School safety comes first

Tuesday, kids return to school

and they are all in our care

Parents like to point out to their children that this is the last full week of summer vacation.

School resumes Sept. 4 for many students in Hood River County, Sept. 5 for the rest.

Time to start thinking of homework instead of home runs, buses instead of beaches, grades instead of Gameboy.

The return to fall represents those basic responsibilities of youth.

This is also the time to start thinking vehicle caution, the basic responsibility of adults.

The new Hood River school superintendent, Jerry Sessions, has two primary concerns for the school year: reading excellence, and safety for kids on the way to their buildings. Sessions is really articulating a community concern, but one that we must all be reminded of as students go to and from school, on foot, on bikes, and in cars.

The city has repainted crosswalks around town, and updated traffic control signs in the school zones. Police have mounted recent pedestrian right-of-way campaigns in recent months. Yet nationally, half of all traffic injuries were in crosswalks.

For the most part, walking to school is a joyful activity, where friends are met, the sweet smell of morning sweeps away the sands of sleep, and first thoughts of the day unfold.

Drivers can all do their parts to keep the experience a happy one. Starting next week, the kids are out there. They're in all our care.

Safety instead of speed.

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Latest video:

Lawnmower torches Arbor Vitae on Portland Drive

The riding lawn mower driven by Norma Cannon overheated and made contact with dry arbor vitae owned by Lee and Norma Curtis, sending more than a dozen of the tightly-packed trees up in flames. The mower, visible at far right, was totaled. No one was injured; neighbors first kept the fire at bay with garden hoses and Westside and Hood River Fire Departments responded and doused the fire before it reached any structures. Westside Fire chief Jim Trammell, in blue shirt, directs firefighters. The video was taken by Capt. Dave Smith of Hood River Fire Department. Enlarge

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