Pricher to get apology in Cascade Locks

March 10, 2012

Jeff Pricher will get an apology, one year after calls for his firing frequented City Council meetings.

City Council will read a letter of apology to Pricher, the former fire chief, in its 7 p.m. meeting Monday at City Hall.

Pricher resigned in April 2011 after six years as fire chief, following weeks of pressure over charges that he had mismanaged the department. In light of budget restraints in early 2011, Pricher worked as half-time chief for about two months, before resigning outright.

His supporters had countered that Pricher had delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant revenue to the city and elevated the quality of emergency service response during his tenure.

"It is with deep regret and a grateful spirit that I write this letter. The City shares in this regret and sincerely apologizes for the accusations that you have received regarding misappropriation of funds and malfeasance of office," Mayor Lance Masters wrote in the letter.

"It was an entirely regrettable situation and the city deeply apologizes," Masters wrote.

Following Pricher's resignation, most of the volunteer base of the fire department also resigned, but in recent months the volunteer cadre has been fully restored, under guidance by interim fire chief Devon Wells and a group of officers that includes Jess Zerfing, who was appointed interim chief after Pricher left.

Pricher is one of those volunteers and was appointed an officer under Wells' interim emergency services management plan, which is still undergoing modifications. The department now has 21 volunteers.

Also, on the agenda, Council will swear in Brad Lorang, appointed last week to council to fill out the post vacated by Eva Zerfing, who resigned in March.

The council is also scheduled to take action on establishing a City Council sub-committee on public safety, which will direct ongoing efforts to improve public safety services, in association with the city administrator and fire chief.

The apology letter to Pricher is part of an out-of-court settlement between Pricher and the city's insurance carrier.

Masters and Council Member Tom Cramblett are the only two members of the current City Council who were in office at the time of Pricher's resignation.

Masters was a council member at the time, and is on record as having defended Pricher's performance.

In addition to then-mayor George Fischer, the council was made up of Kevin Benson, Tiffany Pruit, Don Haight and Zerfing. Pruit, Haight, Benson and Fischer were recalled by voters in September 2011.

The chief appointed officer at the time of Pricher's departure was interim city administrator Rich Carson, who was hired after administrator Bernard Seeger resigned in February 2011. Paul Koch, the current interim administrator, started work in July 2011.

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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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