Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Life is short
We often take the people who mean the most to us for granted. It's not intentional; just human nature. They simply become so much a part of everyday life, like the chore list on the fridge, that we stop noticing them. Sometimes, it takes a kick from life to remind us to notice.
I write this as my wife has been fighting a medical condition since October. Her health crisis scared everyone who loves her, because no matter how optimistic you are, there's always a fear of losing someone you love.
Her illness was a surprise. Sure, she could exercise and eat healthier foods, but she's physically active and always on the go. But a few days of extreme pain, loss of arm function and tears led to doctors, emergency room, tests and spine injections.
At the doctor's office, my daughters and I were upbeat with her before her first injection. On my own, I was worried and saying prayers. I realized I couldn't recall the last time I'd told her what a good person she is.
When we met, I didn't know, of course, the role she'd have in my life. She sat in the front row of calculus class. She had a wicked sense of humor, she was smart and we became friends and married.
Over the years, the more time I spend with her, the more I like her: Family comes first, and she's been a great friend, spouse and mother. Honest, hard-working, forgiving. Willing to help anyone, yet never wants anyone "to bother" for her.
She's emotionally complex, yet so clear-eyed and down-to-earth about herself and life. What you see is what you get with Cynthia. And, she can size up a situation or person quickly - and accurately sum them up in a sentence or two.
Seeing Cynthia so ill reminded me of how lucky I am that she's my best friend. It made me realize, too, that I'd forgotten what my dad told me long ago: Don't take anyone you love for granted. Tell them often you love them - it's only three words - because time can be so short.
Vote for Tiffany
If I were to have the opportunity to poll each of the sheriff candidates and ask each as to whom he considered to be the second best choice, I would expect the results to be: Matt English would vote for Gerry Tiffany; Gerry Tiffany would favor Neal Holste; and Neal Holste would select Gerry Tiffany.
My choice is governing by the one who in my opinion, best exemplifies integrity, honesty, empathy and leadership - and the winner is - envelope please! - Gerry Tiffany!
'Captains' steered wrong
Mr. Davis's recent letter (March 31) about the captain of the ship was, as usual, poetic, but it prompted me to review the history of our national debt.
When George H.W. Bush left office, we had a $300 billion deficit. When Bill Clinton left office, that had become a $100 billion surplus. When George W. Bush left office, that number was a $1 trillion deficit. Much of that money was spent on wars in two countries led by despicable tyrants who, nonetheless, had no ties to the 9/11 attacks.
One has large oil reserves and now both are being rebuilt by Halliburton, et al. The former president proved he was a tough guy who didn't need facts to make a decision, and the former vice president is lining his pockets with oil and reconstruction money.
I know we are all impatient for a rebound in the economy, but are we so shortsighted as to think the party that dug this hole is the answer?
I would prefer a government with no parties, so that our leaders would be able to think about us instead of toeing the party line. Until that happens, I want a captain who doesn't represent the same interests that steered us into the rocks.
Mirrors might help safety
I have a suggestion for the City of Hood River. How about looking into getting some special mirrors placed on the street corners to see around the block for streets Third through Sixth that connect with Oak Street.
I bring this up because in order to make a right-hand turn facing south to Oak, I have to stick the nose of my car out into the street, especially Fourth Street, because cars parked on Oak block my view. Secondly, my car is in the crosswalk, as well.
I think the mirrors would help in this matter, and like I said it only a suggestion.
Yes, we see
Ted Hansberger's letter of April 4 concerning the dramatic increase in coal trains passing through the Gorge claims that we coal-train opponents overstate the hazards of escaping coal dust. He wonders if we realize coal trains already pass through, claiming to have never seen any dust escaping.
Eyewitnesses report seeing clouds of dust escaping coal trains passing through Dallesport, a windy area. Perhaps Mr. Hansberger drives only on calm days.
Of course we know about the trains that pass through the Gorge. Nine per week supply the Big Hanaford coal-fired power plant at Centralia Wash.; these trains are 100 cars long.
Our concerns are not about these. Rather, we're concerned about the possibility of much longer trains, each 1½ miles long, running the Gorge every hour of every day, essentially an assault on our Gorge communities by one of the dirtiest industries in the world. This is nearly a 20-fold increase in trains that are 30 percent longer.
This is what we know:
Six terminals dedicated to coal export are proposed to be built; four along the Columbia River, one on the Washington coast and one on the Oregon coast. We know their capacities from the state and federal permit filings, more than 140 million tons per year, all to pass through the Gorge; 137 million tons by rail and 8 million tons by barge.
BNSF Railroad's own studies show that between one and three tons of coal dust escapes from each car during transport.
This coal, from the Powder River Basin, Wyo., has a fragile structure that fractures easily into small particles and is not easily contained.
We don't know how much mercury-laden coal dust we will breathe from this coal export juggernaut; nor do we know how much of this dust will foul our precious, world-class pears, wine grapes and other commodities that define our valley. Do we really want powerful corporations to experiment with us to find out? I think not.
Coal in our Gorge? Get outta here!
Yes, there ARE folks in the Gorge who are opposed to the Nestlé water buying project, contrary to what Rep. Johnson thinks (Commentary, April Gorge Business Review, Page 5). Had he attended the first meeting Nestlé hosted in Cascade Locks he would have learned that only about 40 jobs would be created, not dozens. And these are not top-salary positions. Managers will be brought in from other Nestlé facilities.
Mr. Johnson makes Sen. Dingfelder sound like an outsider who does not have Cascade Locks' interests at heart. She is an Oregonian, something he can't say about the Nestlé company. She no doubt looks at the bigger picture - increased traffic, noise, air pollution, more plastic bottles being put into the environment.
Everyone would like to see Cascade Locks do better. But a Nestlé water bottling facility is not the answer.
Mr. G.P. Taylor makes several significant errors in his letter of April 7. First of all, Naito Development does not "own" the Nichols Boat Basin. Its 5 acres consists of 4 acres of land to the south of the basin and about 1 acre of submerged land.
The Port, a public agency, owns the rest of the basin, about 14 acres, and the developers hope to secure a lease for at least 10 of these publicly owned acres for their proposed cable park.
Secondly, the public use doctrine provides a "floatage easement" - or the right of the public to use (not own) a navigable waterway for recreational uses, including boats for pleasure and fishing, as well as swimming. This easement holds true even if the submerged land is privately owned and the land owner pays taxes on the land beneath the water.
Mr. Taylor would appreciate this easement if he has ever drift fished in a waterway where the submerged land beneath the water where he fishes is privately owned. A land owner cannot prevent someone from floating in the water over his land in a navigable waterway. For a land owner to obstruct the public easement in favor of a special interest group (in this case cable park riders and the developer) runs counter to the public trust doctrine in the State of Oregon.
The waters of the boat basin, flowing into and out of the Columbia River, are not for sale or lease. They belong to all of us.
Public does have say
G.P. Taylor's April 7 letter, implying that "Whether the cable park and surrounding development fits within the commercial zone or not is the [only] question …" is misleading. As the same issue's front page story notes, the Port of Hood River, as owner of two-thirds of the port basin "...holds a powerful hand in the fate of the project."
The port is a public or government organization with its governing body elected by the people. That means that the wisdom of the whole proposed project, pros and cons, is up for public debate.
I don't think that the Naito family would help their own self-interest - much less the public's - by fencing off their property and walking off in a huff, as Mr. Taylor suggests.
English for sheriff
After attending the public candidate forum at Hood River Middle School on Wednesday night our conviction that Matt English is the best candidate for Hood River County Sheriff has never been stronger. Matt made it evident that he is the most knowledgeable, and experienced person in local law enforcement when it comes to the protection and service provided to our community. He showed the depth and detail of that knowledge with every answer.
Matt has been immersed in the workings of the HR sheriff's office at every level for the past 12 years. His experiences with the diverse community partners that collaborate with the sheriff's office have allowed him to develop critical relationships that cannot be matched by the other candidates.
Matt is a man of integrity, ethics and grit. When you talk to him you know exactly where you stand. He is a seasoned veteran deputy with a notable track record and an impressive investigative resume. No one works harder, trains more or brings more forethought to the job.
But the most impressive thing about Matt English is his leadership. Today Matt is already a leader in the sheriff's office. He is respected for his work ethic as well as his expertise. His peers in local law enforcement support him.
Living in a safe community is critically important to us as we raise our family in Hood River. We need a sheriff with a clear direction, and the skills to take our local law enforcement services through the next 20 years. Matt English is our choice for sheriff.
Amy and AJ Kitt
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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