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

Day: March 27, 2014

Getting the head in gear


Of the Keizertimes

For Jun Zhu, the reason for opening Gearhead Automotive earlier this year was simple.

“We don’t have enough affordable auto repair shops in Keizer,” said Zhu, who opened his shop at 1091 Chemawa Road North No. 11 in January. “I’m also trying to see if I can help the community. I want to help them out.”

For Zhu, he sees that working in two ways, one involving his senior mechanic Richard Gonzales Jr.

“McNary High School is teaching auto repair,” Zhu said. “I want to see if we can send our senior mechanic there to help, or have some of those students come to my shop. And for little league, I’m hoping to be able to sponsor them. I want to get our name out as a sponsor.”

Zhu talked with mechanic James Rockwell last fall and decided to open the shop. The two looked at nearly 60 spaces before settling on their Chemawa Road location. Rockwell recently left due to National Guard commitments, leaving Gonzales as the sole mechanic.

“Right now it’s just Richard,” Zhu said. “Once we get more traffic, I want to get a second person. He’s been trained as a GM certified mechanic. He’s also been fixing foreign cars like BMWs. I go down there every other day. Richard is dealing with the day-to-day. I’m not a mechanic, so I can’t fix cars.”

Gonzales Jr. has eight years of experience working on General Motors products, plus four years working on Audis, BMWs and Minis.

“I’m a great tech,” said Gonzales, 29. “I’ve always been at shops for at least five years. You’ve got to find someone willing to take changes. I come from Southern California. My buddies started their own shop. I started as a helper, next thing you know I’m knocking down motors. We did all makes and models. I put my hands on a lot of fast cars.”

Gonzales got to know Rockwell by ordering parts at O’Reilly Auto Parts and was intrigued by the idea of working at the new shop.

“As long as we keep the customer flow going, it should be good,” Gonzales said. “When I saw the building, I said they are for real. This is the real deal.”

Zhu is optimistic business will start picking up.

“This is brand new here,” he said. “It’s starting a little bit slow. We’re trying to get our name exposed more. We’re here to help and have reasonable rates. I think we are needed in town, it’s just a matter of time.”

The shop labor rate is $82.50 an hour, while police, fire and military members get a 15 percent discount. The shop phone number is 971-202-2299.

“Pure Grit” by Mary Cronk Farrell, foreword by First lieutenant Diane Carlson Evans



“Pure Grit” by Mary Cronk Farrell, foreword by First lieutenant Diane Carlson Evans

c.2014, Abrams Books for Young Readers
$24.95 / $27.95 Canada
160 pages



When it comes to chores around the house, you have lots of responsibility.

You’re in charge of mealtime twice a week. You take out the trash, clean your room, finish your schoolwork, and you even babysit sometimes.

That’s a lot but you can handle it because you know you’ll have different responsibilities as you get older. And in the new book “Pure Grit” by Mary Cronk Farrell, you’ll see that some could be bigger than others.

By the late 1930s, at end of the Depression, Americans “had no interest in fighting a war of any kind…” Still, military leaders were concerned about defense, so they deployed a “joint Filipino-American Army” to the Philippines and opened two hospitals on the main island. Hundreds of American military nurses were sent to staff them.

At first, being a nurse in the Philippines was an easy, “routine” job. Nurses mostly cared for the families of officers also deployed to the area, and spent their free time shopping or enjoying the resort-like atmosphere.

None of the nurses had combat training. None of them knew that war was coming.

But World War II did come and the nurses were right where wounded military personnel needed them. It didn’t take long for the women to be overwhelmed by injured soldiers with horrific injuries, missing limbs, and worse.  Not knowing how to care for those kinds of injuries, they learned quickly how to do minor surgeries and how to keep a boy comfortable as he died.

They also learned how to stay safe when the Japanese bombed their hospitals. They learned to protect the wounded, at risk to themselves. And when military officials evacuated civilians from the island, the nurses learned to make do with the meager supplies that remained.

That can-do attitude helped when seventy-nine nurses were captured, along with other troops, by the Japanese in 1942. Taken to Camp O’Donnell in the Philippines, nurses saved as many American lives as they could with the scant resources they had – despite that the nurses themselves suffered terribly from disease and starvation in the POW camps.

Said one of their patients: “’We looked at them like saviors… They were absolutely amazing women.’”

Why isn’t a story like this more widely known?  Author Mary Cronk Farrell asked herself the same question when she first learned of the POW nurses. “Pure Grit” is the result of her curiosity and research.

Through interviews with one former nurse and the children of others, Farrell tells an exciting, often astounding tale that was largely ignored for forty years. Kids, particularly those with parents in the military, may be outraged about that – but beware, because they may likewise be disturbed by the many graphic after-battle descriptions that are here. Those parts surely made me squirm, much as I liked this book.

Still, this is an important story that needs telling and I think 11-to-17-year-old readers will appreciate knowing it. For your future soldier, military fan, or WWII enthusiast of any age, “Pure Grit” will be responsible for a lot of reading.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Housing update at GGNA meeting

Greater-Gubser-logo-480x270 Greater-Gubser-logo-480x270

Of the Keizertimes

The state of the housing market depends on your perspective.

Dana Burk, a principal broker and certified residential specialist with John L. Scott in Salem, gave a real estate update at the most recent Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association (GGNA) meeting.

“One of the biggest questions I get every day is ‘How’s the market?’” Burk said. “It’s specific to each neighborhood. Overall in Salem the market is well. We’re well past the bottom. We bottomed out about a year and a half ago.”

Burk said the average home price in the Salem area rose 13 percent last year, going from $177,231 at the end of 2012 to $200,691 at the end of 2013.

“We have pent up demand and a lack of inventory,” she said. “All of the foreclosures are just starting to hit the market. There are also people wanting to move up. You have younger buyers who feel they will make up costs long-run due to what is happening. The consumer view is that housing is back.”

According to Burk, banks putting foreclosure homes on the market will change the housing market.

“If you’re buying, you might want to wait,” Burk said. “If you’re selling, you might want to sell now.”

Burk said houses are at price levels from nearly a decade ago.

“We peaked in 2007,” she said. “Most people peaked in 2006. We didn’t crash as low as some other places.”

While parts of Salem have a 13-month supply of houses on the market, Burk noted that drops to about five to seven months of supply in Keizer.

“That means we have five months of houses to sell if no other houses come on the market,” she said.

Burk said there have been issues lately with appraisals.

“They are still coming in low,” she said. “If you’re buying it’s a good thing. If you’re selling, it’s not. Some people just quit trying to sell and took their houses off the market. Some people are just starting to put their houses back on the market now.”

Traci Benjamin, a mortgage loan originator with Landmark Professional Mortgage, said paying a little more now on a mortgage loan can pay off.

“If you make an extra $30 a month payment, that saves you a total of 41 payments,” Benjamin said, referring to the life of a loan. “That’s going out to dinner once a month. You will also save more on shorter terms. Going with a 15-year mortgage will save a ton versus going 40 years.”

Both Burk and Benjamin emphasized the need for going with experienced people.

“You want someone who’s been in residential realty for a while,” said Burk, who works alongside her husband. “Make sure you ask (your realtor) how long they’ve been in it. You want someone who is full-time. There are a lot of part-time people out there. A lot will only sell 10 homes a year. We sold 44 homes last year.”