Special Olympics softball underway

THE DALLES — As the high-school baseball and softball seasons wind down, another group of local ballplayers is just getting started.

The Mid Columbia Special Olympics chapter began softball practice one month ago, and with every week that passes, the turnouts have continued to grow like blossoms on a tree.

“I am really happy to finally have a team together, and see all these athletes excited,” head coach Marcie Logan said of the 14-person contingent that practices twice a week in The Dalles. “The commitment they have for it is really amazing.”

Male and female athletes of all ages from all over the Gorge have been turning out at Dry Hollow Park and 16th Street Ballpark Thursdays and Sundays to prepare for the June 29 sectional tournament in Hillsboro. The team will then compete at the state tournament in Eugene July 26-28.

“State is definitely the better of the two tournaments,” said coach/athlete Jay Johnston of Hood River. “It’s nice that we have so many people out this year because we didn’t have enough for a team last year.”

Johnston is the team’s pitcher and one of its most accomplished hitters, along with Donny Love and Willy Junker, and will help guide a much-improved lineup that includes Hood River residents Eric Foxley, Meredith Mitchell, Katie Tager and Mariah Langer.

Also adding pop to the offense and consistency to the defense will be JJ Petty, Matthew Hodges, Carmen Skulstad, Kelly Stephens, Rusty Hubbard and Brad Divish, the team’s high-energy catcher.

“I love how the athletes encourage and support each other,” Logan said. “We are all looking forward to competing at regionals with a chance at going to state in July.”

Logan and a group of four assistants have been organizing practices and transportation for the athletes since early April. In that time, the group has grown from about five to the current list of 14.

The team ordered new uniforms this week and hopes to have them in time for the sectional tournament. Doug’s Sports in Hood River has volunteered to help pay for T-shirts, shorts and ball caps for each of the athletes and coaches.

“Talk about a nice gesture,” said Special Olympics coordinator Carole Schmidt. “The support from the community is what makes things like this happen.”

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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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