A great deal

It's hard to pass up a great deal. Anyway you cut it, the proposed Columbia Gorge Community College annexation is a great deal for Hood River County. The issue deserves local support when it appers on the Nov. 6 mail-in ballot.

The education benefits are obvious: more local college-level and basic skill classes, accelerated learning courses for high school students, unlimited curriculum opportunities, affordable tuition, more available financial aid and Hood River County education centers. Educational opportunities will be enhanced across the board. Right now, about 1,500 folks calling Hood River County home will be attending college classes. In an area like Hood River, that means every one of us will know someone who will directly benefit from the annexation's approval.

The financial beneifits will be spread throughout the community, whether or not you're a college student. The amount of state reimbursement alone will increase from $47,000 to $1.2 million. Hood River County is home to Oregon's largest population area that is not part of a community college district, and we're missing out on those tax dollars and the prospects they help create.

That leads to greater economic development benefits. Community college annexation will enhance opportunities for local workers and employers. It will provide professional and technical training plus small business development services. Annexation may pave the way for the creation of a local technology center, improving Hood River County's ability to compete in a business climate that is ever more high-tech reliant.

The best way to judge a great deal is by looking at the bottom line. The local annexation investment will be 27 cents per $1,000 assessed property value -- or $27 a year for a $100,000 home. That rate will generate an estimated $263,000 in local property taxes that will be used to leverage $1.2 million from the state. Hood River County residents will not be asked to pay for prior Columbia Gorge Community College bonded debt, and that new state money will be used directly to upgrade local educational opportunities. Add all this together and a great deal emerges for Hood River County.

The tangible effects are clear and positive. The intangible benefits of a better-educated population, increased cultural activities and improved quality of life will become more apparent when the expanded community college district begins this summer.

Columbia Gorge Community College annexation will benefit Hood River County on so many levels. It will improve education, encourage economic development and enhance our lifestyle. This is a great deal that deserves our support, and our "yes" vote Nov. 6 ballot.

Mike Doke

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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