Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Twenty-one years ago we heard many outrageous claims that a proposed Walmart store would result in much less local employment. As I recall, a year later, retail employment in Hood River County had increased by over 200 employees.
Now come the same type of allegations for a proposed expansion for a grocery store.
Balderdash - and, more importantly, we seem to be forgetting that we have both a democracy and a capitalistic economy.
Presently, I shop both Rosauers and Safeway. I might prefer some items in Walmart - or none. In any event, I'll bet the competition will improve some items and/or prices in all. And, just as 21 years ago, we'll attract even more regional shoppers.
Meanwhile, I note that the Hood River News last week included almost a full page of argument against the Walmart proposal, mostly in words that appeared to be lifted verbatim from some presentation by an opposition group or organization - without quotation.
The following Saturday came only a much shorter reporter's summation of Walmart's presentation - hardly balanced information.
Joy in Cascade Locks
It was a dark and stormy night, but that did not diminish the holiday cheer of the crowd inside the Charburger Restaurant, drinking free hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream and eating giant cookies, also free!
Young and old were gathered together to witness the lighting of the toll bridge booth and Toll Bridge Park in Cascade Locks. At approximately 6:30 p.m. the group was brought to order by Captain Tom Cramblett. Port of Cascade Locks Rare Participant Holly Howell welcomed everyone and thanking the port maintenance department and staff for their effort in putting the event together.
Then the anxious crowd gathered outside as port staff ran ahead to make lighting preparations. At approximately 6:35 p.m. the toll booth and entrance on to the bridge lit up the night with an abundance of color, much to the enjoyment of the on lookers who cheered, clapped and honked car horns! Then in perfect order each holiday scene throughout the park lit up.
The group made its way across the street and up through the park to the toll booth to view the lights and decorations more closely.
Yes, there is plenty of holiday cheer in Cascade Locks even on a dark and stormy night! Thank you, Charburger Restaurant and Port of Cascade Locks staff and commissioners, for a fabulous evening!
Kari and Jillyann Goben and Autumn Harbaugh
Farmers markets help economy
Our region has much to celebrate during this time of Thanksgiving and appreciation for the recent harvests.
I am fortunate enough to be at the forefront of the local food scene, through my work with Gorge Grown Food Network, and have supported those organizing the farmers markets throughout the Gorge region. From Stevenson to Goldendale and Trout Lake to Maupin, our local communities have seen tremendous benefits from the growth of these local markets.
A few years ago, only a few markets served our region and struggled with minimal community support. This past year we had 13 markets in our region and collectively saw gross sales more than $350,000 of locally grown or produced foods. This is money that is going directly back into our communities as these farmers, bakers and ranchers pay their employees, buy materials from the hardware store, have their tools repaired, etc.
A conservative estimate says that for every dollar spent at a locally owned business, another $3 gets spent in the community. Using that calculation, the Gorge farmers markets pumped more than $1 million into our local economy!
Farmers markets can be drivers to reshape and support our local economy, but they also serve other critical roles for our towns. Consumption of all of this fresh produce has positive impacts on the health of families in the Gorge. Markets are also serving as the community hub where friends can reconnect, share recipes and have conversations that can develop into new community development projects.
Sustained support of community gardens, local food banks and granges, downtown beautification projects and planning for gardening and food preservation classes have all flowed out of this amazing collection of markets this year.
So, in this time of reflection and sharing, I would like to thank each and every one of you that purchased food from your farmers' market this year. All of these markets rely on local support and are there to serve your needs.
Gorge Grown works with all of these markets to support access for SNAP shoppers and see that excess produce flows directly into our food banks. Food security and a thriving local economy based on support of local food are a big piece of the vision I hold for our region. Together we are building a vibrant region and for that I am truly thankful!
Gorge Grown Food Network
Walden should give forum
Congressman Walden certainly has his supporters in Hood River (among the left-leaning liberals). So why doesn't the good congressman come and give a town hall or public forum like Sen. Wyden does? We would love to debate some of the issues with him.
White Salmon, Wash.
Current coal transport
I am not sure what outdated video concerning coal transport Ms. Sheldrake refers to in her Nov 23 letter, but the reality is that open cars full of coal travel along the tracks right now. I drive along Route 14 at least three days a week and see them with my own eyes on a regular basis.
So forget the hype, propaganda, or concerns about whether to "freak out" as Mr. Burkhardt contemplates (Nov. 23 also). This is our reality already. Failing to forcefully oppose this will allow it to happen. Remember the story about the snowball and how it fares in the underworld? We will share similar odds trying to undo the plans once they are approved.
I would think any landowner - or for that matter anyone who enjoys clean air and water - would have real concerns about this change in our local environment. I can't imagine property values have gone up much at Three Mile Island or Love Canal with the health issues created by environmental tragedies there.
This issue makes the Walmart expansion feel like making a decision between a sugar or a wafer cone.
I cannot but feel there is a big disconnection between the people of Hood River County and the City of Hood River mayor and city council. How many of you who live out in the county know who the mayor is or anyone on the council?
I had inquired two years ago why there could not be a council member from the county on the city council. The answer I got then was that it could be taken up in 2011 when the city charter was up for a review.
Well, folks, apparently it did not come up for review. Do you folks who do not live in the City of Hood River realize that the mayor, city council and the city planners make decisions that affect all of us in Hood River County that cost us money? It really parallels taxation without representation!
Maybe it is time to do away with the city charter and put everything under the control of the county. This would do away with a lot of duplication of services. Over two thirds of us live out in the county. There is a huge movement for change in this country right now!
Competition lowers price
I am delighted to hear that Walmart is considering expansion of the store and the introduction of grocery items.
We have purchased most of our groceries at Safeway for many years. That store provided good selection and fair prices at the beginning.
In time, management of Safeway started to play games with prices and with the quality offered. We also noticed that they infrequently offered locally produced fruits and vegetables.
We moved our purchases to Rosauers.
We think it is timely that Walmart offer another choice to people living and shopping in the greater Hood River area.
There is no need for "cute games," for juggling prices daily, for offering monthly coupons. There is a need for honest pricing, good quality and for good value every day.
We support the expansion of Walmart. Such a step may improve offerings at Safeway and may improve purchases from local sources.
Tom and Fei Pataky
I attended the Walmart planning meeting. And I was very pleased. The planning commissioners were very thoughtful and reasonable in their approach; and the standing-room-only attendees were very civil.
Everyone should be commended.
It's about prices
Yes, we all like to hate Walmart. This is the reason I shop there occasionally:
I went to another local store to purchase a light bulb. It was $7.49. That seemed a little high, so I went to Walmart. It was $4.38. That is the reason people shop at Walmart.
Growth? Don't buy it!
Pundits claim our economy needs growth. So the good news: U.S. population grew by 60 percent and the world by 100 percent since 1960! Sing along with me: We're in the money; we're in the money; we're in the money now!
I agree with Mr. Burkhardt (letters, Nov. 23) that the Hood River News would serve its readers well by presenting the views of those who favor running coal-dust-spewing trains through the Gorge.
If the paper would send one of its reporters to interview me, I would gladly make something up. So far I have been unable to find someone who supports this juggernaut.
We recently found our car with a dead battery after an overnight stay at Hood River. Gordon Pillon, service manager of Expertec Automotive Repair Inc. on the Heights, came to our rescue. Remember, we had never even been in their office prior to this incident; but it didn't seem to change the way they greeted us and offered suggestions and finally a battery cable assist to start our car.
I would recommend that the good people of Hood River would be wise to support this business. They will be glad they did, I'm sure.