Arts center: Big kickoff for a 'Yes' Project

More than 300 people turn out for the inaugural gala at the future Columbia Center for the Arts


Dancers from the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy wowed the audience at Saturday night's gala with a jazz number. Dancers from the academy's Advanced Jazz class are, from left, Emily McCallum, Samantha Wade, Julie Stanley and Mindy Taylor

More than 300 people turned out for the Art & Soul gala Saturday night at the future home of the Columbia Center for the Arts. Some were dressed to the nines for the occasion, others wore flip-flops. But everyone seemed to enjoy themselves during an evening filled with good food and good entertainment.

The event was the kick-off for a community fundraising campaign aimed at raising money to purchase the building at 3rd and Cascade (former home of the American Legion and now being held by a private entity for purchase by the arts center) and do renovations to house the CAST theatre and the Columbia Art Gallery.

“I’m calling this project the ‘yes’ project because everyone we approach to help with it has said yes,” said Judie Hanel, chair of the center, in a brief speech before the evening’s entertainment began. Gordon Mayer, fundraising chair for the center, outlined the breakdown of the fundraising goal of $900,000.

“It’s a steep goal for a community like ours but we’re sure we can meet that goal,” he said. Mayer said about $500,000 is needed to buy the building, with the remaining $400,000 to go to renovations. He said the center’s board hopes to raise about 50 percent of the total needed within the community, with the rest coming from grants and other sources. Before tallying Saturday’s proceeds, $206,375 had been raised to date, Mayer said.

The next hour was filled with back-to-back entertainment acts that captivated the crowd and provided a preview of what the new arts center will be about. Cast members from the recently-finished production of “Hair” sang numbers from the musical, and dancers from Susan Sorensen’s Columbia Gorge Dance Academy wowed the audience with a jazz number followed by a ballet dance performed by sisters Hannah and Lydia Diers. Dance Academy stand-outs Laila Winner and Hannah Jacobson danced a self-choreographed Latin number. Opera singer Jan Conrad performed two songs, leaving the audience hungry for more. And Hood River’s comedy troupe, Perpetual Commotion, performed their crowd-pleasing signature stand-up comedy.

“We were delighted with the turnout,” said Hanel after the event. “I think everyone had a really good time and got a taste of what a center for the arts can be in our community.”

Upcoming fundraising events for the arts center include a golf scramble in September and the ongoing Art for a Change, where loose change deposited in colorful canisters at retailers around town will go toward the center. For information about the new arts center call 387-8877.

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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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