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Day: July 30, 2010

Keizer trio together for a last hurrah

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

A top 25 performance will be just fine for the 18U Willamette Valley Fastpitch (WVF) softball team.

The team, which qualified for the national tournament in Hemet, Calif., is comprised of players from throughout the area, including three from Keizer: outfielder Mollie Bello, catcher Genetta Bennett and pitcher Erin Hento.

The trio were members of the 2010 McNary softball team that made it to the semifinals of the Class 6A state tournament. This is most likely the last time they’ll all play as teammates.

Though Bennett and Hento will take their game to George Fox University – next year will mark their sixth straight year as battery mates – Bello is headed to the University of Oregon. Neither Hento nor Bello will play ASA ball next summer.

“I’m excited. I’m going to work my hardest  because I know it’s the last time I’m going to play. I want to end it on a good note,” said Bello.

This is WVF’s second trip to nationals in as many years. Last year they finished 66th out of 132 teams.

“We were middle of the pack last year,” said Coach Don Harp. “But we were mostly a 16U team, playing up to 18. Probably nine of our 12 girls were 16U eligible.”

Harp expects a higher finish in 2010.

“I’d like to be in the top 25, but you never know,” he said. “Every player on this team can come back another year except for three. We have a really good core group of girls. Every year we seem to get a little better and a little better.”

One of last year’s highlights came when WVF defeated a team from Texas.

“I always thought Texas, you know, they grow them big in Texas. Well, we beat a Texas team. So that was an accomplishment for us,” said Hento. “Little Oregon beating a big Texas team. That’s kind of cool.”

Entering nationals, the girls have won 27 of 34 games.

“They get along so well,” said Harp when asked the secret to his team’s success. “… We’ve had teams in the past where you’ve had different cliques and it’s really hard to get them to bond. But we don’t have that problem. They all get along really well. They compliment each other really well.”

Genetta Bennett takes aim a few days before her team, Willamette Valley Fastpitch, left for Hemet, Calif. and the national tournament. Bennett plays for an 18U team. KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson

Other strengths include pitching and defense. Hitting will need to be more consistent.

“We definitely need to work on our offense,” said Bello.

Hento, a first-team all-CVC selection, shares pitching duties with Bre Hendrick. She agrees a little more offense will go a long way toward the team’s reaching its goal.

“We need to string a lot of hits together,” said Hento. “We’re having a little difficulty with that right now … We need to hit the ball hard and where they’re not.”

Stamina will also go a long way toward determining the team’s success as well Bennett said it’s not uncommon for ASA tournament teams to play four games in a single day.

Harp said WVF heads into the tournament loaded with quality but short on quantity.

“What we have here is what we’re going to take,” he said. ”We have 11 solid players and we’ll make it work. As long as we win, we can spread out our games, which gives our pitching staff a chance to rest.”

It’s a different matter for teams that end up in the loser’s bracket.

“If you get in the losers’ bracket, you go back-to-back-to-back, and you tend to run out of gas,” said Harp. “You want to be full speed ahead when you go into it, not just limping along.”

National Night Out is Tuesday, Aug. 3

In partnership with the National Association of Town Watch, the Keizer Police Department will be co-sponsoring the 27th Annual National Night Out event citywide on Tuesday, August 3 from 6 – 10 p.m. More than 34 million people in more than 15,000 communities throughout the country will join forces to promote police-community partnerships, crime, drug and violence prevention, safety and neighborhood unity.

National Night Out is designed to heighten crime awareness; generate support and participation in local anti-crime efforts; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community relations; and  send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Residents in neighborhoods in Keizer and across the nation are asked to lock their doors, turn on lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police.  Many neighborhoods will be hosting a variety of special events such as block parties, cookouts, potlucks, dessert socials and youth activities. Last year, 19 officer teams from the Keizer Police Department visited 50 block parties.

Neighborhood Watch block captains are encouraged to organize an event as an opportunity to contact their participants, meet new neighbors and update their rosters.  All other neighborhoods are also encouraged to participate.

Between now and National Night Out, participants are asked to designate a particular problem area in their neighborhood. Called “Project 365,” it could be anything from a problem park, a suspected drug house or car break-ins. The goal will be to work towards correcting the problem in 365 days, or by National Night Out 2011. Participants can discuss their project with neighbors and visiting police officers to solicit their help and input.  They may also announce their plans and success with the National Association of Town Watch. For more information, please visit www.nno.org.

“One of the most effective means of reducing crime in neighborhoods is an organization of neighbors helping each other,” said Sgt. Lance Inman of the police department’s Community Services Unit. “Putting into practice the time-honored good neighbor policy is still the single most important factor in solving problems – including crime.”

For more information, contact Sgt. Lance Inman at 503-856-3475 or email [email protected]

On a crumbling county building, no easy answers

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

SALEM — “Our goal is to get people moved out (of the Marion County Courthouse Square) as quickly as possible, a Marion County official told a joint meeting of the Marion County Board of Commissioners and the Salem Area Mass District Board of Directors on Monday.

Dave Henderson, business services director for the county, said he hoped to have all occupants and county employees moved out of the Courthouse Square, the object of studies because of architectural hazards, well before the deadline of the end of October.

Neither board took any action at the meeting, held at the Courthouse Square. It was an informational session, consisting mostly of a slide presentation by Joe Pinzone, principal-in-charge of SERA Architects, one of several companies working on flaws in the 10-year-old building.

Photo courtesy State of Oregon

Before Pinzone spoke, Henderson reviewed the history of the problems, which he said were first noticed in 2002.

The county and the transit district, Henderson said, jointly filed three lawsuits.  One filed against Arbuckle Costic, the architectural company, was mediated for about $695,000. Also mediated was a suit against the contractor, Pence Kelly, and its subcontractors, for $1.169 million. A suit against Century West Engineers, which provided services to Arbuckle Costic, has not been settled; mediation is scheduled for September.

Describing his report as “an interim snapshot,” Pinzone differentiated between the “imminently dangerous” finding for the bus mall, which already is closed, and the “dangerous” finding for the building. Analyses, he said, had shown that the concrete slab in the bus mall has shown three inches of shortening.  He said the “dangerous” status of the building was based on a study made last week, which recommended evacuation within 90 days.

Later in the meeting, Henderson asked for further discussion of these terms.  Eric Watson of Miller Consulting Engineers said “imminently dangerous” meant that the bus mall was found incapable of sustaining its load, but that the problems of the building were in an early enough stage for a 90-day relocation period to be reasonable.

Janet Carlson, Marion County commissioner, asked whether any tendons (steel cables that stabilize concrete slabs) in the building had snapped. Pinzone said that there was no evidence that any tendons had snapped, but that he could not rule out the possibility that one or more tendons had.

“All concrete slabs deflect a little bit,” Pinzone said. He explained that the deflection is minimized by post tensioning (tightening tendons by pulling on them).  When post tensioning fails, he said, buckling results.

Other problems discovered to date, Pinzone said, were ceiling-wall angle buckling, water infiltration, cracking of the exterior wall, brick movement, missing sealing, missing window gaskets, and racking, which is twisting of door and window frames.

Burglars smash and grab from jeweler, netting $10k in loot

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A burglary at Boucher Jewelers in Keizer netted a thief more than $10,000 in jewelry.

At about 10:06 p.m. Sunday, July 25, an unknown suspect shattered a window at the 4965 River Road store, stealing several items and exiting out the same window he entered through.

It was the first break-in at the store since 1994, according to Jeff Boucher, a co-owner.

The suspect is described as a white male between ages 20-30, standing approximately 6 feet tall with a medium build. He was wearing a black baseball cap, white t-shirt, black shorts with a pinstripe on the side and white shoes.

Officers from Keizer Police arrived moments after the burglary, but according to Sgt. Andrew Copeland the suspect had already left the scene. A K9 search tracked back to a set of tire tracks in an adjacent parking lot, which makes officers think a vehicle was waiting on the suspect.

It appears the burglary took just a few seconds. The suspect tossed a brick through a plate glass window,. Officers were on site within a minute, Boucher said. An officer nearby heard an audible alarm, and a pedestrian on River Road also phoned authorities.

“This is very unusual and seems like an act of desperation,” Boucher said. “In the video you can see cars driving by as he’s doing it. That’s how absolutely bizarre this is.”

All customer jewelry was locked away separately in a vault, and was never accessible to the culprit, Boucher said.

Their operating hours will not be affected.

Anyone with information is asked to call Keizer Police at 503-390-3713.

Local petitioning advocate not thrilled with court ruling on redistricting initiative IP50

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Keizerite Ross Day – whose Common Sense for Oregon backed an initiative seeking to turn redistricting over to a panel of retired judges – was disappointed, but not shocked, that a Marion County Circuit Court judge ruled against the initiative’s supporters Tuesday.

Initiative 50 sought to ask voters whether redistricting should be handled by a panel of retired judges, appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, replacing the current system, whereby district lines are decided by the legislature and the secretary of state.

The crux of the lawsuit, filed last week by chief petitioners Eugene Derfler, Nikki Witty and Wayne Brady, asked Judge Mary Mertens James to reinstate more than 12,000 signatures disqualified by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. According to SOS spokesperson Don Hamilton, some 114,973 were accepted for verification, and 79.7 percent were determined to be valid, which in this case was 91,617. It needed 110,358 to qualify.

R. Day

The complainants’ suit alleged the office didn’t have the right to disqualify signatures based on rules spelled out in Oregon Administrative Rules regarding petitions.

James ruled that, even if the signatures in question were counted as valid, the measure would still have failed to make the ballot.

“The case law pretty much had her hemmed in,” Day said. “We were asking her, I think, to do something that was certainly within the bounds of the law, but a circuit court judge probably wouldn’t do it. But nevertheless we had to give it a shot because we owed it to everyone who supported the measure to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.”

Day’s firm, VoteOregon, helped gather signatures to put it on the ballot. He cheered a nearly 80 percent validity rate, but acknowledged a “bigger buffer” – that is, more signatures – likelycould have been the difference. He said a “host of factors” including wetter-than-usual weather in the early summer, played a role.

“I was obviously very disappointed because I put a lot of my own personal resources, time and effort into this,” Day said. “… It really upsets me that the system can be manipulated in such a way to throw out valid signatures that are supposed to be counted.”

Despite his conservative leanings, Day said he would support independent redistricting regardless of which party was in power.

“Maybe I’m funny that way, but I have a fundamental problem with that,” Day said. “And I don’t care which party’s doing it. It’s wrong.”

Sisi explores Lake County

All photos by KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

My wife Simone is no stranger to fishing.

As a child growing up in Brazil she remembers her father bringing home fish longer and heavier than she. They were so large they required two men to lift them into the boat and some fancy footwork to avoid injuries caused by the thrashing, not to mention disagreeable, captives.

That said, Simone is still a newcomer when it comes to trout fishing in Oregon. Her introduction to this pursuit comes courtesy of Walter Wirth lake in Salem and the pond at E.E. Wilson State Wildlife Area, which is located about halfway between Monmouth and Corvallis off Highway 99.

Each of these bodies of water is stocked – although we’ve always had better luck at the latter – and neither can be described as a destination location.

E.E. Wilson comes closer to this description, but it loses points due to the constant low-grade hum coming from Highway 99, the stench coming from the local landfill and the weeds that have a choke hold on the pond from early summer on.

These drawbacks don’t dampen Simone’s enthusiasm, however.

“It doesn’t bother me if I don’t catch a fish,” she said to me often,” I just love being out here.”

But this year I wanted to give her a better understanding of what trout fishing should be. Which is why we pointed our little Suzuki east and headed to the vastness that is Lake County.

I’m no stranger to Lakeview or Lake County, having got my start as a writer at the Lake County Examiner. So this was more of a homecoming for me. But this was a new experience for the Brazilian.

Travel plans for the five-day get-away had us visiting friends in Christmas Valley, touring the northeast corner of California, and fishing, fishing and more fishing.

We ended up wetting our lines in several reservoirs – Ana, Cottonwood Meadows and Priday, to be exact – and caught our share of trout along with one brown bullhead thrown into the mix for variety’s sake.

Also on our to-do list was the Chewaucan River – which I consider to be one of Oregon’s best kept secrets – but the water was too high and too fast for a beginner.

This was a shame. A series of improved fishing ladders along the Chewaucan makes its upper reaches accessible to redband that get fat and happy in the lake at River’s End Ranch.

The private ranch is located next to Abert Lake and is where the Chewaucan ends its 60-mile run. It is available to those who don’t mind paying to fish.

As for the reservoirs, they are free and easily reached by Lake County standards. Ana is some two miles west of Summer Lake on Highway 31; Cottonwood is 30 miles northwest of Lakeview (off Highway 140) and Priday is halfway between Adel and Plush in the eastern part of the county.

We caught the bullhead at Priday, which came as a surprise since we weren’t sure there were any fish there. We stopped at the Hart Mountain Store in Plush prior to fishing and one of the locals told us a water rights issue prevented Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife from planting redband, a native species of trout  that does well in the high desert. I don’t know if reports of its absence is true, but I do know we didn’t have any luck with trout. That said, we checked web sites upon our return and the reservoir is reportedly home to white crappie, so it may be worth a visit.

The act of fishing was more important to us than actually catching them. Foremost was experiencing the beauty that is Lake County.

Lake County is also vast, to the tune of 8,500 square miles. This fact was underscored by our odometer, which added some 1,300 miles over the course of our five-day vacation.

Lake County is lightly populated, with some 7,500 people, or less than one person per square mile.

Nuisances are another matters. There’s plenty of them. Rattlesnakes almost outnumbered fishermen, it seemed. At Cottonwood Meadows reservoir, a youngster reported hearing one and seeing another, a diamondback with eight rattlers, coiled against a log near a frequently used trail.

The closest we came to a rattler came at Ana Reservoir. Simone was releasing a trout when she spooked a baby rattler, sending it gliding across the water.

Those planning their own excursion to Lake County should also be prepared for mosquitoes.

You know a trip receives a passing grade when your wife asks you, “when are we going back?”

Lady Celts focus on own game, not weather, as they prepare for Tucson

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

Alan Kinler isn’t a weatherman, but he knew how hot it was in the Arizona desert when questioned last week.

“It’s 105 degrees in Tucson right now. It’s only 75 or 80 degrees here,” Kinler said.

This 25 to 30 degrees difference is important because Kinler coaches the Lady 10U state champion softball team, the very team that represents the state at next month’s national tournament in, you guessed it, Tucson.

And while other teams from the Southwest are acclimated, the same can’t be said for teams from the Pacific Northwest.

Lady Celts catcher Caysie Isham enjoys some liquid refreshment before returning to practice. Isham and the rest of the Lady Celts 10U softball team are headed to Tucson. KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson

This heat differential isn’t lost on some of the Celts players.

“It’s going to be really hot, and it’s going to be fun,” said Emma Kinler, 10.

A second 10-year-old, Heather Arp, noted many of her team members played in last year’s national tournament as well. Temperatures for that tournament, which was in Salem, approached the century mark.

“We played during the heat wave (last year),” said Arp. “It was fun and it was a good experience. We’ll be ready.”

Despite having one eye on the Tucson thermometer, Coach Kinler doesn’t expect his team to be beaten by the heat.

“Our girls will cope. And they’ll do fine,” Alan Kinler said. “They’ll do whatever they have to do to win some games.”

The Lady Celts are undefeated in tournament play up to this point. Their winning recipe includes strong pitching, solid defense and timely hitting.

Jordyn Tutor is the team’s ace. She tops out at 55 miles per hour, a speed comparable to some high school and college pitchers.

“It’s not called anything,” Tutor said of her pitching strategy. “When you push off, you just come up tall and accelerate your arms and just snap your wrist.”

Tutor augments her fastball with a rise ball, change-up and screwball. She estimates her “change is 10, 15 miles an hour slower than my fastball.”

Solid defense behind her provides Tutor with even greater confidence on the mound.

“I know that they can back me up. I just throw the ball and they hit it and then we get the out,” said Tutor.

The rotation is bolstered by the strong arms of Paige Whipple, Hannah Childress and Arp.

An underage Lady Celts softball did not win a game at last year’s national tournament.

“We weren’t good and we didn’t win a game,” said Emma Kinler of that performance. But this year “we’re a lot better because we put more focus into it, and we’re just doing better.”

The coach said he won’t be surprised with whatever happens in Tucson.

“That’s tough,” said Alan Kinler. “I mean we’d like to win a bunch of games, and this team’s very capable of doing that. But I can’t guarantee any wins.”

Still, he said this team is better than last year’s squad.

“I’d be surprised if we lose all our games again,” said Kinler. “I also wouldn’t be surprised if we won it all. This team knows how to do that.”

The fact the Lady Celts are headed to the desert sun in August came as little surprise to Kinler, especially as the season waned.

“When the season started clicking along, you could tell, like I said earlier, that this is a special bunch of girls,” said Kinler. “To win state, it was almost expected, but in a nice way. To say we’re going to do it, and to know we’re going to do it, but then to actually do it; that’s a whole other thing.”

Fire district looks to students for help; grant funds CERT coordinator position

Ground was broken earlier this month on Chemeketa Community College’s new Brooks Regional Training Center. Pictured, left to right: Leonard Lodder, Studio 3 Architecture, Inc.; Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers; Marion County Fire Chief Kevin Henson; Jerry Vesselo, Chemeketa Community College (CCC), Capitol Projects and Real Estate; Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan; CCC President Cheryl Roberts, CCC; Johnny Mack, CCC, dean of Life Safety, Health, Human Performance and Athletics; CCC Support Officer Craig Smith; and, Director Erics Gabliks, Department of Public Safety Standards & Training, State of Oregon. (Submitted photo)

By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

A student fire fighting program could be coming to the Keizer Fire District (KFD) in September.

“I’d like to get students on board and go with this,” Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan told his board of directors during its Tuesday, July 20, meeting.

Students considered for the program must be enrolled in a community college’s fire or paramedic program. Given its proximity to the district, it’s expected most students will attend Chemeketa Community College in Salem.

The proposed program allows the district to augment its volunteer ranks with college students. Because of attrition, the district needs to recruit on average 14 volunteers each year.

Among the required qualifications, students must:

• Pull shifts (12 hours on weekdays, 24 on weekends) every three days;

• Meet minimum requirements as outlined in the district’s job description; and,

• Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

In addition, it’s preferred incoming students are state certified as both an EMT Basic or higher and NFPA pumper operator. Students serve at the discretion of the fire chief.

Cowan noted “sleeper programs,” as they are called, are not a new concept. He added there are 16 fire jurisdictions in the immediate area that partner with colleges. No two programs are the same due to discrepancies within each jurisdiction.

Fire districts aren’t the only beneficiaries. Students get scholarship funding, work experience and college credits. The district also pays for uniforms and makes equipment available as needed.

Cowan said the program will begin with three students, eventually expanding to six. Estimated cost is $6,000 per student per year, with the bulk of program cost related to tuition and fees.

Director Mike Kurtz questioned where funding will originate. Cowan said $12,000 is budgeted in 2010-11 under the Incentive Program for this year. This line item includes another $20,000 carried over from the 2009-10 fiscal year, for a total of $32,000.

A few district volunteers already attend Chemeketa. They must decide whether they want to remain volunteers or enter the student program. They cannot do both, Cowan said.

The chief added he is in negotiations with Johnny Mack, the college’s dean of Life Safety, Health, Human Performance and Athletics, about the program.

The proposal is expected to go before a second and potentially final vote of the KFD board next month.

In other news:

• The board authorized Cowan to enter into a personal services agreement with Stephanie Cooke. Pending negotiations, Cooke will become the new Community Emergency Response Team coordinator for KFD.

Funding for the coordinator position comes from a Department of Homeland Security grant.

Cooke, who has been a volunteer Keizer CERT leader for several years, will receive $7,120 through Dec. 31, unless funding is extended by Oregon Emergency Management.

• Joe Van Meter will serve a second consecutive term as board president. In addition, Kurtz will serve as vice president, Greg Frank as treasurer and Mike Hart as secretary of the board.

• Frank noted what he called a significant drop in fire calls. Through the first six months of 2009, the district responded to 35 calls compared to 16 calls through the first six months of 2010.

Cowan suggested the drop in number could be related to improved outreach and fire prevention efforts.

A rarity occurred when the district did not receive a fire call over the Fourth of July weekend.

• No progress was reported on KFD’s attempt to purchase a ladder truck from the Salem fire department.

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Presented by Copper Creek Mercantile

Z. Moeller

Zach Moeller is headed to Newark, Ohio to play baseball in the 2010 Babe Ruth World Series.

The series runs Wednesday, Aug. 4, through Thursday, Aug. 11. Zach, who graduated from McNary in June, is a pitcher for the Portland Baseball Club. He has a 5-0 record with one save on the season.

Portland Baseball Club recently won the Regional Babe Ruth Tournament at Clackamas Community College to advance to the World Series in Newark.

For McNary, Zach was first-team All-CVC Pitcher of the Year and second team all-state in 2010. He also played in the Class 5A/6A All-Star Series held at Linfield College in June.

In 2009, Zach led McNary to the Class 6A championship in baseball. He was the starting pitcher and won the title game against Roseburg. He was named MVP of that same game.

Upon returning home from Ohio, Zach will pack up his bags and heads off to Oregon State where he will further his academic and baseball careers.

Youth group helps feed the hungry

By KATHRYN DODGE
For the Keizertimes

They may be a family with twin two-year-olds, your neighbor, the senior citizen down the street, the homeless, the addicted, or those who have lost their jobs.

People who are hungry are often “invisible” to most of us. For the youth group of Keizer Christian Church (KCC), these people became much more visible.

During the week of July 19, this youth group travelled a thousand miles between Portland and Grants Pass, helping nine organizations feed the hungry.

Their “Feed My Sheep” mission began at home with the Marion-Polk Food Share where they bagged more than 900 pounds of beans and rice and then served 98 people at the Keizer Community Food Bank.

The trip provided educational opportunities as well, learning about issues that contribute to situations of hunger and choices they can make.

James Greeney (left to right), Bailey Norbo, Zach Arnold and Aurora Dodge prepare dinner at the Corvallis Soup Kitchen. (Submitted photo)

“Guys, you never want to be in a place like this. Never  do drugs or alcohol or you will end up like us,” was the advice provided by one man at the Burnside Men’s Shelter in Portland.

“We saw a family that had three adults and two baby twins that were talking about going to take baths in the fountain in the park. I felt like I should be able to help more than by just serving food to them, but I had no other option,” expressed Aurora Dodge, an eighth grader at Whiteaker Middle School.

The KCC group provided help in a variety of ways during the week: preparing and serving a full dinner from scratch; packing and carrying food boxes, unloading, sorting and stocking food items and toiletries, and lots of cleaning, weeding, and various yard work at organizations helping to end hunger.

“Outside of pictures of Ethiopia, I saw one of the most emaciated (person) I have ever seen. We are very proud of this group of young adults,” said Pastor Bob Arnold. “They never complained, even when asked to do some of the most difficult cleaning I have ever done in my life.”

Two other chaperones, Ed Query and Kathryn Dodge, agreed with Arnold’s assessment of the participating youth.

In Corvallis, they were short of volunteers and called this group their “miracle.”

Luke Puppo, a Wilsonville sixth grader, talked about how grateful he is for what he has, a sentiment echoed by all who participated.

They also said they didn’t realize how many people were hungry and homeless.

“If we all help we could make a big difference,” said Bailey Norbo, an eighth grader at Whiteaker.

As the oldest young men in the group, McNary students James Greeney and Zach Arnold were charged with lifting and carrying 50-pound sacks and heavy boxes of food.

Even though tired, both expressed that their “lives are changed from this experience.  These aren’t just the hungry or homeless, they are also children of God, and we are called to help.”

The individuals served ranged in age from a newborn through late stages in life. In total, the youth group directly served food to more than 300 people, and indirectly helped feed hundreds more.

Other locations where the group went included Shepherd’s Door Women’s Shelter in Portland, First Christian Church Soup Kitchen in Corvallis, The ROC of Grants Pass, First Christian Church Lebanon Soup Kitchen and Murray Hills Christian Church Food Bank.