Eye on the state capital

Legislators gain important posts

The bi-partisan teamwork shown by Republican Patti Smith and Democrat Rick Metsger over the past two years, in helping Hood River County and the rest of the areas they serve, should be a model for the entire Legislature.

Following their re-election in 2002, the two legislators have roles on major committees: Metsger is chair of the Senate Economic Development and Transportation Committees and Smith serves on the House Trade and Economic Development Committee.

Smith, from District 52, enters her second term, and Metsger starts his first full term serving District 26 following mid-term boundary changes in 2001. Metsger replaced Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), whose district shifted east.

Smith and Metsger are optimistic they can make a difference in Salem, and they should be encouraged to continue to work together as they have long done.

Both legislators appear to have their priorities right, given recent actions and statements. As reported on page A1 by RaeLynn Gill, Smith has asked Hood River County Economic Development Coordinator Bill Fashing to help educate her urban constituents about the financial realities facing outlying communities. Fashing, who was hired in September, was scheduled to make a short presentation today in Salem to highlight the fact that unemployment rates are significantly higher in rural sectors of the state than in major metropolitan centers.

Meanwhile, Metsger has invited Gov. Ted Kulongoski on a tour of the Gorge. Such a visit is needed, given the small number of trips Kulongoski made to Hood River County during the 2002 campaign — just one, by our count, during the General Election. Metsger’s invitation echoes those made by local social service agencies since Kulongoski’s election, so with hope the governor will see the need and spend a day in our area.

Regarding Metsger’s appointment to the newly-consolidated Economic Development and Transportation Committee, it puts a man in that panel’s driver seat who has seen for himself the severe problem that is Oregon’s ailing highway bridges. Metsger and Smith donned hardhats and went underneath Interstate 84 last fall to look at the cracks close-up. The governor is on record stating that funding priority must be given to the highway infrastructure.

Of course, if Measure 28 fails on the Jan. 28 ballot, many of the state’s schools will have to look at drastic budget cuts, and that could mean reduction or elimination of programs such as spring sports.

But look at the bright side: at least those heavy school buses wouldn’t add to the cracked bridges’ burden.

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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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