Tom Brock was named man of the Year and Kathleen Chaves was named woman
of the year during the Baker County Chamber of Commerce awards banquet
held Saturday evening at the events center.
Tom Brock, right, accepted the Man of the Year award from last year’s co-recipient, Gregg Hinrichsen, far left, and Debi Bainter of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce. (Baker City Herald/Ed Merriman)
“Not many in Baker County know of Tom and his amazing capacity to give.
Tom is just a quiet volunteer; he is a silent volunteer,” said Ginger
Savage of the Baker 5J School Board in a nominating letter.
She described Brock as “one of those volunteers that is working to keep
kids out of the News of Record section of the newspaper” by helping
keep kids off drugs and alcohol.
“Tom works with kids who do not go out for football, basketball or
scouts,” she said. “Tom doesn’t give up on them and he gives them a
reason to go to school.”
One of the things Tom does is helps kids build wheelchair ramps and do
home improvement projects for low-income residents of Baker County
through the Baker Middle School Builders Club he founded five years
ago, according to a nominating letter from Shandra Lee.
Contract prices for Baker County potatoes nearly doubled for the 2009
crop, a boon for farmers who watched soaring production costs take a
bite out of their profits in 2008.
Rising production costs hurt Baker County potato growers last year. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
Most of the county’s 2008 potato crop was grown under contracts paying growers $5.75 per hundredweight (cwt) delivered.
But after enduring rising costs for fuel, fertilizer, labor and other
production costs last year, growers negotiated a higher contract price
of $10.08 for their 2009 spud crop, said Cory Parsons, Oregon State
University Extension agent for Baker County.
Parsons said potato contracts are negotiated nearly a year before
potatoes are harvested, so growers know what they’ll receive before the
crop is planted.
That provides farmers some security and avoids the uncertainty of selling on the open market.
Speakers from throughout the United States will be featured at the fifth-annual Cattlemen’s Workshop which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Blue Mountain Conference Center in La Grande.
Raising cattle, like these on the Forsea Ranch near Richland, is the topic of Saturday’s workshop. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
Ron Rowan, beef marketing manager for Beef Northwest feeders headquartered in North Powder, said the workshop has become one of the larger and more popular venues for renowned speakers to share their expertise in the cattle business.
This year will be another “must see” event if you are involved in the cattle business, Rowan said.
“We’re expecting more than 300 ranchers,” he said.
The theme for this year’s free workshop is “Opportunities in a Changing Beef Industry.”
Rowan expects ranchers from Northeastern Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest will attend Saturday to keep abreast of changes in the cattle industry.
Rowan said cattlemen will profit from the speakers’ expertise, and will have a unique chance to listen and interact with some of the industry’s well-known experts.
Tommy Beall, former director of market research for Cattle-Fax, will lead the discussion on cattle marketing trends and keys to success in the current economic climate. Beall helped create the “Cattlemen’s College” program that Cattle Fax has hosted for several decades. He is a former executive at ContiBeef and owns a beef and cattle consulting firm in Colorado.
Store owners attribute strong sales numbers to several factors, including cooporation among merchants and shoppers choosing to stay close to home
Two weeks of snowstorms, icy roads and renewed community support for
local merchants turned gloomy expectations into a rosy Christmas sales
season for many Baker City businesses.
The Christmas season proves to be fruitful for Audrey Hindman, owner of Aud’s and Ends beauty salon, with increased sales of products she offers at the Baker City shop. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
“We advertised a Christmas sale and we had a really good turnout,” said
Shirley Hayes, a bookkeeper at D&B Supply. “We’re excited. We did
better than we ever have.”
“I think with all the concerns about the economy, people were looking
for bargains,” Hayes said. “We had a lot of merchandise discounted 20
percent and more, so it made it easy for people shopping for Christmas
to get something nice, inexpensively.”
She said the arctic weather that arrived the second week of December
helped make the Christmas sale such a big success that D&B sold out
of some cold weather gear.
“The cold weather really brought people out,” Hayes said. “Before that,
it was rather slow. After it snowed and got cold, sales picked up.”
Cold weather gear also flew off the racks at Flagstaff Sports and Kicks Sports Wear, both on Main Street.
Ryan Chaves, an owner of Kicks Sports Wear, said Christmas sales were better than he expected.
He attributes this largely to residents shopping locally, partly out of
a sense of community support fostered by the “Shop Local” campaign, and
partly due to periodic closures of Interstate 84 and other roads.
Say, Steve Schauer, didn’t I see you on TV the other day?
Baker City Herald/John Collins
Schauer, member services manager for the Oregon Trail Electric
Consumers Cooperative, hasn’t really made any recent television
appearances — at least of the traditional variety.
But four spots — three in which he was a star — have found their way to
the Web site YouTube and are posted on the OTEC Web site, www.otecc.com.
While Schauer is featured prominently — he’s the only human in a spot
called “Cattle Fountain” — the real star might be a horse that belongs
to Pat and John Leonard.
As Schauer is busy at the Leonards’ ranch telling his YouTube audience
about an OTEC rebate program for helping them buy a product called the
cattle fountain, which helps water livestock during the winter months
without having to use electricity to heat the trough, the Leonards’
horse is stealing the scene, sniffing something unseen in Schauer’s
What the audience doesn’t see, said Michael Howe, OTEC’s communication
specialist, is the two takes that OTEC couldn’t use. In both of those
takes, the horse tried to nibble Schauer’s ear.
Bob Butler has had mixed success renting his Main Street building
Bob Butler was 12 when he fell in love with
the smell of fresh cut pines, piles of sawdust and logs piled high
around Baker City’s sawmill.
Bob Butler has had mixed success with renting space in his building on Main Street. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
Butler, who’s now 39, remembers Baker City as a magical place where log trucks shared the wide streets with cars and bicycles.
He was in awe of downtown’s tall buildings made of brick and of stone quarried at Pleasant Valley.
Butler recalls how the ranch hands wearing cowboy hats and boots, and
loggers in their steel-toed boots and hacked off pants held up with
suspenders seemed larger than life as they climbed in and out of the
pickup trucks, shopped in downtown stores, ate in downtown restaurants
and exchanged stories of their day felling logs, breaking horses and
Alice Trindle has seen thousands of elk, but her voice is full of awe
when she spots the five bulls wading across the snowy meadow.
Alice Trindle, holding antler, shares facts about elk with the Davis family from Utah — from left, Dalton, Miranda, Brooklyn, Lisa and Ethan. (Baker City Herald/KathyOrr)
“Oh, wow,” she says.
As she watches, the bulls emerge from the forest to join a herd of 150
Rocky Mountain elk already gathered at the Anthony Creek feed site west
of North Powder.
These five look like they just awakened after a night of indulgence —
they walk slowly, and one has frayed orange baling twine wrapped around
his antlers like a wild party favor.
“He got into somebody’s haystack,” says Susan Triplett.
Triplett and Trindle, who own T&T Wildlife Tours, have for the past
18 winters offered horse-drawn rides at this feed site run by the
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
ODFW runs 10 feed sites along the base of the Elkhorn Mountains, a
program, started in 1971, designed to keep hungry elk away from
The Anthony Creek site is the only place where the public can see the elk up close and personal.
With natural gas prices having risen by 5.4 percent in Baker City on
Nov. 1, weather-proofing a house to keep the cold out and the heat in
can save on energy bills, but there are potential hazards when a house
is made “too tight.”
Electric rates dropped by 0.68 percent for residential customers of
Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, and are up slightly for Idaho Power
However, Todd VandenBos, manager of the new residential division at
Oregon Power Solutions in Baker City, said higher electric rates based
on peak demand have been adopted in some metro areas and are likely to
hit Baker County at some point.
“We would like to help residents of Baker County and Eastern Oregon
identify energy consumption problems and take care of them before this
stuff kicks in,” VandenBos said.
He said Oregon Power Solutions is the only company in Northeastern
Oregon certified by the state to provide energy audits of homes and
“We go into your home and test every system in your house,” VandenBos
said. “Our report is about 80 pages long. It will tell you where your
energy is going, what your biggest problems are and what your options
are to fix it.”
Heading off a proposed tax on cow burps and and similar gaseous
emissions from the animals’ other ends, preserving ranchers’ water,
property and grazing rights and their ability to protect livestock from
wolves before they bite, are among the issues the Oregon Cattlemen’s
Association will focus on when the Legislature convenes Jan. 13.
Cattle groups are worried about potential regulations that could affect their industry in the coming year.(Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
“Some people are proposing a per-head tax on cattle for their perceived
contributions to greenhouse gas,” said Bill Moore, president of the
Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.
Moore, who raises between 1,000 and 1,100 head of Angus crossbred
cattle near Unity in Baker County, said the cattle industry opposes a
move afoot at the state and national level to tax digestive gases
emitted by cattle.
“There’s quite a bit of activity on clean air and clean water,” Moore
said. “The fear is that we might be facing some burdensome regulations.”
“We expect water law to be a big issue in the Legislature. There are
some legislators who would like to rewrite Oregon law governing water
rights from the headwaters to the ocean,” Moore said.
Cattle prices received by ranchers in Baker County and across the West
have plunged 40 cents a pound since July due in part to changes in
Americans’ eating habits triggered by the national recession.
rice for generic cattle dropped by 40 cents a pound since summer, before rebounding slightly.(Baker City herald/Kathy Orr)
“The cattle industry is not immune to the economy. People are still
eating a lot of meat, but they’re dining out less often, and at home
they’re eating more ground beef and less rib steak,” said Bill Moore,
who ranches in Baker County near Unity and is president of the Oregon
This month, Baker City is losing one of its newer restaurants, the
Fillin Station, due in part to a decline in people dining out.
Nationally, the Ruby Tuesday’s chain of steak houses announced it is
closing 40 restaurants, and the Morton’s Steak House chain has shut
down, said Ron Rowan, marketing manager for Beef Northwest feedlots
headquartered in North Powder.
Rowan said prices for generic cattle dropped from about $1.20 per pound
in July to a low of 80 cents per pound a couple weeks ago, before
edging back up to around 92 cents per pound on Monday.