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Carbon: The new forest product?

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Mike Gaudern of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association talked with Baker County woodland owners last week. (Baker City Herald/Ed Merriman)
Following a record-setting decade for catastrophic forest fires, a new era may be on the horizon focusing on sequestering carbon dioxide in trees instead of letting them burn and pollute the atmosphere.

Mike Gaudern, executive director of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, delivered that message to members of the Baker County Private Woodlands Association during a swing through Eastern Oregon last week.

“Oregon has been picked as one of three pilot project states in the nation” where cap and trade carbon credit trading will be made available to woodland owners through the Chicago Climate Exchange program, which was formed in 2002 and began trading carbon credits in 2003.

“I don’t care if you believe what Al Gore and others are saying about carbon emissions causing global warming or not. My interest is making you money,” Gaudern said. “We grow trees that suck carbon out of the air, and people want to pay us money for it — a lot of money.”

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Purses with a purpose

The business Bob and Kay Petrik of Baker City started in Cambodia  is thriving, and helping dozens of women


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Khmer Krafts, a Cambodian business founded by Bob and Kay Petrik to offer employment for women, has signed a five-year contract to provide purses for Great American Fundraising, which works with 25,000 schools across the country. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
The seamstresses of Khmer Krafts are busier than ever these days crafting purses for Great American Fundraising, which works with 25,000 schools across the nation.

Khmer Krafts was established in 2005 by Bob and Kay Petrik of Baker City to provide jobs to women who graduate from Cambodia’s Battambang Trade School.

The company tagline is “Purses with a Purpose — Fashion that Makes a Difference.”

Cambodia is still recovering from The Killing Fields, the period from 1975-1979 when the communist guerilla group Khmer Rouge swept through the country and forced city dwellers into labor camps. More than three million Cambodians were killed.

The Petriks first visited the Asian country in 2004 with Musicianaries International, and that’s when they met the Rev. Setan Lee, founder of Kampuchea for Christ (KFC) and a survivor of The Killing Fields.

Lee’s sister-in-law, Chhevan Yos, manages Khmer Krafts and designs the purses, wallets and book covers.

At first, the business employed 20 women, who in 2006 sewed 2,800 purses.

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County’s recycling rate rises near record

Baker County residents and businesses produced slightly less trash last year than in 2006, but they recycled quite a lot more of it.

Overall, the county recycled 24.4 percent of its refuse during 2007, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

That’s an increase of 5.6 percent from 2006.

It’s also the second-highest rate DEQ has recorded since it started measuring recycling in 1992.

Baker County’s highest rate was 25 percent in 1996.

County residents generated 16,403 tons of garbage during 2007 and they recycled 3,673 tons of cardboard, glass and other stuff — 32 percent more than the previous year’s total of 2,783 tons.

(The 2007 figures equate to a recycling rate of 22.4 percent, but DEQ adds a 2-percent “credit” to Baker County’s rate due to Baker Sanitary Service’s free yard debris dumping program.)

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OTEC trims rates slightly

Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative ratepayers will enjoy a small break starting with their October electric bill.

A decrease — although a modest one.

The cooperative announced Wednesday it was reducing customers’ electric bills an average of 0.68 percent, beginning with bills printed Thursday.

That would save ratepayers 68 cents on a $100 electric bill.

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It’s time to put up the potatoes

Some growers say yields are down a bit, but the weather was conducive to a good wheat crop


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Ken Austin grabs a chunk of dirt off the conveyor moving spuds to a truck during the potato harvest at Jason and Rosie Williams’ farm near North Powder. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
Potatoes came on late and yields are down slightly in some places due to a combination of a prolonged winter, wet spring and an early frost this fall, but abundant irrigation this summer also helped produce superior quality spuds, according to Baker County growers.

Also on the plus side, the cool, damp weather that affected potato yields produced an above average wheat crop at the Blatchford farm near Haines.

“It was a good water year, and that’s good for potato quality,” said Dave Blatchford, who founded the family farm along with his brother Jim in the early 1970s.

The Blatchfords grow Russet potatoes on about 700 acres. Workers were busy Monday harvesting potatoes under warm, sunny skies.

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City councilor takes county marketing job

Andrew Bryan, a Baker City businessman and city councilor, has been named the county’s marketing director.

Bryan replaces Kari Whitacre, who resigned to take a new position with a community development organization in Corvallis.

Bryan began his duties Monday. He will be paid $42,000 per year.

To take the job, Bryan resigned from the board of directors for the Baker County Development Corp., a non-profit group that supervises the marketing director and channels transient room tax money to attract visitors to Baker County.

The remaining board members then hired Bryan, who’s also an education consultant.

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Manager: OTEC has plenty of options

Oregon has 18 electrical cooperatives, and a handful of public utility districts and city-owned utilities are scattered throughout Oregon and Washington. Many are eager to be partners with Baker City-based Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative, or OTEC.

Why?

Because the era of plentiful and cheap energy provided by the Bonneville Power Administration is coming to a close, and smaller utilities across the Northwest have decided it’s better to pool their risk if they must develop other sources of electricity — including renewables — themselves.

OTEC is a popular potential partner for other utilities, said the utility’s general manager, Werner Buehler, because it’s large and growing slowly.

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Baker’s Bumper Crop

Harvest Festival Saturday at Geiser-Pollman Park


Autumn is here, but Baker County gardens and farms are still bursting with vegetables and fruit.

“It was such an incredible bumper crop season,” said May Heriza, who has been busy preserving food and has sold produce all season at the Baker City Farmers Market.

This Saturday celebrates the season at the market’s Harvest Festival, with live music by Johnny Starr and a gourmet meal featuring local produce.

The market will be extended by one hour, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The location, as always, is in the northeast corner of Geiser-Pollman Park.

The menu will include roasted squash soup with garlic baguette and apple cider for $4; a side of Sexton Ranches lamb sausage for $1; caramel apples made with certified organic apples from Eagle Creek Orchards for $2.50; and pumpkin bread for $1.50.

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Deli gets a new look, menu

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Deli manager Oma Jane Davidson prepares a box of fried chicken.(Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
A shiny clean deli featuring everything from fried chicken and sandwiches to chicken salad, pizza sticks and custom-made jerky is attracting customers to Little Susie’s Meat Market and Deli.

Little Susie refers to Susie Stout, whose family, including husband Doug Stout, and his parents Del and Ann Stout, recently purchased Reynolds Custom Meat Cutting in Baker City from Tim Reynolds.

“We purchased the meat business in May and have been doing a lot of cleaning up, fixing up and repairing equipment,” said Susie Stout.

The business is at 2970 H St.

While the core business remains focused on custom cutting and wrapping of USDA-inspected beef, pork and lamb, as well as custom processing of local ranch animals and wild game, Susie said hiring Oma Jane Davidson to manage the new deli proved to be a good move.

Davidson previously worked for the Stout family as deli manager at Wilson’s Market in the 1990s, and as manager of the bowling alley.

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Woodstove owners urged to buy local

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Farel Baxter of Baker City unloads firewood from his truck.(Baker City Herald/Ed Merriman)
Buy local has a whole new meaning when it comes to preventing the spread of  invasive species, pests and plant diseases as Oregonians stock up on firewood this fall and winter.

With the arrival of colder weather, homeowners who heat with wood or those who enjoy a crackling fireplace are in the market for firewood, but the Oregon Department of Agriculture is urging consumers to avoid purchasing firewood cut in other regions of the state or from out-of-state.

“We’d like for everyone to become aware that firewood is a pathway for moving invasive species, and it’s easy to fix that pathway. Just buy local,” said Dan Hilburn, administrator of the ODA’s Plant Division and a member of the Oregon Invasive Species Council. “There is plenty of it around. Buy firewood that is produced locally and burn it locally.”

While the spread of invasive species to Oregon from imported firewood is a major concern, Oregonians should also be aware that pests like ticks that pose human health threats can also be transported on firewood transported from one side of the state to the other.

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