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

Day: June 10, 2011

Walk for Hope bringing awareness of homeless

Summer of Hope - Walk of Hope

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A homeless services group is leading a parade to raise awareness about homelessness.

And it will pass right through the center of Keizer. The Walk for Hope kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 11,  and will wind from the Union Gospel Mission offices at 345 Commercial Street NE to Simonka House, a women’s shelter at 5119 River Road N. in Keizer.

It’s the centerpiece of the Summer of Hope campaign. While wintertime often draws the most attention to homelessness, those without stable housing still need help during summer months when donations lag, said Donor Relations Manager Cheryl Dixon.

“It’s a year-round issue,” Dixon added. “We want to make people aware that the homeless still have needs, even when the weather is normal.”
Union Gospel Mission, a Christian organization, tasks itself with “meeting the needs of the homeless and hungry in Marion and Polk counties, and to offer them hope to change their lives. We really want to get people in our doors and meet their emergency needs so we can help them figure out their barriers to housing and help them overcome those.”

You can still register for the walk for $25 by calling 503-362-3983 or visiting ugmsalem.org.

Door prizes include gift certificates for Figaro’s Pizza, haircut and color from Escape Salon, and other prizes like a radio advertising package and gym membership.

The group needs more support than ever as it’s being tasked with helping more people than ever before. Union Gospel Mission is serving 40 percent more meals and providing 30 percent more beds since September 2010. However, Mike Rideout, UGM’s president and chief executive officer, said economic downturns don’t affect UGM’s target population like one might think.

“While some of this increase is economy-driven, particularly among single men who may only have part-time work now and are struggling to make ends meet … we serve a population that in general is not severely affected by economic downturn,” Rideout said. “They have struggled with long-term additions, homelessness and/or incarceration not generally affected by the economy.”

In addition to immediate and longer-term services for men and women in crisis, they also provide clothing, furniture and household goods to the community’s needy.

Promoting tourism goal of Chamber as org plans move to Keizer Station

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce will be moving to Keizer Station later this year, with ambitions to expand tourism services.

The business organization reached an agreement for a two-year lease on an 1,800 square foot space near Round Table Pizza. That’s more than double the space in their current digs inside the Keizer Heritage Center on Chemawa Road.

Chamber President Rich Duncan thinks the new center can be self-sustaining in part from advertising and flyers placed in their office. Both he and Executive Director Christine Dieker believe the location near Interstate 5 would draw interest from regional attractions.

“Say a restaurant might want to sponsor a banner or panel to showcase their product,” Dieker said. “That would produce a revenue stream which would eliminate some of the subsidizing we’ve been giving the visitor services.”

Self-sustaining is even more important in light of the Keizer City Council’s decision not to allocate more than $11,000 in anticipated transient occupancy taxes. Dieker said the mission to promote tourism remains despite losing that money.

“Our goal is to enhance all four phases of the chamber: The chamber is community, the chamber is the business community, and it’s events and tourism,” Duncan said. “We want (membership dues and fundraising dollars) going toward member services… increasing services to members and expanding our networking, our economic and government affairs committee, and spendinng the dollars where the dollars are due.

“We had some choices, but we chose to be proactive and get the job done,” he added.

The office should be open within the next 90 to 120 days, they said, and Dieker hopes to have the office staffed seven days a week, which means new hires as well as garnering new volunteers.

“We’ve seen an activity increase at Keizer Station,” Dieker said. “We feel like this is a really good move to be out there.”

Health and wellness forum this Tuesday

A health and wellness forum aims to teach personal healthy habits from a business perspective.

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the Forum and Health & Wellness Conference from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the Keizer Civic Center.

Featured will be 15 to 20 experts who “would want to share what they can contribute to healthier lifestyles and well-being,” said Christine Dieker, the chamber’s executive director. “For the person who walks through the door it’s kind of one-stop shopping.”

Tips on healthy eating and stress management will be on the agenda along with bone density and blood pressure screening. An afternoon session will focus on how businesses can facilitate healthier lifestyles for their employees.

Cost is $20 for the conference, including breakfast and lunch, or $13 for the monthly chamber luncheon only. It’s $16 at the door. For more call the chamber at 503-393-9111 or visit Keizerchamber.com.

Outdated agreements

There is a time when agreements outlive their purpose.  The city of Keizer has now reached the point where two past agreements need to be altered:  one is an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary, the other is the Keizer Fire District folding neighborhoods in north Keizer into its district.  Neither change will come without a fight.

For decades Salem and Keizer have shared one Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).  State law calls for UGBs to have a 20-year supply of developable land.  The city of Keizer is, for all intents and purposes, out of land that can be used for new residential and commercial development.  Salem has enough land to yet develop.

At a Salem City Council work session this week to discuss an Economic Opportunities Analysis, Mayor Anna Peterson and Councilor Chuck Bennett were vocal in questioning the need for Keizer’s call for expansion of the two city’s shared Urban Growth Boundary.

Both Peterson and Bennett questioned Keizer’s motive for a possible expansion of the UGB, wondering whether it was for purely growth reasons or for a push for more tax revenue.  Madam Mayor and Councilor Bennett, does it matter?

An agreement about growth in the UGB made in the 1970s is outdated and needs to be amended.  In the 1970s, when Oregon’s land use rules were created,  Keizer was an unincorpated part of Marion County.  Salem was the retail and medical hub of the mid-Willamette Valley.  Since then Keizer has become Oregon’s 13th largest city and has become one of the Valley’s most desirable addresses due to its low tax base and small town livability.  Keizer’s success has left us with little room to grow, both residentially and commercially.  As some developers say, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.  How land in  an expanded Urban Growth Boundary would be developed should be the determined by Keizer and it is time for a 40 year old agreement about how and where growth in the metropolitan area should be should be is buried.

Salem shouldn’t be concerned about further retail developments in an expanded Keizer; Salem is still the retail hub of the Valley, with the downtown, Lancaster and south Salem retail districts.  Salem is also the medical hub of the Valley with a Level 2 trauma hospital and many clinics.

Salem has been aggressively developing and marketing the Mill Creek industrial area to attract new business.  Keizer should have the same opportunity to bring business within our borders and if that means an expansion of the UGB then all the other players need to step back and let Keizer be a partner in the region’s economic development.

Another development regarding past agreements that need to be changed is Keizer Fire District’s proposal to take over north Keizer neighborhoods now covered by Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD1).

Homeowner associations in Keizer Prairie and Clearlake have asked the fire district to acquire their neighborhoods from Marion County Fire.  Currently more than 1,000 homes in north Keizer are covered by Marion County Fire District; they pay that district’s tax rate.

When the Keizer Rural Fire District was created in 1948 it covered what was then a small but growing residential area.  Marion County Fire District was founded in 1939 and merged with Brooks Fire in 1968 to cover north Marion County areas, which included Clear Lake and other areas that were incorporated into the Keizer city limits and home to explosive growth over the past 20 years.

The Keizer Fire District Board has sent a formal letter to the City of Keizer asking their help in withdrawing Keizer Prairie and Clearlake neighborhoods from MCFD1, then Keizer Fire would step in and service the area.  Oregon law allows a city to withdraw the property because the area does not comprise the area of the MCFD1 district.

The city of Keizer should withdraw so that all of Keizer is covered by the Keizer Fire District.  It will benefit those 1,000 plus homes in those neighborhoods with a decrease in taxes they’d pay for fire service and they will be eligible for better insurance rates due to Keizer Fire District ISO rating (the rating of fire districts insurance companies use to set rates).

Marion County Fire District receives about $500,000 a year in taxes from the homes in their service area in north Keizer.  With its lower tax rate Keizer Fire would collect about $350,000.  It’s a good thing anytime taxes can be lowered for without lowering levels of service.

Marion County Fire District #1 won’t want to give up that kind of revenue.  In an effort to show they can provide service they’ve recently added an ambulance along with staff at the Station 6 on Wheatland Road at Clearlake Road.

Keizer Fire acquiring north Keizer neighborhoods from Marion County Fire District is good for homeowners there, not only for lower taxes but also because response times for fires and other emergencies will be quicker when sent out from Keizer’s fire station.  With emergency calls now requiring up to six personnel it is better to have them right in their backyard and not have to be called from Brooks or other Marion County stations.

Nothing lasts forever and the agreements regarding Urban Growth Boundaries and fire district service borders are no different.  What worked in the 1940s or the 1970s doesn’t work in the 21st century. Keizer is grown up and can handle its development, growth and future and should be able to without kowtowing to other governments who have their own agendas.

—LAZ

President Obama’s jobs recession

By LAWRENCE KUDLOW

Political advantage can be fleeting. A couple of months ago, during the winter quarter, job gains looked to be picking up, unemployment was easing lower, and President Obama’s re-election hopes looked more secure. But things sure have changed.

In recent weeks, a whole bunch of new economic stats have been pointing to a sputtering economy — maybe even an inflation-prone, less-than-2-percent-growth recession. Stocks have dropped five straight weeks, as they look toward slower growth, jobs and profits out to year end. And Friday’s jobs report didn’t buck these trends.

“Anemic” is the adjective being tossed around the media. According to the Labor Department, non-farm payrolls increased a meager 54,000 in May, while private payrolls gained only 83,000. A week or two ago, Wall Street expected 200,000-plus new jobs. Didn’t happen.

Perhaps the most telling weakness in the jobs report comes from the household survey, which is made up of self-employed workers. Think of mom-and-pop owned stores and small businesses. Think of the Main Street entrepreneurial families who make up the backbone of the economy, and for the matter the country. And they vote, too.

Well, household jobs increased a paltry 105,000 in May, after falling 190,000 in April. The jobless rate is determined by the household survey, and you really need a couple hundred thousand new household jobs a month — at least — to lower unemployment. And you really need about 300,000 household jobs a month to put a little torque behind the Main Street economy. But with the lackluster May report, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent from last month’s 9 percent and March’s 8.8 percent.

Suddenly, President Obama has gone from re-elect to big trouble. The economic rug has been pulled out from underneath him.

So what changed in the last couple of months or so? Answer: A nasty oil-, gasoline- and commodity-price shock. It’s eating away at economic growth and jobs. It’s stalling the economy. And it has cut into consumer real incomes and business profits.

Much of this problem can be traced to the failure of the Federal Reserve’s QE2 pump-priming campaign. QE2 has not produced growth, but it has produced inflation. In fact, the consumer price index over the past four or five months has been running close to 6 percent annually.

And most of that new Fed money has served merely to depreciate the dollar. And most of those cheaper dollars are on deposit at the Federal Reserve, where banks are earning 25 basis points for safety and risk aversion. In other words, the majority of that new money is not circulating throughout the economy. It’s a boneheaded Fed stimulus, and it has done more harm than good.

That said, in a larger sense, the failure to ignite small-business job creation has to be laid at the doorstep of the Obama administration, and the economic policies that threaten higher taxes and regulations virtually across the board. On Thursday this week, the president again promised House Democrats he supports raising taxes on successful top small-business owners. What a great new idea.

So mom and pop don’t feel like taking a risk in this environment. Higher tax-and-regulatory costs have put these entrepreneurs in survival mode. They’re playing their economic cards so close to the vest, business activity has buttoned up tight.

What you want is for people to take their suit jackets off, roll up their shirtsleeves, and go out there and build. But people are hunkering down, not building.

Bear with me for few more jobs stats.

Since the household-survey employment peak back in November 2007, 6.8 million jobs have been lost. Since the so-called end of the recession in June 2009, 199,000 jobs, on balance, have disappeared. And so far this year, household employment has increased by a total of 573,000, which is about 115,000 a month. That’s only one-third of what’s needed to bring down unemployment significantly.

The bottom line is that there hasn’t really been a jobs recovery. President Obama is going to have to own that. But the question is, both in Congress and on the campaign trail, does the GOP have a pro-growth jobs program that will get Main Street mom and pops to roll up their sleeves once again?

Creators Syndicate

Don’t bully the birds in your yard

To the Editor:

Re: Keizer’s backyard bullie by G. I. Wilson (Keizertimes, June 3):

Sorry to hear that you suffered at the hands of bullies during your life, but your attempt to draw an analogy of your social and ethical injustices with the interspecies avian behavior sounds like you are suggesting we bully, or with your frequent reference to when various “mean” species of birds are unprotected from human predation, kill all “mean” creatures that violate your rules of behavior whenever it is permissible by law.

Before you wave your imperial wand of death and separate bird species into factions of good and bad, it seems that most of your consternation comes from your naïve attempt to place bird houses and feeding stations in your yard with the expectation that you could impose your social rules on nature.

Here is my advice: stop bullying nature.  If you feel compelled be an avian racist and only allow pretty birds, or those who mimic your social values to visit the domain that you wish to rule with an iron ethical fist, remove the bird feeders and nesting boxes from your yard.  Allow wild things to be wild and stop imposing your social or ethical values on wild animals.

Finally, you might consider reviewing your lifelong history of bullying.  If you are imposing the same rigid social, moral, ethical values on others around you as you intend with your backyard avian Brigadoon, perhaps what you perceive as bullying is society lashing out at you in its refusal to let you treat them like one of your backyard guests.  Note: fighting back at bullies is always “in season.”

For more information on dealing with bullies and other predators, refer to the Magna Carta, U.S. Constitution, Oregon Revised Statutes, Keizer City ordinances, and my backyard.

Larry Blumenstein
Keizer

Fire District is doing right for Keizer

To the Editor:

I would like to compliment Keizer Fire Chief Cowan and his professional staff for the oustanding job they have done preparing and holding their budget together in these difficult economic times. Also, Keizer Fire District staff voluntarily gave up COLA increases to help facilitate the annexation of the Clearlake Area into the Keizer Fire District. The annexation was initially requested by the residents of the Clearlake area. KFD, a great team!

John Rizzo
Keizer

Wearing their Celtic Pride on their sleeves

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Their first trip to a district swim meet was a double-humped rollercoaster.

First, they watched as the readerboard clicked off the placers, and ratcheted up the tension, for the girls ending in a win for the McNary girls and the eruption of the gathered crowd. Then it was the boys turn.

“It kept going, going, going and it came down to the top two with only us and West Salem left, then they announced West Salem in second place and the place busted into the loudest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Forest Feltner, a McNary senior recipient of the Celtic Pride Award, which honors students who participate in athletics all four years of their high school career. In addition to swimming, Felter competed in track and field, soccer, and cross country.

Feltner, a McNary 2011 valedictorian, is one of three athletes to receive the award that were present for the district win as freshman. Mason Grine and Carl Herriott were part of the team all four years as well and part of the core that led the team to a repeat performance as seniors.

“It was cool looking around at the same group of guys our senior year and saying to each other we were going to do it again,” Herriott said.

Grine was most proud of the way in which the team repeated the feat.

“We did it without winning a single race and that just goes to show how much of a team effort the whole thing was,” he said. “It was just fantastic to be around the same group of guys for it.”

Herriott competed in soccer, cross country and track and field in addition to swimming and Grine was  involved with cross country, swimming and track and field. Both Grine and Herriott are graduating valedictorians as well.

Only Keri Stein was honored with the award for the senior girls. She competed in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field during her four years. She’ll continue her volleyball career next year at Chemeketa Community College.

“It’s going to be tough because I’m not as tall as some people, but I like defying the odds,” Stein said.

She credits participation in sports with sharpening her leadership skills.

“Without sports I wouldn’t really care about stuff like that, but it also kept me out of trouble and it kept my grades up,” Stein said.

Herriott echoed the sentiment.

“Sports were a real good motivator to not waste time and it taught me how to use it wisely,” he said.

Jared VanCleave, a Celtic Pride recipient and a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball, said being part of the Celtic team that captured the state title in baseball was one of his fondest memories, but that playing football was his passion.

“There’s nothing like high school football,” he said. “But all of the sports teach you a lot about life and persevering. You have to keep working hard and teamwork is a big thing that’s underrated.”

For Feltner, whose accomplishments are already considerable, it’s the one that got away that still frustrates him. He set the goal of breaking the school record of 59.06 in the breast stroke as a freshman and didn’t quite get there, but he was part of the medley relay team that set a new district record.

While each of them were part of teams that won district titles or better, Grine said the things that he’ll take away from sports had little to do with the fields, pools and courts.

“I met some of my best friends, got involved with some great activities, and high school wouldn’t have been the same without it,” he said.

Open microphone

To the Editor:

A week ago I attended the Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m. at the Keizer Civic Center. This was a time when any citizen could speak on any topic. This was referred to as Open Mic.

My purpose for attending was to ask the council, once again, to have Keizer acquire its own zip code. If you put 97303 in the computer it states you live in Salem. If you put 97307 in, the computer states Keizer. The mayor said the city tried several years ago but was turned down by the U.S. Postal Service. I requested the council try again. I believe a city of 36,000 deserves its own zip code. Maybe our two U.S. Senators and our U.S. Representative could speak on the city’s behalf and get some action.

Although it was optional, all of the city council members including our mayor gave up another evening to hear what was on Keizer citizen’s minds. Unfortunately only seven citizens came to the meeting. This included the Keizer Fire District chief who attended to answer any questions that citizens might have about the fire district. Of course, the Keizertimes had a reporter there also.

Some of the discussion that evening was about the need for more commercial businesses to locate in Keizer to help finance city services through property taxes. The long term hope of building a power plant in Keizer was mentioned.

In the future, I hope more citizens take advantage of the Town Hall Meeting to ask questions about crime, parks, taxes, fees and other topics that may concern them. If the council is willing to give up more time, that could be spent with their families, we ought to take advantage of it.

Bill Quinn
Keizer

Mayor: No chance for growth ‘unacceptable’

Reporter’s Notebook is a new feature in the Keizertimes. Here our writers and editors will offer a glimpse behind the headlines to stories and issues bubbling just below the surface.

It’s too bad more people didn’t show up to an open-mic town hall with Keizer’s mayor and most city councilors last week. They were entertaining all manner of questions and giving candid answers. Here’s the highlights:

• Mayor Lore Christopher  said “no change” in the urban growth boundary situation is “untenable – no jobs, no chance to bring any industry to our city. That’s unacceptable.”

Keizer has little room to expand within the urban growth boundary it shares with Salem, and state land use laws require a UGB to have 20 years worth of land to expand into for housing and commercial uses. Since the two cities share a boundary, it’s a distinct possibility any land Keizer might want to annex at some point would come at Salem’s expense.

“I can’t imagine Salem saying, ‘We’ll go ahead and and give up 200 acres,” Christopher said.

Either Salem “joins us as partners… (or) we divorce them. We as a council have said we want local jobs for local folks.”

• The mayor also suggested a “zip-in” to protest Keizer’s shared zip code with north Salem.

That is, replacing the zip code with 97307 (that’s the one affixed to Keizer’s post office, and one you can get with a post office box) on mail.

It stemmed from an attendee thought his car insurance rates were higher because of the lump-in, but Councilor Joe Egli – who sells insurance for a living – said it’s usually based on your county.

“The post office has all the power and they have no interest in spinning it off,” Christopher added. She suggested those wanting Keizer’s own zip code should petition the U.S. Post Office.

But Councilor Jim Taylor urged caution saying, “You don’t want them to go postal on us.”

– Jason Cox


Good Vibrations fest seeking volunteers

Local organizers for a motorcycle festival coming to Keizer in July are seeking volunteers to help with a variety of tasks.

If you or your group is interested contact Clif Fodge at Salem Harley Davidson at 503-363-0634.

– Jason Cox