Baker City herald. (Baker City, Or.) 1990-current, March 04, 2021, Page 3, Image 3

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Man accused of
burglarizing his
mother’s home
Continued from Page 1A
But the pandemic, though
scarcely begun, had an effect.
Portable handwashing sta-
tions were set up outside the
BHS gym.
The Baker School District
used a misting system to dis-
infect the gym and other parts
of the high school each day.
Yet the tournaments hap-
Crane nipped St. Paul, 45-
41, to capture the girls state
title the night of March 7.
On the boys side, Triad beat
Damascus Christian 58-56
for the boys championship a
few hours later in the usual
raucous atmosphere in the
BHS gym.
“It seems like ages ago,”
Taylor said of the 2020 tour-
naments. “We were fortu-
nate. The community came
together really well to make it
Less than a week later, high
school sports in Oregon were
Later they were canceled
for the rest of the spring.
The Baker girls basketball
team was unable to defend its
2019 Class 4A state title.
And now, almost a year
later, the pandemic continues
to thwart traditions across the
Taylor said the absence
of the tournaments affects
Baker City in multiple ways.
The economic losses are the
most obvious.
Taylor said the 2020
tournaments drew about
9,500 spectators over the four
days. As always, a signifi cant
percentage of those fans were
visiting Baker City, staying
in local motels, dining at local
restaurants and shopping at
local stores (see related story
at right).
But as a longtime volunteer,
and now co-director, Taylor
said she also feels a personal
sense of loss.
She will miss seeing some
of the people, from across
Oregon, that she has come
to know over the years and
decades, the fans and coaches
and parents.
“There are relationships
that have been built,” Taylor
said. “You’ve watched these
kids grow up, it’s like family
when they come back (for the
tournaments). That personal
connection has been lost.”
Taylor likens the situation
to one that so many people
have faced over the past year.
“It’s like losing contact with
your grandchildren,” she said.
“It’s like a big family reunion,
and it didn’t happen this
The cancellation of this
year’s tournament won’t
have a major fi nancial effect
on Baker County Tourna-
ments, Taylor said, because
the OSAA makes an annual
Continued from Page 1A
As with other COVID-
19-related deaths, state
offi cials did not release the
names of the two residents.
In a Tuesday press release,
Baker County Commissioner
Mark Bennett said: “Even
though the County’s risk
level has improved, the virus
continues to spread in our
community. These reports
weigh heavily on everyone. I
want their friends and family
to know how saddened we
are for their loss, and we offer
our condolences to everyone
who is grieving.”
The two deaths were the
fi rst attributed to the virus in
the county in a month.
A 59-year-old Baker
County man died on Feb. 2,
and an 86-year-old man died
on Jan. 30.
COVID-19-related deaths
in the county in 2020 were:
• 85-year-old man who
died on Dec. 21
• 95-year-old man who
died on Nov. 26
• 83-year-old man who
died on Oct. 18
• 90-year-old man who
died on Aug. 21
• 82-year-old woman who
By Chris Collins
S. John Collins/Baker City Herald File
Powder Valley’s Belle Blair, in blue, during the 2018 Class 1A state basketball tourna-
ment at Baker High School.
Baker City Police arrest-
ed a man Tuesday morning,
March 2, on charges that he
his mother’s
home and
violated a
order she
had fi led
against him.
Police were called to
Carla Koplein’s home in the
3100 block of Grove Street
about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Police
Chief Ray Duman stated in
a press release.
Koplein told offi cers that
her son, Raleigh David
Rust, 46, of Baker City, had
kicked in her front door and
was attempting to gain ac-
cess to her bedroom where
she had taken refuge, Du-
man stated.
Police entered the home
and arrested Rust without
incident. He is being held
at the Baker County Jail on
charges of fi rst-degree bur-
glary, a Class A felony; and
the Class A misdemeanor
charges of fi rst-degree crim-
inal trespassing, violation
of a restraining order, viola-
tion of a release agreement,
two counts of second-degree
criminal mischief and one
count of harassment.
Damage to the front
door and bedroom door
of Koplein’s home was
estimated at about $700,
Duman said.
Rust also is accused of
entering, through a win-
dow, the property at 3115
Grove St., owned by Nelson
Real Estate, and kicking
over a metal sign. Damage
was estimated at $600,
Duman said.
Rust was prohibited from
being on the Nelson Real
Estate property as part of a
Baker County Jail release
agreement, Sgt. Wayne
Chastain wrote in a court
Rust was arrested Feb. 6
on an earlier charge of tres-
passing on that property.
weekend for small, rural America for sure.”
LeVenia Wilson-Tuilau at the Eldorado
Continued from Page 1A
Inn in Baker City said the tournament week
Cutler pointed out that many of the
is a “huge event for all the hotels in the area
teams that play in the state tournaments
because it’s one of the major events for the
hail from towns much smaller than Baker
year for us. And by it being canceled, it does
City. For some visitors, then, the trip to the
hurt our business.”
“big city” offers shopping opportunities they
Jennifer Bobo, offi ce manager at Ryder
don’t have close to home.
Brothers Stationery, which also sells toys
“That’s a big deal,” Cutler said. “I get calls and handmade chocolates, said the tourna-
from families weeks in advance, when they ments are important to the business.
think they might qualify (for the tourna-
“There’s quite a few people that come in
ment), asking where they can stay, eat, what and visit from the ball tournaments, buy
they can do. People are excited to be here.
toys and stuff like that,” Bobo said. “So, it’ll
That’s a cultural piece that we miss too.”
impact us. I didn’t know they were canceled.
Among the schools that competed in the
It’s heartbreaking because it’s for the kids.
2020 tournaments are teams from Crane,
I would have liked to have seen it happen.
an unincorporated town in Harney County But what can we do?”
with about 100 residents, St. Paul, popula-
Beverly Calder, who owns BELLA Main
tion 440, Prairie City, 915, Joseph, 1,120, and Street Market, said that although she
Drain, 1,165.
doesn’t see the tournaments as crucial for
Cutler said the loss of the tournament
her business, she knows they are important
this year is especially painful because it af- for the city’s economy overall.
fects businesses that have already suffered
“It’s benefi cial to the whole town and
as a result of pandemic restrictions over the that’s what’s benefi cial,” Calder said. “So, we
past 12 months.
always see a lot of people in the store during
“It’s hitting us at a bad time,” she said.
those tournaments and we’ve really missed
“We will feel the impact.”
them. Any time a group that large comes
Carla Smith, who owns the Baker City
into town and supports restaurants and
Motel and RV Park, said the tournaments
supports all the lodging associations and
are “a big deal to us.”
it supports all of the other retailers, then
“That’s a lot of rooms that we will miss
it benefi ts the community and all of those
having rented,” Smith said. “That’s a huge
people end up shopping with me. I look at it
bummer. Our community will really suffer
as, it’s part of the whole circle of our healthy
from that. That’s a nice money making
payment to cover the tourna-
ment costs.
All the workers, with the
exception of scorekeepers, are
volunteers, Taylor said.
She’s optimistic that the
2022 tournaments not only
will happen, but that they will
attract larger crowds than
usual because spectators are
so excited to be able to watch
high school basketball again.
“I think there will be so
much enthusiasm to follow
the kids,” Taylor said.
died on Aug. 16.
Of the nine people who
have died in the county, all
had underlying medical
conditions except the 86-year-
old man who died on Jan. 30,
according to OHA.
the county into the moderate
category starting March 12.
The county qualifi es for
that category if it has from
30 to 44 cases during the
measuring period.
Differences in restrictions
between the low and moder-
ate categories include:
50% of capacity
• Moderate risk: Maxi-
mum of 50% of capacity or
100 people, whichever is
County could move from
low to moderate risk
Based on an increase in
COVID-19 cases over the
past 10 days, Baker County
is on pace to move from the
lowest of the state’s four risk
levels to moderate, which is
the second-lowest level.
That change would take
effect Friday, March 12.
Baker County has been at
the lowest risk level, which
has the least-stringent limits
on businesses and activities,
since Feb. 12.
To stay at the lowest level,
the county has to have fewer
than 30 cases, and a posi-
tive test rate below 5%, for
the most recent two-week
measuring period.
The current measuring
period is Feb. 21 through
March 6. That period will
determine each county’s risk
level from March 12 -25.
From Feb. 21 through
March 2, the county had 32
new cases. That would move
Theaters, museums,
other indoor
• Lowest risk: Maximum
of 50% of capacity; midnight
closing time
• Moderate risk: Maxi-
mum of 50% of capacity or
100 people, whichever is
fewer; 11 p.m. closing time
Restaurants and bars
• Lowest risk: Indoor
dining up to 50% of capacity;
up to eight diners per table;
midnight closing time
• Moderate risk: Indoor
dining up to 50% of capacity
or 100 total people, including Churches, funeral homes
and mortuaries
staff, whichever is fewer; up
• Lowest risk: Indoors, up
to six diners per table; 11 p.m.
to 75% of capacity; outdoors
closing time
up to 300 people
Gyms, fi tness centers,
• Moderate risk: Indoors,
indoor pools, indoor
up to 50% of capacity or 150
school sports
people, whichever is fewer;
• Lowest risk: Maximum of outdoors up to 250 people
Continued from Page 1A
Because the county’s contract requires that it notify
the Chamber at least 30 days in advance if the contract
is canceled, Commission Chairman Bill Harvey gave
Cutler that notice last week.
The reason, Bennett said Wednesday, is that commis-
sioners were not scheduled to meet until that day.
He emphasized that commissioners did not intend to
cancel the contract. They voted unanimously on Jan. 6 to
extend the contract through April 30. It was the second
time commissioners have extended the contract since
March 2020.
“At no point, I want everybody to clearly understand
it, at no point had we discussed (canceling the contract),”
Bennett said. “We were doing a procedural step (the
30-day notice) not a result of an action step. We were
just doing that because if, not knowing how the action of
today would turn out, if we didn’t do it we were in a real
Bennett said the Chamber of Commerce is a critical
element to the community and to the county.
Commissioner Bruce Nichols said Wednesday that he
hopes the extension of the contract, in addition to giving
a level of certainty to the Chamber of Commerce, will
help to “dial back some of the rhetoric.”
“The Commission has never said that the county was
canceling events or shutting down the Chamber of Com-
merce,” Nichols said. “We have never said that. Not one
commissioner has said that. It’s dividing our county and
it’s not necessary. We need to try to work this out and
move forward and get the problem solved.”
Nichols said he wants Miners Jubilee and other
events, most of which were canceled in 2020 due to
the pandemic, to return, saying they help to drive the
county’s economy.
Creating a work group
Commissioners also voted 3-0 Wednesday to propose
to Baker City offi cials that the city and county work
together to create a work group that will review not only
the visitor services contract but the entire lodging tax
Bennett, who proposed the group, said he envisions
a six-member board, three appointed by the city, along
with three from the county, including the county repre-
sentatives on the transient lodging tax and economic
development committees.
Bennett said the work group would gather commu-
nity input as to how the lodging tax revenue is spent,
including from owners of motels, restaurants and other
businesses that cater to visitors.
“We’re moving forward,” Harvey said. “I want the
citizens of Baker County to understand; we’re not sitting
still, we’re not waiting for the governor to tell us to do
something, to close this down, open that up. No, we’re
moving forward.”
Commissioners have been wrestling with the visitor
services contract for more than a year. In February 2020
commissioners decided not to award a new contract, al-
though both the lodging tax and economic development
committee recommended that Anthony Lakes Mountain
Resort, which along with the Chamber of Commerce
submitted a proposal, receive the contract.
Anthony Lakes general manager Peter Johnson has
urged commissioners to make a decision on the contract.
Commissioners, based on the advice of county counsel
Andrew Martin, decided last fall to restart the process
because the request for proposals that yielded bids from
the Chamber and from Anthony Lakes lacked details
about how a visitors center should be operated.
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