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Day: February 10, 2014

Council revisits TOT funds

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A full meal was asked for.

Instead, there might be enough for cookies and coffee.

Maybe.

A request for $3,378 in Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) money was asked for at the Jan. 21 Keizer City Council meeting. The request was granted at Monday’s meeting – but for only $500.

JoAnne Beilke had requested a grant for $3,378 on behalf of the Keizer Heritage Foundation to help cover costs at the April 6 Volunteer Recognition Banquet at the Keizer Heritage Center.

“We thought it would be great to honor everyone who works at the Keizer Heritage Center,” Beilke said at the time. “It’s quite an economic impact.”

Beilke said the Keizer Art Association draws visitors from all over Oregon and the region, including the Art Gallery bringing in more than 4,500 people a year. The Keizer Community Library is staffed by volunteers and is open seven days a week, 36 hours total. The library currently has 537 card holders and attracts nearly 8,000 visitors a year.

The TOT money comes from room taxes at the Renaissance Inn, Keizer’s only hotel. When the hotel went into bankruptcy last year and was subsequently bought by new owners, no TOT money was coming into the city coffers for a while.

Susan Gahlsdorf, finance director for the city, gave an update on TOT funds Monday. That correlated with Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, reiterating chamber’s requests for those funds.

When councilors discussed the TOT funding last year, requests for the funds were prioritized. Funding new holiday lights was at the top of the list, followed by overtime for emergency responders helping out during the Festival of Lights holiday parade.

“We received about $16,700 for the first quarter TOT funding,” Gahlsdorf said. “We got a call late Friday that $9,400 more is coming. So we have about $26,000 coming.”

After discussion of chamber support through TOT funds, councilors returned to the request from KHF.

“I find the Keizer Heritage Foundation is doing great things,” council president Joe Egli said. “But this is a pretty big number in terms of what we give. We just had the First Citizen banquet in this building. We didn’t give any money for that. It concerns me we gave them a $900 room for $500, yet we’re giving $3,400 for this? It’s money to great people, a great cause. But that’s quite a bit of money. Can we do something else?”

Councilor Kim Freeman also had questions and referred to her experience while on the Volunteer Coordinating Committee.

“I agree, they deserve the recognition,” Freeman said. “At the city, we have $200 in our budget to recognize our volunteers. They get cookies and a certificate. In the past we tried doing a big celebration but people didn’t attend so it was money not well spent. We appreciate our volunteers, but we have to be good stewards to all in the city.”

Mayor Lore Christopher suggested allocating $1,000 instead of the requested amount.

“That may mean cookies and coffee, but this will allow you to move forward,” Christopher said.

A motion to allocate $1,000 was made but failed by a 5-2 margin, with only Dennis Koho and Egli in favor.

Koho then made a new motion to allocate $500. That motion was approved unanimously.

“Growing a Feast: The Chronicle of a Farm-to-Table Meal” by Kurt Timmermeister

Growing a Feast: The Chronicle of a Farm-to-Table Meal” by Kurt Timmermeister

c.2014, W.W. Norton
$24.95 / $26.50 Canada
311 pages

 

Growing-a-Feast

BOOK REVIEW
by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Tonight, you’re bringing home the bacon.

You got it at the grocery store on the way home from work: neat little strips adhered to a rectangle of cardboard, wrapped in plastic. Some bread, a hothouse tomato, a head of lettuce, and you’re set.

So where does your food come from?  Go ahead. Point to the grocery store, then read “Growing a Feast” by Kurt Timmermeister, and follow along with one scrumptious meal…

On a Sunday evening not long ago, Kurt Timmermeister decided to have a dinner party for friends. Years before, he’d run a restaurant on his island farm near Seattle, but since he’d closed his French doors to diners, he realized that he missed cooking for a crowd. It would take a lot of preparation – and yet, dinner that night, with its formidable menu, started some two years prior with the birth of a calf.

When a heifer is born on a farm, it’s cause for celebration. Heifers grow up to be cows that give milk to make cheese, the main income for Kurtwood Farms. So when Alice (the name given to the calf) was born to a Jersey cow named Dinah, Timmermeister was pleased.

Alice was born in later fall, which is usually a quieter time on the farm. Still, there are things to do: as winter replaces fall and spring creeps in, Timmermeister and his hired men tend livestock, and they begin to prepare for the garden by mixing compost with soil and planting seeds in a ramshackle greenhouse. Fruits, vegetables, and meat needed for his dishes are mostly grown on the farm, although Timmermeister sheepishly admits to bartering for some of his seedlings.

As summer eases into fall, and then another year passes, Alice matures enough to birth calves of her own. Other livestock have come and gone, Timmermeister made and stored dozens of cheeses in the interim, canned and processed vegetables, and he harvested honey. He also butchered a steer for meat.

And on a Sunday afternoon not long ago, final preparations for a lavish meal began…

If it’s possible to fall deeply in love with words, I believe I have done so with author Kurt Timmermeister’s.

Despite descriptions of hard physical work and chores he’d rather not be doing, there’s a sure lushness to “Growing a Feast.” Timmermeister shares his gentle life: getting to know his cows, nurturing his formidable garden; and dreaming of the meals that will come from his current efforts.

But the bucolic pages of Timmermeister’s book belie the loss, worry, hard decisions, death and necessary destruction that come on a farm. We get mere peeks at the difficult things about agriculture-based life that may shock city readers, but of which farmers are all too familiar.

And yet – you have to love a book that makes you want to wiggle your bare toes in the grass, eat sumptuously, or try a new, challenging recipe.  I sure did – and if you’re a gardener, farmer, or cook, “Growing a Feast” is a book you’ll want to bring home, too.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Dates confirmed for play structure build

 

KEIZERTIMES/File Photo
KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park project has a set date for construction – wherever it will go.

The timeline calls for community volunteers to help build the structure over a five day period, from Sept. 17 to 21.

For the second time in as many meetings, members of the Keizer City Council on Monday looked at the idea of choosing a different site on which to build the 10,000 square foot structure. Mayor Lore Christopher on Jan. 21 announced she wanted part of the 28-acre Buchholz property along Chemawa Road to be the site.

Previously, there had seemed to be agreement Site 1 between the amphitheater and the boat ramp would be the place.

There was not much objection raised in either of the last two meetings about whether the new site would be a good place for the play structure.

Instead, the debate centered on whether or not getting the Buchholz property within the Urban Grown Boundary (UGB) could be – or should be – done in time.

Nate Brown, the director of Community Development for Keizer who outlined some of the hurdles in last week’s Keizertimes, gave some more details Monday.

According to Brown, the property is zoned Special Agricultural, as it is an Exclusive Farm Use qualifying zone. The property would need to be brought within the UGB and the Keizer Parks Master Plan would have to be revised.

Brown gave a rough timeline on when various steps would have to be completed in order to make the timing work, starting with a notice of hearing submitted to the Department of Land Conservation and Development by Feb. 21.

“We would need to get working on this process immediately,” Brown said. “It’s a very tight timeline. There are a lot of complexities with moving a UGB line. There are four jurisdictions to coordinate with. This timeline finishes in August. It’s tight. This all presupposes that all goes well. This would be a significant effort, a very significant effort, on our part to get it done.”

Brown pointed out six other issues for councilors to consider, including taking out trees and roots if the new location is selected. More than 60 trees would have to be taken down for the site to be used.

City Manager Chris Eppley noted the conflict between a slow UGB process and the speed needed to get the project done on time.

“We knew this day would come,” Eppley said of the UGB issue. “Projects present themselves to us and we’re still trying to walk through the process. We need to make things happen quickly. This is not the ideal way to do it.

“Part of it is planning process,” he added later. “The other piece is this community build. Volunteer effort and energy has presented itself right now. Do we marry them together now, or say they have to wait?”

Christopher urged action to happen with the property in question.

“We need to move forward and unfreeze the 28 acres so councils now and in the future can decide what to do with it,” she said. “It will serve a lot of purposes. I would just say, councilors, these are big decisions. We have owned that Buchholz property for years. That is frozen land until we direct staff to move forward.”

Eppley boiled down the issue to a simple question.

“Do we move on the timeline for this property or do we say move forward and build where is?” he asked councilors.

Councilor Dennis Koho opined the city should move forward on the UGB issue, but have the current site ready if needed.

“I would like to see The Big Toy in a different location,” Koho said. “But I don’t want our choice here to cause a delay. If we can’t get the planning done but everything else with the project is ready, we need to be ready at the less desirable location.”

Christopher again emphasized she doesn’t feel the current site should be used.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has said it’s not a great location,” she said. “It’s deep in the park. There are a lot of problems with that site.”

Brown countered by pointing out the impact on staff to go forward with the UGB process.

“There would have to be other projects that would have to slide to make this happen,” said Brown, pointing to parking ordinances and infill standards as two examples. “There is important work this would affect. This is the most significant thing a city can do, moving the UGB.”

Councilor Marlene Quinn, chair of the Community Build Task Force, said site issues should not move the project back.

“The one thing that could push us back is funding,” Quinn said. “If we don’t have a matching fund when we apply for the big grant (in early April), we couldn’t get that. I don’t think we should postpone unless we don’t have the funding. We have promised a September community build. We have all agreed on a location, except at council.”

Councilor Jim Taylor sided with Quinn.

“We don’t want to push this back past September 17,” Taylor said. “We have to site this. If we push it back, we will lose valuable people including one of our leaders. As far as money, I am very concerned about grants. We have gone out to find how much money is available for this. We can’t wait any longer on that.”

Koho’s motion to have staff proceed with the UGB expansion was approved 5-1, with council president Joe Egli the lone no vote.

Later, Koho sought to clarify the build dates.

“I’m concerned there is some feeling in the community our decisions here could delay construction,” he said.

With that, Koho made a motion to build the play structure on Sept. 17-21. That motion was approved unanimously.