Locals turn bushy hillside into a great place to ride


News staff writer

May 20, 2006

Hood River’s new BMX track is almost finished.

The winding 800-plus foot course is laid out. The corners are banked. The kickers are built up and the dirt is packed down. The approaches are clean and the landings smooth. In fact, other than signage, and an irrigation system to control dust and keep the dirt firm, the track is ready to rock and roll.

“We’ve put in so much time and energy on this,” said Hood River Valley High School student Gary Paasch. “It was great that we received so much support from the community, and the whole community can come out here and use the track. It’s not just for crazy teenagers.”

The track, which is located on 2.7 acres of lightly-forested park land also occupied by the Rotary Skate Park, winds its way from the top of the hill by Columbia Street across and back to the top of the skate park, which sits at the bottom of the hill by Wasco Street.

After about a year of proposals and the approval process within the county, which started in November of 2004, groundbreaking for the park started last November. The tedious task of removing underbrush and poison oak came first. From a brushy and unmaintained hillside to a dirt track for riders of all ages and abilities, the area saw great change in a matter of about six months.

“The track has been a grass roots effort, with all-volunteer equipment, time and money,” said Jeff Blackman, who has been one of the project’s biggest advocates since the beginning. “It is a natural fit to have the BMX track and the skate park together. Our hopes are to hold local races this summer and to have an open, fun track for kids of all ages to enjoy.”

The Hood River Parks and Recreation District, which also runs and maintains the Rotary Skate Park, has been instrumental in the BMX track coming into reality. According to Blackman, Parks and Rec. has agreed to run the track and cover it under the insurance umbrella the district currently has for the skate park.

“Parks and Rec. has been really cool for providing this land for us,” said HRVHS student, rider and volunteer Kody Moga. “We’ve spent a lot of time working and raising money for this and it’s great that now there is somewhere close for riders to spend time and practice.”

A good deal of work still needs to be done for the track to be fully ready for the summer season. Anyone interested in helping with donations or labor is encouraged to contact Blackman at (541) 806- 0505 or the Hood River Parks and Recreation District at 386-5720.

Once it is completed, the track will be named the Jeff Johnson Memorial Track in the name of the mountain biker who died last summer on the Sincline trail.

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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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