ROUND TABLE: Walkin’ man Dave Phelps quietly retires

And the walkin’ man walks …”

When Dave Phelps announced his retirement Monday, I thought of the line from the old James Taylor tune from the 1970s.

But Dave always had a mission and never a “hypothetical destination,” as the song reads. The same can be said for retirement, which starts Thursday for Dave, the community service officer with Hood River Police Department.

He’s in charge of code enforcement, evidence management, and, his most prominent role, parking enforcement.

Eight miles a day, on average, he would walk. A pair of shoes lasts four months.

And he loves it.

The walking man walks. “Any other man stops and talks, but the walking man walks.”

But the thing is, Dave Phelps will now be able to stop and talk, and he looks forward to it. He and his wife, Diana, live 2 miles from the post office, and those walks downtown and back will be a regular thing for Dave, who at 61 knows the health — physical and mental — benefits of walking.

And now, no more hassles. No more “encounters that were different than they should have been,” as the 33-year law enforcement veteran diplomatically puts it.

“There was some over the top stuff, a few of those, a few people have come in said things that didn’t occur,” Dave said.

Full disclosure: I had one of those run-ins with Dave, a year or two ago. I got angrier than I should have when I got a ticket and, later than I should have, I apologized. He was a gentleman throughout, just as he’s always been every time I’ve ever talked to him.

Checking the meters is a thankless job in a world where parking violators are like NBA players: They react to the referees like they have never committed a foul in their life.

And now the walking man walks, and talks, and you’ll find Dave’s a guy with plenty of experience to talk about. He’s a father and a grandfather, and he and Diana did three years’ service in Ukraine with the Peace Corps before they settled in Hood River.

“We plan to stay. This is our community now,” he said.

Hats off to Dave and his service to the community. It says something about him that when City Council gave him a round of applause Monday night, he kept walking.

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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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