Rep. Walden helps Chamber celebrate

Patriotism and humor blended in the Jan. 17 Hood River Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet, where Rep. Greg Walden gave a detailed account of his experiences on Sept. 11.

He gave a frank yet optimistic view of national security in the wake of the east coast tragedies and ensuing military action in Afghanistan.

"The threat is still real," from terrorism, Walden (R-Hood River) told the audience of more than 200 people at Columbia Gorge Hotel. "With our new focus and laws, we are as secure as we are going to get."

"We have lost some people," Walden said, referring to the military casualties in Afghanistan. "We will probably lose some more. It is incumbent on us to remember how we keep our freedoms. Our country will be strong and safe."

Walden, who also spoke Thursday at Hood River Rotary and a Housing For People event in Odell (see page A1), described the confusion in the first hours after the jetliners struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11. Walden said he had called his wife, Mylene, to find underground shelter, as their apartment is just four blocks from the Pentagon.

After arranging for his staff to find safety in the basement of the Longworth building on Capitol Hill, Walden joined his House compatriots -- "against security advice" -- on the steps of the Capitol, where the group joined in a spontaneous singing of "God Bless America."

"Someone to my right just started singing and we all joined him," Walden recalled.

He joked that no security plan was in place for the "junior members" of the House.

"The House Speaker was whisked away, but the rest of us were left on our own," he said. "I always thought there must be some plan to take all of us to some swank location."

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was swank enough location for Thursday's festive installation.

The Waldens helped honor the new Chamber board of directors and the 2001 Chamber Member of the Year, in the red-white-and-blue decorated banquet room.

Chuck Hinman, general manager of Best Western Hood River Inn, said he was "overwhelmed and flabbergasted" at receiving the Member of the Year award.

"There are a lot of great community leaders in Hood River, and Hood River is a great town," Hinman said.

Presenting the honor was Kathy Alley, the 2001 Chamber president, who succeeded Jean Harmon. City manager Lynn Guenther, dressed as Uncle Sam, served as master of ceremonies. Les Schwab Tire Center won the prize for best decorated table. Alley and her husband, John, received best costume awards for their Stars-and-Stripes full-body wraps.

The theme of the banquet was "Fourth of July in January," and throughout the night speakers harkened to the tragedy of Sept. 11 and the need for the local and national economies to recover.

"It's going to be a great year," said Pat Graham, chamber president-elect. "It has to be, because last year was not that great."

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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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