Wednesday, December 29, 2010
With time running out on Barbara Briggs and Chuck Thomsen's time on the County Commission, their fellow commissioners could not resist getting in a few cracks at their expense at Monday's meeting.
The final meeting of the year was the last one for Briggs, who is stepping down to spend more time with family, and Thomsen, who was elected to the state senate in November.
First came one zinger to a presenter not to waste paper printing out reports for Thomsen and Briggs because they wouldn't be reading it.
Then when board chair Ron Rivers mentioned that he was impressed with the fact there had already been five applicants to replace Briggs, there was mention that it was probably because they thought the job was easy.
Her fellow members were only kidding; in fact they have spent chunks of their past several meetings wondering how they were going to find someone to fill her shoes.
"I have a hard time saying no," Briggs said with a laugh Wednesday when asked how she got involved with so many committees and organizations while on the commission.
Briggs served one term on the commission, and it was a term that proved tumultuous with the county having to make steep budget cuts, which included seeing the library system close for a large portion of 2010.
Both Briggs and Thomsen have extensive business backgrounds, with Briggs running a consulting and planning service and Thomsen a local orchardist.
Although both are moving on to new pursuits, neither is moving on full-time from Hood River County.
Briggs and her husband Don will be spending winters in Arizona, but will be back in Hood River in spring. Even then, the county government won't let her get away completely. She is returning in January to facilitate the commission's 2011 goals session.
Meanwhile Hood River County is part of Thomsen's jurisdiction as the newly elected District 26 senator.
Thomsen will be spending weekends at home in Hood River while spending weekdays from January to June in Salem.
"It's almost a full-time job if you want to do it right," Thomsen said.
Thomsen said that if 16 years on the county commission and more than that running a business didn't prepare him for spots on the Senate Environment and Natural Resources and Ways and Means Committees, "nothing will."
Before she became a commissioner Briggs was involved in numerous local organizations, including United Way, when she was elected to the commission her responsibilities increased further, including an appointment as the Oregon Association of Counties second vice president. That would have likely meant a term as the Association's president in the near future, and another increase in responsibilities.
That led Briggs to reach the decision that it was time to step aside.
"Unfortunately I made the decision too late to get my name off the ballot," she said.
She said that it was clear she needs the time to focus on family and her business. Her latest grandchild, born to her daughter who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, was born with a heart defect; and she also wanted to be able to focus on her business without having to deal without potential conflicts of interest.
Both Briggs and Thomsen were proud of the work the commission has done in trimming the county budget in recent years but still providing essential services.
That included seeing the library close. The library will open again next year operating outside of the county of the budget.
"It was a painful decision but the right one," Briggs said.
Both feel that public service is in their blood, and that is a calling that will likely never leave.
"I've always had a personal mandate to do public service," Briggs said.
"I've always had the desire to give back the community," Thompson said. "I've got a great profession as a pear grower - you work hard but it gives you time to do that."
And while one steps away from government and another steps into a new form of it, both say they will still be familiar faces in the county.
"You learn a lot about that through the campaigns," Thompson said of getting out and seeing his constituents. "And I'll continue to do that while I'm in session."
And while Briggs is stepping away for now, she's not ruling out a return, especially if she can't shake the urge to stay involved.
"I'm going to miss it a lot," she said. "I may be back around - who knows?"
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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