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Day: April 13, 2012

Former mayor Koho running for council

KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Former mayor Dennis Koho is seeking a political comeback, this time as a city councilor.

Koho announced this week his plans to seek an open seat on the Keizer City Council. He owns a law firm on River Road, having graduated Willamette Law School after leaving elected politics.

Koho sees his candidacy as a link to days gone by – citing the way Keizer’s old city hall was repainted as an example. The city bought the paint, and volunteers did the rest.

“Under the new system, when we needed something done more significantly on the city hall, we spent a whole lot of money,” Koho said. “In the old era, if we had been in the position of having to build a city hall, we probably would have done it for a quarter of the cost.”

Koho found himself crossways with a majority of councilors on the development of Keizer Station’s Area C. He opposed placement of a big-box grocer on the site at Lockhaven Drive and Chemawa Road.

“The simple thing that would have avoided most of the problems is not to take that one big (building) pad and move it out of Area A,” which is the currently-developed portion of Keizer Station, Koho said. “Then we wouldn’t be having the argument about Walmart (being) right up next to a residential community.”

2012 is shaping up to be an interesting year politically in Keizer, which typically sees few contested council elections. He was part of two, defeating Mike Hart and Newton in 1992 and Jim Keller in 1994.

“We all got out, knocked on doors and talked to people, and it was good for the city,” Koho said.

First elected to the council in 1990, he was elected mayor in 1992 and served three terms before choosing not to seek re-election in 1998, when he was succeeded by the late Bob Newton. That year Koho unsuccessfully sought a Marion County Commission seat, running as a Democrat against Patti Milne.

In addition to his stint in Keizer, Koho has served on the Salem Area Mass Transit Board and for a time was its president. Koho counts among his successes using urban renewal funds to place power lines along River Road and Cherry Avenue underground, improving the look of the city’s main arterials.

“If you look back from the late 1980s with the large signs and the overhead wires – (now) it’s phenomenal,” he said.

He also includes achieving stable financing for the city, including when the permanent tax base was passed in 1996. Before that, the city had sought a series of operating levies. He also touts increasing public involvement and volunteerism and the arrival of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

“None of these are things I did myself – we had a pretty good team,” he said.

If Koho had the chance to relive his electoral glory days during the 1990s, he said he would have sought more consensus. The saying was that a mayor or councilor only needed to count to four – the number of votes needed to gain passage on Keizer’s council.

Koho supported Keizer Fire District in the recent Clear Lake election, but draws a distinction: He said he would have chosen a less confrontational manner and perhaps delayed the issue, but feels Keizer Fire will inevitably serve the whole city at some point. He opposed the public safety communications fee backed by both the city council and the fire district’s board, saying he wasn’t convinced the money was truly needed.

He has yet to file for the position, but said he would most likely run for Position 1, currently held by David McKane, who is mulling a mayoral run. In any case, McKane said last week, he’s not seeking re-election to the council.

So far, Koho is the only council candidate to formally declare candidacy. Mark Caillier and Brandon Smith are both up for re-election but have yet to announce their plans.

Wage cuts, layoffs at Marion Co. Fire

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Layoffs, voluntary demotions and wage cuts will help make up a budget shortfall at Marion County Fire District No. 1, its leaders and union announced last week.

All employees, including administration, will take a 2.5 percent pay cut and others have agreed to demotions and pay freezes. The total savings are expected to reach $260,000.

Two administrative staffers face layoffs, and two tenured employees opted to retire. In addition, three captains will take demotions to lieutenant, 14 firefighters/engineers will become firefighters, and a paramedic position will be created.

The district is seeking a 29-cent levy in the May election; a 13-cent increase from its current levy. MCFD’s board sought a levy increase just a few months after voting not to seek a renewal at all. Without any levy funds, the fire district would face a $1 million shortfall, according to a statement from the district.

Randy Franke, board president, said in the statement that limited increases in tax revenues, rising health insurance costs, decreasing ambulance services and legal costs connected to the Clear Lake election and subsequent lawsuits all contributed to the anticipated shortfall. The district has spent about $270,000 on legal fees during the current fiscal year.

Both Franke and James Mulhern, vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2557, are backing the levy increase.

Girls tennis takes loss, tie with Olys, Saxons

Celt Katrina Cabanlit draws back for a volley during McNary’s rain-canceled game with North Salem High School Tuesday, April 10. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Experience paid off in two recent matches for the McNary High School girls varsity tennis team last week.

The Celts kicked off Central Valley Conference competition with a 6-2 loss to Sprague High School, and the team’s freshmen provided a couple of bright spots for the team.

Freshman Sandy Childress defeated veteran Bailey Brooks in three sets,  0-6, 6-4, 6-3. Classmates Taslima Sidhu and Rachel Morrow beat their Oly opponents, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

“We played really tough, but we were pleased though because the freshmen went three sets and we lost one of others in a third-set tie-breaker,” said Mark Kohley, Celt head coach.

Katie Stignei and Megan Thompson battled it out to sets of 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

The team is benefitting from a deep, experienced roster, Kohley said, with the No. 3 and No. 4 singles and doubles matches supplying wins when other teams’ talent begins to peter out.

Childress credited her teammates with helping her get up to speed.

“A lot of the girls on the team have helped me get used to the pace and learn the scoring,” she said. “I’m hoping just to get my basic hits down and then start hitting harder.”

McNary found more success in a 4-4 tie with South Salem High School Friday, April 6.

Stignei won by default in singles competition after the match was underway. Lexi Price won in the No. 4 singles slot.

In doubles action, Allison McGregor and Delaney Engle and Jill Jungwirth and Kate Janssen picked up wins.

“I think our strength of our pair is not only that we work hard individually, but that we work really well as a team,” Jungwirth said. “We’re able to move as one while we’re playing and think and strategize as a doubles team.”

Childress also managed to win three games, but not the match, against a seasoned Saxon opponent who hadn’t lost more than a single game to anyone all season, Kohley said.

Kohley hopes to see the girls reduce unforced errors, but that’s not an unexpected problem this early in the season.

Jungwirth said the team’s bonds formed over several years of playing together will help guide them through the season.

“We know our strengths and weaknesses and know when we need to pick each other up against our opponents,” she said. “Our team bond helps us be confident when we’re out there by ourselves.”

Lady Celts improve to 8-0 on diamond

Lady Celt Kiana Villareal knocks a pitch to right field during McNary’s home opener with North Salem High School Friday, April 6. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The North Salem High School varsity softball hoped to make headway by pitching around Lady Celt Hailey Decker in the teams’ Central Valley Conference opener.

As the saying goes, the best laid plans often go awry. McNary won the contest 17-3.

“They pitched around Hailey and the other kids made them pay for it,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary head coach.

The Vikings paid frequently in the game’s first two innings as the Celtics leapt out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and added ten more in the second. Jordyn Hanson, in addition to pitching three innings, had three hits and drove in four runs. Dani Saunders went 2 for 3 with with three RBIs en route to the win. Olivia Yarbrough, Paige Bouska, Saunders and Kiana Villareal all hit doubles.

“Our batting line-up is stronger than last year since we only lost one person and we have a lot of good batting and new batting coming in this year,” said Celt Beth Bello.

While North didn’t put a lot of pressure on McNary defensively, Bouska said the team is getting ever stronger in the field.

“Our defense is the strongest it’s been this season,” she said.

The win brought the Celts to an undefeated 8-0 record for the season. Prior to the game with North Salem, the Lady Celts picked up an 10-3 win over West Linn High School.

Four was the magic number for two of the Celtics: Decker and Bouska.

“Hailey and Paige went 4 for 4 with four runs apiece. Hailey had two doubles and two singles and Paige had three singles and a triple. Hailey had three RBIs,” Auvinen said. “They carried us offensively and Jordyn pitched the whole game and it ended up a nice win against a pretty decent team.”

All of it moves the team a bit closer to Auvinen’s target of consistency throughout the game.

Bouska said leadership has risen throughout the ranks of the team, which has helped improve confidence, which the team will need as it faces tougher and tougher opponents.

“We have a lot of strong hitters, but all of us could be great hitters with a little more confidence,” she said.

“We just have to take it one day at a time, like Auvinen always says,” added Bello.

Auvinen himself has high hopes for the team, but knows the biggest challenge will be sustaining the focus necessary to continue the streak.

“We just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing,” he said. “I think we’re a team that can beat anybody as long as we keep our heads in the game.”

Vikings slide past Celts in home opener

Celt Conor Suing fires off a pitch during the Celts’ rain-canceled games with West Salem High School Tuesday, April 10. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School varsity baseball team hit a small slump last week losing two close games to Lake Oswego and North Salem high schools.

“The (North Salem) result was a disappointment because we didn’t play our best baseball. Defensively, we did not play up to the level that we had been playing,” said Larry Keeker, McNary head coach.

The Celts lost to Lake Oswego 3-2 in eight innings and 4-2 to the Vikings in the Central Valley Conference opener.

McNary pushed two runs across the plate in the fourth inning and loaded the bases with no outs at the top of the fifth, but the sticks cooled and left all runners stranded.

“Going into league, we were all really excited, but we didn’t hit as well as we can other than Kaleb [Simpson],” said Celt Chris Burger.

A three-error defensive stand at the bottom of the inning gave the Vikings all the leeway they needed to pull ahead for the win. Travis Marks and Simpson both had doubles in the games.

“It was a rough game. Our hitting wasn’t too good, but our pitching was and we’ll be able to come back,” Simpson said.

The team rebounded from the losses to take a 6-3 win hosting Beaverton High School Saturday, April 7. Marks, Justin Schneider and Garren Robinett handled duties on the mound while Burger had a double and drove in two runs at the dish.

Keeker said pitching has emerged as a strength for the team in the early part of the season.

“We had quality starts out of just about all of our guys: Jon Stong, Conor Suing, Justin Burgess, and Ben Johnson. Ben also had a good relief performances along with Justin Schnieder and Garren Robinett,” Keeker said.

The close losses were the result of lackluster run production, he added.

“If you play baseball long enough, hitting can and will be a humbling experience,” Keeker said. “It’s just one of those things where you have to get back to the fundamentals of the swing. A lot of it is mental, we’ve been swinging at pitches that aren’t so good and early in the count.”

The team faces a grueling schedule this week with games against rival West Salem High School as well as Sprague and South Salem high schools.

“We just need to settle down and have better plate appearances,” Simpson said.

Burger said the bonds the team has formed will help carry them forward.

“Even through the losses, we’ve stayed pretty strong all the way through and we’re not getting on anybody, we’re picking them up and encouraging them,” Burger said. “People who are a little under, we believe in them, too, and they’re going to come up really soon.”

Pencils, no brushes

People who love art, people who like art and people who are indifferent to art, will all find something to marvel at when they visit 21st Colored Pencil Exhbit at the Enid Joy Mount Gallery at the Keizer Heritage Center.

Colored pencils?  Don’t dismiss it out of hand. The 51 pieces being shown during the show, which runs through the end of April, exhibit great artistic skill and ability. Visitors to the gallery will be awestruck by the light, shadows and detail that is part and parcel of just about every piece.

Winner of Best of Show was Dan the Man, a large portrait drawn by C.J. Morlein of Beaverton. Those of use who can barely draw a straight line will try to wrap our minds around how an effect was achieved. Using a colored pencil, something we all used in grade school, is different than using a paint brush.

Just as any art exhibit there are various levels of accomplishment at the Colored Pencil show.  Calm Zzzs, by Pat Averill, is a masterwork of an ocean scene.  How does she create the realistic waves, one might ask?

The Colored Pencil Exhibition is one of the finest shows the Keizer Art Association has ever shown at the gallery.
For artists of an level it is well worth a visit to the Keizer Heritage Center to be inspired by the entries.  For that matter it is worth a visit for anyone who appreciates quality, skill and ability.

—LAZ

No way to run a government

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

Mitt Romney lost the 1994 Massachusetts Senate election to Ted Kennedy, in part because Sen. Kennedy successfully painted Romney as a heartless businessman more interested in profit than in the welfare of employees.  He will face the same charges between now and November.

The most memorable story is about American Pad and Paper Co. or, AmPad.  AmPad’s most familiar product is those yellow legal pads you can find anywhere.  AmPad was a healthy business when Bain Capital, held up as the primary example of Mitt Romney’s business savvy, bought it in 1992.  The idea was for Bain Capital to make the business bigger, more efficient, and then sell it for a handsome profit.

For an initial investment of $5 million Bain had taken $102 million in profit by the year 2000.  They took $2 million a year in management fees, and collected millions in acquisition fees every time AmPad bought another company with the aim of expanding their product line.  Bain then made tens of millions from going public with AmPad in the 1996 IPO stock sale.   What did AmPad gain from all this Bain wizardry?  In the year 2000, AmPad filed for bankruptcy.

Bain Capital did nothing illegal.  A private equity company works on the same principle as someone “flipping” houses.  They buy a small and humble company, make some improvements, and sell it for a nice profit.  That sounds like a good thing.

If you asked AmPad, now out of bankruptcy and still making legal pads, what they gained from being managed by Bain Capital for several years, they might not think it was such a good thing.  One of the companies they acquired immediately terminated all employees then hired most of them back at a significantly reduced wage.  Those employees decided to strike and the company was closed, all jobs were lost.

The question here is what part of this all too common business story would you incorporate in the federal management of the U.S. economy?

AmPad had quietly and successfully carved out a niche in the office supply business, and didn’t need poorly judged growth and acquisitions.  Mr. Romney has said that sometimes in making a company more lean and profitable, it is a hard truth that some jobs will be lost.

What if America’s economy was helped more by a corporation committed more to supplying stable employment rather than ever increasing profits?  Would America be better off if business’ first loyalty was to employees and customers, instead of shareholders?

When Mitt Romney claims that he has the business expertise to get America’s economy turned around, what on earth does he mean?  Though we are all shareholders, America is not a business.

Congress is already in the firm grasp of corporate interests.  It is frightening to think of electing a President who hopes to apply business solutions to problems so obviously needing humane solutions.

Don Vowell lives in Keizer.

Dressing up? How embarrassing

When I was in high school, there was a good-looking senior named Juan who was friends, it seemed, with everybody.  Juan unfailingly used every Friday of the school year as an excuse to dress up.  He looked snappy on Mondays through Thursdays as well, but on Fridays, Juan sauntered into the cafeteria in his tie and three-piece suit, stopping at each group of tightly-knit teens and greeting his many friends among them.  We all joked that he had a future in car sales or as President.

Juan’s Friday habit was unique in its reliability but not in itself: in those days (and we’re not talking decades ago, thank you very much), students dressed up for a variety of reasons.  Skirts, slacks, and heels were not necessarily an indicator of a formal, after-school obligation, nor were they indicative of one’s wealth or social status.  In fact, two of my most embarrassing high school moments—one the standard trip-and-fall; the other, an incident involving my skirt tucked into the rear of my nylons for quite some time—occurred when I was dressed to the nines for no particular reason.

But trends are different now.  When my husband, a health teacher, required that some of his students dress nicely (definition: no holey jeans) for a class event, he was met with whines, complaints, outright refusal, and an irritable parent e-mail.  The day of the event, several students arrived late to class because they were in the restroom changing into their polished attire.  Why hadn’t they just worn their ensembles to school all day?  Because it was “embarrassing,” they said.

I witnessed the same phenomenon earlier this year on a day we honored our local veterans with a school assembly.  One of my students—whom I barely recognized without his hooded sweatshirt—hurried past me in the morning wearing slacks and a sweater vest.  I called after him that he looked dashing; he demurely thanked me over his shoulder.  He played his trumpet at the assembly aside his other uncharacteristically-dashing peers, and by the time he attended my class an hour later, he had donned his typical apparel.  So had a few others.

I was baffled.  The casual-clad students explained that they had been uncomfortable, and when I pressed for more information (after all, there was a shirt under that wool sweater vest, so I didn’t buy the itchy excuse), I did eventually hear the word “embarrassing.”

“How is it embarrassing to look good?” I asked incredulously, thankful that they didn’t read too much into my implication that they typically don’t.  But this was one of those many conversations that, despite my not being old enough to be their parents, reminded me that I definitely “don’t get it.”

And it’s true: when I purchase Dearfoams slippers at the store, I wear them at home as slippers.  Then I come to work and see them on my students’ comfy feet.  And while I have to admit that their habits make me jealous—what I wouldn’t give to wear slippers to work some days!—I also long for the days when students felt comfy kicking it up a notch.  When wearing their best attire wasn’t a temporary prison but an excuse to puff out their chests for a day.

After all, if Juan’s Friday swagger could make our school cafeteria collectively smile, momentarily bringing together all the cliques who had nothing in common except our regard for him, imagine what a few more pairs of slacks could do for the mood at McNary.

Susanne Stephani is a writer and creative writing teacher at McNary High School.

Credit Prothero for expanded library

To the Editor:

Thanks for the information and recognition provided in your editorial (They made a library, April 6) about the Keizer Community Library. I would remind you that much of the planning and actions taken related to expansion of the library resulted from the efforts of the present library director, Steve Prothero.  His contribution should be recognized.

Art Burr
Keizer

What is wrong with high gas prices?

To the Editor:

High gas prices are not a singular issue. Even if it was, that in itself would severely hurt family budgets. The government and media speak about gas prices as if it is unrelated to anything else. The problem is higher gas prices in an economy with petroleum at its foundation affects almost everything else.

It all begins with transportation. The food you buy, the trips you take to schools, doctors and leisure, items you order, travel, vacations, clothes, getting to work, shipping, shopping dining out, visiting and energy use. High oil prices affect police, fire and emergency response budgets. Oil has moved this nation and economy for over 100 years and it is the reason we have the world’s largest economy.

When oil prices go up, it immediately affects budgets and inflationary prices. The government in its wisdom and downright deceit removed food and energy prices from the Inflationary Index. Without that, the government can say “inflation is low.” Gas at the pumps is up about 90 percent but they say nothing about the inflation that affects the entire economy. It is simply government deceit and an outright lie to the public. This nonsense must not be tolerated any more. If you like living with tight and shrinking budgets for all aspects of society, then you have the government you deserve. If not, be heard at the ballot box. The people who did this should be thrown out of office.

John P. Rizzo
Keizer