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Day: March 6, 2014

Son arrested for murdering mom, shooting dad

Police arrested a Keizer teenager for shooting his parents at the family's Ventura Loop home late Wednesday night. The home was taped off Thursday morning.
Police arrested a Keizer teenager for shooting his parents at the family’s Ventura Loop home late Wednesday night. The home was taped off Thursday morning.

Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer teen was arrested early Thursday morning for murdering his mom and attempting to murder his father.

Brett Angus Pearson, 17, was arrested around 1 a.m. March 6, less than two hours after the double shooting at his family’s house at 4826 Ventura Loop North. A second 17-year-old Keizer male, Robert Daniel Miller II, was later arrested as well.

Officers with the Keizer Police Department responded to the house around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night and found the deceased body of Brett’s mother, 44-year-old Michelle Yvonne Pearson. Brett’s father, 57-year-old Wilfred “Bill” Pearson, was also shot and transported to Salem Hospital with “serious gunshot injuries.” He underwent treatment Thursday morning and is expected to survive.

Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the KPD, said an alarm at the residence was activated.

“While enroute to the location, officers learned there was a male subject inside the residence who reported he had been shot,” Kuhns said Thursday afternoon.

When officers entered the house, they located the body of Michelle Pearson.

“It appears Michelle Pearson died as a result of being shot,” Kuhns said, noting the exact cause of death will be determined after an autopsy is performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Kuhns didn’t specify how many times she had been shot, or by whom.

Officers then located Michelle’s husband, Bill.

“He, too, received serious gunshot injuries,” Kuhns said.

Brett Pearson and Miller, his friend, were identified as the two suspects. Both left the scene before officers arrived.

Kuhns said members of the Salem Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office spotted the suspect vehicle on River Road around 1 a.m. Officers stopped the vehicle at River Road North and Juedes Avenue North.

“Officers made contact with Brett Pearson, the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, and took him into custody at that time without incident,” Kuhns said.

Kuhns noted officers learned Miller had checked into a Salem hotel and arrested him there, also without incident. No other suspects are being sought.

Earlier on Thursday, Kuhns had indicated investigators would be at the Ventura Loop home most of the day Thursday. The crime scene was taped off Thursday morning, with several police vehicles in front of the house.

“No information about possible motive or other details about this incident are being released,” Kuhns said. “Further information will be released by the Marion County District Attorney’s Office as they deem appropriate.”

The two teens are at the Marion County Correctional Facility in Salem. Each was arrested on one count each of murder, attempt to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Those crimes are Ballot Measure 11 offenses, meaning they will be charged as adults in Marion County Circuit Court.

Both will be arraigned Friday, March 7 at the Marion County Circuit Court Annex.

KPD personnel are being assisted by members of the Marion County Homicide Assault Response Team and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

Anyone having any information about this incident or the subjects involved is asked to contact KPD detective Ben Howden at 503-390-3713 ext. 3525 or by e-mail at [email protected]


No action taken on medical marijuana


Of the Keizertimes

Well, at least a task force was established.

The hot button issue of medical marijuana facilities was brought up once again Monday during the Keizer City Council meeting.

During previous discussion, councilors had indicated they were leaning towards requiring a permit in order to operate a medical marijuana facility in Keizer, following on a recommendation by the Keizer Planning Commission.

However, that did not happen. Nor did a motion to establish a moratorium on such facilities.

What was approved was a medical marijuana facilities regulations task force.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson noted state law allowed the facilities starting Monday morning and pointed to the ever-changing laws at the state level on this issue.

“Seeing some things in the state, it’s a moving target right now,” Johnson said. “Other cities have done temporary moratoriums. After we finalized the council packet on (Feb. 26), the bill had been substantially changed for Thursday.”

After a bit of discussion, councilors voted unanimously to establish the seven-member task force. The task force will include one councilor, a Planning Commission member, a Keizer Chamber of Commerce member, a member each from the West Keizer and Greater Gubser Neighborhood Associations, a member from a local school and a representative from the medical marijuana community. Membership was amended to including a law enforcement person in a non-voting role.

The task force will be dissolved no later than May 6, though it could be extended.

Following the vote, councilors discussed Johnson’s idea of establishing a moratorium that would prohibit the placement of medical marijuana facilities in Keizer for 120 days.

Nate Brown, director of Community Development, pointed to another possibility.

“One option is to do nothing, but that leaves us in a very odd spot,” Brown said. “We’re not sure what direction the council will take. We don’t have any guidelines yet. The intent is the task force will convene and make specific recommendations.”

Councilor Dennis Koho pointed to the regulation.

“This seems so un-Keizer like,” Koho said. “The only kind of business we regulated with a license is a temporary business. All the rest of them, like drugstores, liquor stores, law offices or insurance, none of them are licensed in Keizer. Some of them sell things far more dangerous than this. We don’t need a prohibition. I don’t think we need this.”

Councilor Jim Taylor wanted to see things settle.

“I think we should put on the moratorium until legislators are done with their part,” Taylor said. “This is something our citizens will be concerned about, where these establishments will be placed. The ad hoc committee will look through these things. It’s still a very moving target. Wait and find out what the legislators do. Wait for the task force.”

The motion ended up failing by a 4-2 vote with Koho, Cathy Clark, Egli and Marlene Quinn voting against it.

That led to a comment late in the meeting from Brown.

“I’m reeling a little bit about what to do with medical marijuana,” Brown said late in the meeting. “I’ll have to figure out how to handle a person that comes to me tomorrow with medical marijuana applications. Without any direction from council, I’m a little lost how to respond. State law requires they comply with local law. I’m dealing with how I’m going to respond with these requests.”

The issue was expected to be brought up at Thursday’s special hearing for the Rawlins deal.

Well set up to succeed

Danielle Purdy, a 2004 McNary High School grad, now makes her living splitting time between a day job and appearances on Portland stages. (Submitted)
Danielle Purdy, a 2004 McNary High School grad, now makes her living splitting time between a day job and appearances on Portland stages. (Submitted)


Of the Keizertimes

For some, landing a part in a high school play is simply one more thing to add to a college application. For Danielle Purdy, the role of Irene Molloy in McNary High School’s production of Hello, Dolly!, launched her into a new trajectory.

“That musical was formative in my childhood as was Barbra Streisand who played Dolly in the film. The opportunity to be a part of that story and sing that classic music was more important than I think I realized at the time. That was the time when I officially decided, albeit quietly, that performance was where I was headed,” said Purdy.

Purdy, 27, graduated from McNary in 2004 and now makes a living splitting her time between Portland stages and as a support assistant for developmentally disabled adults.

After McNary, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Warner Pacific College in music performance. A year later, she packed up and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she earned a master’s degree in science in music in the community. That may sound like a mouthful, but her dissertation will leave you envious.

“I researched musical theatre performance for empowerment with vulnerable children. For the project portion, I designed and directed a musical theatre production at a school for students with developmental disabilities and PTSD in Bosnia. The production was in Bosnian and aired on the local news,” Purdy said.

When Purdy returned to Oregon after completion of her degree, she auditioned for roles in the Portland scene. Connections she’d maintained in the Rose City helped her land roles that might otherwise have passed her by.

Her favorite roles thus far have been as Lauren in Circle Mirror Transformation at Artists Repertory Theatre, where she learned most from other actors. Playing Ilse in a musical version of Spring Awakening with Live on Stage is second on her list.

“I’ve loved that show for a lot of years and the music is some of my favorite things to sing,” Purdy said.

The McNary High School fine arts department is hosting its annual fundraiser auction, Knight of Arts, Saturday, March 8. In the lead-up to that night, Keizertimes is looking at how McNary teachers prepared their students for life in artistic pursuits. Tickets are on sale now at the McNary main office.
The McNary High School fine arts department is hosting its annual fundraiser auction, Knight of Arts, Saturday, March 8. In the lead-up to that night, Keizertimes is looking at how McNary teachers prepared their students for life in artistic pursuits. Tickets are on sale now at the McNary main office.

This past week, she closed a run of Band Geeks! at the Broadway Rose Theater in Portland. Her list of plays she’d still like to help bring to life is much longer and includes Les Miserables, The Light in the Piazza, The Last Five Years, Urinetown, Summer and Smoke, Beruit, any of Chekhov’s women, and anything written by William Finn or Stephen Sondheim. She’s contemplating a move to New York as soon as this summer if some projects in the works pan out.

Throughout her travels, studies and career, Purdy relied on lessons gleaned from Linda Baker and late Dan Hays, a longtime associate of the McNary High School drama program.

“I was well set up to succeed,” she said. “Linda and Dan were so knowledgeable and confident and knew how to challenge students with great care. We were expected to act professionally and take this art seriously. We were playing, but we were playing hard.”

Baker, she said, is still encouraging her years later.

The most important thing she learned was to not be so afraid. She isn’t regretful, but hindsight helped her realize that pursuing a master’s degree was a way to forego auditions for a time.

“I just wish I hadn’t been so terrified of failure. I mean, I’m still terrified of failure now, but I at least know that I am capable of doing what I want to do,” she said.

Purdy will be the first to tell you that the life of an actor isn’t all sunshine and roses. Inconsistent income from theatre work doesn’t pay the bills or students loans. Packaged noodles with an envelope of herbs comprise more meals than she’d hoped they would. There’s probably more than one thing she sold on Craigslist to make ends meet that she would take back. One day, she’d like to have a car.

“I could just work an office job that paid more money and had steady hours to support myself and pay my bills and have a car and all that, but the fact is that I would be extremely unhappy,” Purdy said.

At the same time, there’s satisfaction in knowing she’s living a version of her dreams with plenty of time and the work ethic to realize more of them.

“Performance is what I have always wanted to do, and I’ve been making a living at it for three years. Everything else – the money, stress, not getting to buy whatever I want, living on very little – means nothing in comparison. I am living my passion on stage. I can’t imagine living any other way,” she said.

Rawlinses, city reach agreement


Of the Keizertimes

A key chapter in an ongoing saga involving property in Keizer Station is reaching an end.

What a chapter it’s been.

At Monday’s Urban Renewal Agency meeting – and again later at the Keizer City Council meeting – a settlement agreement between the city and two Rawlins entities was approved. In both cases, councilors Dennis Koho and Jim Taylor abstained due to conflicts of interest.

A follow-up special public hearing was scheduled for Thursday, March 6.

Councilors had little to say Monday during either meeting. Mayor Lore Christopher and councilor Marlene Quinn both indicated more would be said on Thursday.

The saga between the city and the two Rawlins parcels in Keizer Station Area A dates back to 2005. After local improvement district (LID) fees were assessed in 2008, developer Chuck Sides via his Northwest National LLC company paid monthly rent to the Rawlinses as well as making their LID payments to the city.

Those LID payments stopped in 2010. Three years later, city leaders started the foreclosure process on the properties. The matter was discussed several times in executive sessions, including twice last month. Legislators – particularly Rep. Brian Clem – got involved and a summary judgement in Marion County Circuit Court was expected on March 10.

Assuming the final agreement is signed off on Thursday, city attorney Shannon Johnson said there will be no summary judgment.

While councilors had little to say in regard to the issue Monday, Johnson gave a brief description during the urban renewal meeting.

“This is a resolution with the two Rawlins entities,” he said. “We have been successful and last week we reached a tentative settlement agreement with them and fine tuned the language. I got word this afternoon all the Rawlins parties have signed the agreement.”

The settlement includes six conditions: the Rawlinses stipulate to a judgment of foreclosure for each parcel in the amounts claimed by the city; the two sides grant mutual releases of all other claims; the Rawlinses have the option of purchasing the property back from the city at least 13 months after the expiration of the redemption period (the sheriff’s sale); the city will convey the property by bargain and sale deed; either side will be allowed to pursue Sides for the lease default and finally there are mutual non-disparagement clauses.

“Staff feels that this is an appropriate settlement of the matter and a way to move forward to end the litigation,” Johnson said.

The option for the Rawlinses to buy back the property comes with a price. Between 13 and 16 months after the the sheriff’s sale, they can purchase the properties back for $3 million. After 17 to 25 months, the price increases to $3.5 million. The price increases $500,000 per year the next three years, capping at $5 million after 50 to 60 months.

The only real discussion during the council meeting once again came from Johnson, in regards to questions from citizen Bill Quinn.

“Not being a lawyer, I can’t figure it out,” Quinn said. “I hope you can explain it. The city will foreclose, buy it, then sell it back to the Rawlinses? Are we still stuck with paying the assessment? What is our liability?”

Johnson said there are two separate sets of debt: one that the city owes to the bondholders, which repays the loan used to build all the infrastructure at Keizer Station. The second debt is from the property owners and the LID to the city.

“We have never even been close to defaulting on the city’s obligation,” Johnson said. “Even though the money we’ve gotten in has been substantially less than we planned on, it was set to allow for this type of situation to avoid a default. We have not defaulted. That’s the really good news. The bad news though is we haven’t able to stay on the model of making principal bond calls. Consequently, the interest costs keep accruing.”

In terms of the city’s liability, Johnson noted action taken is reducing that.

“The liability if we don’t do anything is really great,” he said. “If we do the settlement with the Rawlinses we’re going to avoid significant additional attorney fees and significant interest costs. By being able to go ahead and foreclose and then use funds to pay down the bonds, by doing that the Rawlinses have the right – and it ratchets up half a million dollars a year roughly each year, starting at $3 million at the end of year one – to purchase it from the city.

“We feel that we’re not going to be in a position, even if we foreclose and everything went smoothly, that we’d end up with any more money than that,” Johnson added.

After the meeting, Johnson gave the Keizertimes more details about the finances and the process. He said there’s “not a specific period of time” for the sheriff’s sale timeline. The stipulated judgment won’t be entered until after Thursday’s special hearing, which would formally cancel the summary judgment that was due next week.

Johnson said someone else could bid against the city for the property, but the city “is obligated under the settlement agreement to bid the full amount of the amount of its lien,” an amount that is more than $7 million with interest.

Johnson noted the city will be doing a combination credit bid and cash bid.

Susan Gahlsdorf, Finance director for Keizer, gave the Keizertimes further details on Tuesday.

“The city plans to cash bid about $4 million on the Rawlins properties and credit bid the remaining $3 million,” Gahlsdorf said. “The city doesn’t have $7 million in cash to pay for these properties; it only has about $4 million and $4 million is what is needed to bring the city’s debt in line with its pay off schedule.”

The process is somewhat similar to the process from October 2012 in which the city bid $680,000 for Tract C property in Keizer Station. In that case, Gahlsdorf said the city used a cash bid since the amount was much smaller than in the Rawlins case.

Gahlsdorf said city leaders are hoping to call the bonds with foreclosure proceeds totaling $4 million on June 1. If that is pushed back to the optional redemption date in 2018, there would be an additional $800,000 in interest expense.

According to Gahlsdorf, the city’s interest payments are due every six months.

“Future payment amounts won’t change,” she said. “However, due to the foreclosure proceedings being used to call bonds, the portion applied to principal will increase. This will greatly reduce the city’s interest expense over the life of its debt and money won’t be owed at the end of 2031 when the final bond payment is due.”

Gahlsdorf said assessment payments made to the city to date for the Rawlinses properties came from Northwest National LLC or were paid through a title company.

“The amount still owed on the Rawlins properties is approximately $7 million; the amount collected to date is $1,234,523,” she said.

Gahlsdorf noted foreclosure change the LID assessments owed.

“Once the city forecloses on a property, there is no longer any LID assessment owed,” she said. “If the previous owners want the property back, they have to buy it from the city.”

Attempts to reach the Rawlinses’ attorney on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Helping at KLL Park

Larry Dalke (left) of Dalke Constructon and Jim Millen discuss repair and maintenance work at Keizer Little League Park. About 20 other people joined in the reconstruction project on Saturday, March 1. (KEIZERTIMES/Lyndon A. Zaitz)
Larry Dalke (left) of Dalke Constructon and Jim Millen discuss repair and maintenance work at Keizer Little League Park. About 20 other people joined in the reconstruction project on Saturday, March 1. (KEIZERTIMES/Lyndon A. Zaitz)

Of the Keizertimes

A small army of volunteers attacked a reconstruction project at Keizer Little League Park to repair damaged infrastructure on Saturday, March 1. Keizer resident Danielle Bethell took on the repair as part of  her Rotary Club project.

With reports of the damage caused by vandalism in the media and on social networking Internet sites, Bethell was approached by local businesses and volunteers to help. Larry Dalke, vice president of Dalke Construction of Salem, contacted Bethell and offered his services as project manager; he proceeded to recruit other volunteers from local construction and supply companies.

On Saturday workers were building two new dugouts, digging trenches for drainage pipes, constructing a new base for bleachers and erecting a new score box. There is still work on the project to be completed over the next few weeks.

Four Keizer youth, identified as the vandals, were also part of the group working on the project.

Besides project leader Dalke Construction, others donating volunteer labor and material were Parr Lumber, Fredinburg Masonry, Rick’s Custom Fencing, Dale’s Remodeling, Pfeifer Roofing and the Keizer Rotary Foundation. Individuals included real estate broker Tom Marks, Marion County Fire District #1 Chief Kevin Henson, Troy Young, Jim Millen and Luis Garcia.

MHS choir alum wows professors

McNary High School graduate Amber Traver sings during a recent performance. The former Celt has been impressing at Southern Oregon University. (Submitted photo)
McNary High School graduate Amber Traver sings during a recent performance. The former Celt has been impressing at Southern Oregon University. (Submitted photo)

Of the Keizertimes

Want to know how much McNary High School grad Amber Traver impressed her professors at Southern Oregon University? This much:

“If all of our students were like Amber, people would be asking, ‘Where’s Julliard?’” said Dr. Paul French, music program coordinator at SOU. “She’s smart, socially mature and setting her goals high.”

Traver, who graduated from McNary in 2012, was awarded the SOU music program’s largest scholarship, $5,000 per year for four years, upon acceptance. The program doesn’t take an investment that large lightly, French said, but it was done based on the strength of her recommendation from McNary choir director Jim Taylor.

“It definitely wasn’t because of my voice when I auditioned,” said Traver, now a sophomore at SOU pursuing double majors in vocal performance and pre-nursing. “I didn’t sound very good when I auditioned for the school, but they’ve told me repeatedly that it was Mr. Taylor’s recommendation that got me in.”

Traver, who had been a part of McNary choirs all four years of high school, was going through a vocal growth spurt when she auditioned for SOU. However, two years into the program, Traver is considering options as an opera singer or choral leader in an oratorio setting for choirs without the added pressure of staging and dramatic performance. Neither of those was exactly on the radar before her acceptance into the Raider music program.

“I am a really careful person,” Traver said. “I never really considered the possibility of majoring in vocal performance until I got to college because it seemed like such a long shot. I always loved science, so nursing was the way I planned to go.”

Still, when the opportunity arrived, Traver was prepared to embrace it because of the work ethic she honed as a Celtic.

“Mr. Taylor was a big factor, he was the one teacher that really pushed me to do my best and not just try to get a certain grade,” she said. “I took that work ethic and applied it to everything else I did in high school.”

The McNary High School fine arts department is hosting its annual fundraiser auction, Knight of Arts, Saturday, March 8. In the lead-up to that night, Keizertimes is looking at how McNary teachers prepared their students for life in artistic pursuits. Tickets are on sale now at the McNary main office.
The McNary High School fine arts department is hosting its annual fundraiser auction, Knight of Arts, Saturday, March 8. In the lead-up to that night, Keizertimes is looking at how McNary teachers prepared their students for life in artistic pursuits. Tickets are on sale now at the McNary main office.

Traver still considers a music theory class taught by Taylor to be the hardest she’s ever taken. Keep in mind, this comes from a student taking diction classes in French, German and Italian so she is capable of singing opera if that door opens.

It didn’t hurt that her arrival at McNary coincided with a difficult time for her personally.

“I was living with some people who took me into their home in freshman year. Jim Taylor and the music program became a home that was stable and I really enjoyed. It pushed me to get over the other, weird things that were happening,” she said.

By her sophomore year of high school, Traver was part of three Celtic choirs, a section leader, and doing everything from fund raising to picking up what she could about the technical side of performance.

The skills she picked up in that environment have translated to her involvement in the Ashland community. She earns money working church gigs every weekend. That’s when she isn’t practicing four to five hours a day or performing with a local, professional choral group.

Last year, Traver even landed her first opera role with the Rogue Valley Opera Company. Traver is trying to keep all options open at this point. The success that’s come her way is a result of fighting through that initial awkward period and attacking the challenge with the same vigor she’s always applied to her studies.

“My voice is big now and getting bigger. If that continues, something like opera is a realistic option, even if I’m still warming to the idea,” Traver said.

It’s likely her voice won’t fully develop until she’s nearly 28 years old; she’s 19 now. She was recently awarded two additional scholarships without even applying for them and has no plans to halt her pursuit of a career in music.

“I wasn’t going to do it, but I was offered the scholarship and I realized that this was something I should work for. Now, I’m just going to step up and work on it,” she said.

At the very least, a student like Traver makes some of the work easier on her teachers.

“The good students have a genuine love of learning. When someone comes in who is self-motivated everything gets so much easier. That’s Amber,” French said. “She has big expectations of herself and knows where she’s aiming. Everything else about a liberal arts education will make her marketable in whichever direction she chooses to go.”

New owner, hours for Keizer Liquor

Christy and Oliver Coker recently took over Keizer Liquor Store, located at 3530 RIver Road N. Nora Nelson had previously run the store for 30 years.(KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Christy and Oliver Coker recently took over Keizer Liquor Store, located at 3530 RIver Road N. Nora Nelson had previously run the store for 30 years.(KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Things are looking a bit different these days at Keizer Liquor Store.

The store, located at 3530 River Road N, is under new ownership, has expanded hours and is bigger.

“I just purchased the store in January,” said new owner Oliver Coker, who took over the store from retired owner Nora Nelson, who ran the business for 30 years.

While new to Keizer, Coker is familiar with the industry.

“I’ve been a liquor store owner in Woodburn for seven years,” said Coker, 40. “Nora retired so the opportunity for a second store came up. I was appointed by the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) to run it. It’s a great opportunity to take what we learned in Woodburn and duplicate it here in Keizer.”

Coker, who is running the store along with wife Christy, worked with Nelson during her last two weeks to get familiar with the store, its customers and the needs.

“It was up to me to figure out the traffic flow and what changes to make,” Coker said. “After January 15 I knew what I wanted to do. Nora has been a great person to bounce ideas off of.”

One change was the hours, which used to be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The hours have been expanded to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Of note, the store is now open on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The new hours were customer driven,” Coker said. “They wanted longer hours. The biggest change is being open on Sundays. That change has been very well received. Feedback has been 99 percent positive about that.”

Coker expanded the store about 250 linear square feet, allowing for another table in the middle and two new sections along the back wall. The store now sells cigars and has expanded the Made in Oregon section as well as mixers.

“The store is now a little more open and customer friendly,” he said. “It’s a more pleasant experience for customers.”

Coker has enjoyed the reaction from customers so far.

“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s been very positive. This is a great community. The changes have been well accepted by the community. I really have nothing negative to say. It’s been a very positive experience. A lot of people have welcomed me to the community.”

With his experience running the store in Woodburn, Coker had an idea of how to run his new business in Keizer.

“Pretty much we tried to duplicate what we did over there,” he said. “It’s probably early to tell, but the first month has been pretty good for us.”