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Month: February 2011

Thrift store offers the everyday and the unusual

Don Smith holds up a bowling ball for sale at ReSale-2-U. They plan to put a price tag on it – but not before they go bowling and see what reaction they get. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

You’re looking for something cool and different, but not quite sure what.

Resale-2-U, a new store selling used items in south Keizer, might be your place.

$5 mattresses? Sure!

A $25 couch? Why not?

A chess set from the Civil War? Absolutely!

A bowling ball with a skull in it? … Huh?

Besides the thrill of a bargain, part of the kick of a thrift store is finding something you won’t get anywhere else.

“It’s kinda like treasure hunting, you know?” said Don Smith, who co-owns the new store along with his wife Donna. They own a medical transportation company and see plenty of clients in need.

“We carry around a lot of needy people … they don’t have clothes, sometimes their kids are sleeping on the floor,” Donna said.

The pair said they’re trying to keep their wares at about 50 percent of larger thrift stores in the area. Included in their current selection is furniture, clothes, electronics and all kinds of random items you never knew you wanted until you saw them.

“We have unique things we really promote ourselves on,” Donna said.

They’re also collecting items to give to needy folks in the area.
On some items they’re willing to negotiate prices, Donna said, and they’re keeping a list of wanted items from customers.

“If we come across it we’ll call or give them the first opportunity,” Donna said.

The Smiths got their current stock from going to storage auctions, garage sales and the like. They’re hoping to get donations, which can be exchanged for store credit.

Located at 3824 River Road N., they’re open Tuesday through Saturday.

“Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life” by Hal Needham

Stuntman by Hal Needham
Stuntman by Hal Needham

“Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life” by Hal Needham

c.2011, Little, Brown and Company
$25.99 / $28.99 Canada
320 pages


A towel is not a cape.

That’s a hard lesson you learned once, long ago, when you jumped off the roof with a rectangle of terry-cloth tied around your neck. Likewise, flapping your arms will not allow you to fly and walking into a wall doesn’t guarantee you’ll go through it.

Several cuts, scrapes, maybe a broken bone later and you learned, but there’ll always be a part of you that wishes you could have done cool tricks like in the movies. So read about a guy who lives the dream in “Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life” by Hal Needham.

If you’re a movie buff, you know how much you hate fakey stunts. Not only does your brain scream, “That’s impossible!” but it ruins the film. Such was movie-going before Hal Needham began his career.

Needham was born in the hills of Arkansas, the son of a sharecropper. Life was hard: there was no running water in their two-room home, the family’s meals came out of the garden or the nearby woods, and they moved a lot. Still, Needham says, it was all he knew then.

When World War II began, Needham’s stepfather moved the family to St. Louis, where Needham learned to work hard. Though he was just ten years old, he brought money into the household, to the detriment of his education.

By ninth grade, Needham had left school and started working with a tree-cutting service because the pay was good and he was unafraid of heights. When he was old enough, he joined the army to fight in the Korean War and became a paratrooper. He also became a seamstress and a loan shark while in the service, and he met a man who was on his way to Hollywood.

That man hired Needham to jump from an airborne Cessna 150 airplane onto a galloping horse. And a stuntman was born.

Throughout his career, Needham worked with dozens of stars in dozens of movies, TV shows, commercials, and promotional films. He founded the first stuntman group to include women and minorities. His creativity changed the way stunts were done and movies were made.

And he broke fifty-six bones and his back – twice.

You know how you like to watch a really good, action-packed movie? Well, reading “Stuntman!” is like that, only better.

Author Hal Needham made his story as exciting as a stampede, as free-wheeling as a 10-story fall, and as funny as a Cannonball Run. He brags a bit (which he says stuntmen usually hate) and he drops names all over the place (something I usually hate), but it fits in this memoir, so I didn’t mind here. I thought reading “Stuntman!” was a very different, surprisingly revealing, wildly fun way to spend some free-time, somewhat like sneaking off to a Saturday afternoon 99-cent matinee on a rainy day. The only difference is, the book lasts longer.

So take off your X-ray glasses and pass the popcorn. For movie buffs and daredevil wanna-be’s, scoring “Stuntman!” is a pretty cool trick.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

They said it! (Hearing on big box)

“As a commission we really tried to focus on the overall master plan and not any specific rumors of who might be in some of those buildings.”
– Albert Castaneda, Planning Commissioner

“Today if we had that three-story (mixed use) building fully leased we still probably couldn’t finance it.”
– Alan Roodhouse, RPS Development

“Making decisions based on criteria instead of populist demands is difficult.”
– Wendie Kellington, Developer attorney

“With this large of a store, I think you’re going to have considerably more traffic issues than are being realized at this point.”
– Sandi King

“It’s true that change can be disruptive, but without it we can’t have progress.”
– Eric Meurer

“Has there been a community retail impact review done by the city? … Or are we just supposed to believe the land developer?”
– Carol Doerfler

“The Council doesn’t have the latitude to say, ‘Oh we changed our mind and we’re not going to allow anything over 10,000 square feet.’ That decision has been made.”
– Nate Brown, Comm. Dev. Director

“Let the people voice their desires by waiting for the results of this election and then act on the plans for Area C.  Otherwise, it seems obvious that the desires of the developer are more important than the desires of the citizens who elected you into your positions.”
– Rhonda Rich

“Would you want your neighbors and the rest of the city to be able to vote on what you do with that property after you’ve applied?”
– Shannon Johnson, City Attorney

“We believe this plan will ignite living wage job possibilities (and) will generate additional customers for River Road businesses.”
– Rich Duncan, Keizer Chamber president

“It seems there’s no pleasing them unless development is stopped. Period.”
– Letter from former Councilor Jacque Moir

“You are being perceived … as ramrodding this through against the will of the citizens.”

– Daniel Evans

Girls bowling headed to state

The McNary girls bowling team, (front to back) Carissa Ventura, Ashley Mayne, LeAnne Miller, Jocee Freeman and Marrisa Miller, will compete in the state tournament as a wild card team Saturday, Feb. 26. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

It’s not unusual for the McNary girls bowling team to get a bit rowdy on the lanes.

“We tend to get really loud, but it’s how we get our play going and it’s the thing that helps us bond as a great team,” said Marrisa Miller, a senior on the team.

It’s hard to argue with the strategy, while the team ended the season in third place in the district, the girls earned themselves an invite to the state tournament as a wild card. Team captain Jocee Freeman rolled into the ranks of the district’s All Star Team during the district tournament and several other Celts missed the team by just a few marks. Two wild card slots in the state tournament are offered to the third place teams in the district with the most teams overall.

“Even though we didn’t take first in districts, we’re making it to state and that was one of our major goals,” said Carissa Ventura.

Getting in as a wild card should not at all reflect adversely on the the team itself, said Kathy Kaplan, who co-coaches the team with Ted Natividad.

“These girls are fun to work with, they believe in themselves and they want to represent McNary well,”

PROGRESS REPORT: Keizer Food Bank taps new leader

Of the Keizertimes

A few years ago, when Paul Morgan was just the director of the John Knox Food Bank, he was told by someone that he needed to think bigger – outside the box. So he did.

In the intervening time, connections he fostered with other churches paved the way for a larger space at Faith Lutheran Church and brought the the force of six churches and other communities to bear on the mission of eradicating hunger in the Keizer area.

“We said, ‘We hear your hunger and we’re here to alleviate it,’” Morgan said.

The combined forces of the churches and other community volunteers allowed the food bank to open an additional day, which proved useful as tough times settled in. Last month, Morgan stepped aside from his duties as director paving the way for Curt McCormack to take the reins of the food bank and bring his vision to bear on its future.

“I’m very satisfied with where we are, but one of the things we’re realizing is that we’re no longer just a church group, but it’s almost a small business and we need to make decisions that will make us more efficient,” McCormack said.

In 2010, about 150 volunteers gave more than 22,200 hours to distribute 24,693 pounds of food in 12,186 food boxes to area residents. By volume, it’s become the fourth largest food bank served by the Marion-Polk Food Share. In addition to food boxes, volunteers distributed stuffed animals, backpacks and other items to families in need.

About a quarter of the clients the food bank serves each week are new to the system, McCormack said.

“If there’s 30 people at a service, seven or eight are probably first time clients,” McCormack said.

One of McCormack’s immediate goals moving forward is bringing more churches into the fold to join John Knox Presbyterian, Faith Lutheran, Keizer Christian, St. Edward Catholic, Keizer Clear Lake United Methodist and Calvary Baptist.

“We’ve got six different churches coming together and the lines that might be seen as divisions, just disappear,” McCormack said. “We are truly one body of Christ and there room for more.”

To that end, McCormack is hoping to renew the food bank’s focus on educating the Keizer community about local need and the need for healthful food, not just whatever was over in the cabinet when the food drive was scheduled.

“It’s a small portion of the community that is knowing and active and we will be doing what we can to change that,” McCormack said.

Part of that effort in that area is directed at some of the area’s youngest residents, students.

“Every year, Cummings students conduct a food drive and come down to the food bank to help us sort and stock the pantry items. A group from Salem-Keizer’s developmentally disabled kids comes in and helps whenever they can. Scout leaders call to see if their troops can help. Barbara Roberts High School students make door swags for us to give out,” said Nancy Morgan, food bank spokesperson.

In passing the baton to McCormack, Paul sees a lot of blue sky ahead.

“We’re only limited by our imagination,” he said. “We have to reinvent ourselves again and put our name in people’s minds.”

PROGRESS REPORT: Budget cuts top concern for local schools

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer principals are preparing for what they expect to be a difficult transition into a period of drastic cutting.

“The difference is that up until now, the district has done everything they can to tighten their belt and it’s coming down it affecting the schools themselves,” said Colleen Johnson, principal of Claggett Creek Middle School.

Husk delivered Salem-Keizer’s budget message on Feb. 22 and said the district will lose about $23 million from its general fund. Preliminary looks have district officials eyeing cuts of between 250 to 400 teachers, up to 230 support staffers, and as many as 16 administrators and closing schools with fewer than 200 students. Community members will have the opportunity for input at meetings scheduled March 29 and April 26 at locations to be determined.

“We are committed to having as little negative impact on instruction, programs and jobs as possible,” said John Honey, McNary High School principal.

Throughout Keizer, and the school district general, officials are already looking for opportunities to adjust their budgets, but they’re trying to be realistic with teachers and parents.

“We need them to understand that things are going to change and we’re not going to be able to offer the things that we currently offer so we may be having more fundraisers for things we could cover through the regular budget,” said Laura Perez, Whiteaker Middle School principal.

The budget crisis arrives at a time when state standards are increasing despite elevated levels of student achievement. At Weddle Elementary School, student achieved some of their highest levels ever last year in Adequate Yearly Progress goals mandated by No Child Left Behind, but will need to do 10 percent better this year to continue on pace, said Samantha Ragaisis, Weddle pricinpal.

“We just can’t give up,” she said. “Money is coming off every year and the focus has to be on the children. People and students are going to be impacted, but if we keep focusing on that negative energy, it’s only going to breed more of it.”

At McNary, the focus for the coming year will be on this year’s juniors who must pass the state reading test as part of the new 2012 state graduation requirements, Honey said.

Claggett Creek was honored last year as the Celebrating Student Success Champion by the Oregon Department of Education for making significant progress in closing the achievement gap and helping minority and low income students succeed. This year they’ve been nominated for a follow-up award, Continuing Student Success.

Both Claggett and Weddle inhabit a role different from most of their counterparts within Keizer with many students coming from families living close to or below federal poverty levels.

“Teachers here have to dig a little bit harder and a little bit deeper for the success of their students,” Ragaisis said.

Ragaisis and Perez both credited the success of students throughout the district to the precise targeting of student needs.

“It’s about making sure we’re doing all that we can for students, especially those that struggling with content standards and making certain that we know where we are with every student and what it’s going to take to get them to the next level,” Perez said.

Databooks maintained on each student allows teachers to identify struggling students and develop curriculums that will help them and other students facing similar problems, Ragaisis said.

Moving forward, each of the principals contacted were grateful for the continued support of their communities and parents, but wanted to remind Keizer parents that there is always room for more involvement.

“As we deal with the budget crisis during the next couple of years, parental support, input and patience will be very important.  keeping an open and positive dialogue will go a long way in maintaining a positive environment at our schools,” Honey said. “While the story may read a little differently than in past years, the final chapter should essential be the same. Our students will complete high school and head off into the world, confident and prepared for whatever lies ahead.”

PROGRESS REPORT: How has a rough economy affected crime in Keizer?

Of the Keizertimes

A funny thing happened in 2009, despite a recession that didn’t get any better during the year.

Calls for service for burglaries and auto theft in Keizer plummeted by 31 percent from the previous year. Thefts from vehicles fell about 40 percent from 2008 levels. Even shoplifting saw a slight decline.

So when you see burglaries and vehicle break-ins jump by about a third in 2010, it’s not necessarily a brand new crime wave.

Rather, the numbers for at least burglaries and auto break-ins got back up to levels seen in 2007 and 2008.

Other types of calls, including drugs and those involving interpersonal conflict, have been steadily rising.

Non-criminal domestic incident calls went up 19 percent in 2010 after rising 16 percent in 2009. Assaults were up 21 percent in 2010, and rose by 11 percent in 2009.

“Disturbances are an example where it would not be unordinary to see an increase,” said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns. “People have lost jobs, unemployment benefits have come to an end and it’s really easy to see citizens become the subject of the stress this can cause.”

But Kuhns cautioned outside influences and other factors could sway call for service numbers, including increased patrols.

“There are more officers making traffic stops and contacting suspicious persons,” Kuhns said, “and this leads to more case numbers being issued to document their activity.”

And while – thankfully – murders in Keizer are few and far between, there’s been two in the first two months of 2011 after only one in the preceding six years. The death of Lisa Zielinski, 39, is attributed to possible domestic violence; her husband is in the Marion County Jail after being indicted for her murder. The case of Christine Speten, who was found dead in her Orchard Court apartment last week, is still under investigation.

Calls for service regarding Auto theft has declined for the past three years running, a statistic Keizer shares with Salem. Calls for drugs and narcotics rose 35 percent in 2010 after going up 14 percent in 2009.

PROGRESS RPEORT: Retirement community plans grand expansion

Of The Keizertimes

Emerald Pointe Retirement Community is breaking ground this spring on cottage units designed for the active retiree.

Jeff Hawkins, owner and manager of the north Keizer facility, said 11 units will be complete by around July. He plans a total of 38 two bedroom, two-bath homes for those who may want to downsize, but can still function independently.

“It allows us to appeal to that younger person, recently retired, who is more mobile and wants to get out and travel,” Hawkins said.

Walking paths will meander throughout the 11-acre campus, wide enough for golf carts. Each unit has a garage with a charger for a cart, Hawkins said, “so in the morning it’s ready to go.”

The units will be part of a gated community, and each one will have an emergency call button. They will be what Hawkins called “handicap-adaptable” – meaning infrastructure is in place for things like grab bars in the bathtub, but they won’t be initially installed.

In addition, Hawkins said, he’s beginning the process of developing what will be a 95-unit assisted care facility on the Emerald Pointe campus. He expects that building to open in about two years.

Their existing building has 144 residential units. Hawkins hopes Emerald Pointe will be a place where retirees can “age-in-place.”

“A couple can move into a cottage in their early to mid 70s, remain independent and active,” Hawkins said. “When they get tired of doing the cooking and things like that they can come to more of an apartment setting here in the big building.”

Once the assisted living facility is complete, Hawkins said, couples who need differing levels of individual care can remain on the same campus “instead of having to drive across town.

“Our goal has always been to allow families to stay together as much as possible and not force them to be separated,” Hawkins said.

PROGRESS REPORT: Volcanoes Stadium contract reaches midway point

Of the Keizertimes

Fifteen years ago, city officials signed a contract with the owner of the Volcanoes that was a hot-button issue for many involved.

“The biggest point of contention was the tax-exempt status, some people wanted the property to be tax-exempt for the life of the contract and others saw it differently,” said Shannon Johnson, Keizer city attorney.

In the end, the stadium and parking lot was was exempted from property taxes for the first 10 years aside from a nominal $1 fee. Since the 2006-07 tax year, Salem-Keizer Sports Enterprises, L.L.C., has been paying full property taxes on the entire property amounting to $73,784.69 in 2010, or $25,893.47 on the parking lot and $47,891.22 on the stadium itself, said Susan Gahlsdorf, city finance director. Property taxes are paid to Marion County, but Keizer receives a portion.

The long-term contract was inked for a total of 29 years with an option to extend for an additional eight years. The city also chipped in about $3 million to purchase additional property at the site that was needed for the stadium and the parking lot and to cover infrastructure cost.

The city opted out of stadium ownership when officials determined it was beyond the means and capacity of the city to do so at that time, Johnson said.

“It was good for the team, but it meant less money in the coffers for the city. Realistically, though, the city din’t have anyone with the expertise necessary to run the stadium and didn’t have the capacity to hire someone to do it.”

In addition to the $1 minimum rent the city receives on the property, the city receives 5 percent of  gross ticket and rental receipts, and 20 percent of gross earnings on the parking lot. Sales from concessions, souvenirs and and advertising revenues are exempted. In the most recent year for which data was available, the city received $42,390 in 2010 as a result of the percentage sales, Gahlsdorf said.

The contract with the city also provides for community members to hold approved events at the stadium for steeply discounted rates. Qualifying events include: those directly associated with public schools within Keizer; youth sporting events hosted by city-affiliated organizations such as Keizer Little League, Pop Warner, Keizer Soccer, American Softball Association, Babe Ruth and American Legion events; Events sponsored by the city or recognized Keizer neighborhood associations; and city-approved events for which no admission is charged. Community events must also be scheduled by Feb. 15 each year. While the number of such events is capped at no more than 24 annually, typically no more than a handful occur.

PROGRESS REPORT: River Road doing okay, not great

Of the Keizertimes

How has River Road fared during the recession?

The analysis seems to be: OK, but not great.

“My gut feeling is it’s fairing reasonably well compared to a lot of other areas,” said James Hauge of Legacy Real Estate.

Last year about this time the Keizertimes ran a report on retail vacancies on River Road.

Pam Rushing of Coldwell Banker Commercial puts the River Road vacancy rate at about 15 percent. It was at 13.3 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

Since then, there have been small businesses opening here and there, but no new major tenants have located on River Road in the past year.

Rushing thinks Keizer Station has a lot to do with why national retailers are overlooking River Road. The development did well for itself in 2010, snagging Old Navy, Marshalls and Ulta Cosmetics. The latter two will fill the former Wickes Furniture location after the parent company went bankrupt. The empty Circuit City building – also a casualty of a massive bankruptcy filing – is being utilized as an indoor soccer facility by the Keizer Soccer Club.

“Keizer Station is doing better than a year ago,” Rushing said, but she thinks it could be at the expense of River Road.

“I know a lot of people really like Keizer Station and it’s been a good destination for people and it’s nice to have it there, but it’s really hurting River Road,” Rushing said. But she did note “mom and pops” are looking at River Road – “and that’s not necessarily bad.

“Unless they have quite a bit of money, they’re a brand name, they’re not going to be able to afford to go into Keizer Station,” Rushing said.

Both Rushing and Lorene McMurrin of SMI believe River Road is hanging in there with the Lancaster Drive area, but lagging behind Commercial Street SE.

“I think the biggest factor is traffic counts,” McMurrin said. “River Road doesn’t have the same kind of traffic counts as Commercial, and definitely not Lancaster.”

Agents told us last year businesses new to the area often look to either Lancaster or Commercial Street Southeast to put a first location. If all goes well, they may look to the other, like Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The popular restaurant opened on Lancaster Drive last year, and announced a second location on – you guessed it, Commercial Street SE.

“There’s an excellent traffic count (on Commercial) but also higher incomes,” McMurrin said. “The median income is also higher in south Salem than it is on Lancaster.”

Or they might look to “secondary” markets like west Salem or Keizer.

So what are the landlords sitting on empty property doing to get more tenants in the door?

“The landlords that are doing the best and the centers that are the most healthy – the landlords are giving concessions, either a shorter-term lease, less of a lease payment … and sometimes tenant improvements,” Rushing said.

“They will work with a tenant, particularly one with good credit and who would prefer a long-term lease,” McMurrin said. “But that isn’t necessarily happening.”

The fear is risk, particularly from an up-and-coming business without big resources to fall back on.

But Rushing said there were “several sales in 2010 that were significant,” including Bimart’s purchase of a former palm reader’s home, and two complexes in south Keizer.

“As far as leasing, I would say it has improved slightly or stayed the same,” Rushing said.

Keizer has at least one thing going for it: “There’s less population out that way, but it’s a wonderful community and has people that support their community,” McMurrin said.