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

Day: March 2, 2012

Ducks to meet Pilots in Keizer

The University of Oregon Ducks and the University of Portland Pilots will play a nine-inning, non-league game at Volcanoes Stadium on Wednesday, April 18th, with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m.

Both teams have started the 2012 season red hot. The Ducks winning seven games in a row, on the road, after losing their season opener to Hawaii in Honolulu, and currently are 7-1, and ranked 10th in the nation. The Ducks have scored 61 runs in their eight games led by freshman infielder, Scott Heineman, batting .478 with a home run. Sophomore pitcher Brando Tessar is 2-0 in his first two starts. 2007 McNary High School graduate, infielder Kevin Shepherd, is on the Ducks squad.

The Pilots are 5-0, and off to one of their best season starts. The Pilots are led by senior infielder Kris Kauppila batting .476 with two home runs, and senior catcher Ben Grubb batting .438 with one home run. The Pilots have won six of the ten games against the Ducks since baseball was reinstated at the University of Oregon in 2009.

“We are always excited when we get two great Oregon universities playing at Volcanoes Stadium. It will be tremendous baseball for our mid-Willamette Valley fans, and we urge fans to get their tickets early as this game is surely to be sold out,” said Jerry Walker Salem-Keizer Volcanoes president and general manager Jerry Walker said,

The last time the Ducks played at Volcanoes Stadium, against the Oregon State Beavers, the game was sold out in two days as 5,651 fans attended.

Tickets for this event went on sale at the stadium at Thursday, March 1. Tickets may be purchased in-person at Volcanoes Stadium, by phone 503-390-2225, or on-line at https://www.volcanoestickets.com/

Ticket are $20 for box seats $20.00, $15 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission.

New coach seeks direct path to pigskin playoffs

Isaac Parker on the sidelines during a South Salem football game (Photo courtesy of Dirk Knudsen of OregonPreps/WashingtonPreps.com)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Isaac Parker will be the next head coach of McNary High School football.

Parker was most recently the offensive coordinator at South Salem High School and replaces Rick Ward who resigned from the post after the 2011 season.

Ron Richards, athletic director at McNary, said Parker has been on his short list for quite some time should the need arise.

“He has great knowledge of football and a vision for where he’d like to see the McNary program go,” Richards said. “He’s got a great background working with young men and developing their character. He’s the whole package, with the exception of head coaching experience.”

Parker, 31, said his focus for the immediate future will be character development in the young men of the McNary football ranks.

“If we’re developing the relationships with the kids a well as the right focus and attitude, success will follow it. The opposite of that is that if we try to pursue success in winning those relationships suffer,” Parker said.

In addition to assembling a coaching staff over the coming months, he’s hoping to cast out that vision over the rest of the community.

As far as goals on the gridiron, he’s decided to remain cautious.

“For this season, success will mean not having to have a play-in game. That’s a realistic and attainable goal for the kids we have coming back. I know it’s something that McNary has had to do the past two seasons,” Parker said.

Parker was born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii, where he played high school football for the Kamehameha Schools, a private college-prep institution. It was there that he decided on a path that would lead to coaching.

“The coaches played a large role in my life and turned me on to being an educator,” Parker said.

He broke his leg in the first game of his senior season and assumed it would mean the end of the road, but he returned for a playoff game in front of a crowd of 27,000 people in Aloha Stadium. His coaches made connections at Willamette University that led to him studying in Salem and playing for the Bearcats. That turn of events has made him an advocate for his players.

“I didn’t have a lot of education about the college football system and how the divisions worked. I thought after I broke my leg I was through. As an educator, one of my priorities is educating the kids about college opportunities through football. It’s a passion because of the lack of knowledge I had,” Parker said.

While Parker has been part of the Saxon program for several years, he got his start in Keizer, where he taught at both Gubser Elementary and Claggett Creek Middle schools. He’s hoped to make his way to McNary much earlier, but South Salem came calling sooner. Parker teaches advanced math at South and will take on a similar role at McNary.

“He’s going to be a great fit with our staff and curriculum in that department,” Richards said.

Parker hopes to impart the lessons he’s learned through football to each of the gridders passing through McNary’s hallowed halls.

“The culture we live in today is so individually focused that we tend to lose sight of what is possible when we work collaboratively in addition to hard work and goal-setting. We can be ambitious, but selfless. Kids who are part of football have an advantage because they learn those lesson earlier than others,” Parker said.

Steep discounts for youth riding public buses

Cherriots buses will charge less for area youth to use their buses. Officials hope it will increase student ridership. (KEIZERTIMES/File Photo)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Area youth will be able to ride a Cherriots bus at a lower fare through August.

The Salem-Keizer Transit Board of Directors approved last week an experiment that lowers rates for passengers under age 18.  Cash fares and Cherricards will stay the same, but day, month, summer and annual pass rates would all go down. Day passes would fall from $2.50 to $1.50, monthly would decline from $28 to $15 and summer passes would go from $40 to $30. The fares would go down in March and stay there through August 31.

A pilot program from spring 2009 allowed Salem-Keizer School District students to use their student ID to ride the bus for free. Business Energy Tax Credits from the state bankrolled the pilot program.

For local teens and Salem-Keizer Transit it was a win-win: Students got to their destination for free, and the transit district was reimbursed funds – nearly $900,000 a year. The program was so successful they had a new problem: During peak hours, the buses were so full that some riders had to wait for the next one.

One out of three riders on a Cherriots bus were students when the Oregon Legislature voted to end the program last year.

And when the money dried up, so did youth ridership, according to a staff report from Steve Dickey, director of transportation development for SKT. The added youth ridership helped offset loss of riders after SKT reorganized its route system in 2009. Those changes added more buses on popular routes while eliminating other stops, which also affected transfers, Dickey wrote.

It also had a profound impact on students in alternative schooling programs or involved in after-school activities, several people said. It caught the attention of Jason Virnig, an Eastern Oregon University student tasked with a class assignment to testify on a particular subject.

He chose how the end of the free student pass program hit students attending classes through Roberts High School, one of the district’s alternative schools.

“Most kids expelled from a school have truancy issues to begin with, and this allowed them to get to and from school,” Virnig said. In fact, the school raised funds to help students buy bus passes, he said.

Dana Herman, a special programs instructional assistant II at Roberts High School, said most students there are eligible for free and reduce lunches, and that coming up with bus fare is a real hardship.

“It would make such a tremendous difference in our attendance,” Herman said.

Alison Kelley, director of Marion County’s Children and Families Department, said restoring such a program would bring a huge return on investment.

“Lack of affordable transportation options represents a persistent barrier that many groups and agencies have identified,” Kelley said.

Dickey stated the district is currently working towards a systemwide fare restructuring that could go into effect at the end of August.

Kate Tarter, who represents part of Keizer and north Salem, said the option is a good compromise, as there was concern that free riders would be bumping off paid fares.

“We’ve had an outcry from the public, and by all means I think our board wants to help youth, but we don’t want to do that at the expense of paid riders,” Tarter said. “We’re trying to strike a balance.”

And Ron Christopher, who represents the rest of Keizer, would like to see the move taken a step further.

“I’m a definite proponent of making it easier for some of the more disadvantaged kids to ride a bus,” Christopher said. “If that means offering a free service and the district can support it through grants or other funding, I’m in favor of that.”

Reynolds claims state championship

Clockwise from above: Devin Reynolds takes down Colby Winnett in his finals match, Reynolds won the state title at 132 pounds. Sam Urban vies for control of her opponent. Justin Urban, who placed sixth in state, grapples for position. Tyler Brown, who placed fifth in state, rolls back onto his opponent. (Photos by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School crowned its third state wrestling champion in as many years last weekend.

Celt junior Devin Reynolds captured the 132-pound title in a 7-2 win over the Barlow High School’s Colby Winnett.

“It means a lot and I’ve had people tell I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Reynolds said. “I’ve been working toward it since my freshman year.”

The title was part of a trajectory for Reynolds who placed fourth in state as a sophomore last year.

“Devin hands-down talks the talk and walks the walk. He was flawless in shifting from team goals to individual goals and he’s worked his tail off to achieve a state title,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

Reynolds adds his name to a rejuvenated lineage of McNary state champions: Levi Martinez and Wes Heredia claimed state tiles in the past two seasons for the Celtics.

To earn the right to wrestle for the championship, Reynolds dominated his first three matches winning by pin, technical fall and a major decision. While he’s aware he’ll have a target on his back during his senior year, he’s not overly concerned, “I’m fine with that. They might think they’re coming after me, but I’m still going after them.”

While the high school season is over, Reynolds is planned to travel to Pennsylvania next month to wrestling in a collegiate tournament.

Lady Celt Sam Urban captured her third state title at 160 pounds in the tournament.

McNary also fielded two state placers in the tournament. Regional champ Tyler Brown took fifth at 195 pounds and Justin Lowe took sixth at 138 pounds.
Brown made it to the semi-finals to face the No. 1 seed and nearly pulled off a win to match to make it into the finals.

“We were the underdog, but not by much. The score was tied at six seconds left and we lost control and lost it in a spot where overtime would have made the difference,” Ebbs said.

Lowe faced one of the tougher paths to the final rounds of the tournament and still made it to the podium.

“Justin looked that challenge straight in the face and still found a way,” Ebbs said.

Beyond those bright spots, the state tournament proved to be more of a challenge than many expected. Despite being regional champs and having beaten all but three of the teams in heads-up duals, McNary landed in 12th place as a team.

“Walking around that event for a couple of days was a pretty humbling experience,” Ebbs said.

Whereas McNary had a throng of wrestlers at the regional tournament for spots in the finals, many of those same wrestlers were fighting simply to stay alive at the state tournament. Four missed opportunities by a hair’s breadth.

Edgar Jimenez scored a critical takedown that would have won him a spot in the second day of competition about two-tenths of a second after the third-round buzzer. Jeremy Lowe had his opponent off the ground in a double-leg takedown, but the other wrestler managed to create a scramble situation negating the effort. Regional champ Anthony Flores and Grant Gerstner suffered similar miscues.

“Four times in a single round of competition we were doing our job and the chance of sport snuck in and took it from us,” Ebbs said.

The lesson for Ebbs was that the team still hasn’t quite crossed the threshold of being able to rebound from significant bumps in the road.

“We’ve had some real good successes this season and trophies we hadn’t earned in recent memory, but the thing is we walk away from this season with bigger and better goals for next year,” he said.

Fighting Irish eclipse Celts in first round of playoffs

Photo by Bill Donaldson

The McNary High School girls varsity basketball team lost its first-round playoff game to Sheldon High School 79-61.

The loss ousters the Celtics from contention for a state title.

Right: Celt Ashlee Koenig defends against a shot by one Sheldon High School in the first round of the girls basketball state playoffs. Baili Keeton swoops in from behind.

Keizer kid takes second in Hoffman Challenger

From left: Champ Robby Clarke, Jeremy Root, tournament director, and Keizerite Noah Fischer, the second place finisher, at the Hoffman Challenger tennis event. (Submitted photo)

Keizer native Noah Fischer, 7, travelled to southern Oregon last weekend to compete in a growing movement in tennis. He came home a second-place finisher.

The Hoffman Challenger Event utilized the 10-and-Under format, which changes the game slightly to make it easier and more fun for kids to get into tennis.

Noah competed in the Boys-10 & Under division and battled out a tough, first round win again Steven Wisnovsky of Jacksonville, Ore. After a brief rest, Noah came back to challenge 10-year old, Robby Clarke of Roseburg. Three years of age difference made a big difference as Robby’s overpowering serve was too much for young Noah to handle.

Noah took Robby to deuce point on many occasions, but could not bring home the crown. Noah took second place finish and claimed his first ever tennis trophy.

Pacers top Celtics for playoff berth

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School boys varsity basketball team ended their season with a loss to Lakeridge High School over the weekend.

The teams met in a play-in game that earned Lakeridge a spot in the state playoff, the Pacers won 65-42.

The Lake Oswego team found their flow midway through the first quarter and went on a 20-2 scoring tear that the Celts were never able to overcome. The loss of Johnathan Doutt to an ankle injury further hampered the team’s efforts in the second half.

“Our kids played hard to the final horn. They were just better than us,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.

A 51-47 overtime loss to the McKay High School Royal Scots on Wednesday, Feb. 22, set up the Celtics to face Lakeridge.

The teams stayed close through much of the first quarter despite an early McNary lead on the back of Justin Burgess who put up the team’s first seven points. McNary edged ahead of McKay in the final minutes of the first half  and a basket by Doutt put the Celts up 25-19 at the buzzer.

Early baskets by Garren Robinett and Burgess put the Celts ahead 29-23 at the beginning of the third quarter and then things turned cold as McKay edged back in and McNary struggled to sink the ball.

“We thought we played well and worked hard, but the shots just didn’t fall,” said Celt Dylan McHugh.

Robinett and Burgess traded goals to keep McNary ahead, but McKay knotted the game at 41-41 with less than three minutes on the clock.

In a play that most athletes only dream about and with 45 seconds on the clock, Celt Isaiah Montano drove a hard line to the basket to put up a shot just in front of one of the Royal Scots. The ball hit high on the board and Burgess swept up from behind to grab the ball one-handed in the air and push back to the board and into the net. It might have been the game-winner had Burgess not been hit with an over-the-back call, his fifth foul of the game and the one that ended up benching him just before the teams headed to overtime.

“It was a disappointment because we had our gameplan and we were executing it,” said Celt Nick McDonald. “We even shut down [Michael] Tolento and [Dillon] James, but then they had some other people come through with the game of their life.”

Robinett put the team up by two points in the opening salvo of overtime, but McKay reclaimed a 44-43 lead on a three-point goal. McHugh tied it again at 44-44 from the free throw line, but it was the last time the Celts threatened.

“It was frustrating for the guys to look up at the end and feel like you had won every category except for the scoreboard and that was the one that mattered,” Kirch said.

The Scots were buoyed by an 18-point game by Worthy Makaichy, a player who hadn’t had more than four points in a game until the Central Valley Conference tournament.

The losses capped a difficult season for the Celtics. The team finished in sixth place in the CVC with an overall record of 4-21, but it was also a year of rebuilding and change.

“It’s a new program and new coaches and I think next year we’ll go in with a different mentality,” McDonald said.

After graduating a throng of seniors last year, the team started with just three seniors – Burgess, McHugh and Robinett – on the roster and a new head coach in Kirch.

“I thought our three seniors did a great job of leading by example of how to play hard regardless of the circumstances. I was pleased with the change of the culture throughout all three levels of the program. Although we didn’t win as many games as we would have liked, I believe our kids really developed their character throughout the season, and I’m proud of that,” Kirch said.

While the number of seniors was small, it meant more opportunities for younger players to stake a claim on the team. Two sophomores, Doutt and Montano, and a freshman, Connor Goff, wasted little time in making names for themselves and that will give the program something to build on over the next two to three years.

Doutt was named a second-team all-league pick last week and Burgess received an honorable mention.

“We will build off the number of returners that we will have next year. We had a lot of young guys get experience playing varsity basketball at the 6A level. I believe that experience, although difficult and a roller coaster of emotions at times, will pay off greatly next season,” Kirch said.

Dayspring turns 20

Dayspring Fellowship is celebrating 20 years in Keizer with events this weekend.

Saturday evening’s 6 p.m. service is replaced by a community pie social. A large service at 10 a.m. Sunday is intended to bring the whole congregation together, with surprises in store for those attending.

Those wishing to give a birthday present are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation for the church’s food pantry.

Annexation is not the best remedy

By ROSS DAY

I am not sure if you’ve noticed, but there seem to be a number of signs around the city of Keizer.  Apparently there is an election on two local measures coming up.

The issue on the ballot is whether or not the area in Keizer known as Clear Lake should be annexed into the Keizer Fire District.  Currently, this area is served by Marion County Fire District #1.  I should probably mention, in the interest of full disclosure, that I am a resident of the Clear Lake area and currently served by the Marion County Fire District.

I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how I am going to vote on this issue.  Both sides make passionate arguments in support of their position.  Both sides make logical and reasonable arguments as well.  But at the end of the day one cliché comes to mind that seems to sum up how Keizerites should vote on these measures: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Now I know that is not an original thought.  I’ve read this cliché in letters to the editor published by the Keizertimes on this measure. But there is a reason why clichés such as this one tend to stand the test of time: because they are true.

Ask yourself this question: why should we make this change now when nobody in the city of Keizer is complaining about the level of service they are receiving from either the Keizer Fire District or the Marion County Fire District?

About the best argument I have heard in favor of the annexation was made by a fire fighter from the Keizer Fire District who explained to me that in the event the city of Keizer expands northward past Clear Lake Road, a small enclave of the Clear Lake neighborhood would be served by Marion County Fire District, while at the same time being surrounded by territory served by the Keizer Fire District. His point was that by creating an enclave where a small portion of Keizer is serviced by a separate fire district simply does not make any sense.

That argument makes a lot of sense to me and is perfectly logical. However, as a former member of the Keizer Planning Commission I know full well that because we share an urban growth boundary with the city of Salem, our urban growth boundary won’t expand northward until the city of Salem gives us their blessing.  I am more likely to become pregnant in the next 20 years than the city of Keizer is to receive permission from the city of Salem to expand its urban growth boundary northward.

Mayor Lore Christopher, in her column last week in the Keizertimes, said that the reason why she supported the annexation was, in part, because of what she believed to be mismanagement on the part of the Marion County Fire District.  The sense I got from her article was that she is concerned that Keizerites are not getting the best service possible from the Marion County Fire District.

While I understand Mayor Christopher’s concerns, I am not sure annexation is the proper method to correct the mismanagement by another governing body. That is why we have elections.

If the Marion County Fire District’s leadership is guilty of mismanagement, or lack of leadership, the voters of the Marion County Fire District will have the opportunity to change leadership if they so desire at the next board election.

Mayor Christopher’s justification on this basis is no different from the city of Keizer deciding to annex the city of Portland because the knuckle heads running the city of Portland are, well knuckleheads (by the way, I would definitely vote for that measure!).

As a frequent customer of the ambulance services of the Marion County Fire district, the big concern for me and my family is the level of ambulance service that will be available for the citizens of Keizer, regardless of which fire district they live in.  In my research on these measures there is one undeniable fact: if these measures pass, the number of ambulances serving the city of Keizer will be reduced from three to two.

Now let me explain this statement. I can already hear those of you who support the annexation screaming at me “that is not true!”

Under the current arrangement between the Marion County Fire District and the Keizer Fire District at certain times there are as many as three ambulances serving the city of Keizer.  If these measures pass, there will never be more than two ambulances serving in the city of Keizer.  For that reason alone, I think Keizerites should reject these measures.

Ross Day lives in Keizer.

Worthy bills did not make ‘12 cut

By KIM THATCHER

With Oregon’s unemployment rate still hovering at nearly 9 percent, it’s clear that our economy is still not out of the woods. Yet, the state legislature could have done so much more during the recent February session to create a better environment for job creation in Oregon.

As a member of the legislative budget committee I know how frustrating it can be to maintain funding for public safety, schools and other important programs for Oregonians who need our help. Balancing the budget this session was a little tricky having  $340 million less than projected by our economists, $42 million in previously unanticipated governor-promised state worker pay raises, and $300 million in unrealized, but previously assumed, savings. Not everyone was happy with the result, but we tried our best in this short session to play the negative hand we were dealt.

While much of the legislative session was spent balancing the budget, there were plenty of opportunities to adopt some common sense reforms which would have helped the private sector grow and hire more employees. When more people have jobs in the private sector, it generates more tax revenue to pay for those critical services I mentioned.

Though I believe many of these concepts will be back for consideration next year, I will point out a few of the many reforms brought forward by legislators which did not gain enough support by lawmakers this year.

House Bill 4098 would have increased the sustainable harvesting of timber in Oregon State forests. Senate Bill 1592 would have added more flexibility to local land use laws in some of the smaller rural counties to enhance their economic development needs. House Bill 4076 would have temporarily reduced capital gains taxes during a time when capital investment is much needed. Senate Bill 1573 would have ended what is basically a sales tax on Oregon businesses by replacing the high tax on gross sales contained in Measure 67 with a reduced rate on taxable income.

These ideas alone would have added an estimated 5,700 new jobs pumping over a billion dollars into the economy and generating $1.6 billion in tax revenue over the next five years. There were also many other bills left on the cutting room floor designed to curb burdensome government regulation and state spending which have especially negative impacts on small businesses.

One final measure I want to point out was a simple proposal I drafted (House Bill 4052) to require the use of the federal E-verify system for state government. This employment screening program would have given our state agencies another tool in their efforts to have a legal workforce.

I will continue to work with my colleagues at the Capitol as we prepare for the 2013 legislative session in an attempt to make Oregon a better place to do business, make a living, and raise a family. I encourage you to contact me with your ideas.

Kim Thatcher represents the 25th district in the Oregon House of Representatives. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 503-986-1425.