Honors extended to Mayor Nakano as Tsuruta group arrives Tuesday

Sister City’s 37th year

Mayor Kenji Nakano, center left, prays with other Tsuruta citizens in 2002 at the gravesite of Sister City founder Chop Yasui.

Mayor Kenji Nakano, center left, prays with other Tsuruta citizens in 2002 at the gravesite of Sister City founder Chop Yasui.

The Tsuruta-Hood River Sister city Program has seen some big celebrations in its 37 years, but none like next week’s.

Mayor Kenji Nakano of Tsuruta, Japan, will lead a group of his fellow citizens to Hood River in what will be his final visit as mayor.

The community is invited to a ceremony at Children’s Park on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., where a tree will be planted in Nakano’s honor in the cherry grove the Tsuruta visitors planted two years ago. Children’s Park is located and Ninth and Eugene streets.

A dinner and program honoring Nakano will be Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Columbia Gorge Hotel. Limited tickets are available for Tuesday’s dinner; RSVP by emailing: sharw@embarqmail.com.

Mayor Nakano “has dedicated a good half of his life to the sister city program, and I feel great being on the board and honoring him,” said board president Niko Yasui, who remembers his first meeting with Nakano: as a young boy he gave the Tsuruta mayor his GI Joe doll after Nakano presented his mother, Maija, with a set of lacquered plates.

“He is like an uncle in our family, coming over every few years,” Niko Yasui said. “He’s going to stay at Mom’s, and it started 37-plus years ago when he and my grandpa met, and on his first visit he stayed at their house, and it will end at a last session at my house with a potluck,” on Thursday. “It’s coming full circle,” Yasui said.

“For decades Mayor Nakano has been synonymous with the Sister City program,” Hood River Mayor Arthur Babitz said. “I know the program will continue, but it won’t be quite the same without the mayor’s regular visits.” Nakano retires this year after 40 years leading his city, the longest such tenure in Japan’s history.

The Tsuruta contingent lands Tuesday, and starts with a meeting with Gov. John Kitzhaber in Salem.

Hood River events begin Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. no-host cocktail hour (open to all), followed by dinner, at Columbia Gorge Hotel. Mid-Valley Dancers will perform along with Kendra Wilkins, granddaughter of Maija Yasui, and great-granddaughter of program co-founder Chop Yasui.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday a plaque and bench will be unveiled in front of City Hall, honoring the three founders of the Sister City: Nakano and the late Chop Yasui and the late Chuck Beardsley, followed by the 10:30 event at Children’s Park.

Nakano and his fellow Tsurutans will tour Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum and Columbia Gorge Community College on Wednesday, and on Thursday will visit Timberline and Ryan’s Juice, and meet with Sister City volunteer Betty Carrithers at Parkhurst Place.

On Thursday the group will also pay respects at the gravesites of Chop Yasui at Idlewilde Cemetery and Aiko Tadakuma, another Sister City supporter, at Pine Grove Butte Cemetery. The group flies home on Friday.

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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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