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Day: May 14, 2010

Choirs first, third in Northwest

Photo provided by Palmer's Studio

When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Earlier today the McNary concert choir took first place at the Best of the Northwest Choir Festival. This honor comes less than a week after the Celts took second place at the Oregon state championships.

Best of the Northwest, which was held at the University of Portland, features choirs from throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Sprague High School, like McNary, is a member of the Central Valley Conference. The Olys took third.

Keizer’s middle schools also took advantage of their turn to shine as well. On Thursday, May 13, the Whiteaker choir took first place and Claggett Creek third.

See the Friday, May 21, issue of the Keizertimes for more information.

Moeller pitches Celts into playoffs

Zach is back.

Zach Moeller, the senior pitcher who led McNary to the state championship a year ago, turned in one of his best performances of the season. And it came one week shy of the Class 6A state playoffs.

The lefty pitched a one-hitter against West Salem to lead McNary to a 5-0 win in the regular season finale for both teams. The Celts clinched the conference’s third seed with the win.

Senior pitcher Zach Moeller tossed a one-hitter against West Salem on Thursday. With the 5-0 win, McNary clinched a playoff spot. Keizertimes/Lance Masterson

The Titans’ lone hit came in the sixth inning. Moeller struck out 15 and walked three batters.

Moeller also got it done with his bat, driving in two runs with a walk and hit. Spencer Rice added a double and two singles.

The Celts play the third seed from the Mt. Hood Conference in their playoff opener on Friday, May 21. It’s not sure who they’ll play. Had McNary lost to West Salem, it was mathematically possible for the Celts to miss the playoffs.

CCMS principal to be reassigned

Principal Peter Danner of Claggett Creek Middle School (CCMS) is leaving for the principalship at Walker Middle School in Salem..

Danner has served as an administrator at CCMS for the last six years, three years as assistant principal and three years as principal.

Pete Danner and Colleen Johnson

Under his leadership, CCMS implemented a successful AVID program, became a Champion of Schools and is poised to be the first Salem-Keizer school to come out of school improvement status as determined under the No Child Left Behind act.

“Pete is viewed as an instructional leader who does what’s best for students,” stated Simona Boucek of Salem-Keizer Public Schools. “He’s a leader who possesses an understanding of developing key communicators in the school community, as well as best practices that result in student success.”

Colleen Johnson will become the new principal at CCMS.

Johnson has been the assistant principal at CCMS for the past three years. She has served as teacher leader, team leader, and site council coordinator. Her experiences also include teaching K-8, including READ 180, ESL, FACS and math.

In addition: “Johnson’s knowledge and understanding of Title 1, English language learners and curriculum, instruction and assessment give her a unique skill set to support student learning,” stated Boucek. “Colleagues value Colleen’s deep understanding of data analysis, which supports staff in developing comprehensive interventions.”

The district also announced principal and assistant principal changes at several other Salem schools. No new assistant principal for CCMS was named in the district’s release.

Suspicious device on Menlo? More like a jump rope

Keizer Police responded to a “suspicious device” on Menlo Drive Friday morning.

Turns out it was just a piece of a jump rope.

A resident in the 700 block of Menlo Drive N. called in a complaint around 6:33 a.m. of a suspicious device.

“He called to report what he saw was a three-quarter inch round pipe with what appeared to be a fuse coming out the end of it,” said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns. “He said it could be a large firecracker or a pipe bomb.”

Officers roped off the area and contacted a Salem Police bomb technician, who arrived at about 7:46 a.m.
That officer took a look “and advised us it was an end-cap from a jump rope,” Kuhns said.

“So everybody is completely safe, and traffic has returned to normal in the neighborhood,” Kuhns said. “But we’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Playoff chase not over yet

With one regular season game remaining on the schedule, the McNary varsity baseball team had not clinched a playoff spot.

But it did know that it controlled its own destiny.

Spencer Rice

“We have not clinched a playoff spot as of yet,” said assistant coach Chad Booth on Wednesday. “When we beat West Salem tomorrow, that will clinch a playoff spot, either third or fourth.”

Results from the game against the Titans weren’t available at press time.

McNary remained in playoff contention with a 5-3 win over McKay on Tuesday, May 11.

Jake Burgess pulled double duty in picking up both a win and a save. Burgess started the game and went four scoreless innings. He then returned in the seventh to close out the contest.

“Jake started his first league game of the year; he’s had arm problems  since early March,” said Booth.

When Burgess re-entered the contest, the Royal Scots had runners on second and third with one out.

“He struck out the next two hitters, thus getting a win and a save in the same game,” said Booth.

In his 29 years, McNary Coach Craig Nicholas said he has never seen anything like this.

Offensively, the Celts were led by Ty Wyatt and his two hits and RBI. Steven Rodriguez added two hits and a run scored.

It was more of the same on Monday, May 10, as the Celts came back to defeat McKay, 6-5.

After trailing most of the game, the Royal Scots knotted it with an unearned run in their half of the seventh.

But then McNary’s Zach Olpet walked, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored the winning run on a walk-off sacrifice bunt attempt by Steven Rodriguez.

Spencer Rice struggled but still got the win. He allowed four earned runs and struck out five.

It was the junior’s fourth complete game and sixth league win of the season.

Sean Curry went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored while Burgess added two hits, a walk, a run and a stolen base.

With the wins, McNary (9-8, 12-10 overall) remained in third place in the conference standings. The Celts, however, did not clinch a playoff spot.

Not all happy with city’s budget

Of the Keizertimes

file photo

The Budget Committee recommended a general fund budget proposal last Tuesday, but not all city councilors are thrilled with it.

A sewer license fee increase is proposed, as is a new stormwater franchise fee, to ensure the budget is balanced.

There isn’t a police layoff included in the budget, and two councilors who voted against it – Jim Taylor and David McKane – are questioning why that and other measures of reducing costs weren’t implemented in the manager’s recommended budget.

“The last thing I want to do is lay off police but they’re 78 percent of the general fund,” Taylor said, noting the officer who would be cut is still in training. “If you have general fund problems, that’s where that’s got to come from.”

The Keizer Police Association – the officers’ union – recently voted not to take a pay freeze in order to avoid layoffs, Taylor noted.

Motions were made last week to eliminate the two fee increases, which combined would raise about $153,300, but those were defeated.

McKane said the City of Keizer didn’t seem to be “sharing the pain” that others are feeling in the recession.

“As an example, if department heads would have taken a 5 percent reduction at city hall we would have saved $50,000,” McKane said. “That’s one third of the deficit. I have the utmost respect for all those people. They do a fantastic job. That is sharing the pain, and I don’t think we shared the pain. We went status quo. The taxpayers shared the pain. But that’s just one person’s opinion.”

“Everybody I know, all of my neighbors, in the past year or two year, have taken salary reductions,

whether they’re private or public,” he added. “No one’s gotten an increase. So what do we do? We increase the fees, and I think we could have done better than that.”

Taylor said he will try to add a sunset clause to the sewer and stormwater fee increases at the Council level, and suggested it could cause ill will with voters down the road.

“If there was some sort of a compromise I could support (the general fund budget),” Taylor said.

McKane said at Tuesday night’s budget meeting he was “disappointed that most of the belt-tightening we did was raising fees … I was hoping we could reduce a little more instead of add.”

Meanwhile, numerous community groups saw their modest subsidies from previous years cut or eliminated:

• Parks got their portable toilets restored for another year, at a cost of $1,600. Weed control was also added back in at a cost of $2,300. Parks also got back one of the two seasonal worker positions scheduled to be cut in next year’s budget.

• The Keizer Community Library’s $1,700 stipend to help pay basic expenses was not included. A proposal to give the library $1,000 was also defeated.

• A holiday lighting subsidy given to the Keizer Chamber of Commerce was eliminated for this year.

• Funding for the Winter Art Solstice was cut, all $1,200 of it.

• The after-school program, formerly known as the POWER program, was funded at $4,000, $1,000 less than the requested amount.

• The West Keizer and Gubser neighborhood associations were given $1,100 for mailings and other costs.

More savings were created when City Manager Chris Eppley agreed to remove a $1,400 cell phone stipend from his budget. They also identified about $10,000 in capital improvements for the civic center and put it in the urban renewal budget, but they also added $1,000 in contractual services for fire alarm maintenance.

The group also debated whether to reduce, eliminate or add a sunset clause to the sewer license fee and stormwater increases, but ultimately opted not to do so. Motions to reduce or eliminate these failed.

Sandi King, vice chair of the budget committee, also lamented that the committee’s stated preference for layoffs and other pay reduction measures via last month’s dot exercise didn’t make it into the manager’s recommended budget.

“As a government – and I work for a state government – we tend to think about how we can raise more money … not what we can cut and what are our core needs,” King said.

In the community development department budget, its director, Nate Brown, said its permit specialist had been reassigned to cover other duties in addition to taking permit applications, which reduced his department’s budget.

How police are affected

While there won’t be a position layoff, Police Chief Marc Adams said his department is already taking steps to cut back spending.

It is taking a detective off of the Drug Enforcement Agency task force, although Adams said that process will take close to a year.

“The fact is we have to take care of Keizer first,” Adams told the budget committee last Thursday.

“If something changes, if we can find a way we will try to keep him there. But right now we have to give notice that we’re bringing him back.”

Street patrol isn’t expected to be affected, he said, but he added that the community outreach position has been cut and the department’s Community Response Unit – which affects areas with chronic problems, particularly drug sales – will be reduced from four to two officers to keep the status quo on the street.

“Additional budget cuts will affect us,” Adams said.

When asked what would happen if there was a sudden rash of murders in the city, Adams said the department “will be OK unless the wheels really come off.”

Prinicpals may get raises

For the Keizertimes

First reading of a proposed salary increase for principals and assistant principals went before the Salem-Keizer School board on Tuesday.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal in June.  The goal is to get the salaries in line with those of principals and assistant principals in districts of similar size and demographics in the same region of Oregon.

Early in the meeting, two people in the audience spoke against the proposal, saying it was inconsistent with the district’s financial problems and the financial sacrifices other district employees had to make.

Superintendent Sandy Husk said the proposal was consistent with proposals made for both teachers and classified employees. She said that when different cost-cutting options were offered to the three groups last year, the administrators asked to forgo the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the teachers wanted a reduction in days worked, and the classified  employees wanted a combination of those options.

When the financial scenario for the coming school year looked better than the one for the current year, Husk said, the district reversed its actions regarding the teachers and the classified employees.

The administrators, Husk explained, had a choice between restoring the COLA and raising the salary schedule. They preferred the latter, she said.

Carla Gunter, coordinator of programs and benefits in the district human resources office, said that the proposed salary adjustments would total about the $471,000 and that restoring the COLA would cost

about $421,000.

The board approved the two candidates for two board positions for the Willamette Education Service District. Phil Frey of Keizer is the new director in position 4, Larry Trott of Salem in position 5.

The vote was 4-3. No board member opposed either candidate, but on the motion of Vice Chairperson Ron Jones, three directors sought to postpone the vote to the June 8 meeting.  Jones contended that a vote that night could be seen as a vote of confidence in the ESD board, which Tuesday morning voted to shift $728,000 in transit funds from Salem-Keizer to the other 21 school districts in the ESD.

Several people in the audience complained about plans to eliminate the Japanese language program at Parrish Middle School. Husk responded that the plans could be changed and that they were based on a survey that showed greater numbers of Parrish students preferred certain other electives. She said she would look into possibilities for retaining the Japanese program.

The board approved personnel actions including:

• Employment, as temporary full-time teachers, of Avamarie Mallet, learning resources center, Keizer Elementary School; Erin Nichols, counselor, Claggett Creek Middle School; and Shannon Stein, sixth-grade block teacher, Whiteaker Middle School.

• Employment, as a contract full-time teacher, of Trezure Jacobson as a first- and second-grade English as a second language teacher, Keizer.

• Resignation of Kathryn Mayeda as a McNary High School learning resource center teacher.

Young tracksters ready to blaze own trails at districts

Of the Keizertimes

While there’s little question the McNary track program, especially the varsity girls team, is loaded with senior talent, several youngsters are making their presence known.

“It goes in waves, and I think that this certainly is a large number that is making an impact,” McNary Coach Kelley Borresen said of her freshman and sophomore athletes.  “I wouldn’t say that it’s the most we’ve ever had, but it’s certainly a high number of young athletes that are stepping into (a varsity role).”

Amy Jones (center), an 800m specialist, will vie for another state bid at next week’s CVC district meet at Sprague High School. Submitted photo by Bill Donaldson.

The list of youngsters who are making an impact at the varsity level includes, for the boys: Aaron Hudson in the 100 meters, Dylan McHugh in the 800 and 1500 meters, Anthony Davis in the 110-meter hurdles, Austin Anderson in the javelin and Kevin Groves in the high jump. All but Hudson are sophomores.

Each was rated among the Central Valley district’s top 10 in their respective events as of Thursday, May 6.

Hudson, a freshman, is keeping pace with a fast crowd that includes another freshman, Chris Wiggins of North Salem.

Wiggins is the only runner to defeat Hudson when they were in the seventh and eighth grades.

Wiggens was ranked third, at 11.38, and Hudson eighth, at 11.55.

“Competition is really rough (in high school),” Hudson said.

Hudson added: “I mean, tenths of a second matter. In middle school, either you’re fast or you’re not. Here, it’s how fast are you and by what time.”

An old video game got Hudson thinking about running

“When I first started track I never expected to be the fastest. I did it, to be honest, because I was obsessed with ‘Sonic the Hedgehog.’ When I was little I used to pretend that I was the fastest. So eventually, like in sixth grade, I thought this is cool, track. I get to run and show off.”

Only it didn’t happen as Hudson envisioned, at least initially.

“I wasn’t fast in sixth grade,” he said. “In seventh and eighth grades it happened.”

His goal at districts is to place in the top five.

Youngsters like freshmen Laura Donaldson and Stacey Titchenal along with sophomore Averi Wing are making their impact with the Lady Celts.

What’s more, Donaldson and Wing are on the district’s top-rated 4X400 relay with seniors Amy Jones and Lauren Brouse.

Donaldson is also ranked seventh in the 400 meters, Titchenal is 10th in the javelin, Wing seventh in the long jump, 10th in the high jump and 10th in the triple jump.

For Donaldson, this marks her first prolonged exposure to the 400m.

“I always ran the 100,” Donaldson said. “I think I gained endurance while playing (varsity) soccer, and my coach has been working with me. But I’m still surprised at how well I’ve been doing.”

The transition does have its moments, though.

“The amount of energy that is required,” Donaldson said when asked for differences between the two sprints. “You’re just, like, dying at the end. With the 100, you just, like, give it all out. With the 400, you have to, like, pace yourself.”

Choir’s timing is just right at state

Let the celebration begin. Members of the McNary concert choir celebrate after placing second at the state championship, which was held Saturday, May 8, at George Fox University. Photo submitted by Lori Ellis

Of the Keizertimes

As it turned out, seven seconds were all that separated the McNary concert choir from second place at the state choir competition and disqualification.

“You’re supposed to be on stage for a total of 20 minutes, so our music alone being almost 20 minutes made that hard. We had to go on stage and get off stage really fast,” said senior choir member Kody Flores.

There was a reason for the haste. A choir is disqualified from the competition if it exceeds the 20-minute mark. The exit was so fast one of the singers didn’t have time to retrieve her shoe.

Choir members knew they were going to push the limit, and some modifications strayed from tradition.

“The tradition for conductors is to put their arms down (after a song) so that the audience knows when it’s time to clap,” said senior Ashley Eddings. “(Choir Director Jim) Taylor didn’t have time to put his arms down. He conducted all of our pieces and then the audience got to clap, because we didn’t have time.”

Still, the choir had those seven seconds to spare. The final results surprised some choir members.

“When they said Jesuit got fifth, I didn’t hear them so I didn’t know how good they were,” said Brandon Busciglio, a senior. “And then Sprague got fourth and I thought, ‘oh, crap.’ Third was like Rex Putnam, and it was, like, well this isn’t going too great because Sprague got first at state the last 10 years, except for two years when Rex Putnam got first .. And then they announced that McNary got second.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by other members.

“I was seated next to (fellow student) Davis Jones and we were just white-knuckling it. We were clinching our fists so hard,” said senior Stacia Purdie of the announcement. “Finally we realized we placed at state and it was a big relief that the hard work up until that Saturday had paid off.”

One person absent from the announcement was Taylor himself. He said later that he waited in a hallway because he was too nervous.

What makes McNary’s success even more astonishing is that two of its three pieces were added just three weeks ago: “Agnustei” and the spiritual “Keep Your Hand on the Plow.”

The state competition was held at George Fox University in Newberg on Saturday, May 8. Two other schools from the Central Valley Conference took first (South) and fourth (Sprague).

Pioneers tried to avoid the D’s

for the Keizertimes

The pioneers who came over the Oregon Trail developed a close bond based primarily upon their shared experiences on “The Trail.”

They never missed an opportunity to gather to retell their stories. Weddings, funerals, barn raisings and yes, even a hanging were all reasons to gather together to swap yarns.

It is said that the pioneers seldom talked about what they referred to as the “three D’s:” Dust, Disease and Death. Every wagon train had its share of each. Invariably one memory was always recalled. In most diaries kept by the pioneers there will be mention of one specific camp. The unusual thing about this campsite was that they observed that the water from the spring ran west, not east or south. This was very significant to them because it told them that they had indeed crossed the “Great Divide.” They were through the Great Stony Mountains (the Rockies). And since’ the boundary of the Oregon Territory was determined to be the crest of the Rockies, they were now officially in Oregon. One pioneer who had contracted Laramie fever rose up from his wagon bed and asked, “Is it true that the water is running west?” He was assured that it was true. “Then I made it to Oregon I” He died a short while later and he was buried in Oregon.

The spring is aptly named Pacific Springs and its water runs into Pacific Creek which runs into the Little Sandy River in the present state of Wyoming. Eventually the water from this spring reaches the Pacific Ocean in theory at least.

Although the pioneers were still a thousand miles from their destination in the Willamette Valley, the sight of the water flowing west was a much needed morale booster.