Hood River Mayor Paul Cummings expressed great empathy when his counterpart from The Dalles was late in paying off a bet on Monday.
“I understand why Mayor VanCleave is late, this has to be the most embarrassing day of his life,” said Cummings.
After The Dalles lost Friday’s football game with Hood River by a wide margin, 69-36, Robb VanCleave and his city manager, Nolan Young, were expected to sweep pavement at city hall by 9:15 a.m.
But when the pair pulled up outside of city hall about 30 minutes late, they each had a ready excuse for their tardiness.
“We had to plan,” explained Young, accepting coffee and fresh cranberry nutbread from Lynn Guenther, Hood River city manager.
VanCleave also enjoyed his repast while explaining that he and Young were delayed while their city attorney was busy reviewing gambling laws to find a loophole that would nullify the bet. However, unable to proceed with that legal dodge, The Dalles officials donned orange safety vests and packed up their leaf blower for the trip west.
“They haven’t even been here for three minutes and already they are on a coffee break,” groused Guenther.
While Cummings generously plugged the meter for The Dalles workforce, Guenther questioned whether it was “cheating” to use machinery in the sweeping challenge. However he was mollified by the presentation of a ceremonial broom from VanCleave that will be displayed at city hall.
“This should be the first of an annual tradition and we are looking forward to having it used in The Dalles next year,” VanCleave said.
Upon hearing that comment, Guenther paraded VanCleave and Young through the downtown streets, stopping frequently to ask business owners if they wanted their stoops swept.
At last the four officials ended up at Overlook Memorial Park where they were joined by a laughing Police Chief Tony Dirks.
“This is a great way to start the day,” said the city’s lead law enforcement officer, who agreed to participate next year so that he could supervise.
Although Guenther had originally planned to have The Dalles workers tackle 278 of the steps from Montello Avenue to State Streets, he decided to avoid liability from a probable injury and cut that number down to about 50. However Cummings did require VanCleave and Young to wear ear plugs as a precautionary safety measure.
“I knew our football team wouldn’t let us down,” said a pleased Cummings during a final inspection of the sparkling steps.
Last week, VanCleave initiated the contest by issuing a public challenge to Cummings and Guenther via a radio broadcast. The bet required the officials from the losing team of Friday’s game to sweep the winner’s city hall steps. Since the administration building in Hood River has no stoop, Cummings and Guenther came up with what they viewed as a fair alternative — in spite of VanCleave’s protest that The Dalles only had six steps at the entrance to its municipal offices.