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About Wallowa County chieftain. (Enterprise, Wallowa County, Or.) 1943-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 7, 2018)
February 7, 2018
Wallowa County Chieftain
he future of journalism is in good hands. I spent a class
period last week with Cameron Livermore’s journalism
students at Elgin High School.
I discovered their publication back in December when I
picked up a copy at an Elgin bank. I was impressed a school
the size of Elgin would have a school newspaper. On top of
that, it held my interest from front to back. The class also pro-
duces a nifty
website and is
to venture into
dents even raised
to purchase a high-quality camera to shoot photos for their
Cameron is an English teacher at Elgin and has some pro-
fessional journalism background. He’s a native of Beaver-
creek, Ore., and on Facebook describes himself as a “teacher,
writer, reader, motorcyclist, board rider, dog walker, cat
herder.” I contacted him, and he invited me to stop by and
check in with his students.
In addition, I wanted to pick his brain on a project I’ve
been noodling since I arrived in Wallowa County almost a
I have talked with all three of our school districts about
creating a community journalism program that would publish
a combined school newspaper and website in the county. The
idea received a good reception.
Then time caught up with me. My new plan was to orga-
nize something for Jan. 1, which has now come and gone. So
Plan C is for debut next fall.
The idea is to expose high school students to writing, edit-
ing, photography, page layout, websites, video and everything
else that’s part of the journalism world today.
There’s a bit of a selfish motive behind it for me. If I can
develop one highly qual-
sports reporter from
If I can develop one ified
each school, I will be
more than thrilled. If we
can help even one stu-
dent find a career in
journalism, I will con-
from each school,
sider it a success. If one
of them one day comes
I will be more
back and works for the
than thrilled. If we Chieftain, that would be
can help even one
In sharing the vision
student find a career for Wallowa County,
Cameron said he would
in journalism, I
like to have his students
participate as well. So
will consider it a
the concept is grow-
success. If one of
ing before it has really
them one day comes reached
board. I guess that’s a
back and works for good sign.
We are not short on
the Chieftain, that
community resources for
in the county,
would be a win-win. journalism
so the plan is to put
some of the “formers”
and “retireds” to work. There’s nothing like spending a few
hours a week with high schoolers to give you a new outlook
You can check out Elgin’s work at huskytracksjournalism.
com or pick up a hard copy of the student newspaper at sev-
eral spots in Elgin.
WAHL TO WALL
THIS WEEK’S cartoon on this page is by an artist you
have never seen before in the Chieftain.
Some weeks back, Heidi Muller called to my attention a
cartoon she had found online that promoted the idea of why
we need libraries. Heidi has been a worker bee in the effort to
see a library district formed in Wallowa County.
She wondered if we could reprint the cartoon. They’re
usually fairly heavily copyrighted, so I didn’t hold out much
Heidi put on her Sherlock Holmes hat and did some
sleuthing. She found Chris OBrion on Facebook and sent me
I contacted Chris, who graciously allowed us to repro-
duce the cartoon. He says of all the cartoons he’s drawn in his
career, this one receives the most requests for reprint.
Chris has drawn a weekly freelance editorial cartoon for
the Roanoke (Va.) Times since 2007. He has been staff car-
toonist at three newspapers on the East Coat.
Our thanks to Chris for his generosity. I hope you enjoy
A board is a bummer for balance
uddle up, Wallowa County. Bring
it in. We need to have a quick
chat about handshakes.
The other day I saw a guy I know and
right off he informs me he’s not going to
shake my hand. So I automatically get
into my fighting stance. I grew up on the
mean cul-de-sacs of Pleasant Hill, Ore.,
where a refusal to shake hands means it’s
two seconds from go time.
So I got my elbows in, feet little more
than shoulder width apart, ready to initi-
ate the Cloudburst Technique, which is a
move where you rain blows out of a clear
blue sky. But the guy is like, Whoah,
whoah, hey ... I just don’t want to get the
flu, so I’m not shaking hands until win-
ter is over.
Well, OK then. I approve this plan.
Makes good sense.
I’m going to adopt this. No more
hand-shaking for me until we’re in the
clear on colds and flu. So far I have
avoided being sick all winter, and I’d like
to finish out the season undefeated.
I have been less lucky in the winter
hazard department of slipping and falling.
Took a spectacular faceplant last week.
Just a full body crater into the snow.
I was jogging across the frozen tun-
dra of my yard at the time. Had a six-
foot eight-inch board under one arm and
a cordless drill in the other hand. It was
dark. I had my toolbelt on.
Jogging in a toolbelt with pouches full
of nails, screws, framing hammer, tape
measure and other sharp pointy jangly
things is not a natural movement.
The board under my arm was about
to become the new shelf above the desk
in my office. I’m looking up at it right
now. Gorgeous plank of wood. Old red fir
rough-sawn beauty. One inch thick, solid
So I began jogging with
four pounds of decking
screws jangling around in
my tool pouches, the shelf
tilting further from kilter
with every step and right
then the toe of my clunky
insulated winter boot
kicked a frozen gopher
mound cleverly disguised
by snow and moonlight
twelve inches wide. Grain standing out
like a raised relief topo map.
Salvaged this board from a barn
years ago and been saving it because
it’s just too nice for any old project.
I’d just attached two very custom sup-
ports on either end, fashioned from alder
Same sticks Terminal Gravity tap
handles are made of. Maroon bark with
white flecks. Matter of fact, I went out
and got these very branches with Todd
Kruger, the TG tap handle-maker.
So these gangly sticks on either end
make the shelf very tippy, I don’t have a
his milder winter is certainly a
blessing and a relief. More of my
distress during last year’s winter
was due to not being prepared with
proper supplies and adequate food. All is
going well now.
Haven’t had any real emergencies
other than at this moment I’m staying
with a friend because I have no heat in
the house. Grain Growers will replace my
propane stove soon.
Last summer, while bagging Imnaha
country blackberries to freeze, I won-
dered if they would grow here in the val-
ley. About four berries were placed in a
glass dish next to the sink to let dry. I’d
plant them soon.
As weeks passed I became worried
about my eyesight. My eyes felt tired
and weak from long hours on my lap-
top as I worked on the history book. I
scheduled an eye appointment with an
In 2014 he had diagnosed a condition
that would cause me to be blind in three
years. Yet in 2015 that condition had
left by following his vitamin regimen.
That dilemma raised its head though. Is
that why I was having trouble with my
Cooler nights signaled snow was com-
ing soon. As I puttered around the house I’d
hear a bump in the kitchen that I assumed
was Petey Pup and ignored it. My little gar-
den plot in the back yard was already dug.
There was no sensibility in planting
the seeds at this time of year ... it was
more about holding on to my last chance
to stick something in the ground.
I noticed tiny segments of the black-
berries in the space behind my kitchen
faucet and the wall. “How did those get
there?” I questioned. But I scooped them
up, grabbed the dish holding the others
and headed out the door.
“There now,” I spoke, patting the dirt
over the seeds. “Let’s see how this turns
Within a few days, I found evidence
that more were living with me than just
Petey. Mice droppings were scattered in
the cabinets and drawers under the sink. I
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P.O. Box 338 • Enterprise, OR 97828
Office: 209 NW First St., Enterprise, Ore.
Phone: 541-426-4567 • Fax: 541-426-3921
Contents copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.
Reproduction without permission is prohibited.
Jon Rombach is a curator of fine barn-
wood and a columnist for the Chieftain.
I realize now ... seeing is believing
Wallowa County’s Newspaper Since 1884
proper center of gravity hold on it, and if
it falls I’ll probably break what I just fin-
ished carefully crafting.
The thing to do would have been
make two trips, but I didn’t have time.
This board had languished in my shed for
probably eight years, but suddenly it had
to be installed right this instant.
So I began jogging with four pounds
of decking screws jangling around in
my tool pouches, the shelf tilting fur-
ther from kilter with every step and right
then the toe of my clunky insulated win-
ter boot kicked a frozen gopher mound
cleverly disguised by snow and moon-
The mound of dirt did not yield and
gravity took a sudden interest in the
I could let go of the shelf, or the screw
gun, or both, to catch myself. Or I could
grip both with steely resolve and catch
myself using my chin. I went with the
It wasn’t great. But some of the
impact was dispersed through my left
thigh as it landed on something not soft
in my tool bags. On the bright side, I did
manage to not break the delicate stick
brackets or the shelf.
After making this very unfortunate
snow angel in my yard, I limped slowly
the rest of the way, installed the shelf,
and it looks pretty good, if I do say so
myself. The bruise on my leg doesn’t
look bad either.
Steady as she goes on the ice out
there, folks. Cut back on the handshakes
and we should coast through the rest of
this winter just fine.
Ad sales consultant
Marissa Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Wahl, email@example.com
Stephen Tool, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen Ellyn, email@example.com
Jennifer Powell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheryl Jenkins, email@example.com
stared blankly at the wall, then burst out
“Oh, smart, Katherine. I think you
planted mouse turds in your garden!”
I explained my diminishing vision (but
not the turd planting) to the eye doctor.
“Your tests look good. In fact, your
vision has improved,” he looked at me.
“Let me see your glasses.”
He held them up to the light. “Do you
ever clean these?”
Pause. “Whenever I think of it.”
“How often is that?”
“Maybe once a week.” I felt two
“How about three times a day?” he
Laying my head on the car door
before unlocking it, I bemoaned, “It’s so
hard being me!”
So now I cast a wary eye toward that
bare patch of dirt by my fence.
Warming days coming and after the
robins return, I will have to face the inev-
itable and examine last year’s plantings.
If tiny noses with whiskers appear,
and beady black eyes return my gaze,
you’ll be the first to know.
Katherine Stickroth is a freelance
writer who blogs at awallowagal.com.
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