Jill Arens chosen to lead Gorge Commission


News staff writer

August 5, 2006

The bi-state commission that governs the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area selected Jill A. Arens as its new executive director Wednesday afternoon.

The vote was 11-0 in favor of Arens, whom the commission hired at a salary of $75,000 per year. Absent from the vote was Skamania County Gorge Commissioner Walt Loehrke.

While Arens currently lives in St. Paul, Minn., she has direct ties to Hood River County as she grew up in Hood River and graduated from Hood River High School in 1966. Her family settled in the area four generations ago. Arens’ brother, John, and mother, Ady, live in Hood River.

Arens holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in political science and a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Rhode Island.

Since then she has gone on to build many years of experience in business management in both the private and nonprofit sectors. Arens has experience managing budgets ranging from $30 million to $200 million. Her professional experience includes developing and leading high-performance teams in health care, education administration and for-profit companies. Her background includes a wide range of experience in working with diverse groups.

“Jill not only has the political consensus building skills, but also a rare knowledge of the local area and its people,” said Joyce Reinig, Gorge commissioner for Hood River County.

Wasco County Gorge Commissioner and Chair Judy Davis said that Arens has the team-building and communication skills most needed by the commission at this time.

Klickitat County Gorge Commissioner Kenn Adcock said Arens’ having come from the area is a tremendous asset to the commission.

“This is where her heart is. She is aware of and has a keen interest in the need to preserve the beauty of the Gorge,” he said.

The commission selected Arens from a field of 51 candidates. Her appointment fills the vacancy left by Martha Bennett, who left the commission in May 2006 to become city administrator in Ashland. Al Wright, of Hillsboro, has been the commission’s interim director.

Arens begins work Sept. 1. She said in response to her hiring that she was thrilled to return to the area.

“I know there are numerous, challenging current and future issues for the Gorge Commission, but I will work to ensure that they are dealt with fairly, consistently, and in alignment with the Scenic Area Act and the Commission’s Management Plan,” she said.

“My first work is to do a lot of listening and learning. I am very much looking forward to working with the residents, commission staff, commissioners, local and state governments, and senators and representatives.”

Arens said with 2007 marking the twentieth year of the Gorge Commission, it would be a good time to reflect on past successes and start planning for the future.

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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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