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Day: June 13, 2011

Survey seeks Keizerites’ opinions on paying more for cops

Keizer City Councilors indicated Monday they still support some sort of new fee or tax to raise more money for police and fire services.

The question is how, and specifically what are voters most likely to support in a November ballot measure? Councilors asked Monday night for more information on potential delivery methods, including a police services fee on utility bills and a flat fee or percentage surcharge on cell phone lines. The city and the Keizer Fire District could survey the public on which approach residents are most likely to support.

Councilors last year passed a 3 percent telecom fee, but repealed it after opponents gathered enough signatures to place the question on a special election ballot via referendum.

More later.

In-house ingenuity

Officer David Babcock of Keizer Police is the in-house computer guru at the agency. So when the department wanted to replace a system to notify citizens of recent crime, they knew exactly who to ask. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer Police officer figured out his own solution to an ongoing problem at the department.

When a formerly-free crime notification service announced it would begin charging agencies some $4,500 per year, brass at the Keizer Police Department concluded it simply wasn’t in the budget.

So Sgt. Lance Inman turned in-house to Officer David Babcock, a 21-year Keizer Police veteran who picked up computer programming on the side.

The new system allows for text message and email updates about “whatever we want to inform (subscribers) of,” Babcock said. To register visit keizerpd.com and click on the “Electronic Notification System” link.

“Especially in today’s age, with everybody wanting information right now – parade information, street closures, media releases – we can send all that out through the system,” he said.

Police were able to notify subscribers of a recent home invasion and assault in west Keizer, notifying the public to keep an eye out.

“It’s run on our server, with our databases, our email server – it all goes out in-house,” Babcock said.

Babcock is an Anchorage native who moved to the lower 48 to attend school at the University of Nevada-Reno. His dad, Rodney, was a field engineer and “I like building things,” Babcock said.
“I guess he got me interested in computers into a young age (but) I didn’t really take an interest until I got to college,” he said. “Thought I’d play with it, started learning how to build a web page, and learned it the hard way – just looked at the code and figured it out.”

His programming skills got a boost when he and dad opened a flower bulb business over the internet. He said none of the web-based transaction systems worked for their particular business, so he learned how to build his own. In the meantime, he joined Keizer Police in 1990.

He’s completely self-taught, advising those who want to learn to work with HTML, Javascript, DHTML, active server pages, databasing and more to “do like I did – read books. I have a library … of just textbooks on how to program.

“I spend a lot of time at Borders,” he added.

The service was built during some of his own free time as well as between taking calls at work. His disregard for sleep – “four or five hours a night” – probably helps.

“I think programming goes along with my need to build stuff,” Babcock said. “At home I weld, I work on cars … right now I’m teaching myself Java so I can write applications for smart phones.”

 

Tearing down dividing walls

ChristiAnna Allen and Kalah McVay film an interview for their documentary, Equal Value, about McNary’s special needs students. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Earlier this year, ChristiAnna Allen would have lumped herself among those who found themselves in an awkward place when passing the McNary High School Developmental Learning Center students in the hall.

“I can honestly say that I was one of the students who would avoid the DLC students. I was always so unsure of myself,” Allen said.

But, as part of McNary Hands and Words are Not for Hurting class, Allen encountered a quote from the program founder, Ann Kelly: “We are not born equal, we are different, but we are all of equal value.” Allen and Kalah McVay, a freshman, are putting the finishing touches on a 20-minute documentary, titled Equal Value about the DLC students and their special needs that will debut at McNary’s Night of Unity Benefit Concert Monday, June 13, at 7 p.m., at the high school. Producing the short film turned Allen’s reactions to the DLC students 180 degrees.

“We went into it with the idea of this quote, but I didn’t actually believe it when we started, but along the way I did,” Allen said. “I realized I was a little misguided and learned to listen to myself.”

Tickets to the Night of Unity are $5 and the evening includes performances by the Highlanders jazz choir, solo performances, and a dance routine, possibly two. Celt Jesus Gomez will provide live accompaniment on the piano while the documentary rolls.

“Our mission in the Hands and Words class is to raise awareness of bullying and abuse in our community and the neglect of communities that are on the outside looking in,” McVay said.

Allen was already producing public service announcements in line with the mission of the class and McVay enlisted her to help. McVay’s end goal in the venture is to bring a Special Olympics unified basketball team, consisting of mainstream and special needs students, to the school. The documentary and concert are intended to help her raise the funds necessary to make the team a reality.

As part of the class, McVay started out with the notion that she wanted to do something about the school’s DLC population.

“The special education students are often put in different classrooms and they end up out of sight and out of mind. I wanted to make them feel welcome,” she said.

For every wall that McVay and Allen found between mainstream and DLC students, they found another erected by the DLC community. The process of filming became an act of breaking down barriers.

“It’s a very touchy subject. I had to learn new communication skills and how to get around the barriers people throw up,” McVay said. “The teachers’ and parents’ first priority is to protect their students and it was difficult for them to accept help or realize that we’re there to advocate for them.”

The documentary features interviews with teachers, parents and siblings of DLC students and, when possible, interviews with the students themselves. In the process of filming, things that they expected to work well in the planning stages had to be tweaked to accommodate student needs.

“Our eyes were opened to the reality that we weren’t going to be able to do it our way. We had to change the way we approached the whole thing,” Allen said. “The documentary was meant to show some of the mistreatment and they way that people look down on non-traditional students.”

“But the more we talked to people about it, the more it became something we’re hoping to inspire people with,” McVay added.

Meet and greet scheduled with new basketball head coach

KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

Ryan Kirch has been named the new McNary High School boys varsity basketball coach.

A meet and greet is scheduled Monday, June 13, at 5:30 p.m. at McNary High School for current players, incoming freshmen and parents.

Kirch fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Matt Espinoza, who coached the team for the past two seasons.

Kirch played basketball at Crescent Valley High School and Linn-Benton Community College. As a player at Linn-Benton, Kirch was a co-captain and made the All-Academic Team.  At Crescent Valley, he was team co-captain and his team won the Valley League in 1996 and was named to 1st Team All-League that year.

He has been an assistant coach at Stayton High School, Mountain View High School, and Crescent Valley High School.  He is active with other basketball coaching activities such as Cascade Sports Camps, the Gonzaga University team camp, OSU Basketball Kids Camp, the OSU Basketball Camp, and Willamette University Camp.