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Day: January 18, 2011

Cell phone fee spiked for now

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Councilors repealed on Tuesday, Jan. 18, the telecom ordinance that would have taxed cell phones to the tune of about 3 percent.

Mayor Lore Christopher indicated the repeal is the first step in determining the level of service the public seeks out of the Keizer Police Department, which the telecom fee was designed to help fund, along with rising 911 costs.

She mentioned the possibility of bringing it forward again, but as an amendment to the city charter that would dedicate the funds to police and 911.

Jerry McGee, who was to lead a political action committee supporting the fee, said he hopes the city finds a “better source of revenue that will sustain the safety of the city. … But we don’t think you can.

“If you come to that conclusion – that a telecommunications fee is still the fairest approach – we hope you’ll put it to a vote  of the people at a general election in November,” and pursue it as a charter amendment, McGee said.

Richard Kosesan, a Verizon Wireless representative, said it could be “problematic” if the council chose to pursue it again, but supports its repeal.

Councilor Mark Caillier, who had supported the ordinance, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

The repeal comes on the heels of a public spat-and-make-up between Christopher and Councilor David McKane, who was the only vote against the telecom fee. He tendered his resignation after Christopher scolded him in an e-mail for not voting for the fee after it became clear he was the lone opponent on the council, and his no vote meant a second reading and vote on the ordinance was required.

Christopher later apologized, McKane rescinded his resignation and councilors opted to take a step back on the telecom fee.

The council also voted to spend about $5,130 on fencing and landscaping at Keizer Rapids Park for sound mitigation from the park’s amphitheater. Concerts there were popular, but irritated neighbors who said sound interfered with their quality of life.

“We believe this might be a first good step,” said Public Works Director Rob Kissler, “There’s no guarantees.”

A sound study conducted by Cascade Sound showed readings of 88.3 average decibels at a July 2010 rock concert. Readings at a residence on 15th Street the same day showed readings of 64dB and another 68.6 dB, both of which are above the ordinance limit of 55 dB.

A city report penned by Kevin Watson stated stopping bass sounds would be more difficult, but the proposed remedies could impede high-sound issues.

“The only thing you can do is turn it down,” Watson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We received a general formula. The sound engineer said if you have it at this level, it should dissipate by the time it gets to the property line with the residents.”

New Councilor Joe Egli voted against the mitigations, saying he was “concerned this isn’t going to solve the problem” and could be a target for vandalism.

In other business, the council:

• Opted to spend a total of $52,200 – including $38,500 from the general fund – for a new e-mail server, employee training and increased janitorial service.

• Approved an engineer’s report for a Sieburg Street local improvement district.

City cuts back fluoride level in tap water

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Fluoride levels in Keizer’s drinking water will fall after federal health and environmental agencies recommended it.

The level of fluoride added to Keizer’s water will be at about 0.7 ppm (parts per million). Prior level was about 1 to 1.1 ppm, said Public Works Director Rob Kissler. The American Water Works Association advised water utilities nationwide on the matter.

“These are the professionals that study this,” Kissler said. “We here at the city rely on the professionals to determine what the appropriate levels are of fluoride feed rates in the public drinking water supply.

“We’re being proactive,” Kissler added. “And if something changes down the line we can always adjust.”

The change comes from a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to the agency, “these actions will maximize the health benefits of water fluoridation, an important tool in the prevention of tooth decay while reducing the possibility of children receiving too much fluoride.”

Federal officials state they’re attempting to strike a balance between preventing tooth decay and giving children with developing teeth too much fluoride. According to HHS, fluorosis can develop from too much fluoride. The condition generally appears as “barely visible lacy white markings or spots on the enamel,” the release states.

‘Miracle’ sets food donation record

File The Gubser Miracle of Lights event is a fundraiser and major food collection for Marion-Polk Food Share.

By JASON COX

Of the Keizertimes

Organizers of the annual Gubser Miracle of Lights report a record food donation haul.

The annual event, where homeowners in the Gubser neighborhood decorate their homes to raise donations for Marion-Polk Food Share and the Keizer Chamber of Commerce giving basket program, administered by the Keizer Network of Women (KNOW).

Total donations included 25,171 pounds of food and approximately $18,050 in cash, reported organizer Jim Taylor. A check for $17,200 will be presented to Marion-Polk Food Share at the Tuesday, Jan. 18 Keizer City Council meeting.

Taylor attributed the record haul to “good weather” and generous people.” He said the 25,171 in food represents two tons more than the previous record.

“This neighborhood and community-wide effort is amazing. Despite the lagging economy, people donated more food and more funds this year than last,” said Ron Hays, president of Marion-Polk Food Share.
“This event has benefited Marion-Polk Food Share and all of its member charities since 1992. We are so thankful to all the folks who put time into making this event a success for us and for the hungry people we serve.”

Audrey Butler, who coordinates the KNOW Giving Basket Program, said their beneficiaries got about $50 worth of food, including a ham and all the fixings, largely due to generosity from visitors to the Gubser neighborhood.

“It’s huge. It saves us a lot of money,” Butler said.

Their program focuses largely on toys and needs for children, so the food is a way to give the parents something, too.

“The food is a relief, to know they have a nice meal to give their family on Christmas,” Butler said. “It’s also nice for families with babies because we get a lot of baby food too.”