Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Month: November 2010

Women veterans are not forgotten

To the Editor:

Where on Earth does Peter DeBeck get the idea that female veterans are somehow ‘forgotten’ (Letter to the Editor, Nov. 19).

Lady vets are eligible for every benefit granted to their male counterparts.  They are welcome to join every military veterans organization such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Navy League and American Legion.  In fact, many women hold leadership positions in those units.

Each of the military museums I have visited has made a special effort to recognize the service of women.  As a veteran myself, I have attended numerous military ceremonies and gatherings and in every case the female vets were welcomed and treated just as the men.

Apparently Mr. DeBeck is unaware of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery which honors all women who have served in the United States armed forces.  All allied nations from World War II have similar monuments and recognition.

Mr. DeBeck has done a great job of identifying a problem that clearly does not exist.  I suppose there is a certain element who enjoy stirring up nonexistent problems.  As a time saver, here are three:  1. Women veterans are not “forgotten;” 2. Businesses should not be restricted in the name of “Keeping Keizer Livable (and jobless)” and 3. Keizer does not need a library.  And just to get ahead of the game, Keizer doesn’t need a memorial to recognize forgotten women veterans.

Bob Gallagher

Senior-heavy team holds court

Jared Van Cleave looks for a shot after breaking away from defender Garren Robinett. The Celts’ first game of the season is slated for Wednesday, Dec. 1, at McNary. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

Of the Keizertimes

One thing that came out of the McNary varsity basketball team’s 2-10 season last year is room for improvement.

“We weren’t as successful as we wanted to be, we lost some close games, but this year we’ve got a lot of guys that can come in and contribute,” said Matt Espinoza, McNary head coach. “We’ve got a really balanced and solid number of guys who willing to put in the effort.”

In general, Espinoza and his team think the experience of the past season will pay dividends this season.

“We lost four seniors, but we’re senior-heavy this year,” said Dalton Bodine.  “We’ve all played together for a while, so it’s going to be exciting to see what happens. We’ve got a lot of vocal guys, a lot of leaders and a lot of guys that have played varsity basketball.”

“Last year, we had a lot of young players who took advantage of the opportunity to learn,” added Celt Greg Roth. “This team is really mature and will come out better and stronger.”

The basketball season was pushed back a week by the Oregon School Activities Association and the Celts host Franklin High School Wednesday, Dec. 1, in their first game of the season.

The team’s strength on the court will be its speed, Roth said.

“We’ll be quick getting up and down the court and we’ve got some strong shooters. We’re going to try to outhustle everybody,” he said.

The players’ conditioning will be second-to-none, Bodine said.

“We’re going to be the best-conditioned team in the league by far,” he said. “Our mental toughness is going to be the biggest challenge. Strength and aggressiveness might be challenges, but I don’t think that will be as big as the mental toughness.”

While the team is slowly building confidence in the talent they’ll put in the court, they’re more cautiously optimistic about their goals for the season.

“We’ve got good people returning from last year and good players coming into varsity. We have the talent to go far, I guess we’ll see,” said Cory Bakkala.

Espinoza, in his second year as head coach, plans on applying the lessons he learned on the job last year, as well.

“We’re going to take things slower and we can’t try to do everything at once,” he said. “We’re going to start out with some basic strategies and take it wherever it will go from there. We’ll be patient and get better and master skills before we move on.”

Crash! Boom! Bang!

Mike Alexander competes in the Fastest Hands portion of the Valley’s Fastest Drummer competition. He finished second in both fastest hands and fastest feet.

That’s 15 or so taps. Per second. Do that 60 times in a row and you’ve got a shot at being next year’s Valley’s Fastest Drummer, the annual event at Uptown Music.

This year’s event was Saturday, Nov. 20, at the store in Keizer. Drummers qualified during store hours by stopping by and posting a time. On Saturday, the five fastest finalists in each category took the stage.

Zachary Mendoza took Fastest Feet with 914 strokes in just one minute, in what the store’s Shane Hall called the fastest time ever registered in a final for Valley’s Fastest Drummer. For Fastest Hands, Frank Smith took gold with 891.

Of note was Mike Alexander, who placed second in both categories, registering 834 strokes with his feet and a blistering 867 on the hands.

“This is the fastest time we’ve had,” Hall said of Mendoza’s 914 time in the Fastest Feet competition.

Hall, a drummer himself, said the secret is in the grip and how the hand moves – “a fluid motion of how you’re able to get the stick to rebound so you’re already working on the downstroke of the next stick movement as it’s rebounding.”

In musical terms, Hall said reaching the times these two put down is like playing 16th notes, constantly, at a pace of more than 200 beats per minute.

The world record in fastest feet belongs to Mike Mallais, who put down 1,034 strokes in just 60 seconds with his feet. The world record for fastest hands is held by Mike Mangini, with an astonishing 1,247.

“These guys could be contenders,” Hall said. “Zach was very much impressive with a time of 914. That’s 100 beats off the record, but that’s not a whole lot of difference.”

Smith looked like he had designs on Fastest Feet too, and was visibly frustrated as he racked up a time of 800 strokes with his feet.

“I just sat down and played, didn’t really warm up,” Smith said. “Usually when I warm up faster tempos seem slower to me. If I start out quick, they seem quick.”

Hall said the drummers who excel at extremely fast strokes are often either involved in marching corps or are into speed metal.

Mendoza, 18, of Turner, and Smith, 19, of Lebanon, both cited metal drummers as their primary influences at the moment. Mendoza likes Matt Greiner of August Burns Red, while Smith fancies the style of Divine Heresy’s Tim Yeung.

“(Greiner) dominates the genre (of) metalcore,” Mendoza said. “In my opinion, he’s the best right now.”

Both are pretty quick studies; they’ve only been drumming about two years each. Shoot, Smith doesn’t even own a drumset.

“I’ll probably sell it,” Smith said of a Pearl snare drum he won as this year’s Fastest Hands champion.

Mendoza said it was “exciting” to win the competition, which he entered after pressure from friends.

“I just came in one day, they said there was a competition and my friends just made me do it,” he said.

But he got into it, too.

“I came in every day making sure I was first,” he said.

He qualified with an even-faster 928. The Cascade High School student admitted the ankles “start to burn” a little bit as the time wears on.

Hurray for gridlock

To the Editor:

To President Obama:  “Stick to your guns.  Remember they are the enemy!”

To John Boehner:  “Don’t give one inch!”

To Mitch McConnell: “Not even a whipser of agreement!”

To Harry Reid:  “Don’t ask for any Republican input.  Zero!”

Economic bliss, congressional gridlock, Will Rogers style.

But don’t hold your breath, gridlock will be shortlived.  However, it will give us all time to catch our breath.  Who knows, maybe the members of the House and the Senate will actually ‘read’ all the legislation that was passed in 2009 and 2010.  That would be a first.

Lee E. Goodwin

Service with a side of competitiveness

Gubser Elementary School student Megan Johnson serves up bread sticks with marinara as part of the Sodexo student server program. Students volunteer for the opportunity. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

Of the Keizertimes

Every week, students throughout the school district don gloves and hair nets to sling burgers, pizza and whatever else comes from the depths of their cafeteria.

But, the program has become much more than an opportunity to dole out pineapple chunks and roasted veggies. For the students who volunteer to serve their peers, it is a test of their particular food’s popularity.

“You have to go quick sometimes and faster if what you’re serving is most popular,” said Haley Areal, a Gubser Elementary School third grader and recent lunch server volunteer.

The most popular items hands-down is pizza, said Isaiah Petilo, who has volunteered to serve lunches every year since first grade. The worst?

“Sandwiches, because no body picks them,” he said.

The long-running food server program, run by Sodexo, which supplies food services to Salem-Keizer public schools, is intended to be something more even if it’s youngest participants aren’t always aware of it, said Terri Tjulander, a Sodexo food service manager.

“It teaches the kids how to serve each other and teaches them responsibility,” Tjulander said.

Individual schools decide which classes get to volunteer each week, but the students themselves volunteer for the honor. Sodexo employees supervise each student as they serve up the daily entrees.

“This year we’ve changed the menu a lot. We have a lot more vegetables and we’re encouraging parents to come and check out the new menu options and see what’s different from when they went to school,” Tjulander said.

Ethan Patterson missed volunteering to serve lunch as a second grader so he eagerly jumped at the opportunity to do it last week.

“You don’t miss lunch and you get to volunteer and have fun with friends while you do it,” Patterson said.

Lady Celts will focus on speedy play

Lady Celt Dani Saunders dishes the ball to a teammate during practice last week. (Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD)

Of the Keizertimes

Trying to avoid cliché, the head coach of the McNary varsity basketball team stops short of calling the upcoming season a “rebuilding” year.

“We’re going to be much better in the second half than we will in the first half because we’ll be getting to know each other,” said Molly Gehley, Celtic head coach. “It’s a whole new challenge, we’re just young and it’s going to be fun to watch the progression.”

The Lady Celts have big boots to fill if they want to match the showing of the past two seasons when McNary took fifth and fourth in state, respectively.

“We want to go to state if we can and win league at least,” said Teresa Patterson, a sophomore. “We’re young, but we’ve had a lot of experience together. We’ll have to learn how to guard a lot of taller people and work on our ball handling and outside shots. I think we’re going to be better than people expect.”

McNary lost a throng of experienced seniors to graduation that took the team to its best finish in the state since winning the title in 1990.

“Our team is basically the junior varsity team from last year,” said Celt Averi Wing. “We’ve been working together for a while and it will be fun to have that bond when we hit the court.”

Seniors Deven Hunter and Keri Stein will be anchors for the team in it’s coming challenges.

“Deven is getting scouted by a lot of D1 programs and Keri, at post, is a versatile player and a glue that holds our team together,” Gehley said.

While rosters have not yet been set in stone, Gehley expects Olivia Yarborough and Titchenal to share guard duties and Peterson and Wing to be on the wings.

“I’m also looking forward to Jessica Derris putting in a full season for us after being injured off and on last season,” Gehley said. “She plays post and wing and is a real aggressive player.”

Titchenal expects scrappy play to be a hallmark of the Celtic game plan in the 2010-11 season.

“Last year’s team had been playing together for years. They had a lot of height, but we’ll be quicker,” she said. “Push the ball, score on transitions, run, run, run – that’s basically our strategy right now.”

On the coaching side, Gehley is focusing on fundamentals.

“We’re trying to make sure that everyone understands the same offenses and same defenses and how to play with our best strengths,” Gehley said.

The girls travel to meet their first two opponents this season. First up is Franklin High School Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m., then it’s on to Silverton High School Friday, Dec. 3, for a game beginning at 7:15 p.m.

Family radio is in Salem and Keizer

To the Editor:

Thank you, listeners of our local teaching AM station.  Thank you for such a warm welcome to Salem.  Although we certainly were willing, we apologize for not personally speaking to you on the air as so many of you desired.  You are all invited to listen to Family Radio locally on 89.5 FM at 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.  The website is

Eric Daniel Gonzalez
Grass Valley, CA

Local woman’s success story will be on national television

Samantha Demchak

Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer woman’s weight loss – and what motivated her to do it – caught the eye of a television producer on the other side of the country.

So much, in fact, Samantha Demchak of Keizer flew to New York City to tape an appearance on the “The Dr. Oz Show” this week. Airing locally on KATU TV-2, the syndicated program is hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz and focuses on medical and health issues.

One of his plans is called “Just 10” – a formula to lose 10 pounds, also lowering blood pressure and risk of stroke.

Demchak lost 35.

“My son decided to join the Air Force,” she explained, adding his absence put her in a bit of a funk. “I’m 41 and I’m a grandmother of two. My dad was paralyzed from a massive stroke when he was 35.”

Her father lived 37 more years paralyzed on one half of his body, and “I didn’t want to live like that. And this was the way to do it.”

She saw the segment on Dr. Oz and submitted her story. She said the plan is simple. She started by exercising 10 minutes a day – returning shopping carts to the furthest available stall in the lot – and then got on a treadmill.

“I needed something that wasn’t a diet. I’ve done Jenny Craig, I’ve done the Atkins Diet,” Demchak said. “They all worked until I got off them. … It was more a lifestyle change, than just a diet. I just want to eat better and be healthier.”

Her first step? “Give up soda. It’s full of chemicals. Even diet soda isn’t good for you.

“Then portion control. You have to learn what a true serving is.”

She won’t eat less than three hours before bedtime and eats five smaller meals a day. Demchak added she eats an apple before every meal.

“It’s full of fiber, and if you eat an apple before each meal you can cut off about 180 calories from that meal,” she said.

Demchak said she has more energy than anytime she can recall, and went from “a sedentary lifestyle – I’ve never run a day in my life” to the ability to run three miles. She’s even training for a half-marathon.
But she was still shocked to hear back from the folks with Dr. Oz.

“I was kinda surprised my story captured their imagination over the 8,000 people who responded,” she said.

They sent her a video camera last week, asked her to film her story and send it back within a day.

She heard back later that week, and was to be in New York City for a grand total of two days – flights to and from included – so she won’t have time to do all the sightseeing she, a native of Connecticut, would like to do.

“But my very sweet niece is going to drive down from Connecticut to have dinner with me hopefully,” she said.

Group needs help with baskets of holiday cheer

Miranda Wilbur prepares gifts for delivery at a wrapping party last year as part of the Christmas Basket program. (File)

Of the Keizertimes

An annual program providing food for hungry families – and gifts for children who may not otherwise get one – is again gearing up for the holiday season.

With the community’s help, the project aims to provide 125 families with a holiday meal, and toys under the tree for dozens of area children.

It’s a project headed up by the Keizer Network of Women (KNOW), a group organized by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. Donations are tax-deductible thanks to the Keizer Chamber Foundation, a non-profit.

“It’s our goal to get bigger and better,” said Audrey Butler, who founded KNOW. “We’re just finding more and more support each year. There’s just so many kids!”

It works like this: Guidance counselors in area schools are asked to provide the names and needs of children whose families could use a little holiday cheer. The KNOW group aims to fulfill a need and a want on the kids’ list – at least one article of clothing and something fun to open.

“We channel our energy and it gets done,” Butler said.

There’s already been one miracle, she said.

“There was one child who asked that his family computer be fixed so he could do his homework on the computer like other kids do,” Butler said. “I put a call out to Chris Howery of CompuTutor. He’s going to make arrangements to fix that computer this week.”

The public can help in one of several ways:

• Adopt A Family – Donor gets a wish list for the children in a family. The group asks you spend about $50 per child, to include one toy and one article of clothing. Businesses in particular are asked to adopt a family.

• Select an ornament from the Trees of Giving – The trees will go up at several locations here in just a couple of weeks. Names and lists of children not yet “adopted” go here. The trees will be at Courthouse Athletic Club, St. Edward Catholic Church, McNary Golf Course, the north Salem Applebee’s and U.S. Bank’s Keizer branch.

• Make a contribution to cover costs of providing food and other expenses. These can be made at the Keizer Chamber of Commerce office in the Keizer Heritage Center. Please specify the donation is for the Gift Basket Program.

• Volunteer time to help with purchasing, sorting, wrapping and delivery of gifts.

If you have questions or wish to help, please call Butler at 503-393-6347.