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Day: May 2, 2011

Keizer man arrested on child porn charges

An investigation by Oregon State Police (OSP) Criminal Investigations Division detectives into unlawful possession of child pornography led to the arrest of a Keizer-area man Friday afternoon.

Eric Han-Christian Suess, age 43, from Keizer, was arrested April 29 at 5:45 p.m., by OSP detectives at the OSP Salem Area Command office. Suess was indicted earlier in the week by a Marion County Grand Jury on 20 counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse in the First Degree, a Class B felony.  He was lodged in the Marion County Jail.  Bail is listed at $400,000.

OSP detectives from the Salem and Portland offices conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Marion County District Attorney’s Office and Oregon Health Authority.

Suess was honored by the Keizer Fire District last year as a property saver for calling 9-1-1 when a fire broke out at a neighbor’s house and he alerted them to the flames allowing them to exit the home before coming to harm.

Keizer teen belts tunes for ‘Idol’ producers

Lucy McAvoy

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Lucy McAvoy might be willing to face down some of the producers of American Idol, but she still gets nervous at the prospect of singing in front of her father.

“I taught myself to play guitar and I write a lot of my own stuff, but then I don’t do anything with it,” McAvoy said. “That was kind of the point of doing the Idol audition, it was my opportunity to see if it was the industry I want to be in and what the next steps would be.”

McAvoy attended a modeling and acting audition two weeks ago in Florida and made the most of her time by tacking on an audition at the American Idol Experience in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.

She managed to secure one of the final audition times of the day, but was told not to expect very much.

“The person I talked to said it gets harder to get in later in the day because the director has certain things he’s looking for,” she said. “I was really nervous, I got really cold and started to shake. I was freaking out, but as soon as the music started, I was fine.”

Her performance of Katy Perry’s Firework was enough to get the director’s attention and he sent her along to the producers, where she performed Breakaway by Idol original Kelly Clarkson.

“It was dream of mine to perform that song on an Idol stage,” McAvoy said. It also got her through to the live show at the park with audiences voting for her performances alongside two other contestants.

While she didn’t make it to the final round that might have lead to an opportunity to try out for the actual FOX show, she did receive unexpected encouragement to keep trying.

“After the show, one of the producers came up and told me I need to be singing because I can go somewhere with it,” McAvoy, 17, said.

She eventually received a callback for a potential modeling gig, but it’s the potential to move forward in music that has her most excited.

“I like acting because I like being able to step back and get away from everything in my life, but you can lose yourself for what other people want you to be. My music is the place where I can be myself,” McAvoy said.

The one thing she discovered in the process of the audition was just how much effort – and confidence – it’s going to take to be successful.

“I would need to get myself out there,” McAvoy, a junior at Salem Academy, said. “There’s different websites where you can do covers or independent songs and build a fanbase. I need to put things out there and see how people respond.”

McAvoy is the daughter of Marc and Susie McAvoy of Keizer.

Schools slate budget input meetings

By HERB SWETT
Of the Keizertimes

“Educational funding in Oregon is very volatile.”

Sandy Husk, superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District, said that in Tuesday night’s budget committee presentation at Claggett Creek Middle School.

It was the first in a series of public meetings on the proposed 2011-12 budget, which at a total of $609, 561,032 is about $54 million less than the current budget. The meeting, with a slide show, focused on cuts Husk and budget committee members said were necessary to maintain the quality of education in the district while complying with budgetary laws.

“Our graduation results,” Husk said at the start of her presentation, came out today and looked very good.” She said the administration and budget committee had been focusing on maintaining the progress of completion of school as the object of the cuts they were reluctantly proposing.

One of the slides was headed with the question, “How do you decide what to cut?”  Answers included the vision for the school system, the strategic plan, community listening sessions to be held this fall, staff communication, input from supervisors, and public hearings.

Cuts will be widespread. A breakdown of proposed reductions lists $7.6 million, a full-time equivalent of 69, in central services administration and support; $26.7 million, an FTE of 331-1/2, in instruction; $13.1 million to be negotiated with district staff; and $6,635 million in reserves and capital maintenance transfer.

The central services reductions consist of eliminating assistant principals at elementary schools, reducing high school assistant principals and an elementary principal, reducing central supervisors; reducing classified positions in a variety of capacities, reducing licensed staff, and eliminating and reducing funding for a variety of operations.

Instruction reductions would involve classroom teachers, counselors and instructional assistants; and eliminating some programs and reducing funds for others.

“You can compensate fewer people,” Husk said, or you can compensate the same number of people for less. We’re doing both.”

She added that it would be necessary to prepare for additional reductions, estimated at $25 million to $30 million, for 2012-13.

The budget committee will meet four or five more times; all meetings will be at Claggett Creek.  The schedule follows.

• 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, for public testimony.

• 6-8 p.m. Thursday, May 5, for public testimony, deliberation and clarifying questions.

• 6-7 p.m. May 9, for public testimony, deliberation and recommendation.

• May 11 if needed, with no public testimony.

Budget decisions down to who will hurt most

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer budget committee will be presented with some painful choices as deliberations start next week.

Three employee layoffs – one each from community development and police support services along with the assistant to the city manager – are expected to be included in the city manager’s recommended budget presented to the committee.

“Even really well-managed cities like Keizer can’t sustain a three-year recession without the impact of having to lay people off. I would challenge anybody to find a way to do it,” said Mayor Lore Christopher. “I’ve been through several recessions. I’ve never been through a 36-month recession. It affects everybody.”

Meetings kick off at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at the Keizer Civic Center. The public is welcome to attend and give input. Further meetings are Thursday, May 5 and Tuesday, May 10. If necessary another meeting will be on May 17.

City officials are expecting some revenue sources to go down next year: Salem-Keizer Schools are expected to cut some school resource officer funding, 9-1-1 revenues are expected to fall, liquor and cigarette taxes are projected to decline 13 percent and 3 percent, respectively, with those revenues totaling $110,000 to $115,000. In addition, costs for employee pensions and health insurance contributions are expected to go up $180,000 for the police department alone. Cost of living adjustments for unionized police officers may add $55,000 in costs.

The layoffs are expected to free up about $240,000 total, about $195,000 of that coming from the general fund.

Eppley is also recommending non-represented employees receive no cost of living adjustment and pick up 10 percent of health insurance costs, a jump from 5 percent. That should save about $50,000 in general fund dollars, Finance Director Susan Gahlsdorf said.

A 3 percent water rate increase is the only hike proposed, said City Manager Chris Eppley.

“We’ll be recommending an increase in water rates this year, which was supposed to have taken place several years back to stay on our schedule for capital improvements associated with our water master plan,” Eppley said. “We’ve postponed (them) for two cycles now… to try to offset the economic downturn for our customers. But we’re getting to the point now where we’re starting to forego capital improvements that are safety issues for the system, so we need to get back into taking care of those issues.”

Other cuts will include to training, materials and services and the like. Eppley said there’s not a major building project planned for the general fund in the upcoming year.

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce and Keizer Fire District each were budgeted to receive $11,600 from hotel taxes; that may not happen next year.

“The reasons for receiving that tax have not gone away,” said Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan. “We’re still providing specialty services to everyone who enters Keizer … our justification has not changed, but we understand the financial needs of the city. So we’re going to have to go without.”

Burglars surprised by home owners

In a five-day span two Keizerites came across burglars in their home.

In the first incident a woman living in the 700 block of Dearborn Avenue NE reported she found a man burglarizing her house when she came home around 9:03 p.m. Thursday. She “verbally challenged” the man but he fled out of the home with stolen property inside a large duffel bag, according to Keizer Police Lt. Alan McCowan. [Map: 2]

A witness walking a block away told police he saw the suspect and heard the victim yelling “that the suspect had just robbed her,” McCowan stated. The witness followed the man but lost him as he went behind a home in the 600 block of Dearborn Avenue NE.

Keizer Police were assisted by Marion County Deputy Jon Gadberry and K9 partner Donja. Donja located the stolen property, apparently dropped by the suspect, and found the suspect hiding in a parked vehicle in the 600 block of Dearborn Avenue.

The suspect told the transporting officer “that he was impressed that the K9 officer was able to find him,” McCowan reported.

“It’s one of those things when the calls come in and you’re in position (and) it works out great,” McCowan said. “In this case they had a witness who saw the guy, pointed out a general direction of where the guy was and basically that’s the way they were able to find him.”

Arrested was Michael J. Sims, 46, of Salem, for first-degree burglary, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and second-degree criminal trespass.

In the second burglary a man in the 2200 block of Aldine Drive NE called 911 at about 10:21 a.m. Tuesday, April 19, reporting he found an intruder in his home. The suspect left using a back sliding door and climbed over a wall in the backyard. The wall separates his property from an undeveloped area of Keizer Station. [Map:3]

The description of the man was broadcast over the police radio. Shortly after Officer Dan Kelley and Detective Ben Howden found the suspect and detained him without incident about a block east of the victim’s home.

Police found a diamond ring valued at $3,100 and a watch taken from the burglary, said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns. The suspect confessed to “unlawfully enter(ing)” the home, Kuhns added.

Arrested was Benjamin Robert Howell, a 24-year-old transient, for burglary and theft. He was transported to the Marion County Correctional Facility.