The Baker County press. (Baker City, Ore.) 2014-current, December 30, 2016, Page 8, Image 8

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2016: A Year in Review / Local
Burnt River grad has ties
to ‘The Perfect Storm’
Halloween weekend
marked the 25th anniver-
sary of the “No-Name
Storm,” a devastating
Northeastern combination
of three weather systems,
which first developed
on Monday, October 28,
1991, later to be immortal-
ized along with stories of
heroic acts and tragedy in
the 1997 Sebastian Junger
book, The Perfect Storm,
and in the 2000 film of
the same name featuring
George Clooney and Mark
One of the sailors
who risked his life, and
played a pivotal role in the
dangerous ocean rescues
during that storm is Burnt
River High School gradu-
ate Shane Greenbank, who
served aboard the 205-foot
U.S. Coast Guard Cut-
ter (USCGC) Tamaroa
Sumpter Museum gets
‘Ghost Mine’ display on
According to Toni
Thompson of the Sumpter
Valley Museum Associa-
tion, the display they re-
ceived on loan last Sunday
may very well be the last
and only mine blower of
its size and type still in
operating condition.
Local travels to Standing
Christopher Keefauver of
Baker City—better known
locally as “Doc”—traveled
with his brother Douglas to
the Standing Rock Sioux
Reservation recently. Due
to their family roots, the
pair were the designated
ambassadors of the Tribe
of the Whitetop Band of
Native Indians, Manches-
ter, KY.
Suspect leads police on
high-speed chase
An attempt to serve a
warrant on Robert Flores
of Baker City ended in a
high-speed chase fol-
lowed by a foot pursuit in
the mountains just out-
side Medical Springs on
Election results
With 8,870 total votes
cast so far, Baker County
St. Alphonsus has
new interim president
Submitted Photo
Larry Overman detaches the cables from the dozer,
which hauled the blower down from the mine. Carey
Clarke of Sumpter helped haul the loaned display
piece down on Sunday.
has a 79.62% voter turnout
this election. In the race
for Baker County Sheriff,
incumbent Travis Ash has
5,243 votes and Deputy
John Hoopes 3,113 votes,
giving the win to Ash.
Nonpartisan initiative
1-74 is ahead by 92 votes
at present, but with an
estimated 150 ballots or
more still in the process of
arrival or with signatures
being verified, 1-74 is too
close to call.
Sunridge sale draws
A recent court-approved
sale of the Best Western
Sunridge Inn of Baker City
to Nampa-based Deepak
Prashar, for $6.3 million,
brings to a close the previ-
ously unresolved financial
issues associated with the
Manager Lisa Wilson
said Wednesday that while
the court documents show
no precise closing date, all
of the involved parties be-
lieve and hope the sale will
conclude by year’s end.
ODOT meets with LEOs
over variable speed
By now, anyone who
has travelled I-84 between
Baker City and La Grande
has noticed the new over-
head electronic speed signs
that were installed over the
The signs are part of
a Variable Speed Limit
(VSL) project ODOT
embarked on in an effort
to reduce traffic crashes,
the first of its kind in the
State of Oregon. The signs
went live October 1, 2016,
in test mode and the mild
conditions the area has
experienced have yet to
trigger the signs to reduce
VFW holds 5th Youth
The fifth annual VFW
(Veterans of Foreign Wars)
Youth Shoot was held
at the Veterans Memo-
rial Club in Baker City on
Saturday, November 19,
2016, bringing together 46
competitors and $3,500 in
total donations.
Hand, foot, mouth dis-
ease hits Pine-Eagle
Pine Eagle Charter
School in Halfway sent an
email to parents on Mon-
day, November 21, warn-
ing that there is currently
an outbreak of Hand, Foot
and Mouth Disease.
School Secretary Angie
Chetwood stated on Mon-
day that three of the total
200 student body (Kinder-
garten through 12th Grade)
were officially absent due
to the disease.
Reason for dog deaths
Rumors have been flying
around Baker City recently
regarding a string of dog
deaths within the City
Limits. However, thus far
it has been impossible to
determine if the theory that
the dogs were poisoned
is correct—or in fact un-
Bobcat attack puts
damper on goat farm
When Courtney and
Doug Holton moved their
family to Halfway, it was
with the intent to find the
best environment in which
to raise their special needs
children. The Special Kid
Goat Farm, Courtney’s
dream, has been an idea in
the works—but their plans
were severely damaged
on the night of Saturday,
November 26, with the
discovery of bobcat preda-
Unity meeting held on
solar array project
Around 20 people at-
tended a community meet-
ing in Unity, on Tuesday,
November 29, 2016, 6
p.m., to discuss a proposed
2.75 megawatt solar farm
project in the area, with
Enerparc, Inc. Project De-
velopment Analyst Peter
Desmarais, and Associate
Director of Project Devel-
opment Peter Davis.
Expansion ahead for
Sumpter Nugget
Justin and Jenny Long
of Baker City recently
purchased the long-closed
Sumpter Nugget restau-
rant and are currently
remodeling the building to
house three suites—a café,
recreational marijuana
store, and Justin Long’s
construction business. The
Longs also own Long’s
Water Works in Baker
Another suspect flees on
During the lunch hour of
November 29, the Baker
City Police Department
received a complaint of an
assault in which suspect
Jamie Grove allegedly had
rammed his bicycle tire
into the leg of the reporting
party in the area near 5th
and Baker Street. The sus-
pect dropped his bike and
fled on foot across multiple
private properties.
Coordination meeting
The Baker County
Board of Commissioners
held another U.S. Forest
Service (USFS) agency-
to-agency coordination
meeting, on Monday,
December 5.
Eclipse planning begins
The full solar eclipse
coming across North
America next August 21
has been described as a
celestial event of Biblical
proportions by some.
Manslaughter charges
brought in infant death
On December 13, 2016
Beth Marie Speelman,
(dob 5/22/84) of 1695
Auburn Ave #3 Baker City,
Oregon was arraigned on
an Indictment in Baker
County Circuit Court.
Speelman was in-
dicted by the grand jury
for Manslaughter in the
Second Degree, Criminally
Negligent Homicide and
Unlawful Possession of
Police K9 fundraiser
brings in $28K
“This turned out greater
than I ever thought it
would,” said volunteer Tori
Community searches two
weeks for lost dog
Anitra Castleton met her
dog Toby almost five years
ago. But this month, she
almost lost him until he
was found by locals.
J. Phil Harrop, PhD,
FACHE, has been named
to succeed H. Ray Gib-
bons, FACHE as interim
president of Saint Al-
phonsus Medical Center –
Baker City starting January
9, 2017. As interim presi-
dent, Harrop will guide
all operations and strategy
for the medical center,
which provides healthcare
services to a wide-reaching
community in rural eastern
Oregon. Gibbons will
retire from his current
position as president to
transition into a broader
role for Saint Alphonsus as
nursing home administra-
tor, Oregon state health-
care advocacy director, and
Eastern Oregon Coordi-
nated Care Organization
Harrop has been with
Saint Alphonsus since
2012, where he has served
in the role of executive di-
rector of operations for the
Nampa facilities. He has
also served as interim CEO
for Walter Knox Memorial
Hospital in Emmett, Idaho,
as executive director of
John Stoddard Cancer
Center in Des Moines,
Iowa, and as director of
Indiana University Health
Goshen Center for Cancer
Care. Harrop serves on
the boards of the Nampa
Chamber of Commerce,
the Idaho Healthcare
Executive Forum, and the
University District As-
sociation of Nampa. He
was elected Idaho Regent
for the American College
of Healthcare Executives
(ACHE) in 2015.
“Phil will be an invalu-
able asset to our medical
center in Baker City,” said
Rodney Reider, CEO of
Saint Alphonsus Health
System. “His dynamic and
innovative approach will
continue us down the path
of providing high-quality
care closer to home for the
communities we serve. As
an experienced healthcare
professional, I am confi-
dent in Phil’s abilities to
serve as a highly effective,
mission-driven leader.”
Harrop earned a bache-
lor’s degree from Brigham
Young University and four
advanced degrees from
The Ohio State University,
Submitted Photo
Philli Harrop, PhD.
including an MBA, Master
of Health Administration,
MS in public health, and
PhD in health services
management and policy.
Board certified in health-
care management as an
ACHE Fellow, Harrop
has published numerous
articles on a variety of
healthcare topics, and has
lectured on healthcare
and leadership at sev-
eral universities across the
BLM issues decision
on treatment of
invasive plants
The Bureau of Land
Management’s (BLM)
Vale District has issued
the Record of Decision
(ROD) on the Integrated
Invasive Plant Manage-
ment Program. This ROD
is the culmination of more
than five years of environ-
mental analysis and public
consultation and will allow
for a total of 17 herbicides
to be used in the control
of invasive species and
noxious weeds. Prior to
this decision, only four
herbicides were allowed to
be used: 2,4-D, dicamba,
glyphosate, and picloram.
The issue of invasive
species and noxious
weeds has been a growing
problem across the western
landscape. Wildfires are
growing larger and more
frequent. Invasive spe-
cies dry quickly and burn
quickly and can create
an environment where
fires can start easily and
move quickly across the
landscape. This burned
landscape then becomes
vulnerable to invasion by
weeds and invasive spe-
This cycle has created
a situation where sage-
brush landscapes are at an
ever-increasing risk. Sage-
obligate species like the
Greater Sage-grouse are
at risk through the loss of
their habitat to fire and to
invasive species. Currently,
invasive species occupy
nearly 200,000 acres in
27,500 known locations
in the BLM’s Vale District
The use of 13 additional
herbicides will allow for
greater selectivity in treat-
ment, greater effective-
ness at lower doses, and
fewer adverse effects. The
additional herbicides will
also help to mitigate her-
bicide resistance, address
the increasing number of
invasive species on the
landscape, and improve
the effectiveness of non-
herbicide treatments like
biological controls and
prescribed fire.
“We’re pleased to bring a
new set of tools to bear on
an increasingly complex
problem on our land-
scape,” said Don Gonza-
lez, BLM Vale District
Manager. “We’re confident
that this will help enhance
the effectiveness of the
focused management we’re
implementing across the
The Record of Decision
and associated documenta-
tion can be found on the
BLM’s ePlanning web-
site at:
Flu cases on the rise
Influenza cases are rising
in Oregon, and although
the increase is expected
this time of year, Oregon
Health Authority officials
say it shows flu season is
off to a strong start.
It’s also a good reminder
that it’s not too late to get a
flu shot, said Paul Cieslak,
MD, of the OHA Public
Health Division.
“The winter months
are a time when we find
ourselves indoors a lot,
gathering with family,
friends and colleagues, and
it’s also a very good time
for the flu virus to spread,”
said Cieslak, medical
director in Public Health
Division’s Acute and
Communicable Disease
Prevention Section and
the Oregon Immunization
Program. “People can get
a vaccination now and be
ready for the festivities.”
During the week of Dec.
4-10, Oregon laboratories
reported 207 specimens
that were positive for
influenza. That’s up from
134 positive flu specimens
during Nov. 27-Dec. 3,
and from 117 positive
specimens during Nov.
20-27. Most of the cases
have been influenza A, this
season’s predominant flu
Hospitalizations have
jumped sharply in re-
cent weeks, too. So far,
there have been a total
of 66 hospitalizations for
influenza-like illnesses—
based on monitoring in
Clackamas, Multnomah
and Washington coun-
ties—since flu season
began the first week of
October. That includes 23
hospitalizations the week
of Dec. 4-10, up from 17
during Nov. 27-Dec. 3, and
13 during Nov. 20-26.
There have been no pe-
diatric deaths attributed to
the flu this season, officials
say. The Public Health Di-
vision does not track adult
flu deaths.
“While this is shaping up
to be a heavy flu season,
this uptick during this time
of the year is fairly typi-
cal,” Cieslak said.
Flu is a virus that causes
mild to severe respiratory
illness and can lead to hos-
pitalization. The virus kills
thousands of people in the
U.S. each year. People who
are at higher risk of severe
illness or death include
children, adults older than
65, pregnant women and
those with chronic medical
conditions or weak im-
mune systems.
So far, flu vaccine manu-
facturers have shipped
more than 1.1 million
doses to Oregon during
the 2016-2017 flu season.
More than a million of
these doses have been re-
ported to Oregon’s ALERT
Immunization Information
System as having been