Annexation Anxiety

After wavering on ballot decision,

city needs to keep a steady hand

The annexation campaign was defused before it could even develop into a full debate, with the City Council's decision last week not to put the issue to a vote.

The council's reversal merits scrutiny.

On the one hand, the city should be credited for taking a step back before committing to a public vote, feeling that new information made such a move inadvisable at this time.

On the other hand, they ought to have known certain things before voting to put the question to the voters in the first place.

Speaking of hands, a strong one is needed when it comes to an issue such as annexation, where taxes, territory and community identity are at stake.

Council retracted the annexation vote in part because of the challenge of educating two separate constituencies -- those in the city and those subject to possible annexation -- and that it would cost some money to run the election and pay for public information on the issue. That challenge should have been clear initially.

City officials had taken the annexation proposal to other elected bodies, including Hood River School Board, and appeared certain of what needed to be done. Then last week it stepped back from a potential battle it realized might be a losing cause.

The city either did not clearly identify its goal or had not gathered sufficient information before voting last month to ask for annexation.

But it is better to waver and make the correct decision than to chart the wrong course and suffer ill consequences at public expense.

The city is right in seeking an equitable way to pay for the full costs of providing services to all who have access to them.

Now the city will embark on a review of the areas abutting the city that could be separately annexed. Here's hoping the review will result in a cogent analysis of the subdivisions and other parcels. That analysis should reveal an anticipated pattern of annexable lands; the city should carefully base its future municipal additions on that pattern.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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