‘You are in the middle of history’ Georgiana Smith park dedicated

October 12, 2005

The Couch bench was one of the best seats in the park during Sunday’s festivities at the Hood River County Library.

The children of John and Hap Couch were among the 250 people who attended the rededication of the Georgiana Smith Memorial Park.

“Remember this place. This is about people and a place,” said Rodger Schock, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, in opening the ceremony. “This all happened because of the energy, passion, and the money of a lot of different people to make it what it was.”

Those who made it happen included community members such as the Couch family.

The Couch children purchased a memorial bench for their parents, who had made the Hood River Library a central part of their lives.

“She spent a lot of time at the library,” Mary Clark of Vancouver said of her mother, Hap, who is 97 and lives at Down Manor and was unable to attend.

“She had us at the library a lot when we were kids. I did a lot of research for my papers at Hood River High School,” Mary recalled. “The old card catalogs. Remember those?”

Hap played on the lawn as a girl and used the library all her life. She was born in 1909, four years before the library was established on land donated by Ezra Smith in memory of the community work done by his wife, Georgiana. The Smiths arrived in Hood River in 1876 and worked over the next few decades to provide a library for the young town.

“Georgiana Smith is one of my heroes,” library director June Knudson said. “There is no photo of her, and little is known about her, but she worked tirelessly toward what she felt the community ought to be.

“So many people pitched in and did this project. Georgiana Smith represents what this community is all about,” Knudson said.

During Sunday’s event, Library Foundation president Virginia Hosford urged the crowd to look at the stone bearing a plaque commemorating the Smiths.

That connection to the history of the place is what the event was all about.

Sitting on the Couch family bench, Hap’s son, David Couch of Hood River, said “We know this is what she would have wanted – some kind of contribution to the library to keep it going.”

The park has been in redevelopment for months, thanks to the work of Hood River County Public Works and Mount Hood Gardens crews, an ongoing fundraising effort by the Foundation, but Sunday was the first major gathering in the expanded park.

John and Charlene Stoltz of Hood River donated the land next to the existing Smith park.

Marion McNew of Mount Hood Gardens designed the park and oversaw the work, along with Dean Guess, county facilities director and library director June Knudson.

Where scrub lawn and unkempt foliage dominated, something new has been created: patios, walkways, the Rotary Club pergola, trees and plantings, new lawn, a broad walkway linking the library to Sixth Street, and benches such as the Couches’.

Meanwhile, the original section of the park has a new stairway and concrete path between Oak and State streets, trees, new Children’s Patio and Front Patio, and a broad sidewalk.

Rotary Club president Michael Schock and past president Judy Dutcher helped in the park ribbon-cutting, held at the new Rotary pergola.

The wooden structure is the product of a $10,000 club donation that served as its centennial project for Rotary International, founded in 1905.

“Our club has helped in the past with the Children’s Park, Rotary Skate Park, and other projects for our young people, so we (Rotary) saw this as a good project to take on, a natural extension of what we’d already done,” Dutcher said.

Community donations have taken the form of $50 bricks to $750 benches to $10,000 patios such as the one paid for by Phil Jensen in honor of his family, by the library’s State Street entrance.

The Sherrerd family enjoyed seeing the Magnolia planted in honor of Kathleen Sherrerd, overlooking Oak Street.

Throughout the afternoon, people walked along the park paths, eyes down, looking for bricks and those of friends.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that’s been done,” said Betty Deane of Hood River. “It builds community, and we need more of that. As a community we need to remember ourselves and our history.”

Pat Pattison, a Hood River native, said, “It feels good to have something so beautiful in our town.” Of the former park, she said, “it was there without being used as much as it could.”

“I think that Marion was the perfect person to do this. She did an excellent job.”

On Sunday, McNew said she tried to keep the design simple, with lawns, patios, walkways and benches where people could meet.

“This is a place for people to enjoy the view, enjoy the place, and enjoy each other,” McNew said.

That was the order of the day Sunday. Hosford said the rededication was the culmination of extensive hard work by many people.

“This is truly a gathering of community,” Hosford said, pointing to the 70-year-old stone wall overlooking the south edge of the expanded park, an edifice built by the same masons who built the Historic Columbia River Highway.

“You are in the middle of history,” Hosford 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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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