Police chief angered by flag theft

A recent spate of flag theft has deeply angered Hood River City Police Chief Tony Dirks.

"I'm sure I speak for the vast majority of Hood River citizens when I say that these thefts are particularly disturbing," said Dirks. "I cannot imagine what would possess anyone to commit such a theft, it sickens me."

Sometime during the night of Sept. 18-19, a large flag was cut down from its pole in front of the medical building at the intersection of 12th and May streets. Although its replacement cost is estimated at $488, Dirks believes that particularly flag had a much higher value -- its ability to rally the community.

"Not only was this flag very expensive, I believe its presence has been a source of patriotism and great pride, especially during the last few days," said Dirks. "Let's make this an example of community pride and work together to restore this symbol during this tragic chapter in United States history when healing and standing strong are paramount."

The missing flag had just been featured in the Sept. 15 edition of the Hood River News in tribute to the thousands of people who lost their lives in terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., just four days earlier.

Then, on Monday night, a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag from the Vietnam War and the American flag were cut down from poles in front of the United States Post Office. On the same night, a flag was removed from a business along Cascade Avenue.

Dirks is asking for anyone with information about the thefts to call his office at 386-3942 and promises that all leads will be "vigorously pursued."

"It has been repeated time and time again in recent days that we need to come together as a country and as a people under our great symbol of freedom, the American flag," said Dirks. "We would like to get these cases solved and people don't have to identify themselves when they call."

On a smaller, but no less disturbing scale, two family heirloom flags were stolen Thursday night from planters in front of Studio 10 in the Heights. The two national banners had been placed there by hair stylist Doris Greenough, who usually only brought them out for Fourth of July celebrations with her two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5.

"I can't believe with all the turmoil going on that people are stealing flags," said Greenough. "If they were taken so they could be displayed someplace else then I would not have a problem with that -- I would have a problem if they were taken so people could destroy or toss them."

The Hood River County Sheriffs Department has logged in one additional report of flag theft. Local officials are asking the perpetrators to show their support for the country by ceasing the theft of its emblem, the American flag.

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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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