Saturday, October 5, 2013
Commissioners made a unanimous decision at the tail-end of Tuesday’s epic, 4-hour-and-38-minute-long Port of Hood River meeting to roll out new BreezeBy transponders and a pricing policy to go with them.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, people who use the BreezeBy windshield transponders to cross the Hood River Bridge will have the option of picking up a new plastic transponder that will be able to be transferred easily from vehicle to vehicle.
The Port of Hood River started the BreezeBy program back in 2007 during its Toll Plaza Improvement Project. The program was designed for frequent commuters who didn’t want to handle cash every day when paying the toll to cross the bridge. When scanned at the toll plaza, the transponder automatically deducts tolls at a discounted rate from the user’s account and allows the customer to drive through all toll plaza lanes without stopping to pay bridge fare.
Currently, the port issues transponders in the form of a sticker embedded with a computer chip that is then applied to the back of the vehicle’s rearview mirror or its windshield. Attempting to remove the sticker, however, would damage the whole transponder and render it useless. In an area where the use of crushed rock on the roads in winter often results in a new windshield by spring, the sticky transponders proved, for some users, to be a nuisance.
“If you’ve ever broken your windshield, or go to another car, you’d have to buy another one,” Kowell explained to commissioners.
Mellissa Halseth, the port’s office specialist who was taking minutes during the meeting, agreed.
“People get windshield replacements every day and they’re really upset that we charge them for a sticker,” she said.
The port currently provides three free sticker transponders per customer. Once the customer goes over that allotment, however, they’re required to cover the cost of the replacement: about $15. The new transponders — plastic boxes slightly smaller than a deck of cards — cost $29 a pop, but new customers will each get one transponder for free. Lose or damage the new transponder and it costs $29 to replace, regardless of how many transponders the customer received in the past.
Current customers can turn in their old transponder to the port and receive a new one for $15. Customers can still use the sticker transponders as long as they want. The new transponders work the same as the old ones, but are fastened to the windshield differently. The port is currently testing a suction cup or a Velcro model to see which one adheres better to vehicle windshields.
The new policy is expected to save money for both the port and its customers. The port will save money by not giving away up $45 in free transponders per person. Customers are expected to save money by being able to easily remove the transponder from their vehicles — which can be attached by Velcro strips or suction cups — thereby cutting down on the need to purchase replacements. In a memorandum to the port, Kowell also noted the port “will be able to enhance its internal control over the inventory of transponders by reducing the number of free transponders.”
Those with questions about the new policy can call the port at 541-386-1645. Customers can turn in their old transponders and pick up new ones starting Jan. 1 at the port offices, located at 1000 E. Port Marina Drive in Hood River.
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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