Enjoy your mild winter, Eastern Oregon

The news from New Hampshire is, well .... darn cold.

Old friends report it was 20 below the other day with snow on the ground up to the waist. Some are shoveling their roofs. And all of this has fallen since Christmas after a "mild" fall.

Not my problem, I say, while jogging along the river on a sunny, 50 degree (above zero) day last Saturday. It reminded me of how good life is in Pendleton and Umatilla County.

I know this winter's weather is a bit atypical. But I suspect it has been a long time since Eastern Oregon experienced a true New England or Midwest winter.

Still, as any old Yankee farmer would tell you today: "Yep, we’ll be makin’ maple syrup here in a couple of weeks." 

And they will be doing it in the snow.

— Tom Brown

Deserving businesses would appreciate a compliment, too

When it's time to file a complaint on a company, many consumers know to contact the Better Business Bureau. What they may not know is BBB also welcomes compliments on businesses.

BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington accepts compliments year-round; those filed in 2011 automatically become nominations for BBB's 2012 Business of the Year Torch Awards.

For more information, check out www.bbb.org.

— Skip Nichols

Could chicory replace sugar beets as a Northwest crop?

Does chicory have potential as a new commercial crop for Northwest growers? The grower-owned Amalgamated Sugar Co. (an Idaho-based compnay)  is investigating the possibility and has grown and harvested chicory during the past few years.

Amalgamted’s cooperative processes sugar beets grown on 180,000 acres in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. It is funding research by Don Morishita, superintendent of the University of Idaho’s Kimberly and Twin Falls Research and Extension Centers.

 Chicory contains an inulin-based soluble fiber, different from sucrose-based sugar beets. Inulin is a natural prebiotic fiber that is utilized with increasing demand in hundreds of applications in the food industry, including yogurt and ice cream.

— Skip Nichols

Sorry, Green Bay Packer fans ...

Gov. John Kitzhaber was in Pendleton this week for important economic reasons. The governor took time out of his packed schedule to answer some questions from our editorial board.

But we couldn’t resist the temptation to get his take on one of the most watched events coming up in February — Super Bowl XLV between Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

Asked who was going to win pro football’s big game, the governor didn’t mince any words in making a prediction.

“Pittsburgh,” he said. “No doubt. They’re gonna crush ’em.”

East Oregonian Publisher Tom Brown wanted to know if he favored the Steelers because he spent time around Pittsburgh.

“No,” the governor said. “I hate Pittsburgh — They beat the Seahawks.”

The diehard Seahawks fan then offered that he thinks some changes are needed in Seattle.

“I think we need a new quarterback up there,” Kitzhaber said.

Are you listening, Pete Carroll?

— Skip Nichols

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