Wal-Mart can enhance the local commercial scene

Another Voice

By MARTY OPPENHEIMER

Special to the News

Wal-Mart should be able to develop suitably zoned property if they want to and they meet the criteria. They’re willing to pay for improving the currently dangerous traffic intersection at Cascade and Country Club roads (which we cannot currently afford to fix). They’re willing to relocate Phelps Creek to its original location, and to craft a more esthetically pleasing design than our current store.

If Wal-Mart isn’t allowed to develop, it may be discriminatory. Our City can barely pay its current bills. Should we bow to special interest groups here to bankrupt us in a court battle?

A vocal special interest group should not control who can and who can’t do business here. Some of the “no” people are marginally successful small downtown storeowners. Other “no” folks largely don’t shop locally anyway and would rather travel out of town to shop. Many of the “no” sector are folks who came here from out of town and want to close the door to others and any new development.

The downtown merchants have for decades complained about “trade leakage” to other cities; yet try shopping downtown without paying to park. Try finding a parking space at all. Try finding ordinary household items at competitive prices, rather than pricey recreation and tourist oriented things. Indeed, try shopping at all after 6 p.m. downtown. Try being elderly, on a limited income, or not having transportation to shop in cities having a broad range of affordable household and personal merchandise. Not everyone can afford to just hop into their SUV towards Home Depot or Costco in Portland.

Whoever says the new Superstore would be an eyesore to the area has not walked by the blighted trailer park on Country Club Road or had the courage to actually walk in it. Our “no” faction must not have traveled past the dilapidated proposed Wal-Mart properties. Having the new Wal-Mart would actually enhance that area, esthetically. The new expanded store would be farther from the freeway and nicer looking, even considering it includes a broad expanse of free parking.

We’d do well to support new clean growth and improve our shopping choices, rather than restricting choices. We’d be better off to promote shopping access and retail competition. Small downtown merchants can survive and prosper, if they truly offer products and service that serve our small town well. Shame on the professional “no” people for their campaign to tell us where we can shop, and shame on us if we listen.

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Marty Oppenheimer of Hood River is an artist and ex-realtor.

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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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