Baker County sheriff battles trespassing at old cement plant

Baker County sheriff: Stay away from abandoned cement plant.

Driving along Interstate 84 while you’re on your way to Baker City, it’s hard to miss. Sitting on the hillside in Lime, Ore., is a century-old abandoned cement plant.

While it may look enticing to stop and wander around to check it out, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office is asking people to stay away.

The plant was built by Acme Cement Plaster Co. in 1916. Sun Portland Cement Company then bought the plant in 1921. It was owned by several companies over the years before shutting its doors in 1980. It has sat vacant ever since.

“This is a crumbling, falling down structure and it's just unsafe,” Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash said.

The years have taken their toll on this once-bustling cement factory.

“You have rebar sticking out, you have crumbling concrete, you have rusty nails, you have tin. It's just, there's a whole myriad of potential accidents waiting to happen,” Sheriff Ash said.

The facility also consists of a number of 20-foot pitfalls.

“If you came through here at night and you didn't see this, you're going to fall down, and if you impale yourself on one of the 2 X 8 sticking up, I mean you're going to die,” Sheriff Ash said.

Sheriff Ash tells KTVB his office doesn’t know of anybody that has gotten hurt, but they’re worried about what could happen.

It’s because of all these safety risks he’s is asking people to stay out. If you’re caught, you can be cited for trespassing, which is an arrestable offense.

“If you’re arrested for this, you go to jail, you will most likely spend the night in the Baker County Jail, unless you can bail out. You'll go up to court the next day and then the judge will decide whether you get to stay in the Baker County Jail or you get released or released to a third party,” Sheriff Ash said.

Depending on the circumstances, bail can range anywhere from $1,500 to $7,500.

“We spend over 80 hours in Huntington and deputies come through here all the time,” the sheriff said.

Despite having daily patrols, deputies say they find several people a week who are still willing to take the risk.

“In the past we've had meth labs here. We've contacted several people under the influence of drugs or engaged in illegal activity up here,” the sheriff told KTVB.

He says finding things like weapons, fireworks, and graffiti aren’t too uncommon. Deputies even found a machete at the abandoned facility on Friday.

Aside from the county's and sheriff’s office's day-to-day concerns, they’re also worried people will use this area to view this summer’s total solar eclipse.

“It's a dangerous area, we don't want people in there for the eclipse viewing. It is in the bottom of a canyon. It's not a very good sight to view the eclipse,” Baker County Commission Chair Bill Harvey said “If it goes dark and it will during the eclipse somebody could get seriously hurt that's why that is off limits,” Harvey said.

Baker County currently owns the facility. Harvey tells KTVB the county’s end goal is to demolish the facility and turn it into another profitable business for the county.

“Were wanting to turn it into something productive for the county to sell to a viable industry and create some jobs for the local area,” Harvey said.

However, he says that’s something the county can’t afford to do at the moment.

“Were estimating about $1.5 million to clean up the sight and to make it viable again for another industry,” Harvey said.

Currently, there is no timeline on when demolition would start, but Harvey tells KTVB when they have the funds to demolish it, they will.

Until then, they’re asking people to stay out.

“We don't want anybody hurt up there,” Harvey said.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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