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Day: February 9, 2012

House committee hears bill that could affect local fire election

K. Henson, J. Cowan

Of the Keizertimes 

The outcome of a March election deciding which fire district will service the Clearlake neighborhood could hinge on a bill before the Oregon legislature.

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 4090 and an amendment that could affect the election, or at least settle future, similar disputes. The underlying bill isn’t closely related, but carries an emergency clause that could make the entire text – and its amendments – effective immediately upon passage.

The committee didn’t vote on the issue, and a date to further consider it has not yet been set.

The Keizer City Council has voted to withdraw the Clearlake area from Marion County Fire District No. 1 pending a March election, which would decide if Keizer Fire District would take over the territory. A court decision in April over the legality of the city’s actions could also affect the election’s ultimate outcome.

The relevant amendment to House Bill 4090 would require that cities provide a particular service before withdrawing an area from a special district. In Keizer’s case, that would mean the city of Keizer would have to have a fire department of its own before withdrawing territory from an independent fire district.

It would also mandate that the area considered for annexation be able to vote independently of an entire district.

For example, most voters in March will see two questions on the ballot: One goes to all City of Keizer voters, while the other to all Keizer Fire District voters. While much of the territory overlaps, a small number of residents outside city limits are still in Keizer Fire District. A majority of both must approve the annexation for it to take effect.

Under the scenario proposed in the amendment, a majority from the Clearlake area must approve annexation along with all voters within the Keizer Fire District.

Rep. Brian Clem, a Democrat representing east Salem, including portions of MCFD’s territory, is proposing the amendment.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan said such an outcome would be unacceptable, while MCFD officials were willing to go along.

“We told the Clearlake residents we would abide by their decision,” said Randy Franke, president of MCFD’s board.

Rep. Kim Thatcher, R – Keizer, said she wouldn’t back possible interference with an upcoming election in Keizer.

“Let those things play out,” Thatcher said.

MCFD Chief J. Kevin Henson said the annexation would cost his district more than a half-million dollars annually.

Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson said the board she sits on has not taken a position, but said there’s better ways to solve similar issues.

Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan said his agency’s decision to pursue Clearlake was precipitated by MCFD’s move to end an ambulance service agreement whereby KFD’s ambulance was a primary medical responder in MCFD’s territory – a shift that cost KFD some $75,000 annually, Cowan has said previously.

The amendment also faces opposition from the League of Oregon Cities , whose legal counsel testified that cities have an intrest in deciding which and how many service district will operate within its boundaries.

The concept of home rule authority was pounded home by Keizer City Attorney Shannon Johnson.

“These amendments are a significant attack on home rule authority throughout the state (and) is contrary to the philosophy of home rule,” he said.

Raeanne McDonald, executive director of Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community, said she saw no reason to disrupt a service model virtually everyone involved agrees isn’t broken.

“I can tell you in my 20 years we’ve had nothing but exemplary service from both districts,” McDonald said. “Why would we want change?”

Hearts & Arts

Art pieces found at last year’s event. (KEIZERTIMES/File Photos)

Of the Keizertimes

The third piece for the City of Keizer’s permanent art collection will be revealed at “Hearts and Arts,”  the 2012 Mayor’s Invitational Art Gala to be held at the Keizer Civic Center on Saturday, Feb. 11.

The Keizer Art Association, the Keizer Chamber Foundation and the City of Keizer will present the event.  The Art Association will hold its Winter Art Sale the same weekend on Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11.

The Art Association’s Winter Art Sale starts Friday and runs from noon – 8 p.m.  It will continue on Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. A variety of art in various mediums from local and regional artists will be available for sale to the public.  Prices are expected to range between $20 and $500.

Doors for the Mayor’s Invitational Art Gala will open 5 p.m., with the event running until 9 p.m.  The gala, open to the public, will feature the unveiling of a new addition to Keizer’s permanent art collection.  The winning piece will be hung with other entries in the civic center and displayed through January 2013.  Mayor Lore Christopher will unveil the winner at 7 p.m.

Last year’s selection was Party Girls by Colleen Goodwin Chronister. It and the
other entries from 2011 will hang in the Keizer Civic Center until the first week of February.

The Gala will include a silent and a live auction; silent auction bids will start at 5 p.m. The live auction will start at 7:30 p.m.

Reserved tables for the live auction are available at $300 each. LeRoy Hedberg will be the auctioneer. Silver admission tickets are $20 and are available at the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s new office in Keizer Station and the Keizertimes .at 142 Chemawa Rd. N. Silver ticket holders will receive a complimentary glass of wine or beer.

Attendees will enjoy assorted canapes as well as a no-host bar. Live music will be provided by guitarist Mark Seymour.

Proceeds of the art gala will go to the Keizer Public Art program which installs art along River Road. Other beneficiaries are the Keizer Chamber Foundation and the Keizer Art Association.