Stories in this Regional News Roundup are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is part one, with part two set to appear in Sunday’s Tribune.

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Bakers Table grand opening set for today

POMEROY — A new main street handcrafted eatery and coffee spot, The Bakers Table, is planning a grand opening today from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Bakers Table, family owned and operated by Katrina and Greg Sharp, specializes in sandwiches made with handcrafted bread, soups, salads and pastries. They will also accommodate special orders for cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, pastries and cakes.

The Sharps grew up in the Pomeroy and Clarkston area. Now that they have two college-aged sons and after 23 years in the “big city,” they have returned to their roots with a passion for food, coffee and people. They created The Bakers Table with that in mind: a place where family and friends can gather around the table to share in good food, coffee and conversation.

They look forward to meeting all the wonderful community members and hope you’ll gather around their table. The Bakers Table is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and is located at 847 Main St. in Pomeroy.

— Charlotte Baker, East Washingtonian, (Pomeroy), Thursday

New Valley County COVID-19 cases smash record with 212 new cases in week

New records were set for the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Valley County last week by the county’s two hospitals.

The 212 new cases are more than three times the 63 cases reported the previous week and more than 13 times the 16 new cases reported at the end of December.

The testing methods used by the two hospitals do not show how many of the new cases were caused by the delta variant of COVID-19 and how many were caused by the new omicron variant.

The 182 new cases reported by St. Luke’s McCall more than doubled the previous high weekly count of 79 new cases during the first week of September 2021, Chief Operating and Nursing Officer Amber Green said.

“We are concerned about the omicron surge and the impacts it will have on our community and region,” Green said.

“However, we are encouraged about the data from other states and countries reporting less severe disease, hospitalizations and death,” she said.

St. Luke’s McCall recommends residents use what Green called a “layered” approach to protect themselves and the community from infection.

That includes getting vaccinated and getting a booster, staying home if sick, wearing a mask in public places and in crowded outdoor spaces, keeping a distance from others and washing hands.

The 30 new cases reported by Cascade Medical Center was the highest weekly total since March 2020, CEO Tom Reinhardt said.

“Many more people presenting with symptoms, but people are not as critically ill as they were during previous surges,” Reinhardt said.

— Tom Grote, The Star-News, (McCall), Thursday

Weather closes highway, causes 4-H barn collapse

More snow hit the region Jan. 6, with the National Weather Service’s Missoula office reporting 14 inches at Kooskia, 16 inches at Orogrande, 8 inches at Woodland and 6 inches at Dixie.

With snow and high-wind issues, last week saw multiple power outages reported across the region, districts canceling school and athletic events for the day, and sporadic storm damage incidents — notably, the destruction of the Lewis County 4-H livestock barn in Nezperce.

“People who are calling me are devastated about it,” said Michelle Koepl, Lewis County Fair Board Administrator. “Nobody was killed or injured; that’s the good thing. On the flip side, my whole family has (gone) through this building from Day 1. I had six children go through with 4-H animals, I’ve been a leader for 26 years. So, there’s a lot of memories in there.”

Heavy snowload and subsequent precipitation are factors in last Thursdays collapse of the steel structure 4-H building located on Pine Street, with all but an approximately 20-foot section remaining intact. Owned by Lewis County and administered by the fair board, the 11,200-square-foot structure was built in 1965. It housed space for swine, sheep and goats, and two arenas. Damage estimates are unavailable; however, it is insured through the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP).

“I was surprised at what was still intact,” Koepl said, as far as equipment inside the structure that escaped damage, notably the scale, most of the livestock pens and a bleacher.

What the loss of the building means for the 4-H program and the 2022 Lewis County Fair is still undetermined, and was to be discussed at a fair board meeting last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the community has already been reaching out to Koepl on what fundraising efforts groups could be conducting to assist in the rebuild effort, and she is noting these could be good options to assist the program once the board knows more.

“Were looking at a pretty massive loss because of reconstruction costs and replacement,” she said. What those will be, what portion insurance will meet, and other related issues, “On those questions, we don’t have answers right now,” but she encourages patrons their support is appreciated, “and we may need these (fundraisers) to put things back together.”

— David Rauzi, The Clearwater Progress, (Kamiah), Thursday

Winter Carnival Mardi Gras parade canceled because of virus

The Mardi Gras Parade, a central attraction of the McCall Winter Carnival, has been canceled for the 2022 event, the McCall Area Chamber of Commerce said this week. The parade was scheduled to start at noon Saturday, Jan. 29, through downtown McCall, but has been canceled because of worries related to COVID-19, chamber spokesperson McKenzie Kraemer said.

Other chamber-sponsored events will continue to be held during the carnival, set for Jan. 29 through Feb. 6, Kraemer said.

Those events include the snow sculpture contest that has been at the core of the festival since the modern carnival was started in 1965, she said. This year’s theme is “Return to Our Roots.”

Street vendors, live music and fireworks sponsored by the chamber also will proceed as planned, but some events sponsored by local organizations or businesses may not occur.

“While we know it is disappointing to not have the Mardi Gras Parade, we are working hard to honor the tradition of carnival while prioritizing health and safety in an ever-changing pandemic,” she said.

The 2021 carnival was canceled entirely because of the pandemic and the chamber had hoped the 2022 event would be able to be staged in full.

The chamber has been working with the city of McCall, local health care professionals, law enforcement, fire and EMS, and local businesses to monitor the latest COVID-19 surge that has produced record numbers of infections, Kraemer said.

All event-goers will be asked to wear masks in crowded locations, both indoors and outdoors; physically distance where possible; and stay home if they are feeling sick.

Some local businesses may have altered hours, reduced staff or be closed during the carnival depending on their individual situations, staffing levels, and health and safety protocols, she said.

“At its core, Winter Carnival was started to get people outside, break the cabin fever and build community,” Kraemer said.

“This is exactly what you will find this year, and a great way to celebrate the spirit of this event by returning to our roots,” she said.

Updates are available at VisitMcCall.org.

— Tom Grote, The Star-News, (McCall), Thursday