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Day: June 12, 2014

Grant for Big Toy denied

A large grant application for the Big Toy project has been denied.
A large grant application for the Big Toy project has been denied.

 

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Early on, one key grant was the target for the Big Toy play structure project at Keizer Rapids Park.

On Thursday, city leaders learned their $150,000 application to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Local Government Grant program was denied.

Nate Brown, the director of Community Development for Keizer who submitted the application and presented to OPRD officials last week, confirmed the project was denied.

“We were denied funding,” Brown said Thursday morning. “We were ranked No. 12 out of 36 applications, with only the top nine getting funding. We had a good showing. There were lots of qualities that gave us points.”

Brown acknowledged he had concerns following his presentation.

“It was hard for me to read them,” he said of OPRD officials. “I was trying to read their body language. I read the body language and tone as being pretty critical. I was concerned. But you always get stressed when you make these presentations. It’s always stressful to make a sales pitch.”

Marlene Quinn, the Keizer City Councilor who has been chairing the project, called it a “little maddening” to not get the funding, but pointed out other options are available.

“They didn’t have as much money to give this year,” Quinn said Thursday. “We’re going to try for more grants. We’ve been getting sponsorships. We’re going to be OK.”

Quinn noted councilors approved next year’s budget using System Development Charges (SDC) funds as a fallback for the Big Toy.

“We put in the budget the $150,000 in SDC money in case we didn’t get the grant,” Quinn said. “We knew it wasn’t a done deal.”

That uncertainty played a large role in the project being delayed from this September to next June.

Susan Gahlsdorf, Finance director for Keizer, said the city budgeted the cost of the Big Toy as $450,000 with a bulk of that potentially coming from the two SDC funds.

“We anticipate having about $300,000 in SDC funds available next year for this project; $160,000 is old SDC funds,” Gahlsdorf said. “The ‘old’ funds are an allowable use of the old money. The $140,000 of the ‘new’ funds are expected to be an allowable use of the new money because we will have met the ‘match’ requirements. The $150,000 expected from the grant that we have now learned we are not receiving will have to be raised through fundraising.”

Brown said the Local Government Grant program rotates every other year between large and small projects. The amount requested qualified for large project, thus couldn’t be applied for again until two years from now.

Having a cow? Nah, saving them

File photo
File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

It’s a proposal that is moooooving emotions.

A proposal has been submitted to the city for 120 new apartments.

Not everyone is thrilled about the plans – in no small part because of where the housing would go.

Sam Litke, senior planner with the City of Keizer, said the 120 units would go on 7.5 acres of land along Verda Lane NE.

“It would go from the four-way stop (at Verda and Chemawa Road NE) to Dearborn Avenue,” Litke said. “It would be on the west side of the road.”

In other words, the apartments would go in the area affectionally long referred to as the cow park, since a number of cows hang out in the area just east of Claggett Creek Park.

Litke acknowledges not everyone likes the idea.

“It’s been like it is for a long time,” he said. “A lot of people feel it helps define what Keizer is. But others understand it is in city limits.”

Debbie Crooks, who lives just down the road on the 5000 block of Verda Lane, is among those against the idea.

“We like the down home country Keizer environment, but that is getting lost with all the apartments I see,” Crooks said in an e-mail. “Soon the cows by Claggett Creek Park will be gone and more apartments will hide the view of the park. The city is putting in the roundabout because there is so much traffic. Well, more apartments will cause even more traffic. Do we really need more apartments in this area?”

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, noted the current property owners want to change the zoning of the property to RM, or Medium Duty Residential. Other properties nearby have such zoning, including the church across Verda from the pasture and also the Rainbow Garden Mobile Village off Chemawa.

“It’s our understanding the mom and dad have passed away and the children don’t want to take care of the cows,” said Litke, who estimated there are between 12 and 20 cows.

A public hearing with the Keizer Hearings Officer was scheduled for Thursday, June 12. According to the notice for the hearing, the applicant is Mark Grenz with Multi-tech Engineering, while the property owner is Tyrene Deninger on behalf of the Herber Family LLC.

The property is currently zoned RS for Residential Single Family and has two single family homes in addition to two outbuildings.

On June 3, 22-year-old Maddy Kephart stood on the corner of Chemawa and Verda protesting the proposal, holding a sign reading “No More Apartments” on one side and “Save Keizer Cows” on the other. Kephart lives across Verda from the property and likes seeing the cows.

“They’re cute,” she said.

Litke said the Hearings Officer plans to have a report ready in time for the July 21 Keizer City Council meeting, though the timing is tentative. Council will hold a hearing when the subject is brought up. No timeline for building has been submitted to the city, according to Litke.

In addition to the building, some infrastructure work would have to be done for the project.

“Sewer and water is there, but they will need some street improvements,” Litke said. “There is sidewalk needed along Verda, plus they would need to fill the gap in the sidewalk on Dearborn.”

School board hunts for new funding sources

480x270-Salem-Keizer School-District-logo

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Ways to increase funding for schools were the main subjects of a work session of the state’s three largest school districts May 28 at the Local Government Center in Salem.

Most of the school board members and a few administrators participated. The three largest districts are, in order, Portland Public Schools, the Salem-Keizer School District and the Beaverton School District.

All the Salem-Keizer directors except Rick Kimball and Jeff Faville were there, as were Christy Perry, who will become superintendent July 1, and Mary Paulson, chief of staff.

Among the topics were impacts on high-poverty areas, funding for preschools, criteria for measuring achievement, full-day kindergarten, physical education requirements, funding for career and technical education, and possible lobbying of Oregon’s congressional delegation.

Jim Green, chair of the Salem-Keizer board, told the participants from the two other districts about Salem-Keizer’s policy governance system, which focuses on student achievement and holds the superintendent accountable for it. He also told them of the district’s strategic plan, on which the superintendent’s budget proposal is based.

Nancy MacMorris-Adix, a Salem-Keizer director, asked whether legislators understand what money that is well spent on education does.

Green replied, “It depends on which individual legislator you speak to.”  He suggested having legislators visit classrooms to learn what is going on.

Green added that the Oregon School Boards Association is reinstituting its legislative conference, and he quoted Gov. John Kitzhaber as saying there is a power imbalance when school boards come to the table.

On the matter of assessed values, Chris Brantley, another Salem-Keizer director, said school officials should figure out whether it was right for money from the Portland area should flow to other parts of the state. He also praised the state of Washington’s sliding-scale reimbursement system for small districts.

Another matter Green said should be discussed was that of achievement tests being given in English only.

Steve Buel, a Portland Public Schools director, said Kitzhaber’s 40-40-20 goal (40 percent college graduates, 40 percent people who have had postsecondary education, 20 percent high school graduates) was not as attainable as a goal focused on having all high school students graduate on time.

They’ve got the Write stuff

Jason Wiskow, Tyler Bays, Zach Abbas, Brittney Gilbertson, Amanda Warner and Taylor Bomar get a first look at the books they wrote as part of the McNary High School Write Club. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Jason Wiskow, Tyler Bays, Zach Abbas, Brittney Gilbertson, Amanda Warner and Taylor Bomar get a first look at the books they wrote as part of the McNary High School Write Club. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Amanda Warner was pretty giddy. So was her mom, Michelle.

The hard part was figuring out who was more excited.

Amanda, a senior at McNary High School, was with fellow The Write Club members May 29 when they opened the box containing hardback copies of the book The Paperside Gathering, filled with short pieces by club members.

The club, formed three years ago by Keizertimes associate editor Eric Howald, allows students to explore their creative writing side. Pieces from throughout the school year are gathered and put into the book, unveiled at the end of the year.

A $530 grant from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, plus additional funding from the newspaper, allowed everyone to get a hardcover copy of the book this year.

“Actually having it in my hand, my hands are shaking,” said Amanda, who had six pieces in the book plus the back cover. “It’s so cool to see it altogether like this. The group was bigger last year. It was more intimate this year. It felt more like a family.”

Michelle proudly read her daughter’s pieces and immediately started figuring out how many copies of the book to buy for family members.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Michelle said. “She’s so excited. I want to buy a whole box of the books. This renews your faith in teenagers. It’s like sneaking a peak into their heads.”

Amanda was looking through the book along with fellow senior Brittney Gilbertson, who did the cover, 10 stories and inside illustrations.

"The Paperside Gathering" cover by Gilbertson.
“The Paperside Gathering” cover by Gilbertson.

“I kind of forgot about some of them,” Gilbertson said while thumbing through the book. “I’m glad I got it done in time. I’m a horrible procrastinator. I can’t believe I’ve actually done something like this. This is going to be forever.”

While Gilberton did the cover, she noted it was a group effort.

“Everyone came up with an idea for the cover,” she said. “It was all collaboration. It came together really quickly. The title and the drawing were done in one day.”

Junior Zach Abbas, a first-year group member, had two pieces in the book.

“I got an e-mail from Eric about this book party,” Abbas said. “I couldn’t wait. I had a hard time focusing all day. The whole day, I looked forward to it. It’s a bit unreal. I’ve never been published in anything. To hold my work and the work of others is fantastic.”

Abbas looks forward to being an experienced member of the club next year, helping new members.

“I’ll be able to put myself in their shoes and pull them into the fold,” he said.

Senior Jason Wiskow, who had 10 pieces in the book, won’t have that opportunity.

“It was exciting to get into the book, but it’s also sad because I don’t get to come back,” said Wiskow, who will be going to Chemeketa Community College to learn sign language. “This is my second year in the group. It’s been completely life changing. I was shy and timid last year. Through Eric and being able to express myself, I’m able to see I’ve done it. The encouragement from Eric and the others helped a lot. This book is going to go on the shelf with the other one.”

Other authors were Tyler Bays, Taylor Bomar, Maria A. G-Warden and Meadow Wheaton.

Copies of the book are available at the Keizertimes office for $5.