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Day: October 13, 2011

Celts fall to Titans 44-28

Celt Gonzolo Cervantes puts an extra point through the uprights in McNary’s game with the West Salem Titans. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Turnovers continued to be a problem for the McNary High School varsity football team in a 44-28 loss to West Salem High School last week.

“We put up 28 points, but we had an opportunity to have 42,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach. “We had a fumble at the one-yard-line and dropped eight passes that might have given us better field position.”

The Celts had a shortened week of practice with a homecoming game against South Salem High School Thursday past press time. It meant a day less to practice as competition in the Central Valley Conference reaches a fever pitch. The league has three teams at 2-0 and three at 0-2, including McNary and South Salem.

“A win would help and if we’d be the only team to take that win in that bottom three, it would really help our confidence,” said Celt Perry Groves.

After a huge performance a week prior, Celt Justin Gardner often found himself under double coverage by the Titans, cutting off the Celtics’ short passing game. On the other hand, it left Celt quarterback Justin Burgess to connect with receiver Garren Robinett for three touchdowns in the win.

“I thought we did a good job offensively, we were able to move the ball pretty well,” said Celtic senior Corey White. “On defense, we were able to recognize and call out the plays a lot on the field, we just kept missing tackles. It was a big thing and we need to be able to tackle in the open field a little bit better.”

McNary’s first drive ended in a punt and the defense stepped in to hold the Titans until their third down. A screen play gained the Titans a first down and the Titan quarterback Andy Siemens connected with Brandon Groat in open field for a 57-yard touchdown.

“Most of the time our defensive line was holding our own. Our outside containment was an issue, they got a lot of yardage on the outside,” said Celt Bruce Isabell.

West Salem recovered an onside kick, but the Isabell picked up a stripped ball as the Titans made their next drive. He ran it back to the three-yard-line before the Titans got a hand on him.

The Celtics made it to the one-yard-line when a missed handoff was scooped up by one of the Titans.

The Titans went up 14-0 at 9:36 in the second quarter. Helped along by a pass interference call, the Celts scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Burgess to Jake Sperle at 6:47. The 14-7 gap didn’t last long, however, as West Salem responded with another touchdown drive re-extending its lead to 21-7.

McNary’s next drive ended in an interception that slipped through the hands of Celt receiver Mike Gerasimenko. West Salem wound down the clock on a slow drive punctuated by timeouts and put a field goal through the uprights for a 24-7 lead at the half.

“We had a lot of struggle with getting double teamed in the first half, we have to work on getting past that keeping our feet down and not getting pushed back,” Isabell said.

West Salem scored twice more for a 38-7 lead before Burgess made his first connection with Robinett on a 15-yard touchdown pass at 7:43 in the third, a blocked kick kept the score to 38-13.

White came up with an interception on the Titans return drive that would set the stage for another Burgess-Robinett touchdown pass at 2:32 in the third quarter. Burgess hit Austin Hejny on the two-point conversion to close the spread to 38-21.

West Salem found the Celtic end zone on a 19-yard run in the final minute of the quarter and the Celtics last points came on an 11-yard pass from Burgess to Robinette with 2:37 left in the game.

While the Celts didn’t escape with a win, there were some good things happening, Ward said. Offensive line discipline led to several offsides calls against the Titans. Robinett managed 171 yards on 11 catches.

“The offensive line did a great job protecting Burgess, he had time to throw all night. They have improved a ton, it’s just getting rid of simple mistakes,” Ward said.

Lineman Tyler Brown said there was still room for improvement.

“It’s a matter of getting where we need to go,” Brown said. “Hitting from the hips and getting to the right gaps. Just making sure we’re doing our jobs right.”

Fired worker’s lawyer says city investigation incomplete

UPDATED to include police report referenced in statement. The report is after the statement from Clark Williams.

The attorney for Roland Herrera, a public works employee fired by the city two weeks ago, sent us a statement yesterday describing why they think his termination was unjustified. Our original story is here.

Herrera was named 2009 First Citizen by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce for his charitable works. Clark Williams, his personal attorney, said the city’s personnel investigation was selective and didn’t include interviews with witnesses Williams and Herrera provided.

City Manager Chris Eppley did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Keizertimes. A public records request seeking a copy of the city’s investigation results was denied, citing exemptions in state law allowing governments to keep personnel disciplinary actions confidential.

Herrera is union-represented, and the matter is set for arbitration.

Here’s the full statement from Williams:

Two incidents gave rise to the City’s decision to terminate Roland.

The first incident involved a citizen report that someone meeting Roland’s description had shopped at an estate sale near Verda Lane while on duty. In fact, Roland was working on site nearby and was called over by someone at the estate sale who recognized him. He went over to greet the person briefly, but did not purchase anything and returned to work. Roland provided statements of two other witnesses who verified he was working in the area that day. The City has chosen to believe the citizen report over Roland’s explanation and those of his two witnesses.

Second, while on his lunch break Roland visited Little Caesars because a $25 gift card that Roland had given his daughter to use had been declined. The on-site manager implied that the Roland was trying to scam the store. Roland became visibly upset, but did not swear or threaten the on-site manager. The on-site manager called the regional manager in Salem who instructed her to refund the gift card, and then the regional manager called in a complaint to the City of Keizer. The City dispatched a police officer who interviewed both Roland and the on-site manager within an hour of the incident. The officer concluded that the incident was “no big deal,” in his words. The officer’s incident report supports Roland’s version of the facts. But the regional manager claimed that the encounter was more severe, and the City has chosen to believe him even though he was not a party to the incident and even though his version of the facts is not supported by the police officer’s incident report. The irony is that, in fact, the officer called Little Caesars’ toll free number and determined that the gift card was valid. Evidently, Little Caesars’ card reader had malfunctioned.

It is most telling that the City never interviewed the police officer who was dispatched to Little Caesars. I interviewed the police officer myself and suggested that the City do so, too. The police officer is the best witness and the only unbiased witness. His written notes and his memory of the incident are very specific. Yet, despite taking four months to conduct the investigation, no one at the City ever took the time to walk to the other side of City Hall to inquire further of the police officer. This fact, we believe, is a clear indication that City officials were not objective in their investigation and that they chose to listen to and believe only what supported their pre-determined outcome.

Finally, and in any event, these two isolated incidents do not merit termination of a valuable 19-year employee such as Roland. His personnel record, while not spotless, is replete with evaluations that he consistently “meets” or “exceeds” standards. The City is disregarding its own “progressive discipline” policy to reach all the way to the 7th and final disciplinary step, which is termination. There is no precedent for the City to terminate an employee under these narrow circumstances. We believe that Roland should be reinstated immediately and we still seek that.

Hunger hits record levels

Of the Keizertimes

Both regionally and locally, food banks are setting the kinds of records they don’t want to see.

Currently Marion-Polk Food Share isn’t able to distribute items like canned meats, non-green vegetables and peanut butter due to lack of supply.

For the first time, more than a million emergency food boxes were given out over a one-year period in Oregon and southwest Washington.

“I have never seen the demand for emergency food this high,” said Rachel Bristol, chief executive officer for Oregon Food Bank, adding food box distribution has gone up 30 percent since the recession began in 2008.

More than one in 12 were given out in Marion and Polk counties, and Marion-Polk Food Share set its own record this past fiscal year, with 88,742 emergency food boxes distributed over the two counties.

“That is about a 10 percent increase,” said Eileen DiCicco, development associate for MPFS. “It keeps going up.

Curt McCormack, director of the Keizer Community Food Bank (KCFB), continues to see increased need, although he said September was a bit slower than August had been. August was up 20 to 25 percent over July, he said.

Yet he expects a year-over-year increase of about 13 percent from 2010 to 2011. Keizer’s food bank measures by calendar year, not July-June. He said KCFB served 3,015 families in 2010 and is on track to provide food boxes for 3,474. From January to June they handed out 1,709 boxes. More demand means an increased need for food. It comes from a mix of private donations (both cash and food) and USDA commodities allocated to food banks. Bristol fears the end of a year-over-year increase of 80 percent in USDA commodity allocations will end – nearly a 30 percent drop.

“We were only able to meet this staggering demand for emergency food due to record levels of (USDA) commodities and the tremendous generosity of the entire community: individuals, groups and businesses,” Bristol said.

McCormack said some types of food seem to be plentiful; he recently had more frozen vegetables than his group could handle. Meanwhile items like tuna fish and peanut butter seem to rush off the shelves as soon as they get there.

“It’s hard to keep them in stock – we may get enough for one opening, and then it’s gone,” he said.

DiCicco said MPFS doesn’t have enough of these staples to give them to local food banks like KCFB, meaning boxes are either given out without them or individual managers purchase them with cash on hand.

Target postpones grocery rollout

Submitted photo

Keizer’s Target store won’t introduce its expanded grocery lineup until mid-2012.

It was initially reported to be underway, and available in October 2011, but a Target spokesperson said the remodel will not be complete until sometime next year.

When it’s done Target will offer what spokesperson Jamie Bastian called “a curated assortment” of “the fresh foods that top weekly shopping lists” – things like fresh packaged meat, produce like bananas, berries, lettuce and the like along with pre-packaged baked goods.