Better or Bigger?

Regarding Wal-Mart, county still has time to put civic needs first

It is rare to see the number of citizens who showed up Monday for the Hood River County Board of Commissioners' discussion of Wal-Mart's application to build a "super-store" just outside Hood River city limits.

With a refined ear, the commissioners should listen to the people.

Wetlands mitigation, and possibly traffic impacts, are the main hurdles for Wal-Mart to pass in its efforts to move out of its current location and build a 185,000-square-foot store accompanied by 12 acres of parking.

Some citizens are supportive of Wal-Mart's plan, arguing that in a free market economy any business has the right to expand as it sees fit. As far as zoning of the property is concerned, Wal-Mart has a legitimate proposal.

Wal-Mart certainly does not lack for customers. Consider a twist on the old "if you build it, (they) will come" saying: People already come to Wal-Mart, so no wonder the company wants to build a bigger store.

So it could well be that from a procedural or legal standpoint, elected officials can do little but accept the project and insist that it conform to design standards.

Evidently Wal-Mart wants a bigger store, but the question still needs to be asked loud and clear: does this community need it?

Bigger is not always better.

In the very least, the commissioners should hear the message that people want an effective ordinance, barring future proposals of such massive scale, similar to the city's law limiting building sizes to 50,000 square feet.

The county must also consider the larger effects of such a proposal on the community of Hood River. When a crowd of people fills the chambers and hallway out of concern for the massive impact on a community by one massive store, the commissioners should turn to what is known as "base line" information: in this case, the base line is that people care deeply about the harmful effects of a "superstore."

In light of this, the commissioners should examine every angle. This means giving exacting scrutiny to the proposal by Wal-Mart.

He's a big boy. He can take it.

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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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