Out of the Gates, fast computers arrive at library

Patrons are treated to state-of-the-art equipment through help from grant funding

With help from Bill Gates, Kathie Potts found where she was going — instantly.

Potts was the first Hood River County Library user last week to try out one of the new computers acquired by the library under a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It’s so fast,” said Potts, who starts a new job in Vancouver, Wash., next month, and went on the Internet to find her new workplace and the location of her new apartment. The map she wanted came up in seconds and the printer gave her a copy in as much time.

“These computers are a real asset. It’ll hasten the downloading and make everyone’s time a lot more effective on-line,” Potts said. With the computers in high demand some days, lightning-fast computers make better use of Internet time, she said.

“It’s also a bigger monitor, and better clarity,” Potts said. “The library is blessed to have these.”

The grant will give more people more time in cyberspace, according to county Library Director June Knudson.

The grant provides eight Internet computers for the three branches of the Hood River County Library system. Four of the computers are in the Hood River branch and two each are located in the Parkdale and Cascade Locks branches.

“Before this grant the library system had a total of four public Internet computers,” Knudson said. “With this grant we have doubled the number of public Internet stations in each branch of our library.”

The new computers provide users faster connectivity as well as upgraded programs for office applications, PowerPoint, Publisher, and PhotoDraw.

They also have reference tools such as Microsoft Streets and Trips and the Encarta Reference Suite 2001. Each computer can be used in either English or Spanish.

Patrons are permitted one hour each day of use. The Hood River branch has modified its sign-up procedures so that users no longer call up to make appointments.

Three Hood River branch computers are available on a walk-in basis while one can be reserved for specific times. Users sign in listing the time they begin and anyone waiting can take a number to establish their place in the queue.

“So far this new system seems to be working very well and few people had had to wait,” said Knudson.

“Many people do not need a whole hour so the machines are available readily. And, anyone who overstays their time is gently reminded by the person waiting to take their place.”

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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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