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

Day: November 4, 2011

It’s a lousy time to ask for new taxes

To to Editor:

It’s a lousy time to ask for new taxes.

Nevertheless, I’m voting for the 911 fee.  The police have already cut.  One of the largest items in their budget is paying the 911 call center.  They can’t cut 911 service, so they’ve cut police officers to balance their budget.

Did you know Keizer Police doesn’t have any narcotics officers?  They used to have three school resource officers.  Now, they only have two.  The police union voted to not take a scheduled pay increase so they wouldn’t have more layoffs.

I’m for belt-tightening, but I also want to be safe.  If I call 911, I want that operator to send Keizer police right away.  If Keizer Police have to keep cutting, you might get a 911 operator on the first ring, but what good is that if you are fifth in line for help from the police when there are only three officers on duty?

Keizer has one of the lowest property tax rates in Oregon.  That’s a good thing. But a small monthly fee (less than $5) dedicated to paying for local 911 services is necessary, even in this tough economy.

I’m voting yes for the dedicated, local 911 fund.

Michael Kurtz

Support for former city employee

To the Editor:

I would like to express my support for a valued Keizer community member Roland Herrera.

Roland is the number one ambassador for our town, anyone from west, south, eorth or east Salem that have ever attended a sporting event in Keizer knows Roland. An outgoing, happy, and engaging man whose heart clearly outweighs his body!

Roland has left his mark in our schools,  his work with water education in our schools has made an impact with our young students.  Little League has grown and prospered because of the efforts of Roland Herrera, I can’t think of a project involving athletics at McNary High School that Roland hasn’t been a major contributor.

Many of us who were here during the “floods” recall Roland Herrera’s selflessness, as he worked around the clock, filling sand bags, organizing groups to distribute them throughout Keizer, making personal calls to families in need, and being there for anyone who asked for his assistance. Roland was a valuable asset during this time of concern.

Finally, I appreciate Roland Herrera’s zest for life. I am sure his popularity has rubbed a few of his co-workers the wrong way, Being named Keizer First Citizen was great recognition for a man who bleeds McNary blue and loves the city of Keizer. His recent termination from his job with the city of Keizer ( after 19 years!), is a disappointing action. I hope the city of Keizer realizes the impact this has on our community. Roland Herrera does not deserve this!

Mike Maghan

One win will decide who’s in

Celt D.J. Harryman charges to the McKay 5-yard-line after intercepting a pass in the game with the Royal Scots. McNary’s 48-19 win set up a game with Grants Pass High School this week. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

Of the Keizertimes

A play-in game Friday, Nov. 4, will decide which varsity football team, the McNary High School Celts or Grants Pass High School Cavemen, will advance to the 32-team playoff bracket.

McNary finished its season with two wins to claim fifth place out of six teams in the Central Valley Conference. The Cavemen finished sixth out of eight teams in the Southwest Conference, the team’s most recent victory was a 33-13 rout last week over South Eugene High School.

“That league is pretty stacked with competition, but we’ve had comparable seasons,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach. “They’re a lot like McKay in that they like to run the ball, but we showed we were capable of shutting that down and we’ve got a bit more of a streak going.”

John Musser, Grants Pass head coach, said the Cavemen will be looking to thwart the Celtic passing game, “ We need to contain both their quarterbacks, and we’re impressed with [Garren] Robinett, but [Justin] Gardner and [Mike] Gerasimenko have made some big plays.”

The Cavemen’s defense has been the team’s strength for much of the season, but a lack of depth has left them struggling to outlast team’s with larger rosters, Musser said.

What it lacks in depth, Grants Pass makes up for in standouts. On defense, middle linebacker Steven Etheridge leads the team in tackles; outside linebacker Chad Lowe has three interceptions for the year including one for a touchdown last week; corner back Riley Veritch also has a trio of interceptions; and Musser called defensive end Dustin Randall an “explosive player off the edge” who is leading the team in sacks.

Offensively, Cavemen quarterback Hunter Rich is “small but crafty,” according to Musser. Logan Dean is the team’s best running back. He piled up nearly 100 yards in the outing with South Eugene. Tight end Kolton Mahr, and wide receivers Veritch and Lawrence Potts are also names to be listening for during the game.

On the Celtic side of the ball, quarterback Justin Burgess said the team will be figuring out how to adjust its passing game to the Cavemen’s deep coverage.

“We’ll need to sharpen that up, but the main thing is we can’t be looking past them,” Burgess said.

Teammate Perry Groves said the Celtic offensive game felt most complete in its recent win over McKay, but the danger now runs to the other extreme.

“We have to make sure we’re not getting too cocky,” he said.

For both teams, it will likely come down to which one puts together the most complete game effort.

“A breakdown or two has cost us all year in games,” Musser said. “We need to put together four quarters in all three phases of the game.”

Celt Robinett echoed the sentiment, “We’ve had games where things were going well on one side of the ball or the other. If we can put it together, I think we’ll be fine.”

The need for outreach

Two of our front page stories – profiling the new director at the Southeast Keizer Community Center and a vicious beating at an apartment complex less than a mile away – are tied by more than just geography.

The first illustrates a positive example of offering stability and a positive example in an area that, at least by Keizer crime standards, has more than its fair share of problems. The second illustrates the consequences of inaction, or when outreach efforts just aren’t enough.

The gang business does well in good times or bad, but their selling points for potential recruits – a sense of belonging, purpose and a chance to escape poverty – have more resonance during a recession. Consider that all of the young men involved were 21 years of age or less; one just turned 18 less than three months ago.

Teenagers and young adults have been hit particularly hard in the disrupted economy. Just 55.3 percent of those aged 16-29 are employed, which is down from 67.3 percent in 2000, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. Census data. The news organization also reports young black and Hispanic men without a college education suffered the most.

We surely don’t know how three young men came to show up at a Keizer apartment complex with hammer and shotgun in hand to deliver a peer a beating he’ll never forget. We also remember the good economic times, and know that gangs were appealing then.

But we see how groups like the Southeast Keizer Community Center are working to forge ties within the neighborhood – the same relationships and leadership-by-example that can deter a young person who’s on the fence about joining a gang and becoming a part of what that means.

Another faith-based organization is working to rent an apartment near where the beating took place. One of their aims is to build relationships and show children that police officers and others with a badge are not a threat.

We applaud their efforts and hope our emergency responders will do what they can to back them up. After all, cops and firefighters know better than anyone what an ounce of prevention is worth.


Power in numbers

There is a lesson to be learned from this week’s report that Bank of America has decided not to charge its customers a $5 fee for using their debit cards: the public can force change.

After an outcry about the new proposed fees from B of A and other big banks, Bank of America was the last to reverse itself and drop the fee. People do have the power to change the things they don’t like.  Bank customers who would be subject to the new fees threatened to vote with their wallets, by pulling their accounts and and shift their money to other financial institutions.

The public should take note that en masse they have the ability to not only change a corporate policy but they could also change the way the country is run.  With the proposed bank fees they voted with their wallets.  We’d like the public to also vote with their votes. The middle class is the largest segment of the population; their votes can fundamentally change the country for the good.

GOP field is less than stellar

To the Editor:

Regarding results of web poll results (Keizertimes, Oct. 28):

The results are frightening since Herman Cain is not a real candidate with a plan —he’s a book salesman with a slogan.  He’s the new Donald Trump—less smarmy but just as silly.  The 9-9-9 thing is a slogan based on a modified KISS principle —Keep It Simple AND Stupid.

Do you really think the IRS and the army of tax lawyers/preparers will just disappear to be replaced by a page form that raises taxes on everyone except plutocrats?  Oh sure, Rick Perry does, but he’s the governor of Texas and history shows you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to hold that job.  Face it, Republicans, Mitt the Flipper is your guy and who knows, he may have his own tax simplification plan soon.  As for the rest of the field, there’s always Dancing With the Stars.

Martin Doerfler

Action needed now on Alzheimer’s


Every 69 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. Currently there are an estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, which could grow to 16 million by 2050. In Oregon, about 76,000 people have Alzheimer’s, as well as over 162,000 unpaid family caregivers. For these caregivers, increased stress leads to more health problems, time providing care leads to less time for work, family or their own interests, and many are financially devastated. As the boomers turn 65 and we continue to see the rate of Alzheimer’s increasing, we will be facing a crisis.

We need to take action now to avert this crisis. We need to set a goal for where we want to be and then determine how best to get there. If we don’t do this, we will see insurance rates skyrocket, Medicare and Medicaid drained, and millions more families suffering needlessly.

There is some good news. Plans are being created to address the Alzheimer’s crisis at both the national and Oregon levels. Congress unanimously passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act last year, which requires the creation of a national plan for Alzheimer’s. This effort is up and running, and people can provide input and follow the progress by going to

Here in Oregon, the Alzheimer’s Association is partnering with state legislators, non-profit organizations, government agencies, scientific and academic researchers, memory care providers, individual caregivers, and others to craft a “State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease in Oregon”. This plan will help ensure effective and efficient care and services to people living with Alzheimer’s and their families. In short, this plan is to make Oregon “dementia ready”.

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, but I’d ask you to be more than aware – be active and engaged. There will be a town hall meeting via telephone on November 10th to gather public input on what should be in the Oregon plan for Alzheimer’s.  If you RSVP on the Alzheimer’s Association website or by calling 503-416-0202, you can be connected to this town hall call to provide your input on what you think needs to be done to fight Alzheimer’s and ensure quality care and services for people impacted by it.

In these tough times, we know that government budgets and family budgets are stretched thin. We believe that together we can meet the needs of people impacted by Alzheimer’s while saving money. More funding for research now can save billions of dollars in costs in the future. Effective training programs for caregivers can lead to fewer doctor visits for them. Better coordination of services will save taxpayers money. These are all things that can and should be part of the national and state plans for Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is the next big public health issue to tackle. As a society, we need to come together, discuss the issues openly, and make sure we’re prepared to deal with it. We know we can solve major puzzles when we devote resources to it, like sending a man to the moon or finding effective treatments for AIDS. Now is the time for us to turn our attention to Alzheimer’s.

Jon Bartholomew is public policy director for the Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

911 fee

To the Editor:

Over twenty years ago, the Oregon Legislature started a 75 cent per month tax on telephone service to pay for the newly created 9-1-1 emergency telephone service.  Twenty years ago the 75 cent tax was enough to pay the bill.  A lot has changed since then.

The difference between today’s 9-1-1 and yesterday’s 9-1-1 is the same as the difference between your smart phone and the coin-operated, rotary-dialed pay phones on street corners in black and white photos.  No longer is the service just pick up a phone and dial 9-1-1, where a dispatcher answers the phone and sends the police, ambulance or fire truck.  Technological changes have produced a much more effective, efficient and safer system. Computer-aided dispatch means a faster, better response… and a higher cost.

Along with the enormous changes in technology, the cost of public safety emergency communications has seen enormous growth as well.  Today it costs the City of Keizer $690,400 a year to provide modern police emergency communications.  The cost from labor, equipment, computer software, phone lines, cell phones, etc. has driven the expense far past the resources provided by the 9-1-1 tax.

In 2010/11 the City of Keizer received $107,400 from the State of Oregon 9-1-1 Tax.  The cost for 9-1-1 dispatch service alone was $453,500—add in the cost of police car computers, radios, network support, software, etc. and the city had to add $583,000 from the General Fund to pay for Public Safety Emergency Communications.  The result is $583,000 less in the police department budget to pay for police cars patrolling our streets, narcotic officers arresting meth dealers and school resource officers making sure our schools are safe.

Will 9-1-1 go away if Keizer voters say “no” to the proposed 9-1-1 fee?  Of course not, and it is silly for anyone to suggest otherwise, but without the fee more and more of the money intended to provide police, fire and ambulance services will be used to pay for 9-1-1 operators instead.

Marc Adams
Jeff Cowan

Marc Adams is Chief of the Keizer Police Department.  Jeff Cowan is Chief of the Keizer Fire District.

Local businesses help fill shelves

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Keizer Community Food Bank (KCFB), I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Ed Roberts and the Nightmare Factory crew at the Oregon School for the Deaf for adding 1,500 pounds of food to the Bank’s shelves during their October Halloween event.

We also thank Tony Grove at Tony’s Kingdom of Comics and Jim Nardi and his staff at Uptown Music for regularly making the Keizer Community Food Bank the recipient of their special events.  These two businesses go out of their way tohelp keep food on our shelves.  Next time you’re in their neighborhood, stop in and say “thank you for supporting the food bank.”

And last but by no means least, we thank you, the Keizer community for supporting these businesses through your generous donations to the KCFB.  Matthew 25 provides the framework for our food bank mission:  “I was hungry and you gave me food…” Because of your generosity, we are able to make that mission a reality for families and individuals who find their cupboards empty.

Rev. Curt McCormack,
Keizer Community Food Bank

Celt duo headed to state XC meet

McNary junior Courtney Repp and senior Ashley Burger earned spots in the state cross country meet. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

It’s been a season of firsts for McNary High School’s cross country teams.

It was the first time the girls had two team members, senior Ashley Burger and junior Courtney Repp, named to the first team all-league. It was the first time the Celts had a runner, Aisha Amaitsa, named to the second team all-league. It was the first time any Celt, freshman Selena Ravey, won the junior varsity district meet. It was the first time the boys had three runners, Tyler Jordan, 17:39, Dylan McHugh, 17:49, and Edgar Jimenez, 17:54, finish the district meet in under 18 minutes. The girls varsity team also finished in third place in the district meet, the highest placing in the team’s history.

“We took 25 kids to the district meet and 19 finished with personal records, what more can a coach ask for?” said Rick Fordney, McNary head coach.

As a result of all these firsts, two runners – Burger and Repp – are headed to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 5 in Eugene.

“It’s been my dream since freshman year,” Burger said. “Getting there was pretty much the best feeling ever. I was ranked first all season and I kind of  expected it, but still when it happened, I was like ‘omigosh.’”

Burger finished ninth overall with a time of 20:41, four seconds shy of her personal record. Teammate Courtney Repp finished in sixth place with a time of 20:21, a 14-second PR over her previous best.

While both knew they stood a fair chance of landing spots in state meet, Repp said having Burger on her team was what kept her at the top of her game.

“Ashley was my biggest competition and staying in line with her was my goal,” Repp said.

A larger turn out for the team in general made Burger pushed herself to find new reservoirs of grit and determination.

“Having a big team with a lot of talented girls made me try that much harder. It was good competition,” she said.

While Burger is reaching the apex of her high school career, Fordney said the big change that occurred this season was in her desire to reach her goal.

“Ashley has started running forward, she always used to look like she was running in place,” he said.

As for Repp, he’s certain she’s capable of even more, “Courtney is super competitive and she’ll probably be even better when she starts putting it all out on the track. Once she gets short distances at a faster pace, she’ll be one of the biggest threats out there.”

Both Burger and Repp are hoping to break the 20-minute mark in the state meet.

In the district meet, Amaitsa led the field in personal records improving her time by 1:30. Meanwhile, Ravey, Felicia Covey, Aerial Rice, Julia Lewis, Kayla Raley, Judy Jaing, Marissa McGrath, Jordan, and McHugh improved their personal records by 30 seconds or more.