Smith, Metsger prepare for budget challenges

Hood River’s legislators have moved into strategic positions and are planning to tag-team Oregon’s giant economic problems.

Last week Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, was unanimously chosen to chair the Senate Economic Development and Transportation Committee. His appointment follows that of Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, in December to the House Trade and Economic Development Committee.

The respective District 26 and District 52 elected officials believe they are now in top leadership roles to tackle tough budget challenges and bring more family wage jobs to struggling rural counties.

“I’m looking forward to the important work we will do this session, Rep. Smith and I have a great opportunity to move legislation forward because we’re at both ends of it,” said Metsger.

“Sen. Metsger and I are going to make a concerted effort to focus on improving Oregon’s business climate, promote tourism and develop some new markets for agricultural value-added products,” Smith said.

As her first order of business, 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, will 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.

“The economic cure for Hood River County and all of Oregon really comes down to the question, ‘how do you create more family-wage jobs?’”said Smith.

Both she and Metsger also want to bring the “urban/rural divide” problem home to newly elected Gov. Ted Kulongoski. On Thursday, Metsger has a private meeting with the state leader and plans to issue an invitation for a tour of the Gorge county that he and Smith will jointly arrange.

“I think if he understands the challenges, he’ll be very open to the solutions we might suggest,” said Metsger.

Metsger’s now oversees the consolidation of two key committees that the Senate believed were too closely interconnected to remain separate. He said it is vital to fix the 487 cracked bridges throughout Oregon to eliminate safety threats for both commercial and personal transportation.

“We must improve our transportation infrastructure to ensure the safe transport of goods and services and to help in our economic recovery,” said Metsger.

In addition to chair duties, Metsger has been tapped by the Senate to serve on the Business and Labor Committee, another avenue to help jumpstart the sluggish economy.

“It’s time to get Oregon moving again. I intend to make the most of the opportunities that have been given to me to help lead that effort,” said Metsger.

At the beginning of last week’s biennium session, Smith was also chosen as Assistant House Majority Leader, a position that will help Majority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, communicate with Republican members, manage the floor during key debates and promote the caucus agenda. She will also serve on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

“We’re off and running and I’m looking forward to a productive session that will have many rewards and challenges,” said Smith.

Smith’s new telephone number in Salem is 503-986-1452 and Metsger’s office can now be reached at 503-986-1726.

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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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