Larry West leads Gorge Arts Council

The Columbia Gorge Arts & Culture Council has a new director. Larry West brings a diverse background in arts, travel and public radio to his new position at the helm of the nonprofit council, popularly known as Gorge Arts.

West takes over from outgoing director Leigh Hancock, who recently had a baby. She will return in January as a part-time grant writer for Gorge Arts.

West will not only head the regional council -- which spans Hood River, Wasco and and Sherman counties in Oregon and Klickitat and Skamania counties in Washington -- but also act as coordinator for the Columbia Gorge Arts in Education program for the three Oregon counties.

"I wear two hats in this position," says West, who also is wearing the hat of new father; his wife, Christy Long, recently gave birth to their first child, Jayden.

West is looking forward to the challenges of his new position guiding the two-year-old organization -- including those inherent in running a nonprofit. One of the first things he plans to tackle is developing membership in the council.

"We're funded heavily on the grant side of it," West said. He'd like to build a membership base spanning the five counties -- something he feels would help the ongoing financial picture of the organization.

West also wants to foster the arts among the various cultures in the Gorge. "I want to make sure we're focused not only on white culture but on some of the other great cultures represented in the area -- like Hispanic and Native American," he said.

One of the main challenges on the Arts in Education side, according to West, is finding ways to extend the influence of the program year-round.

"We have lots of one-time events for teachers," West said. "The challenge is, how do we inspire teachers with creative ideas throughout the year?"

West takes the helm of Gorge Arts at a time when the organization is becoming more visible in the community. The "First Friday" event, a cooperative effort between Gorge Arts and the Hood River Downtown Business Association, has proved very popular in its inaugural two Fridays in September and October. West will continue to put energy into that, as well as other popular Gorge Arts programs like last year's Oregon Symphony program and the annual Beargrass Writer's Workshop.

But West has already begun brainstorming on new ideas for Gorge Arts-sponsored projects.

"I have a lot of irons in the fire in each county," he said. "I'm just thrilled to be involved with this. I'm enjoying it like crazy."


To reach Larry West call Gorge Arts at 387-5031, or e-mail

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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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