Clashes were not out of the norm in Keizer in 2012.From a hotly contested mayoral race to fire district battles to ongoing controversy regarding Keizer Station, several topics were a source of constant debate.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 Keizer stories of 2012, as selected by the staff of Keizertimes.
Contested mayoral race
Lore Christopher winning her bid in November to stay Keizer’s mayor wasn’t out of the norm. After all, Christopher won her seventh term as mayor.What made this year’s win noteworthy was the fact it was Keizer’s first contested mayoral race since 2002. Also noteworthy was Christopher’s opponent, veteran Keizer City Councilor Dave McKane. The two had some history – McKane’s brief resignation from council after comments from Christopher quickly comes to mind – and the two waged a spirited battle.
There were three council seats open, with two being contested.
Roth’s closes door in Keizer
Roth’s Fresh Market delivered a bombshell in May: the longtime local store would be closing its location at River Road and Chemawa in late June.
The main reason given for the closure was concern about the struggling Keizer location in the face of anticipated expansion of Target and the possible Walmart in Keizer Station area. The Roth’s building still sits vacant.
Keizer Station development continues
How big of a topic was Keizer Station in 2012? Big enough that three top stories were centered around the shopping area on the east side of town.
Restaurants took center stage this year, with plans announced for a Panera Bread. The café bakery opened its doors – and drive-through window – last weekend.
As Panera was getting ready to open, plans were submitted for an Outback Steakhouse in Keizer Station. If plans indeed come to fruition, it would be the first “sit down” type of restaurant in the shopping area.
Sides gives city ‘worthless’ property
Behind on his taxes for several properties, developer Chuck Sides became current on all properties but one in the fall. It was what happened on the last property that stirred controversy.
Instead of paying taxes, Sides deeded over property worth nothing, according to the county, since low power lines made the parcel undevelopable. The city paid more than $600,000 for the parcel. City officials argued the land wasn’t worthless, but couldn’t come up with a dollar amount since an appraisal wasn’t done.
Area C plans altered
For many months, the widely-held view was the proposed 116,000 square foot building in the Area C portion of Keizer Station would be the future home of Walmart. Plans for the building were subject to a Land Use Board of Appeals hearing.
In the early fall, Sides had a revised plan: two buildings totaling about 72,000 square feet.
Clear Lake annexation into KFD control nixed
Attempts by Keizer Fire District officials to annex the Clear Lake neighborhood into their territory were rejected by voters in a special May election. The annexation would have meant roughly 1,000 homes and the affiliated tax revenue would have been transferred from Marion County Fire District No. 1.
Two measures would have to have been approved by voters, but neither garnered more than 43 percent support.
City hall, KPD adjust to realities
A year after predicting the worst was yet to come in terms of the city’s budget, city manager Chris Eppley sang a different tune in the spring, announcing that expenditures were stabilized and things were looking much brighter.
The good news wasn’t felt everywhere, however. The Keizer Police Department had to adjust to tighter budget confines following an overwhelming defeat of a public safety fee in November 2011.
Two Gates Foundation winners at McNary
Prior to 2012, McNary High School had zero Gates Foundation Scholars ever. Now the school has two.
Jessica Mendez-Vasquez and Justin Schneider were named recipients in March of the college funding package that will pay for all college expenses up through and including graduate work.
Non-U.S. citizens can’t be youth councilors
In the summer, Keizer City Councilors approved a new procedure that banned non-U.S. citizens from serving as youth councilors. New language prevented any immigrant who did not have citizenship from serving in the role.
The move came after former youth councilor Hugo Nicolas finished his term, after being brought to the U.S. without documentation at age 11.
Ryan Ripp plays role in funeral protests law
A McNary High School student’s efforts led to a state law approved early this year. Senate Bill 1575 makes it a crime to fight, make threats or create unreasonable noise or obstruct traffic within 200 feet of a funeral.
Ryan Ripp came up with the idea in the spring of 2011, while he was a sophomore at MHS.
A year later, the bill was approved by the state legislature.
When Anne Rasmus planned a vacation for herself and husband Al for next year, an odd thing happened.
Rasmus didn’t look at her calendar to see what days were not possible due to work.
For 14 years, Rasmus had to schedule trips around events she had to take care of as events manager at the Keizer Heritage Center.
She is officially stepping down from that position at the end of the month. Judy Peterson, president of the Keizer Heritage Foundation, is taking those duties over.
“Before, I would have to check the calendar to see when I could go,” Rasmus said this week. “Now I don’t have to. It’s like a weight has been taken off my shoulders.”
About four months ago Rasmus, 66, started looking at the idea of retiring from a position that included booking meetings, weddings, hosting tours and events at the KHC.
“It just got to the point where I needed to do something on my own,” Rasmus said. “I’ve been volunteering all my life. I’m the second of 12 kids. I’ve been involved with my community since I was a kid. This will be the first time in my life I have time to myself. I finally will have my own life. People ask me what I’m going to do. I don’t know what I will do. I will take it one day at a time.”
Peterson said it was eyeopening getting trained by Rasmus.
“I didn’t realize how big a commitment it was until I started trying to do it,” Peterson said. “She did a wonderful job. I’d like her to come back and do it. I have suggested that when she’s training me. She was totally dedicated to doing it and did an outstanding job.”
Rasmus hadn’t thought about what her daily tasks entailed.
“I didn’t think about it until Judy had that reaction,” Rasmus said. “She knows a lot of people, so I thought it wouldn’t be difficult. When she said it was a lot for one person, I said I guess it is, yes.”
The KHC building, formerly the 1916 school, was moved to its current location in 1996. The building houses the library, museum, art center and meeting space.
“The Keizer Heritage Center has made a difference,” Rasmus said. “It really has become part of the community. Probably what I’m most proud of is when people used the room upstairs for weddings. When they hear 1916 school, they have an idea it’s going to be dark. But it looks nice.”
With Rasmus and her husband both retired, now they have time to complete a goal of spending up to two weeks in each state.
“We have 16 states left,” Rasmus said. “My husband said we’ll have to do two a year now.”
Members of Keizer Boy Scout Troop 121 will be ready to help close out the holiday season as they offer to recycle Christmas trees this weekend and the first weekend of January.
The scouts will be accepting trees and donations at two locations Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 29 and 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be the same hours on January 5 and 6. The two locations are at the Keizer branch of U.S. Bank at 5110 River Rd. N. and at Schoolhouse Square at the corner of River and Chemawa Roads.
The Boy Scouts of Troop 121 also offer to pick up trees for those who live in the Keizer-Salem area on the same days. Call or text 503-877-HAUL for the service or request a tree pick-up by visiting www.keizertroop121.com.
The tree recycling is the major fundraiser for Troop 121. The money helps scouts attend summer camp via ‘camperships,’ and other scouting purposes.
The donations are tax deductible and proceeds stay within the local scout troop.
McNary girls overcame a slow third quarter to whip a hard-fighting 5A Woodburn team 52-31 there Dec. 21.
The Lady Celtics led all the way except for a Woodburn free throw at the start of the first quarter and a 7-7 tie score in the middle of the period. They built their lead gradually, with the Lady Bulldogs occasionally making the score fairly close with a three-pointer.
Teresa Peterson led all scorers with 17 points, and Madie Hingston and Reina Strand had 11 each. Kayla Reyna led Woodburn with 11.
Steals by Jessica Darras and Strand helped McNary in the first quarter, which ended with a 14-9 score.
In the second quarter, Ashlee Koenig and Stacey Titchenal led the way to an extension of the Celtic lead, which reached 24-11 before Woodburn fought back with a trey by Reyna cutting the lead to 10 points. The halftime score was 26-16.
Another three by Reyna started the third-quarter scoring. The Celts had trouble finding the basket during the period, which ended with a 32-26 score.
McNary got hot in the fourth quarter, with Hingston making the Celts’ only trey. Peterson and Strand led the offense, and the defense allowed only five points. A free throw by Strand was the final point of the game.
“It was a physical game,” McNary coach Paul Pickerell said, “so I’m glad the girls had the mental toughness to get through it.”
The Keizer Community Food Bank has been dangerously low on supplies, making it harder for organizers to help community members in need.
Now, the food bank has gotten help.
Rev. Curt McCormack, director of the food bank, saw how bare shelves were last week, when several families got reduced baskets. On Dec. 17, he got an e-mail that changed things.
“We got a Lutheran Community Economic Outreach Bridge grant,” McCormack said. “The grant is for $5,000 and we’ve been challenged that whatever we raise between Dec. 17 and the end of March, they will give us $.50 on the dollar. It’s really a coup for us. We’re having to buy more and more food to keep up with the need. That’s going to be a big boost for us.”
The grant from the Lutheran Thrivent Foundation couldn’t have been announced at a better time. McCormack said 60 families were served last Thursday, Dec. 20 at the food bank, located at Faith Lutheran Church at 4505 River Road North.
“The last few families got reduced boxes,” he said. “People are happy to get whatever they can get. They’re grateful in that regard. We told them they can come back next week and get a full box.”
McCormack said he got information about the Lutheran Thrivent Foundation after participating in a Marion-Polk Food Share food drive in October.
“I had no idea if they had even gotten the application,” McCormack said. “Then last Monday I got the e-mail we had gotten the grant. I was shocked, literally shocked. I thought we might get $500 to $1,000 if they were generous and if we were lucky. I completely had put it out of my mind. This is a great Christmas gift for the food bank.”
The e-mail came just a few days after the food bank received a $1,000 check from City of Keizer staff.
“That was a big surprise for us,” McCormack said. “We’re very grateful for city staff being willing to designate that gift to us. That’s a big chunk to us.”
McCormack said that’s merely the latest example of generosity locally.
“The Keizer community has been very gracious to us and we thank them for their continued support,” McCormack said.
McNary wrestlers whipped South Salem 59-18 Dec. 19 at home. The wins included five falls and a tech fall.
Jason Ebbs, head wrestling coach of the Celtics, noted that the victory was a big improvement over last year’s close match with the Saxons and that several South wrestlers returned this year.
One of the winners by fall was Louis Palos at 126 pounds, over a returning regional place winner, Isaiah Stubenrauch.
“Also,” Ebbs said, “Riley Repp is showing some signs of growing into his weight. After last year wrestling the 106-pound class but only tipping the scales at 84 pounds, he filled out and gained a league varsity win, defeating Marcos Leos in a back-and-forth match.”
Leading South’s winners was Tanner Stone, who won a decision over Joe Kibbey at 106.
The McNary JVs won 18-6.
Following are the individual results.
106: Tanner Stones (SS) tech fall over Joe Kibbey 17-1.
113: Riley Repp (McN) fall over Marcos Leos 4:53.
120: Mike Mata (McN) FFT.
126: Louis Palos (McN) fall over Isaiah Stubenrauch 3:37.
132: Raul Villareal (SS) major decision over Mike Phelps 15-5.
138: Hector Maldonado (McN) FFT.
145: Jonathan Mendoza (SS) fall over Jesse Gomez 1:35.
152: Devin Reynolds (McN) tech fall over Jeremy Rosal 16-1.
160: Chad Fortier (SS) dec over Jordan Cagle 10-4.
170: Rob Phelps (McN) fall over Chance Matz 1:56.
182: Zach Hammerschmith (McN) fall over Luis Mendoza 3:15.
195: Cody Ratliff (McN) fall over Vincent Villareal :25.
Perrin Sizemore didn’t have to go without some of his favorite food for long.
The 15-month-old and mom Cara were two of the several dozen people who took advantage of a special preview of the new Panera Bread bakery-restaurant in Keizer Station last Friday, Dec. 21. The bakery officially opened for business early the next morning.
The Sizemores recently moved back to Keizer, which means the timing was perfect.
“We love it here,” Cara said while breaking up part of a grilled cheese sandwich for her son. “We went there all the time when we were in Tualatin. This satisfies my craving for soup and he loves his grilled cheese sandwich.”
Dave Hardin, joint venture partner for Panera in Oregon and Southwest Washington, noted the chain has 1,600 locations nationally, including eight in the Portland area. Panera also has a location in Corvallis.
“We are definitely ready,” Hardin said. “We’ve been trying to get into Keizer for about two years. Keizer is a great community. The citizens of Keizer definitely deserve a Panera.”
Denny Bauldree, general manager of the Keizer Panera, noted more than 50 people have been hired. Some of the employees were trained at stores in either Corvallis or Tualatin, while others were trained in Keizer last week.
“Most of our staff is from Keizer,” said Bauldree, who will be doing more hiring in January to replace staff from other locations who are helping the first couple of weeks. “This place is more of a destination spot for this area. It’s a more comfortable setting.”
Hardin, who describes Panera as a quick casual restaurant, between a full-service place and fast food, pointed out the building was designed with a drive-through window from the start.
“Panera is looking for sites to do retrofits on to make them drive-through,” Hardin said. “It’s more user-friendly for customers. They might be in a hurry, but they get the same quality.”
Derik Milton, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, checked out the new restaurant with Christine Dieker, executive director of the chamber.
“It’s way overdue,” Milton said while enjoying a grilled cheese with bacon sandwich. “Everyone I’ve heard from has been in an uproar about how good it is. It will attract more businesses to Keizer Station. I feel we will see an increase in applications for buildings because of Panera Bread.”
Dieker is of similar mindset.
“This is opening the door,” she said. “This will open the eyes of other nice restaurants to come in.”
Milton, who manages the Key Bank in Keizer Station, noted the increased traffic he’s seen lately. Dieker, whose chamber office is also in Keizer Station, has also noticed that.
“This is the busiest I’ve seen Keizer Station,” Milton said. “It’s twice the traffic as last year, due to people waiting for Panera Bread to open. I now have to wait for three traffic lights to leave work, but I’m not complaining. I love it. I just need to find a new escape route.”
Citizens should have confidence that their government is working well and transparently. Government in Keizer includes the work completed by numerous boards, task forces and commissions. For a citizen to take a seat on any of those bodies they must first be recommended by the Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC).
The Volunteer Coordinating Committee, comprised of seven Keizer residents, is charged with accepting applications for openings, holding monthly meetings including testimony from applicants and members of the public. Each member of the city council, including the mayor, appoint one member.
There usually is not much news that comes out of the VCC. Vacancies on boards and commissions occur regularly througout the year. Eligible citizens apply for a committee, submitting an application. They are interviewed by the committee; if approved, their nomination is forwarded to the city council which has the final say on any board appointments.
The December VCC meeting was a different story. About 50 people came to speak out in support of one of four candidates for two openings on the Keizer Parks Advisory Board. The turnout was unusua—past VCC meetings usually drew about 10 to 20 audience members.
The four applicants for the slots on the Parks Advisory Board all had their supporters in the audience.
Some people were upset over the meeting and charged that the voting by the committee was preordained and rigged. Six people testified before the Dec. 17 council meeting expressing their dismay at the VCC’s procedures.
It was good to see that more than 50 citizens were interested enough to attend the VCC meeting. The committee’s procedures are generally smooth and uncontroversial. When more than one candidate applies for one seat only one applicant is recommended to the city council. The candidates not chosen certainly have the opportunity to apply for future vacancies.
Applicants are not approved by the Volunteer Coordinating Committee based on number of supporters in the audience. The VCC has been a smooth running committee for years. Allegations of wrongdoing should be addressed but we don’t see evidence of that. Members of VCC are not beholden to the councilor who appointed them to the committee. The committee is an independent group of citizens who make the best choice based on the information they receive and interviews with the applicants themselves.
Those who were upset because late applicants were not considered at earlier VCC meetings need to lower the level of anger. A deadline is a deadline, period.
The committee broke a tie between two applicants at the Dec. 17 meeting by drawing a name from a hat. That seemed unfair to some people. It is important to remember that Lore Christopher won a vacant city council seat in 1998 using the same method. Drawing a name from a hat in a tied vote is nothing new or nefarious. Councils and towns across the country use tie-breaking methods such as tossing a coin.
In America the majority rules. We can be mad when our candidate doesn’t win, but we accept the result. The committee could have voted repeatedly but that wouldn’t have broken the tie. It was the fairest way to choose.
We are happy the committee had candidates to choose from. At times the city goes begging for applicants for vacancies on any number of the boards.
Those who did not receive the recommendation they sought should stay involved and try again. Keizer is strong when its citizens get involved, and strongest when they accept vote results. -—LAZ
There has been a lot of controversy about development in Keizer. It’s been said by some local leaders that it is a difficult place to do business. I think in a lot of ways going to Salem has been a pastime for residents throughout the Mid-Valley who enjoy the adventures and amenities of a ‘big city fix’’ In many ways Keizer is still very much a part of Salem which is one of our strengths.
Originally the whole idea of Keizer’s incorporation seemed to center around whether it would threaten the health and vitality of our state capital. The most agreeable arrangement would seem to be that Keizer, being bound by a shared Urban Growth Boundary, would continue to support a focal point with Salem at the center. Something which our current leadership has striven against in its quest to put Keizer ‘on the map,’ whatever that may mean.
I believe that as we are still trying to fight for our independence, the stability of the city of Salem will and ought to remain paramount to the sovereignty of Keizer, and supercede any actions which would undermine the interest of the state with that in mind. I know that we are trying to find a niche of our own, but we are and will continue to serve a vital role of ‘support’ rather than justify any actions to maintain our independence otherwise. We need leadership which acknowledges this and celebrates the role that we play rather then continuing a ‘go it alone’ approach. This just doesn’t seem to fit reality as far as I see it.
Our future plans need to be weighed against the region as a whole. Because of Salem’s larger size and significance, when it comes down to who should benefit, it only makes sense that Salem is going to have the final say in determining the security of its own arrangements. I believe the rest of the region would agree with this. If we can manage to justify further development, something which is hard to come by in the first place, and show that our desire for growth should lean away from its residential aspects—we need to make sure that what we are adding does not end up to be a liability which takes away from Salem in any form whatsoever. That’s just the nature of local politics.
Maybe rather then fighting for our independence, we should strive for a stronger union, one which does not seek to split apart but rather agrees to the sacrifices necessary for our mutual existence. Any other arrangement is a threat to the area as a whole. If Keizer is going to ‘find itself,’ it needs to do so on ground that is agreeable for everyone. As long as we are able to meet a vital need which cannot otherwise be met, and also without threatening the core strength of our residential nature—and as long as we have broad interest and support, how could we then go wrong?
I attended the Dec. 13 Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC) meeting. My husband, 8 year old son, and I went in support of candidate Jacob Martin (Who sought a seat on the Keizer Parks Advisory Board). The meeting started like any other council-type meeting I have previously attended. The largest difference was the amount of support the people of Keizer showed. There were approximately 50 people (20 of those were children) showing their support for various candidates. Many supporters spoke. Noted was the absence of the mayor, but the committee explained she was volunteering by ringing the Salvation Army bell and would be arriving around 7 p.m.
Each speaker was given three minutes to express their support of any candidate they chose. Then the candidates themselves were given the opportunity to speak and say basically why they should be voted for. It was all going great. When the committee started voting for the number eight spot, it ended in a tie. So they voted again, and it was a tie again. Before they continued, the acting chair asked the woman taking minutes what the rule was on a tie. The woman went to an office and brought back a book.
The acting chair then informed the room all ties were to be broken by putting the two tied names into a bucket. Whichever name was drawn would be victorious. You can only imagine the dismay of people who came to support their candidate. We took the process seriously. We took time out of our daily lives to back and support someone we feel would be a liaison between the citizens of Keizer and the Parks Advisory Board. We came to the meeting as citizens of Keizer. Then the next vote came for the number nine spot and it too was a tie. The bucket was brought back out.
Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher then came into the building, but refused to come into the room. She was overheard asking, “What the heck are all of these people doing here?” One of the citizens of Keizer told her the reason we were all here and invited her into the room to join. She showed her obvious disgust and refused to join. I also heard what the mayor said at the Keizer City Council meeting and I am a bit upset it seems this meeting and process in her eyes is about her or her son (who was also a candidate for a seat on the Parks Advisory Board). It is not. It is about the Parks Advisory Board, the Volunteer Committee, the Keizer City Council and the many proud citizens of Keizer. I was proud the citizens of Keizer showed up and showed their support and I think the Keizer City Council and the Mayor should have been proud also.
At no time did I hear anyone in the crowd being unruly, rude, intimidating or hostile. I was part of this crowd. I learned it was said at the Keizer City Council meeting by one of the VCC committee members they were accused of rigging the votes. I heard that the mere presence of the crowd was intimidating, so much so that one of the Volunteer Coordinating Committee members chose to quit. What I will say is this: there were a couple of speakers that spoke some harsh but seemingly truthful accounts of what they perceived. It appeared they were not happy with the process as a whole. Not the voting, as that had not happened yet. The couple of speakers were concerned about the nomination process, deadlines, and the like.
I have been a proud Keizer citizen for approximately 16 years. December 13 did not end with me feeling that same pride. A hat?. Really? But, I am even less proud of how the accounts of that meeting have been discussed and expressed. It is my opinion if you choose to be a volunteer member or paid member on any type of council, whether it be a volunteer board, city council, or mayor, you cannot be so naive to think it will all be rainbows and unicorns. These positions are tough. You are making decisions that affect all of the citizens you volunteer or have been voted to represent. If you feel intimidated by the mere presence of 50 citizens, then maybe volunteering on a committee isn’t for you.
I understand now the city attorney has told the volunteer committee that the committee did not follow the correct procedure for ties in voting. There is another meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 3 at City Hall to listen to old and new testimony and to redo the vote. My family will be there again. We are citizens of Keizer. We choose to be involved. My husband has volunteered his time coaching baseball, basketball and soccer for 15 years in Keizer. We shouldn’t and won’t let one meeting surrounded with false and unfounded accusations detour us from being active members in the city we call home. I urge other citizens of Keizer to attend. This meeting is for the future of Keizer, the citizens, our children, and our parks.