Walden rebukes Wu over casino


News staff writer

April 30

A bipartisan group of local, state and federal officials have strongly refuted U.S. Rep. David Wu’s arguments, raised Thursday, against siting a gambling casino in Cascade Locks.

The government leaders have fired off a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton outlining their opposition. They contend that Wu’s letter to her contained “inaccuracies and misleading statements that demanded clarification and correction.”

Wu alleges that the proposal by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to build within the city’s industrial park will damage the environment by increasing traffic, congestion and air pollution.

“I can’t imagine why my colleague would want to derail a process that the tribes, local governments and the state have been working on in good faith for years.

Our goal was to follow the intent of the National Scenic Area Act by concentrating development where development already exists, and by creating tourism-related jobs to replace those lost by industries the Act discouraged in the Gorge,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who resides in Hood River.

“If Rep. Wu’s letter blows apart this agreement, then the construction trades stand to lose nearly two million hours of work and the tribal members and others in the area will lose 1,000 permanent jobs.

Moreover, the tribes will most likely return to their plans to locate the casino east of Hood River on trust land overlooking the Mark O. Hatfield Park.

They could return to that site tomorrow if they wanted. Instead, it makes better sense to approve the compact which would site the casino on the Port of Cascade Locks industrial lands that were created by tailings from the construction of Bonneville’s second powerhouse,” he continued.

Oregon Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Mt. Hood, and Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, joined Walden in strong disagreement over Wu’s assertions.

“The casino agreement represents a significant opportunity for both the Warm Springs tribe and the struggling community of Cascade Locks to achieve economic vitality and sustainability,” said Metsger. “I am disappointed that Congressman Wu did not learn the information others more closely aligned on this project have already reviewed.”

“It’s unfortunate that Congressman Wu weighed in on this issue without first learning the facts or dialoguing with me or the many other elected officials who are directly involved and informed,” said Smith. “This proposal is a good thing for the region and came after years of collaborative, bipartisan efforts between the tribe, Cascade Locks, Hood River County and the state of Oregon.”

Hood River County Commission Chair Rodger Schock and District 1 Commissioner Carol York have also signed on to Walden’s letter, along with many other Mid-Columbia officials.

“I am unaware of an elected board in this region that opposes this proposal. While a gambling facility was not our first choice to strengthen the area’s economy, we have had no luck in bringing jobs to the region and cannot afford to let our unemployment continue to rank among the nation’s highest,” said Schock. “This casino would spur economic development that will help Cascade Locks and the Gorge for years to come.”

“I’m disappointed that Congressman Wu didn’t contact me or any of the other local officials in this areas that I am aware of to find out more information about the proposed casino in Cascade Locks. I would have been, and still am, happy to clarify information and show him both of the proposed sites so that he could better understand the issue on the ground here locally,” said York.

Walden has laid out facts in the letter to Norton that he hopes will provide her with a clear look at the issues as she works toward making her decision. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has asked Norton to approve his recommendation that the Warm Springs casino be located in Cascade Locks because of “unique” circumstances.

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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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