Saving middle school sports

Riverside, HR Inn aided team effort to keep kids active

When the Hood River County School Board was faced with budgeting for a nearly $2 million shortfall two years ago, a variety of programs and services faced the chopping block. Among the restructurings, reductions and eliminations the board was faced with, axing middle school sports would save the district about $100,000 for the budget cycle.

With federal funding cut from school districts across the state and the nation, Hood River County School District was not alone in the sacrifice. Other districts in the Mt. Hood League — of which Hood River and Wy’east middle schools belonged — made similar decisions to eliminate funding for middle school sports programs.

The first year following the cut, HRCSD came up with $30,000 to dedicate to running middle school sports, while the responsibility for managing programs was shifted to the Community Education department. Last year, that $30,000 was also cut, leaving essentially no district funding for athletic programs that hundreds of young residents participate in each season.

With volunteer coaches and a handful of exceptionally dedicated community members, programs were kept alive despite the financial hardships. In the 2011-12 school year, students had the opportunity to compete on cross-country, football, volleyball, basketball and wrestling teams.

Of those teams, this spring the eighth-grade Wy’east boys basketball team went undefeated (16-0) to win the league championship and the Wy’east/HRMS combined eighth-grade boys track team went on to win the league and state championship titles.

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After news of the funding cuts, Best Western Hood River Inn General Manager Chuck Hinman and Riverside Grill Chef Mark DeResta came up with an idea to donate proceeds from the restaurant’s kids meal sales to help fund 2011-12 middle school sports programs. In about a year, that figure grew to nearly $30,000.

“I remember when I was in middle school, how big of a part of our youth sports programs were,” Hinman said. “We followed the district’s funding cuts and decided that helping the sports program was something we could get our arms around.”

The Inn and restaurant pledged to donate 100-percent of its $5 kid meal sales to a Community Education fund dedicated to middle school sports programs.

“Making significant reductions to the school district budget has been a difficult process,” Charlie Beck, superintendent of Hood River County School District, said after learning of the campaign. “To gain this kind of support from a local business is amazing.”

The funds were donated to Community Education on a quarterly basis and were used to help facilitate programs and pay for expenses such as coaches, officials and transportation.

Hinman said that although the program might change, it will continue in some fashion for the next 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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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