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Johnson’s first Civil War the biggest of them all

Former BHS star set to start for Oregon State on Thursday night as the Beavers and Ducks play for a berth in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1

Baker High School alumnus Grant Johnson, No. 70, leads the way for Oregon State’s star running back Jacquizz Rodgers during the Beavers’ 42-10 win over Washington State in Pullman on Nov. 21. Johnson, a sophomore, is a starting offensive lineman for the Beavers, who play at Oregon Thursday. The winner of this year’s Civil War will play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. (Photo by Johnny Bullock)
Grant Johnson is 55 hours from playing in his first Civil War, which is to say he’s preparing to etch his name into a legend.

They’ve already battled on the football field 112 times, the Oregon State Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks.

But it happens that this 113th clash, which kicks off at 6 o’clock Thursday evening in Eugene’s Autzen Stadium, is bigger than any of those past games.

The fans and the sportswriters say so, anyway.

Johnson, though, has more pressing matters to attend to than picking superlatives for a football rivalry that dates to 1894.

Getting ready to knock some Ducks on their tailfeathers, for instance.

Johnson, a sophomore walk-on from Baker City, is slated to start at offensive guard for Oregon State when the Beavers and the Ducks play for a berth in the Rose Bowl.

That first part, at least, is familiar.

Johnson has started at the same position in each of the Beavers’ 11 games this season.

He hasn’t missed many plays, either.

“I tweaked my knee and came out for about five snaps,” Johnson said in a telephone interview late Tuesday morning from Corvallis. “It was either the Cincinnati (Sept. 19) or the Arizona (Sept. 26) game.”

Mike Nelson receives Governors’ Gold Award

Mike Nelson’s car didn’t veer toward the ditch until he saw his name and photograph inside the big white envelope.

And he wasn’t even driving.

His wife, Jane, was.

And both were, well, stunned when they realized that Mike had not merely received an invitation to the Governors’ Gold Awards annual banquet.

He was also a winner.

“We almost ran off the road,” said Mike Nelson, 62, a longtime Baker County businessman and community leader. “I was just overwhelmed.”

Festival goers won’t miss Civil War

This year the Festival of Trees opening night will have a dual theme — the trees, of course, but also football.

“Don’t let the big Civil War game interfere with your Festival plans,” says Amy Dunkak of St. Elizabeth.

Thursday is the Festival’s “Preview Among the Trees” with live music and refreshments from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Events Center, 2600 East St.

That night, also at 6 p.m., is the annual Civil War football game between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

To combine these events, Dunkak said  Alpine Alarm is loaning a large screen TV and Charter Communications and Charter Business Services will provide video services to broadcast the Civil War.

Tickets to “Preview Among the Trees” are $15 at Betty’s Books, Clark and Company Home, The Sycamore Tree and St. Elizabeth Health Services.

5J board targets dropout rate

The Baker School Board took the first step Tuesday night to implementing policy changes a school consultant says will reduce dropout rates and inspire low-achieving students to improve their academic performance.

Directors will work to refine their thoughts on seven proposed policy changes prior to their Dec. 15 meeting. The proposals will then go to the district staff for further discussion.

The board was inspired to make the changes by Douglas B. Reeves, a speaker at the annual Oregon School Boards Association convention in Portland last month.

Director Lynne Burroughs, a retired Baker High School teacher and theater adviser, supplied other board members with notes she’d compiled from Reeves’ presentation.

Land classification group to meet

Committee’s findings help decide how much property owners pay for fire protection

The county committee charged with classifying private property as either forest or grazing land for purposes of setting fire protection assessment rates will meet Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Baker County Library conference room, 2400 Resort St.

The classification process hasn’t been done in Baker County in more than 30 years.

Keith Shollenberger, area supervisor for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the Baker County Classification Committee works on behalf of the ODF, and in cooperation with landowners, to set assessment rates based on actual firefighting costs as well as potential future costs.

Ultimately, when all properties have been classified, some landowners who haven’t been paying fire protection assessments may wind up being assessed fees, Shollenberger said.

City manager checks under way

A Middleton, Idaho, private investigation firm has begun background checks on the two finalists for the Baker City manager job.

The city hired Freeman and Associates to do the checks, interim City Manager Tim Collins said this morning.

Collins said he doesn’t expect the work to be finished before the end of this week.

The City Council chose Tim W. Johnson of Portland and Clarence Hulse of Cocoa, Fla., as the two finalists during a Nov. 16 meeting.

Councilors also decided, by a 5-2 vote, that Johnson is their top choice, so long as the background check doesn’t reveal any problems.

“He is the majority choice,” Councilor Beverly Calder said this morning.

If Johnson’s background is acceptable, then the Council will decide, during a public meeting, whether to offer him the job.

Burnt River district receives state conservation award

The Burnt River Soil and Water Conservation District won Oregon’s 2009 outstanding conservation district award, marking the first time a Baker County group has received that recognition.

“This is a great honor. Baker County soil and water conservation districts have been active since 1941 and have never received this award,” said Laurie Owens, manager of the Baker Association of Conservation Districts, which includes the Burnt River SWCD.

In addition to the Conservation District of the Year Award, Baker County’s Amber Arritola was honored as the Outstanding District Employee of the Year for her work with the Burnt River SWCD.

Both awards were presented by the Natural Resource Conservation Service during the Oregon Association of Conservation District’s Annual Conference in Pendleton last month.

Report: Turkey’s not just a holiday bird

Federal study shows Americans eating more poultry, less beef

A day after millions of families dined on turkey for Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report that found Americans are eating more poultry, but a little less beef and pork.

The report also concluded that we’re eating more cheese but less ice cream.

Despite the USDA’s release of a new food pyramid in the 1990s recommending people eat more fruits and vegetables, the study found people are eating more vegetables but less fruit.

Haines man killed in woodcutting accident

A Haines man died in a woodcutting accident Saturday in a field off Highway 30 between Baker City and Haines.

Sherrill Dayhoff, 72, left home to cut wood in a field owned by Jeff Phillips about 9 a.m. Saturday, Sheriff Mitch Southwick said today.

Turkey Trot raises more than $3,000

Amount raised almost doubled total from the inaugural event in 2008

This year’s Turkey Trot, held Thanksgiving morning, raised more than $3,000 and 2,000 pounds of food for the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center.

The event brought out 291 paid participants, 70 of whom signed up the day of the race. Also, donations were received from people visiting from as far away as Davis, Calif.

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