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Day: February 18, 2011

School district survey will arrive in inboxes March 1

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Superintendent Sandy Husk of the Salem-Keizer School District wants to hear from parents and community members about its communication efforts.

The survey, in both English and Spanish, will be e-mailed March 1 to parents and interested community members. Parents and community members who would like to receive the survey should e-mail Karma Krause at [email protected] by Tuesday, Feb. 22.

The survey is part of a national study to improve communication within school districts, with about 100 districts participating.

Conducting the survey is the National School Public Relations Association, through a survey company, K12 Insight, Inc. It is provided to the district at no cost. All responses will be kept confidential; e-mail addresses are not associated with responses, and data will not personally identify participants.

Parents whose e-mails are on file with the district will receive invitations Tuesday or thereabouts. The survey will be open for three weeks, and anyone not wishing to participate may opt out by clicking an e-mail link.

And your 2011 Senior Idols are…

Eileen Booth, aka the Flapper Tapper, performs (Jason Cox/KEIZERTIMES)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The TV show that inspired the Senior Idol contest at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community has a strict age limit – no one under 16 and over 28.

At the Senior Idol, however, only 65 and older need apply.

Eleven entrants entertained folks at the retirement home in north Keizer Friday, Feb. 4, with a variety of musical and dancing styles to offer.

“Cowboy” Ken Gaskin took home the crown for King of the Senior Idol competition, while Eileen Booth – better known to some as The Flapper Tapper – was this year’s queen. Both live in West Salem.

Gaskin sang two tunes: Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” and the spiritual “How Great Thou Art.”

At age 72, Gaskin regularly takes his classic country act to retirement homes throughout the Willamette Valley.

“What I do is songs they remember from years back and songs they probably hadn’t heard for 50 years – Gene Autry and that sort of thing,” Gaskin said.

Booth said she’d been shy to share her age in previous years, but this year she was proud to say she was 84 years old.

“It was last night I decided I should tell my age,” she said. “I always kept it a secret but I thought I could be inspirational to seniors.”

Booth then was told just that by Arlene Egli.

She plans to donate her $125 prize to a local pet charity. Gaskin, who worked as a typesetter and in newspaper press rooms for many years, wasn’t sure yet.

“If I was a nice person I’d probably just turn it back in and say do something nice for the old folks,” Gaskin said. “I’ll have to give that some thought.”

Booth was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, then moved to Montreal. During World War II she entertained Canadian soldiers, and became an American citizen when she moved to Salem 30 years ago.

“I don’t have to take drugs to get high – all I have to do is dance and sing,” she said.

Performers included Melba Henderson on violin, singing by Judy Chartier, Jenny Hitchcock, Noor Chukavarty and the duo of Jack and Edith Tankersley, fiddle by Lou and Alice Holt, piano by David Jaynes and a saxophone-keyboard duet courtesy of Don and Pat Schuetz. Juliet Royal sang and danced the rumba.

What’s best for Keizer

Measure 24-314, the initiative that Keizer will vote on in March, presents residents with two visions of the city.  How one sees Keizer in the future will determine how they will vote.

This is not a Solomon’s choice—Keizer can’t have it both ways. Citizen survey consistently say they like the small town feel of Keizer.  Keizer consumers like the Pleasantville-ness of our city but many also favor discount retailers, especially grocery stores.  Keizer cannot maintain its current quality and have big retail developments sitting next to long-established neighborhoods.

Opponents of Measure 24-314 such as the city council and developers should not take the silence of a majority of Keizer citizens for the approval to charge ahead.

There are a number of issues opponents cite.  They use terms such as “job killing” and “anti-business.”

Jobs in Keizer

Would the passage of Measure 24-314 put an end to job creation in Keizer?  Of course not.  Putting limits on where in Keizer big box retail stores can be located won’t affect the drive to turn Keizer into a medical hub.

Living wage jobs in the medical field is what Mayor Lore Christopher has been  heralding since it was announced that Salem Radiology Consultants would build a clinic in Keizer Station at the corner of Lockhaven Drive and McLeod Lane.  Those are the day-time jobs that are the future for Keizer.

National retailers build bigger and bigger stores and there just isn’t room for anymore outside of the developed part of Keizer Station.  When it comes to jobs Keizer needs to continue a campaign to attract more health care industry businesses.

A large retail store may have many employees on its books but many of those jobs are part-time, no benefits positions.  Can a family live on the wage a retailer pays?  Measure 24-314 won’t affect medical buildings and that’s where the focus of jobs should be.

Anti-business?

Saying that passage of the measure would be like hanging a big “Closed for Business” sign over Keizer is just politics.  Keizer has never been anti-business, from its first days as a city up to today.  The mayor of Keizer has repeatedly said that she and the city council are pro-business.  Who isn’t?

“Anti-business” suggests that no new businesses of any kind would be welcome to Keizer.  That’s nonsense.  Consumers need to purchase goods and services and they want to do so locally and conveniently.  Opposing an strip club or a monstrous retail building next to homes or schools is not anti-business, it is pro-neighborhood.

In place of decrying the measure as anti-business, opponents should come up with a program to recruit the types of businesses that would not overwhelm a neighborhood but would create living wage jobs.

Livability

The petitioners and supporters of the measure paint the measure as being nothing more than the desire to keep Keizer’s neighborhoods livable and desirable while maintaining property values.

Measure 24-314 is not only an issue for those who live within a stone’s throw of Area C at Keizer Station.  It should also be an issue for homeowners in southwest Keizer, homeowners along the Cherry Avenue corridor and homeowners in the north River River-Wheatland Road area. A developer could conceivably build an oversize building on River Road and Manbrin Drive or on Cherry Avenue and Alder or in the large field at the corner of River Road and Manzanita.

You can’t maintain a small town feel if your main traffic arterial is home to huge retail developers.  Traffic is already a source of complaint, especially during rush hour.  Residents of quaint, small towns shouldn’t have to be faced with bumper to bumper traffic on the town’s main road.

Yes

The sky will not fall if Measure 24-314 passes.  It may well be an irritant to developers, but aside from Area C we haven’t noticed retailers banging on Keizer’s door to be let in.  Of course the economy has something to do about that, but we suspect that most big, national retailers want to be where they can attract the most shoppers and that would be the Keizer Station area.

That’s why downtown Salem doesn’t have huge retail buildings, they tend to opt for south Commercial Street or Lancaster Drive, because that’s where the shoppers are.

Keizer has always been open for business.  If the people want a say where and what type of businesses come to the city, their views must be heeded.  Keizer consumers have a duty, too.  They need to do as much shopping in their community as possible to maintain small retailers.

The free market system is built on competition. Any small business in Keizer’s central core should not roll over and surrender to big box retailers; they need to be sure they can offer in goods and services what Keizer consumers want.  A free market is organic; the people will decide what succeeds and what does not in a free market.

Measure 24-314 may not stop the development in Area C but a yes vote will assure that the citizens have a hand in deciding what kind of city they want to live in.

Keizer is not anti-business and neither are we.  We will support responsible development that will keep Keizer one of the most desirable addresses in the mid-Willamette Valley.  A yes vote on Measure 24-314 will do that.

—LAZ

Celt boys lay claim to district title

The McNary boys varsity swim team celebrates their victory in the district tournament Saturday, Feb. 12. (Photo submitted by Bill Donaldson)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

On the road to a district title, the McNary boys varsity team did everything possible to keep their focus on the team.

The team’s captains did their best to make certain teammates stood vigil at the end of McNary’s lanes to cheer on their contestants and even opened up their annual bleaching party to all members of the team. It’s a testament to that mentality that the team won the district title without placing first in a single individual event.

“I’m really proud of the way the team pulled together and did exactly what we wanted to do, we worked with the little events and took second and third and seventh and eighth and get those points. We didn’t win any individual event, which is a sign of the depth of our team and the fact that we truly are a team,” said Celt Mason Grine.

The only events the boys team did win were the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. In the 200 medley, Dominic Meyer, Forest Feltner, Grine and Kevin Groves not only trailed for the first three legs, but had a fast enough overall swim to set a new district meet record of 1:44.2.

“Winning that medley was one of the greatest things and taking the district record by less than half of a second made it even better,” Grine said.

The team of Meyer, Perry Groves, Ryan Tesdal and K. Groves topped the podium in the 200 free relay in 1:33.51.

Other placers for the boys team were: Tesdal, who took second in the 200 free with a time of 1:53.79; Grine, who took third in the 200 free with a time of 2:00.12; K. Groves, who landed in second in the 50 free with a time of 22.65 and third in the 100 free with a time of 51.07; Meyer, who took second in the 100 free with a time of 49.14 and the 100 back with a time of 56.93; and Forest Feltner, who scored a lifetime best of 1:05.18 in the 100 breast. McNary’s Seth Miller, Grine, Tyler Willems and Tesdal grabbed third place in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:35.66. As a team, the Celts totaled 262 points, 14 ahead of South Salem High School who landed in second.

When seedings were announced for the state tournament, Meyer grabbed the No. 9 seed in the 100 free and K. Groves nabbed the No. 10 seed in 50 free.

The Lady Celts took fifth in the district tournament, but the 200 free relay team of Laura Donaldson, Jade Boyd, and Rachel and Hannah Hittner took second with a time of 1:47.30 and qualified for a state berth. McNary entered the race seeded fourth.

“Our attitude made the difference. We were really positive compared to some of the other teams,” Hannah said.

Despite some nerves about the individual events, she also qualified for the state tournament in the 50 and 100 free.

Head coach Kim Phillips said the district tournament success was a credit to the drive of the team’s elder members.

“The group of seniors we had was focused and it was a credit to them,” she said.

Does big box fit vision?

Planning commissioners seemed unable in the Area C hearings to see the big box for the trees.

We hope the Keizer City Council doesn’t have the same problem.

In our opinion the commission started from the wrong perspective: The body essentially took the proposed 116,000 square foot big box as a given, and proposed modest steps to make it not quite-so-unacceptable to neighbors.

But while the commission discussed how tall a tree should be or whether it should lose its leaves every year, essential questions remain unaddressed:

•  Even if it is zoned for commercial development, is a giant discount grocer compatible with single-family homes just a few hundred feet away?

• Should analysis of traffic impact be limited to a developer-funded study? We don’t have a basis to challenge the numbers within the study, but we believe traffic impacts to the already-overburdened Chemawa-Verda intersection and a newly-created shortcut from McLeod to Ridge Drive to Keizer Road should be part of the discussion.

• Were exhaustive efforts made to develop Keizer Station Area C in the manner originally envisioned, with smaller stores?

In the past, our city council has proven more apt to grill the director of a volunteer library about where a few hundred bucks would be spent than to challenge our most well-heeled developer. We believe the council has failed thus far to address what a big box in Area C – agree or disagree – represents: A transformation from a busy, yet residential neighborhood to a commercial district that could one day stretch all the way down Chemawa to River Road.

And that’s OK – if that’s what residents want. Our city council has taken a laissez faire attitude towards development, and significant opposition – in the form of electoral opponents – has not materialized.

On one level, this would signal approval of this attitude.

But we’re reminded of what we heard, over and over again, at the visioning sessions: Keizerites young and old like the small-town feeling (even though we’re the 14th largest city in the state) and want to preserve it.

They also want “a variety of work opportunities,” ranked further development as “less important” and consider supporting local business “important.”

Read into that what you will. But the planning commission seemed either unable or unwilling to evaluate whether a big box discount grocer at Lockhaven and Chemawa fit within this vision.

In fact, the vision – that one we paid a consultant to compile – never came up.

And if our leaders are going to pay an outside consultant to come listen to what we have to say, then let their report gather dust on a shelf, what was the point?

—KT

A case for free range cats

By SID SCHAIN

I have followed with interest the enacting of legislation which allows a homeowner to keep a maximum of three hens.

Roosters are not allowed due to their enthusiastic crowing while greeting the dawn and during the day as a proclamation of their suzerainty over their enclosure and their hens. This was granted despite the complaints of the possibility of odor and noise, and the attraction of mice or rats which might emanate from such an enclosure.  Dogs and cats for domestic pets have been allowed literally for eons.  Dogs, however are not permitted to be off leash when away from their normal enclosure.  For sanitary reasons, owners walking their dogs are required to collect stools that their animals might leave while being exercised away from their enclosures.  Authorities have issued warnings to owners of dogs whose barking exceeds certain levels for sound and continuity as a source of irritation to nearby residents.

I note with abhorrence and disgust the presence of free ranging cats on my property.  The brass kick plate on my entry door as well as the wheels on my automobile serve as totems, or sign posts declarative of territorial prerogatives in what is literally a pissing contest between the male cats in the area.  The territorial rights allowed by these markings are often disputed by rivals through late night arguments which for cats is mind numbing caterwauling. The seduction of the females is also accomplished in much the same manner with like sounding nocturnal testaments of adoration and desire. I have had to concede these complaints to the owners of their cats about this, as it is a normal thing for cats to do.

I sorrow over the loss of many of the birds that I feed, which for the well fed cats is just a sport they enjoy. They stalk the fish in my pond, though their unwillingness to swim limits their effectiveness at this sport, though I have had fish with scratches from their attempts at a snatch and grab. I have several raised beds in which I grow table vegetables as well as flowers. I till, aerate and weed these beds to better the appearance, production and nutritive values of my plantings.  It is a disgusting and odoriferous chore to have to daily clean them of cat stools as well. This chore is reminiscent of the duties of the “honeybucket men,” a lowcaste chore noted in the orient, that of emptying and cleaning their lords latrines.

A serious downside to free ranging cats emerges with the knowledge that most dogs enthusiastically consume stools left in their yards by these cats. I have heard from dog owners that these are called “kitty roca.” I suspect that some of these cats could indeed be feral.  That raises the probability of the cross infection of intestinal parasites to treasured pet dogs.

Interestingly during the winter months when the raised bed are untilled and muddy, the cats deign to empty their bowels on the surface of my driveway or anyplace that wouldn’t soil their tush. A complaint to one of the cat’s owners about this brought the clever rejoiner of: “that stuff is good fertilizer,” which of course it is not.  I no longer enjoy raw root vegetables from those beds.  I don’t dislike cats, I have had them as pets. Most felines are content to remain indoors, warm house, comfy nest, a clean box to vacate their alimentary canal in and warm laps to doze on.

I am afraid that I didn’t make much of a case for allowing cats to free range.  That was not my intent…My intent was to foster a common interest in disallowing what they alone as pets enjoy.

Sid Schain lives in Keizer.

Claggett after school program wants to offer more, needs hands

Rebecca Kuenzi edges a heart-shaped pillow. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

As coordinator of Claggett Creek Middle School’s Before and After School Enrichment Program, Melissa Shrout has a long list of programs she would like to provide to the 70 students who stay after school.

“Our programs generally focus on creative activities, but we always have requests for photography programs, cartooning, journalism and creative writing, and video production,” Shrout said.

But like many in the education field, her programs won’t be immune to the projected $58 million shortfall projected within the Salem-Keizer School District. She’s hoping that Keizer’s volunteers will be will find time in their schedule to make sure that B.A.S.E.’s programs continue apace.

“There’s so many talents out there that people have and they’re looking for a place to direct them, and volunteering at the schools opens up doors for linking the school to the community,” Shrout said.

Two of the current programs spend their time making heart-shaped pillows for hospital patients and finishing quilts for children at Salem’s Liberty House.

While special talents are appreciated, those who are simply good mentors are also important. Shrout recently added Panther Place, a sort of retro console arcade, that’s been a huge draw. While participants enjoy the video gaming, room monitors make certain they’re picking up social skills along the way.

“It’s a time to build a connections within the kids, but learning social skills and when friendly competitiveness becomes hurtful bullying,” she said.

Dancing classes ranging from jerk dancing to Latin dancing have been a major hit as well, but students are also provided quiet space for homework and tutoring if needed. Shrout would also like to add more foreign language options to B.A.S.E.’s Spanish class.

“Basically, the kids want anything that gets them out of the realm of doing homework, but we also have kids that take advantage of a quiet spot to work on homework or enrich their school experience,” Shrout said.

Volunteers need only give about an hour a week to take part in the program and will need to pass a district background check. Spring B.A.S.E. classes begin in April, so those hoping to get involved should get in touch now by calling Shrout at 503-399-3233, or via e-mail at [email protected]

Council: return to policy making

To the Editor:

Based on current world events, a change in Keizer’s government may not be needed. More a change in accountability may fill the bill.

It seems that over time our council/manager form of government has become a bit single-faceted. It is time for the council to re-establish its role as policy maker and critical evaluator of staff recommendations to the council. The pledge to make deliberations leading up to council action more publicly observable should make Keizer’s government appear to be more than a mere rubber stamp for staff decisions.

Marty Matiskainen
Keizer

Gubser needs SMART readers

Volunteer Tobbi Oakes reads with Mercedes Cisneros during a recent session at Gubser. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Gubser Elementary School’s Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) program has only been up and running for a short time and it’s already helping 14 students.

With more volunteers, it could serve the 40 on its waiting list, too.

“We want to turn these kids into readers by grade three, because after third grade they need to read to learn,” said Laura Danner, Gubser SMART site coordinator.

SMART pairs students in need of reading assistance with community volunteers who read with them for half an hour each week. While the participating students typically read with volunteers twice a week, volunteers only need to commit to a single hour at Gubser on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

During the hour, volunteers read with two different students for a half an hour, but volunteers are paired with the same students through the end of the school year.

Students are identified by their teachers for the extra help based on a several different variables ranging from the need for additional reading help, to a limited access to books at home, or simply benefitting from the relationship with a caring adult.

Volunteer Tobbi Oakes, a retiree from the service industry, has made volunteering part of her life for as long as she can remember, but said helping students provides her with an refreshing window on the world.

“The kids help you see life in a much different way,” Oakes said. “ But I enjoy seeing the progress, too. They’re reading at a much higher level than I remember reading at when I was their age.”

While there is still much she would like to accomplish, Danner said the program still surprises her in many ways.

“One of the best things has been learning what it really takes to bring a child up to their reading level, but I’ve been able to use the skills I learned as part of the program when picking books for my kids or the ones I care for after school,” she said.

When she started, she also thought the free books the programs supplies would be the biggest draw for students, but it turned out to be the relationships the students formed with the volunteers.

“Last week, we had one student who missed her reading day and she skipped all the way from her classroom to her mentor saying, ‘I missed you, I missed you,’” Danner said.

For more information about the Gubser SMART program, contact Danner at [email protected], or by leaving a message at the school, 503-399-3275. To sign up as a volunteer, visit www.getsmartoregon.org.

Area A and Area C

To the Editor:

In 2004, the Keizer City Council adopted the Keizer Station master plan. Their requirement was:

1. Area A:  Site all big box retail stores here, which has the infrastructure to handle the large volumes of traffic.

2. Area C:  Protect the Keizer residents in the neighborhood just west of Area C, by prohibiting giant 120,000 sq ft retail stores, which would bring traffic into the area 24 hours a day.

The City Council inserted this in the Keizer Station’s own master plan:

“The objectives for Keizer Station, according to the master plan, are to enhance the economic activity within the community without threatening the economic health and redevelopment activities along the River Road and Cherry Avenue corridors.”

It was explained to us that with the combination of zoning requirements and the master plan above would ensure 50 percent of retail dollars would be spent at Keizer Station and 50 percent of retail dollars would continue to be spent along River Road.

Now those safeguards to keep River Road a viable part of Keizer have been removed. Roth’s is getting involved because “bait and switch” tactics are not acceptable behavior for anybody in business or government.  In our opinion, the bait and switch that occurred in Area C clearly goes against the original intention of the freeway development and the original intention of ensuring a vibrant River Road retail area.

Envision a true mixed development in Area C.  Protect the neighbors just to the west and keep River Road and the west side of Keizer intact with the current businesses that have supported the Keizer Community for these many years.

Vote “YES” on 24-314 and send in your ballot today.  Support local businesses.

Michael Roth
Salem

The writer is president of Roth’s Fresh Markets.