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Day: July 11, 2011

City sets hearing for Keizer Fire annexation of Clearlake neighborhood

The process to annex the Clearlake neighborhood into the Keizer Fire District drew interest from the Keizer City Council, which voted to hear more on the subject.

Councilors passed a resolution which sets a public hearing to garner input on the issue. Councilor David McKane voted no. Officials from both Keizer Fire and Marion County Fire District 1 – which currently serves the Clearlake neighborhood – made presentations at the council Monday night.

More later.

Residents served well by Marion County Fire District

GUEST OPINION
By RANDY FRANKE

On behalf of Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD#1), I want to address the current efforts by Keizer Fire District (KFD) to modify the long-standing fire district jurisdictional boundary lines between MCFD#1 and KFD (annexation). Because a recent letter from a KFD board member did not contain all the facts a formal response by the (MCFD#1) Board of Directors was needed.

The Clear Lake area and its residents have been served by MCFD#1, or our predecessor Brooks Rural Fire Protection District, since 1941. Recently we were able to expand our emergency medical response capabilities and added an additional ambulance to the Clear Lake station for even quicker response time to the community. Yes, you read it correctly, we have always taken care of this area and in May of this year we EXPANDED our service. KFD is upset that MCFD#1 chose to improve services for the Clear Lake residents as KFD believes this could negatively impact them up to $75,000 annually in “lost” ambulance revenue. What they don’t tell you is that they routinely and consistently have to rely on outside agencies to provide assistance to the entire KFD area through mutual aid agreements. What they also don’t tell you is that they can’t handle their present requests for ambulance services and therefore lose approximately $250,000 (or more) in revenue to other entities who do have the resources to take care of KFD area. They argue that a boundary adjustment would result in more money for KFD, and therefore they would be able to provide “better” service by hiring more people. Better than what? Better than what they cannot provide now? Better by continuing to rely on other agencies?

KFD has stated that they have been serving MCFD#1 Clear Lake area for 20 years. MCFD#1, on the other hand, has been providing high-quality fire protection and ambulance services to the area since 1941. The present relationship between MCFD#1 and KFD has resulted in maximum level of fire & EMS service to the entire city limits of Keizer, and certainly this includes our Clear Lake residents. We did not ask for this challenge but we will certainly respond to it.

So what is KFD’s motivation to annex the Clear Lake area from MCFD#1? The issue first surfaced with a letter from the Keizer Prairie Homeowners Association from its board of directors. Interestingly, when we looked closer we discovered that Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan serves on the board of directors, which certainly suggests that the board acted with his influence.

I encourage you to look at a map or take a drive through the Clear Lake neighborhood and it will become very apparent which is the closer fire district, KFD or MCFD#1 (Clear Lake Station). Soon, you will realize this is really just about money for KFD to try and cover an on-going shortfall in meeting its operational expenses.

An additional letter from the Vineyards II Home Owners Association came following a presentation to their board of directors from an employee of the KFD. Since the two letters were sent, we have spoken to residents of both areas who indicated to us that they were never approached about this topic by their respective boards of directors and that they certainly had not made a decision to support the KFD initiative via their homeowners association. Yet these two letters are the only public requests regarding annexation to date. KFD asserts that “150 Keizer citizens in the Clear Lake area” requested the annexation which is highly questionable as our own personnel & friends who live within the area were never contacted. There is no evidence of any public discussions, hearings, or the desires of the Clear Lake residents themselves. Interestingly, MCFD#1 also has never been approached by the City of Keizer about the initiative. We know the Keizer City Council wants what’s best for all Keizer residents. Unfortunately, this action by KFD is NOT in the best interest of all Keizer residents. In addition, our attorneys have indicated that the City of Keizer faces the largest potential liability if this ill-conceived process moves forward.

The big question then is why is this issue important to the KFD? The answer is simple – KFD has budget problems and they need the property tax dollars from the Clear Lake Residents to serve the rest of the residents in the KFD. Over this last year the KFD proposed a surtax on cell phones and are currently considering adding another tax to residents water bills. KFD will be forced to borrow money within the next 90 days just to meet its operating expenses. The proposed annexation is just the latest attempt by KFD to get more money! In contrast, the MCFD #1 board of directors has not asked the City of Keizer to implement any additional fees for fire and emergency service in the Clear Lake area.

We know that KFD will benefit from annexing MCFD #1 Clear Lake area because of the increased property tax dollars KFD could potentially receive, but what is the benefit for the Clear Lake residents? Is it better service? NO. Whether you measure quality service by response time, distance from the nearest station, and number of firefighters responding to calls or level of trained responders – MCFD #1 comes out on top. At the present time Clear Lake residents receive the best possible service and it will not be improved by this poorly thought out annexation attempt.

Keizer Fire District asserts that it can provide better service at a “significantly lower cost.” There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. Regarding the costs, there are a great deal of calculations that come into play; permanent property tax rate, temporary property tax levy rate, bonded indebtedness rate, and a potential fee of some kind (currently under consideration) to be added by KFD or the City of Keizer. One needs to look at them all to accurately compare apples to apples. When looking at projected 2012-2013 budget numbers, on an average $200,000 home the annual difference in the permanent rate and the operating levy rate between MCFD and KFD equates to less than $3.42 per month. For the price of a cup of coffee per month, Clear Lake residents currently receive the support and services of not one, but two fire providers through our existing mutual aid agreements.

Three additional issues raised recently by KFD were: 1) “Clear Lake residents will get a better insurance rating which results in reduced fire insurance rates for homeowners.” This is not correct. We’ve asked reputable, local insurance agents and they have said “the insurance rate is affected more by the location of the fire hydrant than by the ISO rating.” Most of the Clear Lake area has fire hydrants and an established water supply system, and that obviously doesn’t change. If you really want to know if your insurance costs will be reduced call your specific insurance agent and ask – don’t rely on rumors or unsubstantiated comments by an interested party. 2) “Continued services, police, public safety, education, CERT … keeping it on par with the rest of the City.” This is an interesting spin as fire & EMS service have absolutely nothing to do with law enforcement and other cited examples. This has nothing to do with police, it has nothing to do with CERT and it doesn’t have anything to do with public education! It’s just non-sensical buzz words that have no application in this situation. 3) KFD claims the annexation “properly allocates funding for fire, emergency and ambulance services that are already being provided … under an unfunded mutual aid agreement.” Question – does KFD think they should be compensated for participating in the long-standing mutual aid agreement? It may come as a surprise to KFD but mutual aid agreements are NOT typically funded anywhere in the State of Oregon. Mutual aid agreements are agreements between organizations that merely state “I’ll help you when you need it.” MCFD #1 and KFD have signed the exact same mutual aid agreement that every fire district/department has signed within Marion County. Simply put, when another fire agency needs help, we go. We help them, and they help us… Why do we do this? We do it because it is a wise use of resources and provides the best method of taking care of our community. We certainly do not do it in an attempt for financial incentive, nor do we do it to create false and misleading agendas that only serve to confuse the average taxpayer.

Finally, the annexation process that the KFD has chosen and asked the City of Keizer to support is complicated convoluted and has never been used successfully in this situation anywhere in the State of Oregon. The City should not unilaterally make a decision that will result in more expense to the City and less protection for the Keizer community simply to help the KFD with its budget predicament. Unfortunately, the process that KFD has chosen will prove to be long and costly. Our attorneys estimate the process could take upwards of two years. It will cost taxpayers money that public agencies could better invest elsewhere. In this economic time, public resources should be focused on essential services.

In conclusion, when all the facts are on the table and openly discussed about why KFD wants to annex the MCFD #1 service area called Clear Lake, the only logical explanation for this effort is so KFD can receive money to balance its budget in an attempt to maintain services to residents who do not live in the Clear Lake area.

We are happy to meet one on one or with groups of people to discuss specifics openly and candidly. More information can also be found on our web-site, www.wvfra.com and we are also on Facebook. If you would like to personally discuss the situation, please email me at [email protected].

Randy Franke is president of the Marion County Fire District #1 board.

Man robbed at gunpoint Fri. night

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A man was robbed at gunpoint while walking down Candlewood Avenue Friday night, and police are seeking a suspect.

The 19-year-old Keizerite was walking alone in the 1000 block of Candlewood Drive NE at about 10:14 p.m. Friday, July 8, when he saw he was being followed, according to Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns.

The suspect demanded money and showed a black semi-automatic handgun. The victim gave the suspect an undisclosed amount of cash and fled westbound on Candlewood Drive NE to Cherry Avenue NE. Police think he ran south on Cherry Avenue.

The suspect was described as a black male adult standing between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a shaved head. He was wearing a dark-colored hoodie and may have had on red and gray athletic shorts, police said. Officers searched the area that evening but were unable to find the suspect.

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Vaughn Edsall at 503-390-3713.

Annexation might put city on hook for part of Keizer Fire bonds, says MCFD chief

K. Henson and R. Franke

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer City Council plans to adopt a resolution scheduling a public hearing on the potential removal of the Clearlake neighborhood from Marion County Fire District No. 1 (MCFD), the seeming first step to placing it under the protection of the Keizer Fire District (KFD), but the MCFD chief and president of the MCFD fire board say it’s putting the cart before the horse.

“Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the legal system. I don’t think two years would be out of the realm of possibilities for appeals of something like this,” said Randy Franke, president of the MCFD fire board.

While talks between the two fire districts have been limited at best since February of this year, Chief J. Kevin Henson said MCFD has yet to be contacted at all by city officials. Given the circumstances,  district officials are already planning to contest the process at the hearing for annexation, withdrawal, urban services agreements, division of assets, county commissioner meetings and CAD dispatch changes.

“The boundaries can’t just change according to the ORS they cite. I don’t think [the city of Keizer] knows that and, because there hasn’t been a public process, I don’t think they know what they don’t know,” Henson said.

Keizer Fire District officials have requested the city’s assistance in withdrawing the Keizer Prairie and Clearlake neighborhoods from MCFD1 with KFD stepping in to assume services for the area. Keizer Fire officials contend that, under Oregon law, the city would be allowed to withdraw the property because the desired area does not comprise the area of the MCFD1 district.

The city will have to hold a public hearing on the issue and weigh any action against statewide planning goals and the interests of the city. Taking the withdrawal route would seemingly allow KFD to avoid the ballot box in deciding the issue, but it would require consent from the Marion County Board of Commissioners. What’s at stake for both fire districts is the property taxes collected on the homes in the area, which amounts to about $500,000 under MCFD and might fall to around $350,000 under KFD protection provided no new bonds are issued.

The problem with KFD’s position on the statue, Henson said, is that it was written for city departments and not independent entities like KFD.

“The statue also states that there must be an existing agreement to the annexation between the two parties and there is none,” he said.

Henson also questions the KFD interpretation of who would assume which debt for the various bonds each agency has issued.

“Keizer Fire claims the property owners in the area will be responsible for the MCFD debt, but not the KFD debt. According to our attorneys, the party responsible for the KFD debt would be the city of Keizer,” Henson said. “If the hearing is the first time we have to tell them they’ve got a bond debt problem, that’s not going to look good for anyone.”

Franke said the core issue is not one of service levels as it was portrayed early on in the skirmish.

“Services will not improve if a takeover occurs. At best, it will stay pretty much the same. It’s not about best service, it’s about more money for KFD,” Franke said.

Henson said Keizer Fire might be able garner some additional revenue by staffing its part-time ambulance to full-time status, but that there is nothing to be gained from a turf battle over Clearlake.

“When this is all done, we’re still going to be neighbors and we will need to work together,” Henson said.

Up and down week for Volcanoes

Photo by Brian Rennick for the Keizertimes

It looks like a football score, but it was baseball. The Volcanoes whipped the Tri-City Dust Devils 14-7 Saturday night at home to run their winning streak to five.

Joe Staley, Mike Murray, Joe Panik and Brice Cutspec swung hot bats, and Rafael Martinez and Wilber Bucardo pitched well in relief before a crowd of 3,318. It was San Francisco Giants Day, with the Volcanoes wearing Giants jerseys and two veterans of the parent club from the 1960s, Joey Amalfitano and Jim Davenport, signing autographs.

The visitors roughed up starting pitcher Reinier Roibal at the start, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Brian Humphries singled to center field, Tim Smalling doubled to left, and a single to left by Leo Reyes drove them both in. Jared Simon was hit by a pitch, Blake McDade’s grounder forced him out with Reyes going to third, and Reyes scored as Jayson Langfels grounded out.

Ricardo Ferrer, who was to become the losing pitcher, set Salem-Keizer down in order in the first. Roibal did the same to the Dust Devils in the top of the second.

In the second, the Volcanoes’ offense woke up for five runs. Murray doubled down the left field line and went to third when Brett Krill singled to center. Staley hit a home run over the center field fence. Garrett Buechele walked, and Cutspec knocked Ferrer’s pitch over the left center field wall.

Tri-City regained the lead in the top of the third, scoring three times. Smalling doubled down the left field line and scored when Jordan Ribera doubled to center. McDade was hit by a pitch, and he and Ribera scored when Langfels tripled to center.

Murray homered over the right field fence to tie the score in the bottom of the third.

In the fourth, Rafael Martinez took the mound for the Volcanoes. After he walked Humphries with one out, Smalling hit into a double play, short to second to first (Panik to John Eshleman to Cutspec).

The Volcanoes went ahead for good in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs. Cutspec reached first on a shortstop error, Shawn Payne hit an infield single, and Jesus Galindo singled with a grounder to center, driving in Cutspec. Payne scored on Eshleman’s sacrifice fly to right. A broken-bat single by Panik scored Galindo. With Krill at bat, Panik stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Krill drove Panik in with a single to left.

Salem-Keizer added a run in the sixth off Rafael Suarez, who had replaced Ferrer in the fifth. Panik singled to center and reached third on a throwing error that put Krill on first. Staley grounded out to bring Panik home.

The Dust Devils scored their last run in the seventh. Smalling doubled to left with two out, and Reyes drove him in with another double to left. Martinez left the game as the winning pitcher, with Wilber Bucardo taking over and retiring the next batter.

The Volcanoes came to bat in the seventh with Ching-Lung Lo pitching. Cutspec hit a hard grounder off Lo’s leg, but the pitcher threw to Ribera at first to get him out. After a mound conference, Lo stayed in the game, walked Payne and Galindo and gave up an infield single to Eshleman. Payne singled to center to bring Payne and Galindo home. Murray hit another single to center, driving in Eshleman.

Rhett Ballard pitched for Tri-City in the eighth, walking Payne with two out but then retiring the side.  Bucardo retired the Dust Devils in order in the ninth.

“I said earlier if we got some pitching, we’d be all right,” Volcanoes manager Tom Trebelhorn said. “Tonight we got some good relief.”

Trebelhorn also praised the club’s hitting and baserunning.

Krill, in his first year of professional baseball, has been an even bigger hitter in the previous few games after being sidelined for about 10 days with an injury. He said good pitching and fielding also have been big reasons for the recent turnaround in the Volcanoes’ play.

Staley, also asked about the Salem-Keizer surge, said, “Baseball is an up-and-down game.”

Also visiting from the parent club was Lee Smith, the major leagues’ No. 3 pitcher on all-time save list and a roving pitching instructor.

July 6: Volcanoes 10, Everett 6

The Volcanoes got their first series win and first winning streak of the season by beating Everett there 10-6.

More firsts in the game for Salem-Keizer were home runs in professional baseball by Jesus Galindo in the fourth inning with one on base and Garrett Buechele, son of former major leaguer Steve Buechele, in the eighth with two on. Brett Krill also homered, for the second time in two days, to lead off the fifth.

The Aquasox led twice, scoring the first three runs of the game in the second and taking a 5-4 lead in the third.

Lorenzo Mendoza was the starting and winning pitcher, with a 2-1 record. Despite giving up five earned runs in five innings, he has a season earned run average of 3.86. Everett’s starter, Bennett Whitmore, was the losing pitcher.

July 7: Volcanoes 6, Tri-City 5

Back home, the Volcanoes made it three wins in a row by edging the Tri-City Dust Devils 6-5.

Continuing their slugging ways were Brett Krill and Garrett Buechele, each hitting a home run. Starting pitcher Cameron Lamb had his best game so far, going seven innings and allowing only two runs, although it was Cody Hall who won the game in relief.

Tri-City scored the first run of the game in the top of the first inning, but Salem-Keizer responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning and led the rest of the way.

In the first inning, the Volcanoes’ Jesus Galindo doubled and went to third base on a single by John Eshleman. Joe Panik singled Galindo home. Eshleman was thrown out trying to score from second on a single by Mike Murray. Krill doubled Panik home, and Buechele homered with Krill and Murray on base.

The Dust Devils scored a run in the second and tied the score at 5-5 in the eighth, just after Stephen Shackleford replaced Lamb on the mound. Tri-City scored three runs on three hits and a walk, and Hall replaced Shackleford in the same inning.

Krill hit his homer in the eighth for the final score.

July 8: Volcanoes 4, Tri-City 2

Brett Krill did it again.

For the second straight night, Salem-Keizer’s biggest hitter broke up a game with a home run. It was an 11th-inning shot to right field with Kaohi Downing, pinch running for Mike Murray, on base.

Krill, whose homer meant a four-game winning streak for the Volcanoes, came out of the game batting .371 with four home runs and 15 runs batted in.

Brandon Allen had his best pitching start this season, going 5-1/3 innings with six strikeouts, three hits, one run and one walk. Brennan Flick won the game in relief.

The Volcanoes’ first run came in the first inning, when Jesus Galindo, who had walked, stolen second base and reached third on a grounder, scored on a sacrifice fly by Joe Panik. They scored again in the third, when Ryan Honeycutt, who had reached second base on an errant throw into the dugout and gone to third on a wild pitch, came in on a single by John Eshleman.

The Dust Devils scored in the sixth on a walk, a single and two grounders. They tied the score in the eighth on a single, a wild pitch and another single. David Hernandez scored both runs.

Craig Bennigson was the losing pitcher in relief.

July 10: Volcanoes 14, Tri-City 2

The Volcanoes made it four in a row over Tri-City, pounding the Dust Devils 14-2 on Portland Beavers Appreciation Night.

Honoring a Pacific Coast League club that had to leave because of having no place to play, Salem-Keizer combined its hitting and pitching talents the best so far of the 2011 season. The Volcanoes led 10-0 before Tri-City scored its two runs in the sixth inning.

The Volcanoes scored five runs in the second inning and four in the fourth. They outhit the Dust Devils 18-6.

Julio Izturis, Mike Murray and Brice Cutspec had three hits each. Dan Burkhart and Shawn Payne drove in three runs apiece, and Izturis and Burkhart scored three apiece. Starter Kendry Flores pitched 5-1/3 innings, evening his record at 2-2. Aaron King and Stephen Shackleford allowed no runs in relief.

Salem-Keizer had two home runs, by Cutspec in the third inning with the bases empty and Burkhart in the fourth with two on. Payne hit a bases-loaded triple in the second.

July 11: Tri-City 12, Volcanoes 2

Tri-City kept the Volcanoes from a sweep with a 12-2 win, outhitting Salem-Keizer 20-7.

The Dust Devils scored six runs in the fourth inning, four in the sixth and two in the ninth. Brian Humphries and Jordan Ribera had four hits each, Tyler Massey and Ribera drove in three runs apiece, and Humphries scored three runs. Massey hit a home run in the fourth with one on. Nelson Gonzalez was the winning pitcher in relief, having taken over for Ben Alsup in the fifth.

For the Volcanoes, Mike Murray continued his long ball hitting with a bases-empty home run in the fourth, his fifth. Salem-Keizer’s other run came in the sixth, when Murray singled to drive in Julio Izturis. Lorenzo Mendoza, the starting pitcher, took the loss.

The Northwest League was idle Tuesday, the day of the Major League All-Star game. The Volcanoes started a five-game series in Yakima on Wednesday, after press time.

Keizer woman takes fifth at ATA world tourney

Ireland’s ATA instructor Kathleen Wade took fifth place in weapons at the American Taekwondo Association in Little Rock, Ark., in June. Wade’s daughter, Emily, competed in her first world tournament on the trip. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Sometimes it really hurts to be an adult.

Kathleen Wade found out just how much earlier this year when she qualified for the American Taekwondo Association World Championship tournament and had to face up to the harsh reality that her family couldn’t afford the trip.

“In the past year, I’ve competed in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Canada and earned enough points that I was ranked ninth in the world in my weapons form, the oh sung do (sword),” Wade said.

Once Wade made the decision to forego the trip to Little Rock Arkansas to compete, she called her parents and got to talking about how much it hurt.

“They called me the next day and told me they would pay for my trip to compete, so I was very blessed,” Wade said.

She made the most of the opportunity and finished fifth in the world for women in the 40-49 first-degree black belt.

“I was really pleased to have moved up and it was so much fun,” she said.

Wade started training at Ireland’s ATA on River Road in Keizer about four months after her daughters started taking lessons there in 2008.

“We won a raffle basket that had a certificate for a six-month class and my oldest daughter started training. Soon my two other daughters were training and I was sitting in on the class and taking notes and they were having way too much fun,” Wade said.

She moved rapidly up the ranks and started on a path to becoming an instructor when she attained her blue belt. She became a fully-certified instructor at the world competition and teaches her own classes at Ireland’s.

“I’ve grown a lot and I’m more confident and more patient, a better parent because this is an awesome way to handle the stress of everyday life,” Wade said. “Just that physical release makes you happier overall. I challenged myself and met that challenge, and if I can do that, I can to anything.”

Wade may be content with the leap she made at the national tournament, but she is by no means done with competition.

“We have a big tournament coming up in October up in Portland and I’m going to to be working on getting all 9.7s, 9.8s and 9.9s,” Wade said. The highest score a competitor can receive is a 9.9.

Wade’s daughter, Emily, 15, joined her at the world competition and competed in the tournament that kicked off the 2011-12 competition season. The McNary High School sophomore, a first-degree black belt, competed in forms and weapons a level up with the second- and third-degree girls her age.

“That is one of the the toughest rings to be in. The forms and weapons and sparring you see is amazing and the level of competition is so much higher,” Emily said.

A former ballet practitioner, her technique draws a lot on dance and are less powerful than she would like at the moment.

“It needs to look more like I’m fighting someone,” Emily said.

The thing she took away from the competition is how much harder she wants to work in order to be ready for the next big tournament.

“I need to practice more. Those girls do a lot more practicing that I do, but they look awesome and their forms look really good,” Emily said.