Library’s return would be slow

Even if Nov. 2 levy passes, don’t look for much for a full year

The library pie might not be ready until around Thanksgiving 2011.

Even if the proposed Hood River County Library District levy passes on the Nov. 2, don’t expect more than a mere slice of library services until the next November.

That was Arthur Babitz’s message Thursday when he spoke about the proposed levy to a group of about 100 Hood River Rotarians at their weekly meeting.

“It will take awhile to build this up,” Babitz said, pointing to the pie chart of multiple funding sources it will take to fund the library, in addition to the property tax levy.

The levy would generate about $630,000 each year, at the proposed rate of 39 cents per $1,000 assessed value. (A May 2010 proposal, at 70 cents, was defeated by voters, and the library closed July 1 and has remained closed.)

“Clearly the voters have spoken and it will be interesting to see what will happen at 39 cents,” said Paul Blackburn, who also spoke with Babitz.

Volunteer time, fees to out-of-county users and other funding sources must accompany property taxes in order to bring the now-closed library somewhere close to a full schedule of services, according to Babitz. While the precise budget figure is still unknown, because the range of services has not been set, it will be “far more” than $630,000, particularly with the need to build up an endowment fund so that the library can do such things as hire staff, restore more than barebones services, get back to funding collections, and stop living on a year-to-year basis.

“If it opens before November 2011 it will be based on volunteers and whatever small amount of library we can create,” Blackburn said.Babitz is Hood River’s mayor but spoke as a private citizen. Blackburn is one of 12 people running for one of five positions on the library board.

“This is a change of direction,” Babitz said of the multi-part pie approach.

The recipe of revenue sources has “never been done like this” in Oregon, he said, noting that Hood River would have the lowest library tax rate of any county in the state. The next lowest is 45 cents, and after that comes Wasco County, at 62 cents.

Babitz said the task force appointed by the county board of commissioners to look into the feasibility and scope of a revised levy looked at the services and operations of Oregon counties of comparable population and service area, and examined the budgets and volunteer support of the Hood River Library for the past five years.

“We found that we needed a core of funding, and we did not find an alternative to property taxes to provide that core,” Babitz said.

“Also there was a history of volunteering, and we looked at whether we can rely on volunteers to fill in and enhance the number of hours (the library) would need to operative effectively.”

While Babitz primarily presented numbers, Blackburn spoke to what he sees as the broader need for the library.

He cited 1 Kings in the Old Testament, which refers to “the still, small voice” inside each person “that calls on us to become what we want to become.”

“The library is a place to listen to that still, small voice; a place to find quiet, and to read what others have read and thought, in addition to services such as reference and Internet access for people who cannot afford it at home.

“The library is the living room of the community, and it is ironic to have none open,” he said.Blackburn commented that “there are many library supporters in this room and I am sure there are those who are opposed to paying more taxes and I’m sure there could be some shrill political discussion but instead I’m going to read a book.”

He then did a quick reading of a picture book called “It’s A Book,” in which one character demonstrates the function of a book compared to a computer, and how the place to find books to hold in one’s hand and read, is the library.As to the cost of the library, Blackburn noted that with the cost dropped from 70 to 39 cents per $1,000, “essentially we are quibbling about price.”

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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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