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Day: March 6, 2012

Newberg woman files to challenge Thatcher

A Newberg caterer and Democratic activist has filed to run against Rep. Kim Thatcher.

Sharon Freeman filed paperwork Tuesday. She’s the only Democrat who has entered the race. Thatcher, R–Keizer, was first elected in 2004, and is seeking her fifth term.

“The main thing is jobs and growth for our region here has sort of stagnated,” Freeman said. “I’d like to help that along. We need jobs and direction for getting business into Yamhill County. It needs to be managed growth, but we just need some help here.”

Freeman holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in liberal arts from the University of Texas at Tyler. A San Diego native, she moved with her husband to Yamhill County in 2003.

She traces her party involvement back to George McGovern’s presidential bid in 1972 and managed Sal Peralta’s legislative campaign in 2006.

Keizer cops honored for saving man after fiery crash

Keizer Police Sgt. Andrew Copeland and Officer Rodney Bamford were awarded the Keizer Police Medal of Valor. KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox

CAUTION: Video contains some graphic language around 2:00 mark (Video courtesy Keizer Police).

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Two Keizer Police officers were awarded a Medal of Valor for putting their lives on the line.

Sgt. Andrew Copeland and Officer Rodney Bamford were first on scene to a crash in north Salem. A man was trapped in a car that had turned upside down at the intersection of River Road and Front Street, with a downed power transformer in flames nearby.

They were awarded the medals at Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting.

The crash was in September 2011, when Salem requested the two officers to check out a crash just south of the Keizer border.

“Because of Sergeant Copeland’s and Officer Bamford’s quick thinking and willingness to risk their own safety, a citizen’s life was saved,” said Keizer Police Chief Marc Adams.

Copeland arrived on scene to find a car turned upside down on the pavement, with an adjacent vehicle in flames just feet from the car, and a live power line nearby. Witnesses said the car had been going at least 80 miles per hour.

The driver was upside down in the car when Copeland tried to talk him into getting out of the car before the fire got worse, but he wasn’t interested. In fact, he kept insisting he was fine.

“The fire was getting bigger and hotter, and I was like, we need to get this guy out of here, right now,” Copeland said.

The driver had shifted about halfway towards the passenger side. Bamford tried to get to the man via the driver’s side window, but it was too hot.

The two then crawled into the passenger side, grabbed the man and pulled him to safety.

“He’s a big guy, so for us to just reach in, grab him and pull him out to get him and ourselves to safety wasn’t an easy ordeal,” Bamford said. “From time to time, unfortunately we have to deal with people who aren’t cooperative or know what’s going on.”

Bamford, a former detective who chose to go back out on patrol to “get reacquainted with the road,” said it’s days like this that make the job great.

“It’s the same job, but it just continually changes a little every day, and that’s what’s so great about this job,” Bamford said.

Copeland said that he hopes the ordeal – and their recognition – serves to draw attention to what police officers do every day (and night).

“We do risk the chance of putting our life on the line for someone else,” Copeland said. “But that’s part of the job and we understand the inherent risks that come with it.”

He’s seen plenty of dangerous situations too, having been a former SWAT officer.

“When you look back watch the video and feel the emotions again of how the whole thing played out, it was pretty intense,” Copeland said.

Too late for these trees

A woodpile is all that’s left of about 15 filbert trees removed from a Bonneville Power Administration easement, to the chagrin of the property owner. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In their 52 years living on Bolf Terrace, Ed and Josephine Bolf have seen Keizer go through a lot of changes, but a recent one arrived in their backyard and they aren’t happy with it.

Two years ago, crews from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) acted on a 70-year-old easement taking out eight trees and topping two others to provide clearer access to power lines that run over the property. In place of the trees, BPA left the beginnings of a gravel roadway. Last week, they returned to finish the job taking out another fifteen trees and leaving the Bolfs with several piles of wood.

“If we couldn’t have the trees, we wanted the wood,” Ed Bolf said. “The bigger problem is the roadway, there’s nothing in the easement about a roadway.”

Taken at face value, the gravel road that replaced the small orchard, is somewhat perplexing. Bolf was told that BPA needed clear access to the tower located just west of his property, but that tower is actually in Claggett Creek Cemetery, west of Bolf’s property, and Bolf’s two acres would not have impeded access. The road that’s been built is only accessible through the cemetery and dead-ends at another tower east of Bolf’s property, which is adjacent to a driveway to a condo development that would seemingly have provided access.

Bolf said he was told that BPA officials wanted to ensure access because of the potential of terrorist attacks. Doug Johnson, a BPA spokesperson, said the decision to take out the trees and install a road there was part of a larger sea change in handling vegetation obstructions like the orchard.

“We thought what we would do, in order to clearly identify the path, would be to put the gravel in and make sure everything was clear,” Johnson said.

After major outages throughout the country that were attributed to nuisance vegetation, the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a national regulatory body that oversees reliability of the U.S. power grids issued new, more stringent vegetation management standards for electric transmission lines. Rather than face increased fines for non-compliance, BPA takes the extra step of removing the trees rather than simply topping them, Johnson said.

“We can’t afford for anything to go out unexpectedly,” Johnson said. “If we do experience a weather-related outage, we’ve got to be certain that we have access as quickly as possible.

Johnson said efforts were made to secure access as newer developments cropped up around the Bolf property, but no agreements could be reached.

The Bolf’s bought the property in 1956, and the 100-foot easement had been granted by the previous owners in November 1940 for a price of $1,000.

The easement is not so much the issue for Bolf, it’s the road that rankles him. He equates it to theft.

“The road effectively steals the property from me. I still pay taxes on it, but I can’t use it for a dang thing,” Bolf said.

He has enlisted a lawyer to look into the legality of the road.

While issues of property and money are certainly part of the issue for Bolf, there is emotional attachment to the now-fallen orchard that once occupied his property and part of his life.

“It was work, filberts mostly, I’d get down on my hands and knees to pick them up and we’d process them by hand,” Bolf said. “What we didn’t give away, we ended up selling. The sales generally were enough to cover the costs of keeping the trees healthy and the income was used to provide some of the things we wouldn’t have been able to provide otherwise because I wasn’t making that much money.”

Driveway storage unit restrictions lifted

Portable storage units were illegal in Keizer until recent action by the Keizer City Council. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Portable storage units will soon be legal in Keizer – for 30 days a year.

The Keizer City Council passed regulations allowing them at its February 21 meeting. The Planning Commission voted last month to allow the units up to 30 days per year. Councilors must formally approve an ordinance before the matter is final.

Such units, known by brand names like PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage) aren’t an entirely uncommon sight on Keizer streets today. Sam Litke, the city’s senior planner, said the development code simply needed to be updated.

“Because it doesn’t address (portable storage), it makes it illegal,” Litke said. “We’re trying to recognize these uses occur. it’s something technically not allowed in code, which makes for an awkward conversation.”

The units cannot be in a street or other public right-of-way (i.e. completely contained on private property) and also must be on a paved surface, like a driveway.

A proposal to allow them on some streets with the public works department’s permission was struck.

Litke explained that cars have reflective surfaces and lights that can be fairly easily spotted while driving on a public street.

“It’s clearly not vehicle shaped, it doesn’t have the reflectors on it,” Litke said. “It’s a box that’s in the road. We just felt it would be an inherent safety risk.”

That was one reason Planning Commissioner John Rizzo supported the restrictions, he said Monday night.

“Having these on the streets was an issue with me with safety … especially at night,” Rizzo said.

A month’s time seemed best to planning commissioners, Litke said.

“Thirty days seemed to the planning commission to be a reasonable amount of time to allow one of these units to show up, fill it up and schedule the pickup time,” Litke said. “It seemed, conceivably, 15 days might be pressing it for some people.”

Councilor Brandon Smith questioned why the matter was being pursued without significant resident complaints.

“It put us in kind of an untenable situation, that even though it’s a commonly-accepted practice it’s not allowed in our zoning code,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.

Councilor Mark Caillier thought it odd that Dumpsters aren’t similarly regulated. While those large garbage bins must have a permit to be in the street, Brown said there’s no rules addressing how long those can be in driveways.

“It would seem to be a similar-sized object, and if you’ve seen my in-laws’ stuff, it could go either way,” Caillier quipped.

In other business, councilors:

• Approved recommendations for liquor licenses at 57 local establishments. The following businesses were cited for selling alcohol to minors, according to city documents:

• Albertson’s, 5450 River Road N., $990 fine paid.

• 45th Grill, 5188 Wittenberg Lane, $990 fine paid.

• Mario’s Bar, 5179 River Road N., $1,320 fine paid, ID equipment purchased

• Steam Heat Coffee House, 3860 River Road N., Ste. 101, served six-day suspension

• Town & Country Lanes, 3500 River Road N., $3,795 fine paid.

• McNary Restaurant & Lounge, 165 McNary Estates Drive N., $660.