On letters: How to get your opinion in print

We are at mid-year, making it a suitable time to talk about letters.

As most readers are aware, we keep a record of every person who writes a letter to the Hood River News. That list is proudly published at the end of each year. It’s a tradition we started about 10 years ago, as a way of recognizing the people who take the time and effort to express their opinions.

If you haven’t written us yet this year, we encourage you to choose a topic you care about and send us a few words. We fill a page with names each year, but there is always room for more.

Of course, there are a few rules and recommendations around “Our Readers Write.”

First, shorter is better. Concise letters are not only better read, they are more likely to be published in a timely manner because limited space is available.

Almost any point can be made in 350 words or fewer, so this is set as an upper level for length.

(We’ve attempted to “enforce” the 350 figure in 2013, and so far most readers have complied. If a letter is slightly over the limit, we have either edited slightly or allowed them to run since space has generally been available, but the 350 limit is one we plan to get stricter about.)

Unsigned letters, letters signed with fictitious signatures and copies of letters sent to public officials are not accepted. Also, “name withheld by request” is a thing of the past at most papers, and never the case with the Hood River News.

We limit letters on a subject when we feel it has been thoroughly aired, to the point of letters becoming repetitive.

Also rejected are letters that are libelous, in bad taste or personal attacks on individuals or private businesses.

We avoid publishing letters that criticize a specific business because of a specific perceived slight or misdeed. Those concerns are almost always best aired through other channels.

Conversely, letters of thanks to businesses or organizations now are almost always published in the Neighbors column, which runs most weeks.

Finally, writers must include addresses and telephone numbers. These are for identification purposes only, and will not be published.

We want to know how to contact you, and we want readers to know the town you live in. Mainly, we want to know what is on your mind.

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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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