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Bits of color from 2002

A Kaleidoscope year

ka-lei-do-scope: noun. 1. a small tube containing bits of colored glass reflected by mirrors to form symmetrical patterns as the tube is rotated; 2. anything that constantly changes.

Many bits of color made up the kaleidoscope of the Hood River Valley over the past year, as seen through the Kaleidoscope pages of the Hood River News. Let’s “rotate the tube” and look again at some of the colorful patterns that took shape during the past year.

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January ushered in a new year in the sweetest sense for Hood River resident Marcia Page, who was critically injured in a snowboard accident at Mt. Hood Meadows in February 2001. Page slid off a 65-foot cliff and crushed the right side of her body. She suffered severe brain damage and was transported by LifeFlight to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital.

Page was in a coma for 10 days and was only semi-coherent for the whole month that she was at OHSU. She was released to the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital, where she spent another month undergoing intensive physical therapy.

She returned to Hood River in the spring but spent much of last year continuing her rehabilitation. Last November, her husband, John, took her back to the mountain to snowboard for the first time and she helped coach the Summit Snowboard Team last season. She continues to be a vocal advocate of wearing helmets.

Another good news health story came early in the year from local photographer Peter Marbach. After feeling fatigued for a couple of months the prior spring, he finally went to his doctor at La Clinica when he began having pains in his shoulder. Tests showed severe blockage of three major arteries, and Marbach, then 45, underwent immediate open heart surgery to save his life.

By last winter, Marbach had fully recuperated and was back roving the Hood River Valley and the state in pursuit of his trademark landscape photographs. His first book, “Oregon Harvest,” was published last summer.

In March, the first of the year’s impressive theater productions was staged at Hood River Valley High School’s Bowe Theatre. “Bullshot Crummond” an entertaining spoof of detective movies from the 1930s and ’40s, was directed by Rachel Krummel and featured several talented high school actors and actresses.

Other stage productions during the year that boosted Hood River’s community theatre into the limelight included “Assassins,” put on by CAST Theatre in July, and the HRVHS production of “Les Miserables” in November — each directed by Mark Steighner. Both productions were complex and the results were worthy of the stage in much larger cities — testament to Hood River’s growing reputation as an arts and culture center.

The dedication and generosity of several people in the Mid-Columbia made possible the start of the Gorge Community Foundation, which officially launched last winter and is directed by Lynn Everroad. The foundation is a public charity that grows and manages endowment funds that provide grants to local nonprofit organizations and projects. The foundation began with a handful of separate funds, begun by donors who wanted to provide lasting help for their various causes — ranging from hospice to New Parent Services to helping needy children.

The Gorge Community Foundation continued to grow throughout the year and now boasts more than 15 funds, all of which are helping to enhance quality of life in the Gorge.

The one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was one of the more somber events of the year. Several local residents marked the day by sharing their recollections of where they were on that fateful morning and how the attacks have changed their lives.

The last couple of months of 2002 seemed to be filled with stories of people working for the good of their fellow Hood River Valley residents. The local Lions clubs teamed up with doctors from Cascade Eye Center in November to do vision screenings on every child enrolled in Hood River County elementary schools. Mitch Martin and Chris Barbour of Cascade Eye Center volunteered their time — and their high-tech equipment — for an entire week of screenings, and a small army of local Lions helped at each school where the Lions Mobile Screening Unit was set up.

Local orchardist John Jacobson had more than two years of work come to fruition this fall when his School Aid program finally was launched in Portland and Hood River. Jacobson sells all the fruit from his organic orchard for minimal profit to grocery stores — Rosauers, in Hood River — who in turn sell it and donate the profits to help school programs. In these days of school budget doom-and-gloom, Jacobson’s efforts are a bright ray of light.

Finally, the ESL program at Hood River Valley High School is another bright light and colorful contribution to the kaleidoscope of the valley. The program is so successful in making Hispanic students feel welcome, and integrating them into the fabric of the school with minimal stress, that the school’s Hispanic drop-out rate last year was only 2.4 percent — one of the lowest in the state. Others are turning to HRVHS for direction in their own ESL programs, and the program is sure to continue to turn heads with its innovative methods and hard-working staff.

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Happy New Year, and here’s looking forward to rotating the tube of Kaleidoscope in 2003.

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