Editorial: With cooperation, transient tax issue could be just transitory

August 20, 2011

What looks like a localized land use matter could have a wide impact on the Hood River Chamber of Commerce, as Ben McCarty reports on page A1.

As tourism continues to grow in importance to the local economy, it's important to make note of the potential long-range effect on the chamber from the annexation of a portion of Westcliff Drive, including Vagabond Lodge and Columbia Gorge Hotel.

In a nutshell, annexing this property could lead to a drastic reduction in funding for the chamber, as revenue from transient room taxes at the two overnight establishments would shift from the county to the city.

No one is hitting the panic button, but the issue certainly has the attention of the chamber and local agencies, as should be the case.

The chamber and its city, county and port partners have a history of cooperation, and the Chamber has shown new vigor under the leadership of Executive Director Kerry Cobb, who was hired a year ago but seems like she's been around much longer. From its expanded and much-improved website to new programs and outreach efforts, the chamber deserves high marks for effectively raising local awareness about community events as well as improving Hood River branding.

For example, Friday brought a kind of "trade show" opportunity, courtesy of the chamber, as local businesses gathered to tell their stories to visitors from Travel Portland.

It's all part of the chamber's "all roads lead to Hood River" modus operandi.

So what looks like a "yield" sign standing in front of the Chamber of Commerce does not have to turn into a "stop" sign and certainly not a "wrong way."

The importance of the chamber, and its level of effectiveness, should be well understood by the partners, and we share the confidence shown by Cobb and City Manager Bob Francis that all parties can work together and see the way forward to sustain the chamber at or close to its existing level of service.

Flags Lowered

Hospitalman Ryley Gallinger-Long

Gov. John Kitzhaber has ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, Aug. 20, in honor of Navy Hospitalman Ryley Gallinger-Long.

"Hospitalman Gallinger-Long dedicated himself to selflessly serving others," said Kitzhaber. "His dedication to duty and courage are inspiring, yet his death is a tragic loss for our state and nation. As flags fly at half-mast on Saturday, I urge all Oregonians to pause and honor his service and sacrifice."

HN Gallinger-Long, 19, of Cornelius, died Aug. 11 while conducting a dismounted patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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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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