Each week the Keizertimes asks a question about current events. To see more of this week’s answers or answers to past questions log onto www.keizertimes.com and click on In the Ring.
This week’s question: Do recent revelations about egg safety hurt your confidence in our food inspection system? And what precautions, if any, do you and your family take?
James Wilhite and Pat Erhlich, Gubser Neighborhood Assn.—
No – it did not change our confidence, or lack thereof in the confidence in the food inspection system in this country.
The food safety in this country depends largely on the integrity of the producer and how they perceive good safety practice and food recalls will affect their bottom line. Good conscientious folks will take the steps necessary to produce safe quality food for their countrymen, even if it adds to the cost. Food safety laws and regulations are probably adequate for the most part in this country but the regulating agencies of the government, Federal or State are always understaffed and probably kept that way on purpose by vested interests.
As for precautions we try to handle all our food with care, wash our hands, be aware of possible contamination, and use safe cooking practice. When a recall comes about, we try and find out the products affected.
Roy Duncan, retired Oregon state analyist—
About the only things the federal government does well is fight wars and over-tax the public.
Makes one wonder how anyone would want to trust them to take care of our health because it has been abundantly clear to me for years that neither the FDA nor any other branch of government keeps us safe from illnesses nor do they really even try.
As for how I handle my health in such a chaotic circumstance, I rely on the scientific method, luck. I mostly buy things that I will refrigerate or freeze for at least a few days before consumption and then I hope any contamination will have become public before my use. In their (the government’s) defense I will say I have never had to return any purchases nor throw any away but I am ever ready, that is if I don’t die of food poisoning first.
Dave Bauer, co-owner, R. Bauer Insurance—
There has been questions for a long time about our ‘government’ inspection system. There has been good and bad when it comes to inspecting and governing of our food. Tainted beef, E-coli in vegetables, milk issues and now eggs. The good news is we catch some of those things. The bad news is some folks get sick and some even die before we find the problems. Why? Not enough inspectors, procedures gone wrong, businesses trying to save money and safety of there products is compromised. It could be, just plain not enough inspections.
We are always looking at expiration dates on all products we buy. Staying in tune to recalls, and trusting in my local grocer to keep good fresh products. When I find a problem in a store I bring it to the management’s attention: out of date products and partially opened packaging. Smell or color changes are things to notice. We also use as much fresh produce in season, and eat lots of fish we catch ourselves.
Vic Backlund, former state representative—
The short answer to your question is basically “no.” That’s because I tend to take the “big picture” look and when I do that, I recognize that our foods are generally safe. Certainly there asre some gliches, but when considering the entire gamut of food inspection, we Americans are very, very fortunate that our foods are as safe as they actually are.
As to the second part of the we mostly watch for expiration dates on whatever food products we are considering purchasing. Secondly, we make it a point to be aware if there are any particular food products that have been recalled or are said to be causing health problems (we watch a number of TV news shows and we also read our local newspapers as well).
Neighbors of a proposed big-box store in Area C of Keizer Station – that’s just east of Chemawa Road NE and south of Lockhaven Drive NE [MAP: 1] – got their first look at what developers have in mind.
The plans are not yet part of an official master plan for the area, which must go before the planning commission and then the Keizer City Council.
A meeting between the neighbors, who have organized as Keep Keizer Livable, and developers Chuck Sides and Alan Roodhouse took place Monday, Aug. 30, at the Keizer Civic Center. There developers unveiled their plan, which as expected includes some sort of large discount grocer – but developers aren’t saying who it might be.
“We have a tentative deal,” Roodhouse said. “We’re not allowed to disclose who it is because they want to make their own announcement.”
Roodhouse said the facility may be a 24-hour operation, but wouldn’t say for sure.
“We want to preserve that possibility but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do it,” Roodhouse said. He added it’s possible that the major tenant could be open within a year of the master plan’s approval.
The centerpiece is the yet-to-be-named store, which would be approximately 116,337 square feet, according to architect Jeff Benner of Benner Stange Associates of Portland. It would include an outdoor display area – what Roodhouse described as a “garden center” – anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet, Benner said.
Extension of McLeod Lane from Chemawa Road to Ridge Drive is a key portion of the project. Just south of this extension – and parallel to Chemawa Road NE – is a proposed 53,000 square foot, two story medical building.
Along the north side of McLeod between Lockhaven Drive NE and Chemawa Road NE are two four-story multi-use buildings. Developers expect the first floor to consist of retail with the upper floors devoted to housing, with underground parking for residents of the two buildings. Sides said about 60 housing units would be included, and they would either be apartments or housing units designed for seniors. The drawings presented Monday night included balconies on the apartments, but this could change, Sides said.
A little over two years ago, Keizer City Council changed the development code in Keizer to allow large format stores anywhere in Keizer that is zoned for mixed use. This change was made in spite of many hundreds of Keizer citizens testifying, writing letters, signing petitions and speaking out opposed to the change.
A local citizens group, Keep Keizer Livable, disagrees with the concept that big box retailers can co-exist side by side with neighborhoods and has proposed the an initiative that would limit retail buildings to no more than 65,000 square feet unless it is in Area A of Keizer Station.
The intention of the proposed change is not to eliminate the ability of retailers to locate in Keizer but to limit their ability to negatively impact our neighborhoods and roads. Area A of Keizer Station is the appropriate place for big box stores. There is no impact on neighborhoods and traffic stays focused within a contained area in which road patterns have already been created to accommodate the increase in cars.
We need to protect and enhance our local businesses. The change in development code made two years ago allows a big box store to be built not only in areas zoned mixed use but also on land that is currently vacant or as part of a redevelopment project on River Road.
According to Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher for the non-profit Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “When we spend $100 at a local business, $45 stays within the community. When we spend $100 with a national chain only about $14 recirculates locally.”
Why is it important to protect and strengthen our neighborhood businesses?
• They continually support our schools, Little League, soccer, Keizer Youth Basketball Association, choirs, bands and other youth programs through volunteerism and donations.
• They are generally locally owned and operated and their employees are our neighbors.
• They represent Keizer’s motto of pride, spirit, and volunteerism.
According to statistics from Walmart, big box stores generate between 4,200 and 7,200 cars per day. Adding this volume of traffic to our city streets outside of Area A, will overwhelm Keizer’s already challenged roads and neighborhood streets. The city council’s decision to allow the siting of a big box store at Lockhaven and Chemawa Road would force all of the store’s traffic directly onto Chemawa Road, an established family neighborhood. This is the immediate threat, but the potential exists for similar impacts throughout Keizer in the future.
Keizer Development Code says mixed use is supposed to “support transit use, provide a buffer between busy streets and residential neighborhoods, and provide new housing opportunities in the City. Development is intended to be pedestrian-oriented with buildings close to and oriented to the sidewalk.” The change made two years ago allows buildings of 135,000 square feet in any mixed use area of Keizer. Keep Keizer Livable feels that big box stores do not belong adjacent to neighborhoods and are not pedestrian or transit friendly.
Keep Keizer Livable believes the future of Keizer is of the highest concern to all of its citizens, and we want to give people the opportunity to talk about the issues and ultimately make their voices heard. The initiative process is the vehicle the State of Oregon provides to allow this type of issue to be resolved by the people. Petitions are being circulated throughout Keizer to put this issue on the March ballot. When enough signatures are collected, State of Oregon law requires the City Council to consider adopting the initiative, saving any potential costs involved with holding a special election.
Kevin Hohnbaum lives in Keizer and is a co-founder of Keep Keizer Livable.
I must protest because Cathy Clark, despite her prestigious position as a Keizer city councilor, is out of order. I refer to “A big box ban has consequences” (Keizertimes, Aug. 27).
To use Robert’s Rules of Order as a metaphor, what she is doing is asking that no citizen second the motion to consider big box store options. According to the rules there can be no discussion of a motion until it has received a second and isn’t that what we have here? Some local residents want the public to consider changes before council changes become a fait accompli and they are asking for our second to consider it publicly.
My point is that the time to discuss an initiative’s merit is after it has been accepted as an issue for the voters, after it has met the requirement of a certain number of signatures by registered voters. To argue the merits of an issue before it even qualifies for a vote is, in my opinion, the same as trying to stifle public opinion. Anyone that signs the petition at this point is saying, ‘Hey community, let’s talk publicly about the pros and cons, then vote. Let’s vote on the issue, not whether to talk about the issue.’
I am outraged, indignant, and mad. In the past week I have seen a few articles in the papers, one of the articles stated Keep Keizer Livable (KKL) received $1,000 from two different unions. Keep Keizer Livable is being NIMBY (not in my back yard) about this big box store. I can’t imagine that the crimes that the large retail stores are supposedly to bring will outweigh the amount of jobs and resources that would bring. Let’s think about this for a minute.
To build this large building it would require a large contractor probably with unionized workers. Some will bring their lunches but others will eat at fast food joints—revenue to the eateries.
The contractor will need to bring equipment with them and building materials. They will most likely get some of the materials locally to reduce building cost. Money will go to the local building material vendors.
Trucks will be rumbling by which require fuel adding more money with fuel taxes, the workers’ personal vehicle may need to be repaired locally so more money to the local shops and fueling stations .
Taxes on a lot will be less than taxes on retail store—revenue to Marion County and the city of Keizer reducing the burden to the other taxpayers.
Depending on the store, jobs will be created. If it’s a chain store maybe some will be transferred so the need to get housing will bring in revenue, not to mention that some of the workers will be eating at the local fast food vendors so more money to the eateries and money to the housing industries.
Let’s say voters approve this crazy notion, and in eight years Bass Pro Shop, looking to expand into Oregon, wants to build a store big enough to have a couple different lines of boats, ATVs, and an indoor archery range and become the flagship in the west with 212,000 square foot retail center and its international call center, guaranteeing 1,000 jobs overall. And Bass Pro wants to build its new flagship store in the mid-Willamette Valley to better serve the entire state. The president and his crew peruse the area and fall in love with Keizer. Keizer City Council have a big party with the visitors and say we would love to have your store here, but…it can only be 65,000 square feet.
Going back to the article that named AFL-CIO and UFCW and Keeping Keizer Livable trying to get this initiative on a ballot—that’s nuts. Let’s spend money we need to use in other places to ask voters to kill more jobs—that’s shameful. Think clearly before putting pen to petition.
If the Keep Keizer Livable group gets the size restriction for retail stores in Keizer on the ballot it will also be a referendum on the Urban Growth Boundary debate, the Mayor and Cathy Clark. What started off as “No Wal-Mart in My Neighborhood” turned out to be something much larger.
Mayor Christopher and Councilor Clark made their views very clear in articles they wrote in local newspapers. It appears they want to deny the voters in Keizer a chance to have a say in the city’s future. The mayor listed several big box stores that require more than 65,000 square feet of space. The mayor was also quick to point out the cost of the election. She said it will cost $20,000. This price may be correct if the initiative is the only measure on a ballot. The actual cost may be less to Keizer residents.
The Urban Growth Boundary is going to be a large issue in the near future. During the visioning exercise that many Keizer citizens attended, the question about Keizer growth came up. Many people stated they enjoyed the small town feeling that is Keizer. Unfortunately, Keizer is not a small town and will have to grow and have two high schools. The question is: What type of growth do we want? Having a vote on our future is democracy in action. I would rather have voters decide our future and not just the city council. Although the council members try to make correct decisions, sometimes they are wrong.
McNary’s new principal is clearly a product of the Salem-Keizer school district.
Though born in Montana, John Honey went to middle and high school in Salem. After graduating from South Salem High School, he attended the University of Oregon where he majored in journalism.
When it was time to begin his teaching career, Honey turned to a familiar presence. Wes Ediger, who hired Honey for his first teaching job at North Salem, was also principal when Honey graduated from South Salem.
The former English teacher and coach also served as vice principal at South Albany High School and North Salem before assuming the principalship at Walker Middle School. Seven years ago Honey was hired as principal at North Salem High School.
Earlier this year Honey was one of three principals who suddenly faced in-district transfers: former McNary principal Ken Parshall is now at McKay while former McKay principal Cynthia Richardson is now at North Salem. Like Honey, Parshall and Richardson were hired as principals seven years ago by the district.
The Keizertimes sat down with Honey to ask him a few questions:
Keizertimes (KT): How will McNary be impacted by the district’s budget cuts?
John Honey (JH): Well, we’ll be impacted the same way all the other schools are impacted … I don’t think you’re going to see, for this next school year, I don’t think you’ll see a big change. Fortunately our school board has been fiscally responsible in how they’ve managed the budget, and the kind of decisions they’ve made. Granted, this big nine percent cut across the state, I think that’s the average number I heard, everybody was surprise by how big it was. But our district was able to respond to it in terms of attrition and administrative transfers and some cooperative agreements with the classified and certified bargaining teams. So we’re not laying people off. We’re not cutting any programs at the high school that I’m aware of for this coming school year.
KT: Any changes to students-to-teacher ratios?
JH: I really don’t think so. We’re not eliminating positions. Perhaps the biggest challenge we’re facing is an increase in graduation requirements. The state did that a couple of years ago, so we’ve got to make sure we’re getting kids to pass core classes the first time because if we get a high failure rate you need more bodies to help kids recover credits, and we’re not going to get (those bodies). So I think there’s more pressure, a greater sense of urgency, to really make sure we’re doing the right things by kids the first time they walk into freshman English or algebra I. We can’t let them fail. We’ve got to do a good job with that, so we don’t put ourselves behind the eight ball.
KT: How does your leadership perspective differ from former McNary principal Ken Parshall?
JH: I don’t know if it’s a lot different in terms of philosophy. Leadership styles are a little bit different, I think … If I had all the answers, every kid would be graduating, and every kid would pass their OAKS Test, you know, and all the problems of the world would be resolved at North Salem High School, because I wasn’t holding anything back … I think after a while you just get to a point where a new set of eyes on some old problems is not a bad thing.
KT: What’s the best piece of advice you received on being a principal?
JH: The best bit of advice I got, and I really got it from two people whom I really admire – Wes Ediger and then John DeBois, who was principal at South Albany High School. Both of them, 15 years apart, said lead by example. Do what you say you’re going to do, and hold people accountable to what you need them to do. Be real clear and honest with people. Wes said you can tell people what you think they want to hear, or you can tell them how you really feel. You’ve got to live with either one. So I’m pretty upfront with people. No hidden agendas.
KT: Your first principal job was at Walker Middle School and then your first high school principalship was at North Salem High School. This is your second high school principalship. So how are you a different principal now then you were seven years ago?
JH: The biggest thing I’ve learned about being a principal is that even though the job title kind of says “decision maker,” I have the latitude to get input from so many other people and so many other sources. I think as a brand new administrator, when I was a high school vice principal, I thought I had to be real decisive, you know, respond to everything immediately. In the last 15 years I’ve learned it’s okay to say, “I’m not really sure about that. Let me go get the experts. Let me go get more information. Let’s think about it. Let’s come together later and talk about all the different options because you might have some ideas that I didn’t think about.”
Whereas before, because of that little bit of insecurity as a new leader, where you want to make all the decisions right away so you don’t look like you’re not sure. What I’ve discovered is it’s okay to not be sure; it’s just not okay to be wrong. So I’d rather wait and get the right answer rather than just jump on it.
KT: What’s your game plan for your first year here?
JH: Get to know the staff. Get to know the kids. Become part of the culture of this school and the community. Introduce myself to the school leadership team, you know, our department chairs and site council leader and other administrators, coaches.
Once the kids are here that’s when the work will get started, really, in terms of kind of getting to know what’s going on. Just watching and listening and starting to share my vision of what I think schools should look like. I really don’t have any plans to revamp something, because I haven’t seen how it works, yet.
“We’ve known for a long time that we’ve been doing great things. The federal government is just realizing that, I guess.”
So said Colleen Johnson, the new principal of Claggett Creek Middle School, about its emergence from school improvement status by meeting the federal adequate yearly progress (AYP) status for two successive years.
Johnson, who has been with the Salem-Keizer School district for 15 years, moved up from the assistant principal position at Claggett Creek, which she held for three years. Succeeding her as assistant principal is Hector Villalobos, who has been a behavior specialist at McKay High School.
She said her school is celebrating both the new federal status and its 10th anniversary.
“We have a wonderful staff here,” she said. “We’re going to continue to do what’s best for students.”
Asked what the impending reduction in school district revenue is likely to do to Claggett Creek, she said:”I think we’re all going to be affected by it. Our district does a good job of protecting what affects kids.”
Apart from two retirements from positions that will not be refilled, the school will have the same number of staffers it had last year, including 52 teachers. Student enrollment is expected to be about the same at 915.
The end of improvement status makes Claggett Creek a school of choice, meaning that parents in other school attendance areas have the option to send their children there.
Johnson called the efforts of the school “a continued focus,” meaning that Claggett Creek will keep seeking to improve.
“We won’t ever say we’re there,” she said, “but we’re making it.”
Truth be told, fires in Keizer are a fairly infrequent occurrence, but when a big blaze ignites all of the fire district resources are tapped. The renewal of a federal grant will make certain all Keizer Fire District personnel are prepared.
“The important part is that this isn’t a new grant for us, but one that was renewed because we were good stewards of the initial grant,” said Jeff Cowan, chief of the Keizer Fire District.
District officials applied for the initial $148,924 grant in 2006 and it was renewed for $208,540 last week. The grant, part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant program (SAFER), supplies funds that enhance the district’s ability to recruit and train volunteers.
“The volunteers are essential to our operation and this grant will make sure that their adequately trained and prepared to carry out their duties,” Cowan said.
Grant funding will cover the salary for a part-time volunteer coordinator, scholarships to the National Fire Academy, college scholarships, advertising, insurance premiums, in investment incentive program and physical examinations, which constitute the largest portion of the grant at $68,400. Without the grant, such costs would need to come out of some other part of the district’s budget.
“This funding will help the Keizer Fire District train our local firefighters in their mission to combat fire and save lives,” said Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Ore., 1), who represents the Keizer area.
The Keizer Fire District was one of 17 grants approved for the initial release of money and one of only two department approved for the grant on the West Coast.
Participation in the grant program also means the district can apply for reimbursements for turnout gear and personal protection equipment when new recruits join the district. Turnout gear, a helmet, hood, boots and gloves for just one recruit can amount to nearly $12,000.
“SAFER grants allow us to create an enticing recruit package that can lead to full-time careers for some individuals,” said Cowan. “The one thing it doesn’t quite get at is how much fun and how rewarding a career [in the fire service] can be. Once we get a recruit out there helping their community and giving back it’s addictive.”