Managing change: ‘Meet and greet’ is a wide open door

A big decision, and a challenge, awaits the City of Hood River’s government and citizenry.

The five finalists for the job of city manager will come to town later this month.

A “meet and greet” session with the five finalists will be Feb. 26 at Double Mountain, with interviews by three panels the next day.

“Here’s a scenario – What would you do?” will be one thrust of the questions put to the finalists as the panels seek to see how the candidates approach problem-solving. (A total of 50 people applied for the job, and now it is down to five, a mix of men and women from four states including Oregon.)

City Council members, along with citizen and agency invitees, will comprise the three panels. Their recommendations will go far in determining who the city selects as its next city manager.

Citizen input is also important to the process.

That’s where the challenge comes in.

Who remembers last May and June’s raucous council meetings where citizens filled the halls to protest the impending departure of then-city manager Bob Francis? Francis has since moved on to chief operations manager for one of the county’s fastest-growing businesses, Hood River Juice Company. The city’s first interim manager, Don Otterman, and current interim, Ross Schultz, have provided able transition leadership, and few people are looking backward anymore. And the city manager process, it must be stressed, is no longer about any specific individual, but what does come to mind is the civic dynamic that ensued: dozens of citizens, some self-admitted strangers to council meetings, or any other public meeting, standing up to express their disappointment with what they saw happening.

For some, it was an expression of rancor, while others tried to channel their frustration with comments focusing on how the process ought to work. Both approaches are legitimate parts of the public debate, but the positive channel is the one underscored by this month’s public meeting with the city manager candidates, and the rest of the selection process.

Will the meet-and-greet on Feb. 26 draw a large crowd like those we saw last spring? The Double Mountain meet-and-greet is an open, no-obligation meeting (no purchase necessary) at a neutral, community-based location.

Here is hoping the event is well-attended, and that the community sees it as a chance to engage, or re-engage, as the city rounds the corner toward the goal of hiring the next professional to guide city hall.

Budget and public and private development challenges await the manager, working not only with city staff and council but also members of the community.

The best welcome for the five prospects is a large crowd, though of course only one of the guests will be invited back to stay.

The gathering has the potential for two things: interaction with all five candidates as well as with city leaders and other citizens and, who knows, to inspire people to look in on city government more often then when a controversy erupts.

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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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