Eerily timed power outage accompanies school board’s decisions on 2011-12 budget

MAy 14, 2011

It seemed as though Pine Grove School itself was making a statement Wednesday evening.

Just as the Hood River County School District board of directors finished approving the motion to authorize a reduction in force - as the words were still hanging in the air - the lights went off.

There was a collective gasp from everyone in the room (the school gym) at the unbelievable timing of the darkness.

It turned out to be an area-wide power failure, but it seemed more like a message. Principal Kelly Beard stood up and said, "This school has a way of making its feelings known."

The meeting went on in the dark, lit only by some auxiliary lights and whatever cellphones, flashlights and headlamps happened to be available.

The board went on to approve the 2011-12 budget and to set the rate of the local option tax at $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed value. The local option levy, which has been helping to maintain programs and services annually since 2008, will expire in 2012.

Now that the budget has been approved, Human Resources Director Bob Dais can make final decisions on staffing reductions.

Dais said at press time Friday morning that "reduction in force" letters will be mailed to those whose jobs are being eliminated by next Friday and that plans are still very fluid.

At this point, he said, it looks as though 74 employees will be receiving some kind of new assignment or transfer; four FTE licensed positions and 1 FTE classified positions are likely to be eliminated.

He did announce at the board meeting that Kelly Beard will replace May Street Elementary School Principal Susan Henness, who will be retiring from that post at the end of this school year.

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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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