Divert TRT money

You asked rhetorically "Is a Visitor's Center located in a hard-to-reach, anonymous building the most suitable place for the county's information gateway?" (Editorial, Dec. 5.)

I was the chair of the county's transient room tax committee, which was asked in 1999 to review the collection and use of the county Transient Room Tax receipts. The TRT is an 8 percent tax charged guests by county hotels and B and Bs, with the proceeds given to the Chamber to promote tourism. In January 2000 we submitted a report to the County Board of Commissioners which included ten recommendations with supporting explanations. One of our recommendations was that the county take whatever steps are necessary to move the Visitor's Center back to the Port Marina Park. We supported our recommendation with survey results showing that many visitors did not know the location of the Visitor's Center, or believed it was in its prior location at the Marina.

Chamber Executive Director Craig Schmidt vigorously opposed this recommendation, arguing that public awareness of the location would increase with better signage, the passage of time, and the development of the waterfront area around the Expo center. (Director Schmidt also argued that the Chamber had obtained a $130,000 grant to expand the Visitor's Center at the Expo Center, and that any move within 15 years of the grant would constitute a default, resulting in "a strong likelihood that these funds would need to be repaid." Grant default and subsequent repayment is apparently no longer a concern.) The County ultimately took no action on our recommendation.

As noted in your editorial, the problems with the location persist almost two years after our report. The county should consider withholding payment of TRT receipts, which were around $140,000 in 1999, until the problems are resolved. If the TRT receipts are not successfully promoting tourism, they can be put to better use in the county's general fund in these lean times.

Bill Sumerfield

Hood River

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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