By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
Robbie Johnson could hardly believe all the fuss people were making.
When Johnson, an anchor and reporter for KTVB-TV in Boise, and videographer Troy Colson stopped at the Geiser Grand Hotel Monday morning, seven historical re-enactors and a horse-drawn carriage were there to greet them.
andquot;How cute!andquot; Johnson said as she entered the lobby of the historic hotel, replete with its handsomely dressed historic characters.
Seven area residents, all members of the Baker County Historical Society Ernie and Ivy Nelson, Jim Kauth, John Brown, Virginia Kostol, Charry Mires and Scottie Haskell donned their old-fashioned finest to show the visitors around the city's historic downtown. Ron Colton drove the horse and carriage.
The station will air stories on Baker City attractions and its economic development efforts Monday, May 10, beginning with its 4 p.m. (Pacific Time) newscast. KTVB can be seen locally on Charter Cable Channel 7.
May is one of two andquot;sweepsandquot; months in the television news industry, a month when ratings are determined. With advertising rates on the line, affiliates try to beef up their local news coverage; KTVB's two-day visit to Baker City reflects an effort to do well during sweeps month, Johnson said.
Baker City will be the first of five communities to be featured in the station's andquot;Live Tour.andquot; The other four are in Idaho.
Johnson said she felt andquot;a little overwhelmedandquot; with the welcome Monday. A veteran of tours in other communities, Johnson said Baker City's effort was andquot;the most enthusiastic of all the cities we've seen.andquot; Baker City Manager Jerry Gillham thinks all the effort will pay off in at least two ways: first, that the station andquot;thinks enough about us to send out a film crew,andquot; and secondly, that the city's history and attractions andquot;will be distributed to a wide audience.andquot; andquot;I don't know why they chose us,andquot; he said, andquot;but I'm glad they did.andquot; Gillham said his interview touched on the local economy, quality of life issues, downtown enterprise zones and a downtown jobs proposal being considered by the governor's office.
andquot;The interview took about 15 minutes, but it'll probably end up 30 seconds on television,andquot; he said.
Geologist Howard Brooks gave the visitors a tour of the stamp mill at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center which was no easy feat, considering Colson and his bulky camera had to squeeze into tight quarters.
andquot;They were attentive, and they asked good questions,andquot; Brooks said. andquot;I'm not sure they realized that Oregon Trail settlers went right past here until gold was discovered.andquot; That was a message that Kostol tried to drive home during her carriage ride with the journalists.
andquot;They wanted to know what the Oregon Trail had to do with the beginnings of Baker City, and I told them 'nothing,'andquot; she said. andquot;I kept wanting to talk about some of the old buildings we were passing, but I'd barely get started and the horse had us past there.andquot; Monday's interviews also featured Barbara Sidway on the redevelopment of the Geiser Grand Hotel and the role history plays in the county's tourism efforts.
Today's schedule includes a tour of the Baker Sports Complex with Baker County Commission Chair Fred Warner Jr. and former major-leaguer Joe Rudi as well as an interview with local historian Gary Dielman.
andquot;It's going to be more picture intensive today,andquot; Johnson said this morning as she prepared to return to Baker City. andquot;Yesterday (Ivy Nelson) gave us some cinnamon rolls and bread. I can hardly wait to see what they have today.andquot;