Merger of Dee, Parkdale fire districts goes to voters

By SUE RYAN

News staff writer

October 18, 2006

Candidate signs dotting lawns like mushrooms overnight show that a fall election is just weeks away.

But one measure that may not have received as much attention as other issues is the proposal within Hood River County for the merger of two fire districts in the Upper Valley. Dee and Parkdale have separate rural fire protection districts even though the volunteers train together.

“People think it’s already happened because we’ve been training together for more than a year,” said Mike McCafferty, Parkdale fire chief.

The measure proposal would tax residents at the rate of the surviving district, which would be Parkdale. The rate is $1.511 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“Tax-wise it’s just about a push — so close it’s basically the same,” said Roger Nelson.

He chairs the district board for Dee RFPD. In order to pass, the measure needs a majority in each district to approve the measure in the Nov. 7 election.

The idea of merging the two districts has been kicked around before now. McCafferty and Assistant Fire Chief Rod Blumenthal said they have heard the idea come and go during their respective 17 and 27 years with the department.

“The last time it came up was when there was a lack of volunteers; nobody had the time to go through with it (drawing up the paperwork),” Blumenthal said.

He said the issue would get dropped after new people joined. Dee has six volunteers now while Parkdale has 38. Craig Danner became the Dee fire chief a few years ago and the two districts began holding more joint trainings.

“They began dropping in to train and then after we hired a full-time training officer we just combined our weekly sessions,” McCafferty said.

At their August meetings, each of the fire district boards passed respective measures to put the issue on the Nov. 7 ballot.

What Parkdale would absorb from Dee is a fire district where the boundaries include all of Dee Flat, along Highway 281 to the railroad crossing. It’s an area they already know well as Parkdale covers it for emergency medical services as part of their ambulance district.

Between now and Nov. 7, the fire chiefs and fire district board members are trying to get out the vote. Blumenthal said voters should understand that neither district is being forced to take the action.

“We are not being forced by regulation or financial reasons,” he said.

McCafferty added that it just seems wise to pool resources to get the job done. If the measure passes, the Dee substation will remain intact with all of its equipment. It will also still be open to Dee residents for use as a community center. The one thing that would change is the name.

“The Dee name will be retired,” Nelson said.

If the measure passes, the two separate boards of 5 directors would meet and elect a board of five from among the current members.

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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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