‘Lewis and Clark spoken here’

Bicentennial group, headed up by Kathy Watson, plans for large influx of visitors to the Gorge

The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration is just around the corner and the Gorge could capitalize on the thousands of visitors retracing that historic route.

To maximize the economic gain from increased tourism, the Columbia Gorge Visitors Association obtained grant funding to hire Kathy Watson as the local coordinator for the “epic” journey.

Watson and her husband, Stu, have written a book on the latter stages of the Corps of Discovery passage through Oregon and Washington.

She brings that expertise to her new consulting role and on Monday challenged the Hood River County Commission to prepare for the upcoming opportunity.

Although the national celebration begins in 2003, Watson told county officials that the Gorge will be highlighted at the two hundred year mark in the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2006. However, she said the three-year span of the anniversary is expected to draw as many as 25 million people to the Gorge.

Since studies have shown that most of these individuals would be somewhat affluent but live in the Northwest, she said the challenge was to get them to make more than a day trip.

“How do you get them to stay and spend the night because that’s the real benefit of tourism,” said Watson.

To help accomplish that goal, the Visitors Association has raised $40,000 in funding that will be used, in part, to educate employees of the local service industry about facts related to the expedition.

The specialized hospitality training will allow area businesses to post signage in their windows assuring clients that “Lewis and Clark is spoken here.”

“It’s really what we make of the commemoration whether it helps us to build on the region’s brand as a place of natural wonder and discovery,” Watson said.

She said there could be many long-term benefits from the commemoration since business owners many times decide to relocate after becoming attracted to another area during a visit.

Watson told the county board she would keep them updated as Lewis and Clark events unfolded but urged them to look for “synergies” between the commemoration and existing programs.

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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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