Youth services face cuts in OSU budget

Volunteer training will be at risk

The Oregon State University Extension Service is wrestling with a budget cut that may reduce some local youth programs in Hood River County.

Billie Stevens, head of the local office, informed the Hood River County Commission on Monday that one full time staff position could be eliminated by next year. She said that move would take place if Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s proposed 10 percent reduction to the outreach arm of OSU was incorporated into the 2003-05 budget. There is also the possibility, said Stevens, that the Legislature may propose even deeper cuts before the budget is finalized. However, she said OSU officials are hopeful that will not happen since it already absorbed a 30 percent loss of funds in the current biennium.

“It’s never fun doing this but you just kind of have to work through it and, hopefully, it won’t come out any worse than this,” said Stevens, reiterating that the state budget would not be finalized until late June.

“We need to start getting things in place so this doesn’t have a major effect on the county,” she said.

Stevens said unless the financial situation changes, Hood River will lose between $35,000-$45,000 that paid for one staff position. As a result, she said some of the youth and family services will be jeopardized. Without that employee, Stevens said it will be difficult to provide training for the 90 volunteers necessary to run programs that serve at least 600 children, such as 4-H, summer soccer and leadership camps.

Although Stevens said it will be difficult to decide where the program cutbacks will take place, she believes it is essential that top priority be given to the horticulture assistance given to about 300 tree fruit growers. In addition, she said the popular nutrition and food preservation classes need to be retained because they helped many area families on limited incomes.

“Hopefully there may be some turnaround on the budget or they (elected officials) will look at other ways of taking reductions,” Stevens said.

She said OSU’s proposed staffing reduction may also change as more feedback is gathered from citizen advisors, faculty and staff. The final plan is expected to be decided by mid-May and Stevens said it will focus on retention of programs in each county that meet critical needs.

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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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