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

Day: November 8, 2011

Public safety fee flops at ballot box

Of the Keizertimes

Voters have resoundingly rejected a local ballot measure which would have established a public safety communications fee.

While less than half of results have been reported thus far, initial returns show a four-to-one landslide against the $4.86 fee.

Results released by the Marion County Clerk’s office show 5,898 voting against Measure 24-324, with 1,471 voting in favor.

More returns are expected to be released at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

Boy’s death ruled homicide

A four-year-old Keizer boy’s death was ruled a homicide Tuesday afternoon, and his stepfather is in jail on manslaughter charges.

Authorities allege the man pushed the young boy down a flight of stairs, then played video games for more than an hour before seeking medical help despite injuries to the child’s head.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office stated Sebastian Iturbe, 4, died of blunt force trauma to the head. Dr. Larry Lewman stated the death was a homicide.

A statement Tuesday from Keizer Police stated the boy lived at Hawk’s Point Apartments at 1220 McGee Court NE in north Keizer with his mother, 27-year-old Erika Iturbe Colin, stepfather Gerardo Chavavirra Pinzon and his 13-month old sister.

Pinzon is charged with manslaughter and is in the Marion County Correctional Facility. Additional charges may be forthcoming, police said.

According to a probable cause statement from Keizer Police detectives, the suspect initially told authorities the child fell off a step leading to their apartment and hit his head. However, according to Det. Vaughn Edsall, the suspect later changed his story.

Police said the suspect had his hands full while returning to their basement apartment and asked Sebastian to carry something. Sebastian became angry and stopped at the top of a flight of stairs, Edsall wrote in his statement. The suspect then pushed the boy, police said, causing him to fall down 17 stairs and land at the bottom clutching his head. His head struck several stairs as he fell, police said.

According to police, the suspect carried Sebastian inside and put him on a couch, then took him to bed, and went to play video games on his Playstation.

After about an hour and a half he found Sebastian breathing but unresponsive in his bed. The stepfather admitted the boy into Salem Hospital at about 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, with what the attending physician called life-threatening injuries. Doctors there performed emergency surgery, and subsequently sent Sebastian to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

He was pronounced dead at 9:45 p.m. Sunday, November 6.

Keizer Police are asking anyone who may have seen or heard anything unusual or suspicious in the morning or afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 5 – or at Country Glen Park during the same time period – to call Keizer Police. Police believe the suspect may have taken the two children to the park that day to play with remote control toy cars.

Whiteaker student arrested after violent threat


A 13-year-old Whiteaker Middle School student was arrested for disorderly conduct after threatening to bring a gun to campus and shoot other students, Keizer Police said Monday night.

Administrators at the school found out about a potential threat to the school through students last Thursday and an investigation led to the student suspected of making the threat. Principal Laura Perez said earlier in the day the threat was “not viable.”

“Any time you have students anxious about something the story tends to get bigger and bigger,” she said.

An recorded call went out to parents last week and classes have continued at the school uninterrupted. The suspected student was suspended from school pending the investigation’s outcome.

Perez said administrators enacted their security plans and were “looking at the issue from all angles since student safety is the priority.”

Parents of the student suspected are cooperating with investigators and the school is working toward a discipline plan.

School Resource Officer Jay Prall began investigating the threat last week. Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns said the student, identified simply as a 13-year-old male, had told several peers over a period of days he was planning to bring a gun to school and shoot other students. The arrested juvenile denied making the threats.

Kuhns also stated that evidence on the suspect’s Facebook page supported what other students had been saying.

Additional charges may be forthcoming, Kuhns said.

“Investigating reports of this nature are of the highest priority for both the Keizer Police Department and the Salem-Keizer School District,” Kuhns added.

Celts’ ‘Antigone’ opens Thursday

Belladina Starr and Rudy Trevino share a moment during rehearsals (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

When the curtain rises on McNary High School’s production of Antigone next week, actor Ricardo Jimenez doesn’t want it to fall without jerking a tear or two.

“There are some moments where you might laugh, but it’s about life and death. It’s a tragedy,” Jimenez said.

The plays unfolds in the wake of a civil war in which two brothers died. Their uncle orders a hero’s’ funeral for one while the other will be buried unremarkably. Their sister, the titular Antigone, must decide how she will respond to the orders. It’s an updated version of the Greek play by Sophocles.

For Belladina Starr, who plays Antigone, the role spoke to her deeply and immediately. She was given the script last year by director Dallas Myers to research a monologue.

“Within the first three pages, I wanted to play Antigone,” Starr said. “She stands up for what she believes in, it’s true to myself. If you believe in something you need to stand up and be true to yourself.”

While the play revolves around Antigone’s decision, it’s Jimenez who shoulders the lion’s share of the plays dialogue, about 70 percent of it, by Myers’ calculations.

Members of the Chorus wait for their cues. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The Chorus, traditionally played by 1-3 people, is tackled by a group of 10 Celtic actors who take on a role much more interactive that what was originally prescribed in the script. The Chorus actors frequently adjust their position on the stage and provide sound effects and an ethereal presence that gave the play eerie, forboding undertones during rehearsals.

“It’s interesting to see how people say things in different patterns and how we have to adjust to meet each other,” said Carina Myrand.

While the Chorus roles require an extrasensory perception of where everyone is on the stage, it’s also provided time for reflection of the diverse themes of the script, said Tracie Burich.

“While I’m sitting, I listen to the dialogue. There’s a lot of interesting and complex themes. It’s a deep and interesting play,” she said.

Evoking that complexity in a performance is the biggest challenge for first-time actors Rudy Trevino, as Haemon, and Megan Demagalski, as Anigone’s nurse.

“I didn’t realize it was going to take as much as it does,” Demagalski said.

“I’ve been surprised at how much it takes of yourself to be a character,” Trevino added. “The emotions these characters are feeling are real, they can’t be faked.  They need to come from someplace real. I have the lines memorized, but I need to feel them and it’s translated into my life and music [interests] because it’s about integrity.”

McNary’s run of Antigone begins Thursday, Nov. 10 at McNary and continues Nov. 11-12 and 17-19. Curtain time is 7 p.m. for all shows. Tickets are $5 in advance or at the door.

A sip and a sit at Momma Honey

Brian and Carissa Spenst recently opened Momma Honey and the Princess, a tea house on River Road. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

A teahouse has opened in Keizer, with a playroom for the little ones and hot tea and coffee five days a week.

Carissa and Brian Spenst opened Momma Honey and the Princess earlier this month at 4054 River Road N., across the parking lot from Baskin Robbins.

The concept started as a way to get Brian back to work; he’s had trouble finding permanent work since the coupled moved to Oregon two years ago from Ohio.

They’re carrying the Intelligentsia line of teas in 8 oz and 12 oz. cups, with varieties like jasmine peach white, black teas like Earl Grey and English breakfast, herbals like blue crane and chamomile.

Iced teas include berry-infused King Crimson and “The Standard,” described on the menu as “an exquisite black tea … reflecting a deep, rich flavor but never crossing into astringency.”

The Spenst family aimed for a family atmosphere when working on their new digs.

“We’ve noticed as parents that a lot of the coffeeshop-type places, or even restaurants, don’t always have a kid-friendly atmosphere,” Brian said. “We want a stay-at-home mom or dad to feel comfortable bringing them here.”

So that’s why they have a toyroom along with a TV for watching kids’ videos.

In addition to tea, they’ve got hot coffee and plan to have pastries from a local bakery.

Momma Honey and The Princess

Location: 4054 River Road N., Keizer
Phone: (503) 602-7689
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Closed Sunday & Monday