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

Day: December 30, 2011

Needles on the carpet? Time to recycle that tree


Boy Scout Troop 121 will be recycling Christmas trees starting tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 31 at the Keizer branch of U.S. Bank at 5110 River Rd. N.

Trees will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday as well as Sunday, Jan. 1 and the following weekend.

Troop members will also pick up trees, call 503-877-4285 or log onto to request pick up. A $5 donation is suggested.

Highway Fuel is offering Christmas tree recycling project for a $5 donation that supports Oregon Paralyzed Veterans.

Highway Fuel, in cooperation with Recology Recycling and The Unique Periodical, will be providing a Christmas tree drop-off service at their Salem yard at 2390 Fairgrounds Rd NE, one block south of the Silverton Road and Portland Road intersection. Trees will be recycled in an environmentally safe manner.

Highway Fuel’s hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the business will be closed Monday, Jan. 1, to observe New Year’s Day. For more information, visit

The year in review: 2011


• Police said a handgun discovered in a lost-and-found bin at McNary High School was stolen. The full story has yet to be revealed by police.

• Councilor David McKane submitted his resignation from the Keizer City Council, saying backroom talks between councilors subverted the public process and released emails showing pressure from Mayor Lore Christopher to vote in favor of a fee on cell phone users. McKane later rescinded his resignation, and is still on the council.

• Officials suspected arson in a house fire on Arnold Street NE that destroyed a garage.

• Lisa Zielinski was found shot to death in the home she shared with husband Peter on Nightingale Court NE in north Keizer. Police said the husband confessed to shooting her after suspecting an affair. His trial on murder charges is set for May 2012.

• Old Navy opened its Keizer store.

• Councilors voted not to send a proposed cell phone fee to voters.

• Linda Baker bowed out as McNary High School’s drama director. She planned to return to teaching reading.

• A three-year-old boy was credited with saving his dad’s life after an accident with a woodworking chisel. A.J. Hayes called 911 to tell dispatchers his father needed an ambulance.


• The Planning Commission approved a plan allowing a large-scale grocer, office and medical buildings in Area C of Keizer Station, despite vocal opposition from neighbors.

• The Marion County Fire District #1 board voted unanimously to reprimand Chief J. Kevin Henson for his role in crashing a district vehicle in December, and rescinded his approval to carry a weapon. He had a loaded handgun in the truck when he crashed while responding to a fire.

• Christine Speten was found killed in her apartment on Orchard Court in west Keizer. Police have yet to make an arrest in her death.


• It was a busy month for supporters and foes alike of the proposed large-scale grocer, likely to be Walmart. Councilors approved a master plan containing it. By the slimmest of margins, voters rejected a measure which would have prohibited such large buildings outside of the currently-developed portion of Keizer Station – just 39 out of more than 8,000 votes cast made the difference.

• City councilors adopted police protection levels, sidewalk coverage and analyzing how transient occupancy tax dollars should be best spent as its short-term goals.

• McNary High School art student Sam Kerr won the Salem-Keizer Schools Art Show for the third time.

• Residents of a 55 and up mobile home park were forced to boil their tap water for weeks after E.coli was found in McNary Oaks Mobile Villa’s private well system. Some tenants said they’d had other problems with the water, including odors and a black tar-like substance that required extensive filtering.

• Ryan Ripp, a McNary High School student, pushed the Oregon State Legislature to ban picketing at military funerals. The bill was ultimately unsuccessful but he got the backing of Republican state Rep. Kim Thatcher, who represents Keizer.


• The Oregon Health Plan reimburses ambulance service providers for transporting its patients, but the numbers showed the rejection rate was 15 to 30 percent in Marion County, versus 1 to 2 percent elsewhere in the state. That trend directly affected bottom lines for those agencies.

• This newspaper revealed Keizer Station co-developer Chuck Sides was behind more than $400,000 in local improvement district payments to the City of Keizer. Subsequent investigation showed Sides also owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back property taxes.

• Police chased down and arrested Nicholas J. Miller, 26, of Keizer, after he was accused of three robberies of a Keizer pharmacy.

• Vandals inflicted significant damage on the Keizer Grange facility on Chemawa Road N.

• A spate of home burglaries were under investigation by police. Two men were arrested in separate incidents just minutes after the break-ins took place.

• A medical marijuana club and lounge opened in the former Keizer Eagles lodge on Cherry Avenue.

• A neighborly dispute turned public when one posted a profane sign lambasting the neighbor for calling police on an argument between a man and his wife.


• Once honored by Keizer Fire District for saving lives when he called 911 on a house fire, Eric Han-Christian Suess made headlines again for a much more dubious reason: He was arrested for encouraging child sex abuse.

• A man robbed the 7-Eleven store in south Keizer at gunpoint.

• Town halls on possible school cuts heard impassioned pleas to save librarians and sports.

• The Keizer Chamber of Commerce begged city councilors to let them keep about $59,400 in tourism occupancy tax dollars to promote tourism in Keizer. The city council ultimately voted to keep the funds in order to balance its own budget, justifying it by saying the community center generated visits to Keizer.

• Ulta Cosmetics opened at Keizer Station.

• Staff at McNary Golf Course resorted to sound cannons to drive off geese who roost in the course’s ponds.

• The Salem-Keizer School Board voted to close Lake Labish Elementary School.

• The Festival of Lights Parade announced plans to hold the event in Keizer.

• A house fire on Verda Lane caused more than $200,000 in structural and property damage.

• A Keizer man stabbed a woman and punched her toddler in the face while they were watching the Keizer Iris Festival parade. He was later sentenced to six years in prison.


• A report claims the city of Keizer needs room for about 2,800 homes in order to meet projected local housing demand.

• The Keizer Fire District announces plans to attempt annexing the area of north Keizer covered by Marion County Fire District No. 1.

• Members of the Salem City Council showed reluctance to supporting an urban growth boundary amendment that would give Keizer more land to expand upon.

• Whiteaker Middle teacher Carolyn Ream announced her retirement after 32 years of service.

• The Keizer Chamber of Commerce announces plans to move its offices to Keizer Station, with a goal of recruiting more tourists.

• Keizer city councilors vote to allow hens in non-agricultural areas of the city.

• A U.S. District Court judge ruled Keizer Police officers didn’t violate constitutional rights of a man arrested in 2007 on a variety of marijuana-related charges. While the charges the man – a medical marijuana patient – faced were ultimately dismissed, the court found officers had probable cause for arrest. The ruling has been appealed.

• Keizer Police Sgt. Andrew Copeland won the Toughest Competitor Alive competition.


• The last video rental store in the city limits closed when Blockbuster Video left town.

• A 19-year-old was robbed at gunpoint on Candlewood Drive NE.

• The Good Vibrations motorcycle festival was headquartered at Keizer Station and at the Keizer Renaissance Inn in its second year in the Mid-Valley.

• Police arrested a 20-year-old man after he was accused of kidnapping his girlfriend.

• Kevin Watson, assistant to the city manager, left the city of Keizer to become city administrator of Junction City.


• A large blaze at Clearview Apartments damaged four homes and killed a cat.

• A federal judge ruled the McNary Homeowners Association discriminated against a disabled boy by disallowing porch screens that the plaintiff argued kept the boy from running off the property.

• A visitors center would not get funding from urban renewal funds, city councilors decided, after the Keizer Urban Renewal Board unanimously recommended against it.


• City councilors opted to support Keizer Fire District’s push for an election which would place the Clear Lake neighborhood within the fire district’s boundaries. It’s currently served by Marion County Fire District No. 1.

• Local elementary schools sought to fight overcrowding by blending grades, where second graders might share a classroom with third graders.

• A pair of animal rights activists out of Portland were arrested after they chained themselves to the doors at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, at Cherry Avenue and Salem Parkway.

• Keizer resident Soraida Cross was half of a grape-stomping team sent on an all-expenses paid trip to Sonoma for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and World Grape Stomping Championship.


• City leaders went public with a plan to extend the urban renewal district in order to repay bond debt from Keizer Station. The city is liable due to the city council’s decision to back developer Chuck Sides to the tune of more than $26 million in publicly-financed bonds.

• Community members formed a support group for Roland Herrera, a longtime city employee who was fired after 19 years of employment. City officials have declined to explain the reasons.

• While cell phones are the bane of some teachers’ existence, McNary High School began using graphing calculator apps on smartphones to save cash. It allowed the school to purchase less of the calculators themselves.


• 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.

• Four-year-old Sebastian Iturbe died of head trauma after police allege his stepfather pushed him with a child carrier, causing him to fall down a flight of stairs at Hawk’s Point Apartments in north Keizer. The stepfather, Gerardo Chavarria, faces murder by abuse charges. It was Keizer’s third homicide of 2011 after none in 2010.

• Meanwhile, Keizer Police said budget constraints could get worse after a public safety fee of $4.86 failed spectacularly with voters. Only one in five voters said yes to the fee.


• The owner of Party Mart announced he was opening his third store in Keizer. Douglas Gray, who owns the two stores in south Salem and Tigard, successfully kept secret the intent of his new River Road building for months.

• The Festival of Lights parade lit up River Road on Dec. 10, marking the event’s first year in Keizer.

• The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a state Land Use Board of Appeals ruling remanding the Keizer Station Area C land use decision back to the Keizer City Council. The board had said the traffic study was flawed and that accompanying office and retail buildings must be constructed at the same time.

• McNary High School junior Anthony Aguilar was featured on MTV’s “Made,” with a wish to become a ladies’ man. He got help from 2010 Miss USA Rima Fakih.

• St. Edward Catholic Church announced a $5.5 million capital pledge program to go along with plans for a new, $5.5 million church building.

KYSA sign-ups begin Jan. 6

Registration for Keizer Youth Sports Association baseball and softball teams begins Friday, Jan.6.

Registration will be available online at and fees may be paid online through Paypal or in-person to avoid a service charge.

In-person registration events will be held Saturday, Jan. 21, at Whiteaker Middle School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Keizer Fire Station from 6 to 8 p.m., and Thursday, Feb. 2, at Keizer Fire Station.

Fees are $50 to $140 depending on age and level of play. The league offers play for youth ages 5 to 14.

The year in sports

McNary coach Bobby Garibay hoists Wes Heredia in the air shortly after Heredia won the state title in the 215-pound weight class. (Photo submitted by Aimonetti,

Mat Men

The McNary varsity wrestling team started the year with a Top 10 finish out of 32 teams at the Northwest Duals and followed it up with a first place trophy at the Don York Invite. The mat squad took sixth place in the Reser Tournament of Champions and set themselves to become the CVC’s first regional champions a year after the team took the last district title in 2010. The team placed 17 of 27 wrestlers in the regional meet and crowned regional champs: Wes Heredia, Stevin Urban and Levi Martinez. Heredia, wrestling at 215 pounds, went on to become the Celts’ second state champ in as many years. He defeated Mick Dougharty in the finals 11-4. “It was a matter of doing what I needed to do for each match and each tournament,” Heredia said. The team took fifth in the state, tying with Oregon City High School. When the season kicked off again, the Celts found themselves with two top-ranked wrestlers – Devin Reynolds and Jeremy Lowe – and loads of uncharted territory in front of them. They closed the year by pinning down the Sprague Olympians for the first time in 20 years. “If things go the way they’ve been going, I don’t know where the top end is for this team. It may be eighth in state it could be a state championship,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

Gridiron challenges

The McNary varsity football team got its first CVC win in more than two years in a 27-26 win over Sprague High School. While it was not enough to lift the team over the lower rungs of the conference, Sprague was one of two undefeated teams at the time of the loss. McNary’s defense proved pivotal as the team put the brakes on the Olys’ final drive of the night. “I think everyone was doing what they needed to and no one was trying to be the hero. They just went out and did their assignment.” said Celt Joel Hunter. The freshman football team nearly went undefeated for a second consecutive year in the CVC. After a 0-3 start to the frosh season, the team won every CVC game except its final battle with Sprague. The freshmen Olys won the title 20-14 in the final seconds of the game…

(To read more, pick up a copy of the December 30, 2011 edition of the Keizertimes.)

Solve Clear Lake question now

The deadline to place the question of annexing the Clear Lake area on the March ballot is fast approaching. Both sides, Keizer Fire District and Marion County Fire District #1, have a scant few days to come to an agreement that would make an election a moot point.

The annexation issue was front and center at the Dec. 19 city council meeting. Officials from both fire districts were exhorted by several councilors to come to an agreement.

The council, by 6-1, voted to place the annexation question on the ballot in March; the Keizer Fire District board also voted to place their own ballot question. These moves were made in part by the desire to let the people decide.

The electorate is unpredictable; we could end up with a bigger mess. What happens if it passes but the courts rule the whole election question void? What is the plan then?

We renew our call for the the ambulance agreement to be reinstated and putting a moratorium on any annexation movement for five years. With the ASA agreement back in place Keizer Fire District would get the $75,000 a year in revenue it lost. The deadline to place the issue on the March ballot is January 12; that is enough time for the two boards to sit down together, hash out their issues and do what is best for the community.

Some say it is that future viability of Marion County Fire District #1 and its tax base that leads them to believe that annexing Clear Lake now is a the best course for the Keizer and for Keizer Fire District.

The debate has grown so vitriolic that some players won’t even talk to each other. That is no way to run government. If there is no agreement between the two fire districts and the issue goes to the ballot, they may find that voters will say no simply because they are fed up with the fighting.

There are larger issues the city and its citizens will face in the coming years. In the end the fight between the two fire districts is parochial and Keizer residents who live outside the Clear Lake area may not deem the annexation issue at all important. In the new year Keizer residents will hear about ever tightening city budgets; they will hear about bond payments for a Local Improvement District at Keizer Station; they will hear about development at Area C which could include a Walmart.

Annexation of Clear Lake into Keizer Fire District needs to be put on hold. There are other issues that need our resources and attention.


Keizer gives

Keizer is a special place. Anyone who’s lived here for any length of time figures that out. How special our town is was apparent again over the past few weeks. Keizer is generous.

More than 100 Keizer families with children were able to have a Christmas holiday due to the efforts of the Keizer Network of Women’s annual Christmas Basket program. The request for financial donations begins early in the year. Food, toy and clothing donations are gathered, sorted and placed into boxes for delivery to the less fortunate. Over 350 Keizer children were not left off Santa’s list this year. Audrey Butler and her cadre of volunteers worked tirelessly to be sure the holidays were bright for those without.

The organizers of Keizer’s Miracle of Christmas light display in Gubser came within a whisker of collecting 24,000 pounds of food to be donated to Marion-Polk Food Share as well as thousands of dollars in donations.

Joined nightly by members of local organizations, Jim and Darlene Taylor along with neighbors Mike and Jennifer Griffin spent seven nights a week through the holiday season to accept food and cash from visitors to the drive-through light display. The two couples will give up their role in the food drive. Let’s hope they can find successors who will be just as passionate.

New Year’s resolutions


For the first few decades of my life, I always knew what my New Year’s resolution would be: Lose weight. Get to the number on my license.

After my son was born and I was really fat for the first time (which came as a shock when I finally figured it out since I’d been convinced that I’d been fat all my life), I finally figured out that if I treated losing weight like I did everything else in my life — with concentration, determination and a real plan — I could actually succeed. I even wrote a book about it: “Making the Case for Yourself,” which came out within days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

For weeks, I crisscrossed the country on a book tour that had me invited on every show everywhere I went — to talk about Monica Lewinsky. I managed to sell books nonetheless, with lines such as “If Monica Lewinsky had been on my diet, she wouldn’t have felt like she belonged under the desk.”

Which actually has some truth to it. Feeling awful about yourself — waking up every morning and castigating yourself as you stand on the scale — doesn’t do wonders for your self-esteem. When the reporters would ask me how a feminist could write a diet book, I’d always tell them that feeling good enough about yourself to be comfortable in your own skin was as important as one of those “dress for success” suits. And it is.

But it’s not the be-all and the end-all. That took me almost as long to learn.

One good thing about writing a diet book is that unless you’re a mega-celebrity like Oprah, you feel pretty stupid about gaining all the weight back. So for the next decade or so, I struggled to keep it off, or at least down. Creep up five, go down three; creep up five more, make the cabbage soup; creep up again, go back to steamed vegetables. I went from a size 6 to an 8 — packed up the tight jeans and told myself that an 8 wasn’t so bad for a 50-something-year-old, which it definitely isn’t.

And then my youngest went to college, and I felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck; I took on another job to pay the tuition, and the stomachaches that have accompanied me through life came back. There was no one to make dinner for or eat dinner with, and for the first time in my life, I lost weight without even trying. Or noticing, in particular.

I would go to try on a pair of pants and take in the 8 by habit. Then the salesperson would bring me the 6, and then the 4. Size 4? I weigh what I wished for in high school.

And no, I’m not writing this to make you jealous. Just the opposite. Here’s the truth: It didn’t matter. Not at all. Imagine that. My life is no different when I see the magical number on the scale. It’s not a recipe for happiness and satisfaction. It really isn’t a measure of anything.

So when you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, remember this. Be healthy. Listen to your doctor. Do what you need to do. But don’t make the mistake I did. A number on the scale is not the road to happiness. It’s just a number. Like 2012.

Happy New Year.

Creators Syndicate

2012: a year of media savagery


For those Republican presidential candidates who eventually conclude there is no path to the nomination, there is consolation in the notion that they won’t be the ones to face the brutal onslaught being prepared for the GOP king-of-the-mountain by team Obama and its army of “objective” media allies.

This time around, the Obama machine cannot run on the fairy dust of hope and change. It cannot suggest after four years of dreadful executive-branch performance, that the promised one is on the horizon.

Its only path to victory is the one that finds its opponents even more disliked. So it can be guaranteed that whoever wins the Republican contest will face one of the most scorching personal assaults the country has ever witnessed.

Occasionally, the old style, thrill-up-my-leg over Obama quote still emerges. The Media Research Center’s 2011 winners of “Best of Notable Quotables” provide examples. Stephen Marche of Esquire magazine won over judges of the “Obamagasm Award” by energetically asking “Can we just take a month or two to contemplate him (Obama) the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-’70s Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement?” At least when people said this in 2008, it hadn’t been completely disproved.

Marche actually claimed we will look back decades from now and see “a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph.” Someone hearing Marche declare this might rush him to an emergency room for signs of dementia.

The winner of MRCs “Media Hero Award” came forward as the congressional career of Anthony Weiner was about to end after having demonstrated his contempt for his wife by showing off his body parts all over Twitter (and actually exchanging tweets with high school girls).

ABCs Barbara Walters urged Weiner not to resign, citing as her role model the most shameless, brazen sex offender to ever darken the White House door. “And we had a President named Bill Clinton who went through a great deal of trouble, weathered the storm and is now not only respected, but he’s beloved by many people with a very good marriage. So, I think Anthony Weiner should hang in there.”

ABC is chock full of nonsense like this. Diane Sawyer, their evening news anchor, won the “Occupy My Heart and Soul Award” for lathering praise on the anti-capitalist park squatters. “We thought we’d bring you up to date on those protesters, the Occupy Wall Street movement,” she panted. “As of tonight, it has spread to more than 250 American cities, more than a thousand countries — every continent but Antarctica.” There are some 190 countries on Earth, but Sawyer earned points on the left for enthusiastic baloney. Days later, Sawyer restrained her hype to “more than a thousand cities around the world.”

Katie Couric finally conceded her utter failure as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in May, but she won the “Audacity of Dopes Award for the Wackiest Analysis” by concluding America was so deeply bigoted and consumed by “seething hatred” toward the world’s Muslims that we need a sitcom to straighten ourselves out. “Maybe we need a Muslim version of ‘The Cosby Show.’ … I know that sounds crazy. But ‘The Cosby Show’ did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of things they don’t understand.”

Loathing of Obama was still classified daily as transparent racism. Sean Penn won the “Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity” by reading Tea Party minds on CNN and projecting murder fantasies: “You have what I call the ‘Get the N-word out of the White House party,’ the Tea Party…. At the end of the day, there’s a big bubble coming out of their heads saying, you know, ‘Can we just lynch him?’”

The transition from Obama adoration to Republican defenestration was exemplified by Chris Matthews on MSNBC. He earned the “Mean-Spirited, Nutty, Blathering Chris Award” for just blurting out against Newt Gingrich, “But he looks like a car bomber. He looks like a car bomber, Clarence. He looks like a car bomber. He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy! I mean this is not the face of a president.”

But the real award-winning quote (for denying liberal bias) was this delusional Matthews gem captured by Politico: “Hardball is absolutely non-partisan.”

2012, here we go.

Creators Syndicate

Miracle of Lights

To the Editor:

This letter is to my Gubser “Miracle of Lights” neighbors: My family and I have lived in the Gubser neighborhood for over 12 years, and feel fortunate to live on the light route.  We enjoy putting up lights, but more than that, we enjoy participating in something that greatly helps the Marion-Polk Food Share with the cash and food donations that generous people give as they drive, walk or run through the route.  However, there was a distinct change in the route this year when a neighbor used the route as a venue for a cause other than the food bank.  I do not doubt that the cause is worthy. I myself support causes that I too am passionate about and would love to raise some extra cash for.  However, using the light route would not be an option; the route is to raise money and bring in food for our community, which has been the tradition as long as I have lived in Keizer. According to the Marion-Polk Food Share website “More families and more children are eating from emergency food boxes than ever before in our local area,” said Marion-Polk Food Share President Ron Hays. “We are feeding twice the number of people today than we were in pre-recession 2007.”

The light route has been a wonderful holiday attraction for many years and I would hate for the “Miracle of Lights” to become the “Solicitation of Lights.”

Cindy Fegles

Basket program a success due to volunteers

To the Editor:

A heart-felt thank you to everyone who helped make the Keizer Chamber Foundation’s Gift Basket Program successful.

One hundred twenty four families had food, clothing and toys because of your generosity.  I wish there was room to name all the help we received to make this program a success.  I hope you felt the spirit of Christmas knowing your generosity brought Christmas into the eyes and hearts of 387 children and their families this year.

I make it a point to deliver a box or two at the completion of our program.  We receive paychecks of the heart; seeing the joy in a child’s eyes when we bring a brand new bicycle, a new coat, food and a friendly smile.  I wish you could have witnessed the three year old I visited.  Ah, the joy!

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the women of Keizer Network of Women (KNOW) are proud to be a part of the Keizer community.  We get bigger and better every year and it’s only because of you!  Thank you!

Audrey Butler