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Month: November 2010

MEET RUSTY

"Rusty,” a sculpture by Rick Halvorson, resides in east Keizer. KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

If you’re over in east Keizer perhaps you spotted the butterfly-catching man standing in the front yard.

His name is Rusty, appropriately enough. Rick Halvorson, a retiree from the Oregon National Guard and a native Keizerite, made him.

Standing about five-and-a-half feet tall, Rusty is almost entirely of old parts no one else particularly needed or wanted.

It’s a theme in Halvorson’s work. His gutters were fashioned in part out of an old metal cup. A bird in the backyard is made of a shovel’s blade. In the garage he’s fashioned together a contraption where a pinball can be raised up through tubes made out of old welding rods – he got those free because, once moisture gets to them, they’re not much use – with pegs attached to old saw blades.

From there it can take two paths, spiraling down into a metal disc, where the process starts over.

But Halvorson is a modest man, despite the fact he can point almost anywhere on his property and show something he made – or made better.

He discovered he enjoyed welding after his father-in-law taught him, and Rusty is his most public creation yet.

Rusty is made of “mostly just things people gave me and it accumulated over the years,” Halvorson said. “I just put it to use.”

Standing six feet, two inches tall from head to toe, Steel rebar makes up lots of Rusty’s body. The main part of the body is an old railroad vice. A chainsaw motor is attached to a series of gears that allow movable parts in his chest and back.

His hat is a repurposed brake drum. His head is filled with a small butane tank.

The legs and base of the arms are “part of the frame pieces off an old boat trailer. I just took them apart.”

Rusty has only been on display for about a week or so since Halvorson finished, “but he gets the occasional thumbs up.”

His technique?

“You look around for what might fit with it – some things just fit.”

“First Dog’s White House Christmas” by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, Illustrated by Tim Bowers

“First Dog’s White House Christmas” by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, Illustrated by Tim Bowers

c.2010, Sleeping Bear Press
$15.95 / $17.95 Canada
32 pages

By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Every year for the holidays, there are traditions your family likes to do.

You might decorate your tree at a certain time with ornaments that mean something special to you. Maybe you all get together to bake and decorate cookies. Perhaps you go to church, then open presents – or the other way around, depending on when Santa comes.

At Dog’s big white house, they throw parties every Christmas and this year, he’s invited his friends from around the world. In “First Dog’s White House Christmas” by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrated by Tim Bowers, you’re invited to the party, too.

Things are very Christmas-y at the White House. The Christmas trees are decorated and garlands are hung. There’s a big Nativity display, and everything smells wonderful. The Master Chef has even made a big gingerbread White House with a candy garden, chocolate furniture and a marzipan Dog out front.

But what Dog is most excited about is the party that’s coming up. Dog saw the invitation one day when he woke from his nap, and he decided to invite all his friends, too.

On the evening of the party, Dog took his place in the reception line and greeted all his guests. He asked them to tell everyone about the Christmas traditions in their home country as they came through the line.

The English Bulldog told Dog about the first Christmas cards sent in London over 160 years ago.

The Canadian Newfoundland explained everything about mummering, and he brought some fruitcake for Dog to sample.

The French Poodle arrived with a Bûche de Noël, the Australian Dingo told Dog about Christmas picnics, the Chihuahua brought a piñata from Mexico, the Kangal Dog from Turkey explained where St. Nicholas was born, and the Affenpinscher from Germany brought Dog a glass pickle for his tree. Soon, the White House was filled with dogs from all over the world!

All of Dog’s four-footed friends had a wonderful time at the White House. Hours later, Dog was tired and he went to sleep. But when he woke, there was another surprise waiting for him…

How many synonyms are there for “cute”?  For sure, you could use them all with this irresistible book.

Using Bo the ObamaDog as inspiration, authors J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello explain to kids what Christmas is like around the world; the traditions, the weather, and the special things that families do to celebrate. You and your child may be amazed to learn the roots of some of the traditions your family holds dear.

My favorite parts of this book, though – and I suspect they’ll be your child’s favorites, too – are the adorable, colorful drawings. Illustrator Tim Bowers gives each animal such an expressive face and fun demeanor that the pictures might just influence a kid’s request from Santa.

When your child wants a Christmas read-aloud this year, don’t be surprised if “First Dog’s White House Christmas” is the first one that’s grabbed. With this charming little book, you may start a new tradition.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.


City: No ‘Hoop’ at Keizer Rapids

A land addition – and annexation – at Keizer Rapids Park has created anxiety for some of its neighbors. (Submitted)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

City staff are seeking to defuse rumors of elaborate basketball facilities and other high-trafifc amenities coming with an annexation near Keizer Rapids Park.

A recommendation to annex some 37 acres of land to expand Keizer Rapids Park came down from the Planning Commission last week. It will go before the Keizer City Council for a public hearing and possible approval at a date yet to be set.

However, some neighbors of the park aren’t happy about the possibilities, voicing concerns from light and noise to pedestrian safety and littering. Community Development Director Nate Brown insisted in a post on the city’s website this week that a park addition won’t mean “a sports complex, tennis courts, competition facilities, etc.” due to the restrictive zoning placed on the to-be-acquired land.

First some background: The city has options to purchase some 27.41 acres of land owned by the Buchholz family and about 0.34 acres from the Buchanan family in order to expand Keizer Rapids Park.

City leaders have opted to make the purchase with urban renewal dollars. However, land must be in the city limits in order to use said funds, so the city is seeking to annex the two properties along with about 10 acres of Keizer Rapids Park.

The lands have been zoned under a new designation that is similar to the county’s Exclusive Farm Use zone. Senior Planner Sam Litke stated the annexation wouldn’t allow extension of urban services outside the urban growth boundary (UGB), and the city’s agreement with Marion County prohibits expanding sanitary sewer, and any development must be done “in a manner that would be consistent with park uses.”

In fact, Brown stated officials from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development are already saying the amenities spelled out in the existing Keizer Rapids Park master plan are “pushing the envelope” due to the park’s rural status.

“Rumors that ‘The Hoop’ is going to move onto the Buchholz property are untrue – even unhelpful,” Brown wrote. “After the annexation of the property we are still obligated to the very same land uses – minus the gravel mines – that existed before annexation.”

Water service can be expanded there – and plans are in place to do just that – but it cannot allow an increase in residential density.

“It is possible the park could be expanded under this designation,” Brown said. “But the kinds of uses allowed in that park is something the state is paying very close attention to.”

Brown said talk of a large sporting facility’s imminence is “simply untrue.”

So what could go there? Unorganized play fields was one example Brown said “I would feel comfortable in pursuing.”

Larry Monagon, who owns the olive orchard Victory Estates, said the dog park in particular attracted heavier foot and motor traffic, “blocking ingress and egress to our properties as well as other properties.”

He also questioned who would be responsible for policing his property – Marion County Sheriff’s deputies or Keizer Police.

When Monagon asked who would farm a filbert orchard remaining on the Buchholz property, city staff admitted they weren’t sure, saying it would be a decision made by either the city council or city manager.

Rhonda Rich, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, said the annexation “shouldn’t be taken lightly” considering the city’s struggles with fully funding parks. She also said the city hadn’t adequately built a “good neighbor buffer” to shield the neighborhood from noise and light.

She also said she’d like to see whether city residents are willing to pay a parks fee or otherwise put more money into parks.

“I’m not anti-park,” Rich said. “I’m for the parks we have now.”

Councilor Richard Walsh testified residents should take the future into account when forming opinions about expanding the park. Walsh has been arguably the primary driver behind acquiring the land for, and then develop, Keizer Rapids Park.

He referenced Hyde Park in London, U.K. and Henry VIII’s moves to preserve it – albeit as the monarch’s own private hunting reserve – and how, centuries later, it is an essential part of the London experience.

“We have to think about this long-term,” Walsh said. “… Here we have riverfront acreage, Keizer Rapids Park is our only regional park. … Think about Europe. Think about the parks that were established that are there centuries later. … We have to think about the footprint we’re laying down for our children and our children’s children.”

Keeping it relatively undeveloped is fine if that’s what residents want, Walsh said, “but at least the options are there.”

Rick Hammerquist, who lives nearby, complained decisions were made without community input, and expressed concerns about possible fire dangers from a lack of fire hydrants in the area.

For constant need, Food Share seeks sustainers

Marion-Polk Food Share is imagining no hunger.

And in recognizing hunger has no season, they’re looking to expand their Sustainer Circle – a group of donors who agree to automatic monthly donations.

The challenge is daunting: An average of 6,500 families a month are using emergency food boxes in the two counties, up 15 percent from 2009 and 27 percent from 2008. One out of five people in the two counties used a food box in the past year, organizers said.

Dick Withnell is campaign chair, and talked about how hunger could affect anyone in a kickoff event last week at Salem’s Mission Mill Museum.

Withnell said it was luck alone that allowed attendees to live in Salem instead of an impoverished nation.

“Ponder this – it’s just by the grace of God that we’re here,” Withnell said. “There are people who are hungry tonight.”

MPFS President Ron Hays noted the non-profit’s evolution from a small operation on Front Street to practically bursting at the seams at their building on Salem Industrial Drive.

“Marion Polk Food Share has grown to meet the community’s needs,” he said.

One aspect of the food share’s mission, he said, was helping people to help themselves. In Salem alone the non-profit coordinated about 20 acres of community gardens.

Salem Mayor Janet Taylor noted her own at-times hard-won raising when her father left the family. Her mother was deaf and couldn’t work, and they at times relied on boxes of surplus federal government food.

Not much fresh stuff at the time – dried eggs, peanut butter, cheese and the like.

Luckily, her mom “was a great cook.”

MPFS, she said, “is using food to help people be empowered to help themselves” with help learning how to best shop, improving cooking skills and tips on making the most out of emergency food boxes.

“We could be helping the next business owner, teacher, minister or community leader,” she said.

The Collins Foundation has agreed to match up to $75,000 in contributions.

For more information on joining the Sustainer Circle visit marionpolkfoodshare.org.

Even during hard times

We’re thankful that we live in a community where citizens help others, even during hard times.

Keizerites have always been generous to their fellow man when it comes to feeding the hungry or providing winter coats to the cold or, especially, helping kids.

Earlier this month St. Edward Catholic Church held a drive to collect coats, jackets and sweaters for those less fortunate in need of the basic necessary of warm clothes at the outset of winter.

Last week more than 300 people attended Keizer Young Life’s annual dessert auction and raised more than $25,000 to help, in part, to fund programs that help local kids, some whom are homeless or live in less than ideal conditions.

In a few weeks the Keizer Network of Women (KNOW), a part of the Keizer Chamber Foundation, will distribute food boxes and toys to more than 100 families in need.  The food and toys will not only brighten the holidays for these families but it will give them the things many of us take for granted—food on the table.

When the going gets tough Keizer opens their hearts and their wallets.  It is heartening that people who may be in hard economic times themselves still find enough in the cupboard to pass on those who are living on the edge.

Some people call it giving back to the community, we call it paying it forward.  People like Mark and Shellee Schroeder, owners of Schroeder’s Guest House on Portland Road.  On Thanksgiving Day they will open their restaurant to feed the needy on a day that is all about feasting.  With the help of volunteers they will serve a holiday meal to those who might otherwise have nothing that day.

When youth groups and school teams come calling, Keizer answers the call with “How much?” rather than “I can’t.”  Sure, not everyone is able to donate, but most find a way to assist.

The economy may continue to give a lot of people the old one-two punch these days but Keizerites never forgets who they are—people who are giving and generous even during the hard times.

And for that we send out a big thank you.

—LAZ

Lady Celts take 6th in state

Madi Cavell tips the ball over the net on a soft touch in the Celts’ quarterfinal match with the Jesuit Crusaders Friday, Nov. 12. (Keizertimes/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Their time in the state playoffs may not have have ended precisely as they hoped, but the girls of the McNary High School varsity volleyball team were excited enough having defied most expectations – and with a sixth place finish.

“After losing seven seniors, I wasn’t sure how this season would go,” said Simona Arnautov, a McNary senior. “But we all played with heart and showed people what we’re all about.”

The Celtics faced Jesuit High School Friday, Nov. 12, in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs and faltered under the vicious offense of the perennial powerhouse. McNary lost in three sets, 25-15, 25-22, 25-12.

“We just didn’t execute as well as we had been,” said Dustin Walker, McNary head coach.

Among its arsenal of talent, Jesuit boasts one of the top talents in the state, Liz Brenner, whose attacks sounded like cannons firing as they reverberated around the gym.

“It’s kind of scary cause you’re afraid for your face,” said Celt Keri Stein. At one point, McNary setter Megan Holland got sideswiped by a ball on a dig and the team had to call a time out a few plays later as she recovered.

McNary’s best set with Jesuit was the second. The Celtics kept pace with Crusaders in a back-and-forth match, but Jesuit crowded them out on the final points of the match.

“The second match was definitely more reflective of the way we can play,” Walker said.

Madi Cavell had 27 kills and four blocks in the match. Deven Hunter had 12 kills and three blocks. Holland had 33 assists. Whittley Harrell had 20 digs. Stein had three aces.

McNary faced Oregon City and Gresham high schools in the final day of the tournament.

“I think it was easier to compete with Oregon City because we played them twice earlier this season and beat them,” Arnautov said.

McNary won in three sets, 25-19 , 26-24 ,25-22.

“Madi hit over .600 in that match and had only one hitting error,” Walker said. “We also passed really well.”

Cavell had 27 kills and four blocks. Hunter had 12 kills and three blocks. Holland doled out 33 assists, Harrell pulled out 20 digs and Stein served up three aces.

The win set up a fourth place match with Gresham High School. The Celts lost in four sets, 25-20, 16-25, 25-18, 25-18, and ended their season in sixth place.

“I think that we tried hard, but we could have dug deeper and come out with a win. It just didn’t happen,” Stein said.

Endurance also became a factor in the match, Arnautov added.

“Having to compete like that [with top teams] was something we weren’t used to,” she said.

Cavell made 16 kills in the match and nine blocks. Hunter added 15 kills, six blocks and two aces. Holland contributed 32 assists. Arnautov made 24 digs and Stein added two aces.

“A couple of ball handling errors and a couple of missed hits made the difference,” Walker said. “But we had a great season. We knew we were fighting for a league title and we did that undefeated. I’m extremely proud and pleased with our girls.”

Overall, Stein was pleased with the season’s outcome, too.

“I think we did really well. I didn’t expect us to get as far as we did. I expected more of us when we got there, but you can only do so much,” she said.

911 fee opponents pack Council, but it moves forward

Council chambers were packed Monday for a hearing on a proposed 911 tax. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The seeds for a franchise fee on wireless telecommunications companies – a cost that could be passed on to customers – were sown Monday.

The Keizer City Council opted in a 6-1 vote to give themselves authority to establish a franchise fee primarily targeting wireless communications companies, i.e. cell phone service providers. The stated reason was to recover some of the costs associated with providing 911 service to residents, along with radio communications and an area-wide records system for police officers.

Because the vote was not unanimous the matter will go before the council again for a second reading.

The ordinance would create a licensing system for telecom companies. Those firms would have to provide revenue information to the city in order to ascertain their yearly fee. Firms with less than $10,000 in annual revenue from Keizerites would be exempt.

Councilors will also have to pass a resolution setting the amount. City Manager Chris Eppley has proposed 3 percent. A third of that would be sent to the Keizer Fire District. This could come before the Council as soon as its first December meeting.

A packed house showed up, mostly speaking against the proposal. Some residents said they had been receiving robocalls – automated telephone calls – urging residents to come out to the meeting and speak against the proposal.

Americans for Prosperity sponsored one (AFP Call), and another (Survey) was polling residents on whether they wanted their cell phone tax raised “as much as 1,500 percent.”

Brian Butler and Darsy Olafson, respective presidents of the Keizer Professional Firefighters and the Keizer Police Association, spoke up in favor, along with several other residents. Representatives from Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Qwest spoke of potential problems with the ordinance as written.

Voting in favor were: Mayor Lore Christopher and Councilors Cathy Clark, Mark Caillier, Jim Taylor, Richard Walsh and Brandon Smith. Voting against was Councilor David McKane.

City Manager Chris Eppley proposed the tax as a way to make up a funding gap between what the city takes in from the state in 911 fees – the current year is expected to be about $107,900 net after remitting a portion to the Keizer Fire District – and the total cost of communications-related expenses for police. When asked how much revenue the new tax would produce Eppley gave a preliminary estimate of about $300,000 per percentage point.

Between providing 911 service via the Willamette Valley Communications Center and the other tasks performed by WVCC – such as managing KPD’s radio system and providing a records management system – the gap between 911 revenues and total communications-related costs is about $610,700.

This gap includes about $30,700 for police cell phone allowances, and a five-year average cost of $57,000 for information technology like network support, hardware and software.

At Monday’s council meeting, testimony continued well into the evening.

Butler said “our expenses are outpacing our revenues,” noting the district is budgeted to pay WVCC $319,792 for 911 service and communications equipment.

Olafson said the officers he represents in the police union “strive to provide the best service we can to this community.

“We do it as efficiently as we can with the resources we’re given, but as time goes on it’s going to become increasingly hard, if not impossible, to give the level of service citizens have come to expect from us without adding some additional resources,” Olafson said.

But the pro-fee side was outnumbered, at least in the number of people testifying, by those who oppose the proposal.

Jon Wolf said he’s still paying the cell phone bill for his three adult children who no longer live in Keizer.

“The fee is not equitable. … If they’re here it’s a service that’s provided,” he said.

A self-described “techno geek,” he said he expects to pay a disproportionate sum due to having several phone lines, including voice over internet protocol (VOIP).

Amanda Dalton, representing the Salem Association of Realtors, said “now is the wrong time to raise new fees and taxes,” noting real estate agents rely heavily on cell phones.

She also questioned how long funding would be dedicated to public safety communications. City Attorney Shannon Johnson said any fund dedication would take place in the resolution actually setting the fee, not the resolution authorizing it.

Officials from Qwest, AT&T and Verizon were also on hand to oppose the proposal.

Richard Kosesan, a lobbyist representing Verizon Wireless, told the Keizertimes Tuesday of his concerns with the ordinance.

“A wireless provider does not occupy nor does it utilize the public right-of-way (as do landline providers), and the city has apparently seen fit to suggest one should be on the same footing as the other,” Kosesan said.

He also questioned whether the resolution method of setting the fee amount could be referred to the ballot.

“I don’t believe it’s appropriate to address a tax by mere resolution,” Kosesan said. “An ordinance is always subject to initiative and referendum. A resolution, a mere resolution by a governing body, is probably not subject to referendum. So the voters are disenfranchised, and they have no recourse.”

Laura Brown, a Mill City resident, questioned the city’s priorities.

“There’s fountains that needed repairs,” Brown said. “There’s civic fixtures you want money for. There’s parks for dogs you want money for. So what I am hearing is it’s OK for you to spend money for parks for dogs, and that’s fine, but for us to take care of the police or fire department you want to raise taxes.”

The off-season

The next few months will be a good time for all vested parties to start formulating a real plan for making Keizer a sports tournament town.

The idea has been kicking around for a few years.  Keizer Youth Sports Association (KYSA) brought a number of events to the Little League fields.  Developing our economy will encompass many different things, but one of the easiest is to proclaim ourselves a tournament town and then bring in teams all year around.

Softball, baseball, basketball and soccer tournaments can all be lured to Keizer.  We are  home to one of the best youth baseball complexes in the state.  School gymnaisums can be used for basketball tourneys.  And we have enough fields to play soccer.

It will better for Keizer if regional tournaments are attracted because that means kids and their parents coming for an overnight stay in our town.  That translates into room stays and meals bought from local restaurants.

To make Keizer a true tournament town means everyone must work together.  The Keizer Chamber of Commerce, which doubles as our local visitor’s center should invite representatives of the various groups who want to develop tournaments to meet and plan out the year and strategize—scheduling, promotion of local businesses, promotion of the city, and use of facilities throughout the city.

No group should go it alone, everyone can benefit from having 100 or 1,000 extra athletes and their fans into our town.  With some communication and a thought out plan, Keizer can reap the benefits of America’s love of sports and of kids.  It’s cold and wet outside, let’s use this time to be indoors and plan our future.

—LAZ

More apartments in Area C plan

File

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

More apartments have been added to the mix in a formal plan for Keizer Station’s Area C, anchored by a 116,000 retail store. [MAP: 1]

The full plan was submitted to the city of Keizer early this week. It will be considered by the Planning Commission in January, who will forward a recommendation to the Keizer City Council.

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.

A 3.47 acre portion just south of the planned medical facility would be set aside for multi-family residential, plans indicate, with three three-story buildings totaling 73 units.

The big-box store would include a 6,800 square foot “garden center” along with a drive-through window on the east side of the building. This building would be located east of Chemawa Road NE.

Nearby would be a total of five other buildings – two office, two retail and one designated “pad” in the plans. Developers indicated earlier this year the “pad” site could be home to a restaurant.

Along the north side of McLeod between Lockhaven Drive NE and Chemawa Road NE are two five-story multi-use buildings along with a retail building of about 8,750 square feet. The plan indicates “a combination of different uses on different floors” that could include up to 60 combined residential units.

Traffic recommendations include:

• A five-lane section of Chemawa Road – two northbound and southbound through lanes – to include a center left turn lane. The widened portion would go from Lockhaven Drive to about 400 feet south of the McLeod Lane intersection.

• A raised median on Chemawa between Lockhaven and McLeod.

• A traffic signal at Chemawa Road and McLeod Lane.

• Widen McLeod to three lanes between Lockhaven Drive to Chemawa Road, and extend McLeod from Chemawa Road to Ridge Drive.