Eric Strahl hired as Cascade Locks city administrator

July 23, 2011

The Cascade Locks City Council voted Monday evening to offer the city manager's job to Eric Strahl of Menominee, Mich., pending an employment contract.

Strahl was chosen for the job over Neil Obringer, of Albany.

Strahl, who has been working in municipal administration since 1980, was most recently city manager of Menominee from 2006-09.

Strahl will succeed Rich Carson, whose contract as acting city administrator expired earlier this month.

Previous City Administrator Bernard Seeger resigned in January after four years on the job, citing a lack of trust in the then incoming and now current city council.

Strahl will step into a position full of challenges. The city is currently caught in a struggle over its fire protection. Following the resignation of Fire Chief Jeff Pricher last month, the city is without an acting chief or paid paramedic.

The city is also in negotiations for a Nestlé bottling plant and is still waiting on a decision from the Department of the Interior regarding a proposed off-reservation casino by the Warm Springs tribe.

Strahl is no stranger to turbulent city politics and also has experience in some of the issues Cascade Locks is struggling with.

He said he previously worked with cities attempting to transition into industrial development and also had previous experience working with communities on water rights.

"I've worked for small or medium-sized communities my whole career," he said. "And most of them are rural or semi-rural."

Cascade Locks Mayor George Fischer said it was Strahl's experience that made him the unanimous choice of the city council.

"They were very close," he said of the two candidates. "He had more experience. I believe the council wanted someone with experience."

Strahl previously worked in Menominee where he balanced the city's budget in part by eliminating the director of public works position and negotiated an agreement to sewer system expansion and treatment facility using private, state and federal monies.

Strahl's contract was terminated by the City of Menominee in April 2009 following a 5-4 vote by the city council.

He previously served as city manager for the town of Hopkinson, R.I., for 10 months in 2003-04 and city manager of Boyne City, Mich., from 1997-2002.

He earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Western Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.

Strahl has been a finalist for several positions around the country in recent months, and said the location of the job and moving from his roots east of the Mississippi did not bother him.

"I take a look at the municipality and if I'm interested I put in an application," he said.

He said he wants to bring options to the table to try and deal with the city's issue and will try to present ways to solve them to the council.

"With any type of problem or issue you deal with you have to understand it and come up with as many options as you can," he said.

As he intends to bring his family out from Michigan, Strahl said he is looking for a lasting position.

"I'm looking for a long-term commitment and a fit between my goals and skills and what the council wants to accomplish he said.

Pending an employment agreement, Strahl said he would likely start in about a month, depending on whether he comes out on his own to Cascade Locks or moves his family with him right away.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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