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Day: December 9, 2011

Living 70 years after ‘death’

Of the Keizertimes

“Ghost returns with bride.”

That was the headline on the Rapid City Journal not long after U.S. Navy veteran Virgil Taylor brought his new wife to his boyhood home in South Dakota.

It’s the kind of detail that sticks with him even 70 years after everyone in his hometown thought he’d perished at Pearl Harbor. Taylor, now 95, wasn’t going away that easy.

Virgil Taylor, a 95-year-old Keizer resident who was stationed at Pearl Harbor, was writing his mother a letter when the Japanese military attacked his ship. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)


He thought he had things almost figured out on December 7, 1941. Taylor had joined the Navy in 1938 looking to save up enough money to go to accounting school and get out of the Deadwood gold mines.

Three and a half years of service went by fairly uneventfully, even as they constantly trained for war. He’d just been promoted to machinist’s first mate, and was writing his mother a letter while aboard the battleship USS California.

“I never really thought about war – all I wanted was to get my money and get out,” he said. He was six months away from that goal when all hell broke loose.

The order came to man battle stations, but Taylor thought it was just another drill. Then a friend who had earlier been tempting Taylor to go ashore and have some fun (Taylor declined the invitation because he didn’t want to spend the money) hurried white-faced down a ladder.

“The Japs are after us,” the man told Taylor.

From his station in the engine room, well below the deck, it was hard to tell what exactly was happening. He felt a vibration, but assumed something had bumped the ship. As we now know, Japanese war planes were bombing the Navy’s Pacific fleet, an act of aggression that pushed the United States into the deadliest war the world has ever known.

Had he been elsewhere on ship he may not have lived to tell the tale. After torpedoes struck the front and back of the battleship, a bomb hit the deck and ignited ammunition, leaving a cavern about 20 feet from his locker.

“When the bomb hit that just opened everything to the top deck,” he said.

The pounding left the ship unable to move, and the crew were ordered to abandon her. He opened the engine room’s hatch to see sunshine – a stark contrast from the office, machine shop and deck that had been there before – “just opened up like a book,” Taylor said.

Ironically, his life preserver he was wearing had gotten useless from waterlogging, so he tossed it off before he climbed down the captain’s ladder and jumped into the water. Taylor swam to a nearby ferry and got pulled up by a man suffering from his own wounds – a blister that ran from his ankle to his upper thigh.

An oil slick covered the water as the USS Oklahoma lay on her side, and flames shot out from the USS Arizona. He went back aboard the California to help fight fires as a U.S. flag was raised on the fantail.

Later that night he was standing watch with two gunmen operating anti-artillery aircraft. In the confusion and chaos, they fired on what turned out to be a U.S. warplane.

“He was out in the water hollering for help,” Taylor recalled. “We brought him in and took him to a doctor.”

There was nothing the doctor could do for the man, who had been mortally wounded when a bomb aboard the plane exploded.

“That’s when I thought this was going to be one hell of a war,” Taylor said.

He’s still not sure how, but in the aftermath a telegram was sent to his parents back home in South Dakota informing them of his death. About the same time, he and other survivors wired home telling them they were OK. Plans for a funeral service were underway when the second one arrived.

The USS California lost 98 of its 1,800-man crew. Other crews were not so lucky, if you can even use that word. Some 1,117 died from the USS Arizona. Overall 2,335 U.S. Servicemen lost their lives, with another 1,178 wounded.

He would go on to rejoin the USS California, seeing action at Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, Okinawa and Saipan.

His next visit to South Dakota earned him a hero’s welcome. He saw himself in the local paper – a hoot in and of itself – and the police chief offered a car and a driver to take him just about anywhere he and his wife wanted to go. (He says they only used it two or three times.)

Wanting some peace and privacy, for their honeymoon he checked in under his brother-in-law’s name at a lodge in Sylvan Lake, a destination in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

“I didn’t want anyone to bug us, but when I came back down they told me I didn’t owe them a thing,” Taylor said.

The six months he had left in the Navy became 17 and a half years – after the war, with a pregnant wife, he figured that was best. He’d go on to teach machinist classes in the service, and later taught in Indiana and eventually in Salem, where he passed on his skills to inmates at the Oregon State Penitentiary.

He now lives at Emerald Pointe Retirement Community in Keizer.

Information from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and Mike Allegre was used in this article.

Firemen trade barbs at meeting

K. Henson, J. Cowan

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer city councilors tabled until Dec. 19 a resolution which would send the proposed annexation of the Clear Lake neighborhood into Keizer Fire District.

The move at Monday night’s meeting came as leaders from KFD and Marion County Fire District No. 1 continued criticizing one another for everything from allegedly inconsistent statements to showing up at last week’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Keizer.

The council had voted just an hour or so earlier in the evening to approve ballot title and language that would send the matter to voters in a March election. Councilors expressed a desire to give the two agencies until Dec. 19 to reach a compromise, but were informed by MCFD attorney Christopher Crean that the agency would likely file a challenge to the ballot language in court. Crean had informed the city of a potential legal challenge earlier that day.

Councilor Joe Egli made a motion to reconsider, which was supported by Councilors David McKane, Mark Caillier and Jim Taylor.

Councilor Cathy Clark, who supported moving forward with the vote, said MCFD has shown a pattern of submitting last-minute legal arguments before council meetings.

“I’m not sure that even if we go through the exercise of going through this all over again, making sure it all lines up, that at 4 o’clock on Dec. 19, we won’t get another one,” Clark said. “I’m not sure when this is going to stop.”

Keizer Fire District Chief Jeff Cowan said his district would receive about $350,000 annually in property tax revenues should KFD serve the Clear Lake area. But if the election is held past March 2012 – and KFD prevailed – revenues would likely not be available for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

And Randy Franke, president of the MCFD board, said each agency has spent approximately $100,000 each on legal matters related to the annexation.

“That kind of financial bleeding really needs to stop,” Franke said. “Spending taxpayer’s money on lawyers fighting this battle doesn’t make sense, probably, any time, much less in this economic climate.”

“That just seems kind of exorbitant,” said Taylor, who offered up a similar rebuke to Cowan.

Councilor David McKane questioned what kind of campaign residents in Keizer could expect should the matter be decided by voters.

“I’m thinking, ‘vote for me because they’re incompetent,’” McKane said.

MCFD Chief J. Kevin Henson said his agency has taken additional steps to strengthen community ties, including participating in the Festival of Lights parade and having a presence at last week’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Cowan was unimpressed.

“We put lights on the tree (and) we supply chairs,” Cowan said, calling the move to show up at the tree lighting “a campaign manuever.”

Dave Zahn, a longtime MCFD firefighter who last month proposed an agreement where the two district could share the current MCFD station in Clear Lake, said Cowan’s remarks were “tough to take.” He said the station hosts open houses, participates in National Night Out and has a treat tent each Halloween.

Festival of Lights Parade hits Keizer this Saturday

Keizer’s been buzzing for months about the Festival of Lights parade set to hit River Road at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

But staging a nighttime holiday parade isn’t all flowers and sausages. Streets must be closed, parking must be found and those who don’t attend the parade need to be able to get around. Combine that with likely cold and wet weather – and it’s dark – and police have a logistical challenge on their hands.

“The darkness is going to be our enemy,” said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns.

They’re helping motorists prepare via electronic reader boards on River Road leading up to the parade.

Here’s how local streets will be affected. The route and staging area are virtually identical to May’s Iris Festival Parade.

• Lockhaven Drive N. (west of River Road) closes to McClure Street N. at 4 p.m. December 10 for parade staging.

• River Road closes from Lockhaven Drive south to Plymouth Drive NE starting at 6:15 p.m. East-west traffic can cross until the parade and 5K runs are passing by at Chemawa Road, Dearborn Avenue and Manbrin Drive. River Road is expected to remain closed until at least 9 p.m.

• The section of River Road between Glynbrook Avenue N. and Plymouth Drive NE will remain closed until parade entries, participants and floats completely clear the streets.

Festival of Lights Holiday Parade

7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10

River Road, from Lockhaven Road to Plymouth Drive

Parade Weekend Happenings & Offers


Momma Honey and the Princess – 4054 River Road N. $25 for 4-person covered table. Bottomless tea and coffee, dessert buffet.

Revamped – 3926 River Road N. Open late, free coffee and cookies.

Big Town Hero – 5099 River Road N. Covered seating. Soup, bread & drink $3.95. Free hot coffee/$1 hot chocolate.

Starbucks at Schoolhouse Square – 5001 River Road N. Additional outdoor seating Staying open until 10 p.m.

Tony’s Kingdom Toy Drive – 5420 River Road N. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Donations for USMC Toys for Tots, Simonka Place and food donations for Keizer Community Food Bank accepted. Photos with favorite Star Wars characters and free comic!

Jingle Dash – 5:30 p.m. at McNary Golf Club



Breakfast with Santa – Keizer Fire Hall, 661 Chemawa Road NE. 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. $5 adults, $3 12 and under.

Lady Celts roll past Tigers, Axemen

Celt Deven Hunter breaks away from the pack with teammate Jessica Darras hot on her heels in the South Eugene game Tuesday, Dec. 6. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

In its season-opener, the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team cruised past the Newberg High School Tigers for a 57-34 win.

“Usually in first games you’re trying to figure each other out, but we seemed to pick up where we left off,” said Averi Wing, a Celtic senior.

McNary set the tone for the game early on taking a 20-8 lead in the first period and then coasting on the tailwinds of Oregon State University recruit Deven Hunter’s 24-point game. Lady Celt Jessica Darras added 10 points.

“Deven had another phenomenal game and and Teresa Peterson had an excellent game playing really strong defensively, shooting well and really hustling,” said Molly Gehley, McNary head coach. “Our defensive emphasis paid off really well, and we were able to get a lot of balls up high.”

“We had a lot of hustle. Deven and Teresa were outstanding in their hustle and as a team we just seemed to have improved,” added junior Stacey Titchenal.

While it never hurts to start the season with a win, both players and coaches found room for improvement in the outing.

“Offensively, a lot of our baskets were quick fast breaks and we didn’t pass it around as much as we could have. We have a transition offense that will help us work back down the court and we didn’t set that up once,” Titchenal said.

Half-court offense needs sharpening up and the team needs to utilize all the skills on the court by passing the ball around more, Gehley said.

As the game progressed, Wing said the team was looking more tired than she’d expected.

“I think that we need to get in better shape. We were kind of tired at the end, but we can be quicker up the court,” she said. “We just need to keep working hard, showing up to play each night and we can’t be scared of any opponent.”

The Celtics routed the South Eugene High School Axemen Tuesday, Dec. 6, 52-38. Hunter paced the McNary team with 30 points and nine rebounds in a game where South Eugene rarely threatened. Peterson added eight points including a three-pointer, Darras had six points, and Baili Keeton and Averi Wing had four points apiece.

Tough competition leaves Celts in the cold at tourney

McNary’s Mike Mata locks down his Cleveland High School opponent. The Celts won their dual with Cleveland, but fell to Roseburg, Dallas and Cascade high schools. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

High hopes and a throng of returning wrestlers wasn’t enough to keep backs off the mat in the McNary High School Invitational Tournament last Friday, Dec. 2.

The Celts finished fourth with 222.5 points, behind Roseburg High School with 286 points, Dallas High School with 252 points and Cascade High School with 240.5 points in the six-team tournament.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for Jason Ebbs, Celtic head coach, was the level of competition the tournament drew this season.

“We had some pretty tough guys in the mix this year, but we competed well considering the level of competition,” Ebbs said.

Notable entries for McNary included junior Devin Reynolds, who made quick work of his four opponents, and Mason Ross who exited the with a 2-0 record.

“The opponents were good, I was happy with how I wrestled and had lots of confidence,“ Ross said. “I’ve wrestled the guy from Roseburg a few times and we’ve had tough matches, but I pinned him this time.

Justin Lowe wrestled four matches and won three of them.

“I was wrestling on my feet and better on the bottom, which is usually my weakness,” Justin said.

Ebbs credited Justin’s brother, Jeremy, with excellent effort despite a pair of losses.

“We gave him the right matches, but he’s going to grow and develop in those matches more than he would if he just went out and beat a guy,” Ebbs said. “He had two of the toughest guys in the gym that night.”

Ebbs was encouraged with the effort of the junior varsity ranks, which squeaked out a 39-36 victory over the Roseburg team on its way to an undefeated tournament record. It bodes well not only for the immediate future, but the team’s ability to reload once several seniors graduate after this season.

At the varsity level, he said the tournament served as a measuring stick to see where the team is at what is yet to be accomplished. Specifically, he wants to see the team overcome its 45-16 loss to Roseburg.

“We had a couple of forfeits that hurt us, but we also had some close matches. Edgar Jimenez was wrestling out of his shell by about 15 pounds in his match and kept it to 5-4 in a loss. Anthony Flores and Zack Hammerschmith had close 3-1 losses. If we turn those around and fill in the gaps, we’ve got more of a dual on our hands,” Ebbs said.

In dual match-ups, McNary beat Cleveland 35-27 and lost to Roseburg 45-16, Dallas 35-24 and Cascade 41-33.

Nerves get best of Celtics in games with Forest Grove, Newberg

Celt Turbicio Blanton looks for an open teammate in the Celts’ game with Forest Grove High School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

It was a bumpy start for the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team last week.

After a 63-50 loss to Forest Grove High School, Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Celtics got rolled 80-43 by the Newberg High School Tigers.

“We were rushing things and shooting after two or three passes,” said Ryan Kirch, who made his debut as McNary’s new head coach. “Defensively, we have to be a little bit better about reacting instead of standing and watching the ball. We were also out of position quite a bit, which put us in foul trouble and gave the other teams some easy baskets.”

The visiting Vikings outshot the Celts 22-12 in the first period and never looked back. McNary’s best offensive effort came in a 17-point fourth quarter. Senior Dylan McHugh paced the Celtics with 12 points, Garren Robinett put in 10, Isaiah Montano put up nine points, Brandon Lao had eight points, Justin Burgess had five, and Nick McDonald, Grant Fletchall and Tiburcio Blanton had two points each.

“It took us a while to come together as a team and in the second half we picked it up on defense, passed the ball more,” Montano, a sophomore, said.

Kirch praised Montano for running the offense well in both games and credited McDonald with solid performances.

“Nick does a lot of things that you don’t necessarily see in the score column and Garren is certainly a competitor. We’ve asked a lot of our seniors as far as leadership and Garren did an outstanding job there,” Kirch said.

Montano and Lao were both concerned with the number of turnovers in the games, but Lao attributed some of them to early-season jitters.

“We were pretty nervous, but now that we’ve played two games we’re a bit more comfortable,” Lao, a sophomore, said.

The team needs to change things around by setting the tempo of each game early on, Montano said.

“If we start off stronger at the tip off, we’ll manage the tempo of the game better,” he said.

Kirch said the coaching staff will be working throughout the preseason to develop trust – trust in coaches and trust among teammates.

“In the Forest Grove game, we had moments where we played selfishly on both sides of the ball, but we had a spirited discussion at halftime and they played hard and fast and aggressive and unselfishly,” Kirch said. “I think that our goal is playing that way the rest of the year.”

Stop, drop and wait

It is time for the Keizer Fire District and Marion County Fire District #1 to stop their bickering, take a breather and plan for a future that few want to acknowledge.

The back and forth between the two fire districts, especially in front of the Keizer City Council, has long passed the point of being embarrassing for Keizer. For every point one side makes, the other side refutes it. What are Keizer residents, especially those who live in the Clear Lake area to think?

Keizer residents of both fire districts seem to be satisfied with the service they receive. With mutual aid agreements no one’s house will be allowed to burn due to petulant territorial claims; no one will die of a heart attack because there’s disagreement on which district should respond to the emergency call. The two districts (along with the other fire fighting organizations in our region) have a long and proud history of coming to the aid of their brethren.

Both the Keizer Fire District and Marion County Fire District #1 are rightly proud of the service they provide their constituents and communities. But that is what we have grown up believing that firefighters do—provide excellent service in times of emergency and tragedy. So the issue of the Clear Lake annexation is more than just about levels of service.  It is about revenue and the sustainability of each district.

More than 80 percent of the calls the districts respond to are not fire related. They are medical emergencies which means sending an ambulance and a EMT crew to each call. With changes to Medicare reimbursements, providing ambulance service is a losing game regardless of which district or department is responding. That is a fact that cannot be argued away or refuted.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have spent so far on legal expenses on the Clear Lake annexation issue. With budgets as constrained as they are now and will be in the coming years this kind of unnecessary spending has got to come to an end. As one witness at this week’s city council meeting remarked, the money that will be spent on legal bills during this fight could buy a new fire truck.

The fire districts are not faced with just declining Medicare reimbursements, they will also face decreasing tax revenues over the next years. There is little confidence that this annexation issue can be a win-win for all sides. Both districts have their challenges. I2f the City of Salem continues its annexation march into areas east of Interstate 5 that could eventually include large swaths of the Jan Ree neighborhoods which provide upwards of 60 percent of Marion County Fire District #1’s tax base. If Jan Ree is annexed out of the District #1 that will severely limit what the District will be able to do. The annexation process in northeast Salem may not happen for a few years, but it will happen.

In June we called for the city of Keizer to withdraw Clear Lake from Marion County Fire District #1. The way this issued has been handled by both sides forces us to reassess our position. It is unsettling to watch the two fire chiefs trading barbs; this issue should be discussed at the board level, where policy is set.

Both districts are manned by dedicated public servants.  No one would ever say that the paid and volunteer firefighters and EMTs do not provide the finest in service and care. That is not an issue and never has been. At issue is how that service can best be provided in light of new economic realities now and in the future.

The best solution is for the district’s to reinstate the ambulance agreement that allows Keizer Fire District to collect the $75,000 it lost when the agreement was abandoned. Then the two districts should agree to a moratorium on the annexation issue for five years, allowing for in depth discussions on the future of both districts.


When holidays are not so jolly


“Happy holidays!”  You hear it everywhere around you.  Christmas lights, Christmas music, and holiday shoppers fill your senses.  For some the season is “merry and bright,” but for those that are grieving, the holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries may be some of the most difficult times.

How do people manage to make sense and meaning of life during days filled with pain and memories of what used to be? Even those that aren’t grieving often feel the pressure of trying to meet holiday deadlines and attend holiday gatherings.  People that are in the midst of grief often feel overwhelmed at these times, which can intensify their sadness.

Three tips can help ease these difficult times: plan ahead, accept the pain and grief that exist, and find new ways to celebrate.

Sometimes, simple changes in routines can reduce stress and help make the holidays easier after the loss of a loved one. Phil McBrien, a Spiritual Counselor at Willamette Valley Hospice, suggests to plan ahead by making a list of questions to address the holidays, which can help make difficult days more meaningful:

What do you want to do during the holidays? What don’t you want to do? What haven’t you tried before?

It’s important to think about the emotional roller coaster that may accompany holidays and events such as birthdays and anniversaries. Some experts suggest that we work to accept the idea that pain and grief are likely to be amplified on these days, when there are reminders of happier times with loved ones all around. Planning ahead and realistically accepting that these days will be very different can allow people to find creative ways to bring more meaning into their lives.

Edna Ann Shelton, a Willamette Valley Hospice volunteer, had children who were very young when she was widowed.  Christmas was just too painful to celebrate in their traditional way, so they all decided to go to a movie together instead. Another widow and her children volunteered to work in a soup kitchen at the holidays to create new memories and traditions, as well as help others.

Holidays and special days may be very painful and difficult to face, but following tips like these can help people that are grieving to find new meaning and bring them closer to those who are still very much a part of their lives.

Grief resources are available in our community. Visit for a complete list of free support groups and activities for those who are grieving.

 Jan DuPont, LCSW, is a bereavement counselor.

Gingrich and his box of matches


As a Republican congressman, Newt Gingrich filed ethics charges that led Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright to resign in 1989. Later, the House elected Gingrich speaker. Then, in 1998, Gingrich resigned after his own close encounter with an ethics probe. Wright said he didn’t want to gloat, but he did compare Gingrich to “an arsonist who sets fire to his building without stopping to realize the flames are going to consume his own apartment.”

Gingrich truly is, to use one of his favorite phrases, a “transformational figure.” He has this unsettling history of morphing into the very thing he once denounced.

Gingrich was right to challenge Wright for skirting ethics rules by peddling copies of his self-published book, “Reflections of a Public Man,” to get around a House cap on members’ speaking fees.

So what did Gingrich do as he rose up the leadership ladder? Instead of a book, Gingrich developed a college course — “Renewing American Civilization” — that later became the title of a book.

Gingrich defenders have argued that unlike Wright’s book, the course was not about lining personal pockets. OK. But then Newt’s supersize ego led him astray. Course notes extolled the then-GOP whip’s role in creating an “American movement” with a GOP majority as an “advocate of civilization,” a “definer of civilization,” a “teacher of the rules of civilization” and — prepare to feel a thrill up your leg — an “arouser of those who form civilization.”

House Dems filed ethics complaints charging that the course illegally used tax-exempt entities to promote partisan politics. The Internal Revenue Service later ruled in Gingrich’s favor.

But because Gingrich provided “inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable” information to the House Ethics Committee, members voted to fine Gingrich $300,000 (the cost of the investigation).

On its 2012 campaign website, Team Newt dismisses the ethics charges as “politically motivated.” The misleading documents were “prepared by Newt’s lawyer.”

That handy explanation goes to the recklessness that makes the prospect of a Gingrich nomination so scary. Gingrich knew that Democrats were gunning for him; in his lust for self-aggrandizement, he handed his opponents ample ammunition.

The new John Adams couldn’t just teach a regular course on American history. No, he had to involve his political arm, GOPAC, and other elements of “Newt Inc.” The course burned through as much as $450,000 in 1994 and again in 1995. While under investigation, Gingrich signed documents that weren’t true.

The 1997 House vote to reprimand Gingrich was hardly partisan; it was 395-28. Republicans were beginning to see that Gingrich hurt them more than he helped them. When the GOP lost five House seats in 1998, Gingrich was forced to resign. He had lost his party’s trust.

I don’t want to think about the fact that Gingrich started dating his last two wives while married to the first two wives. Impossible, it’s like looking at Cyrano de Bergerac and not seeing his big nose.

Problem is, you cannot delineate between his personal life and his public life. The Newter won’t let you. He insists on parading third wife Callista, who had a role in his conversion to Catholicism, in a “Callista and I” tour to promote core American values and stave off secularism. Leave it to Gingrich to pump up his family values credentials by joining a church that does not recognize divorce.

Gingrich later explained his extramarital activities as “partially driven by how passionately” he “felt about this country.” He makes you roll your eyes. Listen to Gingrich long enough and you’ll feel like one of his ex-wives.

Creators Syndicate

Guide misses reason for holiday

To the Editor: 

I received the Keizertimes 2011 Holiday Gift and Event Guide recently in the mail. In spite of a wide variety of events for young and old, the Holiday Guide was missing something key. There were teas and photos with Santa, holiday bazaars, Polar Express IMAX 3D showings, Nutcracker ballet performances, and presentations of It’s a Wonderful Life. There were Christmas festivals, craft fairs, tree lightings, choral concerts, even pet photographs with Santa!

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I thought the “holiday” (Holy Day) we’re celebrating was the birth of Christ. Rather sad and somewhat telling that there was no specific reference to the supposed object of the season—Jesus. While not everyone ascribes to Christian belief, most, if not all, celebrate the Christmas season in some fashion. That said, it appears most of the holiday emphasis is now on food, fun, and gifts. In other words, the emphasis is on us. That’s ironic in light of Jesus’ professed goal of coming to earth as one of us. Namely that was to give his life on a cross as a payment for mankind’s sin. Has the “reason for the season,” the Babe of Bethlehem, been pushed to a small unassuming religious table at the back of the store? So it seems.

Mark Manthey