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Day: February 24, 2012

Backed by Keizer teen, curb on funeral protests nearly law

Ryan Ripp (KEIZERTIMES/File Photo)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Seeing protests at military funerals was too much to take for a Keizer teen.

Now Ryan Ripp’s idea is nearly law.

Senate Bill 1575 has gotten approval from both chambers of the Oregon Legislature and awaits Gov. John Kitzhaber’s signature. A representative from the governor’s office said he intends to sign.

It makes it a crime to fight, make threats or unreasonable noise or obstruct traffic within 200 feet of a funeral. The bill is in response to protests staged by Westboro Baptist Church, a small Kansas church whose members regularly carry anti-gay signs and messages to funerals of U.S. soldiers.

“I’m really happy that it’s finally a law, that Oregon’s finally protected,” Ripp said upon hearing the bill cleared the house with nearly unanimous consent.

In order to be charged with disorderly conduct, in this case a Class A misdemeanor – a maximum fine of $6,250 and up to a year in jail – the person must know a funeral is taking place. Normally disorderly conduct is a Class D misdemeanor.

Legislation with similar intent failed in 2011, in part because of a section some said could impede free speech.

Removing that was the difference maker for Rep. Jules Bailey, D–Portland, who opposed last session’s bill. He noted the changes in his remarks on the House floor Tuesday.

Rep. Jim Weidner said the legislation protects mourners from outside agitators.

Ripp, a McNary High School junior, was outraged after he learned about the issue watching Channel One News, a news show for teens aired at high schools across the country.

“It made me sick to see on TV what it was doing to people in other states,” he said.

Richard Walsh, a former Keizer city councilor, advised him to research similar laws in other states. Ripp attended work sessions to learn about the process and testified at a legislative committee when a similar bill was before the legislature in 2011. He also sought help from Rep. Kim Thatcher, R – Keizer.

Ripp, a grandson of two military veterans, plans to enlist, and is applying to all five U.S. military academies. And after this experience, he wants to go into politics.

Saxon upset puts Lady Celts in third headed to playoffs

Deven Hunter puts up a shot during the South Salem game last week. The Saxons escaped with a win in the teams’ third meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School girls varsity basketball team discovered just how hard it is to beat a team three times in a season last week.

The Lady Celts fell to the South Salem High School Saxons 48-43 in the teams’ second meeting in less than a week.

The loss set up the team to play for third place in the Central Valley Conference Tournament against McKay High School, Tuesday Feb. 21. McNary won that contest 60-43.

After an early McKay lead, McNary surged past the Royal Scots in the first quarter. McKay never threatened again. Celt Deven Hunter poured in 30 points on the night. Averi Wing put in 10 points, Teresa Peterson and Jessica Darras had four points each, Ashlee Koenig and Menley Neitzel had three points apiece, Caitlyn Tartak, Lauren Hudgins and Stacey Titchenal had two points apiece.

Despite the loss, McNary’s game with South was a thriller. A week earlier, the teams were neck-and-neck in the last six seconds when the Celts put in the go-ahead basket at the buzzer. That outcome had Molly Gehley, McNary head coach, anticipating a tough rematch.

“We expected a tough game going in that would be down to the wire,” Gehley said.

Both teams stumbled out of the block with nearly three minutes of scoreless play. The Saxons struck first on a lay-in, but Hunter tied it up on the swing back down the court. South led 9-5 in the waning minutes of the first quarter when Peterson hit a three-pointer to make it 9-8. A three-point goal by Baili Keeton with 35 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter closed South’s lead to 13-11.

Keeton tied the game on a lay-in shortly after the beginning of the second quarter. Hudgins put the Celtics on top 15-13 by grabbing a rebound and putting in the basket, but South shot back past the Celtics with a three-point goal.

McNary trailed much of the quarter, but a two-pointer by Darras and a second three-pointer by Peterson allowed the Celtics to finish with a 20-18 lead at the half.

It was South’s turn to tie up the game early in the second half, but a three-pointer by Titchenal kept McNary in control. The teams traded leads a number of times in the quarter, but South emerged with the 32-29 lead at the buzzer.

The fourth quarter proved to be the Celts most troubling.

“We had problems getting the ball to go in the second half especially and that really hurt us down the stretch,” Gehley said.

Wing briefly put the Celtics back ahead of the Saxons, but South went on a 14-6 tear that McNary never recovered from. Most of the Celts’ remaining points were made from the foul line.

“I thought our girls battled hard, but [South’s] defense was very good,” Gehley said.

Hunter and Peterson led the team with 14 points each, Keeton had six, Titchenal put in three and Wing, Darras and Hudgins had two apiece.

OH SNAP! Gym coming

Keizer is getting another 24-hour gym.

SNAP Fitness is coming to Creekside Shopping Center at 5442 River Road N., according to the company’s website. No opening date is listed.

It operates three other gyms in the Salem area – one each in west, south and east Salem.

Based in Chanhassen, Minn., the company opened in 2003 and boasts clubs in 44 states and six countries.

The annexation vote

On Page One of this week’s Keizertimes Jason Cox and Eric Howald explain the basics of the Clear Lake annexation issue that voters will find on a ballot hitting their homes soon.

We have previously called for the need to alter intergovernmental agreements that have outlived their purpose. One of those agreements we cited last year was fire coverage in the Clear Lake. At that time we said that Keizer Fire District should annex that area and put all of Keizer under one service.

We have not changed our view despite the way the entire process has been muddled by nastiness, cross-accusations and recriminations from the beginning. That’s why we called for a five-year moratorium on the process earlier this year. That suggestion is moot  now that the annexation question is going to the voters.

The election, now in the hands of city of Keizer and Keizer Fire District voters will decide the fate of fire and medical emergency coverage in Clear Lake. The election is about more than just Clear Lake.

Voters should say yes to both Measure 24-325 and Measure 24-326 for three good reasons: response times, tax savings and future growth of Keizer.

In  a medical emergency, every minute counts. Annexing Clear Lake will allow Keizer Fire to staff and operate two 24-hour medic units, one in Station 6 on Wheatland Road and one at the Chemawa Road station; that will mean quick response times for all of Keizer, and that’s what citizens expect from their fire district.

Marion County Fire District receives about $500,000 a year in taxes from the homes in their service area in Clear Lake.  With its lower tax rate Keizer Fire would collect about $350,000.  It’s a good thing anytime taxes can be reduced without lowering levels of service. With annexation Clear Lake homeowners will see a reduction of their taxes by an average of $90 per year; however, Keizer homeowners outside of Clear Lake will not see their tax rate change. All Keizer voters will benefit from the approximately $350,000 in new tax revenues because all of it will be used inside Keizer.

Keizer’s future growth will have nowhere to go but north. If the Urban Growth Boundary is expanded northward it’s almost certain the city limits will follow.  We’ve always said that the future belongs to those who plan for it.

We must not only think of what annexing Clear Lake today means but how it will fit into future expansion. Keizer city limits may one day stretch up towards Perkins Lane or Quinaby Road. It doesn’t make sense to have a 1,000 home enclave of Marion County Fire District surrounded by the city of Keizer.

Voting yes on Measures 24-325 and 24-326 will improve emergency response times for Keizer homes and offer tax savings to Clear Lake homeowners. Just as important this election can be seen as the first step in the growth of Keizer.

—LAZ

Clear Lake needs your vote (twice)

By LORE CHRISTOPHER

As Mayor of your city, I am proud to call this city home. In the last 22 years we have raised three children, relocated a grandmother and helped several close friends move to this gem of a city. Safety has always been a selling point for our city and has personally allowed me peace on nights when my kids attended McNary High School’s annual all-night graduation party or after a lengthy council meeting.

Clear Lake neighborhood residents are not currently afforded this same security and safety. During the past year there has been fierce debate from outside our city about fire service. Keizer has 37,000 residents and all but 1,000 receive their fire service from the Keizer Fire District. Clear Lake neighbors play on the same baseball teams, pay the same water and power utilities and are protected by the same police department. Why should fire service be any different? Every resident deserves local and reliable services. We must bring our Clear Lake neighborhood, into the same fire district as all of Keizer, at no additional cost to residents.

I have been concerned about the management and leadership of the Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD#1) for some time. In the past year, negotiations with MCFD#1 have escalated to the point of legal action. Their actions have clearly shown deliberate action to prevent our city from our right to vote on the services we rely on to keep us safe. Our neighbors need your help. My position on this issue was formed by serious events that show poor judgment and job performance by the management and leadership of Marion County Fire District #1.

• MCFD’s chief carrying a loaded gun in an unlocked compartment in a fire service vehicle.

• MCFD’s chief wrecking a fire service vehicle at taxpayer expense due to driving at excessive speeds.

• The Marion County Fire District board’s unilateral cancellation of a contract with Keizer Fire to provide EMS service to our Clear Lake neighborhood.  Keizer Fire District still provides this service through the mutual aid provision in the law.  Their costs increase to do so without any compensation, and that increases the cost for all of Keizer.

• MCFD’s board filing four separate law suits against the City of Keizer to stop a fair election by all voters within our city limits at a cost of $300,000 in tax payer dollars this year alone. The City of Keizer was forced to defend these frivolous lawsuits at additional tax payer expense.  Three have been dismissed, one is pending.

• MCFD’s board chair engaging a Salem state representative in a plot to push through a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would cancel our scheduled election and prevent all of Keizer voting on this issue.

I know many of you will agree that these actions by Marion County Fire District are reckless and frightening.  In Keizer, these actions would be deemed unacceptable by each of you—we expect safety, security and consistently good judgment from our fire service providers and we get it with Keizer Fire District. Our fellow residents need the local attention and safety only a local fire department can bring.

Make your voice heard by voting to have our own Clear Lake neighborhood, already within our city limits, receive fire service from the Keizer Fire District. They deserve honest, fair, reliable and safe fire service management and leadership at the same tax rate as the rest of Keizer.  We need to take care of our neighbors by voting yes, twice.  Once, to change the boundary to allow them to be part of the Keizer Fire District and then yes again to accept them into the Keizer Fire District as a customer.  Join me in taking care of all members of our community by voting YES, twice… lives depend on it.

Ms. Christopher is the mayor of Keizer.

Keizer city councilors comments on annexation measures

Brandon Smith

A YES vote on both measures will result in lower taxes for the residents of Clear Lake and increased service for everyone in Keizer.  The decision decades ago to have Marion County serve the undeveloped area of North Keizer may have made sense at the time, but the situation has changed.  After many months of written and oral testimony, conversations with residents, and multiple lawsuits filed by Marion County Fire District (with most dismissed), I’ve come to the conclusion it is in the best interest of ALL Keizer residents to be served by one fire service provider – Keizer Fire District.   I’ll be voting YES for Keizer Fire District on March 13.

David McKane
After two, maybe three, public hearings on this issue and much written testimony I am not convinced this action is necessary to increase or even maintain the level of fire protection and ambulance service in the city of Keizer.  Today two separate fire protection services have dedicated assets that protect Keizer.  I would argue we also have the assets of all of Marion County Fire District #1 behind us as well. If Marion County is expelled from Keizer I actually believe the assets we have available to us today are diminished.

The argument of  “let Keizer be Keizer” is very parochial and does not take into account how this action will negatively affect the rest of the Marion County Fire District #1 customers.  Keizer is not an island and we certainly are not the center of the universe!  We have the responsibility to make certain our decisions do not negatively impact others in our region.

Finally, this is a colossal waste of resources and an embarrassment.  Two local taxing districts fighting over the taxpayers’ money.  I truly believe that taxpayers expect more from their government.  This battle should have been avoided at all costs.  There was and is no reason why this issue could not have been settled in a collaborative manner.  Instead the city allowed the two fire districts to declare war on each other and now we are witness to a battle over our citizens’ tax dollars.

Cathy Clark
1. Clearlake residents have differing opinions on this issue. It is appropriate to settle the question via an election.

2. Clearlake property owners pay a higher tax rate than the rest of Keizer property owners for basically the same service. They should be able to choose which service they want to pay for.

3. The concept that the Clearlake residents enjoy the “best of both worlds” being served by two agencies for the price of one is not logical or sustainable. Mutual aid and mutual response allow agencies to collaborate and use resources efficiently, a system that all the agencies employ. But both agencies indicated during testimony that the old system was not working and something had to change; MCFD testified that their concerns resulted in their initiating the Clearlake staffing study and ending the ambulance agreement with KFD. KFD testified that the ambulance agreement termination changed how they provide service. The taxpayers ultimately are the ones to decide which agency should provide service and under what conditions.

Given the questions that have been raised during the debates, it is clear to me that the taxpayers are savvy consumers and should make a decision about which service they choose to purchase with their tax dollars.

The Legislature set the rules under which we are operating. It is not appropriate for them to usurp local control through HB4090, which takes away our right to choose what government agency will serve us with our tax dollars or make changes when we the people deem it necessary.

Mayor Lore Christopher

As Mayor of your city, I am proud to call this city home. In the last 22 years we have raised three children, relocated a grandmother and helped several close friends move to this gem of a city. Safety has always been a selling point for our city and has personally allowed me peace on nights when my kids attended McNary High School’s annual all-night graduation party or after a lengthy council meeting.

Clear Lake neighborhood residents are not currently afforded this same security and safety. During the past year there has been fierce debate from outside our city about fire service. Keizer has 37,000 residents and all but 1,000 receive their fire service from the Keizer Fire District. Clear Lake neighbors play on the same baseball teams, pay the same water and power utilities and are protected by the same police department. Why should fire service be any different? Every resident deserves local and reliable services. We must bring our Clear Lake neighborhood, into the same fire district as all of Keizer, at no additional cost to residents.

I have been concerned about the management and leadership of the Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD#1) for some time. In the past year, negotiations with MCFD#1 have escalated to the point of legal action. Their actions have clearly shown deliberate action to prevent our city from our right to vote on the services we rely on to keep us safe. Our neighbors need your help. My position on this issue was formed by serious events that show poor judgment and job performance by the management and leadership of Marion County Fire District #1.

• MCFD’s chief carrying a loaded gun in an unlocked compartment in a fire service vehicle.

• MCFD’s chief wrecking a fire service vehicle at taxpayer expense due to driving at excessive speeds.

• The Marion County Fire District board’s unilateral cancellation of a contract with Keizer Fire to provide EMS service to our Clear Lake neighborhood.  Keizer Fire District still provides this service through the mutual aid provision in the law.  Their costs increase to do so without any compensation, and that increases the cost for all of Keizer.

• MCFD’s board filing four separate law suits against the City of Keizer to stop a fair election by all voters within our city limits at a cost of $300,000 in tax payer dollars this year alone. The City of Keizer was forced to defend these frivolous lawsuits at additional tax payer expense.  Three have been dismissed, one is pending.

• MCFD’s board chair engaging a Salem state representative in a plot to push through a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would cancel our scheduled election and prevent all of Keizer voting on this issue.

I know many of you will agree that these actions by Marion County Fire District are reckless and frightening.  In Keizer, these actions would be deemed unacceptable by each of you—we expect safety, security and consistently good judgment from our fire service providers and we get it with Keizer Fire District. Our fellow residents need the local attention and safety only a local fire department can bring.

Make your voice heard by voting to have our own Clear Lake neighborhood, already within our city limits, receive fire service from the Keizer Fire District. They deserve honest, fair, reliable and safe fire service management and leadership at the same tax rate as the rest of Keizer.  We need to take care of our neighbors by voting yes, twice.  Once, to change the boundary to allow them to be part of the Keizer Fire District and then yes again to accept them into the Keizer Fire District as a customer.  Join me in taking care of all members of our community by voting YES, twice… lives depend on it.

Annexation

To the Editor:

I have heard people talk about ‘Keizer takes care of Keizer’ and ‘Keizer serving Keizer’ regarding the fire service and the March 13 election.  What is most important to me is getting prompt fire and emergency medical service when needed.  That will only happen if things stay the way they are!  Two fire districts working together in a time of need.  Vote no on measures 24-325 and 24-326.

Christine Fryman
Keizer

No on measures 24-325 & 24-326

To the Editor:

Please join me, a Clear Lake resident, in voting no on Measures 24-325 and 24-326 on March 13.

I have read both sides, listened to both fire chiefs, watched the arguments on both sides of the coin and here are my conclusions, concerns and questions:

Seven hundred signatures, including mine, were already gathered in Clear Lake that wanted to keep Marion County Fire District #1 as our responders.

Marion County Fire District #1 would lose $500,000 annually and six very hard working, well-trained  and highly capable firefighters would be without an income in an already tight economy.

A city can not annex for a service that it does not already provide for from what I understand.

Why is this to be a citywide vote if the only ones truly affected  are Clear Lake residents?  The Clear Lake residents should have a separate vote.

If passed, it would open the door for other hostile takeovers.

It sounds to me like Keizer Fire has gotten in over their heads “money-wise” and they are looking anyplace they can to make up for it, even if it means taking food out of the mouths of six families.

Keizer Fire keeps saying that if they take over Clear Lake, it would have an ambulance 24 hours.  Marion County Fire District #1 already does this…so what change would this be?

The whole argument about taxes makes no sense to me.  Clear Lake residents are already paying for the upgrade to Station 6 and the apparatus, if Keizer Fire “takes over,” surely they will not just be handed this new equipment, they will need to pay for it, which means the residents of Keizer will be paying for it through more taxes and Clear Lake will be hit twice it seems.

And the good ole “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” comes well into play here.

Marion County Fire District #1 is doing a remarkable job in the Clear Lake area, they help Keizer fire whenever they are needed and vice versa.

I see no reason for change, but perhaps greed.

Thank you for voting no in March!

Laura Finney
Keizer

If it isn’t broken…

To the Editor:

Both the Keizer Fire District and the Marion County Fire District provide excellent service to the city of Keizer.  It seems the argument to remove Marion County Fire District from Keizer has been reduced to the argument that taxes paid by Keizer residents should stay in Keizer.  This is a parochial and flawed argument.  As a resident of Keizer I pay taxes to many special service districts.  The two that come to mind the quickest are the Salem/Keizer School District and the Salem/Keizer Transit District.  It is ridiculous for me to insist that every dollar I pay to these two service districts be spent in Keizer.  Both districts provide services to Keizer and I trust their respective administrations to manage their business.

Keizer is not an island.  We have the responsibility to make decisions that do not adversely affect others in our region.  Taking taxes away from Marion County Fire District will hinder their ability to provide services to the rest of their fire district. And if Marion County is expelled from Keizer I believe the fire protection assets we have available to us today are diminished.

The Keizer City Council chose to have a city election and let the voters decide who should provide fire protection services to north Keizer.  I respect that decision.  But I also know this is a complicated matter. What are facts to one person may look like distortions of the truth to another.  My father taught me many valuable lessons during his life.  One of the most important lessons is that if something is not broke do not attempt to fix it.

This leads me back to where I started.  Both the Keizer Fire District and the Marion County Fire District provide excellent service to the city of Keizer.  I see no reason to fix something that is not broken.  I am voting no on March 13.

David McKane
Keizer

Keizer’s safety

To the Editor:

Keizer will be safe no matter who wins the annexation election.

I believe Keizer will be safer if the Keizer Fire District is allowed to service all of Keizer. If the vote is yes, there will be three full-time ambulances serving Keizer: Marion County Fire District #1 will have one at its Brooks station, and Keizer will have one at the main station and one on Wheatland Road. Currently, the Keizer Fire District has one ambulance 24/7 and one 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Marion County District #1 has one ambulance either at the Wheatland Road station or at the Brooks station depending on where it is needed. To imply Keizer will not be safe is a gross misrepresentation.

Bill Quinn
Keizer