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Month: September 2014

Girls soccer downs Roosevelt 4-0, falters against Canby

Lady Celt Kolbie Kopp takes a shot in the game with Roosevelt High School Tuesday, Sept. 9.  (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Lady Celt Kolbie Kopp takes a shot in the game with Roosevelt High School Tuesday, Sept. 9. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

After a powerful home opener, a 4-0 win, the McNary High School girls varsity soccer team lost a contest to a dominating Canby High School team 9-0 Thursday, Sept. 11.

A raucous crowd in attendance for the Roosevelt game was the “12th man” for the team, said AJ Nash, McNary head coach. The teams ended the first half in a stalemate with McNary having made more attempts on goal, but never finding the back of the net.

“Our combination play in the midfield and speed of play picked up significantly (during the game),” Nash said.

In the second half, Isabella Heath, a sophomore, netted the first goal of the season for the Lady Celts after winning the ball on the attack an placing it into the left side of the net from 20 yards out. Five minutes later, sophomore Kolbie Kopp scored on an assist by Heath from six yards out.

Freshman Jessy Shore scored from 25 yards out in the 66th minute and Kopp netted the final goal of the game an assist by Shore that led to a breakaway run.

The Cougars turned the tables on the Celts two days later in a 9-0 thrashing.

“Canby was our first game on turf this season and it took us about 60 minutes to settle into playing on turf,” Nash said. “We were beat by a better team, and had a hard time finding an answer for one specific player in their attack.”

Nash said the team is adding a new formation to its line-up for deployment when facing teams like Canby in the future.

“It will add another defender in the mix and compress the field,” Nash said. He planned to debut the look in a game with Newberg High School past press time, Sept. 18.

For better or worse, neither game will have a lasting effect on the Lady Celts’ season. McNary’s first Greater Valley Conference contest is slated with North Salem on the road Thursday, Sept. 25.

The girls are currently 1-2 after losing a contest to Crescent Valley High School in its first game of the season on Sept. 4.

With more time in competition, Nash said there are strengths beginning to emerge.

“We are finding that we have a number of attacking threats in the midfield, and will be adjusting our formation to better fit our team’s strengths,” Nash said.

The Lady Celts’ next home game is Monday, Sept. 29, a rematch with Crescent Valley.

Dim Sum opens in Keizer

Dim Sum Restaurant opened this week in the former location of Blooming Cuisine, 3843 River Road N. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Dim Sum Restaurant opened this week in the former location of Blooming Cuisine, 3843 River Road N. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A new restaurant is blooming in Keizer.

Dim Sum Restaurant opened this week at 3843 River Road N, the former Blooming Cuisine location. The owners are the husband and wife duo of Jian Zhuang Ma and Ximei Huang, who also run John’s Chinese at 4842 River Road.

Much about their new building has been changed.

From the road, things look far different. The distinctive lattices that previously adorned the building are gone, in addition to new paint.

Huang said on Monday the couple got the building in March.

“My husband looked at it,” she said. “It is hard to remodel. We thought, ‘How are we going to make it look the way we want it?’ We found someone with an idea.”

The change isn’t limited to the exterior.

“Inside took a long time,” Huang said. “We changed the whole thing. It doesn’t look like before. It’s really different.”

Other notable changes are the Dim Sum Restaurant sign and, of course, the menu.

“Dim sum is real Chinese food,” Huang said. “It’s finger food. It’s very neat. We thought it would be good to try it. I suggested maybe we do dim sum because some of our customers (at John’s) had asked for it. They are such pretty dishes.”

According to Huang, the wheels were set into motion a couple of years ago.

“The owners of Blooming Cuisine wanted to retire and called us to see if we’d ever thought to open another restaurant. Then they came again (earlier this year) and Jian decided to take it.”

Huang knows the new venture won’t be an easy undertaking.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “We’ll see if it works.”

Huang appeared before Keizer City Councilors on Monday, since she was applying to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for a liquor license at Dim Sum. Councilors unanimously approved the request and forwarded it to the OLCC.

Council president Joe Egli was impressed with the number of changes done to the restaurant.

“You’ve done a great job on the building,” Egli said.

Huang noted Dim Sum fills a niche.

“You will have many choices, for the different kind of people who like it,” she said. “It’s the only one in Keizer. It’s a little different than (American) Chinese food. Hopefully you will like it.”

Mayor Lore Christopher is familiar with dim sum food, having tried it previously in New York.

“I love dim sum,” she said. “I’m so excited.”

Huang said the hours for now will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., though her application lists hours being between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. most days, opening at 11:30 a.m. on the weekends and staying open until 10 p.m. on Fridays.

“We may be open earlier in the future, maybe around 9 or 10 (a.m.),” she said. “Dim sum for Chinese people is breakfast.”

Dedication planned for mural

KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy
KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A party is being planned to celebrate Keizer’s first public mural.

The mural on the west wall of Keizer Florist at 631 Chemawa Road NE was completed recently by artist Colleen Goodwin-Chronister. The mural will be dedicated on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

“We will have chairs and tables out,” mayor Lore Christopher said during a recent Keizer Arts Commission meeting. “We want to do it at Julie (Wallace’s) business, but if the weather is terrible we will do it in the living room right out here (at Keizer Civic Center). It will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m.”

Christopher, chair of the new Arts Commission, noted Chronister will be among those on hand.

“We’ll introduce Colleen and have her tell why she chose and what she chose. We’ll tell about our next project and have Julie speak. We would need this building open afterwards, like at 6:30.”

Christopher is hoping for artists to get in touch with Arts Commission members. She’d like to see work on display at Keizer Civic Center for October through the end of the year.

“We’re doing a call for artists,” the mayor said. “It could be a potpourri if people want to do it together. It’s a huge space to fill, with room for 63 potential pieces.”

Christopher said she’d be open to the idea of three artists bringing in 20 pieces of art each. Artists wanting to put on an art show could do so for free.

The current colored pencil art display at city hall is scheduled to be taken down in late September. Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizear, suggested having that art stay.

“The process of getting (pieces of art) hung takes a couple of days,” Brown said. “Maybe you could ask if the colored pencil people could leave their stuff up another day or so.”

Arts Commission member Rick Day suggested city officials could put together information to give to artists, such as giving dimensions and showing what the area looks like.

“There are a whole bunch of things we can do in advance to help the artists,” Day said.

Day suggested sites for future murals, such as the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater.

“I would want to explore other locations that are more visible,” Christopher said.

When Day asked if commission members had possible future mural sites, Christopher mentioned the Sherwin Williams building on River Road.

“I think it would be a terrific location, absolutely fabulous,” she said. “Now that we’re part of the Arts Commission, we can think of sites.”

Christopher suggested other locations, such as utility boxes.

“We can go out and say we want to paint boxes, bring us your proposals,” she said. “We will have artists coming out of the woodwork willing to do it.”

Beth Melendy agreed with the idea.

“People wouldn’t expect it,” Melendy said. “They would think it’s so cool.”

Highs and lows on Parks Tour

Keizer City Councilors and Parks Board members enjoy the view at Sunset Park during the Sept. 8 Parks Tour. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Keizer City Councilors and Parks Board members enjoy the view at Sunset Park during the Sept. 8 Parks Tour. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Attendees at last week’s annual Parks Tour loved the news of the upcoming addition to Bair Park.

Same for the recent work done at Sunset Park.

The brown grass at Keizer Little League Park, on the other hand? Not so much.

Members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board hosted Keizer City Councilors on the tour of several parks, put on each year as a chance for Parks Board members to either show off recent improvements or to talk about projects that need funding help.

Parks Supervisor Robert Johnson started the tour by giving a brief update at KLL Park, which is being managed by Keizer Little League this year.

“They stopped watering after their season was over,” Johnson said.

That was certainly noticed, to the chagrin of many.

“We can’t have the park looking like this,” mayor Lore Christopher said.

Clint Holland, a Parks Board member, said people who’ve done upkeep at KLL Park in the past should be contacted.

“We just need some guys to come help,” Holland said.

Councilor Cathy Clark noted the management contract doesn’t end when the playing season ends.

“Work should be done for the duration of the contract,” Clark said.

Parks Board member Richard Walsh didn’t like what he saw, either.

“This is an example of things falling in the cracks,” Walsh said. “That’s what happens when things are managed by someone else.”

Councilor Jim Taylor, who plans to join the Parks Board once his term on council is up at the end of the year, feels the contract needs to be enforced.

“We talked of maintaining this park,” Taylor said. “Watering is a part of that.”

The news was better at Bair Park. Christopher noted a new AT&T cell tower will be put in the park soon.

“Funds from that will go to the Parks Board,” the mayor said. “There will be $2,200 in rent a month, with up to 5 co-locaters. We could get up to $6,000 a month.”

Christopher said the tower, approved recently by the council, will cost AT&T about $250,000. Each co-locater will be $800 a month to the city to use the tower.

“The money is significant, when you’re talking about potential improvements to parks,” she said.

Walsh pointed to a negative at the park: poison ivy.

“When we walked in here, we walked in past some poison oak,” Walsh said. “That was the point of our request for an extra parks employee, to take care of stuff like that. We need another person. We asked for it, but no one (on council) voted for it.”

A highlight of the tour for many this year was Sunset Park, which had a new irrigation system installed this spring.

“The irrigation was put in 99 percent by volunteers,” Johnson said amidst the well-watered grass. “It changes the feel of the park. Normally it’s so dry here at this time of the year.”

Christopher was highly impressed as she looked over the green grass and across the Willamette River.

“This looks spectacular,” she said.

Walsh noted neighbor Darrell Richardson has taken care of the park for years, including mowing. The city helped provide funding for the irrigation parts.

“This is a model for our matching grant program,” Walsh said.

Fellow Parks Board member Roland Herrera agreed.

“This is a prime example of what you can do with a partnership,” Herrera said.

The tour included a stop at Palma Ciea Park, which some questioned the viability of.

“This park won’t be good to develop,” Holland said, noting the distance and hill to get to the river. “Let’s think about selling it to the neighbors.”

As has been the case in recent years, the tour concluded with a stop at Keizer Rapids Park. Part of the conversation there included what should be done with the former Charge house.

“We have talked about putting in an educational center,” Holland said.

Christopher noted some issues with that idea.

“You have to know the cost estimate first,” she said. “I don’t know if this will be the spot for it.”

KRP planning is part of WKNA meeting

Audience members go over different Keizer Rapids Park master plan ideas during the Sept. 11 West Keizer Neighborhood Association meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Audience members go over different Keizer Rapids Park master plan ideas during the Sept. 11 West Keizer Neighborhood Association meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Think of it as a preview of sorts.

During the Sept. 11 West Keizer Neighborhood Association meeting, locations for proposed amenities at Keizer Rapids Park were discussed.

In a way, it previewed the process that will like be happening in the Sept. 27 design charette for future plans at KRP. The charette will run from 10 a.m. to noon that Saturday morning at Keizer Civic Center.

Rhonda Rich, president of WKNA, gave a list of amenities to the dozen or so attendees.

“This list is not in order of priority,” Rich said. “We also have our survey results. We took amenities from the (August) Parks Board meeting, which are the amenities that will be assigned to the groups at the charette. This is what they’ll be working on.”

Rich had layouts for three different sections of KRP, with amenities such as the Big Toy, picnic areas, a covered shelter, flush toilets, parking, an educational facility and various sports fields depicted on pieces of paper that could be moved around like puzzle pieces.

The three areas of the park depicted were the marine/boat ramp area, the sand volleyball courts/orchards and the amphitheater/Charge house area.

“We will just be brainstorming,” Rich emphasized.

Richard Walsh, a member of the Parks Board and a key figure behind the formation of KRP, noted there is no timeline on future amenities.

“These things will happen, but we have no idea in how long,” Walsh said, in particular reference to the idea of having an indoor sports facility. “There is no area master planned to have an indoor facility. The reason that is there is the Something Special Task Force was charged with figuring out what to do with extra revenue that was anticipated from Keizer Station.”

Walsh said the task force’s 2009 recommendation called for an indoor sports facility at KRP large enough to host events like volleyball tournaments.

“The city then purchased the 28 acres (at KRP) with Urban Renewal funds,” Walsh said.

Clint Holland said another location was discussed for such an indoor facility.

“At one point we looked at putting an indoor facility behind Volcanoes Stadium,” Holland said. “I think we need one. Basketball is the biggest shortage we have in this town. We have baseball and softball fields, but we have nothing for basketball. The reason I think an indoor facility would work is it’s enclosed and it can be used for basketball and also other sports like tennis and volleyball. It can also be used as a convention center to bring businesses in for special events. It could be used for things like youth events and weddings. My No. 1 thing we need is an indoor facility.”

Walsh said there’s an important step.

“If you put out a footprint of where it goes, it won’t be built in the next year,” he said. “But at least if it has a place, people can get excited about it. Having a location established is huge.”

Jim Hanson wondered why KRP would be looked at for an indoor facility.

“Leadership at the time (KRP opened) talked about it being Keizer’s connection to the river,” Hanson said. “We talked about a water trail. If we’re going to be a tournament town and bring people in, that is inconsistent with the idea of having a park right on the river. We do need those kind of facilities. But it seems like the land by Volcanoes Stadium is a more appropriate place for that.”

Cindy Hunt agreed with Hanson.

“It would change the character of the park,” Hunt said of an indoor sports facility. “Several of these ideas wouldn’t fit in the park.”

Rich noted the reason for the process.

“The Big Toy placement is driving this master planning process,” she said. “We have talked about areas where it could be.”

Rich will be presenting proposals from the WKNA meeting at the charette.

Lady Celts start with 4-0 roll

McNary’s Megan Douglas passes to the front line in a match two weeks ago. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary’s Megan Douglas passes to the front line in a match two weeks ago. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Two weeks into the season, the Lady Celts of the varsity volleyball team are standing tall in the Greater Valley Conference and state rankings.

In the past week, the girls have notched wins over West Salem, McMinnville and Forest Grove high schools while prepping to face one of the tougher new additions to the league, West Albany High School. Tough opponents and a nearly untarnished record have rocketed the team up the state rankings and settled them into sixth place.

“Honestly, I’m surprised. The seniors we lost were a big part of our game. I’ve been surprised at how good we are given how young we are, but we have a heart for the game,” said Kaelie Flores, a McNary junior.

McNary’s week started with a 3-0 victory over Forest Grove Tuesday, Sept. 9, in set scores of 25-21, 25-18 and 25-9. Senior Lauren Hudgins had nine kills in the match followed by Flores with five. Senior Megan Douglas had nine digs and three aces. Kylie Gilmour had eight digs.

Thursday, Sept. 11, brought the first of what will be many double-headers this season. With a larger conference and more travel, varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams compete at one of the three separate schools for a pair of matches.

“It was different and you could kind of see everyone losing steam after what were ten matches for some of the teams,” said Sydney Hunter, a McNary sophomore.

McNary beat both of its opponents, West Salem (3-0) and McMinnville (3-2).

“We did well with West Salem and we started well against McMinnville, but I think we just got tired,” said Madi Hingston, a junior.

Set scores against the Titans, a perennial rival on the court, were 25-21, 25-21, 25-22. Flores had nine kills, Hudgins had seven kills four blocks, Vanessa Hayes had 10 kills two blocks. Macana Wyatt had 19 assists and 10 digs. Megan Douglas passed a 2.46 average and Ariana Neads passed a 2.2.

After winning the first two sets with McMinnville (25-18 and 25-21), the Grizzlies edged out the Celts in the next two (23-25 and 19-25). McNary came back with a vengeance in the fifth set and put McMinnville away 15-6.

“We know their one outside hitter and what she’s capable of. Once we shut her down with blocking and digging her balls, we were able to take control of the game,” Flores said.

Hunter had 13 kills and one block; Hingston had 14 kills; Hudgins had 13 kills and two blocks; Hayes had 11 kills and four blocks; Macana Wyatt had 24 assists; and Madi Cloyd had 27 assists.

“Hali Thurston had a great night with her all around play,” said Kellie Scholl, McNary head coach.

Hingston said dedication during practices was paying large dividends.

“We’ve just been working really hard in practice getting to know our game plan and then executing it really well,” said Hingston.

Hunter said the team was excited for a match-up with West Albany, last year’s 5A state champs, on the road Tuesday, Sept. 16.

“We’re playing really well and the team connection is really strong. If we talk and communicate, I think we’ll do pretty well,” Hunter said.

Council moves forward on medical marijuana issue

Marijuana-leaf

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Some Keizer City Councilors feel the medical marijuana discussion is being dragged out too long.

Other councilors feel the city is rushing into decisions that don’t – or shouldn’t – need to be made yet.

For the second meeting in a row Monday, those wanting to move forward won on a 4-3 vote. That mirrored the vote on the topic during the Sept. 2 council meeting.

With new state laws regarding medical marijuana facilities going into effect earlier this year, cities and counties around Oregon have been grappling with what to do in terms of local regulations.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson has been fine tuning a city medical marijuana facility permit process, making changes based on feedback from councilors. Among other things, the ordinance calls for a 1,000 foot buffer from any publicly-owned property, a 1,500 buffer from any school, the permit having to be renewed annually and background checks being required.

Councilor Dennis Koho led the group wanting to move forward on the ordinance on Monday, much as he did two weeks ago. Councilor Jim Taylor once again urged councilors to wait until seeing the results of a recreational marijuana ballot being voted on in November. Cathy Clark again sided with Taylor, while Marlene Quinn sided with Koho.

“My position hasn’t changed on this, even after reading Measure 91 and seeing the things going before the legislature next spring,” Clark said. “My big concern is that we’re going to have to take another look at that. If the legislature takes action, are we going to be grandfathering people in? I don’t know. I’m not in a hurry.”

Taylor noted the city’s Medical Marijuana Task Force – chaired by Koho – did a good job in the spring.

“But there are too many questions of what’s going to happen,” Taylor said. “I just feel for us to do it now is irresponsible without answers to what’s going to happen. We ought to wait and see what happens.”

Koho said that shouldn’t be the case.

“I would prefer to have some local control,” Koho said. “Who knows how the campaign will go. I think we’re well advised to adopt expanded no-selling zones. With legislature changes, that could shrink some of the areas people can’t sell.”

Quinn agreed with Koho’s point.

“To have controls in place now, it will help us later when (the ballot) does pass,” she said. “We have control now if we do this.”

Egli saw both sides of the coin.

“Cathy has good points,” Egli said. “But I don’t feel like we’re barging ahead. We’ve worked on it for six months. That’s a long time to work on projects. I like having control of where we can have these or not. If we let the state control, some other places could have facilities. That’s why I will support this.”

Taylor proposed a compromise of waiting until after the election but before the legislature takes any action next year.

Johnson noted there are downsides with moving forward now.

“The downside is we would be the first out of the gate,” he said. “Other jurisdictions are making regulations. We won’t have the luxury of seeing what others are doing.”

Mayor Lore Christopher noted any future changes could simply be amendments to the ordinance.

“We don’t know what we don’t know often until after ordinances are enacted,” Christopher said. “How many times have we had to make subtle tweaks due to unintended consequences? I don’t think putting this off helps us get more information. It does preserve more of the home rule authority, which is what we’d want to do. This whole medical marijuana issue has been a completely messy policy.”

“It’s been a loaded question,” Taylor agreed.

Koho couldn’t resist adding his own quip.

“So on a smoky night, we should pass it,” he said.

The ordinance was approved by a 4-3 vote with Koho, Christopher, Egli and Quinn voting in favor. Clark, Taylor and Kim Freeman voted against it.

“If we have to do other tweaks, let’s do them together for the next time so we’re not passing marijuana amendments every two weeks,” Christopher said.

Boys soccer ranked fourth in state

Members of the McNary boys varsity soccer team celebrate a goal by Luis Martinez-Reyes (No. 4)  in the Canby game Thursday, Sept. 11. The Celts have surged in state rankings after fighting two tough teams to stalemates. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Members of the McNary boys varsity soccer team celebrate a goal by Luis Martinez-Reyes (No. 4) in the Canby game Thursday, Sept. 11. The Celts have surged in state rankings after fighting two tough teams to stalemates. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

It’s not often that two ties and a win will launch a team into the upper ranks of state rankings, but, if you’re on the McNary High School boys varsity soccer team when it happens, you’re not likely to forget the feeling anytime soon.

“I’m insane over it,” said Garon Stanley, a McNary senior. “After the past three years when we were just terrible, it’s amazing to be here, now.”

The meteoric rise is the result of tying Central High School on Tuesday, Sept. 9. At the time, Central was the third-ranked team in the state among 5A schools, and McNary battled them to a 0-0 stalemate. Looking beyond the score reveals that the Celtics had nine shots on goal to the Panthers’ six. Celt goalkeep Joel Benjamin stymied Central at every turn.

A 1-1 tie with Ridgeview High School Sept. 2, the No. 2 team in 5A rankings, also contributed to the rise in ranking.

“There’s still a lot of soccer left in the season, but we’ll take it,” said Miguel Camarena, McNary head coach. “The team is getting so much better as a soccer team. We haven’t done that in a long time, we are looking great defensively.”

Outshining opponents on defense surprised even Stanley, who thought that would be a weak link in the team’s armor this season.

“The thing is we got together before the season and we get together before each game and we want to make something happen here,” said junior Paulo Reyes. “The defense has been solid and the offense has been on their game scoring goals and playing very well.”

The Celts followed up on the promise of the Central game with a 3-1 win over Canby High School. McNary’s Luis Martinez-Reyes netted the first goal of the game, but Canby knotted it at 1-1. Junior Jose Daniel Caballero broke the tie off an assist by Mario Garcia-Garibay, and put another one in the net off an assist by Bryan Keo.

The Celtics had three more non-league opponents on tap before beginning a run through the Greater Valley Conference, but Reyes said each game is only going to get tougher.

“It’s a big mark on our backs, and the challengers are going to get better. We’re going to have to defend against that. We’ll have to work harder and harder to maintain from here on out,” Reyes said.

Stanley said it will also mean keeping each other in check on the field.

“There are still moments where we get down on each other, but we’re getting better about turning that around quickly and saying something positive instead.”

Despite solid defensive performances thus far, Camarena said there is still a lot for the team to learn. In the meantime, he’s trying to soak in the “beauty” of it.

“The mix between experienced players and the freshmen has been fantastic. We have group of seniors who believe they can go far, and they are passing that along,” he said.

“Neverhome” by Laird Hunt

Neverhome-by-Laird-Hunt

Neverhome” by Laird Hunt

c.2014, Little, Brown & Company
$26.00 / $29.00 Canada
256 pages

BOOK REVIEW
by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

You needed to take a stand.

There was an injustice, a wrong that needed righting, and someone had to say something. That someone was you – and though you’re just one person, just a voice, the movement had to start somewhere.  And so you took a stand.

Your two feet were planted and you had no regrets, but how did affect your life?  In the new book “Neverhome” by Laird Hunt, one big decision changed everything.

Her mother called her “Constance.”

That’s what her husband, Bartholomew, called her, too, until she told him that her new name would be Ash Thompson, and if anybody asked, she was from Darke County, Ohio, and not from a farm in Indiana.

The farm had been in the family for a long time; it was hers the day she found her mother swinging from a rope by her neck, which was not long after Bartholomew handed her a zinnia in the field. Those were things she remembered often as she wrote letters home to him, missing him something fierce but he was a gentle soul, not made for fighting. She was a better shot than he, fleeter of foot, and much stronger, so putting on Bartholomew’s clothes and going off to defend the Republic was the choice she’d made, and that made her happy.

And so, with a few provisions in her pockets and a blanket in a sack, Constance became Ash Thompson, stepped into Ohio, and went to war.

It was easy to disguise what she was – the men around her either didn’t care or just didn’t notice, although women often recognized her as one of them. Her Colonel only saw her sharpshooting skills, and the bit of chivalry that gained her the nickname of Gallant Ash.

Powers of observation kept her safe, skills with a rifle got her fed sometimes, and both kept her alive in battle when cannonballs carved the dirt and it was hard to tell which side claimed more dead. That gave her plenty reason to think about her mother, Bartholomew, and her farm in Indiana, but Ash Thompson stayed with the Union Army.

She stayed – until betrayal sent her running…

At first, reading “Neverhome” is rather awkward: the language is poetic and formal, as though it was actually written a hundred-fifty years ago. It’s somewhat of a struggle, those first few pages, but that vexation doesn’t last long.

Soon enough, you’ll be inside the head of a character who, says author Laird Hunt in his notes, was loosely based on real women who fought as men during the Civil War. That near-factualism allows a reader’s mind to believe a bit easier and, with the addition of the aforementioned museum-quality writing, it’s hard not to feel fear or the cannon booms, to taste the dirt, or to become breathless while reading this stellar novel.

Civil War buffs and anyone who enjoys reenactment weekends will eat this book up, as will lovers of a good novel. Start “Neverhome,” in fact, and you’ll be sitting awhile.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

The Big Toy castle?

Rick Day, owner of Advantage Precast, has proposed using material like this for a Big Toy entrance.
Rick Day, owner of Advantage Precast, has proposed using material like this for a Big Toy entrance.

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

If Rick Day has his way, the Big Toy play structure will get an extreme makeover before it’s even built.

Day, owner of Advantage Precast in Keizer, talked about his proposal for the project during the Sept. 3 Community Build Task Force meeting. The play structure, originally scheduled to be built Sept. 17 to 21, is now planned to be built next June.

For several months, project general coordinator Mark Caillier had mentioned Day wanted to contribute to the structure with an enhanced castle feature. Having not heard of a decision by CBTF members, Day came to the recent meeting to explain his vision.

“Rick asked me a few weeks ago, then again a couple of weeks ago about our decision,” Caillier said. “We want to talk about what this castle could look like. With Rick, we were able to go into the yard and see things. We want to give the group an idea of what we’re talking about, since it would lead to a change in plans.”

Day’s proposed castle feature would likely serve as the main entrance for the Big Toy, with an arch and a draw bridge in the center. Granite-style blocks, like the ones used for the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park, would be used. The structure would be roughly 42 feet long, with sides measuring 16 feet. The arch would be eight feet, with a draw bridge swinging down from it.

“We would need a footprint to do this,” Day said after sketching an illustration on a white board. “We would donate this. We would donate wood chips to put in it as well.”

In a follow-up interview with the Keizertimes last week, Day said there would be crenelations on top of the wall, in addition to lighting panels and concrete panels around the perimeter to contain wood chips.

“We’ll donate the material and will do the CAD drawings if they want,” Day said. “We have all the stuff sitting in the yard. We have arches and the wall block. We have the components. Doing it this way will save money and it takes care of the perimeter. They will also have a main feature. We can attach a walkway to the end of the wall. We would put hardware inserts into the concrete. Then you could bolt a walkway into it. The savings on the project would probably be $80,000 to $100,000.

Day estimated he would be donating roughly $20,000 to $25,000 in material and drawings. He noted the concrete could be stained on site for any color preference.

The way Day sees it, the project will be a win-win. The question is, will the task force accept the idea?

“I think so,” he said. “I think it will save them a bunch of money, plus it will give the kids something they will really like.”

One issue with the design is the size. Caillier has stated numerous times the default ‘big tree’ site at KRP doesn’t allow for a structure much bigger than already designed. Regardless of where the structure goes, Day said a footprint of about 42 feet would be necessary, though it could be smaller if needed.

“The opening we have now has considerably less (space) than that,” Caillier said. “It can be 16 (feet) to 20 feet now. This is a considerably larger footprint.”

Caillier noted he’s had a mason volunteer to stain the structure any color desired, and pointed out such a structure would be well received by users.

“The kids said they wanted a castle,” he said.

Project co-chair Richard Walsh said the proposed structure could fit in the space if some tweaking is done.

“When you look at the drawings and the space you need, you won’t be able to put in the footprint,” Walsh told Day. “But if you move it out to the fence line, there is room. You just have to move things around. The consultant will have to earn their money. This could be the main entrance into the entire play structure.”

City councilor Jim Taylor pointed out if a bigger site is chosen, having a bigger footprint would no longer be an issue.

Caillier said more prep work would be necessary if Day’s idea moves forward.

“There’s a whole lot more prep work than sinking a few holes in the ground,” he said. “We should know where we will be by January, so we can start prepping. This would have to be started in April or May.”

Taylor was on board with the plan.

“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do it,” Taylor said. “Can anyone come up with a reason we shouldn’t do it?”

Walsh noted Day felt the structure would last longer being made of concrete, which would also help eliminate some future maintenance costs.

Task force members unanimously approved a motion to move forward with the idea.