Luhr-Jensen invokes ‘civil takings’ issue


The owner of a waterfront business is concerned that passage of Ballot Measure 14-16 could result in a “civil takings” of his private property.

Phil Jensen, president of Luhr Jensen and Sons, Inc., said a sentence near the bottom of the ballot summary has caused him “surprise, shock and dismay.” At issue is the wording, “existing structure and infrastructures would be allowed to remain so long as the existing operations continue.”

“We and our employees have been working to establish something of value and to have it stripped away with no compensation is just unreasonable,” said Jensen.

He said in today’s volatile global marketplace, it is important that independent companies are able to switch product lines as necessary to remain viable. Jensen said he has a responsibility to more than 200 employees to make tough decisions as needed to ensure that they continue to receive a paycheck. He said Luhr Jensen began manufacturing fishing tackle and accessories more than 70 years ago and has been in its present location for about 25 years. According to Phil, the company has invested more than $3 million in the existing building/infrastructure that sits on property leased from the port.

“I think it (language) was poorly thought through from their (Citizens for Responsible Waterfront Development) standpoint and maybe even a last minute suggestion,” said Jensen.

Hood River Port Director Dave Harlan said the public agency is also opposed to the downzoning of its property to preserve the majority of the waterfront as a public park. He said even the threat of ongoing legal challenges is affecting local economic development. For example, Harlan said Home Depot recently broke off negotiations with the port and decided to site in The Dalles which was clearly welcoming.

“It’s apparent to most people that there is a potential takings issue here,” he said.

But Susan Froehlich, one of the sponsors of the ballot measure, said the language that Jensen is concerned about was specifically included to protect his assets. She said the CRWD recognizes the company as a “valuable asset” to the community and believes that it will gain financially from the rezone. However, if Jensen decided to close his operation, she said state and federal grant funds, as well as private donations, could be obtained to negotiate just compensation.

“The CRWD would like to protect both the workers and Mr. Jensen’s rights, as well as the last remaining parcel of waterfront in Hood River. This is not a takings issue, but one of protection — for the waterfront, for future generations of workers, residents and tourists to our fair city,” stated Froelich in a written statement.

Jensen said the measure doesn’t include any provision for compensation and that places his business at risk. For that reason, he has become vocal in his protest against its passage on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. He said Luhr Jensen has made every effort to accommodate public access to the waterfront and has even constructed walkways across its grounds for pedestrian use. In addition, he said the building and grounds are routinely made available for various public and educational activities, including the Columbiana River Fest.

“I wouldn’t stand in the way of anything down here but I believe in the old saying, ’Trust in God but tie up your own camel,” said Jensen. “When people start asking me to give away a building that is really all that we own then it has gone too far.”

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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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