh and eighth members of the 2014 recruiting class.
Corless, a 5-foot 6-inch defender from Sandpoint, Idaho comes to EOU after helping Sandpoint High School to a Conference League Championship in 2012. During the 2012 season, she was named 4A All IEL Defensive First Team.
In the spring of 2012, Corless helped lead her Strikers Club Team to an undefeated league championship.
During her senior year of high school, Corless helped her team to League and State Championships. By the time she graduates from high school, Corless will have earned her Certified Nursing Assistant certification.
"Kendra is a great central defender with a lot of potential to help improve our programs previous record setting season of 7 shut-outs," said coach Simonetti.  "She is smart and patient in 1 vs. 1 situations, reads the game well and communicates well, and is composed enough to create possession out of the back. Her awesome work ethic and toughness have shown through her strong ACL rehabilitation from last spring. We are really looking forward to having her this fall."
Forsyth comes to EOU from Prosser High School where she was a 5-foot-2-inch mid-fielder. During her four seasons in high school, Forsyth earned Central Washington Athletic Conference honors all four years of high school. During her freshman season, she earned honorable mention honors, while earning Second Team All-CWAC her sophomore and junior season. During her senior season, Forsyth earned First Team All-CWAC and was named Offensive Player of the Year.
Along with being named All-CWAC, Forsyth was named a First Team All-State Mid-Fielder her senior year. During high school, Forsyth was named Most Valuable Teammate, Best Attacking Player and was also awarded the Coaches' Award.
Forsyth' success is not just on the soccer field, she also excels in the classroom ranking seventh in her high school class of 165.
"Makensie is a tremendously fit and athletic addition to our 2014 class," said coach Simonetti. "Although she comes in as a midfielder, her skill level, speed and athleticism create versatility, and she may be asked to play various roles in the fall. She offers a new level of toughness in the midfield and the skill and confidence to compete in our conference.  She comes from a family of competitive athletes and is a great addition to our class this fall."
Corless and Forsyth join Alexis Smith, Amber Nielsen, Danika Pink, Alora Brown, Madeline Cillay and Charli Torres in the 2014 recruiting class.

Forsyth and Corless

BAKER CITY, OR: Baker County fairgrounds will soon be made in the shade

The Baker County Fair is going green. Members of The Baker City Tree Board will be planting 25 street trees on the fairgrounds property this Friday. Last year, the city received $775,000 from the estate of Anthony Silvers to fund improvements in the city’s tree inventory. In order to pay for a large-scale project, the tree board decided to wait a year to let interest in the account accrue. The project will also include installation of an irrigation system to maintain the five different tree varieties for the site.

LA GRANDE, OR: Road work starting Monday

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) contractor Oregon Mainline will be shifting westbound traffic to the eastbound freeway and closing two freeway ramps on Monday to accommodate the multi-year highway improvement project between the Kamela Interchange at Exit 246 and the Second Street undercrossing in La Grande, near mile post 260. Most of the traffic impacts will be between Hilgard State Park near mile post 252 and Exit 261 in La Grande where the freeway is being resurfaced with concrete in the slow lane and new asphalt in the fast lane.


Travelers can expect traffic pattern changes, reduced speeds, narrow lanes with no shoulders, plus single lane eastbound and westbound traffic separated by concrete barrier. The westbound Exit 259 on-ramp at the west end of La Grande will be closed through the 2014 construction season. The westbound on-ramp at Exit 256 (west of Perry) will also be closed for about three months starting Monday.

LA GRANDE: 18 EOU athletes named to All-Academic team

LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University had 18 members of its Track & Field and Softball programs earn U.S. Bank Academic All-CCC honors for their performances in the classroom, the Cascade Collegiate Conference office announced.
To earn recognition as a CCC scholar-athlete, a student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 and sophomore standing.

Below is the complete list of EOU student-athletes that earned Academic All-CCC.
A total of 182 Cascade Collegiate Conference student-athletes in the spring sports of men's and women's golf, men's and women's track/field, baseball and softball have earned U.S. Bank Academic All-CCC honors.
U.S. Bank is the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States and operates 3,080 banking offices in 25 states providing a comprehensive line of banking products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bank, the Official Bank of the Cascade Collegiate Conference and Presenting Sponsor for the Academic All-Conference awards.

DJ Flores

First Name Last Name Hometown Year Sport Major
Kerby Andersen Notus, Idaho Sr. Track/Field Physical Activity/Pre P.T.
Kadie Booth Post Falls, Idaho Sr. Track/Field Multidisciplinary Studies
Calvin Edward Wasilla, Alaska Sr. Track/Field Anthropology/Sociology
Talitha Fagen Fruitland, Idaho So. Track/Field Psychology
Gracie Flyg Hermiston, Ore. Sr. Softball Business Admin.
Jason Hendricks Boardman, Ore. Jr. Track/Field Business Admin./Acct.
Georgianna Kelly Beaverton, Ore. Sr. Softball Business Admin.
Emma Kost Spokane, Wash. So. Track/Field Physical Activity/Health
Audrey Love La Grande, Ore. Sr. Track/Field Anthropology/Sociology
Nicole Redd Lewiston, Idaho Sr. Track/Field Business Admin.
Christina Roe Kodiak, Alaska Sr. Track/Field Art
Andrea Roeder Milton-Freewater, Ore. Sr. Softball Multidisciplinary Studies
Hans Roelle Anchorage, Alaska Sr. Track/Field Physical Activity/Health
Jodine Steemers Sierra Vista, Ariz. Sr. Track/Field Biochemistry/Pharmacy
Gus Titus Burns, Ore. Sr. Track/Field Rangeland Ecology/Mgmt.
Cassie Wendt Spokane, Wash. Jr. Softball General Studies
Kailey Wilson Cooper Center, Alaska Jr. Track/Field Biology/Pre-Vet.
Tanner Yarbrough Dallas, Ore. Jr. Track/Field Art


LA GRANDE: Union County passes marijuana moratorium

Union County Commissioners voted unanimously this morning to place a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries in the county for one year.  Several people testified in favor of the moratorium saying the state needs the time to come up with the rules that will govern the dispensaries in the future.  They also expressed concern about how the dispensaries would be viewed by youth.  But opponents of the moratorium argued Union County youth are already using marijuana and there are other things that need to be regulated such as energy drinks and fast food.  In the end, commissioners decided that the moratorium was largely symbolic, it was important to be a leader in this case.


LA GRANDE: Marijuana dispensary fight takes center stage

Marijuana dispensaries will take center stage in a pair of public hearings in Union County today.  At 10 am this morning Union County Commissioners will hear testimony before they make a decision on a moratorium on dispensaries, and the La Grande City Council will also hold a public hearing tonight at 6:00 in the Council Chambers at City Hall.  More than seventy communities across Oregon have passed a one year moratorium on dispensaries.

Marijuana And Multiple Sclerosis

NE OREGON: Allergy season here- how to avoid the misery

For many of us, the allergy season is upon us, and health experts say this year could be one of the worst.  Dr. Joseph Petrusek, a La Grande ear, nose and throat doctor, says the most common symptoms are water, itchy eyes, a runny nose and tightening in the chest.  While most of the symptoms can be taken care of by over the counter medications such as Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegre- medications that shouldn't make you drowsy- some allergies can require medical intervention:  "If it interferes with your life, and you’re not able to control your symptoms with what you can get over the counter then, yeah, and you’re miserable then you need to see someone."

Tree’s- especially cottonwoods- are the biggest culprits this time of year according to Dr. Petrusek.  And, there are some more severe symptoms which people don't even associate with allergies: "Chronic infection, sinus infections- they may be somebody who gets sinusitis three or four or five times per year.  Asthma.  Probably half the people in the world with asthma have an allergic basis for it."

sneezing - Image Page


LA GRANDE: Warmer weather means more bikes and skateboards

With warmer weather showing up a little more often there will be an increase in the number of people riding bikes along area roads.  Officer Jason Hayes with the La Grande Police Department says while that means motorists need to be a little more aware of who they’re sharing the road with, bicyclists have a responsibility, too:  "Bicycles are considered a vehicle in the State of Oregon, and, as such, they have to follow the same rules of the road that cars do."

Hayes says that intersections are the most dangerous spots for accidents.  But one of the biggest accident prone groups is skateboarders whether it’s with cars or pedestrians.  And more often than not, accidents are the skateboarders fault:  "Somebody on the skateboard is failing to stop on the sidewalk before crossing the street, and they just zoom across with total disrespect for potential oncoming traffic."

Whether you’re riding a skateboard or a bicycle, Officers Hayes says wearing a helmet is essential to protect you.  He also says adult bicyclists who wear helmets help set an example for younger riders.

NE OREGON: Baker, Union baseball win, Elgin softball dominates

The Baker baseball team continued to hit the ball well as they beat Burns 9-5 in non-league action yesterday afternoon.  Union/Cove edged the Baker JV 5-4. 

The Elgin softball team crushed Umatilla 20-2 last night in a single game in Elgin.

Photo courtesy of the Baker City Herald

LA GRANDE: EOU softball team pounds Walla Walla University

The Eastern Oregon University softball offense was in full swing this afternoon against Walla Walla University. The Mountaineers swept the Wolves and scored them 28-2 in the doubleheader.
Prior to the doubleheader starting today, Eastern Oregon and Walla Walla finished off its suspended game from April 1. The game was suspended due to darkness with EOU leading 12-0 after three innings of play. The Mountaineers scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning and one in the top of the fifth to grow its lead to 15-0 over Walla Walla. The Wolves had no answer in either inning and dropped the game, 15-0.
In the first game scheduled for today, the Mountaineers jumped out of the gate in the bottom of the first inning. EOU scored three runs in the inning on three hits to take an early 3-0 lead over the Wolves. Katie Martell started the scoring for the Mountaineers as she doubled home JoElla Smith. Cassie Wendt hit a sacrifice fly to center putting the Mountaineers on top 2-0 and Gracie Flyg reached on an error to score the third run for EOU.
Lindsey Walchli kept the Wolves batters off balance as she only allowed one hit through her three innings of pitching. In the second inning, Walchli struck out the first two before getting the third out on a ground out.
Eastern Oregon added to its lead in the bottom of the second inning and grew its lead to 7-0. After back-to-back singles by Smith and Martell, Wendt hit a three run home run to left center to put the Mountaineers on top 6-0. Brittnee Carman-Rice followed with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error. Carman-Rice came around to score on a single by Walchli to center field putting EOU ahead 7-0.
The Mountaineers scored two more runs in the bottom of the third inning on two sacrifice flies. After three innings were complete EOU led Walla Walla 9-0.
Walla Walla scored its only two runs of the game in the top of the fifth inning. Morgan Malacara doubled to left field to lead off the inning for the Wolves. Andrie Iwasa laid down a sacrifice bunt to move her up, but the Mountaineers threw the ball away and Malacara scored. The Wolves scored one more run when Katie Wilson reached on a fielder's choice that scored Jaci Shankel.
Eastern Oregon ended the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Taylor Smith led off the inning with a double to left center. She was driven home when Walchli doubled, which put the Mountaineers on top 10-2 and win by the Mercy Rule.
Cassie Wendt led the Mountaineers in game one with five RBI's and Katie Martell and Lindsey Walchli recorded three hits apiece.
In the bottom of the first inning of game two, Eastern Oregon jumped all over the Wolves starting pitcher. Before the first out was recorded EOU held a 2-0 lead after JoElla Smith drove home Mariebeth Watanabe on a double down the left field line. Martell followed with a double to left to score J. Smtih. The third run came across after Carman-Rice singled to center field to score Martell. Georgianna Kelly recorded an RBI single to score one more and after the first inning of play EOU led 4-0.

Eastern Oregon blew the game open in the bottom of the second inning. The Mountaineers scored nine runs in the bottom of the second inning on seven hits. With EOU ahead 8-0 and two runners on base, Andrea Roeder hit a three run home run to left field to extend the Mountaineers lead to 11-0. EOU added two more runs in the inning with JoElla Smith and Martell hit back to back doubles to extend its lead to 13-0.
The Mountaineers kept the Wolves' bats quiet in the second game as they only allowed four hits for the entire game.
Eastern Oregon continued to extend its lead in the bottom of the third inning as EOU scored four more runs on four hits. Alexa Taunton drove home Taylor Smith on an RBI single through the right side. EOU added two more runs in the frame and after three innings, their lead was 17-0.
EOU added one more run in the bottom of the fourth inning as Roeder drew a bases loaded walk to extend the Mountaineers lead to 18-0.
The Wolves had no answer and EOU took game two, 18-0 in five innings.
Andrea Roeder led the Mountaineers with four RBIs in the second game while JoElla Smtih and Katie Martell followed with three RBIs apiece.
Eastern Oregon returns to action on Friday, April 18 when they travel to Salem, Ore. to face Corban University. First pitch for Friday is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Cassie Wendt


BAKER CITY, OR: Easter egg hunt Saturday

Baker City’s annual Easter egg hunt is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 19 at Geiser-Pollman Park.

The event is for children ages 3 through 11.

Children should start lining up at 9:45 a.m. in the designated age group areas in the park. The police siren will sound at 10 a.m.

Filled plastic eggs, toys and candy will be placed in areas separated by ropes. No adults are allowed inside the hunt areas.

Hunt areas are divided by age groups:

• Age 3: Madison Street entrance, south side of park

• Ages 4-5: Campbell Street entrance, east lawn

•Ages 6-8: Madison Street entrance behind playground

• Ages 9-11: Campbell Street entrance, across from museum to north of the gazebo

There will be a limited number of pre-made Easter goddie bags for the toddlers in the under three age group, who are too small to go into a hunt area without the aid of an older person. Toddlers with parents may claim one of these bags at the Lions Shelter in the park. Toddlers’ hands will be stamped when they receive a bag, and parents can sign up for grand prize bunny drawing for their child. 

This change has been made for the safety of toddlers. Parents may take their filled baskets and go to the northeast lawn area to let their little ones play “hunt “ with their eggs.

Be sure to dress children warmly, bring cameras and a basket or sack to gather treasures. Pictures may be taken of your children with the Big Bunny before the hunt. Look inside of eggs prior to leaving, as some will have prize winning slips directing you to go to the Bunnymobile to collect a prize.

The event is organized by the Baker City Herald and funded by donations from local community members. Soroptimist International of Baker County is 501(c)3 partner of event.

Volunteer labor for the event is donated by Baker High School Leadership group, Baker Parole and Probation Department, Baker County Juvenile Department and Soroptimist International of Baker County.

Donation checks to the event may be made out to SIBC/Easter egg hunt and delivered to the Baker City Herald at 1915 First St. or mailed to Easter Egg Hunt, P.O. Box 807, Baker City, OR 97814. Annual cost breakdown: $1,500 for stuffed eggs, $500 for wrapped candy, $,1000 for assorted toys, baskets and cash prizes in eggs.

More information is available by calling Lynette Perry at 541-523-3673.

BAKER: Fire damages D&B Supply store

The D&B Supply store in Baker City sustained minimal damage during a fire yesterday morning. Baker City Assistant Fire Chief Tom Everson said that an employee was arriving at work about 6:30 yesterday morning and spotted smoke coming from the building. The fire started on the inside of a wall, but officials don’t know exactly how it started. 3 engines and 2 ambulances arrived at the scene and knocked down the blaze fairly quick. Baker Rural Fire Department provided a couple of engines for mutual aid. Damage to the building is estimated to be about $5,000.

ISLAND CITY: City council passes marijuana moratorium with application pending

The Island City City Council unanimously passed a moratorium on marijuana dispenaries in the city at last nights meeting.  Mayor Dale DeLong said the cities attorney recommended passing the ordinance as a way to protect the city while the state decides on the rules they will put into place.  The mayor says Island City has received one application to convert the old Grandescapes building on Island Avenue into a dispensery.  The group behind that effort has already paid the state licensing fee which will now be refunded.  The moratorium expires next May.

LA GRANDE: Urban Renewal Agency looks at funding projects

The La Grande Urban Renewal Agency and their advisory committee met in a work session last night to discuss the five applications for funding they received during their call for projects earlier this year.  Those projects included funding for renovations at the bowling alley, an RV storage business, an addition to A1 Mini Storage, work on the Valley Insurance building and a request to help fund renovations at a home.  Economic Development Director Charlie Mitchell says the fact that people are willing to invest into their businesses is a good sign:  "Anytime that investment occurs, it rises up the whole district, it adds to the economic health of the district and it’s always good when we can be in a position to partner with those property owners."

Mitchell says there are some very specific criteria the projects must meet to get funded:  "To mitigate blight, to create some new business opportunities, some new economic opportunities- those are kind of the real big ones."

In all there were requests for funding totalling almost $247,000 with a total value of just under $1.5 million.  The Urban Renewal Agency will make a final decision on funding at their May 7th meeting.