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A class that's still close after 67 years

The Baker High School class of 1943 had its 67-year reunion last weekend, with 18 attending, along with spouses and children. Seated in the front row, from left to right, are: Clarene Powell Rohner, Marion Whisman Gudgel, Juanita Boyce VanCleave, William Tebeau, Norma Randall Cartwright, Colleen Clough Anderson. Middle row, left to right: Colleen Howell DeGrofft, Freida Wood George, Betty Schuck Balch, Jean Howard Massie, Betty Cook Allen. Back row, left to right: Dwight Riggs, Leilah Leasy Bishop, Paul Thomason, Eugene Wolfe, George Balch, Murl Anderson, Sid Johnson.
Baker City Herald

The class of 1943 had quite the childhood — surviving the Great Depression and then going straight into World War II.

But those aren’t the main stories Baker High classmates told during their 67-year reunion Saturday in Baker City.

A certain algebra teacher named Carl Kligel was the main topic.

“Remember how he could land the book?” Freida (Wood) George said to her tablemates.

“He could stand at the front of the room and throw a book at you no matter where you sat,” Clarene (Powell) Rohner said.

Then Colleen (Howell) DeGrofft added: “He used to throw everything.”

Of the 40 classmates on the mailing list, 18 gathered last weekend to visit and reminisce.


Local group wants to build motorcycle track at Virtue Flat

Baker City Herald

Virtue Flat’s already a great place to ride a motorcycle.

Clay Berthelsen is convinced it could be better.

Berthelsen, 21, who lives in Baker City, is one of the founders of Virtue Flats Riders.

(There is some disagreement, even among cartographers, about “Flat” and “Flats”; Berthelsen’s club prefers the plural version.)

The fledgling group’s goal is to build a motorcross track at Virtue, the BLM-managed off-road vehicle area just south of Highway 86 about six miles east of Baker City.

Bugs could pose problem for pines

The Pine butterfly, a native species that can kill its namesake tree, is having a periodic population surge

A Pine butterfly on the needle of a ponderosa pine in Baker County. The butterfly, native to this area, is in the midst of one of its periodic population surges. Although the insect’s larvae can harm trees, their outbreaks are usually short-lived. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
Small white butterflies are flitting around Baker County these days, but there’s no need to be concerned.


The insects are Pine butterflies, which are native to the region, said Bob Parker, forester for Baker and Grant counties.

“I’ll probably have a better picture next year when the eggs hatch,” he said.

The butterflies deposit masses of eggs in pine trees, and when the caterpillars emerge they start munching needles.

“They can do a little bit (of damage) or a lot,” Parker said.

The butterfly can affect each of the three pine species common in this area: ponderosa, lodgepole and whitebark.

After doing some research, Parker found that the Pine butterfly has caused large-scale defoliation in Idaho, Montana and Washington. A 1922 outbreak near Payette Lake caused a 25 percent mortality rate in mature ponderosa pines across 27,000 acres of forest.

Grass court appeal Sept. 14

The owner of Baker City’s grass tennis court complex will take his case to the City Council on Sept. 14.

Don McClure wants to extend the lights-out deadline at the four-court complex from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., and to play host to tournaments on as many as 30 days per year, up from the current limit of 22 days.

In May the city Planning Commission denied McClure’s application to make those changes to his conditional-use permit for the courts.

McClure appealed to the City Council.

Councilors are scheduled to consider that appeal at a public hearing during their next regular meeting, which is Sept. 14 at City Hall, 1655 First St.

On Tuesday night the Council had a work session to discuss the guidelines, as prescribed by state law, for that public hearing.

Councilor Clair Button was absent Tuesday, and Councilor Milo Pope left early because he had a previously scheduled conference call.

Salsa contest at Farmers Market

The Baker City Farmers Market will have the 2nd annual salsa festival Wednesday, and entries need to be submitted between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The market is held in Geiser-Pollman Park, at the corner of Campbell and Grove streets.

This salsa contest is open to everyone. Entries must be homemade and submitted in a one-quart glass jar with a clean, rust-free lid.

Entries will be judged by market customers at 5:30 p.m. The winning salsa maker will receive a Baker City Farmers Market grocery bag filled with the market’s bounty.

The Scots like their games heavy

Ollie Lusby of Boise competed Saturday during th Highland Games (S. John Collins)
The Braemar Stone Putt event strains faces and bodies of the contestants as they compete to throw a 22-pound stone the farthest from a standing position.

Man accused of killing wife last week convicted of assaulting her

A Baker City man accused of murdering his wife by shooting her Thursday at the couple’s home was convicted of assaulting her in March.

According to Baker County Circuit Court records, Kevin Michael Blankenship, 41, of 3500 Auburn Ave., was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and ordered to enroll in a domestic violence intervention program for assaulting Christina Dawn Blankenship, 38, on March 16, 2010.

According to a police report, Kevin Blankenship punched Christina Blankenship in the face, giving her a bloody nose. That incident also happened at the couple’s home.

A grand jury indicted Kevin Blankenship on one count of murder Friday, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said today. Blankenship was arraigned on the charge Friday in Circuit Court. He is being held at the jail on $1 million full bail (which means Blankenship can’t be released by posting 10 percent bail, as is customary), Shirtcliff said.

The next court action will be a hearing in the judge’s chambers at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 13, Shirtcliff said.

Program aims to bring local cattle, grass together

Landowners and livestock producers might get a chance to help each other.

The latter need food for their cattle.

The former sometimes need their grass mowed.

Since cattle’s affinity for grass is well-established, the potential, should the two situations coincide, is obvious.

But the problem in the past has been managing leases between the grass owners and the ranchers.

Ken Anderson from the Baker Valley Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts is planting the seeds of a solution with local ranchers and landowners.

Man accused of murdering his wife

Authorities expect to charge a Baker City man with murder today in connection with the Thursday morning shooting death of his wife.

Kevin Michael Blankenship, 41, of 3500 Auburn Ave., was taken into custody shortly after his wife, Christina Dawn Blankenship, 38, was shot at the couple’s home in southwest Baker City, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said today.

“He is alleged to have shot his wife in an act of domestic violence,” Shirtcliff said.

None of the couple’s children was at home at the time of the shooting, Shirtcliff said.

Still time to ripen those tomatoes

The weather has stunted some crops, but there are tricks

A Baker City garden still displays a mix of green and ripening tomatoes in late August. (Baker City Herald/S.John Collins)
You can blame the weather, not your gardening skills, for all those green tomatoes that seem stubborn to turn red.

“Tomatoes don’t do well under 50 degrees,” said Jimmy Roberts, Master Gardener coordinator for the OSU Extension Office, who included a note about ripening green tomatoes in September’s gardening newsletter.

In other words, nights that drop to the 30s don’t do these plants any favors.

Roberts said Sept. 26 is, on average, the first day of frost in Baker City.

That’s average, remember.

“Fifty percent of the time we get a freeze before Labor Day,” he said.

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