Senator hosts town hall on budget

Looming state budget cuts will be addressed at a town hall meeting hosted in Hood River by Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, on Jan. 16.

The forum begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Hood River Valley Adult Center, 20210 Sterling Dr. The central topic for discussion will be the special legislative session in February to balance the budget which has a $720 million projected shortfall.

"We are in a crisis situation. Our priorities need to be in order as we head toward a special legislative session," said Metsger. "Balancing the budget will take a great deal of hard work, and citizen input is critical to this process."

He also welcomes his constituents to bring forward any other areas of concern related to state government and their community.

"I want to invite everyone in Hood River to join me at the senior center to talk about any issues or concerns they have," said Metsger.

In mid-December, Metsger brought top state leaders to Hood River for a special hearing of the Senate Economic and Job Stimulus Committee. The bi-partisan group was charged by Senate President Gene Derfler with seeking out solutions that would provide an immediate fix for Oregon's ailing economy and a long-term solution to help the state withstand future recessions.

After gathering public testimony and expert opinions at five separate forums, Metsger, who served as committee co-chair, said 270 action ideas were outlined in a special report that was finalized on Monday. He said the top three options were based on a "common theme" heard throughout the hearings:

Streamline the permitting process and eliminate unnecessary regulations that impede the establishment and growth of business.

Expand the bonding authority for transportation projects so that existing low-interest loans can be accessed-- a move that would add construction jobs and attract new industries.

Establish a "rainy day" fund to prepare for future budget shortages.

Metsger and co-chair Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Jacksonville, have presented the final report to Derfler. They are now meeting with both House and Senate members, business leaders and other stakeholders to inform them of the report's findings prior to the February special session.

"The idea is to present this information to anyone who's interested in hearing it," said Metsger.

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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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