Wal-Mart foe Norman visits HR this week

Al Norman, a nationally recognized defender of locally-owned business, will debate a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Corporation and lead Hood River residents in wrapping “Arms Around Our Town” during a two-day visit Thursday and Friday.

Norman’s visit is sponsored by the Hood River Citizens for Responsible Growth (CRG), which formed in 2001 to foster community dialogue and family-wage job growth in Hood River County. The group opposes Wal-Mart’s proposed relocation of its existing Hood River store and expansion from 72,000 square feet to a Supercenter of about 185,000 square feet.

“This does nothing to create family-wage jobs, ties up a huge chunk of rare commercial land, furthers no goal of the county’s economic development plan, and threatens to drain more money from a county that the state considers economically distressed,” said Kate Huseby, co-chair of CRG.

County officials are reviewing details of the proposal for a 16-acre parcel just west of the Hood River city limits. A Planning Department recommendation and public hearings will follow the June 14 deadline for Wal-Mart representatives to submit detailed plans.

The highlight of Norman’s visit will be a public demonstration of support for local merchants in which several hundred residents wrap their “Arms Around Our Town.”

“When we link arms downtown, we will be showing just how large the proposed Wal-Mart expansion is, and just how many local businesses are threatened by the unfair competitive advantage of big-box stores,” said event organizer Maureen Milton.

Residents interested in publicly sharing their affection for Hood River will meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the city parking lot between Cascade and Columbia streets and between Fifth and Seventh streets. Norman and event organizers at 4 p.m. will lead residents around several downtown city blocks roughly equaling the footprint of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. The event will conclude with a celebration on Oak Street.

Since leading the defeat in 1993 of a Wal-Mart store near his home in Greenfield, Mass., Norman has traveled the country teaching other communities how to defend local merchants by resisting one-stop big-box stores.

Norman, the author of “Slam Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl in Your Hometown” (1999), has appeared on “60 Minutes,” been featured in the PBS documentary “Store Wars,” and been featured in publications as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and Time.

During his visit, Norman will debate Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Hill before the Hood River Rotary Club at noon Thursday (open only to members); speak and answer questions during a public appearance from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Westside Elementary School gymnasium; and meet with local business people to discuss issues — pro and con — of the Wal-Mart proposal at Charburger, 4100 Westcliff Drive, at 8 a.m. Friday.

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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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