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Day: February 10, 2012

Coach’s ripple effect makes waves beyond high school

Kim Phillips, center, was surprised by students, from left, Nick Morgan, Alex Fox, Morgan Crueger, Laura Donaldson and Ben Johnson. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

Ask McNary High School swimming coach Kim Phillips what her hopes are for her swimming teams at the beginning of any season and it’s likely you’ll get the same response: “I hope they have fun and remember how much fun they had 20 years from now.”

Winning races, meets, and district titles is always a secondary goal, but there have been lots of victories in each category.

“The most rewarding thing is seeing kids with a smile on their face because they’ve done something that they’ve worked for,” said Phillips, who was honored in January with the Service to Education Award at the Keizer First Citizen banquet.

The unspoken aspect of that mission to have fun is what it can do for a young athlete over the course of a lifetime. Fun keeps them coming back to physical activities like the swimming and golf that Phillips coaches. Fun motivates them to set attainable goals. The fun of achieving those goals means they never to rest on their laurels and continue to aim higher.

“She has given so many students over the years confidence in not just swimming, but in life as a result of her encouragement to those who didn’t think they could do what she was challenging them to do,” said Linda Baker, a McNary English teacher who presented the award to Phillips. Baker was honored with the award in 2011.

Phillips started teaching and coaching Celtic students 31 years ago. She retired from the physical education classroom last spring, but continues to coach the McNary swimming teams.

From a young age, and under the influence of her father who was an educator, Phillips wanted to teach. In truth, though, she got her start as a coach.

“When I was in ninth grade I taught my classmates the trampoline. By the time I was a senior, I was teaching them swimming as a student aide because that is what I was doing outside of school and the teacher didn’t know how to teach it,” Phillips said.

She credits mentors Russ Morris and Julie Zetterberg with being great sounding boards as she developed her approach to the classroom and teaching. Phillips has seen thousands of kids through her classroom and her teams, but the most difficult aspects have always been the ones she couldn’t control.

“There were girls that swam for me that were pregnant, but there are lots of instances when the kids are contending with things outside the classroom or the pool. Not everything is black and white even though you want it to be. You have to change,” Phillips said.

She’s been buoyed through the tough times by the successes of those who stick with swimming. Many still text her their times as they move into collegiate swimming. Later this year, former Celt Amber Boucher, who was once on Phillips’ swimming team, will participate in the sport’s Olympic Trials.

She tries to make sure her students and athletes are having fun by remembering that there are times to be silly as well as serious. Years ago, she instituted Cookie Friday as a way to lure kids to practice, but it’s since morphed into a Friday of fun when the kids play games, or meet after practice for team dinners like a spaghetti feed.

“I hope they take away my enthusiasm for the sport and the activities that they participate in. I hope they take away responsibility and they learn how to treat other respectfully,” Phillips said.

In return, Phillips’s students have taught her just as much.

“They’ve taught me patience. They’ve taught me to keep my eyes open as far as trying new things and being creative. I’ve become more spontaneous because they helped me see the possibilities of being that way,” she said.

Phillips lives in Salem with her husband Ken and has two daughters, Kristen and Katie.

A word with Rep. Kurt Schrader

(The Reporter’s Notebook offers a glimpse behind the headlines to stories and issues bubbling just below the surface. Got news for the Notebook? Email [email protected] or call 503-390-1051.)

Keizertimes: What did you think of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?

Kurt Schrader: “I liked the call for unity, the reference to our servicemen and women who somehow find a way to get it done, they don’t get into who’s getting credit or what their philosophy is. They just get the job done. I thought that was an excellent point of really calling Congress out: The country’s hurting, step up and do it.

“I’m not real enthusiastic about all the tax credits he talked about, to be honest. We can’t afford it. There’s other ways to encourage American manufacturing, investments in diverse energy policy. That’s just good business.”

KT: One of the measures he talked about was requiring millionaires to pay at least 30 percent income tax – the Buffett bill. Thoughts?

KS: “I prefer tax reform. I think the smart thing to do is I’d reduce everybody’s rates, so everyone has to pay some taxes. I don’t care if you’re real poor, I don’t care if you’re rich, everyone has to pay something at the end of the day proportionate to your socioeconomic status. I prefer the Bowles-Simpson plan … you cut the 15 percent average rate down to about 8, cut 24 to about 15 and reduce the upper income rate from 36 down to about 28 or so. You got rid of most of the tax breaks and cut those rates, that means you have about a trillion dollars to pay down on our debt and deficit. Actually, if you cut those corporate rates, you get us more competitive internationally and they’ll bring those jobs home.”

KT: What do you want to see in a payroll tax deal by the end of February?

KS: “I do not favor the payroll tax cut. You’re underfunding Social Security, you’re spending people’s retirement today, no one knows you even have it, it’s a waste of money. … I would extend unemployment for another year and I like the creative mix the president put forward that encourages businesses to keep people on, but not maybe at full salary, and some of the training pieces and education pieces that are there.”

KT: You mentioned support for drug testing for welfare recipients. Have you seen data to suggest that would save money, or is it the principle?

KS:  “I think for me it’s more the principle. At the end of the day, I’m not looking at it to save money. You can’t help people if they don’t want to help themselves.… You give them something for nothing and continue to foster bad life habits, I think you’re just wasting money and not helping them. You’re being an enabler, and that’s wrong.”

KT: What’s your message as you seek re-election?

KS: “My message is about getting America back on track and creating a new job. I think you do that by going big and getting America’s fiscal house in order so that the $2 trillion comes in off the sidelines. I think it’s the… forest bill that creates real jobs in our rural areas, that have been in double-digit recession for the past 25 years. It has to do with increasing our exports. …  And I think it’s about the Transportation Infrastructure Bill. I’m a strong proponent of pushing that, at least at the $260 billion level over five years, and I’m open to creative ways to doing a little more. And … from my small business committee’s perspective, we should continue the expensing breaks, carry loss forwards so these businesses can invest in infrastructure and pay for jobs.”

– Interview by Jason Cox

Mat men go undefeated in dual meets

Celt Tyler Brown takes down his opponent in the McKay-Newberg three-three-way dual meet. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

Of the Keizertimes

Leading up to the regional tournament, set to begin at 3:30 p.m. at Sprague High School Friday, Feb. 10, one might have expected the McNary High School wrestlers to have been deep into drills and practice on Monday.

They weren’t. They were playing dodgeball for 10 minutes to start practice.

“I think we’ve got what it takes to win the regional title. As dodgeball goes, there’s hand-eye coordination and being quick on our feet. It turns play into work and makes it even more fun,” said Celt Cody Ratliff.

If the Celtics’ just-ended regular season has been any indication of future success, Ratliff has reason to be confident. McNary went undefeated in dual meets for the first time in memory for many coaches. A heads-up win over Sprague High School finally pushed the Celts over the barrier a few weeks ago. The Olys had been a perpetual thorn in McNary’s side for the more than a decade.

A win at the regional tournament would mean a threepeat for the Celtics. The team won the last district title in 2010 and the first regional title in 2011.

“We started off really well and we finished really well. It would be awesome to get a threepeat,” said McNary’s Rob Phelps. “We need to continue working on setting up our shots better. That really helped us last week against Newberg, McKay and Tigard.”

McNary put the finishing touches on an unblemished record with wins over all three teams last week.

In a three-way dual with McKay and Newberg, The Celts took 52-20 and 61-14 wins, respectively.

Newberg dominated in the lower weight classes, but the team’s decision to take a forfeit to Celt Devin Reynolds changed the tide of the match as eight McNary mat men took down their Tiger foes: Justin Lowe won in a 4-2 decision; Jeremy Lowe won 19-6 major decision; Phelps won in a 4-3 decision; Zach Hammerschmith won by pin in 1:54; Grant Gerstner won by pin in 3:09; Ratliff won by pin in 3:33; Tyler Brown won by pin in 4:00; Anthony Flores won by pin in 1:05; and Joel Hunter won by forfeit.

Phelps had one of the more thrilling matches with Newberg. He scored a reversal in the third round that gave him a win.

“When I walked out on the mat I knew I had to beat the Newberg kid. I had a lot of motivation going into that match.,” Phelps said.

The situation with McKay was almost identical with McNary dominating the upper weight classes, but Louis Palos scored a 10-5 win by decision at 113-pounds that padded the Celtic score. He was motivated by a last-second loss to his Newberg opponent, said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

Other Celtic winners were: Reynolds by pin in 3:23, Ju. Lowe by pin in 5:23; Je. Lowe by forfeit; Phelps by pin in 5:22; Hammerschmith by forfeit; Gerstner by forfeit; Ratliff by 11-2 major decision; Brown by an injury forfeit; Mason Ross by pin in 3:47; and Joel Hunter by pin in 34 seconds.

The Celts’ 51-24 win over Tigard High School wrapped up their perfect dual meet season. Tigard challenged McNary throughout the line-up with several victories, but lots of pins and a technical fall carried the Celts over the Tigers.

Mike Phelps won by pin in 3:46; Palos took a 15-0 win by technical fall; Andy Downer won by pin in 1:59; Reynolds won by pin in 1:04; Ju. Lowe won in a 16-5 decision; Je. Lowe won in a 7-1 decision; Gerstner won by pin in 5:24; Brown won by pin in 1:46; and Flores won by pin in 55 seconds.

Looking ahead to the regional tournament, Justin Lowe wanted the Celts to have the same confidence they were feeling on Monday at practice.

“We can’t be nervous. We have to be confident. I was nervous last year  because it’s a big deal because the crowd is huge, but you have to be confident,” he said.

Lady Celts blow out Vikes, Olys

Lady Celt Teresa Peterson takes it to the hoop in a game with McKay. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School girls varsity basketball held on to its second-place standing in the Central Valley Conference last week with dominating wins over North Salem and Sprague high schools.

“We were executing well and working well as a team and we’d press a lot, work on plays that needed some extra time,” said Celt Averi Wing.

The Lady Celts beat the Vikings 71-27 and the Olys 66-33.

McNary traveled to take on North Salem and stifled the Viking offense while running up their own tally en route to the win.

“We were shooting well and putting pressure on them defensively that forced their decisions,” said McNary’s Deven Hunter.

McNary was putting junior varsity players on the court by the second period.

“It gave us an opportunity to tweak things like the full court press and got a lot of experience for all of our kids to get out on the court and work in different combinations,” said Molly Gehley, McNary head coach.

Hunter racked up 29 points and 11 rebounds in McNary’s win over Sprague Friday, Feb. 3.

The Olys stayed within five points of the Celtics in the first period, but McNary poured in 46 points to Sprague’s 17 over the next two periods to seal the victory.

“We came out pretty strong in both games and we were really working on pressing and different defenses. The challenge with games like those are that it’s easy to lose focus,” said Celt Stacey Titchenal.

Jessica Darras added 14 points to McNary’s total, Titchenal put in seven, Wing added four, Baili Keeton, Caitlin Tartak, Teresa Peterson, Ashlee Koenig, Madson Rohl and Lauren Hudgins had two points apiece. As a team, the Lady Celts grabbed 32 rebounds in the outing.

McNary had games on tap with McKay and South Salem high schools. Titchenal said maintaining focus in practices while the weather outside is spring-like would be essential to keeping pace with league-leading West Salem High School.

‘We can’t underestimate McKay, and we have to bring the same intensity that we brought with South Salem the first time around,” Wing said.

If the Celts close the season unscathed, it would likely set up a rematch with the Titans to determine seeding heading into the state playoffs. Last year, McNary lost to West twice before pulling out a victory in the tournament.

“They will go into it thinking they’ve beaten us, but they underestimate our ability to improve as the season goes and plus we’re the ones with the motivation to win,” Titchenal said.

The team will spend the week tying up loose ends in preparation for the tournament, Gehley said.

“I’m proud of our growth as a team and how they play well together. Their basketball knowledge has grown so much over the last couple of years and that’s them trying to be students of the game,” she said.

Wrestling on mats with girls (and boys)

Sam Urban

Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School senior Sam Urban got involved with wrestling because she wanted to be able to challenge her brothers, Stevin and Ajay.

Six years later, with two state championships under her belt and a third possibly in the offing, Urban has grown beyond such comparisons, especially as they relate to gender.

“The only real difference between wrestling a female and a male is their strength. Gender doesn’t really bother me anymore. Wrestling as a sport is what’s grown on me,” Urban said.

On Jan. 28, Urban collected her third consecutive regional title at the Oregon Women’s State Qualifier. She defeated both challengers and will return to the state competition later this month.

Urban started wrestling in middle school but she now works with girls in the Celtic Mat Club who are the same age she was when she started. She tries to impart the same toughness she’s developed in the past six years.

“I just like being able to tell them keep their heads up and fight with the boys and make them cry,” Urban said with a devilish smile.

While she’s beaten each of the wrestlers she’ll face for the state title, Urban is keeping close watch on the field to make sure they don’t get dramatically better in the last few weeks.  While Urban has lifted the prospects for female wrestlers within the McNary program, other female wrestlers are doing the same throughout the state.

“Sometimes I expect it to be really easy when I walk out on the mat and see a female, but the women’s wrestling has been growing a lot. There’s females that walk out there and they’re pretty good,” she said.

Urban is as much a threat in the classroom as she is on the mat, said Jason Ebbs, McNary wrestling head coach.

“Sam is always challenging herself to take tough academic courses. She gets good grades and she’s got a hectic schedule. She manages school, wrestling, choir, orchestra and other family functions. Yet, she is the last person I have to worry about being here on time,” he said.

Urban is hoping to continue her wrestling career into on scholarship college at either Pacific University or Simon Fraser University. She plans to major in forensic anthropology. After watching a novice-level collegiate tournament, she feels well-prepared for the challenges college wrestling will present.

“All the guys who have wrestled with me in practices and in tournaments have helped me get there, and because of me they’ve learned to be comfortable wrestling a girl and they don’t assume only a guy could be good at it,” she said.

While there are those who disparage the mere notion of females on the high school wrestling mat, Ebbs said Urban is helping pave a path for those who follow her.

“Wrestling has proven to be a sport without any boundaries, but you would be ignoring something to not take notice when a girl walks onto the wrestling mat. Right, wrong, agree or disagree, Sam has earned her way into our program regardless. She pushes the guys and it makes those situations a lot easier for herself,” Ebbs said. “She’s never come off the mat and said the guy was tough on me, I bet it’s usually the other way around.”

A teachable moment

The Keizer City Council has extended North River Road Urban Renewal District for four years in an effort to stave off a huge bond debt payment years from now.

After receiving concurrence from eight of the other ten taxing districts affected by Keizer’s urban renewal district, the council did what it said it wouldn’t do: extend the district. We understand the city is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Developer Chuck Sides is more than a year behind on his bond payments. The city uses bond payments from Keizer Station landowners to  pay its bond debt obligations. Currently the city makes interest payments but in the future payments on the principal will be due and therein lies crux of the problem the district extension addresses.

The city’s next move is to prepare foreclosure proceedings on five parcels of land at Keizer Station controlled by Chuck Sides. The five parcels together are currently valued at about $6 million. The city plans to foreclose, hold the property until its value increases and then sell them to pay off the bond debt Sides owes.

This plan is better than doing nothing and hoping everything works out. Even though other land owners in Keizer Station have been making timely debit payments, the city would be on the hook for a multi-million dollar balloon payment in the 2020s.

This should all be a cautionary tale about any plans for future Urban Renewal Districts in Keizer. When all the players fulfill their obligations an urban renewal district can do great things for a city. But it comes as a cost not only to the city but other taxing districts which must forgo tax revenues for years at a time. Marion County and the Salem-Keizer Public Schools concurred on the extension of the North River Road district even though they both desperately need those tax revenues themselves.

The city has gone to great lengths to assure Keizer residents that the extension is not a gift to Chuck Sides, who loses out on a $900,000 payout as well as five Keizer Station parcels. If the economy was still humming along as it was ten years ago Keizer may not be in this situation. We never know what the future holds and we must move to deal with what is happening on the ground.

That should make the city think twice about seeking an extension of the Urban Growth Boundary north of Keizer. That expansion would call for building infrastructure where there is none now, out into farmland. Developers asked the city to build infrastructure at Keizer Station at the cost of millions of dollars, money that is to be paid back to lenders via bond debt payments.

If the urban growth boundary is pushed out and that land is annexed, the city should think hard about fronting the money for sewer, water and utility systems, as it did at Keizer Station. Those costs need to be borne by the developers from the start.

The current Urban Renewal District situation is a teachable moment for the city. Any future renewal projects need to have vigilant watchdogs. Until the need for a future renewal district arises the city should do all it can to close the current district as soon as possible. It’s the right thing to do for Keizer and its partners.


Those who make Keizer

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the Mayor’s Invitational Art Gala will be held at Keizer Civic Center. It is an evening of art, social mingling, and fund raising for Keizer Public Art. It is just one of many fund raising events held in Keizer each year.

There are the well known events such as the Gala, the Keizer Rotary Club’s annual raffle party, the Keizer Young Life and the St. Edward Catholic Church auctions, as well as too many others to name.

All of these fund raisers have an auction element to them, either live, silent, or both. These auctions don’t just happen. Hardy volunteers use their connections and their networking skills to ask for donations from businesses large and small.

Auction donations can range from a gift certificate to a vacation trip and everything in between. It is the generosity of local businesses that make these auctions succeed. The donated items fill table after enticing attendees to push the winning  bids ever higher.

Organizers of Keizer fund raisers solicit donations from local businesses simply because they are the ones who give. There donations help improve and maintain Keizer’s quality of life. Most donors ask for nothing in return, they are just doing good work. Big national companies have their philanthropic causes and collectively donate billions of dollars and goods across the country each year.

While not every Keizer household benefits directly from the groups that hold fund raisers, they are not left untouched. Without fund raisers we might not have programs for our youth (sports organizations, youth and school activities), our community (food bank, public art, i.e.) or our recreation (school sports,   park amenities, etc.).

Every business, individual or organization that donates to local fund raisers are heroes for working to keep Keizer a great place to live. Without their largess we’d just be an empty community.


Lies, lies, lies

To the Editor:

As you well know there is a dispute between the Keizer Fire District and Marion County Fire District #1 about the annexation of the Clear Lake Station into the Keizer Fire District. I am a resident of Keizer and also have friends that live in the Clear Lake area.

Repeatedly the residents of the Clear Lake area are being told lies and mistruths about what will happen if the annexation happens. Such as, Clear Lake would lose 20 firefighters, that they would no longer have 24-hour ambulance service, and that the residents of the Clear Lake area, which also is part of the city of Keizer, would be put in danger. When I disputed these claims online on the Keep Keizer Safe Facebook page, it took less than 12 hours for my disputes and comments to be removed and the site will no longer let people post any comments. This is just a tactic to keep the citizens of Keizer in the dark and misinformed of the facts.

Here are some of the facts that the citizens need to know. Clear Lake Station will stay open, all equipment that is there now will stay, all the volunteers that are there now will be able to stay so the area will lose no staff. There will be a full time medic unit with two paramedics on it at all times, the area will still be getting coverage from both the Clear Lake station and the Keizer station in the event of a fire just as they always have, their taxes will be lower for the same services they receive now.

Marion County Fire District #1 has been trying to keep the people misinformed and for what. Their own personal gain and it needs to stop.

Charles Smith

The city of Keizer and Keizer Fire

To the Editor:

Keizer’s public safety is a joint effort by the Keizer Police Department (KPD) and Keizer Fire District (KFD) , it involves long-term planning, training, and coordination at all levels of both organizations.

In our long history together, there has been countless times when KPD and KFD have worked together to save lives and protect property.  While we are two separate organizations, we have served essentially the same constituency in our missions and operations.

Areas where we have worked together include CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), emergency services planning meetings, public education events and coordination with EVAK (Emergency Volunteers Assisting Keizer).  While the need for being prepared for emergencies may be our focus, we have also worked together on civic projects like the Keizer Iris Festival, River Fair, Festival of Lights Parade and other local events.

This long time working relationship is vital to the public safety services in Keizer.  It is best to know who, what, why, where and when prior to an event taking place.  Leaders of the city, along with leaders of the Fire District meet on a bi-monthly basis to discuss issues that can affect both organizations.

This type of cooperation is what makes our partnership work, and keeps you safe.  We believe all of Keizer should be represented by the Keizer Fire District, so as to provide the best emergency services to the whole community in the most efficient and effective manner.  To accomplish this, we ask you vote YES on both questions on the March 13 ballot for the Keizer Fire District’s annexation of the Clear Lake neighborhood.

All voters in both the City of Keizer and Keizer Fire District will have the opportunity to vote on both questions.  These voters will have a ballot with two similar questions. “Yes” on both questions is required for approval.

Please vote YES on both issues on your ballot.

Greg Ego
Mark Caillier

Ego is a member of the Keizer Fire District board. Caillier is a Keizer city councilor.

Support Keizer Fire District

To the Editor:

If you wish to increase ambulance service in Keizer you will vote yes on the two ballot measures in March. If the Keizer Fire District is allowed to annex the Clear Lake area, an ambulance will be stationed at the Clear Lake station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Currently, Marion County Fire District #1 has to move its ambulance to the Brooks station to enhance coverage to the rest of its territory whenever needed. Another benefit to the citizens that live in the Clear Lake area will be a decrease their tax burden because the Keizer Fire District tax rate is lower. Over the years the people who live north of Parkmeadow Drive to the city limits has subsidized the rest of the Marion County Fire District #1 with their tax payments. Keizer needs only one fire district. Please vote yes.

Bill Quinn