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Day: June 17, 2011

New tax for police, fire may be on Nov. ballot

KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

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 expressed a preference Monday night for a fee assessed via utility bills over a tax aimed at cell phone users. The city and the Keizer Fire District may soon survey the public on which approach residents are most likely to support.

With the costs of providing 911 services growing – and increasingly subsidized by general fund revenues rather than dedicated 911 fees – both city and fire district officials have sought to find another revenue source to pay for those mounting communication costs.

Councilors last year passed a 3 percent telecom fee, but repealed it after opponents gathered enough signatures to place the question on a special election ballot via referendum.

Political consultant Chuck Adams is preparing a scientific survey, said City Manager Chris Eppley. Estimated at about $6,000, costs would be split between the city and fire district. About 400 people can expect to be contacted, Eppley said.

“You’re going to want to know what’s the most likely” approach the public would support, Eppley told the city council Monday night. “Otherwise you’re reducing your effectiveness as a group and wasting money, possibly, if you choose the wrong one.”

Police Chief Marc Adams said he sensed support for a fee on utility bills after a series of town halls earlier this year explaining expenses and possible revenue-generating measures.

“What we’re looking at is how to raise revenue to pay emergency communications costs for both agencies and freeing up money, at least for the police department, for personnel,” Adams said.

City Councilor Brandon Smith said explaining the proposed 3 percent telecom fee “takes three minutes of explanation” to turn around a default position of no.

“(Voters) have to know exactly what the impact to them is and what (we) are going to use it for,” Eppley added.

Joe Van Meter, president of the Keizer Fire District board, said his group hasn’t yet voted to support a particular methodology, but “we have clearly communicated to our chief we are in support to get a replacement for the landline reductions in 911 costs because as that fund’s reduced we have to expend more from our general fund.”

Chicken chat at council

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Chickens are on the menu – er, agenda – for Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting.

Here’s the pertinent info on Keizer’s chicken proposal:

• No roosters, and three hens maximum allowed.

•  No-fee permit required.

•  Chickens allowed on property with single family or duplex residence on it.

• Personal and non-commercial use only.

•  Coop required, and it must be in side or rear yard at least 10 feet from property line.

• Three-year sunset clause to determine whether it’s working.

And if you want to see what a backyard chicken coop looks like before Monday’s hearing – or want to learn if chicken raising is for you – this weekend is your chance.

Just down the road in Salem, 15 backyard coops are on display for just $7 per car as part of the Capital City Chicken Coop and Garden Tour. Hosted by Chickens in the Yard (C.I.T.Y.) and Friends of Salem Saturday Market, two events June 18 and 19 aim to shed light on the trend.

First is a free class at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Salem Saturday Market. It’s taught by Gretchen Anderson, who penned Backyard Chicken Fight. The book chronicles battles between local governments and residents who wanted backyard poultry, including the feathers that flew during the Salem chicken fight.

Anderson is hosting a book-signing to kick off the Coop Tour at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 19. Showcased yards will be open from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., showing off a variety of coop and garden styles. Included are “chicken tractors” along with a beekeeping operation, greenhouses and composters.

“It’s a great way to learn about chicken-raising, see a variety of breeds, and meet other urban farmers,” said Barbara Palermo, who founded C.I.T.Y.

Kids are welcome, but please leave pets at home. Tickets can be purchased in Keizer at Copper Creek Mercantile, or at the FSSM booth at the Saturday Market, 13th Street Nursery, Pet Etc. and Champion Feed in Salem. More information available at salemchickens.com.

Finish the Road

The parts of the River Road beautification project that have been completed have received good reviews.  People comment that Keizer’s main thoroughfare looks great with the meandering sidewalks and new landscaping.

It’s time to finish the project and it’s the city’s responsibility to see it is completed for the sake of the vitality of River Road and overall economic development in Keizer.

River Road Renaissance, as the beautification project is called, has been done in a hopscotch matter—one parcel here, another parcel there.  In hindsight the project should have been started at one end or the other of River Road, updating both sides of the street and it moved north or south.

The project has been completed as business and landowners become eligible for Urban Renewal District funds to pay for the redevelopment of parcels of River Road.  For too long the city waited for River Road landowners to come to the city seeking approval for a part of the Urban Renewal pot.

What we are left with is an uncompleted renaissance that looks haphazard.  The Urban Renewal District and the city had the best of intentions, and still do.  But it is time to put money back into the project, get serious about proceeding in an orderly fashion.

It is reported there is about $1 million remaining for the River Road Renaissance project, but there is much more money that was borrowed to build the Civic Center and to purchase land at Keizer Station.  The city needs to promise River Road businesses that that money will be replaced and used for its intended purpose.

We can all drive down River Road and point out the sidewalks  that desperately need to be redeveloped.  It is the owners of those properties who should be approached and offered incentives in the way of low-cost loans from the Urban Renewal District.

Urban Renewal District pays 100 percent of the improvement of public right-of-way  sidewalks and its landscaping.  Some property owners don’t have the cash on hand to undertake a project that would go along with new sidewalks such as an improved facade or an updated parking lot. That is why offering loans to the owners can jumpstart the renaissance project, especially if it fills in the gaps.

Hopefully Keizer will be the longtime home of two large events—Good Vibrations Motorcycle Rally and the Festival of Lights parade.  It’s too late to make all of River Road beautiful by the time those events happen this year.  Visitors to these events in future years should be met with a consistent, attractive River Road that people want to visit.

Keizer’s economic development should take place in all parts of the city especially the area that needs it most.

—LAZ

Let grown-ups have chickens

Sometimes it’s useful to view the unfamiliar through a familiar lens.

So let’s talk about dogs and cats in Keizer.

Many of us adore our Fido and couldn’t live without our Fluffy. But one man’s best friend is his neighbor’s nemesis.

The barking, the canine’s mating howls and the cat’s come-hither caterwauling drive people on the other side of the fence crazy.

And that’s when they stay put. If the dog’s not in your trash, he’s running in front of your car. The fleeing feline is probably picking a fight with Fluffy – or, if you haven’t fixed her, giving her the gift that keeps on giving.

Or if you’re lucky a tomcat will mark your house as its own, leaving that new vinyl siding with that not-so-fresh feeling. Maybe Rover will leave a present that you’ll inevitably discover while mowing the lawn.

Yet anyone proposing banning our most common household pets would face a clucking cacophony, forever caricatured as the Dog Nazi, or Moammar Cathafi.

When put in the same category as these animals, allowing urban chickens makes a lot more sense.

It’s understandable that folks equate chickens with the barnyard and not the cul-de-sac, but – with common sense rules – all evidence suggests chickens simply don’t pose the problem our everyday housepets cause.

Good rules include banning roosters, limiting hens to five or less and have strict ordinances on enclosures and supervision.

We think a coop permit is a bit overboard given the proposal would only allow three hens, but it makes sense should city councilors want a rough estimate of how many hens populate our fair city. The permit requirement can always be scuttled should the numbers not justify the time and expense.

Likewise, neighbors with a foul fowl problem shouldn’t have to deal with the nuisance, and there should be a process to deal with delinquent CoopKeepers.

Yet, if a preponderance of the evidence tells us the birds just aren’t a big deal, should the government tell us we can’t have them at all?

Councilors can, if they choose, raise hypothetical problems until the cows come home.

Or they can observe that their staff research – as well as our own – shows few ruffled feathers, and just let the grownups have their chickens.

—JC

Is it for safety or for revenue?

By ALLEN PRELL

Smile:  You’re on camera.

It is no longer a matter of if, but when you get your next speeding citation. Red light cameras at intersections, laser/ radar guns in police vehicles and on motorcycles, and photo speed sensor cameras on special equipped vans. Even the most experienced and well meaning drivers are being tagged for what is called safety violations. But, are they really for safety or for producing revenue?

My colleague has not had a citation in 10 years. She was driving on the freeway in Portland and took an exit ramp to get off. The road forked: stay left and you re-enter the freeway again, stay right to exit. She continued turning right around the corner: “Got you!”A red light speed sensor camera on a van parked along the freeway exit flashed. She was traveling 35 mph in a 25 mph exit zone. The speed limit changed from 55 mph on the freeway, to 40 mph exiting the freeway, to 25 mph. She was slowing down. She paid a $200 fine.

I was driving north on I-5 toward Portland the other day, aware the posted speed sign said 65 mph. As I passed Wilsonville, the speed sign changed to 55 mph. As I entered the Terwilliger curves area, in Portland the sign changed again to 50 mph. The traffic flow was still traveling at 65 mph. The same speed as it was traveling five miles south of me before the Wilsonville city limits.  I was aware of this, because two weeks ago I received a citation in the same area going 66 mph in a 50 mph area. Yes, a laser gun “got me” going 2 mph faster than the vehicle in front of me.

I was traveling down a road in a rural part of Wilsonville and approached a school zone with blinking yellow lights. I slowed down to 20 mph. I passed the school campus and continued through an intersection. There were no vehicles, buses, or children in sight. Everything around me is quiet. On my right were bushes and on my left I saw acres of open land and what appears to be a wild life preserve. I pick up speed to 40 mph. A police officer parked in the middle of the road holds up his hand and waves me over to the side. Apparently I picked up speed to 40 mph in a two block straight away area before passing the End School zone sign. I was still in the school zone when I picked up speed. As long as the yellow lights are flashing regardless of the activity and until you pass the End School zone sign you are required to stay at 20 mph. I paid a $400  fine. I have also witnessed the yellow school zone lights flashing on “off school days.” The lights are on a timer. Yes, that would still be a ticket if f you traveled over 20 mph on off days.  I caution everyone to be alert to the red light sensor cameras at major, as well as minor, intersections in smaller communities being installed in increased numbers.

Are these really safety violations? From my understanding safety concerns include driving recklessly, creating a hazard that may impede others, DUI, texting, putting on make-up, shaving, eating…all while driving a vehicle.

Getting a citation can have a wide variety of impacts on a person far beyond the fine. If a person drives for a living, the citation can impact future possibilities of employment or promotions. Traffic citations can often affect insurance rates or the ability to get additional coverage or insurance at all. Several job applications ask if you have had a ticket in the past year, three years, or even five years filtering out high risk applicants. Yes, you are judged and scrutinized when you have a traffic violation on your record.

The new unmanned equipment and lasers take the emotion out of the violation. Plain and simple, you broke the law. When a laser or radar is used to determine excess speed, you will have your day in court. In most cases: you will lose!

As I decided if this was a valid and worthy article to share with the community, I saw a large lit advertisement board on I-5 as I was approaching the Keizer off ramp. It had a picture of a police officer pointing a speed detection gun at me: We are watching you. Then further down the road there was an officer on the side of the road, pointing a speed gun at oncoming traffic.  The red brake lights are applied and everyone slows down to 50 mph in a 65 mph zone. Talking about safety concerns?

Allen Prell lives in Keizer.

The Class of 2011

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School’s commencement speakers made a fortuitous pairing.

Brigadier General Daniel Hokanson, who returned to Keizer from Colorado to deliver the keynote, spoke of the value of character as they embark on the next part of their journey, and senior speaker Hugo Nicolas spoke of the things he’d learned from the character of his classmates.

More than 430 McNary seniors graduated from high school in a commencement ceremony that took place Friday, June 10, at the Pavilion on the State Fairgrounds in Salem.

“Your personal character plays a fundamental role in who you are and who you become, and needs to be held to the utmost regard. It dictates not only how others view you, but how you view yourself,” Hokanson said.

Hokanson recalled two recent examples of exemplary character, one of a solider, Jeff, who lost part of his hand and arm in Iraq, and another, Travis, who helped execute a late-night rescue of two stranded kayakers.

“Travis knew the the circumstances, but his decision had been made long before that night. On that night what he chose to stand for allowed him to save two strangers who desperately needed help,” Hokanson said.

Character isn’t built, Hokanson said, but revealed under circumstances that come without warning.

“Your character will guide you and determine how these circumstances will guide you,” he said. “[Character is revealed] in those who experience failure and never give up who they are. When all is said and done, your character may be all you have. It will determine what you leave behind.”

Nicolas, who spoke prior to Hokanson touched on similar themes.

“Whatever human beings have accomplished from the beginning of time, that’s how powerful we can be. Let’s all take part in it, let’s not fear. Don’t you want to be the one that said I did this and I was there so that one day we stand together and tell people ‘we did’ rather than ‘yes we can?’” Nicolas challenged the graduating Celtics.

He also offered a nod to all those who supported the graduates along their journey to the graduation stage.

“The reason we’re sitting here is because someone, somewhere stood up for us when it wasn’t easy. They had courage and a clear purpose, they are our parents and teachers,” he said. “The only difference between possible and impossible is how bad you want it.”

For more videos, visit our photo gallery.

A letter to the U.S. Congress

To the Editor:

Thank You Congress of the United States!

With the lowest approval rating in history, they continue to disappoint.  Their great stewardship of the public airways is one example. In the early days of TV, it was free with a commercial every 10 – 15 minutes.  Congressional oversight has now provided us with a commercial every 2 minutes, or after every news segment – and we now pay for television – cable or satellite.  What else?

Congress appropriates funds and has taken us, the richest nation on Earth, to the verge of Astronomical Bankruptcy.  Their oversight of Federal Agencies is also a disaster. The FAA, FDA, DEA, Homeland Security – Immigration, Education, you name it. They are either reactionary and almost always behind the eight ball, or strangled with regulation and a lack of vision.

How about their outstanding leadership?  One kept hundreds of thousands of dollars in his home freezer, others can’t balance a checkbook, and others commit fraud with funds and lobbyists.  Then we have the tax cheats, even those who are writing the tax code don’t pay taxes.  These people make me sick.

There are the real sickies; those who commit sex crimes and are abusers of Congressional Pages –the children of America. Now we have the great liars and the high tech Congressman who send naked and risque photos of themselves across the Internet.  What Morons!  We cannot tolerate people like this in the U.S. Congress.

It is time for Congress to clean house and get back to moral and ethical standards. The people in charge of Congress, the Voters need to make that clear. I personally believe any member of Congress who has been there more than 10 years should resign for getting us into this National Financial Disaster. They should most certainly not be voted back in.  Their arrogance is beyond belief and this should not be tolerated either.  They continue to lie even with their pants down, good riddance!

John P. Rizzo
Keizer

Scrimmage signals onset of McNary football season

McNary’s quarterback hands off the ball to a running back during a scrimmage with the Silverton High School Foxes June 10. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Believe it or not, football is back in season. Well, almost.

Hopefuls for the McNary High School varsity football team took to the field Friday, June 10, for a scrimmage with the Silverton High School Foxes.

“I think it was a real positive experience because we were able to use pads for the first time in the preseason and that let us spend quite a bit of time on just the fundamentals of blocking, tackling and doing the things you have to do to play football,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach.

Ward credited Ron Richards, McNary’s athletic director completing his first year on the job, with the decision to allow full-pad spring scrimmages. The teams competed in 20 plays taking turns on offense and defense, no score was kept.

“Because of that, the kids will be able to walk out on the field the first day of summer camp in a different spot than we’ve had in the past,” Ward said.

The scrimmage also provided the chance for the Celts to try out some new looks on defense, courtesy of new defensive coach Scott Barchus.

“In general, we did some good things and found other areas where we can get better,” Ward said.

The Celts have a month off before summer weight training begins July 4 at Whiteaker Middle School. Included with that training will be a new set of dietary recommendations the athletes are supposed to hold to in preparation for the fall football season.

“We’re just doing the best we can to prepare the kids for next fall in all areas,” Ward said.

For more photos of the scrimmage, visit our photo gallery.

LaRene Cross Saxton

Keizer- LaRene Cross Saxton, 80, of Keizer, passed away on June 2, 2011, at a local care facility.

She was born on January 19, 1931, in Albany, Oregon,  to Willis Kenneth and Louise (Robinette) Cross. LaRene lived in Albany until 18, when she attended college at Oregon State University in Corvallis for her freshman year. She transferred to Linfield College in McMinnville for her sophomore and junior year, majoring in music. She earned a teaching degree from Western Oregon State College with a minor in music.

L. Saxton

LaRene married Cllifford Saxton on August 24th, 1952, enjoying 59 years of a fulfilling marriage comprised of friendship, love, and happiness. Together they lived in Shed, Florence, and North Bend, before moving to the Salem/ Keizer area where they lived for the last 44 years. LaRene was an elementary school teacher, and taught first grade in room 2 for 17 years at Highland Elementary School in Salem.

She loved her family dearly, and spent hours supporting them with endless patience, her keen sense of humor, love of laughter, and unconditional encouragement. A voracious reader, LaRene was constantly engrossed in a book, and she loved to knit, play classical piano, and travel.

LaRene is survived by her husband of 59 years, Clifford, of Salem; daughter Gayle Toft and her husband Mickey of McMinnville; son Rob Saxton and his wife Toni of Sherwood; grandchildren Erin Toft of Portland, Elaina Toft of Eugene, Bryan Toft of McMinnville, Sean Saxton of El Paso, Texas, and Ellany Saxton of Sherwood.

A Celebration of Life will take place on Friday, June 17, at 2 pm, at the Salem KROC Community Center, 1865 Bill Frey Road. Arrangements were entrusted to Keizer Funeral Chapel. Memorials may be sent to The American Cancer Society of Oregon, or Serenity Palliative Care and Hospice.