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Day: March 26, 2012

Electrical fire starts on porch, damages home

Photo submitted by Keizer Fire District

Smoke detectors are being credited for the safe evacuation of a Keizer family when their back porch caught fire last weekend.

A Keizer couple was awakened by their smoke alarm Saturday, March 24, in their upstairs bedroom and found a fire on their back porch.  As the fire burned from the porch, to the roof and attic, it set off the smoke alarms. Both occupants quickly exited the home with their two dogs and summoned 9-1-1 from outside the home.

Keizer Fire District crews were dispatched at 6:56 a.m. to 847 Dearborn Avenue N.E. in Keizer and arrived on the scene in three minutes. Keizer Police provided fire scene traffic-control safety, while firefighters worked to douse the flames, salvage the damage, and then determine the cause.

The fire was contained to the area of origin which was an enclosed back porch being used as a greenhouse area for gardening. The cause was determined to be electrical and stemmed from heating devices, used to keep plants from freezing.

Keizer Fire officials remind residents to have working smoke alarms in every sleeping area and exit route in their home.

“Voyagers of the Titanic” by Richard Davenport-Hines

“Voyagers of the Titanic” by Richard Davenport-Hines

“Voyagers of the Titanic” by Richard Davenport-Hines

c.2012, William Morrow
$26.99 / $29.99 Canada
342 pages, includes index



There’s no doubt about it: moving stinks.

You pack your belongings, living with cartons and mess in the meantime, always needing something that’s stashed in a mystery box. Then you haul everything to your new place and unpack it, living with cartons and mess in the meantime, looking for the mystery box and apologizing to whatever friends you have left after they helped.

Now imagine doing it blindly and with very little real preparation, clutching a few paltry possessions and a half-promise of a job, leaving your loved ones an ocean behind. That’s just one of the stories you’ll find in “Voyagers of the Titanic” by Richard Davenport-Hines.

One hundred winters ago, the Arctic temperature was milder than normal, which created a higher number of icebergs from the glaciers near Greenland’s coast. These icebergs floated down into the Atlantic Ocean, right into shipping lanes for cargo ships and luxury liners.

One of the liners was the Titanic.

Eleven stories high, weighing nearly 47,000 pounds, the Titanic was massive.  She carried 2,240 passengers and crew, gems and spices, books, a car, fine fabric, mail and more. There were fine dining rooms onboard, a swimming pool, library, and quarters for pampered first-class dogs.

Most of the crew of the Titanic was new to this ship, although they were an experienced lot. An overwhelming majority of them were British and included stewards, a linen keeper, and a slew of men whose backbreaking job was to fill 190 steel furnaces with coal every 20 minutes.

Their captain was on the verge of retirement.

Third class passengers, who constituted most of those onboard, were likewise mostly British, but they also hailed from Ireland, Croatia, Norway, and elsewhere.

Second-class passengers were largely working-class folks, social up-and-comers, and small business owners. They counted among them a single black man, the only one on board.

First class passengers were the kind who might board the Titanic on a whim, or just as quickly cancel the trip to pursue another fancy. Some of them, in fact, did so.

Others, tragically, did not…

Step into any bookish place these days, and you’re likely to be faced with dozens of tomes marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. This one, though, has a different feel to it.

“Voyagers of the Titanic” begins in an unusual place, and one can almost feel the doom in author Richard Davenport-Hines’ words. For reasons you’ll soon see, the ship was ill-fated when first setting sail and – knowing what you know – you almost want to warn someone as you’re reading. Davenport-Hines then goes on to tell about each group of people onboard, and there are even further surprises here. I’ve read a lot of Titanic books over the years and I’ve seen even more, but I truly enjoyed this multifaceted take on the story.

In the next few weeks, you may be especially tempted to read up on the Titanic. That’s a good idea, and so is this book. For you, “Voyagers of the Titanic” will be quite moving.

Over the course of the last 100 years, we’ve learned a lot about the Titanic: what happened, why it happened, and what we lost.  There are a lot of choices for reading on the subject, but here are some of the best…

“’Unsinkable’: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic” by Daniel Allen Butler takes the story from before the ship was built to the days when she was discovered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. First published more than a decade ago, this newly-refurbished paperback is nicely updated.

Author Charles Pellegrino jumps into the midst of the tragedy in his book “Farewell, Titanic: Her Final Legacy” and tells the story of the last minutes before the sinking and its aftermath from the survivors point-of-view. Pellegrino then goes on to write about the search for the ship beneath the sea.

Curious readers who only want an overview will appreciate “The Titanic for Dummies” by Stephen Spignesi.  Like most other books in the “for Dummies” series, there’s just enough information in here to make you smart about what everyone’s talking about. The bonus is that this book is browse-able and it includes some cool pictures.

“Titanic: The Unfolding Story” takes a look at the days before the ship was built, up through the days after. The unique twist here is that this book is created entirely of authentic newspaper articles and stories from those years. That, and the pictures inside really serve to give readers a “you are there” feel.

And finally, for the most unusual Titanic look of all, look for “RMS Titanic Manual: 1909-1912 Olympic Class” by David Hutchings. You know those automotive manuals that line your mechanic’s wall?  Yes, this book is like those, with schematics, cut-diagrams, measurements, and engineer stats.  For the Titanic fanatic, this one can’t be missed.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Free lunches meet rising hunger

Students take part in the No Hungry Child lunch program at Highland Elementary School last year. The program served more than 7,100 meals in 2011. (Photo courtesy of the Marion-Polk Food Share)

Of the Keizertimes

Michelle Jacobs drove by Faith Lutheran Church two years ago and spotted an A-frame sign that read: “Food Bank Open Today.”

It might as well have heralded “Stress Relief” in blazing neon.

“My husband is a postal carrier and we’re not poor on paper, but we’re totally strapped,” Jacobs said. “It looks good on paper, but when you do the mortgage, the kids, the this, the that, and the other … there’s nothing left.”

Not too long before that day, Jacobs, who is in her early 40s, and her husband had relocated to Oregon with big dreams, they’d bought a big home south of Salem, they had a new baby girl join two teenaged sons. They were certain that they’d be able to float all of it on the their two incomes. She worked in sales and figured jobs would be easy to come by.

Then her life drifted into a downward spiral. Her teenage son began acting out, the result of behavioral problems family doctors are still trying to pinpoint. Her ill parents moved into the family home. The incomes weren’t stretching as far as they once had.

She was on her way to work after dropping her daughter off at daycare and she decided to pull in and find out if she qualified for assistance.

“I couldn’t believe I was in that situation. I’m an educated woman, my husband has a good job, I was asking myself, ‘Why the hell am I at the food bank?’” Jacobs said.

Jacobs was far from alone. If anything, she has more company now than she did two years ago. Despite politicians’ and economists’ assurances that things are looking up, hunger continues to be a problem in Marion County and Keizer, specifically.

“We’re serving more people and more first-time visitors to the food bank almost every week,” said Curt McCormack, president of the Keizer Community Food Bank (KCFB), which operates out of Faith Lutheran Church Monday evenings and Thursday mornings.

According to figures from the Marion-Polk Food Share, demand for emergency food boxes – of the kind offered by KCFB – increased by 27 percent in 2011. One in five families in Marion and Polk counties ate from emergency food boxes last year. More than 55 percent of students in all Keizer schools currently qualify for free or reduced-lunch programs.

Families like Jacobs’, despite having all the signs of outward stability, continue to suffer.

Uncomfortable with the hand she was being forced to play, Jacobs wasn’t sure what to expect that day she walked into the food bank. To help break down the mental barriers, she asked whether she could help out in addition to getting the food box.

“I bagged fresh beans that day and went home with food as well,” she said.

Proud of taking action to help alleviate stress on the family, she told her husband what she had done after he returned home from work. He was mortified.

“He picks up food for the food drive once a year on his job and he was hurt that I’d done it, which I can understand,” Jacobs said.

When she explained that she volunteered at the food bank as well, it helped salve the wound and they came to an agreement that as long as she was volunteering as well, they needed the assistance.

Things took another turn for the worse when Jacobs had to quit her job to tend to the needs of her son. Since then, she’s visited the food bank almost monthly.

“There were weeks when we had to put our groceries on the credit card and you feel awful doing that sort of thing,” she said.

Emergency food boxes are not intended as long-term solutions to the problem of hunger, but, as Jacobs discovered, they helped stretch the family budget further. By providing some core foods, families can fill in the gaps with other sources of income or use the savings to take care of other bills.

“It might mean the difference between a $140 grocery bill and an $80 grocery bill,” Jacobs said. “I’ll come home with fresh produce and bread and some canned goods. The bottom line is that it lessens the stress I feel about everything else.”

The biggest hurdle was swallowing her own pride, but she hopes by telling her story that others might seek assistance they need.

“You know in your heart you or your kids need that food. You’re not taking from anyone. If it helps, do what you can do to help out. Just put out chairs for the other people coming in,” she said. “People have tough times and thank God there’s this incredible food bank with incredible people. People look at you and they’ll smile, they’re generous, they’re kind and they won’t make you feel like you’re abusing the system.”

Editor’s note: Michelle Jacobs’ name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Money pots on the move as result of council action


Of the Keizertimes

Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting consisted mostly of moving money around for unexpected expenses.

Here’s what they did:

• Appropriated $76,100 to cover costs stemming from injuries to two public works employees who got hurt when a hose burst on the city’s stormdrain cleaning truck in October 2011.

While the two employees are expected to recover in three to four months, the city is responsible for costs that included surgery, time loss and physical therapy.

Susan Gahlsdorf, the city’s finance director, said the number got that high because the city pays a lower workers compensation premium in exchange for higher risk.

“In doing that we agree to pay, if we have a claim such as this, a maximum amount,” Gahlsdorf said.

Funds were reallocated from the stormwater fund’s contingency and working capital carryforward line items.

The council also voted to move $15,000 from those funds to pay for an environmental technician position in the stormwater department.

• Allocated $21,300 in expected rental income from a house adjacent to Keizer rapids Park and its filbert orchard to pay for a new lawnmower for the parks department, estimated at $17,500. It replaces a 2003 unit.

• Moved $5,000 from personnel services and $3,000 in capital outlay to facility maintenance for civic center costs including repairing the heating and cooling system, lighting and doors.