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Day: May 23, 2014

Dollar Tree looks to ace Keizer

The former Ace Hardware building will soon be a Dollar Tree store. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
The former Ace Hardware building will soon be a Dollar Tree store. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

National retailer Dollar Tree is looking to bring true value to Keizer later this year.

An official with the Virginia-based retailer confirmed the news last week. The Dollar Tree will be going in at 5014 River Road North.

“Right now, that new store is expected to open in the early autumn of this year,” said Timothy Reid, vice president of Investor Relations for Dollar Tree.

Rosewood Park LLC out of Corvallis is listed as the building owner. Mark Rose, one of several members of Rosewood, gave a similar timeline.

“I suspect it’s going to be five to six months before they open for business,” Rose said of Dollar Tree. “They definitely are going to be there. We have to do a little bit of modification. We’re putting in a new HVAC system and just put a new roof on.”

The location on River Road had been various hardware stores over the years including Coast to Coast, True Value and finally Ace before closing in January.

At the time, store owner Greg Frank said two factors led to the decision to close.

“The cost of the lease and entering into another long-term lease, plus the sales history of this location were the two main ones,” he said.

According to Dollar Tree’s website, the company opened its 4,000th store in 2010 and currently has more than 4,400 locations in the United States and Canada.

Dollar Tree did $7.84 billion in sales in 2013. The company was founded in 1986 as Only One Dollar.

The company website shows five Dollar Tree locations in Salem, but none currently in Keizer.

Rose said his company had a list of potential tenants and local real estate agent Jennifer Martin reached out to Dollar Tree.

“I think they’re going to be a really good tenant,” Rose said. “We are excited about it.”

Lady Celts playoff bound

McNary’s Sarah Jensen lays down a bunt in McNary’s game with North Salem High School Thursday, May 15. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary’s Sarah Jensen lays down a bunt in McNary’s game with North Salem High School Thursday, May 15. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

If history is any indicator of future progress, then the McNary High School varsity softball team is exactly where Head Coach Kevin Wise wants it to be.

On Tuesday, May 20, McNary drew the Lake Oswego Lakers in the play-in round for the second time in as many years. Last year, it was a game that sparked a Celtic run to the playoff quarterfinals.

“They came here and we got it going last year. This team is good enough that if we get on a roll it’s going to take a really good team to stop them,” Wise said.

McNary wasted little time in making a statement. After a 10-run first inning, the Lady Celts ran up the score to 16-1 and ended the game in four-and-a-half innings.

Kimi Ito and Kinsey McNaught had three RBIs each in the game. McNaught’s day included a double and a triple. The win means McNary will face Newberg High School at home Monday, May 26.

The Celtics’ regular season ended with a loss to 15-5 loss Sprague High School Friday, May 16. The two teams each had one win in the series before squaring off a final time, but a disastrous defensive stand that included 13 errors allowed the Olys to score 15 runs on six hits. An illness sidelined one of the Keizer team’s infielders, and put a number of Lady Celts in unfamiliar roles.

“We kept piling on errors instead of building on the positive things,” said Lady Celt Madi Oliver.

A four-run first inning was the best for one for McNary. Freshman Hannah Carr reached first on an error plating Ito and Oliver for a 2-0 lead. A single by Nicole Duran helped Kiana Villarreal and Carr score finish their circle of the bases and put the team up 4-0.

“We started off well and then we had two outs with nobody on and then all of the sudden we couldn’t catch a break,” Wise said.

Sprague answered with two in the bottom of the frame, and were up 8-4 before McNary got its final run in the third. Oliver scored on a Duran single in that inning. Five Oly runs in the bottom of the fifth ended the game under mercy rules.

“It was hard to take stock as it was happening, but I realized later we had an infield with three freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors, not many teams could put a team that young an infield in a varsity setting and still battle, but we did,” Wise said.

Duran had the best day at the dish going 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Oliver’s day included a double. Junior Megan Ulrey took the loss in the circle.

One day prior, Thursday, May, 15, McNary took a 7-4 win over North Salem High School.

The Lady Vikings pieced together their four runs over four innings while McNary packed all of its offense into two innings.

“North has gotten a lot better each time we faced them,” Wise said. “This time, they battled and played to our weaknesses every chance they got.”

Ulrey reached first base on an error in the bottom of the third giving Oliver time to score. Duran doubled scoring Carr, but Villarreal was caught at home plate ending the inning.

Kailey Fritts and Jordan Tutor scored on a ground out by McNaught in the bottom of the fourth frame. Oliver scored on a walk. Carr scored on an error that allowed Duran to reach first, and Villarreal scored on an error by the Vikings’ pitcher.

Carr went 2 for 4 with two runs scored. McNaught went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Ulrey took the win in the circle with two runs on three hits and and five strikeouts.

The test for the team in the coming week, said Oliver, will be whether it can overcome its own self-doubt.

“We have to go out on the field confident every game, and build on the positive energy that creates,” she said.

Photo Gallery: 2014 Keizer Iris Festival

 

Check out these photos from this year’s Keizer Iris Festival.

Here are this years award winners…

Senior Talent Show sponsored by Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community
First place: Rich Forester, vocals
Second place: Judy Chartier, vocals
Third place: Eileen Booth, vocals and tap dance routine

Battle of the Bands:
Top three: Zero Seasons, Felony Flats, Sleight of Hand

Iris Parade sponsored by Valley Credit Service
Antique vehicle: 1955 Chevy Belair, Road Lords Car Club
Classic vehicle: 1967 Pontiac Tempest, Rod Stokes
Custom: ‘Lil Devil,’ Road Lords Car Club

Floats/Groups:
Mayor’s Trophy: Soapy Paws
Best Theme: Silverton Health Bed Pan Brigade
Iris Award: St. Edward Catholic Church
Spirit Award: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
Most Unique: Creekside Veterinary Clinic
Most Humorous: Senior Helpers of Salem
Commercial Division: Mister Video + Games

Animals:
Best Mounted Group: Union de Charros
Best Rodeo Court: St. Paul Rodeo Court
Best Rodeo Queen: Canby Rodeo Queen Rachel Labant
Best Novelty Group: Big Hearts Horse Rescue

[fbphotos id=10152072701561976]

Council formally delays Big Toy

0516-NEWS-KEIZER-big-toy-LOGO

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

To the surprise of no one, Keizer City Councilors voted unanimously to delay construction of the Big Toy community build play structure at Keizer Rapids Park.

The play structure had been set for construction Sept. 17 to 21. The new dates are June 10 to 14, 2015 – starting on the final day of next school year.

Monday’s action came following similar votes in the last two weeks by the Community Build Task Force (CBTF) and the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Pushing back the construction schedule will give time both for more land at KRP to be brought within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary and for the overall KRP master plan to be updated with additional acreage included.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson noted the time crunch.

“Staff believes that the Keizer Rapids Park master plan process cannot be accomplished properly by Sept. 17,” Johnson said. “Staff believes it is appropriate to master plan the entirety of the park, rather than focusing only on the placement of the community build project. We also believe it is important to have a comprehensive public outreach to gather input on all aspects of the Keizer Rapids Park.”

Marlene Quinn, chair of the CBTF, again voiced her support for the delay and also reiterated the September timeline came from project consultant Leathers and Associates, not the task force.

“It’s disappointing we had to do this,” Quinn said. “But there are more pros than cons. The timeline was put together by our consultant. We felt rushed.”

One of the main arguments against moving the construction date was breaking a promise made to the children in Keizer that the project would be done this fall. Clint Holland, in particular, has been adamant on that point.

“We never used the word ‘promise,’” Quinn said. “We hoped it would be done then. All of the team leaders felt it was necessary to move this to a later date.”

Councilor Jim Taylor pointed out the tight timeline with a $150,000 grant the city has applied to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for.

“It gives us a huge advantage with funding,” Taylor said of the delay. “With the $150,000 state park grant, we wouldn’t know if we got it or not until probably mid-July. That would have put us in a real bind if we didn’t get it. With more time to raise money, we can get more people excited.”

Councilors Joe Egli, Cathy Clark and Kim Freeman had nothing to say on the issue. Councilor Dennis Koho was absent.

Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, noted several meetings are being held over the next few months to gather input about what amenities should be added to KRP.

Mayor Lore Christopher proposed having some of the meetings at buildings other than city hall. For example, she proposed meeting with the Latino community at The Light of The Valley Church, in addition to meetings at Saint Edward Catholic Church and McNary High School.

“Let’s look into doing this,” Christopher said. “Before we default into ‘no,’ let’s default into ‘let’s look at it.’”

Christopher then endorsed the delay of the build date.

“I’m probably the only one not disappointed to not use that date. When you look at Sept. 17, in 10 minutes it will be raining,” she said, echoing a concern Holland had raised several times previously. “Plus, school has just started. We had to go with that date because it’s what Leathers wanted. On Sept. 17 school has just started and it will sit there all winter, but June 10 is the start of summer and they have all summer to play on it.

“We have talked about the master plan,” Christopher added. “For heaven’s sake, we have the time to do it. The right way is to master plan the whole property, then take time in the rest of 2014 so everyone feels they are part of it. We will get a much better result, like we did with Keizer Rapids Park. I for one think it’s better. It’s kind of a relief. We have a year now to do it and to do it right. It always feels better when you do the right thing.”

In other business Monday:

• Councilors are recommending approval of liquor licenses for two locations to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. As was detailed two weeks ago in the Keizertimes, one is Porter’s Pub while the other is Delaney Madison Grill, set to open soon in the former Caruso’s building.

Porter’s Pub on River Road closed earlier this year but has been bought by Denny and Lisa Graue. They had hoped to have a soft opening in time for the Keizer Iris Festival last weekend, but now aim for this weekend, with the actual grand opening on the weekend of June 6.

James Marshall, the Delaney Madison owner who attended the meeting with his wife and three of his five daughters, is hoping to open in July.

• The start-and-stop Chemawa Road construction project was stopped once again last week. Once again, utilities were the issues. The project was delayed last year because utility company didn’t get their lines moved as needed. Bill Lawyer, Public Works director, said the latest hurdle was a gas line and power line found to be in conflict. He said the issue was found May 15 and hoped to know more this week.

“This is like the never-ending project,” Christopher said.

Lawyer said it wasn’t immediately known when the Oregon Department of Transportation project would resume.

“Everyone is frustrated,” he said.

• Lawyer said there will be a flag-raising ceremony on Memorial Day (Monday, May 26) at the Pfc. Ryan J. Hill Memorial Park in Keizer Station. Hill was a Keizer resident killed while serving in Iraq in 2007.

Subies sent off road at parade

Dave Walery (center) watches to make sure members of the Salem Subies Car Club make a safe and orderly exit from the May 17 Keizer Iris Festival Parade at Manbrin Drive and River Road, following complaints of unsafe driving. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Dave Walery (center) watches to make sure members of the Salem Subies Car Club make a safe and orderly exit from the May 17 Keizer Iris Festival Parade at Manbrin Drive and River Road, following complaints of unsafe driving. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

All-wheel-drive and the distinctive sound help make a Subaru a Subaru.

Driving them dangerously, however, gets Subarus kicked out of a parade.

Such was the case last Saturday during the Iris Festival Parade sponsored by Valley Credit Services.

Parade spectators along River Road near Manbrin Drive saw something unusual: a group of about two dozen Subarus from the Salem Subies Car Club making a left onto Manbrin and leaving the parade under the guidance of Dave Walery and other officials.

John Teague, Keizer’s police chief, witnessed some of the group members do maneuvers he felt weren’t safe.

“I was at Chemawa and River Roads with (deputy police chief) Jeff Kuhns,” Teague said. “The first part of them seemed decent. Then a couple of them kind of hung back, then literally raced to catch up. I called Sgt. Trevor Wenning, who was running the parade, this group needs to be told to chill out because they are being too dangerous.

“Dave Walery told each row don’t do that again,” Teague added. “Then by the McDonald’s they’re doing it again. They were driving in circles, spinning around, driving backwards. Further along, they were racing again.”

Teague said Sergeant Bob Trump also witnessed the behavior.

“He radioed to Trevor and told him they’re doing it again,” Teague said of Trump.

Teague acknowledged he asked for the removal, but noted it was ultimately a group decision to ask the Subarus to leave.

Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce that put on the parade, said once the decision was made, the next task was figuring out how to make it happen.

“We were communicating, trying to figure out the best place for them to leave,” Dieker said. “Dave wanted them to leave at Cummings Lane, but no officers were there and it was blocked with people. I was at Manbrin, so we did it there. I think the exit went very smooth. It was fine.”

Dieker noted she didn’t personally witness the Subarus doing anything wrong, but her son and daughter both did.

“My daughter said it was bad,” Dieker said. “They were doing u-turns and coming close to curbs where kids were sitting. Then they peeled out in front of Chief Teague. They were warned. Most of them didn’t know what was happening. It was just a few of the group doing this, like three or four out of the 25.”

Teague said the worst part was the actions continuing after the warning.

“That’s how egregious a behavior it was and continued to be,” the chief said. “That’s outrageous. It added a significant gap to the parade route. But they didn’t care. It was all about themselves.”

Scott Mendzer, a member of Salem Subies, posted a long review on the Iris Festival Parade’s Facebook page Saturday afternoon.

“I understand that some of our members were ‘launching’ their cars, and doing slow u-turns during the parade,” Mendzer wrote in part. “If there are event rules that prohibit these maneuvers, we were not aware of them. If we did indeed break any rules I sincerely apologize on behalf of the group. We received no warning that we were going to be ejected, and the officials had many opportunities to voice their concerns.

“At one point an official (Walery) drove past on a golf cart and told all the members to just be careful and safe, but did not ask us to stop any of the maneuvers that were being performed,” Mendzer added. “Had he asked any one of us to cease, we would have gladly complied. However, this never happened, and several blocks further down we were told we were being ejected and we’d need to exit the parade at Manbrin.”

Dieker and Teague both said a warning was given.

“I was told they had been warned,” Dieker said. “Most of them, as I was talking to them, didn’t know about the warning. They didn’t have communication among themselves. The guy (Mendzer) has some valid points. They’re not bad people. They didn’t understand what was going on. But we can’t risk anyone getting hurt. Just a few among them got a little too excited.”

Teague scoffed at the idea of prohibited behaviors having to be specified.

“We shouldn’t have to stipulate all the things that could possibly go wrong,” Teague said.

Mendzer said he understands the safety concerns and hopes to return to the parade in 2015.

“I sincerely hope that we will be welcome to join the parade next year, and if so, we will happily comply with any rules regarding conduct and driving maneuvers,” he wrote.

Teague said the final call on whether or not to let the group back isn’t his to make, but he made his opinion clear.

“I would say no way,” Teague said. “This went beyond normal behavior. That’s my suggestion. If they need someone to make the decision, I’ll make that decision. I don’t see what’s to be debated.”

The project that never starts?

So the Big Toy is being delayed.

Again.

It’s embarrassing, sad…and yet so predictable.

Clint Holland has been vocal in his opposition to the delay, with the main concern being the 3,000 children who helped design the play structure were promised last fall the structure would be built this September.

During the May 13 Keizer Parks Board meeting, Holland opined the project won’t get done next year, either.

Before you dismiss Holland’s comments as hyperbole, consider the merit behind them.

Delaying the build date from September 2014 to June 2015 isn’t the first delay for this project.

Plans for the play structure kicked into high gear when Will Stitt brought the idea up at the December 2012 Parks Board meeting.

Parks Board members, led by Richard Walsh, immediately loved the idea. Plans were made to fast track the project.

One of the early discussions was about funding. How much would it cost? Who could help foot the bill?

Then it was discovered the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department had a Local Government Grant with a lot of money available. It was a perfect fit. The only problem: the application was due in April and plans in early 2013 were still in the preliminary stages.

So the decision was made to push the project back to 2014. The idea was to spend the rest of 2013 getting details nailed down, getting full community support and have the project far along by the time the 2014 applications for the Local Government Grant were due.

Let’s fast forward a year and see what’s been accomplished.

Hey, at least we know the play structure will be going in the ‘big tree’ site – aka Site 1, aka Area B – between the amphitheater and the boat ramp at Keizer Rapids Park.

Wait, what’s that? Oh, sorry. That is the default spot for now, but the structure might go elsewhere. It just might go in the orchards off Chemawa Road. The recommendation to use Site 1/Area B/big tree was removed earlier this month.

A funny thing about those orchards. You see, they are in the city limits but they are not within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). In order for the trees to be removed, the 28 acres have to become part of the UGB. That requires other entities such as Salem, Marion County and Polk County to sign off. It’s not exactly a fast process.

That led to talk about master planning for the entire park having to be done before the play structure can be built. After all, it wouldn’t work to build the Big Toy in Area B/Site 1/big tree site, only to find later it should go in the orchard.

Hence the project was pushed back nine months.

By the way, the city has known for years the UGB issue needed to be dealt with at some point. The master planning for the entire park has been necessary for quite some time, also. After all, a lot has changed since the plan was last updated in 2006.

Now, master plan and UGB processes are being used as convenient excuses to delay the Big Toy. And you wonder why Holland is so upset?

There was much hoopla when the Big Toy project was introduced to the community last November. The Keizer Civic Center was overflowing with families eager to see the design. It was made clear the structure would be built this September.

A couple of months later, the orchard site was first proposed, leading to the UGB and master plan discussion.

Since most city and project leaders seem to agree the process should be done—judging by the lack of public rebuttal—a fair question is: Why wasn’t this thought of last year?

Nearly 18 months after the idea of a community build play structure was so eagerly embraced, we don’t know where it will go. A few thousand dollars have been raised, but the project budget could be around $400,000 (which doesn’t include the volunteer labor). Several public hearings will be held this summer and fall to gather input from the public about the master planning process.

Most who have spoken about the delay have said something along the lines of, “Gee, I really hate to delay this. We said it would be done this year. But you know what? We need to make sure things are done correctly, so we have no choice.”

Most who have said such things appear to have gotten over their initial anger of the delay. Holland is an obvious exception.

While Holland went on yet another rant last week, mayor Lore Christopher—the one who brought up the orchard idea in January and has hung firmly to it since—muttered that Holland needs to “give it up” and accept the delay.

No, he shouldn’t. Holland is rightly frustrated, and being told to “get over it” is outright demeaning.

More than that, others should be angry over the issue and the treatment of Clint Holland.

When the mayor first voiced her opposition to the original site, no one was in the position to tell her “get over it, we’ve already picked the site.” Christopher, time and again, claims she isn’t a politician, but her personal preferences and behind-the-scenes maneuverings are holding up the Big Toy build. If that isn’t the definition of politicking, we would like to know what is.

This goes beyond the children of Keizer being promised one thing, then having it swiped out from under their noses—though that is pretty bad.

With 2013 being spent nailing down plans, issues such as the UGB and master planning should have been brought up and addressed.

Even better, those two issues should have been dealt with years ago instead of being delayed and only being brought up now.

That wasn’t done. And because of it, a promise — yes, Marlene Quinn, most rationale people would agree it was a promise — to the children of this community “has” to be broken. Maybe we can tell them Keizer is where dreams are broken.

Look at Holland’s concern from last week again. Given how the delays have intersected in the past few months, how confident are you the Big Toy will indeed be built next year?

Move on

U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane’s ruling that Oregon’s referendum banning gay marriage is unconstitutional is welcome and should close the door on the discussion in Oregon.

It’s time to move on to other issues that people can argue and debate about. Oregon becomes the 18th state to allow same-sex marriages; the writing has been on the wall since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. With the exception perhaps of some southeast states, gay marriage seems to be on the march to be allowed in most states within a few years.

Those people who oppose same-sex marriage will continue to try to find ways to rescind recent court rulings across the country. Opponents should take note that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum decided not to defend the voter-approved gay marriage ban before Judge McShane.  McShane and the U.S. Ninth Court of Appeals both ruled that outside groups had no standing in the case of four gay couples against the state seeking to overturn the ban.

Judges in some of the nation’s most conservative states—Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas—have struck down same-sex marriage bans. States such as Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana have been ordered to recognize gay marriages from other states.

Many people can’t understand why others put so much effort into denying happiness for others. The pursuit of happiness is one of the unalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence, written by the forefathers that some are always citing as the last word in governing society.

Another person’s happiness should not be dependent on the ideological or religious views of others. Gay marriage does not destroy traditional marriage between a man and a woman, it doesn’t even threaten it—never has and never will.

Gay marriage is now legal in Oregon. It’s time for the body politic to move on and target other issues that warrant attention, such as developing our economy, increasing graduation rates, protecting our natural resources.

There are plenty of things for people to disagree about. Let’s put the same-sex marriage debate behind us once and for all.

  —LAZ

We cannot forget we are still at war

By CAMERON SMITH

Every day I feel privileged to serve as the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. After three tours in Iraq as a Marine, I find great strength and solace in continuing to serve our military and veterans’ community.

At the same time, I am humbled by the mission at hand. For the first time in history, we are serving four generations of veterans who have served in our military, fought our battles in five major wars and stood guard over our peace.

As a state and nation, we should all feel the weight of that responsibility – perhaps no more so, than as we approach Memorial Day.

If we cut through the clutter of the start of summer and screaming sales, Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to honor the memory of our fallen friends, family, and heroes.

How can we ever forget their service and sacrifice?

Across the ages, from the beaches in Europe and on Pacific islands to the mountains and jungles in Asia, countless Americans have stood up to serve and have laid down their lives. At the most basic level, they fought to protect the one on their right and the one on their left, but ultimately their fight protects us all and preserves the values we hold dear.

And we cannot forget that we remain a country at war. Over the last decade, we have lost almost 7,000 in the deserts, mountains and city streets half way across the world in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The weight of these recent conflicts has been borne by the few. Most of our citizens have not been directly touched by the wars. The same cannot be said for our Gold Star families.

Attending the funerals of our fallen service members is both the hardest part and greatest honor of my job. When I grieve with Gold Star families, I am struck by their remarkable strength and resiliency. They have undoubtedly lost a light in their lives, yet they recommit with great resolve to live their life in honor of their fallen service member.

Once again, Memorial Day observances will be held across this state, and there can never be too many of them. Whether one served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East or elsewhere, veterans share a connection across the eras.

William Shakespeare wrote in Henry the Fifth about this bond between warriors: “From this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

This Memorial Day, let us all pause to remember our fallen and their families. Let us never forget what these men and women have done and what their loved ones have lost.

We are stronger for their service and will never forget their sacrifice.

(Cameron Smith is director, of the Oregon Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs.
He can be called at 503-373-2388.)

Boko Haram hides behind religion

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

Mother’s Day got me thinking about terrorism this year.  Like many of you I was humbled by the debt of gratitude owed my mother, the mother of my children, and all the mothers I know.  Then in Nigeria nearly 300 mothers had their children stolen.

Until now “War on Terror” has meant military intervention in Middle East countries, expensive shakedowns at airports, and NSA looking at our communications. That’s an unfair characterization, but even behind-the-scenes intelligence work and prevention haven’t stopped acts of terror around the world.

How could we stop terrorists in an African nation of which we know little from stealing children or burning a village and gunning down 300 innocents? Terrorism will end only when it ceases to gain anything but swift retribution.

In this particular instance, a group known locally as Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls to use as leverage for political power.  They could not have done this without serious weaponry.  They might not have done this without a spurious claim of religious justification. They wouldn’t have done this if they believed their government would refuse to bargain for the captives’ release.  They may not have done this if there were no black market customers for girls and young women.

Prominent display of weapons is central in every evil, grinning picture of Boko Haram.  Religious fanatics in the impoverished north of Nigeria are able to arm themselves well enough that the regular Nigerian army is reluctant to go hunting them.  Where Boko Haram fails with persuasive argument its armory makes it impossible to ignore. Until arms dealers decide it is important to stop terrorism, terrorists will have lethal arms.

Nigeria has a population of about 180 million.  No online source seems willing to number the Boko Haram membership, but it has to be a microscopic percentage of Nigerians.  As in any nation, terrorists will operate with impunity until that nation’s citizens rise against them.  We can’t do it.  If Baptist terrorists overrun Wisconsin would you want Russia to intervene with heavy artillery?

Boko Haram does this hellish work behind the veil of religious fervor.  Muslims must be heard.  Islam is a faith of good works and peace.  If people outside the faith believe that Boko Haram represents Islam there will never be peace. The cover of religious validation must be taken from terrorists.

Some online observers speculate that Boko Haram is not so renegade as portrayed.  They are positioning themselves to improve the influence of impoverished northern Nigeria in dealings with the Christian south of Nigeria, the power in the current government.  No government should reward terrorism by making concessions to terrorists in response to violent attacks.

No terrorist group should be able to make a viable threat to sell young women into slavery.  The penalty for one who buys a stolen life should be forfeiture of life.

Does it matter to an old white guy in Keizer what happens to a seldom thought of nation in Africa?  I think so.  Mothers teach most by example.  My mother loved all children as her own.  There is no limit to the size of my family or the nearness of my neighbors. The least I can do is recognize the agony of those Nigerian mothers at the brutal theft of their daughters.  I have a daughter.

Several nations of Europe have declared war on Boko Haram.  Even if it has little more than symbolic value I would be gratified to have Keizer join them.

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

A field doesn’t make us competitive where it counts

Reflections from personal experience remind this writer that high school principals too often are first and foremost jocks or wanna-be jocks while the academic-minded among their number are small in comparison.  Those memories were most recently brought to mind by a local turf battle between he who seeks to spend a whole lot of precious school dollars on an artificial football playing surface and another who’d like to see spending on activity interests for youth in the community more equitably disbursed.

We currently have a principal advocating for what must be high on his pet projects list which is to change the school’s football field from natural  grass to artificial.  He argues his supporting points in a Keizertimes May 16  opinion piece.  They do not convince the skeptic because they add up mainly to speculation about how the changed field will better serve everyone in the community.   Since those of us who know how tight and possessive the Salem-Keizer School District is with its tax-supported public property, it would come as a huge surprise if, upon installation of a new playing field’s surface, all comers were welcomed and liberally allowed use of the field outside of school-scheduled activities.

As public facility a district’s high school is, it now narrowly serves the near-exclusive use by the school.  Why the administrator there continues such perceived exclusionary controls, one is left to guess.  It occurs to this opinion writer that it has to do with the prevailing culture in our local high schools where the chief-in-charge sees his role as securing and maintaining a tight grip on everything he “owns.”

What this society of ours needs more than artificial turf on local high school football fields is a reform of high schools, training its administrators to serve as exemplary leaders who address the needs of all students.  Bestowing inordinate delivery of goods and services on football jocks who represent a distinct minority of any high school’s population is not dealing with the issues and challenges of our time which should be to prepare every youth to whatever extent possible in this new American century; thereby enabling each one to compete with youth in those countries that have chosen to modify traditional practices for enlightened reforms.

It is a well-established fact that whenever a comparison is made between the effectiveness of learning conditions in U.S. high schools with those of modern nations in the world, the American equivalent comes up pathetically short of their overseas counterparts.  Yet, it seems, whenever there’s a spare dime or dollar to be spent on improving what we do and how we do it in our classrooms and schools here in the states it is with exasperating frequency that it goes to some sports’ venue with the local principal and his hand-picked supporters ready to run over any financial cliff in an attempt for a football championship.

The objective of providing a level playing field opportunity to make all our kids competitive with learners in Finland, Norway, Switzerland, and so many other nations that are ahead of the U.S. in all things educational, would seem important enough for these folks to address.  If only district superintendents would get a grip and cause appropriate change it would be so very welcome; yet, most of them turn out to be politicians instead of educators trying their hardest to help our youth prepare for their futures.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)