Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: February 21, 2014

‘Hammer’ repeats as regional champ

0221-SPO-Zach-corr

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

It may not have been the dominating performance of last year at the regional wrestling tournament, but the McNary High School wrestling program will be sending a small battalion of wrestlers on to the state tournament.

“We’re getting back to a little of what we’re known for. Last year was an extraordinary year and normally we’re used to spattering the podium across the board,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach. “It was just a tough tournament.”

The Celts crowned one regional champ, senior Zach Hammerschmith, who also won the title last year. Junior Alvarro Venegas improved his fourth place performance last year to second in the region this time around, and senior Louis Palos captured a third place finish. Palos is a returning state placer.

In addition to those standouts, a number of Celts ended up in fourth place and will finish their season in the state tournament. Tanner Purkey, Caleb Conner, Jonathon Phelps and Michael Phelps all finished fourth. Celts Sean Burrows and Joseph Delgado claimed spots as first alternates.

Hammerschmith said he was proud of the repeat title as regional champ, but it wasn’t as satisfying as it was when he was a junior.

“I’m still hungry for more. I want to place at state and get on the wall of fame,” Hammerschmith said.

Hammerschmith, who was sporting a pair of black eyes on Tuesday, beat Tualatin’s Luke Gossens 6-3 in the final 182-pound match.

“I started using different set ups and they worked well. I was out for a while during the season, but I did a lot of strength conditioning and I felt stronger than I ever had before,” he said.

Hammerschmith is looking to meet Roseburg’s Max Hane in the finals at state.

“He beat me at Reser’s 9-6 because he tilted me. I’m going to be working on that all week,” he said.

Venegas lost his match in the finals 2-0, but he felt he could have beaten McMinnville’s Brian Barnes under other circumstances.

“I was feeling pretty beat up and tired by the time we got to wrestle, but I’d like to get another shot at him in the state tournament,” Venegas said.

After his sophomore year success, Venegas dropped some weight and molded what was left to propel him to higher goals this season.

“It put a fire in me. I started running and hitting the weight room and I’ve been putting in a lot of work in the practice room and trying to live up to the standards we set last year,” Venegas said.

For senior Caleb Conner, making it to state, even as a fourth place finisher in the region, couldn’t feel much better. Especially given the road he had to travel at the tournament.

After making it to the cusp of the top finishers, Conner was preparing to wrestle an opponent who beat him earlier in the year. Instead, tournament organizers pitted him against an opponent who had beat him on the first day of regionals. Conner was a minute into the match when officials caught the mistake and called it off.

Conner was given a new opponent, Newberg’s Carson Albo, and he had to wait 45 extra minutes for the match.

“I was thinking the whole time this is my time to shine. I knew I had to beat him and I gave it everything I had,” Conner said. “I was beat up, I was tired and all I could think about was getting my hand raised and reaching the goal I set since freshman year.”

Conner won 12-5 and made it to the finals to clinch his berth in the state tournament.

“Caleb is a good example of what we believe in. You don’t have to be a superstar to be a leader, it’s tied to your training ethics and your integrity and your character. Caleb is a model of that,” Ebbs said.

Egli leaning towards running for mayor; McKane not sure

480x270-City-of-Keizer-Logo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

So far, we know for sure of one person running to be Keizer’s mayor.

That’s not longtime incumbent Lore Christopher.

As has been reported in the Keizertimes in recent weeks, Christopher announced last month she will indeed not be running for an eighth time this fall. Christopher, Keizer’s first female mayor, has held the position since being elected in 2000.

In 2012, Christopher faced competition for the first time in a decade, in the form of councilor David McKane. Fellow councilors Cathy Clark and Joe Egli had also filed paperwork to run for mayor, but both ultimately decided to retain their council seats.

Two years later, Clark has come out and declared she is indeed running for mayor this year, making her the first official candidate.

The Keizertimes asked both Egli and McKane recently if they intend to run for mayor.

The 2012 battle between McKane and Christopher was contentious and McKane’s brief comments when asked about this year’s plans seemed to indicate wounds remain.

“I’m happy Lore Christopher is not going to be mayor next year,” McKane said on Tuesday. “As far as me, it’s only February 18.”

Egli, meanwhile, indicated a desire to run for the top seat.

“I’ve had a lot of encouraging comments about running for mayor,” the current council president said last week. “I’m not yet decided. I don’t have to submit paperwork until June. As contentious as council was two years ago, I’m not wanting to declare my answer. I have a couple of big things to clear off first. There are a couple of personal things to take care of, then I can start looking at things objectively.

“I would love to run for mayor and I think I would do a great job,” Egli added. “I should know in about a month. I’ve had a lot of people calling to ask me.”

During her final State of the City address last week, Christopher noted she wouldn’t be endorsing anyone until she sees the entire field.

There had been some talk about former councilor Richard Walsh, now a member of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and co-chair of The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park community build project, could be interested in making a run.

However, Walsh poured some cold water on that idea when asked about it last month.

“The answer is no,” Walsh said firmly.

Medical marijuana permits eyed in Keizer

480x270-marijuana-leaf

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Not many licenses are needed in Keizer.

An exception expected to come soon: a permit for those planning to have a medical marijuana facility in the city.

On Tuesday, Keizer City Councilors directed city staff to move forward with the Keizer Planning Commission’s recommendation from last week to create a Medical Marijuana Facility Permit in the city. Additionally, the requirements for the permit will be hashed out by a new task force.

The issue will then be brought back to councilors at their next meeting, on March 3.

By then, new state laws House Bill 3460 and Senate Bill 1531 will have been in effect for two days. The bills, signed into law last summer, allow for medical marijuana dispensaries within certain guidelines, such as nothing within 1,000 feet of a school or within 1,000 feet of each other.

There has been discussion at the city and county level throughout the state in the past few months about how to handle the situation. Marion County leaders have been looking at stricter regulations and hosted a medical marijuana forum in Keizer last week.

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, noted a concern for city staff including city attorney Shannon Johnson, who was out of town Tuesday, was the relative newness of the issue.

“Part of the reason we have concern is there’s not a lot of history or case law here,” Brown said.

Kimberly Strand with the PGN Lodge on Cherry Avenue noted people using medical marijuana are not the “hippie smokers” as viewed by the general public.

“It’s simply not true,” Strand said. “We don’t have children running around in our parking lot.”

Strand also noted the new state law makes it hard for people like her who want to open a dispensary.

“I have to sign on everything that happens in that facility,” she said. “It doesn’t allow for a fly-by-night owner. Also, there is a $4,000 registration fee. That $4,000 is every year. The license fee for a bar is $250.”

Councilor Jim Taylor noted the fluidity of the new rules.

“It’s a moving target,” Taylor said. “I don’t want to take any action without our city attorney. I don’t want to make a motion that he’d come back and say we shouldn’t make. I would suggest having a special meeting next Monday night. We need to do it before (March 1).”

After some discussion from councilors about whether or not to have a special meeting next week, it was decided such a meeting would not be needed.

Councilor Dennis Koho said the important thing would be to not rush into a decision.

“We don’t license anything else in Keizer except temporary businesses,” Koho said. “If this will be state licensed, I’m not sure we need to get in very deep anyway. We could easily wait three, four, five months and the walls of Keizer will not come tumbling down. We won’t hurt ourselves, unless we overreact.”

Council president Joe Egli also cautioned against moving too fast.

“I’m not sure why we are rushing into this,” Egli said.

The motion was approved 6-1, with Taylor casting the dissenting vote.

One complex, two projects

 

Taylor Russell (on bottom) helps hold part of a new roof in place Monday morning at Keizer Little League Park while a crew helping him with his Eagle Scout project nails the new board in place on a dugout. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Taylor Russell (on bottom) helps hold part of a new roof in place Monday morning at Keizer Little League Park while a crew helping him with his Eagle Scout project nails the new board in place on a dugout. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Danielle Bethell knew she’d be working on her project at Keizer Little League Park on Monday.

What she didn’t know was it ended up being an unofficial Spruce Up KLL Park Day of sorts.

Bethell and her helpers Joe Miller and James Willwert from Dalke Construction, as well as Mark Caillier, were at the facility at 8 a.m. Monday as Stephanie Bojorquez, KLL president, opened the gates to let them in and fix damage at Field 6 caused by vandals last fall.

The crew tore down the field’s two damaged dugouts and score box.

Later in the morning, the crew was surprised to see more vehicles come into the parking lot along Ridge Drive. Taylor Russell, a 17-year-old member of Scout Troop 67, had come with a crew to work on his Eagle Scout project. The project: putting new roofs on the damaged dugouts on Field 3.

“At about 9:30 I saw the other trucks pull up,” Bethell said. “It was serendipitous it wound up working like that. It’s awesome. This baseball field is all about the kids.”

Bethell’s Keizer Rotary Pioneer project got additional assistance from Fredinburg Masonry and Dale’s Remodeling.

“After the damage, I was talking with some friends,” said Bethell, who spearheaded last year’s efforts to raise money for a new retaining wall at KLL Park. “Larry Dalke said he would help out.”

Monday’s work was just one stage, with more to come.

“The goal is to have it done before spring break,” Bethell said. “The vandals and their families will have to help. By the first weekend of March we hope to have two days scheduled for the rebuild.”

When Bethell woke up Monday, she braced herself for nasty working conditions as heavy rain hit Keizer. But conditions dried up and the sun came out as the work was done.

“We were doing it rain or shine,” she said. “I’ve got my rain gear ready.”

Russell, meanwhile, got going on his project last fall. He initially contacted Keizer Youth Sports Association (KYSA) leaders after the damage, since KYSA had the management contract for the park at the time. In turn, he was sent to Bojorquez and KLL.

“I wanted to do my Eagle Scout project and I wanted to help Keizer Little League Park,” Russell said. “We are doing the roofs on these two dugouts at Field 3. People from scouts, the Latter Day of Saints church and friends agreed to help out.”

The crew included a couple of father-son pairs in Brady and Tayson Whetten as well as Andy and Jacob Grimmer.

“We thought it was going to rain today,” Russell said as the sun shone down. “We lucked out.”

Russell was spurred on by more than just fixing vandalism damage.

“The vandalism helped me get started, but I also played baseball here for nine years,” he said. “I was here every spring and summer.”

Empty spaces

It has been suggested that, once formed, members of the proposed Keizer Economic Development Commission (KEDC) get on a bus and take an inventory of vacant office and retail spaces in the city, as one of their duties.

In our view a bus nor a commission is needed to see what office and retail spaces are available in Keizer, especially along the main commercial thoroughfare, River Road. A five minute drive from one end of River Road to the other will reveal the inventory of empty spaces as noted by the for lease signs. Generating an inventory is as easy as telephoning the leasing agents and getting needed information.

What information will be compiled?  The commission should end up with a list of commercial spaces that would, in part, include square footage amenities, parking, the rate lessor is seeking and location. The most important information would be the impedimets to leasing an empty space. If a space has been empty for more than a few months, the commission needs to hear from the leasing agent why that is so.

What should the commission do with the information it gathers? It would be too easy to let it languish on a shelf.  Though the city staff is stretched with a number of active projects, the Community Development Department will have to oversee the commission and assure that doesn’t end up a dead end body that has good intentions.

That’s why the make up of the commission is vital to its own success and the success of its mission recruit businesses to Keizer as well as to retain and attract living wage jobs. The mission of the commission is specialized and should be put in the hands of professionals and experts—that means developers, real estate brokers and business owners.

City officials and civic leaders can speculate all they want about why more businesses don’t move into Keizer along River Road, but until they hear it directly from the agents who work with the people making location decisions, it’s all conjecture.

While it may be inclusive to appoint residents to the Economic Development Commission, it’s really not a good fit. Every move made by a commission doesn’t have to be vetted by a citizens group every step along the way. Let the professionals do what they do best, let the commission create a plan of action, then the public can weigh in when the issue is brought before the planning commission and evenutally the city council.

—LAZ

There should be room all viewpoints

By DON VOWELL

Representative Kim Thatcher has recommended that we elect Bill Post to fill the state representative seat she is vacating.  That gives Mr. Post some advantage, as other candidates are hardly recognized right now.  If his election has an air of inevitability at this point, then we should know more about him.

Bill Post has a talk radio show, a website that includes a blog, and a Facebook page kept current.  Much can be learned.

On his Facebook page Mr. Post posted a piece telling why the mandated extinction of incandescent bulbs is bad, and introduced it by saying “Stupid government intervention kills America every time.”

At his blog he commends Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson for publicly condemning Gov. John Kitzhaber’s failure to avoid the Cover Oregon fiasco, essentially the complete lack of “stupid government intervention.” The State of Oregon hired a company at no small expense to build a functional website for health care enrollment.  That’s a free market solution.  For a lot of horrible reasons, that company failed.  Intervention good, intervention bad—which is it?

He assumed an article he posted favoring gun rights would be disliked by “liberals who hate hunters, hate guns, and generally hate all things red blooded American.”  When he was predicting possible outcomes of the passage of same-sex marriage laws on the radio show, he said anyone who doubted his analysis was ignorant.  While I pondered that, he repeated it.

Another story at his blog described Dan Sandini as “a valuable part of our show,” and “a good friend,”and then featured Sandini’s testimony before the Portland City Council in opposition to the newly proposed background check laws.  His featured Sandini  quote—”Every single one of these laws stands in the way of freedom loving citizens owning weapons,” and claimed gun ownership as “a right given to me by God.”

A recent poll asking “Do you support or oppose requiring a criminal background check of every person that buys a firearm?” found 78 percent of Oregonians in support.  Mr. Post feels we were deceived because of the failure to note that this would call for an expansion of background checks.  Most of us were not fooled.  The poll was designed to find the level of support for the introduction of legislation creating that expansion.

I’m American and my blood is an ordinary shade of red.  I don’t hate guns, I don’t hate hunters, and we all get to decide for ourselves what are “things red blooded American.” The right of freedom-loving citizens to own weapons does not seem more important to me than the right of knowing they are not sold to people who shouldn’t have them.  I am a faltering and tarnished Christian, raised by parents of unwavering faith.  Nothing in that lifelong exposure made me think that God wanted me to have guns.

That is my quarrel.  I have no doubt that Bill Post is a decent man, wanting only a better America and spending considerable effort to make it so.  He is well within his rights to believe either my politics or my faith misguided, but, if elected, he must represent every citizen in District 25, even the ignorant and liberal. None of his broadcast or published work makes me think he will lend much weight to differing views.

He has indicated support for the Tea Party in his writings.  If he wins the election it will be a Tea Party victory.  I will then be taxed without representation.

(Don Vowell lives in Keizer. He gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)

What the Nordic countries think of us

By virtue of my youth, having grown up in Astoria, I was afforded the opportunity to know a lot of immigrants because there were so many of long-standing, as well as recent arrivals,  living there when I was a child.  That exposure inspired an interest in international relations that has never waned.

The immigrants in my home town mainly hailed from the Nordic countries of Finland and Norway.  Thereby, I became an earnest and eager student of languages, having learned much of Finnish and Norwegian by way of my mother’s father, who came from Finland to Astoria as a young man while her mother, as a teenager from Norway, had followed her older sisters and brothers to Oregon’s northwest  corner.  For me, it was Little Helsinki and Downtown Oslo.

The upshot of my background is that I follow news stories from Nordic countries.  Recently  I have read of interests there in what’s going-on in America as reported in media from all the Nordic countries.  Questions about us from there may interest local readers.

You may know that, in the Nordic countries, universal access to free higher education is viewed as a no-brainer.  They say that they know how important education is: it’s the ultimate investment in the future.  Besides, in addition to not having any tuition fees, all post-secondary students, academic and trade school training, receive a monthly grant to help cover their living expenses.

Yes, they recognize that the condition of access to college and university result in higher taxes.  But free education, they remind us, reduces social inequality and benefits the individuals that go through it, the society in receipt of its graduates and the strength of any nation’s economy by it in the short and long run.  An educated population, after all, equals a strong, stable state, ready for the challenges of the future.  So, they believe, by the strength of the evidence, the investment is well worth it.

They say they’ve been doing a lot of wondering about America and its future.  So, they ask the same question about America a lot.  Like, what are Americans thinking in the way so many of their youth with evidential potential get denied access to a higher education due to the cost and the resulting fact among the population-at-large where only those with family financial means can afford to go or, in those cases where admission takes place due to loans and sometimes some help from grants and scholarships, graduates too often leave college with crippling debts that seriously constrains their buying power and their ability to get started in life.

Then there is the knowledge of America’s many expensive ‘for profit’ schools that simply prey upon their fellow Americans with no gain for those who take the bait.  Meanwhile, Americans spend more on the prisons in the country than on the cost of educating their youth.  Further, the fact that the U.S. is among the top 15 countries by military expenditures and spend as much as the other 14 combined.  Do not these matters of high ‘cost’ cancel the opportunity for more-promising futures, effecting the lives of Americans by the million and the ultimate fate of the nation?

Then there’s the patently transparent fact that the U.S. wealthy own most of the American politicians in the states and D.C. and are able by way of manipulative bamboozling the uneducated masses or those who know nothing but what they’re told, and who can be propagandized through the media, to keep it that way.  It is, as the Nordics see it, the recipe for a lost generation at best and a nation hurtling toward decline and eventual unraveling at worst.

Americans in huge numbers find value only in sports and are willing to spend super excessive amounts on coaches and players in college and professional play while the nation’s children by the millions are without sufficient food and a safe place to sleep and therefore perform poorly in classroom settings, if they get there at all, leaves people in the Nordic countries shaking their heads in confounded dismay.  Have those Americans no moral foundation on which to proceed with the wherewithal that anchors a nation, otherwise adrift?

Visiting the way Wall Street, national banks and investment houses operate in America today, where tens of millions of dollars go into the pockets of CEOs and executives who broke and  break the law, hurt their fellow Americans and can fail without consequences, like huge fines and jail time, yet still receive huge increases in salary, are viewed in the Nordic countries like messages from another world.  Hundreds of Americans and their families saved for years for the cost of college but had their savings wiped out by having it stolen by the unscrupulous money handlers in New York City and throughout the U.S.  The Nordics’ reaction?  Well, they just don’t get it!

Of course, there are additional matters—American that the Danes, Finns, Norwegians and Swedes find noteworthy; however, this is a newspaper column not a book.  Suffice it to say in ending this piece, whether as an American you care what foreigners think or not, the bottom line from media-based messages out of northern Europe is what they keep asking, and that is, “When is enough going to be enough for you Americans?”

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)