By JAYSON JACOBY
Baker City Herald
Supervisor Steve Ellis might decide by late spring how many of the
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest’s 4,200 miles of low-maintenance roads
will be off-limits to motorized vehicles.
But forest visitors probably will have to wait until the fall of 2010
to get hold of the maps that show in detail the scope of the Travel
The road closures won’t take effect until the maps are published.
Ellis’ pending decision probably ranks as the most anticipated, and controversial, on the Wallowa-Whitman in at least a decade.
Since May 2007, when forest officials announced that as a result of a
Forest Service directive they would revamp the Wallowa-Whitman’s rules
on where motor vehicles are allowed (the plan won’t, however, affect
snowmobiles), locals have followed the parade of federal red tape with
People who like to ride four-wheelers and motorcycles worry that the
new travel plan will prevent them from traveling their favorite routes
and pursuing hobbies such as picking huckleberries and cutting firewood.
Freezing rain makes a rare appearance in Baker Valley
Tom Fisk is used to dealing with ice that glazes Baker City streets.
With the aid of slip-on traction devices on her shoes, Gayle Hammond is able to better navigate sidewalks and streets slickened by freezing rain Tuesday morning. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
Ice that falls from the sky is a peskier sort of problem.
Fortunately, freezing rain is an infrequent visitor here.
Tuesday morning was an exception, but a relatively brief one, said Fisk, who coordinates the city’s snowplowing, salting and sanding efforts.
“It was about as slick as our crews have seen it in town,” Fisk said Tuesday afternoon.
Proud parents Kathrina and Ely Myers can’t get enough of their son, Gavin Elijah, who decided to arrive three weeks early — earning him the title as the first baby of 2010 born at St. Elizabeth Health Services.
Kathrina and Ely Myers welcome their son, Gavin Elija. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
Thomas Angus Ranch near Baker City is renowned for producing top-quality animals
Robert J. Thomas, a leader in the cattle industry in Baker County and nationwide, died Tuesday at his home near Baker City.
He was 85.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Gloria, in 1999. The Thomases
met in a 4-H club in Vail, Iowa, were married on Feb. 6, 1949, and
moved to Baker City from New York in 1959 with their young family to
start Thomas Angus Ranch.
The operation has grown into one of the most famous and respected purebred Angus seedstock-producing ranches in the nation.
“He was a great guy. He really was. He is in a better spot with my
Mom right now,” said Bob’s son, Rob Thomas, who continues the family
ranching tradition running Thomas Angus Ranch in the Baker Valley
northwest of Baker City.
“The passing of Bob Thomas is a tremendous loss to the beef industry
as well as Baker County,” said Cory Parsons, Oregon State University
Extension livestock agent in Baker County. “I know that Bob was a
pioneer and a visionary in the American Angus Association, as well as
the U.S. beef industry, and that he will be missed greatly.”
When neighboring Harrell Hereford Ranch won the 2009 Seedstock
Producer of the Year Award from the The Beef Improvement Federation,
Bob Harrell Jr., president of the American Hereford Association gave
the Thomas family and Thomas Angus Ranch part of the credit.
Thomas Angus Ranch won the Seedstock Producer of the Year Award in 1997.
While politicians and activists debate global warming policies, a
Baker County man is doing something to curb greenhouse gases: building
a “biochar” processing plant.
Eric Twombly plans to build the region’s first such plant at the site of the former Ellingson Lumber Co. sawmill near Halfway.
The plant will turn biomass — logging slash and agricultural waste
such as grass and wheat stubble — into a fertilizer that improves the
soil and helps it store carbon, Twombly said.
The plant also will produce a liquid fuel that can replace stove oil and kerosene.
Bob Parker, Oregon State University Extension Service forestry agent
for Baker County, said Twombly’s project opens the door to converting
biomass into valuable products rather than burning the wastes, which
releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The Baker County Private Woodlands Association is hosting a tour of
the Halfway biochar processing plant, led by Twombly, on Jan. 14 from 1
p.m. to 3 p.m. A carpool will leave at 11:30 a.m. from the OSU
Extension office, 2600 East St., in Baker City, or tour participants
can meet at the former Ellingson mill site.
Local nonprofits say United Way’s money-raising is already helping
Hal Huntington isn’t proud of the progress the United Way has made
two years after its reappearance in Baker County, but the agencies who
benefit from the fundraising organization praise the group’s
Michelle Osborn helps stock the shelves at the Salvation Army food bank during a previous holiday season in Baker City. United Way routes some of its funds to help the Salvation Army and other organizations meet their operating needs. (Baker City Herald file photo/S. John Collins)
Huntington, a 40-year supporter of United Way, vows to make a more
dedicated effort to solicit Baker County contributions as the new year
“I’m a firm believer in it,” Huntington says. “It’s one-stop
shopping. (United Way) makes it a lot easier to contribute — I’m a
contributor as well.
“I’m not going to give up on it,” he says. “We just have to put more into it.”
But even if the United Way’s Baker County arm isn’t yet at full
capacity, the organization’s ability to collect money for local
nonprofits is appreciated, says Mary Collard, executive director of the
Baker County CASA program.
“I’m pleased we have people like Hal willing to try to develop it,”
she said. “I’d love to see more people getting involved and more people
and businesses supporting it.
Police arrested a Kuna, Idaho, man on two counts of first-degree
custodial interference Saturday after finding two missing 14-year-old
girls, who reportedly had run away from their Washington homes, in his
vehicle near Baker City.
Shawn Matthew Grady, 19, is being held at the Baker County Jail on the Class B felony charges.
Police said one of the 14-year-olds was found hidden in a
compartment under the rear passenger bench seat in Grady’s 1995 GMC
extended cab pickup truck.
District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said today that a grand jury will review the case for other possible charges.
The girls were first reported as runaways at 3:30 pm. Friday, Sgt.
Mike Hallowell, a detective with the Longview Police Department said
The vehicle, which had Oklahoma license plates, was stopped about
10:45 a.m. Saturday in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 about 10
miles south of Baker City by Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife
trooper Brad Duncan, according to an OSP press release.
Oregon State Police seized about 50 pounds of marijuana valued at
$125,000 during a traffic stop near La Grande on New Year’s Eve.
Police arrested Gerald Solomonson, 45, of Connecticut and Philip J.
McCarthy III, 28, of Russell, Mass., on charges of unlawful possession,
delivery and manufacture of marijuana. Both are being held at the Union
County Jail in La Grande.
Two years — and more than 100 pounds later — Lisa and Chris Knoll credit one glance at the size tag on a new shirt for their healthy lifestyle
It was Christmas 2007 when Lisa and Chris Knoll decided to change their lives.
Lisa Knoll exercises daily and admits staying healthy is hard work. She emphasizes the importance of never giving up on your goal. Both Lisa and her husband, Chris, have lost more than 100 pounds since they embarked on a healthier lifestyle two years ago. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
Lisa was folding a new shirt and happened to glance at the size.
She didn’t like what she saw.
“I looked in the mirror and thought ‘who is this person?’ ” she says.
Forty-five minutes later she went out to the living room and told her husband she was ready to lose weight for good.
“I said, ‘why don’t you pray about it, and I’ll pray about it,’ ” Lisa says.
They made a list of everything they’d gain by losing weight.
“There was nothing we felt was more important,” she says.
They set the start date as Jan. 2 to avoid labeling their mission as a New Year’s resolution.
“It’s not a diet,” Lisa says.
They went drastic at first.
“If it wasn’t a fruit or vegetable, it didn’t go in,” she says. “There wasn’t anything we wouldn’t give up.”
The Baker County Family YMCA is sponsoring an “I Can Tri at the Y”
mini-triathlon — 400-yard swim, six-mile bike ride and one-mile run.
Laurie Wittich, fitness/aquatics director for the YMCA, will have
information about the triathlon, planned for May, and a special
membership price at the “Losing Big in Baker County” kickoff Jan. 7,
5:30 p.m. at Baker High School, and during a meeting Monday, Jan. 11,
at 5:30 p.m. at the fitness center, 2021 Main St.
The YMCA is offering a short-term membership package — $100 for four
months — to those who have never had a membership. This price is
offered both to participants in “Losing Big” and those who simply want
to do the triathlon and 16-week training program, which begins Jan. 15.
There will be two training levels for the triathlon. The one for
beginners is a “couch to triathlon” program. At the end, participants
can either walk or run in the race. Another training regimen is
available for more advanced athletes.
Wittich said both approaches will address the three sports, as well
as nutrition and staging (how to go from swimming to biking to running).