Bob Stone Auto to fill empty Hood River lot.

Jan. 1, 2011

Hood River is getting a new car dealership at the Cascade Ave. location formerly occupied by Cliff Smith Motors and briefly by Weston Kia for a portion of 2010. The new dealer intends to stick around and is already well-known in the Gorge.

Bob Stone Freeway Auto Center of The Dalles is expanding its operations to Hood River and intends to open its new annex by March.

"We're looking forward to that expansion and to a great annex to what we've got going here," Stone General Manager Mark Prater said.

The annex will sell from the same inventory as the main dealership in The Dalles, including GMC, Chevy, Buick and Subaru. Prater said the auto center will move cars back and forth between the lots to take advantage of the different demographics in The Dalles and Hood River.

"We'll have a wide array of vehicles," he said.

The new site will open operations without a service center, with Prater saying that all services and parts would continue to be handled by The Dalles location for the time being.

The annex location is expected to open with a staff of around seven, and Prater said he is "interviewing aggressively" to fill those positions.

The site at 3100 Cascade Ave. is also occupied by Enterprise Rental and Prater said they will continue to remain at the lot.

Enterprise did not comment on the move.

Prater believes Hood River and Subaru are a perfect fit, and said the belief that Hood River had more than enough population to sustain a dealer led the auto center to make the jump into Hood River.

"It's a natural fit," he said. "Subaru is so unbelievably strong in the Gorge."

He also said a strong sales year in 2010 for the dealership, at a time when many other dealers are closing or in steep slumps, made the move easier to make.

"We've had a great year," Prater said.

The Hood River County Chamber of Commerce was enthused about the move and having one of its major sponsors take up a physical presence in Hood River.

"They've been supportive of both The Dalles Chamber and the Hood River Chamber for so long so it will be nice to have them nearby," Chamber Director Kerry Cobb said.

The auto center is on board as a sponsor for both the chamber's Hops and Harvest Fests, and Cobb said they are looking forward to further collaboration in the future.

Moving to a location where two car dealers have failed recently did not faze Prater, and he said he had confidence that Bob Stone Auto would become a long-term presence in Hood River.

"I believe it comes down to personnel and product," he said of the strategy that led Bob Stone Auto to a banner year. "Hood River has enough population to sustain a dealership if the dealership is done the right way."

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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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