Editorial: Welcome home, Insitu

December 17, 2011

The last vestiges of Bingen's faux-Bavarian theme of the 1980s have all but disappeared from the scene in the once-bucolic community just over the Hood River bridge.

Two good things can happen with Insitu's announcement (story, page A1) that the company will concentrate its capital in Bingen by locating its campus in its first home in the Gorge.

Hood River's neighbor to the north just gained a firmer place in the global economic landscape, and the Gorge economy.

Also, the rest of the Gorge gains the predictability of knowing that the vibrant, and growing, high tech company will remain where it is. The entire region will benefit by Insitu's consolidation in Bingen. The 200-employee (and growing) cadre in Insitu's Hood River engineering section is staying put. The workers in Stevenson and The Dalles will be shifted to Bingen. Not a bad commute.

"We are Hood River but we are also part of a Gorge economy," Hood River Port executive director Michael McElwee said during a recent visit to Hood River by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Insitu holds, on both sides of the Columbia, a firm place in a regional economy that increasingly draws more and more small high tech firms who recognize the fertile intellectual environment in the region. As McElwee points out, technology-based employers form a well-balanced landscape along with agriculture and tourism in this area.

"Our success comes from the foundation of agriculture, intellectual capital, and recreational sites," noted McElwee.

As evident in last week's industry and business round table presentation to the governor, local businesses and agencies have a growing record to working together toward economic development, leading to greater diversity in the local economy. It's about synergy.

Such an environment can ultimately help Insitu diversify its market. There is even greater potential for Insitu, as the region's largest single employer, now that it has made clear its plans to solidify its place in the Gorge. The rich local intellectual capital of the region can play a role in helping Insitu develop uses beyond its military customers.

The encouraging thing about the Bingen announcement is that Insitu is staying with its roots, with some help from government-approved tax incentives that are underwritten by taxpayers.

Look at agencies with an interest in job training, sustainable energy development, and agricultural research, such as Columbia Gorge Community College and Oregon and Washington Extension Services. They could have a say, in further helping Insitu retain its root mission, that of developing domestic applications for unmanned aircraft.

Insitu's Bingen choice is good news for the entire region. With regard to the accompanying potential for cooperation by Insitu and its private and public neighbors in the Gorge, you could say that the sky is the limit.

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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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