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Protect watershed

Whoever started the fire last week in Baker City’s watershed probably figured the diminutive blaze was of little consequence.

Luckily, they were right.

Yet that fire, though it burned less than one-tenth of an acre before four Forest Service firefighters put it out Friday evening, could have left the city’s 4,000 or so households with dry faucets and a hefty bill to get them flowing again.

The fire might prompt city officials to cancel hunters’ privileges to legally walk into the watershed and go after a deer or an elk.

Letter to the editor for September 8, 2008

Letter to the editor for September 3, 2008

A tough year killing skeeters

I will agree, in part, with a caller who left a message on my answering machine complaining that not enough had been done about the mosquitoes this summer.

However, I must add that I feel the vector control district has done everything within its power to reduce mosquito numbers as much as possible.

At this point in the season, the district has logged 302 phone calls. Of these calls 249 were adult mosquito reports, 16 event fogging requests, 12 dead bird reports, four larval inspection requests, three no-spray list, two for advice on out-of-district mosquito control and 16 miscellaneous calls, including thank-yous. The district has made 381 larvacide treatments covering 9,985 acres as well as 55 adulticide treatments covering 63,939 acres.

Still trying to do my teacher proud

I’ve been making my own bread lately, in an effort to do more cooking from scratch. Bread, however, requires kneading — a skill many don’t need anymore thanks to the bread aisle.

The other day I was making dough, and dumped the gloopy mess on the counter to “knead until elastic, about 10 minutes.”

I set to it, molding the dough into a ball and then kneading with a motion of fold, push, fold, push, then add more flour to keep it from sticking.

My mind wanders during repetitive tasks such as this, and I remembered something from about five years ago when I took my first pottery class at Crossroads Art Center.

A different kind of Congress?

Griping about how the Willamette Valley bullies the rest of Oregon is a popular pastime among residents in the state’s rural regions.

Which is most of them — regions, that is.

When we first heard about the inaugural Oregon Rural Congress, which took place last week, we figured the event organizers had merely put a new name on an event with the same tired old purpose: to complain.

But then we read a couple of quotes that Colleen MacLeod, a Union County commissioner and co-chairman of the Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance, gave to The (La Grande) Observer, our corporate sister paper.

Does the Constitution protect our busted lawnmowers, too?

Summer broke the other day and I went out walking in the damp dusk, sort of a lonely wake for the beloved season.

The wind had swung around to the northwest and it blew brisk and heavy with the sharp sweet scent of mint almost ready for the harvest. A versatile crop, mint — its oil adds the tang to both the chewing gum which attacks our teeth and to the fluoride-laced paste which defends our enamel against all manner of enemies.

In the field by the junior high a dozen or so kids, elementary age by the look of them, scurried about, clad in helmets and full pads. The shoulder pads, in particular, gave them ungainly and odd proportions — the broad upper body of a mature weightlifter attached to the skinny and short legs of the pre-adolescent.

Anyway it was pleasant to walk past and hear the inimitable clap of plastic pieces colliding.

Football, it seems to me, announces the imminence of autumn at least as reliably as the calendar.

Unintended effects of the ethanol law

Ethanol was supposed to boost Oregon’s economy and clean our air — a pretty neat trick.

Turns out ethanol knows a couple other tricks that aren’t so neat.

Lowering your car’s gas mileage, for instance.

And raising your food prices.

And, possibly, dissolving plastic or rubber parts of your vehicle.

No wonder the Oregon Legislature was so enamored of ethanol.

But that was last year.

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