Laurent Picard fills Kitt’s city council seat

October 15, 2005

The Hood River City Council has chosen Laurent Picard to fill the seat recently vacated by A.J. Kitt.

Picard, who resides on Hazel Avenue, was selected on Tuesday out of two applicants for the position. He was appointed to serve out the three years and two months remaining in Kitt’s unexpired term. Kitt recently resigned from the office he was elected to last November to prepare for the birth of triplets.

Bob Francis, city manager, said Picard became the top candidate after expressing a strong interest in the creation of more affordable housing opportunities for citizens.

Recently, the city has initiated steps to address a growing concern in the community about the rising cost of homes. Picard told the council during his Oct. 11 interview that he wanted to be actively involved in that effort. That vocal support for the council’s new focus, said Francis, probably gave Picard a slight edge over John Grossheusch, who was also considered well-qualified for the job.

“Mr. Picard had a very definite interest in making sure that Hood River remains liveable,” said Francis.

Picard, 33, said without some type of government intervention, many lower- and middle-income citizens could be forced to find housing in other locations.

“If working people are priced out of the community, it will become more and more homogenous, and that’s not good for its character,” he said. “I think affordable housing is absolutely crucial and needs to be addressed.”

Although he holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University Picard made a career choice 11 years ago to be a paramedic and, two years later, a professional firefighter. He said working with people who have “come up through the trenches” instead of from the “ivory tower of academia” has greatly broadened his perspective on life. In addition, being an emergency responder in the City of Portland has gotten Picard actively involved with people from all socio-economic walks of life and diverse cultures.

The ability to interact effectively with a cross-section of society, said Picard, should benefit him as a public servant. In addition, he said being on the front lines of life and death decisions has taught him how to reach consensus and delegate responsibilities to get the job done as quickly as possible.

“I’ve become very adept at maintaining a cooperative working relationship with people under intense and stressful situations,” he said.

In addition to his firefighter duties, Picard is the founder and one of seven partners in a small ski-manufacturing firm. He said designing and setting up PM Gear over the Internet, with no prior knowledge of the industry, has exposed him to just about every challenge that a business can face.

So he expects to have empathy and understanding for concerns brought before the council by other entrepreneurs.

“In firefighting we have to work as a team, and not as individuals, or we will fail. I believe that probably applies to this political position as well,” Picard said.

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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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