Without funding, Re-Build It Center opens

The Gorge Re-Build It Center is open for business despite major funding setbacks. The non-profit eco-building center, a project of the Columbia Gorge Earth Center, is located between Tum-a-Lum Lumber and Windance Sailboards on Highway 35.

The center, whose goal is to divert quality, reusable building materials from the landfill for resale at affordable prices, has faced an uphill battle for funding since the idea was hatched nearly two years ago — mostly due to the economic downturn.

The center’s executive director, David Skakel, announced this week that a major grant the center was seeking from Meyer Memorial Trust was denied. That means additional funding from the Mt. Hood Economic Alliance has also disappeared, as it had been awarded contingent on the Meyer grant coming through.

But community support for the project has been strong. Windance owner Brian Carlstrom donated commercial space at his store for the center to use through next April. Joe Field, a part-time resident of Rowena, donated a truck and a cargo trailer for the business.

“The way I look at it, out of the ashes rises the phoenix,” Skakel said. “As much as we would like to be in a better position, we think we have a good opportunity here to prove our concept for the next seven to eight months.” Along with operating the business, Skakel will continue to seek funding through grants and other sources.

“It really depends on community interest and support at this point,” he said. The Gorge Re-Build It Center is seeking volunteer help, cash contributions and donations of valuable items that the center can sell to raise money.

“But we’re especially interested in asking contractors in the Gorge — this is Gorge-wide, not just Hood River — to chip in to support us now because we believe this amounts to an indirect investment in their own business,” Skakel said.

“We’ll save them countless future trips to Portland for used building materials, and eventually for new alternative building materials. We’ll have a local place where they can purchase these things.”

The center is seeking donations of building materials, which can be done by appointment.

“Due to the tight space, we have to be careful and scrutinize the items we accept,” Skakel said. “We hope people respect this because with so few resources, it could threaten the survival of this project if we have to carry the cost of getting rid of unwanted items that are just dumped here.”

Skakel said he remains “upbeat” about the project.

“On the one hand, (the funding setbacks) were unexpected because we feel we have such a solid project,” he said. “But on the other hand, it’s a really tough time to raise funds in the nonprofit world.

“We see this as a great opportunity,” he added. “We’re going to have seven months here to make this thing work if the community supports it.”

The Gorge Re-Build It Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 5. For information or to inquire about donations, call the center at 387-4387.

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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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