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Day: March 11, 2014

Celt hoopsters top GPA rankings in 6A

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Success in sports can be a relative thing.

A team’s performance can be considered a success in relation to past performance, which tempers many of the accolades and neuters some of the vitriol inspired by the best and worst seasons.

Put the same players on an even playing field, such as the classroom, and there’s really only one way to view the athletes of McNary High School: brainiacs.

Last week, the Oregon School Activities Association ranked high school varsity teams in the Beaver State according to their average grade point average and one Celtic team sat astride all others.

The Celtic boys varsity basketball team was head of the class and ranked first among OSAA 6A teams with an average 3.63 grade point average.

“We hit a lot of milestones this season and this is just one more reason for the team to be proud,” said Ryan Kirch, head coach of the boys basketball program.

The girls basketball team beat the boys in raw numbers scoring a 3.69 GPA, but ranked sixth among 6A peers. The boys swimming team averaged a 3.41 GPA and ranked 15th in the state. The girls swimming team earned an average 3.41 GPA and ranked 33rd. The Celtic wrestlers punched in right at a 3.0 GPA, good enough for a 19th ranking.

Overall, it was the first time every winter sport team averaged a 3.0 or better.

Grades and attendance are checked by the athletic department at the beginning of each season and at grading periods. Students who struggle are given a plan for the way forward, said Ron Richards, McNary athletic director.

“If the athlete makes satisfactory progress in all areas they are allowed to continue. If the athlete is not making progress, it may affect playing time. It is rare that we have to cut a student-athlete’s playing time as most use the help provided and progress at a satisfactory rate,” he said.

In the case of the boys basketball team, Kirch requires mandatory weekly progress reports. When he took the reigns of the program three years ago, he also instituted study tables with mandatory attendance for some players.

“For incoming freshmen, it’s mandatory Monday and Wednesday. We want to make sure they make the transition cleanly. Anyone else who has below a C is in study hall for the week,” Kirch said.

Coaches also have the option of connecting players with tutors to help target specific struggles. The athletics department has kept track of varsity grades for years, but Richards is implementing plans to track athlete grades in all sports, at all levels, this year.

It’s not uncommon for Kirch to field the question, “How is your team doing?” He can give the breakdowns of any game or season, but the true payoff is only seen over several years.

“I’d rather people ask that question in 10 years. Where are those athletes then, what are they doing, how are they succeeding? What I can tell you right now is that all six seniors who graduated since I took over are enrolled in college and that’s a big part of what athletics can prepare them for,” he said.

Economic Development group formed as two others disbanded

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Two Keizer committees have been kicked to the curb.

Or, at least the KURB.

During Monday night’s Urban Renewal Agency meeting, agents unanimously voted to dissolve the Keizer Urban Renewal Board (KURB). During the Keizer City Council meeting that followed, councilors – the same people who were the agents earlier – unanimously voted to dissolve the River Road Renaissance Advisory Committee (RRRAC).

The dissolutions had been delayed until the new Keizer Economic Development Commission (KEDC) could be established. That also happened during the longest council meeting in quite a while, lasting past 10 p.m.

The two dissolved groups hadn’t exactly been hotbeds of activity of late. KURB hadn’t met since November 2011, while RRRAC hadn’t met since March 2012. Membership on the dormant groups had become something of a problem in the past year, since some people wanted to serve on a third committee but couldn’t because they were on two already – even a dormant one.

One odd timing came up Monday in that the KURB dissolution was up for a vote before the formation of the KEDC.

“For some time, the issue has come up about KURB and also RRRAC,” city attorney Shannon Johnson said during the KURB discussion. “Moving forward given the circumstances with urban renewal funds, we moved forward with KEDC coming up. It’s a minor chicken and egg problem tonight with this coming first.”

Johnson noted terms for all KURB members had expired and none had been replaced, so technically there were no KURB members anymore.

Following a lack of discussion, KURB was disbanded.

The RRRAC dissolution resolution was part of the consent calendar during the regular council meeting and led to no discussion.

The idea of KEDC has been a year in the making. In February 2013, it was recommended to merge KURB and RRRAC, but it was decided to postpone taking action until council goals were set.

The next month, councilors adopted their 2013-15 goals.

One short-term goal was to create a Business Advisory Committee (BAC). The name was later changed to KEDC, given the negative connotation of BAC.

KEDC was discussed several more times, with the most in-depth discussion coming at last month’s council work session.

At that time a consensus was reached in terms of the committee’s purpose, membership and role.

Staff was then directed to bring back a formal resolution for councilors to vote on at Monday’s meeting.

The committee will consist of nine members: one councilor, two Keizer Chamber of Commerce representatives and six citizens-at-large. KEDC will meet quarterly, or more if deemed necessary.

One of the main goals for KEDC will be to identify, address and use community resources to pursue job creation and retention. Outreach efforts will be made to target industries, development incentives will be created and regulatory barriers to jobs will be remedied.

“It is what you said it would be,” Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, told councilors.

Council president Joe Egli opined it would be good to have a Chemeketa Community College liaison on the committee, even in a non-voting role.

“One thing we heard from the business community was the need for education and work force development,” Egli said.

City manager Chris Eppley said there’s “no reason” such a person couldn’t be invited to attend.

Councilors voted unanimously to establish the KEDC.