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Farmers Market board reinstates Saturdays

You’ll be able to load up on locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables both Wednesdays and Saturdays this summer.

Last month, the Baker City Farmers Market board voted to drop Saturdays and instead have one market per week on Wednesday afternoons.

The board revisited that decision Wednesday night with the help of comments from vendors and the community.

Directors voted to keep Saturdays and to renew an effort to recruit more vendors.

The original reason for paring down to one market was that in 2009 the Saturday market didn’t draw enough vendors to pay the market manager.

At this week’s meeting, four vendors committed to a full season on Saturdays, making that a viable market.

ODFW puts collars on three Imnaha wolves

The pack is Oregon’s largest, with an estimated 10 wolves

State biologists recently attached tracking collars to three wolves from a Wallowa County pack, a project that will help biologists follow the movements of the pack that is the largest in Oregon, comprising an estimated 10 animals.

Workers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife collared two wolves on Feb. 12, and a third on Feb. 13 in the Imnaha wildlife unit east of Joseph.

“The wolves were in good body condition and the capture went well,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator.

The operation effort began with workers in helicopters firing tranquilizer darts to temporarily immobilize the wolves, said Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for ODFW.

She said the crew was fortunate in that one of the collared wolves is thought to be the alpha, or dominant, male in the Imnaha pack.

That wolf, one of the two collared on Feb. 12, weighs 115 pounds.

Sex abuse charges filed against Cole

The state has filed a second charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor, and four counts of third-degree sexual abuse involving a 17-year-old girl against former Baker County Commission Chair Brian Cole.

Cole, 47, of 17507 Deer Park Loop, was charged with the six Class A misdemeanors in a district attorney’s information filed in Baker County Circuit Court Friday.

The sexual abuse charges accuse Cole of having sexual contact with a person under 18, the legal age of consent in Oregon.

All six counts involve the same 17-year-old girl, according to court records.

In a letter filed in Circuit Court Tuesday, Cole’s attorney, Bob Moon of Baker City, wrote that Cole has waived his right to be formally arraigned on the charges. Moon asked the court to enter a not guilty plea on Cole’s behalf and to set the case for trial.

Suspect charged in two home burglaries that occurred in 2009

Baker City Police on Tuesday arrested a teenage boy suspected of burglarizing two eastside homes late last year while the residents were inside.

Cody Nelson, 16, of 1992 Plum St., was arrested at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at his home, Sgt. Kirk McCormick said. Nelson was taken to The Dalles where he is being held in detention on two counts of first-degree burglary, a Class A felony.

 At a Wednesday hearing in Baker County Juvenile Court, Judge Greg Baxter ordered that Nelson be held at The Dalles until the next detention review hearing Feb. 25, said Bryan Dalke, Juvenile Department counselor.

Woolly mammoth tusks unearthed near La Grande

Other bones, estimated at 15,000 years old, found during excavation

LA GRANDE — Woolly mammoth tusks have been uncovered in the Grande Ronde Valley.

The tusks and other animal bones were found during the excavation of local farmland Jan. 20.

‘‘A heavy equipment operator working for a local construction company was excavating about 15 feet below the original ground surface when he noticed white in the brown sand,’’ said professor Jay Van Tassell of Eastern Oregon University’s geology department. ‘‘When he stopped to investigate, he found a large white bone.’’

The undisclosed site is in the southern portion of the valley. A small piece of one mammoth tusk has been sent out for radiocarbon dating. Van Tassell and his peers estimate the fragment is 15,000 years old. Results should be back in a few weeks.

The construction crew attempted to safely remove the fossils from the area.

‘‘The crew did the right thing by stopping the bulldozer and realizing this was important,’’ Van Tassell said.

The bones were taken to EOU where they were identified by Van Tassell as the tibia of an ice age mammoth.

Fog a Frequent Visitor to Valleys

Low-lying fog has been a common sight in the valleys of Baker County this winter.

This recent scene is from the foothills of the Wallowa Mountains north of Halfway, looking southeast across the fog-bound Pine Valley and across the Snake River to the mountains of Idaho. (Baker City Herald/Lisa Britton)

Ash Grove welcomes workers

With the return of 48 employees this week the Ash Grove Cement plant in Durkee is back to full employment after temporarily laying off 67 workers in December due to a sluggish cement market and the company’s high inventories.

Mike Hrizuk, vice president of manufacturing for the Western Division of Kansas-based Ash Grove,  said 17 of the workers laid off in December were brought back two weeks ago to prepare for restarting the plant.

The other 48 came back to work Monday.

Hrizuk, a former manager at the Durkee plant, said nationwide demand for cement dropped from a high of around 133 million tons a year in 2006 and 2007 to about 74 million tons in 2009.

Demand is expected to remain low until the third or fourth quarter of this year, or early 2011.

“It has been the most severe economic downturn we have seen in Ash Grove’s 128-year history,” Hrizuk said.

However, since the December layoffs the company has sold sufficient cement to deplete inventories at the Durkee plant enough to justify calling back the laid off workers and restarting production.

To welcome the workers back, Hrizuk said the company is hosting a pizza party luncheon on Thursday.

One night, 280 years of Baker County stories

Nellie Langlitz hated milking cows, especially in the cold.

So did Fred Warner Sr.

As for Myrtle Petersen, her least favorite choir was cutting firewood — with a crosscut saw.

These three, all lifetime residents of Baker County, shared their memories during a special history program Monday night at the Baker Heritage Museum. The event was sponsored by the Baker County Historical Society.

About 80 people crammed into the room to hear these three talk — and they have quite a few stories from their years of living.

Nellie is 99, Myrtle turns 99 on Feb. 25, and Fred is 83.

First, they talked about their roots.

Myrtle’s father came to Oregon in 1904 from Missouri (she and Nellie pronounce it “Missoura.”)

“He came because he had a couple cousins here,” Myrtle said.

He went back, married her mother, and they returned to settle in New Bridge, near Richland.

Lawmakers douse bill that expands public access to rivers

Opposition from Oregon farmers and ranchers helped to thwart a bill under consideration during this month’s legislative special session that would have expanded public access to waterways that flow through private property.

The state Senate rejected by a 16-14 vote on Tuesday a watered down version of Senate Bill 1060.

Sen. Alan Bates, a Democrat from Ashland, introduced the bill.

The original version of the legislation would have designated dozens of streams and lakes as “navigable” waterways, potentially including some in Baker “When we looked at the composition of the task force, half or more were advocates of recreation. It was clearly a lopsided task forcer,” Ferrioli said, adding that it lacked a balance of representation from landowners and the police, emergency medical staff and others who would wind up having to respond to trespassing problems and medical emergencies on the waterways.

“We killed that bill on the Senate Floor yesterday,” Ferrioli said Wednesday morning.

5J board appoints screening committee

A screening committee of school district staff and community residents will include everyone who applied for the volunteer positions.

Directors Ginger Savage and Lynne Burroughs agreed during a Tuesday night work session to invite all who expressed interest in serving to attend a March 16 meeting at Baker High School. The group will be trained by Oregon School Boards Association consultant Forrest Bell during a mandatory meeting from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the BHS computer room. Those who cannot attend the training will be cut from the screening committee.

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