ROUND TABLE: New faces, and other transitions, at the News

Hood River News this month welcomes some new faces and bids “farewell” to a news staff member.

Ben Mitchell is the newest news staff member. He started work last week, but he has lived in Hood River for the past three years and knows about Gorge-wide issues after his nearly two years as a reporter with the News’ sister paper based in White Salmon, The Enterprise. (More about Ben below.)

Mitchell succeeds Julie Raefield-Gobbo, who moves to her new job as director of the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Foundation. Raefield-Gobbo lent compassion and skill to these pages, and we offer her best wishes as she serves her community in a new way.

Readers also might have noticed frequent articles in recent months by Trisha Walker.

Walker has been connected to the Hood River News for 12 years as our Mid Valley correspondent, and for three years working in the front office.

Former reporter Ben McCarty’s byline will appear occasionally but he has shifted to his new position as digital media director for Hood River News, The Enterprise, The Dalles Chronicle, and other members of the Eagle Newspapers Inc. family.

We also welcome summer intern Gilberto Galvez of Parkdale, a 2013 Hood River Valley High School graduate (and HRVHS Talon newspaper co-editor) and say goodbye to intern Katie Tolbert, who had a great year with us while a senior at Horizon Christian School.


Ben Mitchell hails from the town of Skaneateles, located in upstate New York, where he became a devoted fan of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League.

Mitchell graduated in 2009 from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a concentration in creative writing.

After moving to the Pacific Northwest to serve in AmeriCorps as a reading tutor for Whitson Elementary in White Salmon, Mitchell became the reporter for the White Salmon Enterprise in September 2011. He wrote and photographed for general news and sports beats.

He joined the staff of the Hood River News last week as a reporter and will continue to cover general news and features, and sports.

Ben brings a passion for reporting to the News, and a real understanding of the role of a community newspaper in informing and educating our readers.

He also brings true versatility to the Hood River News, with his ability to cover a variety of topics, sports and otherwise.

And if hockey ever really takes off in the Gorge, we have an expert to cover the beat.


Contact editor Kirby Neumann-Rea at or 541-386-1234.

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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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