Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, December 06, 2017, Page A3, Image 3

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Farm Fair seminars highlight
latest research, trends
uring its second year at the East-
ern Oregon Trade and Event Cen-
ter the Hermiston Farm Fair con-
tinued to add new lectures and
seminars highlighting previously
overlooked aspects of Columbia Basin
Historically speaking, the Farm Fair
has focused on the latest and greatest
developments in potato production —
the signature crop supported by Oregon
State University’s Hermiston Agricul-
tural Research and Extension Center.
The 44th annual event, however, intro-
duced a number of new presentations
Thursday covering topics such as organic
crops, precision irrigation and pollinators.
Phil Hamm, station director at
HAREC, said he did not know the exact
attendance, but estimated it was in the
“What we’re trying to do is (reach) as
many of our stakeholders as possible in
our region,” Hamm said.
Last year’s move to EOTEC from
the Hermiston Conference Center cer-
tainly helped, Hamm said, providing a
larger venue to bring in more present-
ers and hold more sessions. This year’s
trade show featured 48 different vendors,
including multiple farm suppliers, Energy
Trust of Oregon and the U.S. Department
of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.
Attendees filled the room for a morn-
ing seminar on pollinators, which dis-
cussed the importance of bees and bee
habitat in agricultural systems. Andony
No settlement
reached for
No settlement was reached Monday
during a conference between the Umatilla
County District Attorney’s Office and
Tyree Houfmuse, who is charged with
murder, manslaughter, felon in posses-
sion of a firearm and two counts of unlaw-
ful use of a weapon, in the May death of
Hermiston resident James Cragun.
Chief deputy District Attorney Jaclyn
Jenkins said the next step would likely
be for the judge to set motion dates and
trial dates, but no dates had yet been
Cragun’s parents and
sister were at the court-
room Monday before it
was closed for the pri-
vate hearing. They talked
about the toll the last few
months has taken on their
“His kids are just going through hell,”
said Beverly Cragun, the victim’s mother.
His sister, Cynthia Bailey, said the
family was hoping for a life imprison-
ment sentence.
She said the family was also hoping to
find out exactly what happened that night,
as they still don’t know the exact series of
events that led to Cragun’s death.
Some of Houfmuse’s relatives were
also at the courthouse on Monday. Houf-
muse’s aunt declined to comment on the
Ron Halbakken, factory sales manager for Legacy Steel Buildings, talks on his cell phone
in front of his booth at the Hermiston Farm Fair on Thursday at EOTEC in Hermiston.
Melathopoulos, with OSU’s Pollina-
tor Health Extension Program, said Ore-
gon is home to more species of bees than
there are east of the Mississippi River.
“It’s a hotbed of diversity,” Melatho-
poulos said. “People are just amazed by
Melathopoulos went on to explain
how farmers can treat their crops for
weeds and pests while taking care not to
harm pollinators. He ran through a litany
of available products, demonstrating how
to properly read labels and determine if
and when a grower should apply certain
chemicals in the field.
“Without a doubt, pollination is very
important for the production of many
crops,” Melathopoulos said. “I hope peo-
ple came out of this session knowing pest
control is possible and compatible with
For the first time, the Hermiston Farm
Fair also organized a seminar dedicated
specifically to growing organic crops. It
takes three years before a farm can be
certified organic, and growers must adapt
to a very strict set of approved standards.
Local organic production is on the rise,
said Alexandra Stone, a former organic
farmer and cropping system specialist for
OSU. In eastern Washington, Stone said
organic sales grew sixfold at the farm
gate between 2005 and 2015, from $100
million to $600 million.
“There’s already a lot of organic pro-
duction out here,” she said.
Yet demand for organics is still out-
pacing production in the U.S., with
imports exceeding exports by $1.1 bil-
lion, Stone said. With that in mind, she
led a survey among 20 farmers in the
room to determine what they want and
need from the university to tap into the
organic marketplace.
Of those polled, 79 percent said they
expect demand for organics will continue
to increase, yet 40 percent said they did
not have the tools to control pests and
disease. The vast majority of farmers
said they would benefit from some kind
of technical training through OSU, with
more than half favoring a hybrid online
undergraduate and professional develop-
ment certificate program.
Later in the afternoon, Clinton Shock
with the OSU Malheur Experiment Sta-
tion detailed how precision irrigation can
optimize yields and save farmers money,
all while protecting the environment.
“We really want high and stable pro-
duction of horticulture and crops,” Shock
said. “Precision irrigation is really the
Shock said researchers are working to
determine a set of criteria known as the
soil-water tension for different crops,
which essentially describes the amount
of energy a plant must expend to suck up
water in the ground. If the tension is too
high, a plant may shut down. If the ten-
sion is too low, water may leach away
nutrients, leading to waste.
But if a grower knows the soil prop-
erty, Shock said they can find the sweet
spot. That means healthier crops for less
money. Plus, as a side benefit, he said
the more efficiently nitrogen is used, the
more it protects groundwater quality.
“A lot of the public thinks growers
are not innovative, or stuck in the mud,”
Shock said. “That just isn’t so.”
Local agencies train for crash scenes
In the eastbound lane of Inter-
state 84 near the Pendleton Key-
stone RV plant, a semi-truck has
slid into the median, its trailer
flipped over and completely
blocking the left lane.
Emergency responders want
to clear the area of traffic, but
some pressing questions remain.
How should firefighters posi-
tion their vehicles? Where should
they place the safety cones? What
were the best in-the-moment
decisions to avoid it from becom-
ing infinitely worse?
Luckily for the responders, it
wasn’t a real situation, but a sim-
ulation with toy cars and paper
roads within the safe confines of
the Pendleton Fire Station.
Guided by state officials and a
towing professional, ODOT held
a half-day training in Pendleton
Friday on traffic impact manage-
ment to a room full of area fire-
fighters, paramedics, transporta-
tion workers and police officers.
The goal was to train this
group of professionals in how
to avoid second collisions, a sit-
uation where a traffic incident is
made worse when another vehicle
collides into the scene.
The instructors played video
after video from across the coun-
try showing the pile-ups and sec-
ondary accidents that can spring
A Pendleton Police officer directs traffic at the intersection
of Highway 395 and Perkins Avenue on August 1, 2017, after a
transmission interruption during a thunderstorm knocked out power
to Pendleton residents.
from routine responses to situ-
ations like a dead animal in the
road or a single-car accident off
the shoulder.
Dangerous brushes with pass-
ing motorists are felt closer to
home as well. Pendleton fire-
fighter/paramedic Lorne Becker
described the experience of
responding to an emergency near
Woodpecker Truck & Equipment
on I-84.
“They get in the other lane, but
they don’t slow down,” he said.
“It’s difficult when you’re trying
to take care of someone.”
Darin Weaver, the incident
management coordinator for
ODOT, called the kind of motor-
ists who tend to be behind sec-
ond collisions “D drivers,” the
D standing for drunk, drugged,
drowsy, distracted and “just plain
“I think we actually have more
‘D drivers’ on the road than safe,
attentive, defensive drivers,” he
Although police and firefight-
ers are generally recognized for
putting themselves in harm’s way,
Weaver said they’re much more
likely to die from a secondary col-
lision than they are from a shoot-
ing or fire.
According to statistics pro-
vided by ODOT, five firefighters
die each year and one police offi-
cer dies every month from sec-
ondary collisions.
Tow truck operators — often
the last person at a highway scene
— die at a rate equivalent to one
per week.
Not helping the matter is an
increasing number of fatal colli-
sions, which each require atten-
tion from law enforcement and
other government agencies.
According to ODOT, there were
410 fatal collisions in Oregon in
2015, a huge jump from 321 in
2014 and 292 in 2013.
One factor that could help
reduce secondary collisions is
making the public aware of a law
already on the books. Cars that get
into a collision but are still opera-
ble must leave the travel lanes.
Weaver said many drivers’
failure to observe this law is less
the fault of the general public and
more a responsibility of public
agencies to spread the word about
Another lesser-known fact
is that law enforcement has the
ability to move cars and cargo
involved in a collision to improve
traffic safety.
Matt Zintel, a trooper with the
OSP’s office in The Dalles, said
safety takes priority over evi-
dence when it comes to fatal traf-
fic investigations.
Emergency responders are
also getting assistance from a
new law on the books. Drivers are
required to either move to the left
lane or decrease their speed to five
miles per hour below the speed
limit when passing by police or
emergency personnel on the side
of the road, but the law has been
expanded to include any vehicle
with their emergency lights on.
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