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Day: March 4, 2014

The Big Toy, big meeting


Of the Keizertimes

When you have a big project, how do you keep everyone on the same page?

Having group leaders in the same meeting, talking with each other is a good way.

That’s what happened Monday to cap off a busy night at Keizer Civic Center. Leaders for The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park project came together in the fourth meeting of the night at city hall.

Mark Caillier, general coordinator for The Big Toy, led the meeting.

“Some of you have volunteered to be chairs of teams,” Caillier told the 16 audience members. “The whole purpose is for you to see the faces of the teams. This is a time for team chairs to connect. You’re finding you may need the help of someone from another team.”

Caillier showed the tentative group logo designed by deputy city recorder Debbie Lockhart. He also noted he hasn’t been able to recruit a co-general coordinator, so he instead put together a team with Clint Holland, Danielle Bethell, Dan Deitz and Jerry McGee.

“This project is going to be divided into two phases,” Caillier said. “The first is site prep, led by Clint and his group. Right now there are two possible sites. We need to get on site by July 1 or August 1. If we can’t do the one site (by the orchard), we will have to do the other (by the boat ramp). We’ll all be dealing with phase two, which is the construction. That will be three shifts per day, 50 people per shift, a total of 750 people on September 17 to 21.”

Caillier then put the number 205 on the screen.

“That’s how many days we have left,” he said. “We need to get moving.”

Caillier explained access to the website for project consultant Leathers and Associates, which contains a number of resources for project leaders.

Brandon Smith, co-chair of the Public Relations committee, recently set up a Twitter account (@KeizerBigToy) for the project and last weekend set up a project website at

“It’s a basic website right now,” Smith said. “We have a volunteer and sponsorship page. We do have a contact page. The website is still pretty basic.”

Smith noted he was going to his second round of school Parent-Teacher Association meetings starting this week.

“At the PTA meetings, are we asking them to include a small announcement in the school newsletters going out?” Bethell asked. “We should ask them to do it throughout the summer.”

Roughly half the meeting was devoted to allowing people from the 12 committees to meet with each other to share ideas and give each other updates. Caillier then closed the meeting by addressing the overall group.

“We are not going to fail,” he said. “This is going to happen. Failure is not an option. This is about coming together as a community to demonstrate what living in Keizer is all about.”

In the fundraising committee that met earlier in the evening, Holland said he’s hopeful Keizer Rotary will put in $30,000 for the project. There is $100,000 in System Development Charges for the project from the city. Several grants are being worked on, the largest of which is through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. That grant is due in early April.

Tickets for the March 14 Pinot in the Parks event are being sold at $25 each, with all proceeds going towards the play structure project. Fence pickets are still being sold at $35 each.

“In terms of people giving money, we’re just starting to go out for that,” said county commissioner Janet Carlson, co-chair of fundraising. “We have a combination of things.”

Cougars get taste of Sochi

Gerardo Gomez Rodriguez and David Lopez Banda try their hands as “sweepers” in the curling event at the Kennedy Elementary School Winter Olympics. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Gerardo Gomez Rodriguez and David Lopez Banda try their hands as “sweepers” in the curling event at the Kennedy Elementary School Winter Olympics. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The students of Kennedy Elementary School have spent the past three weeks getting hand-on opportunities to play in their own Winter Olympics.

The physical education unit, developed by teacher Natalie Clark, has been such a hit that students are buzzing about medals and the games they play long after they leave class.

“I didn’t think it was going to get as big as it has. It was supposed to be one week and we’re on week three,” Clark said.

Not only are students getting their own versions of events like curling, hockey, speed skating, bobsled, skeleton and slalom skiing, they are building their vocabulary and honing math and geography skills. Clark started by having teams in each classroom decide which country they wanted to represent and draw up their flags.

“Then I found the national anthems for each country and each team carried the torch around the gym twice while their anthem played,” Clark said.

The teams were embroiled in rounds of curling Tuesday, Feb. 25, but there were also student referees helping the teams calculate how many points they earned.

Curling was accomplished by sliding beanbags and “sweepers” paving the way with rubber bats. In speed skating, students put scarves down under their shoes and slid around a makeshift rink. But it was bobsled that seemed to garner the most enthusiasm, Clark said.

“We hooked three scooters together with ropes and, with a team of four, three sat and one pulled, then they rotated when they got to the end of the gym,” she said.

Medals were earned not by notching the highest scores, but through use of positive words and playing with integrity and good sportsmanship. At the end of the unit, the team with the most gold medals in each class will get their choice of activity for the next week.

“One of the biggest parts was working with them on how to build a team and work for each other,” Clark said. “We knew the Winter Olympics were coming up and our student population isn’t one that usually follows sports. This was a good way to get vocabulary in with names of sports, get geography in with flags and practice good sportsmanship.”