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Day: July 13, 2012

Ex-Keizerite’s new novel is infused with local history

Former Keizer resident Barbara Dan has a new novel out based on her family’s history in Salem. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Former Keizerite and author Barbara Dan is no stranger to the strength of community, she’d seen what was possible when people acted together as a volunteer when she lived in Keizer.

“I knew what real community involvement could do. I was amazed at what good neighbors could do,” Dan said. “You can find solutions and people help and encourage each other.”

In a roundabout way, those ideas are what inspired her latest book, The Outcast: The Long Road Back, a fictionalized account of her grandfather’s arrival in the Salem area in 1913 and how the people he met created the space to put his life in order.

In the book, the main character, Alex, steps off a sternwheeler on Front Street with one thing on his mind: where he’ll get his next drink.

“The first thing he found out, even before he got off the boat, was that he wouldn’t be able to buy booze anywhere because it was a dry area,” Dan said. “So, he began looking around for a druggist who might be amenable to giving him cough syrup that would get the job done.”

Instead of a stiff drink, Alex makes contact with a local doctor who becomes a lifelong friend.

“He was the sort of non-judgmental person who broke through simply because he cared and he makes Alex question how much he really wants to leave drinking in the past,” Dan said.

The towering 6-foot-8 Alex, it turns out, has spent years traveling after being exiled from his home in Buffalo, NY, and his arrival in Salem marks a turning point.

When one of his three daughters is sent to live with him, he also meets the love of his life, Emily, the daughter of the doctor.

Through the daughter, the two begin a new relationship that may see Alex through his recovery.

Dan relied on volumes of research about the Salem area as she crafted the tale and discovered that Salem was one of many cities rapt by the possibly of human flight at the time.

“The postal clerk was building airplanes and my grandfather was involved with that. A lot of young men were getting the bug to fly and he did, too,” she said. “Taking hold of and pursuing his own dreams was a big part of what helped him change his life.”

The novel also includes excerpts from her grandfather’s journals to flesh out the motivations for this exile and subsequent travels.

While area and family history informs the story, the loss of that history played a large part as well.

“I had seen the family property in 1973 and taken photos of the old swimming pool and barns and carriage houses and kennels where he trained show dogs,” Dan said. “There were also huge walnut and prune orchards on the hillside.”

When she returned to it more than three decades later, much of what had remained was gone.

“It was a very strange thing to have photographs in my hand that showed what had been there and all these years later, there was hardly any evidence they had lived there. It was like history vanishing before my eyes,” Dan said.

A neighbor who had lived nearby while her grandfather was still alive helped her fill in some of the gaps in her family’s history and writing The Outcast is a small part in reclaiming it.

In some ways, it’s a journey simillar to her grandfather’s more than a century ago.

“The whole town, the people back then, were finding what they were best at and it benefitted the whole community,” Dan said.

Alex’s Gift

Alex Simpson takes a cut and delivers a hit for his team. The Keizer Youth Sports Association player had a magic moment during a recent game. (Submitted Photo)

Special to the Keizertimes

Alex Simpson, some like to call him Big Al, is 10 years old. He loves baseball, been around the ball park for years, usually dressed in catcher’s gear. Throws right, hits left, never gets cheated when he swings the bat. I call him Reggie when he takes a cut. He has one of those kinds of swings.

Alex plays on the Keizer Celts Midget American baseball team and the team’s home field is Field 8 over at the Keizer Little League Park. The team consists of boys that are 10 years old and younger.  Alex plays a little catcher, second base and does triple-duty as a pretty effective pitcher.

I was out at the ball park one evening to watch my son Drew play baseball. I saw Alex’s grandpa, Rick, as Alex had a game that night, too. Rick and I had coached together one season a few years before, and I had coached Alex the last couple of years prior to this season.

As Rick and I talked, he let me know that Alex’s father had passed away just a couple days before. How heartbreaking for Alex, I thought. Rick told me that although Alex was taking it hard and had many mixed emotions, he was still going to play ball that night, his passion.  The kind of passion that gets us through times like these.

While taking Alex back and forth to see his father in the hospital, Alex told his Grandpa that he was going to hit a home run for his dad. Rick thought to himself that would be quite a feat and told Alex that his dad would be just as proud if he just got one good, solid hit for him. The thing is, Alex has never hit a home run over the fence before and hitting a home run over the high fence surrounding Field 8 is an incredibly difficult task even for a big 10-year-old.

A couple weeks later, I was again out at the ball park to watch my son play ball, Alex’s team had a game at the same time. It was a perfect night for baseball. Weather-wise it was one of those great Oregon evenings that we rarely see. The sun was shining, it was warm, about 68 degrees by then and calm winds, a perfect night to watch a son or grandson play baseball. No need for a blanket or jacket, or even an umbrella for that matter.

As all the games began that evening, pitchers started pitching and hitters started hitting, I was going about my business mingling with parents and friends as we were rooting on the A’s, my son’s team. At the same time, I was keeping an eye on the game next to us on Field 8, Alex’s team. I coached several of the boys on that team the season before and naturally took an interest.

I was standing, propped up on the back of the bleachers between fields 5 and 8 watching Drew when I heard a crack of the bat and people erupting from Field 8 behind me. As I turned to see what all the commotion was, I saw that Reggie, uh, Alex, with his blistering speed was headed to first base like a shot. Just as fast as the parents and fans erupted, there was silence. Then everyone erupted again! The ball was hit to left field and from where I was standing my view of the batted ball was obstructed by the score box. I looked back over at Alex as he went from a full on sprint–rounding first base heading to second for a double–to a trot. Alex slowed not because the fly ball was caught for an out, but because he launched that ball well past the the left-field fence. A homerun!

Are you kidding me, I thought to myself. It took some time to process what Alex had just done and put it together with the story that I had recently heard from Rick. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. I went nuts! I immediately ran over to Rick as he was sitting in the stands, slapped him hard on the shoulder and we high-fived. Then I darted over to congratulate Alex, who had just come into the dugout. I yelled at him and he came over and we pounded knuckles really hard! I told him that he was “da man,” great job and all of those things you tell a developing young man. What a moment for him. What a moment for his entire family, and well, what a baseball moment. A moment in life Alex will never forget, nor will I.

After congratulating Alex, I made my way back to see Rick and as we started talking about the whole thing, he left me with one last solemn moment. Rick informed me that earlier that day was Alex’s father’s memorial service. Most certainly, an incredibly emotional day, start to finish for that young man, “Big Al.”

Alex made good on his gift that day, a home run for his dad given with all of his heart. And I’m certain that his father was close by.

Dave Bartlett is a coach and volunteer with the Keizer Youth Sport Association.

S-K School Board names new chair


For the Keizertimes

Nancy MacMorris-Adix, who has been vice chairperson of the Salem-Keizer School Board, was unanimously elected chairperson Tuesday and immediately took over the office.

The board also elected Rick Kimball vice chairperson; he stepped down from the chair. It voted to continue the Salem law firm of Garret, Hemann Robertson, PC, as legal counsel. Paul Dakopolos has been its regular representative for the district.

Annual approval of a contract for Superintendent Sandy Husk was unanimous. Director Ron Jones, just before the vote, asked for an explanation of a salary increase mentioned in the contract. Kimball said that each administrator would receive a 2 percent increase annually in accordance with a previously approved board decision, and that she and the others were giving them back in furlough days.

Husk’s current salary is $191,563 for the 2012-13 school year.

The board heard Steve Chambers, a former board chairperson, urge consideration of a technical high school or technical programs for the district. Chambers said that with all the attention the district has been paying to college-bound students, it should do the same for those who seek trade positions.

Husk announced the hirings of Sandy Price as director of elementary education, Angela Rasmussen as assistant principal of West Salem High School, Daniel Nanez as assistant principal of North Salem High School, Katy Naff as temporary principal of Englewood Elementary School, Christina Tracy as temporary principal of Howard Street Charter School, and Tami Badinger as temporary secondary education coordinator, special projects, Dropout Prevention and Intervention Services.

Personnel actions approved by the board included:

• A full-time teaching contract for Jeanne Woodley, library media, McNary High School.

• Employment of Adair Wolf as a third-year probation fourth-grade bilingual teacher at Kennedy Elementary School.

• Employment of Marrla Wilkinson, English teacher at McNary, as a temporary full-time teacher.

• Employment of Aaron Lawson, behavioral specialist at Claggett Creek Middle School, and Robert Garcia, senior aerospace instructor at McNary, as first-year probation full-time teachers.

• Employment of Michele Condello as a less-than-half-time reading teacher at Forest Ridge Elementary School.

• Recall of Shawn Hall, who had been laid off as a Claggett Creek physical education teacher.

Fire Board approves $5.3 million budget

For the Keizertimes

A 2012-13 budget of $5,386,034 for the Keizer Fire District was adopted last month by its board of directors.

Action came after no one spoke from the audience at what was a budget hearing.

The board also approved transferring funds as needed from the general fund to the emergency medical services fund.

A financial break for the district for workers’ compensation was announced by its insurer, R. Bauer Insurance. Dave Bauer of the agency told the board that, even though base rates for all fire service classes have increased, a mathematical formula based on the district’s safety record would result in a net premium decrease of $6,000.

The board discussed the district’s financial work plan, for which district officials have been considering an organizational proposal from Emergency Services Consulting International, a Wilsonville-based company, to draw up a strategic plan for an estimated $10,000. Director Greg Ego said it would be premature to decide immediately to spend $10,000, although it might be a good idea eventually.

Fire Chief Jeff Cowan noted that the district had to notify the Marion County assessor by July 15, 2014, of its tax rate, which would be affected by the work plan. He said that the current levy will expire in November 2014 and that an election in November of this year would give the district a safety margin.

Joe Van Meter, board president, told Cowan to set up a schedule for a meeting on the work plan. He said that the ESCI proposal impressed him and that he believed in hiring help from outside.

Cowan announced the hiring of Vicky Dosier as office manager effective July 2. She will succeed Karen Bracken, who has moved to the Fairbanks, Alaska, area because her husband, Frank Bracken, who has been a Keizer fire captain, will become a training captain for Chena-Goldstream Fire and Rescue. Karen Bracken will be a budget technician for the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Cowan said that Brian Appel, a paramedic, had been promoted to the captain’s position Bracken vacated and that Andrew Alderson, who has been a paramedic in Dallas, would take Appel’s former position.

The chief also said that a move to dismiss the one remaining lawsuit filed by Marion County Fire District No. 1 was the only remaining issue regarding the election on the proposal to switch Clear Lake from District No. 1 to the Keizer district.

Volcanoes pick up 5-3 win

The Volcanoes’ Sam Eberle winds up pitch during a game with the Vancouver Canadians last week. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

For the Keizertimes

Long balls from Joe Rapp and Dashenko Ricardo and the strong pitching of Joan Gregorio led the Volcanoes to a 5-3 win July 6 in the last game of the home series with Vancouver before a crowd of 3,320.

Preceding the game was the final night of the patriotic program, which honored many armed service members from the Northwest and including the induction of 11 young people into the Navy. A fireworks display followed the game.

Salem-Keizer led from the third inning on despite a continuing left-on-bases problem and two home runs from a Canadian player, Jason Leblebijian, who had come into the game with no homers for the season.

Gregorio, who continues to hack away at his earned run average after a rough season start and who left the game with an average of 4.39, set down the side in order in the first inning. The Volcanoes threatened in the first, with Brennan Metzger singling, stealing second base and reaching third on an error. Rapp came up with two out and hit a fly to deep right field, but Vancouver’s Carlos Ramirez caught the ball on the warning track.

Leblebijian hit his first of two bases-empty home runs in the second. The Volcanoes tied the score in the second with a solo shot to left field from Ricardo, his first homer of 2012.

After a 1-2-3 Canadians third inning, Matt Duffy doubled to left field, and Chuckie Jones drove him in with a double, giving Salem-Keizer a 3-1 lead.

Duffy hit another double to lead off the Volcanoes fifth, and with one out, Rapp hit his homer over the left field fence for a 5-1 lead. Nick Purdy came in to relieve starting pitcher Eric Brown and retired the next two batters.

After a single by Dan Klein and a double by Ian Parmley in the sixth, pitching coach Jerry


Cram went to the mound to talk with Gregorio. Gregorio struck out the next two batters to retire the side. The Volcanoes left the bases loaded in their half of the sixth.

Keith Bilodeau took the mound for Salem-Keizer in the seventh and yielded Leblebijian’s second homer. Both were opposite-field shots over the right field wall. In the bottom of the seventh, when Drew Permison came in to relieve Purdy, the Volcanoes left the bases loaded for the second straight time.

Tyler Mizenko relieved Bilodeau in the eighth with two on and one out and retired the Canadians.

In the Volcanoes eighth, Chuckie Jones was hit by a pitch and Rapp doubled him home.

Vancouver fought back in the ninth. Ramirez and Klein singled with two out, and Newman drove in Ramirez with a single. However, Mizenko struck out the next batter to end the game.

“We gave up some chances,” Volcanoes manager Tom Trebelhorn said. “We hung on, persevered.”

Gregorio, a Dominican Republic native, was asked how he was improving his game. He said through Ricardo, an interpreter and his catcher, that he felt healthy and felt that he was continuing to improve.

Rapp, who now has four home runs, made a similar comment. He said he was continuing to feel better at the plate after adjusting to a wood bat.

R   H   E

VAN. 010 000 101    3   8    4
S-K     011 020 01x    5   10 0

W – Gregorio (3-1, 4.39).  L – Brown (0-4, 8.66).  S – Mizenko (4). HR – Vancouver, Leblebijian 2 (2); Salem-Keizer, Ricardo (1), Rapp (4).

Obama’s goose is cooked


Obama needed a filet mignon in the June employment report. But instead he got a rubber chicken.

Only 80,000 new jobs were created last month, way below Wall Street expectations. It’s the fourth consecutive monthly disappointment. For a few months last winter, jobs were rising at an average of 225,000 a month. But that has sloped way down to only 75,000. The unemployment rate continues at 8.2 percent, which is the 41st-straight month above 8 percent. The U6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers, is just under 15 percent.

As voters finalize their election impressions this summer, all of this is bad news for the Chicago incumbent.

In a campaign stop in Ohio on Friday, Obama actually said we’re still “heading in the right direction.” Is he kidding? As a stagnant gross domestic product drops below 2 percent, employment falters, retail sales decline and the ISM index for manufacturing drops below 50 (signaling contraction)? No objective observer can deny that the economy is headed in the wrong direction.

I don’t like playing the pessimist, but the numbers are the numbers. This is exactly what former Clinton advisers James Carville, Doug Schoen and Stanley Greenberg have been warning Obama about. People just don’t believe the economy is getting better. So he’s gotta change his message.

But what change? Taxing rich people won’t create jobs. Neither will bashing Bain Capital. Obama is surrounded by leftist campaign advisers. And it’s hard to see them shifting gears to something constructive like making a summer deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for a year, or heaven forbid, backing off the 20-some-odd tax hikes embodied in Obamacare.

In other words, Obama’s goose may already be cooked.

The Joint Economic Committee (JEC), spearheaded by Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, put out a report saying that the Obama recovery now ranks dead last in modern times. That’s a real milestone in the post-World War II era. It’s 10 out of 10 for both jobs and economic growth. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP has expanded only 6.7 percent over the 11-quarter recovery since the recession ended. The Reagan recovery at the same stage had increased by 17.6 percent. The Clinton recovery by 8.7 percent.

As for jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of private-sector jobs has grown by only 4.1 percent since the cyclical low point. Reagan’s record was 10.7 percent.

So much for Obamanomics. Didn’t work. Still isn’t working. As the JEC put it, spending stimulus, housing bailouts, auto bailouts, financial bailouts, cash for clunkers, cash for caulkers and $5 trillion in deficit spending left the Obama recovery dead last in modern times.

Whatever happened to the great boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, when the animal spirits were strong and the American economy wasn’t held hostage by Europe or China? In an odd twist, both Obama and his top economist Alan Krueger blame “problems built up over decades.” Does that mean they blame Clinton? Reagan?

For nearly 25 years—during those bad old decades—the economy increased 3.3 percent annually. Unemployment dropped from 11 percent to 6 percent to 5 percent to below 4 percent. Obama would swoon for numbers like that. But those statistics come from the era when big government was over, when pro-market forces stopped the expansion of Leviathan and when marginal tax rates were slashed to grow the economy.

Now the question is, with Obama’s economic goose cooked, does Mitt Romney have what it takes to win the election and provide a pro-growth economic model that will restore prosperity at home and America’s No. 1 position around the world?

Some powerful figures — including Rupert Murdoch, Jack Welch, and even my brothers and sisters at the Wall Street Journal editorial page — have taken shots at Romney in recent days. But I am more optimistic. In response to his critics on the day of the bad June jobs report, Romney talked about expanding energy resources, approving the Keystone pipeline, cutting taxes and increasing trade with Latin America. He reaffirmed his intention to cut federal spending and eliminate programs.

Basically, Romney is promising a return to free-market, supply-side policies on taxes, trade, regulation and spending. Hopefully he will embrace a sound and stable dollar, as well. I still believe Romney is the most underrated politician in America today, and that he’s the most conservative Republican standard-bearer since Ronald Reagan.

In other words, he’s some real filet mignon.

(Creators Syndicate)

The tricky politics of climate change


On June 29, a weather system called a “derecho” rolled through the Washington, D.C., area, felling trees and power lines and leaving more than a million people without power.

A “derecho,” according to the news coverage, is “a fast-moving, long-lived, large, violent thunderstorm complex.”

When climate events force a new word into the common vocabulary, it’s another sign that the weather is getting weirder. Of course, no individual weather event can be scientifically tied to climate change. But this is the kind of event that can start to change people’s minds.

For now, the climate deniers are powerful enough to block congressional action against climate change. But if you believe — as 97 percent of climate scientists do — that man-made climate change is real, then you know the day of reckoning is coming for climate deniers.

When that day arrives, a supermajority of Americans will unite behind the idea that we have to take action against climate change — and a lot of powerful people will be disgraced.

The more dire that day is likely to be for climate deniers – economically, politically, psychologically — the harder and longer they will fight to delay it. Therefore, to get action as soon as possible, climate believers need to give the deniers a face-saving way out.

This is why Democrats should soften the rhetoric of the debate — starting with my old boss Al Gore.

The former vice president is, by temperament, not a politician but a scientist. He has complete confidence in the power of science and logic to lead to truth. And I never have seen anyone more unwilling to outsource his own learning. He always wanted to know as much as his advisers — and he usually did.

So I know no one less suited to be sympathetic to non-scientists who deny scientific consensus for personal reasons or political reasons or financial reasons or because they trust non-scientists over scientists in matters of science.

At the same time, Gore also tends to think in biblical terms. As he was writing the 1998 speech he gave at the Chernobyl Museum in Ukraine, he was trying to capture the meaning of the exclusion zone created around the radioactive power plant. A few hours before the speech, he came up with this: “As from Eden, we have been banished.”

So Gore, with faith in science and certitude in his faith, tends to lay down the law like an Old Testament prophet. “Change your ways or perish” is a message he delivers with conviction and perhaps sometimes some unseemly relish.

In a sampling of recent writings from his website, he has said: “It should no longer be a surprise the lengths to which Mitt Romney and other conservatives will go to obscure truth in pursuit of their narrow ideology.” At the close of another of his posts, he wrote: “It’s time for deniers to drop their phony excuses and get to work finding a solution to the climate crisis.”

Of course, as some of the Old Testament prophets learned, when you talk to people in this tone, they don’t change their ways; instead, they tend to turn on you.

So my hope — for my former boss and my fellow climate change believers — is that they take the partisan edge out of climate change. Partisanship is the deniers’ trick to distract people from the signs and the science. Democrats shouldn’t play along. Instead, they should step back and let leading Republicans become the face of the movement.

Late last year, National Journal’s Coral Davenport described in a terrific article how some Republicans already are playing that role within their own party.

William Reilly, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George H.W. Bush, condemned a House Republican vote on climate change, saying, “There was no explanation justifying a position at odds with the findings of 11 national academies of science, including our own.”

Former Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., said, “Being branded as anti-science is not a good future for us.”

Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who served under President Ronald Reagan, said of the Republican presidential primary candidates who denied climate science, “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

As climate-related disasters multiply across the country, the Republican position on climate change threatens to drive them into a political ditch. Instead of exploiting the situation, Democrats should be prepared to reach out a hand and pull them out — offering at the right moment a climate change plan that will allow Republicans to change their views but keep their conservative principles.

Usually when the other party is wrong, politics tells you to make it pay. Not this time. Making climate change a partisan issue delays action as much as denial does. Being nonpartisan in this case is not only noble but also the only way to get what we need.

(Creators Syndicate)

Mandate assures broadest coverage

To the Editor:

In order to “sell” the Affordable Health Care Act, its proponents came up with the cockamamie claim that it would not cost anything.  Ridiculous!  Adding or extending health care coverage to include people that don’t presently have it cannot help but cost something, and I say so be it.

The person who said that he doesn’t mind paying for his own health care but doesn’t want to pay for someone else’s, misses the point.  By eliminating preventive care, the ultimate cost to the writer and others could well be much higher.

And inclusion of the individual mandate, assures the broadest possible base and likely lowest possible rates.

Art Burr

Coaching teachers

To the Editor:

The coaches from the Salem-Keizer School District have put in a year, teaching and training the classroom teachers, which have required meetings and activity. The teachers all ready have a full schedule. Therefore, the teachers has had to take evening and after-school hours in preparation for the next day classes. Because of the preparations, time with the family is limited. Notice, too, these after school preparations are all overtime hours?

For this year, the experiment, for the coaches have come to a close. It would be well, for the teachers to get back to teaching again without the coaches.

Etheldra Tjernagel