Editorial: Seeing a chance to advance in Cascade Locks

October 26, 2011

The hours of daylight may be getting shorter, but there are bright times ahead for the City of Cascade Locks.

At the forefront are newly appointed council members Gail Lewis, Mark Storm, Jeff Helfrich and Randy Holmstrom, and "the three" who continue on from the previous council: Lance Masters, Eva Zerfing and Tom Cramblett.

To be sure, all seven have much hard work ahead of them. The city government has been in stasis since July, when emergency services staffing and spending all but took over the agenda and created deep divides in the community.

A recall election removed Mayor George Fischer and councilors Don Haight, Kevin Benson and Tiffany Pruit from office. Through much of this, Fischer was all but sidelined by health problems; Pruit had to take on the dual role of councilor and acting mayor; and Fischer had to serve as acting city administrator between the hasty departure of former interim administrator Rich Carson and the hiring of current interim administrator Paul Koch.

The city has the chance now to emerge from a tunnel of conflict and duress that had gripped the community since February when former city manager Bernard Seeger departed under pressure from the former council; and a few months later when former fire chief Jeff Pricher resigned.

Now, there is a new council, with two continuing members - Masters and Zerfing - who are on record of support for Pricher and funding a full time fire chief, and one who was equally vocal - Cramblett - in wanting the department to move to all-volunteer staffing.

Cramblett was clear in his support of changing the department's organization, but was marginally less critical of Pricher than were Fischer, Benson, Haight and Pruit.

The rancor between Cramblett and Masters was apparent as recently as Sept. 26, the former council's final meeting before the recall took effect.

It remained evident on Oct. 10 when Masters remained silent after Zerfing nominated Cramblett as acting presiding officer in the trio's first quorum-less meeting. This forced Cramblett to take the unusual step of seconding his own nomination.

The matter of "personality differences" between these two important public officials is brought up for a reason.

For starters, Cramblett and Masters have shown they can get past this. They have been painfully open about their disagreements, which in a strange way is of benefit to the community. That is because other such schisms may well exist that have not been so well revealed. The lesson is this: if two seated councilors can sit side by side and, as the two men have done, get things done, then others who may harbor similar friction could benefit from their example, and get it out where light can expose and then heal it.

Further, while people can disagree, and do so vehemently, the time has come in Cascade Locks to put aside personalities and address the issues that are of such vital concern to the community.

The new and returning council members, along with Koch, realize this. Through the pending council service training workshops, a stronger sense of openness prevailing at City Hall, and citizens' willingness to give public participation another try good things can happen in Cascade Locks.

As Koch put it, "the window of opportunity for the community is still open, if everyone can start pulling together."

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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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