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

Month: January 2012

Final act for McNary’s West Side Story

KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

McNary High School’s production of West Side Story will close this weekend with three final performances the Ken Collin Theater at McNary, 595 Chemawa Road N.

Ticketholders whose shows were canceled due to school closures last week are encouraged to exchange their tickets for performances this weekend. No replacement performances will be scheduled.

“We weighed all the pros and cons of adding performances and came to the decision that we have committed to this many shows and it is in the transitory nature of theatre to have the experience and then let it pass,” said director Dallas Myers.

There are still open seats and $8 tickets are available at the door. Curtain times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28. A 1 p.m. matinee is scheduled Saturday.

West Side Story is an update of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet pitting two star-crossed lovers, Tony (Jesus Gomez) and Maria (Jill Jungwirth), against rival gangs that threaten to tear them apart.

“Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog” by Mike Dowling

“Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog” by Mike Dowling

c.2011, Atria Books
$26.00 / $29.99 Canada
304 pages

 

By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

These days, you sleep pretty well at night.

Oh, sure, there are things that could keep you awake. Mostly, though, you’re tucked into bed when darkness comes and you close your eyes, knowing that you’re safe. The reason is because you trust the men and women who sacrifice to keep this country secure. Also, you’ve got your dog nearby and he’s always on alert.

And sometimes, as you’ll see in the new book “Sergeant Rex” by Mike Dowling, it’s a little of both.

Growing up in the San Francisco area, the fourth of six children, Mike Dowling says that there were always animals around.

Cats, hamsters, even a snake were big parts of his life but dogs were closest to his heart. Dowling spent long hours playing with his four-footed siblings, and he even raised a guide dog. But though he lived an undeniably great life, Dowling says he lost his way on the path to college, and he struggled.

Finally, at the ripe old age of 22, he joined the Marines and, once the decision was made, Dowling couldn’t wait to get started on his military career.  To speed the process, he entered without guaranteed placement, despite that friends advised against it.

It was the luckiest decision he ever made.

Dowling was training as an MP when he learned of the K9 corps, an elite group of handlers and highly-trained dogs. Everyone, he was told, wanted to work in the K9 program. Few were accepted, and Dowling would make sure he was one of them.

And that was when he met Rex.

It took a long time to earn the German Shepherd’s trust; in fact, Dowling was even bitten once. But as he learned to listen to his dog and Rex learned to rely on his handler, it became obvious that the “Rex and Dowling show” was a solid team.

Dowling became eager to be deployed. He and his fellow K9 soldiers talked often about it. Then in 2004, in an area of Iraq called the Triangle of Death, Mike Dowling finally got his wish…

Are you one of those people who likes to take a book to bed?  Me, too, but this was one I should’ve left elsewhere. “Sergeant Rex” is too exciting to read before lights out.

But while stories of war are a big part of “Sergeant Rex,” that’s not the only focus: author Mike Dowling shares tales of a warrior, but his dog is clearly the hero here. Dowling leads readers down dirt roads where danger was a toenail away, but he makes us trust his dog. He explains how K9 teams do their job, and the care that goes into keeping four-footed soldiers in top shape. And then Dowling charms the socks off us by repeatedly, fervently hoping that he never lets his partner down.

If you’re in the mood for a brutal book with a heartwarming core, “Sergeant Rex” is the one to seek, seek, seek.  Just keep it out of the bedroom, or you’ll never be able to sleep.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Housing starts keep sliding

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Construction in Keizer continued to slow down in 2011.

And while total project valuation rose slightly in the year, the two biggest construction jobs – totaling some $2.7 million – were both Salem-Keizer School District projects. Total project valuation rose by $22,767 in 2011 to $13,791,000.

Two other major permit applications were from Keizer Station – a remodel at Target and tenant improvements for Guitar Center – and construction at Emerald Pointe Retirement Community, which is adding on to its facility.

New housing starts hit the lowest point in at least five years, with just 30 residential units beginning construction in 2011. This includes 17 single-family homes and a few duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes.

“This says to me that though Keizer was able to put it off for a while, we’re not insulated completely from the larger economic picture,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.

The trend has seen single-family dwelling starts fall each year in the five-year period of 2007-11, falling from 68 in 2007. Builders started on 56 single-family homes in 2008, 45 in 2007 and 27 in 2010, falling to 17 in 2011.

“We keep hearing noises that 2012 is going to be a great year,” he said. “I’m hoping to see it. But I’m not seeing it yet.”

Local developer Lee Sjothun built Hawk’s Point in north Keizer. Just one major apartment complex – his – has been built in Keizer the past few years. The complex currently has 166 units and was built in two phases.

“With the housing situation the way it is, if they are employed or have the means they stay at apartments longer,” Sjothun said. “In the past we have lost numerous people on a monthly basis to new houses. Since that’s slowed down a lot, that’s what has kept the apartments full.”

Vacancy rate on multi-family homes is between 4 and 5 percent in the Salem area, which is about the same as the nationwide apartment vacancy level.

Sjothun said that a lack of large, easily developable tracts in Keizer make it difficult to locate more multi-family complexes in the city.

“Hawk’s Point, as an example, is kind of far out there for an apartment complex,” Sjothun said. “Typically you’d want them closer to existing services, but those properties just don’t exist in Keizer.”

Mike Erdmann, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Marion and Polk counties, said he’s hearing anecdotally of more interest in new homes, and that buyers are realizing they’re likely to never encounter a friendlier market for would-be homeowners, with prices reaching new lows and interest rates hovering at or below 4 percent.

“The challenge is that there’s very, very little land available in Keizer,” Erdmann said. “… One opportunity is that with proximity to the freeway and the Portland market, it’s proven popular for people wanting to buy new homes in the Salem area.”

Willamette may cause minor flooding, but will likely crest below major flood levels

KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes 

Editor’s note: To help us serve you please send your pictures, reports and observations to [email protected]

The Willamette River is expected to reach about 29 feet when it crests Friday evening, which means what the National Weather Service calls minor flooding.

It’s a few feet below the major flood stage of 32 feet, said Liana Ramirez, a NWS meteorologist out of Portland. But low-lying areas along the river, along with island access roads, may still flood if they haven’t already. Forecast levels are well below the river wall and ordinary high bank elevations, city officials report.

A break in the rain this morning will be followed by steady precipitation throughout the weekend, with about three-quarters of an inch of rain predicted for the Salem area.

That’s down significantly from reported levels of 2.13 inches Thursday, 2.47 inches Wednesday and 2.18 inches on Tuesday.

“It’s just going to be steady rainfall,” Ramirez said. “It’s not going to be as heavy as this previous system.”

Strong wind gusts are expected Friday afternoon and evening, reaching 45 to 50 miles per hour before settling down Saturday morning.

The city has sand and bags available near the skate park on Rickman Road NE. Please bring your own shovel.

The 1600 block of Greenwood Drive NE is now open, as is the pedestrian bridge across Labish Creek between the Country Glen and Gubser areas.

Claggett and Labish creeks receded overnight, and public works officials continue to monitor them, said Public Works Superintendent Bill Lawyer.

For more photos of the high water, visit our photo gallery.

Lady Celts begin league play 1-1

Celt Aerial Rice looks for an open teammate during McNary’s game with North Salem High School. The Celtics doled out a 60-8 drubbing to the Vikings. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Lady Celts of the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team knew winning against West Salem High School would likely be their biggest challenge of the season. Unfortunately, knowing that and preparing for it didn’t change the results.

The Titans squeaked by the Celts in their first meeting of the season, 52-47.

“I feel like we did pretty good, but we let them rush us with their press,” said Celt Stacey Titchenal. “The frustrating part was we knew how to break it. For me, it was like I wasn’t focusing as hard as I needed to.”

For the first three quarters of the game, mistakes piled on each other, said Celt Caitlin Tartak, “we had one mistake and it kind of snowballed on us.”

After one single-digit quarter and two when McNary barely managed double digits, the Lady Celts rebounded for a 20-point fourth period to close out the game.

“When we finally started making a comeback and getting the energy that we needed it was a little too late,” Titchenal said.

Deven Hunter led the team in scoring with 18 points, Teresa Peterson added eight, Averi Wing put up eight, including two three-point goals, Jessica Darras had three points and Titchenal had a three-pointer.

Despite the loss, the team stuck together through some cold moments on the court, said Molly Gehley, McNary head coach.

“Our girls kept fighting,” she said. “Ashlee Koenig, Caitlin Tartak and Aerial Rice all went in and gave us a spark off the bench. That was nice to see as part of a good team effort.”

In the wake of their first Central Valley conference loss, the Lady Celts scored their first win in a 60-8 rout of the North Salem High School Vikings.

“We started out strong, and we kept focus despite it not being the toughest game of the year,” Tartak said.

Hunter led scoring with 21 points and rebounds, seven, Tartak put in nine points, Titchenal and Peterson added eight points apiece, Averi Wing had six points, and Jasmine Ernest, Koenig, Rice and Darras had two points each.

McNary faces two of the lesser CVC teams this week in McKay and Sprague high schools, but Titchenal didn’t want to look past any opponent.

“We can’t go into any game thinking we’ve already won,” she said. “We will be working on our press and switching up our defense to make it harder for other teams to get a bead on us.”

Tartak wanted to see the team get better at on-the-court communication.

After a rough series of games against tough opponents in the preseason and then the opening loss to West Salem, Gehley is eager for the team to get back on a roll.

“Our focus is on us in that we have to stay focused and intense, we can’t let ourselves slide,” Gehley said.

Celtic wrestlers repel Vikings in 69-9 dual

McNary’s Joel Hunter settles in with his opponent in a headlock during the North Salem dual, Wednesday, Jan. 11. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Celts pinned the Vikings on the wrestling mat in a 69-9 win last week, then took fourth place finish in the Oregon Classic.

In the dual meet with North Salem High School, two matches took center stage for Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

The first was a return bout between Celt Mike Mata and Viking Raymond Smith, Smith took the win in a 5-2 decision.

“These two young men have been wrestling each other for years and the battle continues. So far, Mike has lost to Raymond twice this year in close matches, but it was very competitive,” Ebbs said.

The other highlight was Celt Edgar Jimenez’s match with Justin Waldrop.

“With a tie score, 4-4, in the third round, a technical violation for fleeing the mat awarded Jimenez a go-ahead point and the win,” Ebbs said.

Other Celtic winners in the North Salem match were: Mike Phelps by pin in 3:00; Louis Palos by pin in 3:50; Andy Downer by pin in 1:59; Ajay Urban by pin in 1:25; and Joel Hunter by pin in 3:09. Devin Reynolds, Zach Hammerschmith, Grant Gerstner, Cody Ratliff, Tyler Brown and Anthony Flores all won by forfeit.

At the Oregon Classic, the Celts had their mettle tested as a team as much as individuals. The Classic draws the top teams from every region to compete in a dual-style competition rather than as individuals like they will in February at the state tournament.

“We wrestled six phenomenally tough matches, but when you have that kind of schedule, even your studs end up losing a match somewhere along the way,” Ebbs said.

The only McNary wrestler to emerge unscathed from the fray was Reynolds, who went undefeated.

McNary beat Centennial, Thurston, and Oregon City High Schools in their pool to make it to the top eight on the second day of the tournament.

The Celts took down Hillsboro High School 44-22 to earn a berth in the quarterfinals where they suffered through a 57-15 loss to Roseburg High School.

“That was a little humbling,” Ebbs said. “We had a legitimate shot at winning seven matches against that program. If we make some changes, we could make that a competitive dual.”

Still, the Celts earned the right to wrestle for third place with David Douglas High School, the No.2-ranked team in the state.

Things looked good with McNary’s Andy Downer pinning Jeremiah Baker, the No. 1-ranked 120-pounder in the state.

“Andy wrestled a phenomenal match and beat him handily,” Ebbs said.

Justin Lowe took down another high-ranked opponent in Douglas’ Gabe Peak, but then the Scots turned the tables, scoring two upsets of their own. Jeremy Lowe was outlasted in a double-overtime match and then Louis Palos got caught in a pinning predicament.

“It was just on of those things where Louis found himself on his back and pinned when he had been winning the match,” Ebbs said.

David Douglas took the dual 40-29, and McNary took fourth place.

GNC heads to Station

 

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Nutrition supplement store GNC is coming to Keizer Station.

There’s no set date for its opening,. The 1,097 square foot store is going near Kay Jewelers and Massage Envy, said Jack Steinhauer, director of acquisitions and development for Keizer Station parent firm Donahue Schriber.

“I use them; they’ve got great supplements,” Steinhauer said. “They do a really good job. We’re excited to have them.”

GNC once had a Keizer store at Schoolhouse Square. It currently operates two stores in the Salem area. Founded in Pittsburgh, the chain has grown to some 6,000 U.S. locations, including more than 1,000 stores-within-a-store at Rite Aid locations.

Builder gets a partial refund on fees

M. Caillier, J. Egli, B. Smith

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A senior housing developer will get some $13,680 in parks systems development charges refunded after a Keizer City Council vote Monday night.

The 4-2 decision was somewhat of a reversal from the call the same body made in September 2011 – a 3-3 vote that failed to deliver the disputed funds to developer Jeff Hawkins.

Councilors Mark Caillier and Joe Egli were among the yes votes; they voted no the first time. Councilor Brandon Smith, who voted in support the first time, decided to vote no this time around.

As an example, Smith said he wouldn’t be entitled to a refund on a speeding ticket he received on a street if the city council subsequently chose to raise the speed limit.

“My perspective is you’re subject to the rules at the time,” Smith said. “I don’t know any other situation… where we refunded money after the fact.”

Hawkins paid some $115,000 in parks SDCs when Emerald Pointe Retirement Community was under construction. All developments, be they single-family homes or a large facility, pay fees for the anticipated impact they will have on everything from parks to sewers and streets. Prior to revisions in 2010 the city had rates for single family and multi-family developments. Keizer didn’t have a senior housing rate at the time but many other communities did.

Hawkins argued the kind of senior housing units he built would have a lower population density – an average of one – versus traditional apartments, which were between two and three per unit.

He said at the time that lower density meant less impact to the parks system, which to him meant he should pay less than the multi-family rate of $800 per unit at the time. He also contended seniors use parks less than the general public. Hawkins was assessed $115,200 in parks systems development charges for 144 units in the development.

Caillier felt city staff had made a commitment to Hawkins to grant at least a partial refund should the city council choose to reconsider its SDC rate. City Manager Chris Eppley had pledged to bring the matter before council and make a positive recommendation, although Eppley noted during the meeting that it’s ultimately the council’s decision to make.

“To me that’s a commitment,” Caillier said.

Egli said Hawkins had identified an inequity in the SDC system.

“We never promised to give him the lower rate but because of him … we fixed it,” Egli said.

Hawkins had sought a much larger refund: Some $64,143. He asked for the larger figure because the new senior housing fee is 56 percent less than the new multi-family fee. The vote was ultimately whether the difference between the new senior housing fee – $705 per unit – and the $800 Hawkins paid should be refunded.

Cops catch theft suspect using prints

M. Padrta

Keizer Police solved a months-old theft from an automobile thanks to fingerprint evidence.

On Sept. 15, 2011, a resident in the 4800 block of Pender Court N. reported someone opened her unlocked car and stole her purse and wallet. Someone had made several unauthorized purchases using the victim’s stolen credit cards at various locations in Salem.

Several fingerprints lifted by Community Service Officer Lynn Halladey were later matched to a man currently incarcerated on unrelated charges in the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. Halladey used the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a computer network dedicated to maintaining, searching and retrieving fingerprints.

Keizer Police Det. Tim Lathrop traveled to the prison where the suspect is in custody. Police said the suspect was unable to say why his fingerprints were on the victim’s vehicle. The stolen property has not yet been recovered.

Charged was Michael John Padrta, 37, with third-degree theft and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.

Unselfish play highlights Celt loss at North Salem

Celt Johnathan Doutt cuts for the hoop during McNary’s game with North Salem High School Friday, Jan. 13. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

It was an down-and-up week for the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team despite chalking up a pair of losses.

The Celts started the week facing off against West Salem High School and the team scattered under Titan pressure ending 73-48 loss.

Team members fell back on old habits en route to the loss, said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach, “We gotta realize that it’s five guys responsibility to get the ball across half court. No matter if you’re a point guard, a post, or a wing, we’ve got to come back and help get the ball across center court.”

The Titans poured in 23 points in the first period and never felt pressure from McNary after that.

“We got to the point where we played as individuals and not as a team,” said junior Jon Kiser. “We were taking shots that we shouldn’t have taken.”

A rushed pace led to more turnovers, said Isaiah Montano.

Johnathan Doutt led the McNary charge with 14 points in the game, Justin Burgess put in eight, Brandon Lao and Kiser had six points each, Nick McDonald had five, Montano and Grant Fletchall had three each, Dylan McHugh drained a bucket and Connor Goff hit one from the free throw line.

On Friday, Jan. 13, McNary traveled to meet North Salem High School where the team found surer footing, if not a win. The Vikings won 64-48.

“From the start to the finish, it was our best game the whole year. We didn’t settle in the second half like we have in the past,” said Doutt, who led the team in scoring with 15 points. Doutt credited Kiser, in his first game as a starter, with providing a spark off the bench.

“Everything was more in sync,” Montano added, “It was the first time we played a full game as a team rather than falling into one-on-one.”

McNary closed the gap to single digits in the final two minutes, but North Salem sprinted ahead for the final score.

“We handled the press as a team, broke it, attacked and just missed some shots that could have fallen,” Kirch said. “North beat us, but we played hard and played unselfishly, and we proved we can hang with teams in this league.”

Montano had 10 points, four assists and two steals in the outing. Garren Robinett had seven points, Goff, McHugh and Fletchall had four apiece, Kiser had two points, and Burgess added two while running the Vikings off the boards with a game-leading 11 rebounds.

Kirch said he was most impressed with the leadership supplied by Burgess, McHugh and Robinett during the week. “It gave the younger guys confidence,” he added.