In service At the start of 2011, best wishes to elected, appointed and In service: At the start of 2011, best wishes to elected, appointed and returning public officials

Jan. 8, 2011

Oaths of office have been taken and with the New Year less than a week old, this is a good time to congratulate the newly elected or appointed governmental leaders around the county.

Bob Benton took office Monday as Hood River County Board of Commissioners, after being elected Nov. 2 to succeed Chuck Thomsen.

Joining him on the county board is Karen Joplin, appointed Monday from a large and well-qualified field of applicants. (See page A1 for details.)

Joplin will serve out the term vacated by former commissioner Barbara Briggs, who stepped down to concentrate on her family and business.

A new mayor and three city council members formally took office Monday in Cascade Locks. Mayor George Fischer succeeds one-term mayor Brad Lorang; also newly sworn are councilors Tom Cramblett (back for a second stint), Don Haight and Eva Zerfing.

Hood River's own Greg Walden, re-elected in November, has recently been at the center of considerable potential change in Washington D.C. Walden, chair of the House Majority Transition Team, was tasked with crafting a series of reforms that would make the House operate with more openness and transparency.

Hood River City Council member-elect Brian McNamara will be sworn in Jan. 10, which is also a big day for two Hood River men headed to the state Legislature: Chuck Thomsen, elected to the Senate, and Mark Johnson, elected to the House.

For these legislators-in-waiting, there has been precious little actual waiting: meetings with constituents, legislative committee orientations and the details of setting up work spaces and temporary residences in Salem kept both men busy during the holiday break.

Meanwhile, the Port of Hood River is preparing to appoint someone to succeed Kathy Watson, who stepped down last week. The Port Commission is scheduled to interview applicants on Jan. 14.

Whatever level of government - city, county, port, state or federal - these newly elected or appointed public servants have huge responsibilities. Statewide, agencies and programs will face funding cutbacks, and those tough choices at the state and federal levels will weigh upon local budgets as well.

As all these officials well know, the strange and sporadic holiday schedule is behind us, and the New Year brings plenty of hard work in the overall challenge of meeting public needs with declining or unstable resources.

That said, the people we elect need help from citizens. They can serve us best when we inform ourselves and get involved.

We help when we share our ideas and insights as taxpayers, and when we participate in government and community groups and projects with schools, nonprofits and other organizations.

Individuals are the starting points for the increasingly important volunteer programs and public-private partnerships in our communities.

But when it comes to crucial funding choices and policy decisions, the responsibility rests with our elected officials. We firmly believe these public servants, new as well as returning, collectively possess both a concern for serving the public and a desire to work cooperatively. We wish them all well in their endeavors throughout 2011 and beyond.

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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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