Keizer youth were busy this week making their community a cleaner place.
This effort was centered on Noren Avenue where the Keizer Boys & Girls Club is located.
“This week is spring break and the theme we chose this year is ‘Spring into Service.’ All of the clubs in Salem and then this one in Keizer are focusing on that theme by doing projects every day that gives back to the community,” said Leana Dickerson, coordinator for the local branch.
One of these projects had youths cleaning roads of debris. Their path took them from Noren Avenue and their branch on the Kennedy School campus to Chemawa Road.
Club member Carlos Flores, who attends Kennedy School, said projects like this are necessary “so the environment is safe and clean … It’s nice to help keep the earth clean.”
A second club member, Kiauna Lunsford, agreed with Flores’ assessment.
“We do it to help the earth,” said Lunsford, who attends Claggett Creek Middle School. “How many people out there don’t care about the world and hurt it?”
Lunsford added members left their path noticeably cleaner.
“We could see the difference,” Lunsford said. “It’s way better.”
The cleanup, which netted three large bags of garbage, was performed Tuesday.
Other projects undertaken this week included litter patrol at Claggett Creek park, creating cards for sick children and soldiers serving in Iraq, holding a boys-versus-girls penny drive for Red Cross and securing donations for the Marion County dog shelter. There was also time to clean the club.
“Giving back is always important. It’s something that we always focus on at Boys & Girls Club. Not only to have fun and do social recreation, arts and crafts, and computer technology, but to give back to our community and to have that sense of ownership over where they live, and that pride for not only the Boys & Girls Club but also their own neighborhoods,” said Dickerson.
Jeremy Bryan, 12, said these lessons are important.
These types of projects “help us understand what helping kind of is, and we help the environment,” added Bryan, who attends Whiteaker Middle School. “I feel good with what we’re doing. It’s fun and it’s helping the world.”
Seven club members joined one staff and 10 volunteers from Salem Baptist Church in the effort.
The club averages 110 members during the school year, though that number dropped to around 80 during spring break.
“They Fought Hard for Each Other,” by Kelly Kennedy, is not an easy book to read under the best of circumstances
It’s positively painful when Chapter 11 details the death of your only child. But Shawna Hill, whose son Pfc. Ryan Hill was killed in Iraq three years ago, considers the book a must read.
For one thing, the book exposes the reality of war.
“There’s a price that’s paid for our freedom, and I think this (book) really helps you understand what really happens … not just the sacrifice that Ryan made, but every single person serving has made,” said Hill. “We live in a free country because people paid the price. As hard as it is, the price has to be paid.”
Hill noted the book is important for another reason: It tells the human cost of a war often ignored.
“I’ve always been very patriotic, very supportive of our troops. But honestly, before Ryan went there, there wasn’t a face to it for me,” she said.
Ryan Hill served with Charlie Company in Adhamiya, Iraq. At the time, the area was heavy with insurgents, and the locals were paying a steep price. Caught in the middle of warring factions, some 10 to 20 villagers a day were reportedly being killed as Sunni and Shiite waged war against each other.
Charlie Company was assigned with bringing order to a lawless and violent land.
“Ryan’s company was the hardest hit company in Iraq and it’s also the hardest hit company since Vietnam,” said Hill. “(Kennedy) talks about what they went through, but also some of their accomplishments.”
The book provides a “blow-by-blow” detailing the deaths of other soldiers as well.
According to the book’s sleeve, Kennedy served as a soldier in Desert Storm and Mogadishu, Somalia.
As an Army Times reporter, she was embedded with Charlie Company in 2007, went on patrol with the soldiers and spent hours in combat-support hospitals. This book is based on Blood Brothers, a series of articles she wrote that ran in Army Times.
Kennedy, who never met or interviewed Ryan Hill, chronicles the 15-month tour of duty of an army battalion that lost 31 soldiers in Iraq. During that time, Charlie Company 1-26, a group of 138 men, was under constant fire.
“(Kennedy) does a very good job of portraying the young men who were put out there, left out there, kind of like targets,” said Hill. “They were capturing key members of Al-Qaeda. That’s part of the reason they were hit so hard.”
Ryan Hill often stated to his mother that he didn’t feel he was making a difference, that politicians weren’t letting soldiers fight the war that needed to be fought. But the violence has subsided significantly in the years since his death and some 70 percent of eligible voters participated in the country’s recent election.
“For me, having paid the price in a different way, there is – I don’t know if consolation is the right word – but knowing there is a difference: Is it worth it? I don’t know. But it helps.
“I think we did (make a difference). Is it perfect? No. Is this country perfect? No.”
The book is available at most book stores. A copy will be donated to the Keizer Community Library.
The fiasco we continue to read about with the Willamette Education Services Department (WESD), should be a real eye opener for all boards of directors and all taxpayers.
Don’t ever assume that those who are supposedly on watch what is really happening. Unfortunately, they don’t always know, and frankly don’t even seem to care, virtually appearing as puppets on a string.
If you want accountability for public agencies, go to board meetings. Ask questions. Write letters.
As taxpayers, we not only have the right but it is our duty to hold these boards accountable for what and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Board of directors, learn some lessons from those at WESD because your public is watching.
On the 382nd day, Matthew McDaniel and trusty horse Hampton rested.
Sounds like they’d earned it.
After riding on horseback from Lincoln City south through California, across the deserts of the southwest, up through Appalachia and through Washington, D.C., McDaniel was riding his horse from Union Township in New Jersey to New York City.
“The police became so interested about the horse and the trip that they took it upon themselves to give me escorts that increased in frequency and size as the evening wore on,” McDaniel said.
He described the scene as “like a carnival – I had paramedics, their wives and girlfriends, and firemen coming out to the road … to take pictures of the horse and me. They said that in 40 years they had never seen anyone ride through here on a horse.”
As he crossed the George Washington Bridge, a crucial link between Manhattan and New Jersey, he said, NY-NJ Port Authority officers maintained a quiet space of sorts for McDaniel – who was at this point walking on a pedestrians-only bridge section while walking his horse, Hampton, at about 2 a.m. Monday morning.
Then the lead officer piped up. Or, rather, his car did.
“He cranked up on his police car’s PA system, ‘America the Beautiful’ by Ray Charles,” McDaniel said. “My horse picks up on this song and doubles his step, so we were practically running the last quarter-mile.”
It sounds like something out of a fish-out-of-water comedy: A mustachioed man, wearing a cowboy-style duster, riding through the streets of New York City on horseback. But that’s exactly what he did.
By noon he had hit Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the United Nations and finally Central Park, where he had arranged for someone to pick up he and his horse for a respite in rural New Jersey.
“It was the most rapid extraction I could have imagined,” McDaniel said.
It sounds like a fanciful tale, but there’s pictures to prove his story.
It wasn’t the first time McDaniel had gone to New York City to petition the United Nations regarding what he has called gross abuses of the Akha people, a tribal group primarily living in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China. His wife, Michu, is native Akha, and they have five children together.
It’s not even the first time he’s rode a horse across the country – long before devoting his life to the plight of the Akha, he rode from Lincoln City to North Carolina in 1986 “just for the heck of it.”
But it’s the first time he’s combined the missions.
McDaniel once lived in Thailand and was at one point arrested there and jailed for nine days. He spent years sorting out the visa process to bring his family to the United States, where they settled here in Keizer.
He says the Thai government is arbitrarily taking land from the tribes, forcing them to work on the land they once called their own.
He has just as harsh words for some Christian missionary groups, who he says participate in “coercive conversion” techniques that serve to separate Akha children from their parents and essentially short-circuit their culture.
He sought a way to take the Akha story to those who might never have heard it otherwise. So on March 6 of last year, he departed with his family, heading south.
The trip was grueling – not only for the horseback riding, but the logistics required to make the trip happen.
His family stayed in a travel bus. He would ride ahead of the bus all day, then had to either quickly find a sympathetic land owner or else hide Hampton while he walked or hitchhiked back to the bus.
“That was a whole other event,” McDaniel said. “That could last 10 hours; you might not get back to the bus before dawn.”
Joking that there “aren’t many places to hide a horse in a small town,” he marveled at how well Hampton handled himself.
“I could stick him in the woods with 15, 20 feet of rope, and he would stand there and wait for me,” McDaniel said. “He knew I would come back with his food. And I did this 382 days in a row.”
Yet sometimes it was those precious minutes riding late at night with a friendly stranger who offered to give him a ride that yielded results, he said.
“You have a 20-minute audience with this farmer,” McDaniel said. “I didn’t expect to have this dedicated time with one person every day. And that’s what this ride back to the bus did.”
Sheer curiosity led many people to approach him or his family, McDaniel said – “all kinds of people from every walk of life” and the 400-plus videos he has made have drawn some 200,000 views, he said, as many would simply watch to catch a glimpse of their hometown.
One video was of a accordion player in Grants Pass. The man recently died, McDaniel said, and he was told that the video was the only one anyone could find of this man playing his accordion.
“I was sad he died, but it was nice someone said, ‘We really appreciate you putting that video up because he was our dad, our friend, our brother,’” McDaniel said.
He admitted disappointment that local reporters he met along the way, for the most part, didn’t seem interested in his story, calling the situation “a real lack of curiosity.”
McDaniel said that on his last cross-country horseback trip in 1986, reporters in virtually every small town wanted to know just what the heck he was up to.
“I really wasn’t that interested (at the time),” McDaniel said. “It became a game of cat and mouse – can I get through this town without being caught by the newspaper. … (This time) I’d park my horse in front of the newspaper and they’d look at me, like, ‘Are you stoned?’”
He said life on a bus isn’t easy. He compared it to living in a submarine, where one has to learn how to operate “in a capsule” and outside contact is limited.
But he beamed when talking about the experiences his children had, from deer hunting in Mississippi to fishing in Arizona and the museums of Washington, D.C. His kids, aged 3-9, are working on a picture book, and he may write a book about his own experiences.
All told, McDaniel and his family traveled about 4,500 miles through Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Soon after the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, he, his wife, their five children and Hampton will return to Oregon.
If you didn’t know driving on a cell phone without a hands-free device was illegal, you might learn the hard way soon.
Keizer Police have issued some 86 citations and 73 warnings since Jan. 1 for driving while using a cell phone. At least in Keizer, getting cited for driving while using a cell phone has cost about $113, including fees.
“That’s basically 150 people we’ve contacted as a police agency in the past three months,” Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns said. “That shows you there’s still plenty of people using these devices illicitly.”
It’s a primary offense, which means officers can pull over a
driver simply for talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device. The driver need not be speeding or committing another traffic offense.
Not too many tickets were issued in the first month, said Lt. Alan McCowan, as officers wanted to give the public a few weeks to adapt to the new law, which was passed last year by the Oregon Legislature.
“We were going to educate the public, first of all, and after that grace period we started enforcing the law – a citation versus a warning,” McCowan said.
“Over time, the excuses for use become further and farther between,” added Kuhns.
Kuhns said it was “fair” to say the department has “put a little emphasis on this area of educating the public.
“I would say it’s probably being enforced a little more than others probably are at this time,” Kuhns said.
The law bans drivers 18 years of age and older from using a cell phone without a hands-free device. Those under 18 cannot use a cell phone while driving at all, except for very limited circumstances.
However, there is what’s been called a loophole that could require a fix at the legislative level. The Associated Press reported earlier this year that an exemption applies for drivers using cell phones “in the scope of the person’s employment if operation of the motor vehicle is necessary for the person’s job.”
Other states specifically name occupations like tow truck and taxi drivers, the AP reported.
Kuhns said this issue may confuse drivers – or just simply give them an argument to hand to the judge.
“Every officer has his or her own interpretation of the law,” Kuhns said. “And whether it’s our judge or another judge, they’re going to tell us whether we’re enforcing the law properly.”
Oregon State Police had issued citations to 113 drivers and warned 492 more since the law went into effect.
A local non-profit dedicated to improving Keizer parks is bringing a casual recreation program this summer – but needs donations to help cover costs.
The Keizer Parks Foundation has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Salem, the City of Keizer and the Keizer Rotary Foundation to bring the program to the city’s parks a total of three days per week, once a week in three different parks – Bob Newton Family Park, Claggett Creek Park and Willamette Manor Park.
Vickie Hilgemann, a former parks board chair who is now on the foundation’s board of directors, said the initiative came from the fact there’s nothing similar in Keizer, mostly due to lack of parks funding.
“We can barely take care of the parks we have, let alone add recreation,” Hilgemann acknowledged.
Foundation members decided to start on the program nearly a year ago. The Keizer Rotary Foundation kicked in $2,850 for an equipment trailer.
The program will be free, except for a $5 Boys and Girls Club membership fee, for Keizer kids in grades 1-6. It will run for nine weeks between mid-June and mid-August. Scholarships are available for children whose families can’t afford the fee.
The Boys and Girls Club is providing trained staff for a wide variety of activities, including soccer and volleyball, along with arts and crafts, board games and classic games like tag.
“We really like the idea of going out into parks and serving kids in neighborhoods that might not have access to this branch,” said Leana Dickerson, who coordinates the Boys and Girls Club branch that is housed at Kennedy Elementary.
Hilgemann said that while there’s ample chances for kids who enjoy organized sports, for casual, non-competitive play there’s not much out there.
“When I was a kid, I spent all my summers in the parks with other kids,” Hilgemann said. “I swear that’s where most of us grew up, you know? We learned how to work with
other people and lots of good values from playing the parks with good role models.
“In Keizer, if you’re a jock or on a sports team, we really don’t have many places for them to go be with other kids and be outside.”
The partnership aims to fix that. The curriculum is designed by the Boys and Girls Club, “giving us every piece of information we needed to get started,” Hilgemann said.
Staffers are trained in not only showing kids how to have fun outside, but are also well-trained in safety procedures, Dickerson said.
Parents will have to sign their children in and out. It will run from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The foundation needs about $1,600 to pay for the Boys and Girls Club staff time, along with equipment to fill the trailer.
For more information or to pitch in, visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.keizerparksfoundation.org or call Hilgemann at 503-393-9476.
The Salem area posted single-digit unemployment numbers for the first time in a year.
The local jobless rate fell in February to 9.6 percent, after January’s seasonally adjusted rate of 10.1 percent. This is the first time unemployment in this area was in single digits; the last time was in February 2009, when the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent.
It’s also the first time in a year that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was lower than it was 12 months prior. There were 638 less people unemployed in February 2010 than in February 2009. An estimated 21,646 Marion and Polk county residents were unemployed in February. Still, estimates indicate there’s 2,400 less jobs in the area than there were the year before.
Statistics for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) – which includes Keizer – are provided by Worksource Oregon.
In February, the private sector added 200 jobs and government jobs increased by 400.
“February’s employment growth was smaller than is typical for the Salem MSA, which normally adds about 1,300 jobs between January and February,” wrote Patrick O’Connor, a regional economist for Worksource Oregon. “Seasonally adjusted employment decreased 700 between January and February.”
Notes from key sectors:
• Construction jobs fell by 100 between January and February, and the industry has lost 600 jobs in the past 12 months.
• Manufacturing lost 200 jobs in February.
• Leisure and hospitality employment added 100 jobs.
• Retail trade dropped by 300 jobs, with the sector losing 800 jobs in the past 12 months.
• In the public sector, local government and education added 300 jobs, state government added 100 jobs and federal government was unchanged.
Although job loss has slowed, O’Connor writes that the storm has yet to truly pass, as “higher than normal unemployment rates will likely persist through 2010.”
Who knew concrete could help the environment?
Yet Scott Erickson, who has been selling pervious concrete throughout the northwest for about seven years now, says it can not only do that – it can save the customer money in the long run.
Erickson owns both Evolution Paving Resources and Quality Concrete, operating off a property just a hop, skip and a jump away from Wheatland Ferry.
In the world of stormwater runoff, large parking lots and driveways are a nightmare for environmentalists. It’s not the substance itself – it’s what rests on the concrete. With a solid concrete structure, water collects, then eventually runs off into ditches or wherever the downward slope takes it.
That water – and everything that gets in it, including oil, brake dust, cigarette butts and other substances found on roadways and in lots – then flushes untreated into local waterways, which can have devastating effects on streams and rivers.
Not so with pervious concrete technology. The water seeps through the concrete almost immediately, sinking into the soil below, which acts as a filter. This minimizes water runoff, reducing harm to local waterways.
And with new federal restrictions on stormwater runoff, it can also save money. Local governments are now assessing its households and businesses for stormwater runoff, calculated in large part by the square footage of impervious surface on a property. The roof and concrete or asphalt parking areas are among the largest culprits.
“Cities are starting to say, ‘We can’t just dump this in a ditch anymore, or even build detention ponds,’” Erickson said. “It has to be treated.”
To demonstrate, Erickson took a jug of water and poured it simultaneously onto standard asphalt and onto the pervious concrete. Not only did the water seep into the pervious surface while it pooled on the asphalt, the water was also significantly cooler.
The asphalt surface was 110 degrees Fahrenheit dry. A few seconds after pouring, the water on it was 103 degrees.
On the other hand, the pervious concrete was 103 degrees dry. And moments later, the wet area with just a trace of water was 83 degrees.
This distinction is important, Erickson said, because warmer water suddenly flowing into streams is unhealthy for water life.
“That temperature held in the pavement, when exposed to water, is deadly to fish,” Erickson said. “That’s an issue a lot of people forget about.”
The basic theory behind it has been around for years, Erickson said. He first learned of it when he traveled to Florida to see an early version of the technology.
With standard concrete, you start with different sizes of aggregate rock. Sand is used to fill the remaining gaps, creating a solid, non-penetrable surface.
The non-pervious concrete eliminates some steps. The same size of rock is used throughout, creating gaps. Erickson says to think of it as a bowl of same-sized marbles. However, the adhesive qualities that bind aggregate for concrete also binds the rocks used in the pervious surfaces.
Erickson said selling the stuff was initially difficult as the original designs were useful, but not very pretty to look at.
“I went out of my way to make it look not so harsh,” he said.
He still faces skepticism from some engineers, mostly those who aren’t familiar with the product, he said.
“Engineers are used to dealing with something they’re comfortable with,” Erickson said. “Their reputation is on the line.”
But the customers that take the leap are finding it cost-effective, he said. A residential customer in Portland, he said, is saving $55 per month in stormwater fees over similar-sized lots with impervious driveways, he said.
And while a few customers are really into the green aspect, he said many of his customers had few other alternatives.
He recently donated labor to install the driveways at two Habitat for Humanity houses in Keizer. They were nowhere near the city’s stormdrain system, and to connect would have been prohibitively expensive.
With the pervious surface, Erickson said the property wouldn’t have to be connected at all to the stormdrain system.
“If they would have had to put in a formal storm drain, their project wouldn’t have been viable,” said Bill Lawyer, public works superintendent for the city of Keizer.
Fred Meyer and WinCo stores in Vancouver, Wash., have also been using them because they would have had to install expensive pipes or find ways to retain stormwater either on-site or underground. Keeping it above ground renders a portion of the land unusable, while underwater tanks are quite expensive.
“They do it because we’re the low-cost alternative,” he said.
Equitable sharing of costs between Marion County Fire District No. 1 and the Turner Fire District was the concern of a message read to the District No. 1 directors March 17.
Bob Palmer, a former volunteer firefighter, urged that both fire districts “pay their respective fair share for the percentage of the benefits they receive.”
“Any additional staffing,” he said, “should come when increased revenue from that area can justify the hiring of additional personnel.”
Palmer said that when formation of the Willamette Valley Fire and Rescue District was being discussed, “one of the major initial hurdles to overcome was the difference in wages or parity of the career firefighters between the two fire districts.” The Turner district, he noted, had much lower wages and benefits than District No. 1 and would have had to reduce staff to bring its career firefighters up to wages and benefits comparable to those of District No. 1.
He asked what tracking or accounting systems were in place to assure each district pays its fair share. He noted that District No. 1 taxpayers are still paying for a 2007-08 levy to meet increased operating costs, and that the levy will expire in 2011-12.
“As a taxpayer,” he said, “one must ask who is paying for the two recently hired career staff that are staffing Medic 95 in the Turner Fire District? Are the Marion County Fire District No. 1 taxpayers or the Turner Fire District taxpayer paying for these two positions?
“Are both Turner Fire District and Marion County Fire District No. 1 equally paying their own fair share of all expenses?”
There was no immediate response from the board.
Also at the meeting, Fire Chief J. Kevin Henson announced that WVFRA had completed replacing its ambulances. He again urged that, for reasons of seismic upgrading, the board look at all possibilities for new fire stations. He advised the board to wait for certain funding possibilities before holding a public meeting on what to spend for new stations.
Henson reported that WVFRA has had 24 applicants for the assistant training officer position. He said the staff after reviewing all of them, would start background investigations.
Don Zielinski, a District No. 1 volunteer and member of the WVFRA Way Committee, announced that his committee would have a report at the board’s April 15 meeting at the Turner Fire Station. His panel is working on a document for improving communications between District No. 1 and the Turner Fire District.
The board, which had agreed that a change in auditors would be good business, approved Polly Rogers & Co. for a one-year agreement with possibilities for renewal.
What they did: John Rizzo remarked he liked electronic message signs and would be willing to reconsider the city’s ordinance on the matter if business owners could show relaxing the rules would help their businesses. Councilor Mark Caillier wants to know if an electronic billboard at Market Street and Hawthorne Avenue, impedes traffic or has caused accidents. A public hearing on Keizer Station changes drew no testimony. The changes call for lifting flexibility in how much development can occur in different areas of Keizer Station, although an overall cap of just under 1 million square feet of retail would be unaffected. Commissioners voted to move the matter forward with minor changes. Senior Planner Sam Litke told the commission that a master plan application. for Area B of Keizer Station is expected to be complete by May 1.
Who was there: Chair Greg Rands, Jim Jacks, Doug Schneider, Holly Graf, John Rizzo, Jonathan Thompson and Mark Caillier. Absent: Albert Castaneda.
Next meeting: Wednesday, April 14.
K-23 Advisory Committee
When they met: Monday, February 22
What they did: Jason Heimerdinger reported the Oral History Project was pushed back to March due to scheduling difficulties. The board discussed how to recruit volunteers, including allowing and equipping people to produce and submit programs to K-23, with Rex Robertson noting both McNary High programs and Falcon News are already running on the channel. The committee also discussed recruiting volunteers to film local events within the city. In addition, compiling short videos for one program with a focused subject and viewer feedback were debated. Robertson said he was working on an equipment proposal for next year’s budget, noting he now has streaming capability. Kevin Watson reported that putting news on Keizer-23 could be legally tricky, and recommended the committee focus their energies elsewhere.
Who was there: Chair Jason Heimerdinger, Randy Boeger, Doug Jones, Rob Conahey, Rex Robertson, Kevin Watson and Cathy Clark. Absent: Charles Lewis, Jack Evans, Jerry Crane, Lance Inman and Joel Stein.
Next meeting: Monday, March 29.
Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre Task Force
When they met: Wednesday, March 3
What they did: This task force recommended creating yet another task force, which would be tasked with recommending bands for the city’s summer concert series. City Attorney Shannon Johnson said that while the city’s insurance covers the facility and the city it would not cover a negligent user or promoter. He said an individual’s homeowner policy could provide liability coverage, and there are also short-term policies available through the National League of Cities for just that sort of thing. Debate went on which events should be required to get outside insurance, with Councilor Cathy Clark pushing for any events serving alcohol to have their own insurance. Public Works Director Rob Kissler said the issue needs to be solved soon, as he has gotten at least a dozen requests to use the facility. City staff were directed to research how other cities handle the issue and come back with a recommendation. City Manager Chris Eppley said the money may not be there to fund the series in the 2010-11 budget, and the task force discussed seeking outside sponsorship in addition.
Who was there: Cathy Clark, Richard Walsh, Lore Christopher, Chris Eppley, Kevin Watson, Shannon Johnson, Terry Witham, Rob Kissler and Tracy Davis.