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

Day: January 28, 2011

Toddler saves father with 911 call

Of the Keizertimes

A 3-year-old Keizer boy possibly saved his father’s life when he called 9-1-1 after the man cut himself with a woodworking chisel.

At 10:13 a.m. Friday,  A.J. Hayes, 3, called 9-1-1 and told a dispatcher that his father was hurt and needed help and then hung up. The dispatcher called back and the boy picked up the phone to ask whether he needed police or an ambulance. The boy replied, “okay,” and hung up again.

When the dispatcher called a third time, the boy stayed on the phone and was able to unlock the front door shortly before Officer Scott Bigler of the Keizer police arrived at the address, 2002 Brandon Court N.E..

Bigler found the father, Aaron Hayes, leaning over the sink attempting to staunch the bleeding from a wound on his arm. Bigler began basic first aid treatment and a crew from the Keizer Fire District arrived just behind him.

Hayes cut himself with a chisel and severed an artery while working on homework from a recent class.

“What we’ve heard was that he was taking classes and planning on volunteering at the Salem Carousel,” said Anne-Marie Penge, Keizer Fire District spokesperson.

Hayes was transported Salem Hospital where he was treated and released.

The incident underscored the importance of teaching children to recognize numbers at an early age, said Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan.

Power plant concept still in play

Of the Keizertimes

A gas-fired power plant near Keizer Station could result from a partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

And if the facility ever does get built, the city of Keizer likely won’t be a financial backer, the city manager said last week.

No deal has been struck yet with the Siletz, said both Tribal Council Chair Delores Pigsley and Chuck Sides, a co-owner of Keizer Energy LLC.

“We’re not at the commitment stage,” Pigsley said.

Sides said he plans to apply for permits with the Oregon Department of Energy sometime next month – a process that could take years, he said.

Sides said opportunities are there with the planned 2020 closing of the Boardman Coal Plant and ongoing need for more energy.

“Electric cars, all these things on the Internet are causing more need for electricity,” Sides said, adding tax credits aren’t as widely available as they once were for green energy sources like wind and solar.

In addition, he said, “to have a firm energy source – meaning constant – it creates a need for our type of plant. And like all development there’s a time period that makes sense to go ahead and take on this risk.”

The 12-acre tract in question is on Tepper Lane, east of the railroad tracks and west of Volcanoes Stadium, and is zoned industrial general.

Sides said the Siletz tribe “will have their choice of what roles they want to play” and other out-of-state partners could be involved.

Besides the basics like licensing and permits, a power purchase agreement is key to making the project work. Sides said some 11 utilities could be seeking proposals for energy within the next 18 months.

The Keizer City Council had asked city staff to look into the feasibility of financing some or all of the plant – which at the time could have cost as much as $400 million – but City Manager Chris Eppley said time frames and risk doomed the city’s involvement.

“There was a point where we were contemplating the value associated with being an actual partner in the project, turning into more or less a municipal utility, which would require us to issue bonds and finance it that way,” Eppley said.

“But after doing a fair amount of research we realized it’s more work than we have staff to be able to do, it’s a skill set that nobody on our current staff possesses simply because none of us have run an electric utility before, (and) we don’t have the money to hire the expertise to do that for us,” he added.

Hiring the necessary staff would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and the potential risk caused concern.

“I believe the developers’ timeframe was much shorter than it was going to take us to do the analysis that would have led us to a comfort level to do that project,” he said.

Local unemployment falls for 1st time since June

Unemployment in the Salem area fell in December 2010 to 10.8 percent, down from the November revised rate of 11.5 percent.

It’s the first time since June 2010 that the unemployment rate for the Salem area has dropped.

The number is still slightly higher than the statewide seasonally adjusted rate of 10.6 percent, and is higher than the 10.5 percent rate in December 2009.

Statistics are for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Keizer.

An estimated 21,191 Marion and Polk county residents were unemployed in a labor force of 197,469, according to WorkSource Oregon. An estimated 1,314 more people were unemployed in the area than in December 2009.

Total non-farm employment in December was 144,000, a decline of 2,700 jobs since December 2009, with 2,400 coming from the private sector.

In the month, total nonfarm employment fell by 1,500 jobs, with the private sector losing 1,200 and government dropping 300 jobs. The employment loss between November and December is “very typical” for the Salem area, according to Regional Economist Patrick O’Connor. The area has lost more than 11,000 jobs between April 2008 and December 2010, O’Connor stated.

In key sectors:

• Construction shed 200 jobs in December and has declined by 600 jobs in the past 12 months.

• Professional and business services continued to decline, dropping 100 positions.

• Manufacturing jobs fell by 600 jobs, mostly due to seasonal adjustments in food manufacturing.

• Retail trade was unchanged in December but fell 800 jobs over the past 12 months.

• In the public sector, local government dropped 200 jobs and state government 100 positions. Federal job numbers were unchanged.

O’Connor expects high unemployment rates to persist in 2011.

Government by petition?

Are we headed into a new era of citizen legislation?  We could be.

A citizen-backed initiative limiting where big retail builders can be built is headed for the March ballot.  A anti-cell phone tax referendum was rendered moot when the city council repealed that tax and want to send the question to the voters themselves.

Two ballot measures in the matter of six months from Keizer citizens is a sign that times are a-changing.  The public wants a hand in decisions that affect their daily lives.  Our system of government allows just about anything to be placed on the ballot by the people as long as it has the requisite number of signatures.

We have all seen election ballots that are filled with initiatives and referendums.  This is democracy in its most basic and glorious form—the people having their say when they don’t get the result they seek from their elected officials.

For Keizer the issue is money.  Unless there is a process in which a citizen-driven initiative is always sent to the next scheduled election, the cost would get out of hand very quickly.  The special election in March for the building limitation question will cost the city about $20,000 to conduct.  March 8, the election date, is not on Marion County’s regular election schedule (there are scheduled elections in May and November).  Now imagine if there were three or ten such initiatives filed with the city each year.

We would never want to curtail the public’s right to petition citizens and place a question on the ballot.  Is there a way to change the process so initatives, either from the public or the city can placed only on primary or general election ballots?  That change would not circumvent the democratic process but make it more efficient and less costly.

The citizens elect a mayor and a council to do the city’s business.  Those seven people hold public hearings, debate and then vote based on what they feel is in the best interests of Keizer.  Some may say “Let them do their job.”  They do their job, but sometimes their decisions hit a nerve in some quarters that result in petition drives and initiatives.

With tight city budgets and a raft of funding needs we may see more drives by the public to place questions on the ballot to direct the city to fund this program or cut that program.

Mayor Lore Christopher’s call for an election to amend to the city charter to earmark general fund monies for the police department will certainly appease those whose number one priority is public safety.  But the city council shouldn’t get into the habit of referring questions to the ballot it doesn’t want to decide on their own.

By using the bully pulpit of their positions, the mayor and councilors can persuade the public that the actions they take are for the benefit of the city and its citizens.  After that, if the public doesn’t agree, they can get out their pens and their petitions.  It’s the way our government is designed.


Celtic swimmers rout Vikings

McNary’s Josh Holt comes up for air during the breaststroke at the North Salem meet. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Amidst the practices, dual meets and ramp up to district competition, it’s easy to for members of the McNary varsity swimming teams to forget that swimming is supposed to be fun.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case when the boys and girls teams took to the pool in a meet with the North Salem Vikings. Many of the swimmers got to compete in races other than their specialties and both teams won their part of the meet. The boys won 117-53, the girls won 121-48.

“It felt good to have fun swimming again. There wasn’t as much pressure during that meet,” said Ryan Tesdal, who set a new personal record in the 100 backstroke, an event he won with a time of 1:04.39.

“Everybody swam pretty well we had a good number of personal records,” said Celt Dominic Meyer. “Everybody is progressing and working hard and getting better.”

Meyer won the 100 fly with a time of 1:01.26 and the 100 breast in 1:11.26.

Celt Kevin Groves won a trio of races: the 200 free in 2:10.65; the 50 free in 24.11; and the 100 free in 55.00.

“It was an even more impressive set because he had only 10 minutes rest between the the 200 and the 50,” said Kim Phillips, McNary head coach.

Freshman Seth Miller topped the podium in the 500 free with a time of 5:31.97. The Celtic boys and girls teams won all six of the the relay events. Meyer, forest Feltner, Mason Grine, and Tesdal won the 200 medley in a time of 1:51.42; Josh Holt, Tyler McNichols, Tyler Willems, and Meyer won the 200 free in 1:39.2; Alex Fox, Perry Groves, Garrett Hittner, Miller won the 400 free in 2:49.06; Morgan Crueger, Hannah Phipps, Missy Anderson, Jade Boyd won the 200 medley in 2:17.2; Laura Donaldson, Rachel Hittner, Jade Boyd and H. Hittner won the 200 free in 1:51.82; and Allie Biondi, Crueger, Taylor Norby, R. Hittner won the 400 free in 4:30.17.

Two weeks ago, Donaldson broke 26 seconds in the 50 free making her one of two girls on the team – the other is Hannah Hittner – to reach that mark.

“I know districts are going to be crazy to see who can get to 25,” Donaldson said. “It’s nice having a group of girls that push me to do better.”

Hannah Hittner won three individual events in the North Salem meet, she took first place in the 200 free with a time 2:13.49, in the 100 free with a time of 59.98, and in the 500 free with a time of 6:15.73.

Rounding out the girls’ victories were Melissa Anderson in the 100 fly with a time of 1:18.74; Christina Ford in the 100 back with a time of 1:19.49; and Stefani Johnson in the 100 breast with a time of 1:26.35.

Phillips also cited Monica Howard, Megan Paul, Annie Fox with excellent performances in the meet.

“Perry Groves was amazing in his 100 free and dropped five seconds, Missy Anderson had a personal record by four seconds in the 100 fly,” Phillips said.

As district competition nears, Phillips finds herself in the tough position of making final decisions on the relay team compositions, the depth of talent she has to pick from is only making the call harder, she said.

“It’s a very competitive field, I just have to make the decision and hope I make the right one,” Phillips said.

Don’t kill space dreams


In the interest of taking a breather from Earth reality, I’d like to opine about an issue that we haven’t really discussed with much passion in recent times outside of tragedy and love triangles: NASA.

What’s happening here?

Must you defund our souls?

Well, as it goes when all children grow up, it seems that we’ve moved on. Space is no longer a frontier for national pride. Oh, and we’ve been spending more time trying to get Russia back into Afghanistan than we did ensuring that they were kicked out while they were there (as the Soviet Union). Basically, we don’t have a ball to dress up for so we have to figure out how to make money on all the excess material we don’t need for fancy gowns anymore.

Bad metaphor. Sorry. I blame my daughter for the Cinderella reruns.

I was trying to say that since we’re not competing with the Soviets through the Cold War anymore, we don’t have reason for a space program on steroids. No more competition means no more justification, and now we’re having some problems with the ghost of Cold War past, i.e., where do we go from here?

I’ve always thought our space program was important as a tool of unity, more so than any type of technological advantage, although NASA has certainly turned out some cool stuff (mattresses and underwater pens for all). Then again, maybe I’m an outlier in my perspective as a self-admitted space geek. Yes, I went to Space Camp and even wore my flight suit to school on a regular basis, teasing be damned.

Personally, to me the exploration of space as that “final frontier” for humans to master is a soul discovery thing…and there’s not going to be much profit in merely making the soul feel special. I can’t possibly give a nod to throwing public money at a black hole of feelings and still sleep at night. And no way would I approve of the space program being slotted as “art” for ideological comfort.

With the shuttle program coming to a close this year, it seems we’re at a crossroads, and interestingly enough, there are ideological differences clashing with regard to the future of Americans in space. The issue of privatization would seem to be a conservative stance, but that doesn’t seem to necessarily be the case, and according to a recent New Atlantic piece by Rand Simberg, there’s a divide summed as this:

“Democrats don’t think that capitalism works within the atmosphere, and Republicans apparently don’t think it works above it.”

Strangely enough, the Obama Administration has decided that privatization of low-orbit projects is the best way to go, and even stranger, select Republican representatives have a shtick against the idea. Some grumble about businesses pursuing space as a commercial hobby. (Shrugs)

I tend to agree with Sindberg regarding a conservative space policy. Time to put my Saturn V Estes model rocket away and face the reality that if Americans are ever going to move forward in space, we’re going to have to let the free market take over. A space colony sponsored by Johnson & Johnson? Hey, whatever. As long as I can get my moon rover in pink.

But still. Why must we only find bipartisanship when it comes to killing dreams? Meh.

North Star National

Everyone is not against cell tax

To the Editor:

I just saw the article on the cell phone tax being rescinded. A survey was sent out to the homes in Keizer. For those of us who took the time and effort to respond we told you what we wanted for Keizer. We wanted the tax for the police and 911 system. Now you decide to do what you want for us, again. Really!

The police are not free, 911 is not free, we have paid for these services for decades with our land lines and taxes, why not now?

Many of us have iPads, iPhones, satellite tv, Kindles etc. , but do you think the 911 system should stay ten steps behind today’s  technology?

Our police and firemen are like our soldiers in service. They are our heroes here who come when we need them. Who protect those who can’t protect themselves, who race toward the problem while we run away. They work the hours and days we don’t want to work. For all of this you want them to beg for every cent and cut their budget to bare bones? Keizer is a nice place to live because the police have done such a good job of keeping crime at bay. With the expansion of Keizer Station and the economy, we need more officers not less. It cost at lot less to deal with problems now then to let everything get out of  hand then try to fix it. So please Mr.  McKane, if you ever have a heart attack, and call 911 on your cell phone,  just say thank you to our firemen and police.

The people who filled out the survey are the same people who take the time to vote.

Remember the people who yell “No taxes,” “no change,” and “conspiracy,” don’t usually have a solution or vote.

Heidi Di Matteo

The lawful way for drivers to sirens

To the Editor:

Re: Letter to the editor (“Read your driver’s manual,” Jan. 21)

Mr. Lelack, you are absolutely correct in stating “When you see or hear an emergency vehicle, you must pull over to the right, stop and stay stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed.”

When an emergency responder drives an emergency vehicle with lights and siren code three, while responding to an emergency, the following applies. The emergency vehicle is asking for the right of way, never demanding it.

Based upon my years of experience driving emergency vehicles, it is more difficult to recognize an emergency vehicle in the day time approaching you from the rear than from the front, or oncoming traffic. The particular vehicle driven by the chief (Marion County Fire District #1 Chief Kevin Henson) had lights inside the cab, not overhead emergency lights like a larger fire engine or ambulance.

It is likely the truck driver did not see or hear the emergency vehicle fast approaching him from the rear. The chief was reportedly driving 62 miles per hour in a posted 45 mph speed zone, with very little shoulder, no turn lane and deep ditches and driveways on both sides of the road.

When driving an emergency vehicle, you are still responsible for your own safety and those of the public you encounter on the road. You cannot pass unsafely, or blow through intersections without first stopping to see if you can proceed safely when disobeying traffic signals etc. The emergency responder has to be absolutely sure the vehicle is pulled over to the right and stopped. Only then should they proceed around the traffic that has yielded the right of way in a safe manner and at an appropriate speed.

Fortunately no one was seriously injured.

Bob Palmer

(The writer is a retired Marion County Fire District #1 volunteer and  deputy chief.)

Fluoride again

To the Editor:

Is it not ironic that that we will have less fluoride in our water system going forward?  In the past, Keizer put one part per million (ppm) of fluoride into our water each day during nine months of the year. Former federal guidelines suggested a level of between 0.7 to 1.2 ppm. The EPA and the Health and Human Services Department now suggest a reduced  level at 0.70 ppm  after reviewing more scientific data which showed harmful consequences at higher levels.

When Keizer follows the new recommendation it will mean Keizer will not have to waste $48,000 for new pumps and will not have to squander an additional $30,000 annually on fluoride. Hooray for us!  Do you remember the outcry from esteemed dentists both locally and from Portland who indicated the end of the world if Keizer did not maintain the 1.0ppm level year around?  It appears former city Councilor Richard Walsh was correct when he wanted to save unnecessary expense. Since the city council ordered the director of public works to maintain the fluoride level at 1.0 ppm year around, does it take a council action to reduce that level? I hope we don’t have to have another lengthy public hearing on this issue.

Bill Quinn