Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Yes, I know, another letter about the Super Wal-Mart, but I am irritated (!) so sit and sip your coffee and read on: I have now read a couple of anti-Wal-Mart letters which, in short, state we should get off our lazy rear-ends and drive to Portland or The Dalles if we really want comparable market prices. I am not sure what world these people live in. The majority of Hood River residents can not afford weekly shopping trips to Portland to replace their worn out socks or to pick up toothpaste. In addition most of these residents can’t afford to shop locally for the $5 tube of toothpaste the inflated grocery stores offer. Wal-Mart will offer comparative prices and convenience. If these writers are willing to take my shopping list to Portland with them next week while I am at work, then I will oppose the Super Wal-Mart with them — but until then, I look forward to the glowing concrete box.
Off the map
Today, I stopped by the county planning office seeking some details about the map “Land Eligible for Destination Resorts.” The Hood River News had just published an article headlined “Draft Map Spurns Cooper Spur” and I wanted to see for myself where these areas lie. To my astonishment, I was told that the map is obsolete, and due to be replaced by a new map.
Apparently, “new information” has come to light, and the map must be changed. There might be “some additions” to land eligible for resort development.
Now, I am not a naturally cynical person, but this sure smacks like someone didn’t like the results of the first map and so asked to have the goal posts moved.
How is the public to understand what is happening on the mountain when not only will Mt. Hood Meadows not put a plan on the table, but our own planning department won’t even commit to a map?
Tough to pay
No menu, thanks, just coffee today ... have you seen how well our school sports teams are doing? Maybe getting out of the Mt. Hood Conference wasn’t such a bad deal for our kids after all? I haven’t heard much about those increased costs, have you? I have heard some talk about getting home late, travel time, you know. Speaking of costs, I understand the Activities Director, a vice principal, has been replaced by a teacher and is now only a part-time job. It doesn’t seem to have hurt the teams any! I have read that the principal quit and the school is functioning just fine without anyone in that position. The remaining staff took up the slack. The school system must have been awful darn top heavy to eliminate two management positions with no apparent effect on education or activities! I wonder how much more dead wood we are paying for? Yes, my 401K lost about half its value too, didn’t think I could lose that much. You’re right — the job market in Hood River is looking bad. Unemployment is up! I used my wife’s Christmas Club savings to pay our property taxes. Yes, I have been reading about PERS and what a great deal it is, a real gold mine compared to my retirement! Well, you know how it is: undereducated, last hired, first fired, never going to be retired. You think I should vote for increased state funding — of what? As I see it, the schools are producing consumers, not contributors and every time the state increases funding it somehow comes out of my wallet. I just don’t have the money! I know how important education is, but unless I get more money, it’s going to be a hard sell.
Michael F. Fifer
Jodi Gehrman’s Nov. 20 letter to the editor, while being little more than a regurgitation of Dave Riley’s repetitive diatribes against the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, has prompted me out of political inactivity. Ms. Gehrman presupposes widespread Upper Valley support for a large-scale Mt. Hood Meadows development on the north side of the mountain with her statement that “there are over 1,300 families in the Upper Valley, yet the membership of the HRVRC numbers under 150.”
As a fourth generation orchardist, whose family has farmed in Parkdale continously for ninety-five years, I happen to know quite a few of those 1,300 families (although obviously not Gehrman’s.) In all of my conversations with these various Upper Valley residents in the past year, only twice have I encountered individuals who were actually in favor of the Meadows development plans.
Despite spending most of my life in the Hood River Valley, I apparently do not know many of Ms. Gehrman’s “mainstream locals.” I do happen to know, however, several hundred Upper Valley residents (including most members of the agricultural community) who are having a hard time believing that Mt. Hood Meadows’ plans are a step in the right direction.
This is in response to the Nov. 20 letter by Jim Burdick.
Thank you, Jim, for your letter. I am happy to have other people state that Wal-Mart buys locally. The purpose of my letter was to bring about discussions concerning whether or not Wal-Mart supports local producers or manufactories.
Why did you not write when local people put letters in the paper indicating that Wal-Mart did not sell Oregon or U.S. products. There was one response that indicated that Wal-Mart bought substantial amounts of fruit from Diamond. This was the only rebuttal that I recall.
I intended my letter to be sarcastic, both in Wal-Mart’s buying habits and in some of the rules that we have put on some potential buildings, i.e. a proposed movie complex. I am sorry if I misled you.
By the way, in case you are not sure, I am in favor of a Super Wal-Mart. I think that competition would help local citizens and also more jobs would be provided. That is, if Wal-Mart decides to pay for all hours worked.
‘Village’ too far
This letter is in response to the letter written by Jodi Gehrman in the Nov. 20 paper. I beg to differ with Ms. Gehrman. Meadows trains thousands of employees because no one wants to stay a whole season. As far as Meadows paying family wages to “dozens of people” that’s a huge stretch of the imagination. My husband worked up there as a regular ski patroller for eight years and as the ski patrol manager for another 10 years. I would like to know her definition of family wage. Mine is one where one partner can stay home and raise the children. We could barely do that on a manager’s salary. My husband was probably one of the better paid managers at Meadows. On top of that he was required to work six days a week during the ski season and anytime there was someone lost he was on duty no matter what the time. That makes for some wonderful family time.
There may be four people who work there, who can make it on the salary that Meadows pays, and some of them aren’t married, so don’t have the overhead. I would point out that the manager of Cooper Spur is required to work about 60-80 hours a week during the busy season on a salary and then is conveniently changed to an hourly wage when the season slows down, not to mention the fact that he is laid off during the summer. Now there’s a job that can support a mortgage and a family, maybe if you live in a tent and eat Top Ramen. I also wonder if Jodi realizes that Meadows now owns Cooper Spur Ski Area, the one she worked for last year and maybe this year. I think she’s bought the corporate spiel, hook line and sinker at this point.
The Hood River Valley Residents Committee is just one small member of Cooper Spur Wild and Free. CSWF is a coalition of at least five different large organizations that are concerned with the development, that so far has been proposed to the whole country in Dave Riley’s interview in the November issue of Skiing magazine. Check it out at www.skiingmag.com. It’s interesting how he can tell everyone else what he wants to develop at Cooper Spur, except for the people that will be most affected by the “un-proposed plan.”
Jodi says that: “HRVRC is not representing the feelings and point of view of the mainstream locals but the select few who want to keep us, the public, out of ‘their’ valley.” This is totally ridiculous. I don’t belong to the HRVRC. I wonder, Jodi, are you going to go up to Cooper Spur and pay to stay overnight in one of the condos or are you just going to buy one of the private homes? This development is not for the locals. If it was, Meadows would be up front and ask us our opinions without having us sign confidentiality agreements and there wouldn’t be so many closed door meetings with the county commissioners. Jodi, I think you and anyone else that believes Meadows is going to contribute economically to this valley been hoodwinked. All you have to do is look at the economic studies done about the effects of “ski villages” in other parts of the country.
But remember “the prices are economical enough for most families to afford to enjoy their forest in the winter.” Since when do we have to pay to enjoy the forest? I was under the impression that you could just do that on your own without having to pay anyone. If the human resources aren’t treated with respect how can we expect MHM to treat the natural resources with respect?