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Month: August 2014

Chemawa Road work to continue as MHS begins

Slowdowns for construction on Chemawa Road will continue through the first few months of school this fall. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)
Slowdowns for construction on Chemawa Road will continue through the first few months of school this fall. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Construction on Chemawa Road will continue as McNary High School starts up again next week.

Work resumed on the project later than anticipated this summer, meaning things could be slow for a while. The project, being administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), stretches from River Road to Keizer Rapids Park.

“We apologize for the disruption to both motorists and pedestrians over the next couple of months as we complete this project,” said Lou Torres, a Public Affairs specialist with ODOT. “The commitment from the state, city and contractor is to complete the project by late fall. While we still have a lot of work to do, it is progressing well.”

Torres said an exact date isn’t known yet.

“No specific dates, although we are thinking end of November on completion of the project,” he said on Tuesday.

The 2014-15 school year starts at MHS on Tuesday, Sept. 2 for freshmen and Sept. 3 for all other students.

Torres said impacts on motorists will be similar to what has been seen throughout the summer since work resumed.

“We will be working most daytime/school time hours,” he said. “Motorists near McNary can still expect periodic lane closures with traffic controlled by flaggers so we can move trucks and equipment around. We are expecting short or brief lane closures so the delays will be kept at a minimum.”

Motorists turning off Chemawa at Celtic Way into MHS will notice new poles and traffic lights, though they will not be operational when the school year starts.

“During the first week of classes next week, the plans are to pour the concrete sidewalks on the south side of the road,” Torres said. “We hope to have that sidewalk open and available after next week. While the signal has been installed, we cannot go operational with it until we finish the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) ramps at the corners. The intersection has to be completed before we can activate the signal.”

And when might that be?

“We are thinking that the ADA ramps and signal will be ready to go later in September,” Torres said.

As part of the project, ODOT leaders have recently started giving weekly updates to city officials.

The Aug. 20 update mentioned most of the sidewalk on the south side of Chemawa Road was completed over the last week.

Here is the most recent update, from Aug. 20.

“Over the last week, the contractor was able to complete most of the general sidewalk on the south side of Chemawa Road.

The south side sidewalks will be completed, from Shoreline Drive up to Elizabeth Street, with the installation of the half-driveways. As mentioned before, at each driveway, half of the drive is installed at a time. This allows a cure time on the concrete at these locations prior to allowing vehicle traffic over the drives.

These second half of the drives were scheduled to be prepared and possibly placed this week.  However, at the height to this construction season, the contractor is experiencing some employee and staffing issues. Hopefully, these will be resolved promptly.

This work will be followed by minor asphalt paving that will fill the gap between the new concrete gutter and the edge of the existing roadway pavement, during the weeks to follow.

It is anticipated that when school starts, the pedestrian traffic will be restricted to the south side of Chemawa and work will commence on the north side, from Chehalis Drive to Elizabeth Street.

Efforts continue to lock in their new project schedule dates for the key items of filling the water quality swales and planter areas.”

Celtics return to field, courts

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

McNary High School fall sports return with a vengeance next week just as the 2014-15 school year gets underway.

School reclassifications and league realignments mean that the Celtics will be facing a deeper well of opponents throughout the season and will do without a number of non-league contests that would normally give the teams more time to start hitting on all cylinders. The Central Valley Conference is now the Greater Valley Conference with the addition of Forest Grove, McMinnville and West Albany high schools to the core group of the Salem-Keizer School District high schools.

Soccer will also become a paid admission sport for all games between GVC opponents and mirror the admission fees for football, volleyball, basketball and wrestling. Adult admission will be $6, cost for students without an ASB card is $4, students with an ASB card get in free when their team is competing, and students in kindergarten through eighth grade will be $3.

Non-GVC contests may be subject to pricing policies at other schools.

The boys varsity soccer team will be the first out of the gate next week traveling to face Redmond’s Ridgeview High School Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 4:30. The junior varsity squad will take the field at the same time at Ridgeview.

On Thursday, Sept. 4, the Celtic volleyball season begins with freshman, junior varsity and varsity matches all at McNary. The Lady Celts will face the North Salem High School Vikings in their first GVC contests. Freshman and JV matches begin at 5 p.m., and the varsity match begins at 6:30 p.m.

On the gridiron, the freshmen Celts will host North Salem at 6:30 p.m. The junior varsity team will travel to meet he Vikings at North Salem beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The varsity football team kicks off their 2014 season hosting North Salem Friday, Sept. 5.

House is worth the wait

Deici Diaz stands in front of her Alexis Lane home, which will be dedicated during a Habitat for Humanity ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 30. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Deici Diaz stands in front of her Alexis Lane home, which will be dedicated during a Habitat for Humanity ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 30. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Deici Diaz can’t wait for Saturday.

After all, it’s been a long wait.

On Saturday Diaz, her three children and her mother will move into their brand new home at 1008 Alexis Lane. The four bedroom home was a Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley project.

A Diaz Family Dedication will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30.

“This is my new home, my new beginning,” Diaz said Tuesday afternoon while doing an interview in front of the home. “I’m so excited. I can just imagine myself and my kids here.”

Daughters Sydney, 10 and Breanna, 8, will share a room. Son Lenny, 7, will have his own room as will Diaz and her mother.

Diaz noted her children are just as eager as she is.

“They are excited,” Diaz said. “They already want a dog.”

Moving from her current apartment to the new house completes a long-time goal for Diaz.

“Ever since I became a mom, I set a goal: I have to have a home before my 30th birthday,” she said. “I just turned 31. “In the past I tried to buy, but it didn’t work out. Then I heard about Habitat for Humanity when one of my kids brought a flier home from school. When I saw that, I said, ‘This is perfect.’”

Diaz went to a meeting, did the application process and was told she qualified for the project. Normally it’s a one-year process, but for Diaz the wait ended up being two years – causing her to miss her self-imposed deadline by a year.

Looking at the new home she’ll move into this weekend, however, the two years didn’t seem so bad.

“It was worth the wait,” she said. “It was hard, but it was worth the wait. We worked as a family. I did 300 hours of equity. My mom and sister took care of the kids while I did classes Habitat for Humanity offered.”

Amy Cubbage, director of Programs and Volunteer Engagement at Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley, said partner families are selected approximately twice a year.

“Families qualify financially based on their income,” Cubbage said. “We support working class families, so they can’t make too much, but they also need to make enough to afford monthly mortgages at an interest rate of 0 percent.”

Cubbage said the “sweat equity” is 300 hours for single parent households, 500 hours for households with two or more adults.

“These are volunteer hours with Habitat for Humanity, which can be completed by the homeowner as well as their family members and friends,” she said. “Sweat equity is also nice because it gives the partner family a real opportunity to connect with their new home and our many Habitat volunteers.”

Diaz noted she worked on other homes and learned the basics.

“It was awesome,” she said. “They teach you everything at these classes. When I started, I had no idea how to use a hammer or anything.”

While working on other homes, Diaz got to see other families experience what she’ll be experiencing on Saturday: getting the keys to a new home.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Diaz said. “You’re like a family. You hug each other. It’s very emotional. We help each other out.”

Diaz can’t wait to experience it for herself and her own family. All she has to do at this point is wait for Saturday.

“I’ve been counting the days,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this day. It will be very emotional. All of the support has been wonderful. We’ve been very blessed to have all of that help. This will mean a better future for my kids. I can’t wait.”

Political cartoons out of bounds

To the Editor:

Over the years that my family has subscribed to the Keizertimes, I had always been under the impression that its editor, a trained journalist, held to that most basic tenet of reporting the facts without bias. These last three weeks of editorial comics, however, have been a great reminder to me that even a seasoned veteran such as Mr. Lyndon Zaitz is prone to being impressed upon by the sway of popular opinion.

In the Aug. 8 edition, he published an essentially anti-Semitic and derisive ‘comic’ depicting Israel as wantonly targeting civilians just to look like “the good guys” in their conflict with Hamas fanatics. Fortunately, the following week some good citizen had the decency to rebuke the editor for allowing such a comic to appear in our own city newspaper, reminding him of the vast difference between the careless extremists and their Israeli counterparts, who take no such commensurate joy in the death of their neighbors (except for a very small minority).

Even so, that same week (Aug. 15), Mr. Zaitz chose to publish a ‘comic’ reflecting the viewpoint that the people of Gaza deserve protection just as much as Israel (via Iron Dome), which is true. Hamas, however, has no real interest in such measures, taking a more cynical approach that uses the people they are supposedly helping as PR for their genocidal jihad, as outlined by their own charter. That Gazans have no anti-missile defense is not the fault of their Jewish neighbors, nor of the international community; indeed, these all have poured significant funds into Gaza for the building of schools, hospitals, and other needed infrastructure. Instead, Hamas has taken those contributions and used them to build underground tunnels, which they then use to smuggle weapons or carry out sneak attacks on the civilian population of Israel without provocation.

Most recently, though, in the Aug. 22 edition, he put forth a ‘comic’ regarding the shooting in Ferguson espousing the notion that the deceased, Mr. Brown, was shot solely because of his skin color and labeling the policeman as a thug. What has become clear in the last couple weeks, however, is that there is more to this situation than was initially thought, and that Brown could have been the aggressor is plausible based on the convenience store surveillance tape and eyewitness accounts. A recent similar case in Salt Lake City, where the races of the officer and the deceased were reversed from the Ferguson incident, illustrates that the claims of racial profiling are absolutely ridiculous and demonstrably fallacious; worse still, such a claim unnecessarily induces fear and hatred when none needs to be present, and gives leeway to race hucksters and charlatans like Al Sharpton who prey on such animosity.

In his Aug. 20 Talking Points, Bill O’Reilly reported that, according to the most recent FBI records, just 400 out of 12 million arrests involved fatal shootings by officers (for those of you at home, that boils down to 1 out of every 30,000, which is overwhelmingly less than 1 percent). Statistics also show that the vast majority of African-American murders are committed by non-whites, especially other African-Americans (see: Chicago); therefore, this idea that policemen target black men to be shot according to skin color is totally absurd and contrary to fact.

When the Founding Fathers formulated the First Amendment, they sought to protect the press from the government so journalists could report in integrity without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Zaitz, as the party ultimately responsible for publishing these heinous ‘comics,’ is slowly joining the large number of media members who are surrendering said traditional journalistic values like fairness and accuracy, thereby giving his readers cause to question his reliability. If he does not put an end to this loss of principle and begin repairing his credibility, I believe this paper will see its readership decline and deprive our community of a valued source of otherwise reliable information.

David Cheney
Keizer

Many blessings

To the Editor:

When I read last week’s article in the Keizertimes about depression, it made me pause and think about the things that are really important in life. Whatever the cause of depression, we must always remember that where there is breath, there is hope. I myself am familiar with hardships, in fact it’s easy at some point to look back over our life and struggles to see any good  through the many disappointments. This is quite common as you get older—life is short and full of trouble.

 I am well acquainted with disabilities, I also have had the honor of being a caregiver for seniors as well. I used to go with my dad, when he was alive and in better health, to retirement and nursing homes, where we would play music and sing the old favorite music from the past. I spent many years myself, sitting with the parents of many of Keizer’s families as they were lying on their death beds, many of them for the most part forgotten about and left there by themselves. As I spent time, listening and praying with them, trying to give them a little bit of hope, I learned about the importance of family, and the common struggles and concerns which often go unheard. Depression is a common ailment in older age, this is something that all generations can identify with, disappointments come to all of us eventually.

There is no answer for why there is suffering in the world, other then that the very one who we often seek to blame, is the only one that loves us in ways that we will never understand, and that’s God. My grandmother had a  favorite saying that is especially popular throughout the Bible.  We may not understand things now, things may not be the way that we would have them to be, but just like tapestry, we will one day look back on our lives and come to appreciate the value of our lives in ways that we were never able to understand on our own.

Our lives hold more value then what we could ever realize.  Whether it be Robin Williams, or the unknown soldier suffering and dying in a strange foreign land, there is an all-seeing eye who beholds the sparrow when it falls from the sky, and knew us each intimately before we were ever in our mother’s womb, and that He is the only one who has been there and truly cared for all of us all along.

Ponder the words of an old hymn which resonates both now more then ever: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Matt Chappell
Keizer

(Visit keizertimes.com for the full version of this letter.)

Roland Herrera

To the Editor:

We first met Roland Herrera 30 years ago.  He has continually been active in the Keizer community, working on so many projects even he can’t remember all of them.  Because of that he was recognized as Keizer’s First Citizen, an honor well-deserved.

Roland knows Keizer. Through his many activities and his work at the City of Keizer, he has become well acquainted with the geography of Keizer and its issues.

Because of all of his activities, he has many contacts throughout the community. This will really help him achieve his goal of involving more people in Keizer city government.  Unlike most people who have run for and/or served on the Keizer City Council, he is well known among Hispanics in the Keizer community.  They now represent about nearly 20 percent of the population here.

It’s about time we had a City Council that reflects the make-up of the Keizer population. Please join us in voting for Roland Herrera for City Council.

Mike and Betty Hart
Keizer

Lesson of Ferguson tragedy: end racism

The Ferguson, MO. story is viewed from this writer’s perspective as an American tragedy. Unfortunately, one of far too many tragedies when it comes to our citizens of African descent.  Urban riots have come and gone in Newark, Detroit, Cincinnati, Miami, Oakland, Los Angles and even Portland, on a smaller scale, but when the dust settles thereafter, we remain with a head count of the deceased along with property damage numbers and no lasting reforms.

These outbursts most often begin with a real or perceived happening of racially-charged police abuse and develop into chanting, cursing, rock-throwing, Molotov Cocktail-tossing, gunfiring, looting and, often, too, the burning down of everything and anything representing those perceived as the oppressors, spiraling out of control and into anarchy.  Ferguson happens to be a suburb of St. Louis, and thereby it’s a bit different from the big city outbursts we’ve seen in the past.  Meanwhile, there could be more of these events in smaller cities and suburban settings.

Whether it’s the fault of blacks themselves or conditions beyond their control, Ferguson’s major weakness, we’re told, is lack of black participation in almost everything in that suburb.  The facts add up to gross underrepresentation in city government and the school board with five of six xity council members white, the mayor’s white, six of seven school board members are white while only three out of 53 police officers are non-white.

Blacks there do not turn out to vote in other than national elections.  That could be explained by the fact that a huge number of them are working people without the time or financial resources to either vote or run for office; so, when there’s no one who really represents blacks, they don’t vote.  Like many other American suburbs, with 33 percent at the poverty level, the poor and dispossessed are legion in numbers, Ferguson residents are unable to do much of anything about their plight other than protest in riot mode when events push them to the outer limits.

St. Louis is known to be one of the most racially and segregated places in the U.S.  These conditions have come to pass by longstanding discriminatory practices by banks, homebuilders and landlords, with no relief provided through local governments that protect and preserve those who prey on persons without the resources or know-how to strike back except through reaching critical mass and exploding as a whole area into riotous protest. Protests such as that which took place when the word spread like an August brush fire that an unarmed black teenager with his hands up in surrender posture had been shot to death by a local police officer.

Remedies for these unhappy events are widely discussed but never seem to materialize in sufficient response to make a lasting difference.  Interracial coalitions that are intended to bring a city or region’s low-income and working-class families into the economic and educational mainstream are founded and then flounder or are never supported to effectiveness.  Policy reforms are introduced and then slowly die off when peace returns.  Of course, there’s always the hiring of more black cops, firefighters, school teachers and other local government jobs: These steps, too, have been initiated and then the new hires get coopted into practices for business as usual.

What’s needed are three breakthroughs in this country: one, reject racial prejudice by accepting others as the full humans they are, looking to character qualities rather than skin color, accepting all citizens as our equals; two, adopt a caring attitude for those among us who are not only poor but lack a future of any consequence through lack of opportunity and help them instead to achieve a full American life; and, three, develop federal and state programs that train and put to work through special programs designed and implemented to assist all members of America’s minorities with whites included, too.

Racial prejudice with all its ugly and debilitating manifestations could be brought to an end in this country of ours.  Really, it’s our choice, and long overdue, but we could make it happen.  For well over 200 years, Americans have proven to themselves and the rest of the world that we can succeed at what we set out to do.  Why not dedicate ourselves in the person of every individual American to the eradication of racism here.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. His column appears regularly in the Keizertimes.) 

Ferguson, MO

To the Editor:

I must comment on the circus in Ferguson, Missouri.

It was a tragedy when a white peace officer shot a black unarmed teenager. But before an investigation was completed and the circumstances were analyzed, rioting broke out. Trouble makers and hoodlums from as far away as New York appeared on the scene to start trouble including looting  and destroying property.

The protesters called for justice but where is the justice for the innocent property owners? Many of the local black residents were afraid to leave their homes because of the unrest. Unfortunately, as soon as the television cameras appear so did Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. These two men cannot wait to get in on the action to further more publicity for themselves, in my opinion. Any time one person is  killed it is a tragedy so why don’t we see Sharpton and Jackson in Chicago when several blacks are killed by blacks night after night. It is not national news, that’s why.

I am sure law enforcement learned a lesson as to how much of a show of force is needed and warranted when situations like this incident occur. I hope the citizens of Ferguson learn that if they went to the polls and elected a black city council, maybe they would receive the justice they want and not just complain about it!

Bill Quinn
Keizer

Political cartoons

To the Editor:

As a native Oregonian, product of the Oregon school system, retired Army Nurse Corps veteran, wife, mother, grandmother and citizen of Keizer for more than 31 years, I have been incredibly proud to be an Oregonian. It has always been a thrill to come home from travels to this gorgeous place that offers all people so many opportunities. We seem to be somewhat insulated from much of the nastiness elsewhere. At least that has always been my perhaps naïve view of our state.

Unfortunately outside poison is seeping in. Why am I not surprised it is via the media? Through things as simple as political cartoons in our local weekly newspaper, anti-Semitism, encouragement of racial divisiveness and anti-police attitudes are all alive and well in Keizer.

The so-called “cartoon” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Keizertimes opinion page Aug. 8 showed him as a fat frumpy male patting the head of a female child telling her: “To prove we’re the good guys…we have to keep killing you.” The child represented Gaza. This shows no understanding of the Israeli-Hamas conflict whatsoever and demonstrates an amazing ignorance of what is happening in Israel. For that reason alone it was a poor addition to the paper. An excellent letter from Connie Miller of Keizer on the opinion page Aug. 15 addressed this “cartoon” so I’ll move on.

In his book One Nation, Dr Ben Carson notes Walter Cronkite was decidedly left wing in his political views but one would never know it from his reporting as he was so professional. Gone are the days when credible journalists just reported the news and let us make up our own minds on an issue. Today we have to wade through the muck of media with an agenda to get to the truth,

Now let’s look at the political “cartoon” in this Friday’s paper (Aug. 22) showing an overweight frumpy-looking police officer with a smoking gun saying to an apparently shot individual at his feet, “He was black, that’s reason enough.”

Congratulations, Keizertimes, you have now joined the legion of race baiters the like of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama. How disgusting. We don’t know anything near the whole story of what went on in Fergeson,  but you are right there with the mob jumping to judgement and scapegoating the police officer through this “cartoon.” Are you also advocating breaking into businesses and stores in our community when something happens we don’t agree with or feel passionately about? It was a low moment in journalism for the Keizertimes to print this “cartoon” when you must know our police officers put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform. Former detective Mark Fuhrman might have had it right when he suggested perhaps police officers should get in their cars, turn on the air conditioning and remain there as calls for assistance come in. I wonder what would happen to the folks who really need their help.

The frightening thought that the Saul Alinsky radicals and Fabian Socialist agenda (from decades ago) to destroy our country from within might be more successful than we realize, raises its ugly head now and then. It makes me intermittently afraid for our country. We live in a wonderful community and country but we the people must be more vigilant and less apathetic than ever to maintain what we have and assure it is there for all our citizens.

When there are differences we have to learn to discuss them with respect and focus on the issues, not refocus on tearing down the person who has a view different than our own.

If the Keizertimes must resort to these “cartoons,” their circulation must really be in trouble. I would hope in the future they will be more judicious in the material they print.

Diane LeMaster
Keizer

Bradley (Brad) E. Gustafson

B. Gustafson
B. Gustafson

On Wednesday, Aug. 20, Bradley (Brad) Evan Gustafson left this world unexpectedly to be with God and find peace.

Brad was born on his father’s birthday in Albuquerque, NM. He moved to Keizer from Springfield in 1973 and graduated from McNary High School in 1981.

Brad will be sadly missed for his big heart, quirkiness and unique sense of humor.  He was an avid golfer who won the Oregon State Jr. Golf Championship in 1980 and worked at several of the local clubs.

Brad   loved and played sports; he thoroughly enjoyed music; and also enjoyed his work as a landscaper and Christmas light specialist of which he took great pride.  He was a giver and gave from the heart. His final gift was as a donor thus continuing to give life, while his was cut short far too soon.

Although in Brad’s later years of life he faced challenges, he will be remembered for his boyish personality and large, friendly presence.

He was preceded in death by many close friends from his peer group, whom he held dearly, remembered well and with much love.

Brad will also be remembered in similar sentiment.

He is survived by his mother, Marjorie A. Gustafson of Salem, sister Valerie L. Gustafson of Moorpark Calif., his niece Mychala T. Barnes and nephew Niki C. Barnes both of California.

A celebration of his big-hearted life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 6, which would have been Brad’s 51st birthday, at McNary Golf Club, on the back patio.

All whom knew Brad are welcome to attend and honor his life and fond memories.