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Day: September 19, 2014

Bulldogs next test for gridders

Celt Kyle Aicher sets his sights on Westview’s Raul Reese during a dame Friday, Sept. 12. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Kyle Aicher sets his sights on Westview’s Raul Reese during a dame Friday, Sept. 12. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes 

The McNary High School varsity football teams meets the first of three new Greater Valley Conference foes Friday, Sept. 19.

The Celts (1-0 in conference, 1-1 overall) hit the road to face West Albany High School, which is making its return to 6A ranks. The last time two teams were in the same conference, it was known as the Valley League.

“I think our team turned a corner in the second half of the game with Westview last week. I was really pleased with the effort put forward. I am hopeful that we will remember that level of play, and bring it every game here forward. I expect to see us play with that type of energy and excitement against West Albany and, if we do, we should fare well against them,” said Isaac Parker McNary head coach.

In the Westview game, it was the Celtic defense that spent much of the first half on the field. The offense wasn’t able to reset the chains against the Wildcats until well into the first quarter. McNary scored 14 unanswered points in the second half, but never threatened for the lead in a 34-20 loss.

The most lucrative combination in that game were air attacks from quarterback Drew McHugh to receiver Devon Dunagan, but several receivers contributed while playing on both sides of the ball. Dunagan piled up 103 yards on eight catches. Senior Kyle Torres has 92 yards on four catches with a touchdown.

McNary’s defense made as many key plays as its offense in the second half with big stops, sacks and a stripped ball that ended Westview drives.

One of the top priorities for Parker is getting the ground game back in shape. Anemic would be a gracious description of the results last week. The Celts averaged less than two yards per carry with 25 attempts.

“It’s amazing how fragile a run game can be.  A couple small improvements, and the run game would have been much better against Westview. Luckily, we had those teachable moments in our one and only non-league game. Our run game and our team will be better because of what we get to learn from last Friday,” he said.

The Bulldogs (1-1 in conference) dropped their first game of the season to Sprague High School 28-13. Last week, they beat North Salem High School 21-6. The Celts beat the Vikings 35-21 two weeks ago.

The Bulldogs lost a ton of talent to graduation, but they return with a stout defense. Seniors Luc LaChapelle, JT Valenzuela, and current quarterback Joey Roos each collected an all-state selection as juniors last year when the team won the 5A state championship.

Johnson’s family, Keizer Police relieved by outcome

Jean Ausborn, the mother of murder victim Phillip Johnson, hugs prosecutor Paige Clarkson after the jury found Victor David Smith guilty on Tuesday. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Jean Ausborn, the mother of murder victim Phillip Johnson, hugs prosecutor Paige Clarkson after the jury found Victor David Smith guilty on Tuesday. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM – Shortly after the verdict was read, Jean Ausborn bowed her head.

“Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus,” she sobbed quietly as the tears flowed.

For more than 10 years, Ausborn had been waiting for this day. It finally came at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when Marion County Circuit Court Judge Tom Hart read the verdict delivered by the jury.

Victor David Smith was found guilty of murdering Phillip Lynn Johnson – Ausborn’s son – with a firearm outside Johnson’s Keizer apartment on the night of July 1, 2004. The charge carries a life sentence, with a minimum of 25 years served.

Afterwards, Ausborn had many she wanted to thank.

“I want to give honor to God,” she said. “I want to thank Him for this day.”

Ausborn was also thankful for prosecutor Paige Clarkson and others with the Marion County District Attorneys office, as well as everyone from the Keizer Police Department that worked on the case over the years, in addition to other police agencies.

“I want to thank them for not giving up,” Ausborn said. “It’s so overwhelming.”

Amidst the family’s jubilation on Tuesday, the pain was there as well – just as it has been every day since that fateful night in 2004.

“It’s bittersweet,” Ausborn said. “I lost my child, but we got justice for him. It took a long time.”

Could Ausborn have ever predicted that justice would take so long?

“No,” she said. “I never thought it would take that long. But this was worth waiting for.”

The verdict announced on Tuesday concluded the second trial in the case. The first trial took place in June, with a hung jury resulting in a mistrial.

However, that mistrial did not deter Ausborn’s hopes. If anything, just the opposite happened.

“After we went through that first trial and we heard everything, I felt it was worth waiting for,” she said. “I just had this gut feeling there would be justice the second time. I felt the evidence was there, we just had to get the right jury.”

For Ausborn, Tuesday was proof positive she had her faith in the right place all along.

“God is good,” Ausborn said. “He has given us justice. My faith and beliefs kept me going. He is true in His word. I just believed it.”

Lt. John Troncoso with the KPD helped work the case from the start and felt relief for the Johnson family.

“This was a long time coming,” Troncoso said. “I’m thankful for the patience Phillip Johnson’s family had. They called every year. I talked with them on some of those calls. I’m glad to be able to see some resolution for them.”

Troncoso noted the case had been hard on everyone who helped investigate it. He said this was the most investigated case in KPD history, with more interviews than any other case. That included two trips to Arizona, a trip to Idaho and various parts of Oregon.

“This was our oldest unsolved case,” Troncoso said. “It’s a relief to us. This brings all of that to a close. It was a sizable investigation.”

Troncoso said two key witnesses – Sara Fandrei and Steven Chrisco – changing their stories in April 2009 and admitting they drove Smith to the site of the murder helped detectives put the pieces together.

“Clearly that was the pivotal point,” he said. “Then we knew (Smith) was no danger to the public, as long as we could get him before he got out of jail. There were just a lot of things that needed to be collaborated.”

Troncoso said there were three case officers – Jennifer Roberts, Rodney Bamford and Dmitry White – in charge of the investigation over the years.

“They all did so much work on it,” Troncoso said. “They all put so much into it. It wouldn’t have happened without their work. But we can only take it so far. The DA’s office carries it in. They did an excellent job with it. I thank God the jury saw it for what it is.”

Troncoso’s thoughts were also with Johnson’s family.

“This doesn’t bring Phillip Johnson back, but the family needed it – and they deserved it,” he said.

Cats sink claws into Celts with 34-20 win

Celt Jacob Burrus strips the ball from Westview’s Austin Brisbee in the game Friday, Sept. 12. McNary lost the game, but rallied for a strong second half.  (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Jacob Burrus strips the ball from Westview’s Austin Brisbee in the game Friday, Sept. 12. McNary lost the game, but rallied for a strong second half. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes 

For a game that ended in a 34-20 loss for McNary High School varsity football team, there was rarely a dull moment in the Celtics’ clash with Westview High School Friday, Sept. 12.

The Wildcats repeatedly threatened to blot out the lights on Flesher Field Friday, but the Celtics were raging against it until the final drives of the game.

Westview’s hurry-up offense buried McNary 27-6 by the half, but the Celts returned from the break refreshed and ready to make a game of it despite the score.

“We constantly impress on our kids to only bear the weight of things that they can control.  If they are stressing over things that they don’t have control over, they will never be comfortable. I think our kids sorted through what they had control over, what they didn’t, and tried to refocus on the things that they could do,” said Isaac Parker, McNary head coach.

The Celts’ opening drive sputtered and ended up turning over the ball on downs after a fourth-and-three attempt failed. The Wildcats struck first three plays later on a quarterback keeper by Austin Brisbee, who ran the ball in from the McNary nine-yard line. The touchdown put the team up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.

McNary’s return drive suffered a deathblow in the form of a sack that lost the team nine yards on a second down attempt, but Westview ran into troubles of its own.

After a holding call that put the Cats on their own 29-yard line at first-and-20, senior Connor Goff got a tackle that held Westview at third-and-16. Kolby Barker halted a run attempt by Brisbee, and Devon Dunagan sacked Brisbee on the next attempt to end the drive.

The Celts punted away the next drive and its defense crumbled under the passing attack leading to a touchdown run from the McNary 20-yard line. The Cats went up 14-0 on the play.

“We gave up two touchdowns on fourth down because we lost discipline on the play.  Both of those were simple plays for us to execute, but it got lost in the chaos of their offense. They have a great gameplan to put stress on the defense like they do, and we learned in the second half to ignore the distractions of their system, and focus in on our jobs,” Parker said.

McNary started the next drive from its 35-yard line and reset the chains, for the first time in the game, on a run by junior Brady Sparks. On the next play, Sparks got caught behind the line of scrimmage and two passing attempts went incomplete.

The second quarter began halfway through Westview’s return drive and they scored three plays later for a 20-0 lead after a missed point-after attempt. The Celts were stymied at midfield, but a punt from Dunagan took a McNary bounce and rolled toward the end zone where a Cat and Celtic waited for it to come to a stop. The Wildcat player pushed McNary’s player out of the way and kicked the ball into the end zone as he tried to get his bearings. McNary recovered it for a touchdown and its first points of the game. The point-after attempt was blocked and the score stood at 20-6.

The Celts tried to take advantage of the momentum swing with an onside kick by Parker Janssen that took a bounce over Westview’s first line, but then fell into Cat hands. Tevita Maake got a tackle for a loss on the third play of the drive and Westview punted the opportunity away, burying McNary at their own nine-yard line.

McNary never moved the chains and pressure on Dunagan’s punt attempt helped send it off the wrong side of his foot. Despite starting from McNary’s 16-yard line, the Wildcats’ drive met with one of the stronger appearances from the Celtic defense. A tackle by Tanner Gordon and a pass broken up by Anthony Nguyen led into a last-ditch attempt at fourth-and-seven. Brisbee connected with a teammate just outside the end of the field under heavy Celtic pressure to end the drive.

The Wildcats scored on their next drive for a 27-6 lead, and left the Celts with 44 seconds left in the half, which wasn’t enough.

Westview scored on its opening drive in the third for a 34-6 lead, but it was the last time they would find the McNary end zone. The Celts struggled on the ground and in the air in their next drive, but tackles by Barker, Goff, and Tim Hays led to a fourth-and-one attempt by Westview. Lacroix Hill and Jacob Burrus stopped the drive and McNary took over on downs at their own 32-yard line.

On McNary’s first play, quarterback Drew McHugh connected with Kyle Torres around the Westview 40-yard line and Torres ran the ball to the end zone for a score of 34-13.

Celt Matt Aguilar recovered an onside kick giving the Keizer team another chance that almost ended before it began. McHugh was sacked for a nine-yard loss on the first play. A run and pass attempt left them at fourth-and-long. After a Celtic timeout, McHugh connected with Dungan at the Westview 16-yard line to reset the chains, but the drive fizzled out after that.

The Wildcats seemed poised to march the ball back down the field, but a tackle by Kyle Aicher and a sack by Nick LaFountaine forced a punt.

On the verge of a three-and-out drive, McHugh tucked the ball and ran. Spinning out of a tackle, he got a first down. He connected with Dunagan four times in the ensuing plays to put the Celts at first-and-goal at Westview’s one-yard line. McHugh followed the line into the end zone for the final 34-20 score.

Torres ended the next Westview drive picking off a pass and sliding out of bounds on his knees. Burrus put the kibosh on Westview’s final attempt by stripping the ball from Brisbee’s hands on a third down attempt and forced a punt.

“We had plans to take away their biggest offensive threats, their two tight ends, and I feel like we did a good job of that. We wanted to force them to beat us with other players,” Parker said. “We started to do our jobs, and held them well in the second half.  In the future, hurry-up offense or not, that is going to be the key to our defensive success-whether we are focused on our jobs or not, and having the discipline to execute consistently.”

Guilty on second try

Victor David Smith (right) confers with defense attorney Olcott Thompson in court on Tuesday morning. Smith was found guilty of the 2004 murder of Keizer's Phillip Johnson. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Victor David Smith (right) confers with defense attorney Olcott Thompson in court on Tuesday morning. Smith was found guilty of the 2004 murder of Keizer’s Phillip Johnson. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM – Early on, Victor David Smith was a prime suspect in the July 1, 2004 murder of Keizer’s Phillip Lynn Johnson.

More than 10 years and two trials later, a Marion County Circuit Court jury on Tuesday declared Smith guilty of murder with a firearm. Sentencing was expected to take place Thursday after press time, but the charge carries a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years.

The verdict was met with relief from Johnson’s family members (see related story, pg. 11) who watched every minute of the trial, just as they did back in June for the first trial.

In June, the jury was sent out to deliberations on a Friday. The following Wednesday, judge Tom Hart declared a mistrial due to a hung jury.

There was no repeat this time. Jury selection took place Sept. 10, with the trial itself starting the following day. Closing arguments were given Tuesday morning. The jury was out for less than four hours before returning its verdict late in the afternoon.

Prosecutors Paige Clarkson and David Wilson tried a case in which no murder weapon was ever found and in which no witnesses could positively identify the shooter. In addition, this month’s trial happened 10 years after the shooting.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was needing to rely on testimony from several people who aren’t exactly model citizens. Chief among those was Steven Chrisco, who is currently in prison and has been in trouble with the law for the past 15 years.

It was Chrisco and then-girlfriend Sara Fandrei, the first two witnesses for the prosecution, who helped turn the case around. Both initially told detectives with the Keizer Police Department they were at the Salem apartment they shared on the night of the murder.

In separate interviews days apart in April 2009, however, both told a different story: they took Smith to Johnson’s apartment complex the night of the murder. Both testified in court Smith got out of Fandrei’s car and jumped the fence. Minutes later, they heard gunshots and Smith hopped back over the fence, getting back into Fandrei’s car.

“You can’t mistake a gunshot,” said Fandrei, who estimated she heard five shots. “It sounds like nothing else.”

Fandrei couldn’t recall any discussion in the car after Smith got back in.

“I was so focused on not dying,” she said. “I just did what I was told to do. Other than being threatened if I said anything and my life would be taken or my family’s life would be taken, nothing was said.”

Fandrei said she wanted to tell the police the truth “every day, all the time” but couldn’t for fear of her safety. When police talked to her again nearly five years later, she noted things had changed.

“I didn’t feel like I was in danger anymore,” she said. “I didn’t feel I would be taken. I felt confident the investigators would protect me.”

Chrisco, who acknowledged he was being a snitch for ratting out Smith, testified he gave Smith his .357 revolver shortly before the shooting, even though Smith didn’t have the $250 to pay him.

“He said he’d get me the money,” said Chrisco, who later said he figured Smith would “pick up the money or maybe rob someone” that night.

Both Clarkson and defense attorney Olcott Thompson brought up Chrisco’s past.

“The state doesn’t get to pick witnesses,” Clarkson said during closing arguments. “If we could, we wouldn’t choose Steven Chrisco. If you want to kill somebody, you don’t call your pastor. You call Steven Chrisco for his gun. You call someone with a history of violent behavior. But despite the consequences, he told you what happened on July 1, 2004.”

As he did in June, Thompson suggested others could have been the shooter, including Mexican drug dealers, a gang member who got into a fight with Johnson the week before and Chrisco himself.

“The state says Mr. Chrisco lied for five years,” Thompson said in closing arguments. “He’s still lying. People are pointing the finger at (him). What’s the best way to get the finger pointed to someone else? Change who the shooter is. That leaves you with two options: either Mr. Chrisco hopped the fence and did (the shooting), or Steven Chrisco and Sara Fandrei picked up someone else who did it.”

Thompson, who called Chrisco “a lying snitch,” pointed out Chrisco had accused Smith of shooting him in the leg five years earlier and asked why Chrisco would thus give Smith a loaded revolver.

Prosecutors detailed a timeline of phone calls from the night of the murder, including one from Smith to Johnson that night. They also played calls between Imani Williams – Smith’s live-in girlfriend who was still having an affair with Johnson – and her brother Michael Monk, as well as a follow-up call between Monk and Smith.

During the latter call, Smith could be heard telling Monk of his issues with Johnson. Later in the call, Monk asked, “So it’s all downhill? Ain’t no stopping it?” to which Smith replies affirmatively.

As they did in June, prosecutors emphasized several letters Smith sent to Williams while behind bars for previous crimes.

“(Smith) asked her repeatedly to end her relationship with the victim,” Wilson said. “She wouldn’t end it. The defendant called Mr. Johnson and asked him to stop; he wouldn’t, either. There was only one way for it to end: the defendant would have to put an end to it. That happened on July 1, 2004.”

Both the opening and closing arguments for the prosecution started with Smith’s “prophecy” of what would happen as a result of his love for Williams.

One of the 15 witnesses brought in by the prosecution was Roy Sjolander, who was roomed with Smith for two weeks earlier this year in prison. Sjolander testified Smith told him about shooting Johnson.

“He said he got out, went over the wall and confronted Mr. Johnson,” Sjolander said. “He said he was by himself going over the wall. He said there were three shots.”

Clarkson pointed to Sjolander’s testimony during her closing arguments.

“He told you it was over a girl,” Clarkson said. “The details are consistent. He talks about (Chrisco’s) girlfriend driving, about going over a wall and confronting the victim. Those details are fitting with everything else we know…This defendant felt comfortable enough to tell his story. He never felt in a million years (Sjolander) would come in and testify.”

Johnson’s friend Daron Wade testified he was leaving the Cascadia Village Apartments residence Johnson shared with his live-in girlfriend when he saw the shooting. Wade said he didn’t see the shooter, but ran to Johnson’s apartment to tell the girlfriend to call 9-1-1. Wade, who had run-ins with the law, then left the scene but talked to authorities later.

Johnson’s girlfriend, who gave birth to the couple’s daughter a few months later, delivered some of the most emotion on the stand.

“No one should experience the pain,” she said. “Knowing I was carrying his child and that he wouldn’t be able to see her, it was devastating.”

The girlfriend called it the hardest day of her life.

“I want justice served,” she said. “I want my daughter to know the coward who did this will rot in jail. She’s 9 and will never meet her dad. Why? Because of someone’s stupid choice.”

Thompson said in his closing statements not all angles were thoroughly looked at.

“The state is saying, ‘Just trust us. We looked at everything. We followed the leads. We talked to a lot of people, wrote a lot of reports,’” Thompson said. “That’s not how it works.”

In her rebuttal, Clarkson countered that all information was indeed vetted. She ended by replaying the conversation between Monk and Smith on the night of the murder.

“Today, 10 years later, it’s all downhill from here for this defendant,” Clarkson said. “Ain’t no stopping it. The verdict you find must be guilty.”

Thompson said afterwards he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

“The state is supposed to win,” he said. “That’s how the system is set up. It’s not surprising.”

Thompson credited the prosecution for some changes made since June.

“The state plugged some holes they had,” Thompson said. “They brought in Roy Sjolander. He wasn’t there the first time.”

Thompson expects action to be taken later.

“I’m positive it is going to be appealed,” he said. “I hope it will be looked at seriously, but it will not be me. It’s good to have fresh eyes.”

Together again, at last

After six years of often acrimonious relations, Keizer’s two major youth baseball organizations are talking about putting themselves back together. Keizer Little League and the Keizer Youth Sports Association (KYSA) are in talks to merge and be one again.

That’s good news for sports fans and really good news for Keizer’s kids.

The split between the two groups was always a head-scratcher for outsiders. A group of Little League supporters sought a different set up for baseball, broke off and formed KYSA.  They didn’t exactly take their ball and go home; they took their ball and started their own club. It may have made the founders of KYSA feel good but it wasn’t always the best route for our kids who just wanted to play ball.

The current merger talks are really about maintenance of the fields. The job of maintaining and repairing the baseball complex is so big it needs the help of everyone involved with youth baseball in Keizer.

After winning the management contract from the city, Keizer Little League management soon discovered that operating the baseball fields is no easy task. Volunteers need to irrigate and mow grass, assure the infrastructure—concession stand, bleachers, parking lot—need to be cleaned and maintained. Like many volunteer-driven organizations, it is 10 percent who do most of the work. If the need to better take care of the facility is the impetus for merger talks, that’s just fine.

Apparently, early discussions about actual baseball is to create tournament and non-tournament teams; games for everyone whether they just want to play or if they want to vie for championships. Baseball as it should be: something for everyone.

We encourage both Keizer Little League and Keizer Youth Sports Association to do all it can to assure a seamless reintegration and focus on their core mission. The kids in Keizer will win because they’ll be able to play the type of baseball they choose. The Little League complex will win because all the volutneers will work together to maintain one of Oregon’s finest sports facilities.

It remains to be determined what  the name of the merged organization will be be and how its mission will fit into Little League requirements and limitations. It doesn’t matter what name is used, what matters is that the people who love baseball in Keizer are putting their own interests aside to focus on our kids.

Play ball!

 — LAZ

Sunset Avenue herd

To the Editor:

I am an animal lover and a nature lover. The sight of wild animals is a thrill, well, most of the time.

The past two years we who live on Sunset Avenue have had a doe and her fawns living in our yards. Yes, they are so darn cute until they ruin your bark dust with their tromping and pooping, eat your garden and cross in front of your car unannounced. then, not so cute. And we can’t do anything other than spend a bunch of money putting up fences or other methods that never work. Oh, and did you know you have to have a permit to “shoo” them out of your yard? Otherwise, it’s harassment. I’m afraid the deer and/or drivers will soon be hurt—this is not a good scenario for these beautiful creatures in terms of safety. Granted they have a sweet deal living off our bountiful yards, but what rights do we have as we are being harassed by them? They should not be in a neighborhood, getting used to easy pickings and close proximity to the Willamette River for water (and, I suspect, where the doe crosses to meet up with the father of her offspring). They need to be relocated but it appears that will never happen unless they decide to move—and I don’t see that happening. So, my husband and I have asked the Fish and Wildlife [Department] for the appropriate permit so we can at least legally encourage them to leave our yard. At least the permit is free…

Barbara Smith Henke
Keizer

I’m voting for Mr. Keizer

To the Editor:

I was so glad when Roland Herrera told me he was running for Keizer City Council.  I first met Roland when my boys were in Little League and Roland was their coach (almost 25 years ago).

I was awed by his commitment and the utter joy in his attitude toward coaching squirrely little boys. Having my kids in sports programs was an option I thought would be very helpful to me since I was raising them as a single mom and contact with their father was minimal. I thought Roland treated my kids like they were related to his family. There were many Saturdays “off season,” he would call and say he’s picking the boys up to take them to the batting cages or some other adventure he was taking his kids and my kids to. I know this was a normal thing fathers do with their sons but to me it was such a thoughtful gesture and my kids so needed “man” time with someone that loved to let them be kids and treated them like he did his own. Roland will always have a place in my heart for his contribution to my kids becoming respectful, thoughtful adult men.

I wholeheartedly support and cast my vote for Roland and his campaign for Keizer City Council. Roland is Mr. Little League and Mr. Keizer and has been a dedicated “giver” to our community long before I met him. Roland is running for Keizer City Council because he loves Keizer not because he loves politics. I love this man for all he has done for Keizer and personally, for the special attention he paid to the kids of a single mom who was raising her boys by the seat of her pants.

Nancy Buell Schlag
Keizer

The gravity of the situation

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

Today we’ll explain gravity.  We’ll leave more current issues to more qualified commentators—as if there is a more current issue than gravity.  As you read this you are doubtless relying on gravity to prevent you from flying off the chair into near space.

The qualifications for explaining gravity are not that important.  We have lived with a graduate physics student and he has no plausible explanation.  That means that none of you can, with authority, say that I’m wrong.  With today’s “Meh, science…” attitudes challenge is unlikely anyway.

Gravity rules our lives. The most preposterous thing our physics grad has told us is that we are all made up of atoms. The mirror makes me think I’m a lumpishly formed assembly of softly bound chemicals, solid enough.  Nope.  I am instead, in scientific terms, mostly empty space with zillions of atoms which are in turn mostly empty space – little electrons and protons orbiting little neutrons for some reason.  If all that were true I don’t see why we would need doors.  One cloud of atoms should be able to peaceably pass through another.

Be that as it may, it’s gravity that keeps both the door of the house and all its inhabitants firmly stuck to the ground.  I say to you that gravity also controls the cycle of life.

I bet it will turn out that gravity is some sort of electromagnetic force.  When gravity first encounters a newborn infant it is faced with a lot of newborn atoms, lots of untrained electrons and neutrons uncertain of their response to this persistent pull from beneath—uncertain, even, why there is a beneath.  That’s why babies can’t walk or solve crosswords. Motor skills and cognition seem less important than how to fill the belly and who is the nice person that feeds me.

After a time all those atoms get nicely aligned and gravity becomes the constant that allows them to reliably defy it.  Their atoms have unified and knitted so well that they are allowed to survive a jump off the garage into the pool even knowing it’s a poor idea.  All those atoms in harmony give them a brief window in which to learn most easily, run more and jump higher.  The atoms that tell them it is not a good idea to jump off the roof or ride on the hood of a car driven by a peer develop more slowly.

That goes along pretty well until you have children. Gravity then reasonably enough concentrates on their development and you begin noticing changes.  Some of the electrons and protons that help you remember things and lift heavy stuff have suddenly hurtled off and left you short.  All of those little particles simply tire at the crazed pace of their crucial but ultimately boring orbit of the luckier neutrons. I also think that your remaining atoms may spin at a slightly reduced rate. I was supposed to go mow the church lawn on Friday.  I remembered on Saturday after we had already driven to Eastern Washington for the weekend.  You can see that I didn’t forget—I just remembered more slowly than I used to.

It is gravity that maintains what semblance of order there is to this soup of atoms we negotiate every day.  Places everybody, gravity is here to direct.  Someday I think we’ll find that it is not coincidence that gravity and God start with G.  All those little magnetic tethers are perhaps pulled from the center.

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

Chemeketa search should irk taxpayers

Not much has been heard from of late by way of the shenanigan-ridden Willamette Education Service District (WESD). Has Chemeketa Community College (CCC) grabbed that baton and will it now march it through the streets and byways of the area the college serves?  The latest out of CCC is that its leadership has decided to make a move that smells an awful lot like a stinking insider political deal.

Chemeketa Community College has decided to bring back into service, at the rate of $150 an hour, with what’s likely a flexible cap of $25,000 on her earnings, a former employee who retired nine years ago and has been PERS-paid around $70,000 per annum ever since. PERS records show that she received around $80,000 a year while she was still employed at the college before leaving in 2005.

What will she do to receive $150 per hour until she reaches or exceeds $25,000? She will help the college find a new president.  Head hunter organizations with a team of persons involved and experienced at what they’re hired to do are usually hired. If the news account is accurate, Chemekeeta Community College’s contracted hire will be a sole proprietor.

What frosts this taxpayer is that we taxpayers are already giving her $6,000 a month for her years of service and now we must shell out another $25,000 or more for her to do something that may, since she spent about 30 years in Oregon community college work, entail a very light work load to find and vet a few prospects.  After all, it’s presumed she has oodles and oodles of community college-level friends and acquaintances throughout the U.S. and Canada, making the job, as imagined, a few phone calls, some e-mail writing and a report of findings.

She could offer to help for no remuneration, as a volunteer, which an altruistic person would do.  However, since money these days appears the chief motivator and would seem to apply in this case, it might require a person of saintly disposition to offer to do the search—or help with the search—because she wants to pay back Oregonians for the great opportunity with good pay they provided her for 30 years.

Meanwhile, there’s a seven-member CCC board of education that’s the power behind the “throne;” there are 456 full-time staff, 221 full-time faculty members, 513 part-time faculty and 446 hourly and student employees. Are the paid folks already there so busy with their duties and responsibilities they can’t spare a few hours to assist in helping the search to find a new head person?

Over this difficult-to-swallow contract one is reminded that far too many of our public officials use public money without regard for how much taxpayers are charged to support their agencies and institutions: they make lousy spending decisions as though it matters not at all how those who must foot the bill feel about what looks like a favored relative’s hire.   As already noted here, there are literally hundreds of college employees and the board members themselves who could do the work by virtue of the fact that they’re already being paid, while, as for the college’s seven board of education members, elected to do a job taxpayers thought they’d be responsible and dedicated enough to do themselves.

Is their argument at Chemeketa Community College all about objectivity and the only way they can get it is by way of someone outside the institution coming up with candidate names?  Maybe so, usually, but in this case it is in no way an impartial person CCC has hired to perform this work as she is as much “inside the beltway” from her years in CCC hallways as any politician from the halls of Congress.

Three ending comments are:  $25,000 would help many a local youth attend CCC and pay other public service costs like those, for example, in Polk County where the presence of police protection is alarmingly absent; Askance is how this opinion writer will view any future bond measure by CCC; and  double-dipping by a PERS’ retiree, as is the case here, lends to the public’s contempt of all PERS retirees.  Then, too, why is it that people who choose to retire can’t stick by their decision and must come back to feed more piggishly at the public trough.

The bottom line at Chemeketa Community College is that one person gets second helpings.  Others go hungry.  Nothing to admire at the north end of Salem’s Lancaster Drive.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. His column appear weekly in the Keizertimes.)

Marian Jean Lee Stimac

M. Stimac
M. Stimac

Marian Jean Lee Stimac was born in Portland September 19, 1924 and died at Portland’s Holladay Park Plaza September 7, 2014 surrounded, as always, by her family. She was 89.

Jean’s life was centered on her family, her friends, and her love of gardening, sewing, and travel; she was happy to have been to nearly every continent, missing only Australia. She had a particular gift for flower arranging and decorating and celebrated Christmas and other holidays with great enthusiasm and creative energy.

Jean was preceded in death by her first husband Allen Lee; her daughter Diana Lee Holuka; her second husband Joseph Stimac; her parents Albert and Hester Hyde; and her brother James Albert Hyde.

She is survived by her children Cheryl Lee Brockman (David), Karen Lee Rice (Doug). Fletcher Lee (Joan), Rebecca Lee Enterline, Terry Lee (Teresa), and Scott Lee (Joanne Mechling). She also is survived by 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, her sister Mattie Irene Little and brother Ray Hyde.

Jean graduated from Portland’s Girls Polytechnic High School in June 1942 and married Allen on September 23 of that year. They lived in Rainier and Molalla before settling on a farm in the Clear Lake area of Keizer in 1950 to raise their family. During their 43 years of marriage they travelled extensively both domestically and internationally in conjunction with Allen’s career in education, always returning home to their beloved farm. Allen passed away in 1985.

Jean married Joseph on March 24, 1990 and her family circle extended to include Joe’s seven children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Jean and Joe enjoyed eight years of companionship and travel before his death in 1998.

Jean continued to live in her home at Keizer’s McNary Golf Course until she moved to Portland’s Holladay Park Plaza in April 2008. She developed friendships wherever she went and delighted in making new friends within the Holladay Park community. In addition to her sunny disposition and her love of conversation, Jean was known for her involvement in many activities and for creating unique flower arrangements for birthday dinners honoring fellow residents.

Jean’s family extends our deepest appreciation to the staff and residents of Holladay Park Plaza for their friendship, care and support of Jean during her time there.

A celebration of Jean’s life will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20 at Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Funeral Home, located at 6705 S.E. 14th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202. All are welcome to attend.