Hood River hires new city manager

After enjoying a First Friday tour of downtown businesses, Hood River’s new city manager is excited about relocating to the community.

“I had such a wonderful time, it was just great,” said Robert “Bob” Francis, Jr., who is leaving his current position as the manager of the Borough of Stroudsburg, Penn.

Francis was hired last Friday to replace Lynn Guenther, who will retire after eight years in the position on Jan. 12. He was selected from about 60 applicants for the administrative role that pays an annual salary of $66,000 plus benefits. Francis arrives with a an extensive background in government administration — and a pledge that his “word is his bond.”

“Each of our top four candidates had special strengths and Bob placed a high emphasis on integrity and the ability to forge good working relationship both with the citizens and with the council,” said Mayor Paul Cummings.

Francis, 47, decided to apply for the job in Hood River upon the recommendation of a trusted friend that it would be the “ideal” community. After personally traveling to the Gorge city, he was even more impressed with his friend’s judgment — and the friendly welcome by local residents. So, he was very honored to accept the job offer and will spend the holidays packing his household goods so that he can be moved and ready to get to work by Jan. 5.

“I’m not always going to agree with an issue but I like to think that I’m a fair individual and I listen to people with an open mind,” said Francis, who will spend the first few weeks getting up to speed on local issues.

Cummings said Hood River residents will benefit from Francis’ strong skills in the following areas, grant writing, labor relations, economic development and finance.

He is also experienced in tourism-related issues since historic Stroudsburg, located 90 miles from New York City and Philadelphia, is a popular year-around destination for more than one million visitors each year.

Last Thursday Francis and three other finalists were invited to tour the county and visit with the five city department heads. They were treated to a social luncheon with the city staffers and a dinner with members of the selection committee.

Following these interactions, city officials and personnel registered opinions about each of the finalists.

Formal interviews began on Friday morning and by late that afternoon Francis had been chosen because of his supervisory talents. He will be charged with overseeing the activities of 55 employees and maintaining services for a population of 6,000.

Also vying for the position of city manager were Richard Sassara, HOPE director; John Anderson, Benton County administrator; and Chuck Spies, former city manager of Turner.

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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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