Filing time: Public office: the bread and buttonhole of local life

Sequestration and gridlock are terms that, so far locally, create none of the burdensome political baggage we are seeing in Washington, D.C.

Perhaps not all politics are local, but certainly the most effective ones are.

In Hood River County the individual can have an impact on local political matters, and the May 21 Special Districts ballot displays the potential for local residents stepping up and making a significant difference.

Turn to page A1 for details on filing for local offices.

This spring, every Special District in the county will have one or more positions up for vote, giving the average citizen a great opportunity to get involved, and know that their efforts will carry weight.

Special districts are taxing districts serving localized needs or specific services. In most cases the jurisdictions include just a portion of the county, and can even be a neighborhood governing group, in the case of sanitation and fire districts, for example.

Others, such as school, transportation and parks boards, cover the entire county.

In every case, the individual can have their say on policy and budget decisions, and help determine the future course of how important services are provided in local communities.

In some cases, a new majority could be voted into office. Case in point is the Hood River County School Board, where four of seven seats are up for grabs.

The Port of Hood River has three of five positions open, as does the Hood River Library District.

Moreover, many of these taxing bodies are facing major decisions on budgeting services, changes in zoning or use of land, projects to spur development, future bonding and taxing measures, new avenues of governmental cooperation, and other vital decisions.

It’s rarely easy, and sometimes difficult and contentious work, but holding local public office is one of the best ways one can serve the community. With special districts the elected are never more than a few miles and a local phone call away from their constituents.

Meetings are held in schools, fire halls, community rooms, and, while impromptu, in the grocery aisles.

In local politics, you’ve got to be prepared to be buttonholed in the bread aisle, but that is the beauty of it.

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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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