MURPHY — The former owner of Rick's Thriftway at the Greatway Center in Eagle Point has acquired a market at 7200 Williams Highway.

MURPHY — The former owner of Rick's Thriftway at the Greatway Center in Eagle Point has acquired a market at 7200 Williams Highway.

Hidden Valley Market, a former Ray's Food Place, will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, Rick Nichols said.

The store, which employs 24, was closed in January and reopened in April. Nichols said there were plenty of hurdles in restoring all the operations, including a remodel.

"It took time to get my ducks in a row," said Nichols, who sold his Eagle Point store to C&K Market in 2003.

"Once you close a store, it's a big deal to get it back open," Nichols said. "It took a lot of time to do repairs, replace equipment, restock and get service agreements in place."

Since selling the Eagle Point store, Nichols and his wife, Tresa, acquired the Wimer Market, which they continue to operate.

Wine tastings from local vineyards, product demonstrations and barbecue from Jeffro's Grill will be available Friday at the new Murphy store.

In addition to Applegate Valley wines and organic beef, the store offers natural foods and essentials.

Rogue Community College Small Business Development Center will offer five contractor pre-licensing training classes required by the state.

The classes begin Tuesday, July 22, and continue through Wednesday, July 30, at the SBDC, 214 S.W. Fourth St., Grants Pass.

The course will be repeated at the Table Rock Campus in White City in September.

Cost for the class is $350, which includes tuition and texts. Enrollees need government-issued photo identification. A spouse or partner who will not be obtaining a contractor's license may attend the classes at no charge, but must register.

For information, call the SBDC at 541-956-7494 or see

Natural gas prices are likely headed higher this fall, officials with Oregon's three regulated natural gas providers told the Public Utilitiy Commission during the annual Gas Outlook on Tuesday.

Pressure is being put on natural gas prices by an extremely cold winter that depleted reserves and a shift to natural gas from coal to generate electricity, company officials said.

"We are at our lowest gas storage levels since 2003," said NW Natural's Randy Friedman.

Avista Utilities predicts an increase of 8 to 10 percent.

Oregon's natural gas companies get their supplies of gas from Canada and the Rocky Mountain region. Each year, the PUC reviews the gas costs proposed for recovery from customers by each Oregon gas company both to ensure the costs are reasonable and prudent, and that the company has taken all actions available to it to keep these costs as low and stable as possible.

If the Purchased Gas Adjustment functions as designed, each core customer pays only actual gas costs, with no mark-up or profit for the company. Oregon's natural gas companies will send their requests to the PUC on Aug. 1. After the commission evaluates the requests, new rates will take effect Nov. 1.

Compiled from staffand wire reports