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Day: September 9, 2014

From Apple to Keizer’s Big Toy

Valeria Moore, a former Apple employee, has taken on the task of designing the website for the Big Toy. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Valeria Moore, a former Apple employee, has taken on the task of designing the website for the Big Toy. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Valeria Moore heard the words come out of her mouth, but couldn’t quite believe it.

It was 2008, when Moore and her partner Mike were living in Seattle. Moore was ready for a change.

“It was just a toxic environment,” she said. “My partner Mike had a friend in Salem. Mike came down to visit him and his friend took him out on a trip. It’s always beautiful here. He called me from the car: ‘Honey, I’m out in this beautiful area, with rolling green hills.’ Out of my mouth came these words: ‘Do you want to move there?’ There’s a pause, then ‘yes.’ By the time he got back (to Seattle) I was already packed.”

After renting a house in Salem for a few years, the couple then moved to Keizer. Moore, who has been putting together a website for the Big Toy play structure project, has been happy with the move.

“I really like it here,” she said. “It’s my speed. That’s not a put down on any level. Sometimes you reach a time in life when you need to slow down.”

The slowdown makes sense when you consider how busy Moore has been over the years.

The native of Branson, Mo. grew up in Missouri and later Arkansas. When she turned 16 in 1968, her mom got her a job as a nurse in a hospital. Moore quickly realized that wasn’t her calling. By 1971, she decided to hitchhike out to the West Coast.

“I wanted to get out of Arkansas,” she said. “The environment back there at the time was repressive. I was not a person who fell into the same prejudicial way of thinking. It was time for me to get out. I just trusted the universe. I had a gut feeling I had to go, had to leave now. I had an aunt in San Jose, so I thought I would land there. The rest is history.”

In 1981, Moore had two young children to support and realized her company wasn’t on the up-and-up. A friend encouraged her to apply at the relatively new company called Apple.

“I was young at the time and didn’t have much experience,” Moore said. “I gave my friend my resume. I got a call the same day things went sideways at my previous job. This lady wanted to make an offer. I had a smattering of experience, but it was nothing in-depth.”

Moore got a job in cost accounting, eventually working up the ranks to general accounting manager.

“It was a huge learning experience,” she said. “It was a crazy place. I cannot even begin to tell you how crazy. It was like the Wild West. Everyone was a cowboy. You had to behave like that. We didn’t have procedures or policies in place. The biggest effort was putting in procedures. It grew so fast. It takes a certain personality that thrives in a setting like that and Steve Jobs had that. He was the type of person who was interested in taking it to the next level. That set a tone for how people behaved in that company.

“For me, it really fit my personality,” Moore added. “I was as dysfunctional as anyone, so I fit in. It was long hours, but there was appreciation for the long hours and the hard work. We were well compensated for the hard work. The first 10 years were good for me in terms of skill development and showed me a path where I wanted to go in life. I am happy sitting in front of a computer doing code and graphic work.”

Moore said the company experienced growing pains and “things started getting weird” by the early 1990s. She left Apple, went back to school for a degree in Computer and Information Sciences at the University of California and landed at Sun Microsystems. She then moved to Seattle and worked for a company doing colocation, just as the Internet started to take off. She then became a consultant.

“In 2002 I just sort of stopped,” Moore said. “That dysfunctionality caught up with me. I got really sick, with double pneumonia. My doctor said I was one of the sickest people still standing. My immune system was shutting down. I just needed a very long break from technology, from the 24/7 environment. I tried to sort through my dysfunction the next few years. It took me a while.”

Moore found the area she loved was contributing to her problems.

“I fell in love with Seattle,” she said. “I went on vacation there in the early 1990s. I thought it was the most beautiful place on the planet. But there’s no place you can live there without constant airplane noise. I couldn’t take the continual airplane noise. Plus the traffic is 24-7.”

Since moving to Keizer, Moore has been working on websites and does some information technology consulting. Earlier this year, she changed her company name from Blue Jean Consulting to Moore Web Work.

“Within 24 hours of filing that with the state and buying the domain, all of these contacts and past stuff just came,” Moore said. “It was all at once.”

Last year, Moore’s partner got into an accident that led him to meeting attorney Richard Walsh, co-chair of the Community Build Task Force for the Big Toy project.

“Richard mentioned to Mike needing someone to do the website,” Moore said. “Mike came home and said something. Then he kept saying something. I was busy doing IT consulting. Finally I asked, ‘What is this project?’ He said they needed a website for a kids playground. He said it’s for the kids. I said I can get behind that, maybe I should do something with that.”

Walsh got Moore in touch with Brandon Smith, who had put together an interim website. Moore is hoping to get her site finished in the next couple of months, though a number of changes requested at the July CBTF meeting slowed things down.

And about the talk that Moore worked side-by-side with the Apple founder…

“I met Steve Jobs a couple of times,” she said. “I was not Steve’s right hand woman or anything like that. That would not have worked at all. I was there at the company and met him a couple of times.”

Defendant pleads guilty in fatal Keizer heroin case

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A defendant entered a guilty plea last week to conspiracy to distribute heroin, which resulted in the death of a 21-year-old Keizer woman.

Sergio Quezada-Lopez of Mexico, 35, appeared before U.S. District Judge Michael Simon in Portland on Aug. 25. Quezada-Lopez entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin in quantities of one kilogram or more that resulted in death. The minimum sentence for the charge is 20 years in prison, while the maximum sentence is life. Quezada-Lopez is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Dec. 1.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, the investigation started in April 2012 when Keizer Police Department officers responded to the residence of Laurin Putnam, who was found deceased.

“The initial investigation indicated that her death was likely caused by a heroin overdose and later confirmed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office,” the release read in part. “Soon after her death, investigators learned the identity of the last person in the chain that was responsible for distributing the heroin to Putnam that caused her death. From there, investigators were able to identify several conspirators and move six levels up the chain of distribution to Sergio Quezada-Lopez. During the investigation, agents learned that Sergio Quezada-Lopez was a high level member of a large scale conspiracy involving the distribution of significant quantities of heroin in Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado.”

Quezada-Lopez was arrested on April 20, 2012, just four days after Putnam’s body was found.

“Quezada-Lopez’s role in the conspiracy involved his taking over and operating a network of stash houses in Portland and Vancouver, Washington,” according to the statement. “He would receive orders for heroin and then direct its delivery to customers. Co-conspirators collected cash payments and then transferred the money to Quezada-Lopez. During searches of stash houses, agents seized over four pounds of heroin, additional quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, drug ledgers, identification documents, packaging materials, two guns and over $20,000 in U.S. Currency.”

The statement noted the fingerprints of Quezada-Lopez were found on a drug ledger in one of the stash houses, as well as an identification document with his photo. Agents listened to a conversation between Quezada-Lopez and a co-conspirator where the suspect described the amount of heroin that needed to be delivered.

The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) through its Salem DEA Drug Task Force; the KPD with assistance from the Salem Police Department; the Marion County Sheriff’s Office; the Oregon State Police; the Washington County Interagency Narcotics Team (WIN); the Portland Police Bureau; the Oregon State Medical Examiner; the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force; the Oregon Department of Justice and the Portland-based Highway Interdiction Team.

When Putnam’s body was discovered in April 2012, her death was the fourth fatal heroin overdose of the year.

“The tragic death of Ms. Putnam was the fourth heroin overdose death this year in Keizer and it highlights the growing heroin problem in our area,” then-Keizer police chief Marc Adams said at the time.

Four other citizens of Mexico were also indicted at the time: Braulio Acosta Mendoza, Jose Romo Gonzalez, Jose Aldan Soto and Julian Hernandez Castillo.

Gerri Badden with the Department of Justice said on Tuesday there wasn’t an update on those four.

“From what I can tell, the other individuals’ cases remain pending,” Badden said.