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Day: September 17, 2010

Save farm lands from gravel pits

To the Editor:

A recent article in the Portland Oregonian (“Gravel mines damage soil,” Aug. 27), informed us that two large tracks of prime farm land just to the north of us, one 175 acres, the other 400 acres, are about to be approved for conversion into gravel pits.

Why, I ask, don’t our environmentally-concerned decision makers care about our rich farmland?  we don’t need more gravel pits.  Our Williamette River is the best source of gravel our state possesses and it replenishes itself constantly offering an endless suply for the future.

Furthermore, one barge transporting gravel downstream would eliminate 78 truck loads of gravel trundling through our neighborhoods, which raise dust and tear up our roads.  It’s time to speak up to these public decision makers starting with the Yamhill County commissioners.

Richard Chesbrough
Salem

Teddy Bear Express conductor hands out smiles, food boxes

Laura Ayres, a volunteer with the Keizer Community Food Bank, estimates she’s handed out about 2,000 stuffed animals to children at the food bank during the past four years. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Almost every Thursday the Keizer Community Food Bank opens it’s doors to those in need, Laura Ayres is there with something extra for every kid.

Sometimes it’s large, sometimes it’s small, every once in a while it’s nearly life-size, but it’s always stuffed and fluffy.

“Four years ago, I was at a garage sale where they had some beautiful stuffed animals on display and it hit me that they would make great gifts for the children who come to the food bank,” Ayres said.

She asked the proprietor what their plans were for the animals after the sale was over and then asked if they would be willing to donate their leftover stock for the effort Ayres would later dub “The Teddy Bear Express.” They took her number and called after the close of business.

“I brought home about a dozen stuffed animals that day and then I started asking at every sale I went to after that,” Ayres said. “Close to 75 percent of the people I ask simply tell me to take [the stuffed animals] with me on the spot.”

In the past four years, she estimates she’s given out more than 2,000 stuffed pals. She has a running inventory of about 900 on hand. She’s even had complete strangers drop them off at her house once they heard what she was doing.

In an average week, Ayres will typically give out 10 animals, but it’s been as few as four and as many as 20, she expects the number to start creeping up in the coming weeks.

Of late, new clients to the Keizer Community Food Bank comprise about one quarter of those who turn up at the food bank door and supplies are getting sparse.

“At the end of each opening our shelves are nearly empty,” said Nancy Morgan, an organizer with the food bank. “One week recently, we turned away four families near closing time because we didn’t have food left to give. It was a heartbreaking experience for them and for us.”

Local farmers who were able to grow additional crops to supply local food banks in past years ended up sending much of their fields’ production to the canneries due to the unusual weather patterns. Demand for food boxes is also expected to increase as the canneries close up for the season.

“Peanut butter, tuna, meals ready to eat, cereal are the most needed items, but monetary donations help cover the cost of purchasing supplies in the open market to supplement the deliveries from Marion-Polk Food Share,” Morgan said.

Unopened soap products are also in high demand.

Longtime volunteers like Ayres know the need within the Keizer community is never ending. She and her husband, Ray, have been volunteering for more than seven years. While she sought out the volunteering opportunity to simply get out of the house once a week, The Teddy Bear Express sprang into service as a memorial to her deceased daughter.

“It was something I could do to honor her,” Ayres said. “The kids’ eyes just light up and they get a great big grin. Grandparents are often just as happy as the kids. The response has been terrific,” she said.

Monetary donations may be sent to Keizer Community Food Bank, PO Box 20968, Keizer OR, 97307. Food can be dropped off at Faith Lutheran Church, corner of River Road and Cummings Lane between 5-7 p.m. Mondays, 1-3 p.m. Wednesdays, and 8-10:30 a.m. on Thursdays.

The games of summer

By WAYNE A. MORELAND

Wars and insurrections around the globe, countries wanting to destroy other countries, the U.S. economy down the tank, and leaders hollering at each other instead of leading. It’s enough to make a person want to find a hole somewhere and just crawl into it. So how can you insulate yourself from all of this? Well, for three months each summer, the answer is right around the corner. It’s Salem-Keizer Volcanoes baseball.

I confess I am an incurable fan, one who has been addicted to the sport since the beginnings of my memory. The only varsity sport I played in high school. The sport of the Dodgers (in Brooklyn) and the Giants (in New York). I can still name the teams of the old Pacific Coast League from the 1940s and ‘50s. I’m the guy who, with a friend, cut classes at Southern Oregon College one fall day to watch Don Larsen pitch a perfect game against my beloved Dodgers. TV’s were small and black and white then, but the memory lives on. As I said, I’m incurable.

So, it was with great joy when I found out that professional baseball was returning to the area. I was on hand for the first pitch of the first year, but from about 1,000 feet above the field as the pilot of the photo plane that took the picture of the first pitch.

Maybe 2010 wasn’t the greatest number of victories for the Volcanoes. But the surrounding fans were still friendly (we’ve become friends with several of them), and the kids tried their best (I can call them kids – heck, I can even call the manager a kid!). It can be difficult to remember, but at the Volcanoes level (I call it Jules Vern baseball – 20,000 leagues under the majors), it’s all about player development. Every one of ‘em has the major league dream, and it’s the local team’s job to help them realize that dream. And in truth, if you compare their record and performance against the “local” major league team to the north, they didn’t do that bad.

So from at least this one fan, thanks to all the staff of the Keizer-Salem Volcanoes. You took my mind away from the troubles of the day and brightened my evenings. You provided not only entertainment on the diamond, but also through your various promotions during the season. I was especially impressed with the 4th of July program that recognized several local veterans and in other ways showed that patriotism is still alive and well. Your support of cancer survivors provided recognition to many and hope for all. I can’t wait for 2011.

Wayne A. Moreland lives in Keizer.