Nicol steps aside after busy time on council

Barring any emergency meetings, Monday will be Jeff Nicol’s final time sitting behind the dais in the city council chambers in Hood River City Council.

Nicol certainly hopes it’s the last one, because any additional council meetings would likely be scheduled for Christmas Eve.

Nicol will also be going out with a bang after two-and-a-half years on the council.

Appointed to the council in May 2012 after a stint on the planning commission, Nicol took the spot of John Herron.

Nicol had filed to run for election for the position in November, but eventually pulled out of the race.

He said he has enjoyed his time on city council, but with his involvement with several start-up companies, the council work was turning into “another full-time job,” and that the time was right to step away.

“It’s a lot of time,” he said. “To really do justice to the job, you’ve got to do your homework and invest a lot of time outside of council meetings.”

Nicol is most proud of the city getting back on a stable financial track.

He said he is proud of the way city staff and employees had helped in “righting the ship.”

He said he has seen significant improvement in the culture in city hall over the last few years and that the city is now “a much more positive environment” for city staff.

Mark Zanmiller will take Nicol’s spot on the council come January.

And while the council position and his career have kept him busy, Nicol doesn’t regret for a minute stepping in to serve the city. He views it as a challenge; a challenge he hopes others will continue to accept in the future.

“I think anyone who has the opportunity to be involved, should be,” he said.

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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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