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Day: June 18, 2010

New-look Volcanoes open season

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Only three players from last year’s Northwest League champions are on the roster of the 2010 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

Taylor Rogers will be the opening day pitcher Friday, Mario Rodriguez will be in the bullpen, and Jose Medina will be an outfield starter, probably in right.

Having mostly new players as usual, who have little experience, manager Tom Trebelhorn is not trying to predict the kind of season the 2010 Volcanoes will have. However, this former Major League Manager of the Year is known for turning out winners.

Besides Rogers, the pitching rotation is expected to consist of Edward Concepcion, lefthander Edwin Escobar, Cameron Lamb and Matthew Graham. Lamb is from Australia.

Alex Burg, who played at Washington State, is the starting catcher.

The regular infield consists of Carlos Quintana at first base; Julio Izturis, brother of major leaguers Cesar and Macier, at second; Cameron Jurica at shortstop; and Kyle Mach (pronounced “mack”) at third.

Starting in the outfield will be Rafael Rodriguez, an 18-year-old from the Dominican Republic, in left; Chris Lofton in center; and Medina in right.

In the opening series against the Everett AquaSox, everyone on the roster is expected to get a start.

Trebelhorn figures on letting a starting pitcher stay in the game for 75 or 80 pitches if he pitches effectively.

“It would appear that we’re going to play pretty good defense,” Trebelhorn said.

Asked about the hitting, he said, “That’s a crapshoot.”

The manager sees good baserunning potential, with Lofton, Izturis and Medina among the fast men. He is more concerned with getting his runners to take the extra base than he is with racking up stolen bases.

All of last year’s coaches are returning. Brian Cooper handles pitching. Darin McMains is the third base coach and works with infield play and hitting. Ricky Ward is the first base coach and is also involved with hitting, as well as outfield play.

The Volcanoes have a new trainer, Chris McKenna.

“We made some improvements at the park,” Trebelhorn said. The club has a new batting cage and a new weight room.

Talkin’ trash

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A residential garbage rate increase will be on the Keizer City Council agenda for Monday, June 21.

The Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association seeks a 7 percent increase on pickup rates. The last cost-based increase – that is, one that didn’t come without additional services – was in 1992, documents indicate.

Commercial rates will not be affected by the change. Drop box rates will increase to match that of the City of Salem.

file photo

For example, customers with a 20-gallon garbage can without yard debris pickup would see a 77-cent monthly increase. Add the yard debris can and the total rate increase is $1.12. For 35-gallon customers the rate increase is $1.24 per month, and for 65-gallon it’s $1.69 per month.

The City of Keizer will consider in July a move that would add compost pickup to residential service, but that’s not part of the June 21 hearing.

Keizer’s two refuse pickup companies – Loren’s Sanitation and Valley Recycling and Disposal – submitted documents to the Keizertimes showing an approximate 10 percent loss on residential service. The businesses are buoyed by commercial pickup.

“The residential service, mostly because we’re picking up three carts, running three trucks down the road for every customer, is showing … a margin that needs this increase of 7 percent,” said Estle Harlan at a Keizer City Council work session in April. Harlan is a solid waste management consultant for the association.

“I hate the timing of the increases,” City Manager Chris Eppley said. “I hate the timing of the increases we had to impose as well. But I don’t think the increases are inappropriate compared to the service they’re providing, the costs they’ve absorbed over the last 13 years. They’re a private business and they should be able to make a profit at what they do, and I think we get an excellent service for a very reasonable rate.”

Commissioners tout relative budget stability at luncheon

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

If you want to get an idea of the state of the local economy, Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson uses street smarts.

“It costs, for a two-inch overlay, $150,000 per mile to overlay a road,” Carlson told Keizer Chamber of Commerce members at their monthly luncheon last week. “That’s a lot of money.”

The county maintains 932 miles of road, she said, and with a 20-year asphalt life this means about 47 miles a year should be resurfaced every year. In 2008 10.2 miles got the treatment, and 10.4 in 2009. In 2010 she hopes to get to 19.4 miles.

“It’s the same for us as it is for lots of local governments – lots of need,” she said. “The road condition is getting worse.”

She also highlighted the county’s health department efforts in enforcing restaurant cleanliness, noting they found eight – out of 1,533 – that failed inspection, and three were closed outright. Some 9,964 county infants received nutritional assistance from the county, and the Psychiatric Crisis Center evaluated some 3,278 people, she said.

Commissioner Sam Brentano also talked roads, in particular seeking federal assistance to improve the Woodburn interstate interchange. He said improvements there could improve traffic between Portland and Eugene.

And while saying government shouldn’t be tasked with creating public sector jobs, he acknowledged the role of government workers in the local economy.

“If government is your number one employer, if they’re threatened you have to know it affects everything important to you,” Brentano told chamber members.

The commission’s sole male representative – whose background is in waste disposal – touted the latest recycling numbers, which showed Marion County again leads the state in the recycling waste. It’s estimated 58.4 percent of Marion County recycleable waste is in fact recycled, when the statewide average is 48 percent, he said.

He also encouraged new technology for garbage incineration which could reduce the nitrous oxide emitted.

“I’m totally happy and proud of the system we have in Marion County and I want it to work, but there’s some issues we have to get through,” he said.

Commissioner Patti Milne noted the challenges the agricultural community faces and suggested the state could do more to find “opportunities where we may find some more flexibility and give our agricultural industry more chances to diversify their businesses.”

She also lamented that the state’s budget woes could mean cutting into the county’s share of lottery revenues, which the county has used in recent years to pay bonds on the Oregon Garden, improve Salem Airport, recruit businesses like Sanyo and also funds the county’s planning department.

And County Administrator John Lattimer said it’s “tough to predict what our financial state will be like.” But he believes the county has budgeted at a level that will be sustainable.

“We’re keeping a rainy day fund, which is not usual for local governments,” he said. “We can see how some of our costs are going to escalate.

Mayor: I’ll run for a sixth term in office if…

file photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer’s current – and longest-serving – mayor is still mulling whether to run for a sixth term.

Lore Christopher, who has been in the seat since 2000, said creating jobs would be her focus should she choose to run again. In particular, she’d like to see a corporate business park “or some type of industry” established along with a medical center at Keizer Station.

She said she’s pleased with the likelihood of Salem Radiology building an office at Lockhaven Drive and McLeod Lane, but wants to see whether her goals could be accomplished in another two-year term.

She believes attracting these types of businesses will not only bring jobs with them, but will encourage surrounding economic development.

“If I could accomplish those things in the next 24 months I would probably run for office,” Christopher said. “If I think I can’t, if I’m just going to hang out, then probably not. And I just don’t know yet.”

Longtime Keizerite Dave Bauer has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but he has yet to publicly declare whether he’ll seek the seat.

Christopher said she feels good about 2010, characterizing 2009 in terms of projects moving forward as a lost year. She believes the transit center will break ground in 2010, and wants to see progress on the urban growth boundary expansion debate.

But she acknowledged public service – while worth it – leaves not-so-much time for an outside life.

“I can’t belong to a bowling league or a softball league – that’s the choice you have to make … you’re married to Keizer,” she said. “You have to be 100 percent committed.”

Jones quadruplets ready to go separate ways

The Jones quadruplets enter the Pavilion during Friday’s graduation ceremony. Pictured, left to right: Ian, Lauren, Davis and Taylor Jones. KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

Blastoff.

“Launching children is such a curious thing because it’s everything you’ve worked so hard to have happen and everything you dread at the same time,” said Darcie Jones.

Jones is fast becoming an expert on the topic. She is mother to the famed Jones quadruplets. The very foursome that walked together as one during the McNary High School graduation.

Their future looms as the graduates will be attending four different colleges in three different states. From Washington south to California, Taylor will be at the University of Puget Sound, Lauren at Oregon State, Ian at Santa Clara University and Davis at the University of San Diego.

Even though the four are close, they’re ready for the next step.

“I think I’m excited for (college),” said Taylor. “I think I’m ready to be my own individual. I’m looking forward to my independence.”

Ian agrees.

“The whole experience of graduating from high school and going to college is kind of a bittersweet kind of feeling,” he said. “… But I’m really excited to take that next step, to get that sense of independence and try something new as I go off to college.”

College will give them a chance to be their own person for the first time in their lives.

“(College) will be different because our whole lives we’ve been known as ‘The Quads,’” said Davis, the oldest of the four. “I think we’ll be able to evolve into our own identities because our entire lives we’ve been our own people and we’ve been involved in different things.”

Darcie and husband Bob Jones, a vice principal at McNary, decided early on to stress individuality.

“There were a lot of conscious choices that we made cause we knew that even as we were waiting for them to be born there would be lots of comparisons,” said Bob. “… We didn’t want to have them grow up being compared to each other. We knew other people would do it just because it’s the nature of the beast.”

Among the four siblings are one valedictorian and two salutatorians. They excelled in music, athletics and academics.

They credit their parents with their success. But they add sibling rivalry was a positive force as was being raised in a tight-knit community.

The quadruplets also know that despite their thirst for greater independence, their lives will be different. There’s a flip side to moving away.

“We’re not going to have the comfort zone of, ‘okay, I know who I am.’ In that sense the advantage kind of becomes the disadvantage,” said Lauren. “So it’s a blessing and a curse. Keizer has been that comfort zone for me in my heart.”

No home town bias for this announcer

Matt Pedersen is the new voice of the Volcanoes. He is also involved in the marketing arm of the organization. KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

Though Matt Pedersen acknowledges his style is still evolving, the new voice of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes knows one thing: He isn’t a ‘homer.’

“I try to be as descriptive as possible, fair, but I’m not going to be a homer and celebrate a home run as if it’s the best thing ever,” said Pedersen.

This same sense of fairness holds true if a man in red gives less than 100 percent effort on the field.

“I’ll definitely be for the Volcanoes. But if it’s a lazy play or something obviously bush league, I’ll feel comfortable pointing that out. I’m not going to be one-sided,” he said.

And don’t expect Pedersen to sound like something he’s not.

“I’d say that I’m just myself,” he said of his on-air persona. “Some broadcasters will have an on-air voice where they’ll sound completely different than what they sound like during the day. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; I’m just saying it’s not me.”

Pedersen grew up in the Bay Area and followed the Giants. He’s a big fan of Jon Miller, the team’s long-time broadcaster who also works for ESPN. Miller was recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I just remember growing up and listening to (Miller) in the car. I really liked him. And I said, wow, you get to watch baseball, and you get to do that every day. I always thought it would be a good opportunity,” said Pedersen. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was about seven or eight years old.”

Pedersen will double in sales and marketing for the Volcanoes.

He graduated from San Francisco State University in 2007. While there, Pedersen did play by play for  baseball and soccer games. He’s also called games for the Savannah Sand Gnats in Georgia and for the Inland Empire 66ers in southern California.

Volcanoes games are aired on KBZY AM-1490.

Mark Gilman broadcasted Volcanoes games the past two years.

Military’s loss is baseball’s gain

Jerry Howard (pictured) has been involved with baseball for nearly 60 years. He is the senior marketing executive for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

Jerry Howard stayed true to his passion. And the end result is a baseball career that is closing in on 60 years.

“I’ve always enjoyed it. I needed to find some niche in life that I could do,” said Howard of his career choice.

The young Howard – who is now the senior marketing executive for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes – didn’t have it easy as a youngster. While not exactly in foster care, he wasn’t far from it; as he lived with several different families as a youngster.

“Going to school and athletics was something I could hang my hat on,” he said. “It drove me. I didn’t really want to go home because I didn’t have a true home. So I always wanted to be at school, or at the football field, or the gymnasium, or the baseball field, or somewhere.”

The Cottage Grove High School graduate also ran track and played summer baseball. But that all changed when he joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school.

Howard went through basic training in San Antonio, Texas. He was then stationed 80 miles north of San Antonio on former president Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch. Howard remained stationed at the ranch for the five years he spent in the military.

“My first two years, from ‘61 to ‘63, (Johnson) was actually vice president, you know, and then, following the incident in ‘63, he became president. And so it got a little more intense on the ranch.”

The “incident” was the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy.

Howard’s duties included driving the Johnson family – Lyndon, First Lady Lady Bird and daughters Luci and Lynda – around the ranch. He also drove the president’s brother, Sam Houston Johnson, to and from the Elks Lodge, picked up mail and barbecued.

The ranch is 60 miles from the capitol city of Austin and the airman transported dignitaries as well.

Despite the proximity to the president and his family, Howard never lost sight of his purpose

“You see the president when he’s at home all the time, and his family. But it’s very militaristic still. Even though you’re on the ranch, you’re still in the military. It’s not much more than ‘yes, sir,’ ‘no, sir,’ ‘good morning, sir,’ unless he strikes up a conversation, or if Lady Bird does, or if one of the daughters do,” said Howard. “We had a job to do out there, and it was really no different than being on a military base. It just happened to be at his ranch.”

Eventually, Howard had to decide between the military and baseball.

“I came to that fork in the road. As the famous Yogi Berra said: “When you come to that fork in the road, take it,” said Howard. “… I wrestled with the decision. It finally came down to the fact that I wanted to come back home to Oregon to start my education at the University of Oregon and to get into baseball in some capacity, which I did by starting my umpire career.”

But Howard never lost his respect for the military. Which is why Patriotic Day – scheduled for Sunday, July 4 – is the premiere special attraction on the Volcanoes’ regular-season calendar.

Planning for this year’s event began 10 months ago. Gates open at 5:15 p.m. with a pre-game concert at 5:40 p.m.. The pre-game ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. and the first pitch against the Vancouver Canadians is at 7:15 p.m.

More than 20 honored guests and more than 15 organizations had been confirmed as of Tuesday, June 15.

Howard said it’s been a labor of love.

“I so appreciate the military and I’m thankful and I want to salute them,” he added.

Call Howard at 503-779-4088 for more information.

Let the negotiations begin… Board sets price limit on fire truck

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

It could be out with the old and in with the newer for the Keizer Fire District.

During its Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, the board of directors authorized Fire Chief Jeff Cowan to negotiate the purchase of a 17-year-old ladder truck from Salem Fire.

The 1993 Pierce truck comes equipped with a 102-foot ladder reach, a fully enclosed cab and lifts up to 2,000 pounds in its basket, Cowan told the board.

Any purchase was capped at $70,000 by the board. This figure does not include an estimated $5,000 in related costs that would be incurred by KFD after delivery.

Though the truck will be striped with Keizer Fire District decals, it will remain red as an exterior paint job was deemed too expensive.

A 3-1 vote provided Cowan with the authority he needed to negotiate on the district’s behalf. Directors Joe Van Meter, Greg Ego and Mike Kurtz voted in favor of the motion while Greg Frank, a former Keizer fire chief, voted against it.

Frank requested the vote be delayed at least a month because he wanted to see a 10-year budget forecast before making a decision. Frank wanted to know what kind of impact the purchase would have on staffing numbers.

Van Meter acknowledged Frank’s concern, but said district residents will be better served with the new ladder truck.

The board’s fifth director, Mike Hart, was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

The purchase was approved by the district’s Apparatus and Capital Equipment Replacement Committee before going to the board.

A 2006 report states there are 15 locations within the district, including the McNary gym and Keizer Renaissance Inn, that are unreachable by the district’s current ladder truck, a 1984 Pirsch with a 75-foot ladder reach.

Cowan said the Pierce can reach all locations within the district.

Salem Fire will reportedly provide KFD with training for the ladder truck.

The truck could also be made available to Salem Fire when mutual aid is needed.

The offer is reportedly below market value. Cowan said it’s probable the district could keep the Pierce truck for five years, sell it and recoup its initial investment in the process.

Cowan said a fire district from Lakeview is interested in purchasing the 1984 Pirsch. He estimated its value at between $20,000 and $25,000.

The City of Salem ultimately will decide the cost of the 1993 Pierce. But Cowan said the $70,000 price tag was agreed upon by Salem Fire Chief Mike Niblock.

In other news from Tuesday’s board meeting:

• The City of Keizer and Keizer Fire Department reached an agreement that will allow the district to use a truck from the Public Works department to tow its new rehabilitation trailer.

• Keizer Fire District will hold a car seat clinic tomorrow (Saturday, June 19) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Summer makeover comes to Whiteaker

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

Whiteaker Middle School will be closed during the summer for major repairs and renovations.

“We have major work getting done on the whole building, inside and out,” said Laura Perez, the school’s principal.

Construction crews will:

•  Replace the roof, windows, floor coverings, siding, water supply lines and damaged ceiling tiles;

• Install solid partition walls in eight classrooms;

• Repair and/or replace heating and ventilation units; and,

• Seal the building’s exterior.

Funding for this extensive to-do list mainly comes from the $242 million construction bond that gained voter approval in November 2008.

The work is so extensive that the school building will be considered a construction zone and all public access will be blocked to ensure a safe environment.

Perez and her summer staff will be based at Gubser Elementary School. They can still be reached by calling the Whiteaker number, 503-399-3224.

Moving begins in force Monday, with most items temporarily stored in the gym. Lile Moving & Storage will handle the bulk of the heavy lifting, though district tech staff is in charge of the computers.

“Teachers have actually been cleaning their rooms for months,” said Perez. “We asked them to go one shelf at a time beginning the first of the year. If they haven’t used something for three or four years, it’s probably time to let it go.”

Remodeling should be completed by Tuesday, Aug. 31.

“I think they’re excited,” Perez said of the students’ reactions. “But I don’t think kids get as excited about those kinds of things as we do. We’re so excited to get new flooring and new lighting and new ceiling tile. I mean, we’re real excited because we are a school that really needs a lot of work done.”

Funds for new lighting came from a grant.