Town Hall Friday provides a golden opportunity for the community

Last spring, Rep. Greg Walden took some heat for what some perceived as town halls too few and too far between.

In May and June, Walden held numerous public meetings throughout the northern counties of his huge Second District: towns such as Fossil, Moro, Condon and others. Walden, who frequently returns to his hometown of Hood River, held a June 8 town hall here in Pine Grove, which this newspaper attended but admittedly under-reported.

Walden is certainly starting the new year right with a long list of town halls this week, including Monday’s in The Dalles and another Friday in Hood River (details on page A1).

Friday’s town hall represents a prime opportunity for community members to hear from Walden and let him know their concerns.

The federal debt and the “fiscal cliff” Congressional deal, defense spending and gun control are among the major issues Walden is facing at his town halls, as witnessed by questions raised in Monday’s event in The Dalles.

Just as important are Walden’s efforts to support farm labor reform and his pursuit of innovative ways to safeguard forest health while creating jobs. Walden will discuss other efforts to provide tax relief for Oregon families and small businesses and help develop the economy.

Between the November election and the recent fiscal cliff debate, the U.S. Congress has recently had as high a profile as ever, giving voters plenty to ask their elected officials about.

We don’t have much experience with other national legislators’ public gatherings, so it’s hard to compare, but what we have observed at Walden’s events (as well as those with Sen. Ron Wyden) is a definite bipartisan spirit.

This comes from the Congressman as well as his constituency, be they Republicans, Democrats or any other affiliation.

The town halls are positive forums; the local venue, Hood River Valley Adult Center, has plenty of room.

Past town halls have been held at varying times, including Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, but this one, at 8-9 a.m. Friday, is nearly ideal, coming at the start of a working day.

If you can make it, this is the time to listen, learn and speak up as a federal legislator spends a morning in his own neighborhood.

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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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