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Day: April 6, 2010

UPDATE: Suspicious package at McNary no danger

UPDATED: 2:50 p.m.

Keizer Police said a suspicious package located on the McNary High School campus Tuesday was not dangerous.

Students were allowed to leave campus at their scheduled time, school officials said.

Officers were called to the scene at about 12:50 p.m. Tuesday afternoon on a report about a suspicious package. The Salem Police Bomb Squad responded to the scene, and Lt. John Troncoso of Keizer Police reported the device was not considered dangerous after investigation.

It was found near the entrance to the football stadium, Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns said.

Police said the package appeared to be a brick wrapped in paper and duct tape.

“Initial reports indicate the brick was taken from a science classroom and accidentally dropped in the parking lot,” Keizer Police Sgt. Lance Inman said. He said officers are “still investigating” why the brick was taken from the classroom and packaged as it was.

While students were evacuated from a nearby portable classroom, the school was not placed on lockdown.

All 31 flavors return after store remodel

Sometime during the year you can probably find your favorite ice cream flavor at Baskin-Robbins in Keizer.  Unless your favorite flavor is licorice.  Baskin-Robbins doesn’t offer the black flavor anymore; it affects the flavors coming after it in the manufacturing process.

Keizerites John and Tina Lottis closed the Keizer ice cream store in March to remodel for the first time in years.  “The plumbing was 35 years old,” said Lottis.

John Lottis, above, has re-opened Keizer’s Baskin-Robbins location after it briefly closed for remodeling. He co-owns the store with wife Tina.

Customers will not notice the new plumbing but they’ll see the new furnishings, new paneling and new menu boards, all an update from the corporate office.

Baskin-Robbins, a franchiser, boasts over 5,800 stores throughout the world.  The local franchiser is Alpenrose Dairy of Portland, so the ice cream for the Keizer store is made just up the road using corporate recipes.

Though it’s a franchise, the Keizer store is a Lottis family business.  One of their daughters, Kristy, used to manage the Keizer and Lancaster Drive stores.  Son Coe has worked for the stores in the past.

Coe is now living in Portland and Kristy is raising her family here in Keizer. These days John’s sister-in-law works there and his brother-in-law helps out as needed while his father does all the maintenance.

The Lottis family didn’t start out in ice cream. For years the family owned Valley Welding Supply in Salem.

The Lottis children, though in their 20s, still come to one of the stores for a taste of the family product.

“They love ice cream,” said John.

So does John, whose favorite flavor is World Class Chocolate made with white and dark chocolates.

John and Tina Lottis owned three stores in the past but now they only have the Keizer store [MAP: 8] and the Lancaster Drive store in Salem.

Crematorium a sign of the times

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Funeral Chapel has added a crematorium, representing a quarter-million dollar upgrade to the facility.

The equipment was installed earlier this week, and owners hope to have it open in the coming weeks. [MAP: 1]

While the funeral chapel, owned by Farnstrom Mortuaries, offered cremation services, it was through a third-party contract.

Ben Farnstrom, one of the company’s owners, said having it will help him better serve families.

Ben Farnstrom, an owner of Keizer Funeral Chapel, stands in front of the facility’s new crematorium.

“From the second they call us, we handle everything,” Farnstrom said. “With the crematorium, Keizer Funeral Chapel is complete.”

Farmstrom said he had the proper permits in place. When turned on, neighbors shouldn’t notice anything except perhaps heat shimmering from the new chimney, Farnstrom said.

“There’s actually more pollution coming from a bus going down the road than we’d ever put out,” Farnstrom said.
It will primarily release carbon dioxide when in operation, he said.

While he said he “can’t guarantee” there will never be any visible sign of its operation, he expects the neighborhood impact to be practically non-existent, citing advances in the industry and a crematorium room built to contain sound.

“We brainstormed every little thing that might affect the neighborhood and did everything we could” to mitigate impact, Farnstrom said.

The process takes about one hour per 100 pounds of body weight. Tim Boje, a funeral director at the chapel, said the average person’s cremation takes about two hours.

However, the growing waistlines of Americans does mean it takes a little longer than it used to, he said.

“The biggest thing is we need heavier containers to place a person in,” Boje said. “It has had an effect.”

The company briefly had a crematorium at its Independence location, but an unforeseen restriction meant they had to take it out after just a couple months of operation.

Boje said the brand-new machine would allow them to offer quicker, more cost-effective service.

And cremation, generally less expensive than a full burial, was an emerging trend in Oregon long before the economy slumped. Boje said that about 10 years ago about 40 to 45 percent of people who died were cremated. Today that’s up to 65 percent, he said.

Yes, affordability is one option, as he said his firm “can just about do a cremation for the price of a casket.”

But there’s also other factors at play, he said. Families are further spread out, with far-flung relatives across the country and even the world.

“Sometimes getting together for a burial isn’t an option,” Boje said.

With cremation, families can wait until everyone can be there for a memorial service.

He also said cemetery plots aren’t getting any cheaper, and some people find cremation to be more environmentally-friendly, even though the machine is powered by natural gas.

“You’re using less resources,” he said. “Some people don’t want to be buried.” [MAP: 1]