Stoplight turned on in the Heights

First pedestrians cross, cars stop at improved crossing

Honking horns, cheers and applause accompanied the first official pedestrian crossing on Monday at the new traffic stoplight in the Heights.

Even the threat of rain and a brisk wind didn’t dampen the festive mood as Down Manor resident Jessie Short led the group of state, county and city officials on the walk across 12th Street, also known as Highway 281, at the Eliot and Brookside intersection. She was joined by Dollie Rasmussen and Sharon Wilson, who spearheaded a grassroots fundraising drive toward the $237,000 signal.

But the somber undertone at the event was that the safe crossing had become a driving goal for community members and officials after two Down Manor residents were killed while attempting to cross the four lane roadway in May of 2000. Lynn Rasmussen, Dollie’s father-in-law, and Viola Briggs were memorialized at the Completion Ceremony. They were hit by motorists and died in separate accidents a week apart at the marked crossing near the Hood River Shopping Center, just north of the new signal.

“You came together after those tragedies and I think that’s what really makes a community,” said Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Manager Kay Van Sickel at the Dec. 16 event.

Her remarks acknowledged the strong feeling of community that swept through the crowd as they watched ODOT engineers flip the switch to turn on the red, yellow and green lights. After more than two years of working together, the private/public partnership had made the dream of a safe crossing a reality in spite of daunting odds. The grassroots movement headed by Rasmussen had raised $50,000 toward the project, followed by a matching contribution from Hood River County and the remainder paid for with Oregon Transportation Investment Act dollars.

“I really don’t think we can say enough good things about this unique project,” said Van Sickle.

Next summer ODOT will install another traffic signal on 12th and Pacific, a $220,000 project that is expected to be completed by early fall 2003. The transportation agency has left the crosswalk where the two deadly accidents occurred in place as an alternate walkway. However, the largest legally allowable “Pedestrian Crossing” signs have been installed to warn drivers to exercise caution. The speed limit through that section of the Heights has also been lowered from 35 to 25 miles per hour.

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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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