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Month: January 2012

The state of the city

In his State of the Union speech this week President Obama said he believes what Abraham Lincoln believed: that government should do for people only what they cannot do better themselves, and no more.

There are many things people cannot do for themselves, especially at the local level. They cannot build infrastructure; they cannot fix roads; they cannot provide public safety; they cannot provide a safety net for the less fortunate.

Some of the things people can do for themselves include building businesses, constructing factories and stores, and inventing new products. These can best be accomplished when governments, national and local, get rid of obstacles to these private sector goals.

Keizer residents and businesses are at the mercy of what happens in the capitol buildings in Washington, D.C. and in Salem. National and state tax policies along with thousands of regulations are cited as impediments to economic growth and sustainability. Those issues will most certainly be topics in the presidential campaign this year.

The housing crisis will most likely be front and center as well. Housing prices are still far from their peak and economists say it will be years, if ever, that we will see prices attain pre-financial crisis levels. Other economists say that we have not seen the end of  foreclosures here or nationwide. That is the crux of the problem facing the city of Keizer’s operating budget.

Decreasing revenues has made writing the city’s budget a lesson in squeezing the most from every dime. Everyone has their pet project—be it parks or sidewalks, but there is precious little money to do more than just sustain what we have now.  While cuts are made to the items the city controls, it is the items the city has no control over that is causing the ongoing budget problems.

The city’s pension, PERS, and health insurance obligations take a bigger bite out of budget each year, leaving less for the pet projects that Keizer would like to have. We have to allocate money for the things we must do. Federal regulations and mandates play a large part in how the city spends its money.

Some Keizerites has suggested that the city allow volunteers to maintain city parks. Nice idea but there are liability issues that forestall that possibility. Some Keizerites would like to fix pot holes in their neighborhood; again it’s a liability issue. The city must provide the services its citizens cannot.

Funding for projects on the drawing board has already been secured through federal and state grants, and earmarked city funds. One such project, the upgrade of Chemawa Road from River Road to Keizer Rapids Park should be completed this summer.  Construction on the boat ramp at the park will begin this year. State money for that project was secured long ago; Keizer will use park SDCs for its share of the project. There are other projects that the city would like to do but are in doubt due to funding issues.

The state of the city is similar to 2011. There will be no new big projects. The city will maintain what it has. It will find savings everywhere it can including the painful paring of city jobs if necessary.

The city will continue to do what its citizens can not do, but not much more. That’s why it is imperative that the city finalize its plan to extend the Urban Renewal District  as well as find a way to return money to the River Renaissance Project. The city needs to solve its Keizer Station problem regarding Chuck Sides-owned property.

If the city can do those two things the citizens the state of city in 2013 will be much improved.

—LAZ

Opportunity for growth

By MATTHEW CHAPPELL

There is a lot of talk these days about what to do about the economy. It seems that we have come up against a brick wall when it comes to growth. Our prevailing concern is in finding a new market for American exceptionalism by carving out a niche in today’s global economy. But in order to do this there seems to be a consensus that our emphasis for growth on a global scale should accompany strong domestic growth right here at home.

America is rich with land and resources. I thoroughly believe that the issues of concentrated wealth are heavily influenced by a lack of infilling, accompanied by concentrated population centers on our outer extremes, particularly the east coast. We can use urban growth boundaries as a positive example of how, when used, the distributional burdens tend to be wider dispersed while adding concentrated growth on the central part of a municipal region. This in effect stabilizes property values.

When you translate this model over the U.S. continent it becomes more evident that what we need is infill towards America’s heartland. With today’s travel and communication outlets accompanied by American business overseas, we have a less stringent natural oceanic boundary which is partly less inhibitory to further global impacts. What we need is to find a vital function of the U.S. economy which acts as a firm base for American exports while opening up new and less costly room for growth and redistribution.

We also need to sectionalize our nation into four vital interconnected networks which would streamline the movement of business throughout the four corner regions, and distribute the economic share so as to enable an affordable and livable central section from which all four regions come together.

I have climbed Mount Jefferson before and have also considered that it is land which is vital to America, making it what it is and always has been. I believe America’s manifest destiny lies in it’s ability for charitable growth, and that there is no other more nobler cause then for the production of food supplies and other basic foundational necessities which even today cement  together the most modern of economies.

As a charitable and God-fearing nation I believe it is our responsibility to act according to the resources that Almighty God has given us to meet the needs of an emerging deficit of growing poverty and privation threatening the lives of people everywhere. We have both the opportunity and the resources to begin to develop, produce and store critical supplies to meet the demands of the near and uncertain future. But we must begin to act now.

We know that half the battle rests with labor, by capitalizing on our immigrant population by creating the incentive for popular input as a pathway towards citizenship, we can conditonalize a program of amnesty in return for the construction and investment of well-founded, sustainable communities right at the center of America’s heartland. America’s new-found identity would be in the assembly of diverse cultural centers which strive for mutual success based upon separate but equal partners of mutually benefiting cooperation’s.

By boldly leveraging our land to meet the vital needs of global concerns, and by inviting investment and input from an international (universal) perspective, we can create a secure America whose growth will justify itself in the minds of world opinion and widely benefit our own citizens in the process. What we need is cooperation built upon the charity and trust of the American people. Cooperation built upon liberty itself.

Matthew Chappell lives in Keizer.

KFD and MCFD#1 in the Clear Lake Area

To the Editor:

I am not a bit surprised that KFD wants ALL of Keizer to vote on the annexation of the Clear Lake area–more participation makes it easier to vote the Clear Lake residents down, so KFD can have all of the tax revenue.  I have not talked to a single person in the Clear Lake area who wants to change the way that it is now–the Clear Lake area fire/ambulance protection should be in the MCFD#1 jurisdiction, just the way it has always been.  Some say that our taxes will go down–that’s questionable, and even If it is true, I’d bet my last dollar that KFD will come back in November asking for still more money.  Looks to me like the City of Keizer and KFD got a little big for their britches and spent more money than they had (Keizer Station fiascos and the developer), so now they think they can just keep taking areas for more tax revenue.  I don’t want my fire protection to come from Brooks; I want to leave it right up the road–it works best that way!  Please vote NO! on the annexation measures!

Nancy Livermore
Keizer 

High medical costs

To the Editor:

I recently had the need to spend two days in the Salem Hospital and received a pending statement indicating the cost at over $52,000.

The major expenses were for the catheterization laboratory (cath lab) at $26,000, supplies at $9,300, room and board at $5,700 and the emergency room at $2,350. These costs are extremely high but undoubtedly necessary to run a first class hospital.

The hospital has to have staff and equipment on hand to handle emergencies like heart attacks, strokes and other trauma cases along with regular patient care. During the open house a couple of years ago, I learned that the hospital has three cath labs available if necessary. To me that is great because I would not like to be number two or three waiting for a cath lab to become available when seconds were crucial.

The same is true when you need an ambulance. When having a medical emergency, it is comforting to know that the Keizer Fire District has planned to have trained medical staff at your door within six minutes to provide lifesaving service. The people of Keizer will soon vote to increase ambulance service by annexing the Clear Lake area of Keizer. This will be accomplished without raising taxes. I hope we take advantage of this opportunity because I want an ambulance there when I need it.

Finally, because I have insurance and Medicare, the hospital nor the Fire District will receive full payment for service provided.  My concern is what happens to the people that don’t have insurance or Medicare and receive huge medical bills. That is something to think about!

Bill Quinn
Keizer

If a store was run by the medical field

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

I need new tires.  I had a frightening dream about it last night.  Management of a tire store had been taken over by the medical community.

I parked, entered the store, and went to the front counter.  A cheerful young woman welcomed me.  Here for the two o’clock tire replacement appointment, I told her.  She asked me to fill out forms containing questions about driving on underinflated tires, failure to rotate, scraping of curbs through careless parking, other deleterious driving habits, latex allergies, and more of the same nature.  Oh yes, and a few about my tire insurance.  The receptionist thanked me, asked me to have a seat anywhere, the technicians will call my name soon.

After a thirty-eight minute survey of newsmagazines valuable for their antiquity, my name was called.  I was taken to the tire examination room.  More questions were asked by the RN, (rubber nurse).  She wanted to know when tread loss symptoms began to affect driving.  She measured pressure, tread depth, asked about leaks and any previous tire replacements.   Satisfied with all that, she said that it would only be a short wait until the tire technicians performed the operation.   Another wait, this time thirty-one minutes in the exam room. Why hadn’t I remembered to bring a book?

Finally the car was lifted and the tires replaced.  It was a surprisingly short procedure.  I was not anesthetized, and so was able to peek into the operating room to watch the operation, which was reassuringly professional and progressed with a speed that can be attained only by efficiency and competence.  One of the technicians returned my keys to the front counter.

Slightly grumpy about waiting well over an hour for 12 minutes worth of work, I was mollified by learning that there had been couple of unexpected roadside emergencies squeezed in ahead of me.  I was presented with my bill. $2,645.  A little surprised at the cost, having seen the tires advertised at $320, I was foolish enough to ask how we ended up at $2,645.

As if to a dull child, she explained that there was a facility cost for the state of the art building, fees for the two tire technicians who installed two tires front, two tires rear, a fee for the inflatiator who maintained proper pressure throughout the procedure, a fee for the balancologist who made certain there would be no wheel wobble, lab fees for the pressurized gases and testing equipment, and a small hoist fee.  You can’t argue with that.  Everything she had listed was crucial to my continued driving safety.

Slightly depressed at the calculation of all the things I would have to do without in order to pay this fee, I was greatly cheered when the receptionist told me that insurance would pay for all but $315 of the total.  I woke from this dream relieved at how the bill had been reduced so much by someone else’s money.

Then I remembered that I am scheduled for a cataract surgery on Monday.

Don Vowell lives in Keizer.

Harriet Irene Lakie

H. Lakie

Services for Ms. Harriet Lakie will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, in the Grace Chapel at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community.

Ms. Lakie, of Keizer, died Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. She was 90 years old.

Born July 24, 1921 in Barnesville, Minn. to Iver and Inga Swenson, she attended beauty school in Minneapolis for two years and then married high school sweetheart Jim Lakie on May 14, 1943. They relocated to Long Beach, Calif., where he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. They moved to Corvallis and then Keizer. Ms. Lakie has resided at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community since 2009.

She worked as manager of the Meier & Frank beauty salon for more than 25 years, then worked at the J.C. Penney Beauty Salon until retiring at age 79. She was a member of Faith Lutheran Church, Clear Lake Methodist Church and Sons of Norway. She was also an avid fan of the Portland Trailblazers and the Oregon State Beavers.

She was preceded in death by two sisters, Stella and Gladys; son, James Craig; grandson, Jeffrey Sailor; and her husband. Survivors include: daughters, Judy (Mike) Sailor of Corvallis and Helen Browning of Keizer; daughter-in-law, Brenda Lakie of Aloha; sister, Glorine Schulstad of Barnesville; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions in Ms. Lakie’s name may be made to Willamette Valley Hospice, 1015 3rd Street NW, Salem, OR97304, Attn: Accounting Office, or by phone at 503-588-3600.

Arrangements by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Cobbler’s elves got nothing on Celtic sandbaggers

A throng of student volunteers turned out to fill sandbags in the wake of last week’s flooding. Some spent all Friday on the back end of a shovel in an effort to help unsuspecting neighbors. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Brothers Grimm once wrote of an old fairy tale in which an elderly shoemaker get unexpected help from a group of elves that finish his work while he sleeps. On Friday, Jan. 20, a group of McNary High School students brought the tale to life.

Local residents stopping at Keizer’s Carlson Skate Park expecting to fill sandbags to combat rising waters got an unexpected surprise – prefilled sacks.

Keizerites Gabby Harryman and Lisa Nguyen put out the call on Facebook Thursday, Jan. 19, after Harryman spent the evening filling sandbags at Swegle Elementary School. Throughout the day friends and classmates joined them at the park to fill and load sandbags.

“I knew I couldn’t just sit at home knowing what was going to be going on,” Harryman said.

“We just started texting friends and it grew out of that,” said Nguyen. “We had a very different group this morning.”

Harryman and Nguyen started bagging sand at 8:30 a.m. and thought they had filled close to 2,000 bags by 3:30 p.m. Their third load of sand was beginning to dwindle.

“We had a mom come with her two kids and one was about three years old in a car seat, they were just going to fill bags with the kid in the car, but we got them taken care of,” said Jenna Hakes, a captain of the McNary High School cheerleading team.

“They were in and out in about 10 minutes,” Harryman added.

In addition to filling the bags, the sandbaggers were also making deliveries to elderly residents who dropped by the site in need of help, and supplied a site a North Salem High School with some prefilled sacks. While at the high school, they helped an area resident sandbag their garden, shed and home.

The students hoped people who needed the bags, but didn’t have the ability or time to fill them, would come by the site and discover their handiwork.

A bit of dampness and sore muscles were a small price to pay to help out, Harryman said.

“I think a lot of us realize how lucky we are to not be in one of those areas that is getting flooded,” she said. “I could stay out in the rain all day knowing I don’t have to deal with a flooded home.”

True to her words, she didn’t plan on leaving for at least a few more hours.


School board backs urban renewal plan

By HERB SWETT
Of the Keizertimes

A reimbursement agreement between the Salem-Keizer School District and the city of Keizer was approved Tuesday at a special School Board meeting.

The agreement, already approved by Marion County and several other taxing districts that include Keizer, is aimed at making up for defaults by owners of five parcels in the Keizer Station for local improvement district assessments. The defaults put the city in potential financial jeopardy.

The maximum amount of forgone revenue to the school district, subject to verification by the Marion County tax assessor, is $1,810,116.88. The city will reimburse the district annually for up to 10 years, starting Dec. 12 of this year, for the amount the district does not receive because of the agreement.

Approval of the agreement had been recommended by school district staff. Superintendent Sandy Husk told the board, “There is no financial advantage to our not approving

Director Chuck Lee, whose zone includes Keizer, introduced the motion for approval. He recalled that Keizer had helped the district in 2008 when local leaders worked hard for passage of a $242 million bond issue.

Board chair Rick Kimball spoke against the motion, arguing that “we need to look for every penny in our budget.”

Director Nancy MacMorris-Adix asked how other taxing entities in the area had voted. Paul Dakopolos, attorney for the district, said that nearly all of them had approved the plan, the Keizer Fire District having switched from its initial negative stand, and that the Chemeketa Community College District had yet to take a position.

MacMorris-Adix expressed the concern that the agreement would trade jobs in Keizer for jobs elsewhere in the county, but she said she would vote for it because of the administration’s recommendation.

The board voted 4-2 in favor of the agreement. Director Jeff Faville, casting the other negative vote, said the plan seemed to assume that there would be an economic recovery in a few years. Director Ron Jones was absent.

Celts helping disburse $5K to local charities

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A McNary High School leadership class is once again doling out some $5,000 to worthy causes.

The class is still seeking recipients through the end of February. The Community 101 program was funded by State Farm and promoted by the Oregon Community Foundation.

Each year students survey their peers and find out the issues they feel are most worthy of the funds. Though the student body has gone through virtually 100 percent turnover in the five years the class has been asking questions, answers come back the same: Suicide, teen pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse rise to the top.

“We had about 35 things – homelessness, voter turnout, a wide list,” said Jason Heimerdinger, a McNary teacher who leads the class. “We’ve had the same results every year – teens turning to the issues that are closest to them.”

They develop a mission statement. This year’s addressed not only the issues identified in the survey but also boosting “positive after-school activities for students.” Senior Kate Pedersen said activities like the science club and Powderpuff football, both of which have received money in the past from Community 101, benefit students in a variety of ways.

“Participating more, they’re less likely to get in trouble out of school, and it gets them more excited to go to school because they have something to look forward to,” Pedersen said.

In the process students learn about the local resources available to people in need, be it for addiction, fleeing abuse or just a warm meal.

“I’ve definitely gained a sense of community and trust in the people of Keizer,”  said Desiree Opico, a McNary senior. “I know if I ever fall into a situation where I need help … I would know who to turn to and that there would be resources to help me.”

Opico has been in the class since her freshman year, and is taking on a leadership role as a senior.

“The students’ role is to carry out the program and it’s their responsibility to find a nonprofit organization,” Heimerdinger said. “It’s their responsibility to vet all of them, interview the people running it … and select whoever needs the money the most.”

And just because something’s a good cause doesn’t mean it’s the right fit.

“Sometimes they have great causes but it’s not the group we’re trying to reach,” Opico said.

Groups receiving funding in the past include Recovery Outreach Center, Mid-Willamette Valley Women’s Crisis Center, Children’s Educational Theatre, Liberty House and Family Building Blocks.

Heimerdinger said students gain a greater sense of what nonprofits do.

“It’s opened their eyes to philanthropy and fundraising, and the concept of jobs in the world of fundraising and nonprofits,” Heimerdinger said, “a different world that’s not just capitalistic, not just going out and making money.”

Keeping the ‘Miracle’ alive

Marion-Polk Food Share President Ron Hays accepts a check from the Miracle of Christmas fundraiser from Sami Griffin, whose family provides crucial support for the event. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Organizers of the Miracle of Christmas light display in the Gubser neighborhood are hoping a few good people will take over the tradition this year.

The Griffin and Taylor families have hosted the donation tent in front of their home. The event ranks among Marion-Polk Food Share’s largest food drives and fundraisers. The 2011 version raised $17,381 and some 24,000 pounds of food. The nonprofit group reports it can get about five pounds for every donated dollar.

After five years, Mike Griffin and Jim Taylor have decided it’s time to step back. Now they want to help find the next hosts, and are willing to support whoever steps up. The hosts would need to live in the Gubser neighborhood on the current lights route.

“Anytime you do something like this you get more than you give,” said Taylor, “a certain self satisfaction out of helping somebody. We’ve gotten to meet a lot of neat people who I didn’t know before.”

Plus look at it this way: You’ll always have stories to tell.

There was the time a volunteer mistakenly thought a woman had brought her pooch along for the ride and gave her a dog treat. The woman ate it anyway.

Or the time when someone donated a few bottles of whiskey. Or this:

“A year ago we had the police department collecting food,” Taylor recalled, “and not three minutes after they left a car drives buy and there’s two guys in it. They stop, and rolled down the window and this huge cloud of dope smoke came rolling out the window.”

That said, it is quite the commitment. The event stretches more than three weeks, with donations taken from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. nightly. Even with volunteer groups, it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it scenario.

“Because it’s in front of your house, you’re still kind of a supervisor,” Griffin said.

Groups like Keizer Police, Keizer Fire District, Boy Scout Troop 121 and several churches step up each year to help lighten the load, and often neighbors come by to help. Several families could team up to take on the responsibility, Griffin said.

And they hope to see a tradition that’s been ongoing since 1986 keep thriving.

“It’s amazing what’s accomplished that does so much good for people less fortunate than us,” Griffin said. “The excitement, the busy-ness of it, it’s kinda like a show.”

Griffin and Taylor will pass along the tent along with volunteer contact information. To help email [email protected].