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Month: October 2014

Winning record on line in Oly game

Celt Kyle Bonn fends off a Saxon lineman in the game Friday, Oct. 24. (Photo courtesy of J&H Photo)
Celt Kyle Bonn fends off a Saxon lineman in the game Friday, Oct. 24. (Photo courtesy of J&H Photo)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes 

To end the regular season with a winning record, the McNary High School varsity football team will have to snap a two-game losing slide and upset the Sprague Olympians on the road Friday, Oct. 31.

The Olys are on a two-game winning streak that included a non-league 16-15 squeaker against Grant High School, and a 48-28 win over North Salem High School last week. Sprague fell to the two league-leading teams, South Salem and West Salem high schools, earlier in the season, but got a win over West Albany High School in early September putting them a game ahead of the Celts in the standing with a 5-2 record. McNary (4-3) lost its match with the Bulldogs in overtime.

Oly senior running back Matt Kleinman was a major component in Sprague’s win over North Salem. He carried the ball 29 times for a total of 347 yards and four touchdowns. Two of Kleinman’s scores came in the first four drives of the game and the Olys went into halftime with a lead of 28-14 despite running a quarter of North’s 47 offensive plays.

Two weeks ago, Oly starting quarterback Austin Brown, who is battling an elbow injury, voluntarily stepped aside and handed the role off to sophomore Justin Culpepper. Brown moved into a receiver role and has caught four touchdown passes from Culpepper since making the switch, the most recent was a 49-yarder in the game with the Vikings.

While the Olys have outperformed the Celtics in offensive numbers this season, McNary’s advantage might be its defense. McNary has the fourth-best defense (244 points allowed) in the league. Sprague’s has been slightly more porous with 261 points allowed.

If the defense can find its footing early, it could open up avenues for an offense hungry for points after putting up only 14 in its past two outings.

After getting blanked by the Titans two weeks ago, the Celtics put up 14 points against the GVC champs, South Salem High School last Friday. The Celts lost the game 48-14.

After struggling against a drenching rain in the Titan game, Celt quarterback Drew McHugh rebounded a bit to complete 16 of 29 last week for 131 yards.

Injuries have piled up for the Celtics in the latter half of the season and many will likely still be recuperating when the team hits the field this week. The Celts made the gains last week missing seven starting athletes.

The fun begins at 7 p.m. at Sprague.

Area C proposal shown

Julie Boatner and Fred Nichol look at new plans for Keizer Station Area C during a meeting Tuesday evening at Keizer Christian Church. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Julie Boatner and Fred Nichol look at new plans for Keizer Station Area C during a meeting Tuesday evening at Keizer Christian Church. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Representatives for two companies hoping to build separate facilities in Keizer Station Area C are pooling resources to put in necessary infrastructure.

Such infrastructure would improve traffic flow and benefit possible future development. However, both representatives made it clear their companies have no interest in developing the commercial part of Area C. That part has caused plenty of controversy in the past, as plans at one point called for a 116,000 square foot retail space.

Instead, Brian Moore from Mountain West Investment Corporation and Ben Settecase from Bonaventure Senior Living talked about their proposals during a meeting with neighbors Tuesday evening at Keizer Christian Church. The meeting drew about 30 people.

As mentioned last week in the Keizertimes, Mountain West plans to put in 180 apartments along an expanded McLeod Lane. The apartments would be on both sides of the road, with some adjacent to the 154-unit Bonaventure facility.

The senior living community would be an amendment to the Area C master plan amended in 2012 by the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). The current plan calls for a medical office, which would have to be changed to allow for the senior living facility.

Settecase, director of Development for Bonaventure, noted his company has developed 40 senior living communities in six western states over the last 15 years. One such facility, on Kuebler Boulevard in Salem, is the model for the proposed Keizer facility.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Settecase said. “We’re excited about the possibility of amending the Area C master plan. It would be a first for us (in Keizer). We have our roots in the greater Salem area. We’re heavily invested in (our facilities) and the communities they’re located in.”

Moore, director of Real Estate Development for Mountain West, pointed to renderings showing what the apartments would look like.

“The most important thing to understand is we’re only developing a portion (of Area C),” Moore said. “We only control some of the property. We don’t control much of it. The area that is commercial we don’t control and we don’t plan to develop.”

Moore noted before the meeting his company typically has a different layout.

“Normally it would be on one lot, but we’re comfortable with it,” he said of apartments on both sides of the road.

Moore said plans call for three-story buildings with amenities such as a fitness center, pool, outdoor recreational area, a sports court, playground areas and carports.

“This will not be low-income housing,” he said. “We are seeking to achieve the highest rents available in the market.”

Of the 180 units, Moore said about 60 percent will be two bedrooms with two baths, with 30 percent being one-bedroom units and the remaining 10 percent being three bedrooms with two baths.

“We hope to start construction in June of next year,” Moore said. “Right now the application has been submitted and is under review by city planning staff. If we start in June 2015, we hope to deliver the first units 12 to 14 months after that.”

While Bonaventure and Mountain West are separate companies, they are combining forces for a key reason.

“A lot of the infrastructure (for Area C) assumed commercial going in first,” Moore said. “For a project like ours, we couldn’t bear the costs alone. Together we can bear the cost of that. That’s why it is really a joint venture for us. We are different developers, but we can leverage both projects to pay for the infrastructure necessary for development.”

Settecase expanded upon that idea.

“Walmart could have the capacity to take on this entire endeavor,” he said of road expansion and other infrastructure improvements. “But as this has morphed to the approved master plan, it requires different developers. It hasn’t moved forward in a while. It will take two entities working together to have the horsepower to (implement) the public improvements.”

Settecase noted the senior living proposal calls for a footprint of 55,000 square feet, with 160,000 total square feet of space since the facility will be one level in places and up to four levels in other places. Plans call for 98 parking spaces – far down from the 219 proposed with the medical office previously – since about 30 percent of independent living residents typically keep a car on site, according to Settecase.

“We don’t want to be underparked,” he said. “Even in peak times at the noon and evening meals, we may have half of the parking lot full. We don’t want a sea of asphalt.”

Settecase said the main building will feature amenities such as the main dining rooms, activity areas, the library, a parlor for morning coffee or ice cream socials, a fitness center, a garden/hobby room, a beauty salon, a hospitality room with games and pool tables and a movie theater.

“That’s the fun part of the building,” Settecase said. “Residents will want to come and hang out there. It’s very similar in design to the one on Kuebler, just smaller in mass.”

Settecase said Bonaventure is not as sure as Mountain West about starting construction next year.

“We were thinking for a 2016 start,” he said. “We have projects up and down the I-5 corridor and we’re building a region in Colorado. We think we have our 2015 starts slated. But if one lags and this process goes smoothly, this could go in for a 2015 start.”

There were some concerns expressed Tuesday. Mike Broberg, for example, had a question about traffic impacts.

“Traffic is already bad on Chemawa,” Broberg said. “This is going to make it worse. How much worse is this going to make it? In the morning, traffic is already backed up to Whiteaker (Middle School). It takes four light changes to get through there.”

Moore is hopeful infrastructure changes will make things better.

“The intention of all improvements like the signals that were decided the first time is they are intended to relieve the burden,” Moore said. “I’m pretty confident they will improve the situation.”

Some figured the area will be developed eventually anyway.

“We have a lot of private property that needs to be developed,” Eric Shrewsbury said. “You have to grow or you’ll die (as a city). A lot of places have died. What are you going to do? How long will you stall them?”

Roger King noted plans look better than last time.

“It’s better than a Walmart,” King said. “It’s fine. It’s going to happen. This looks like a good mix of everything.”

Jack Yarbrough, who owns Area C land and had previously stated his desire to work with potential developers on Area C, expressed disapproval early and often during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’m adamantly opposed to this and will fight it,” Yarbrough said. “I’m irritated with the fact that when Chuck Sides had the property, we went through this procedure for two-and-a-half years, holding my property up. These guys pop in and seem to have the approval already. I’m really irritated. No one has come to me about my property. This project isn’t going to go through without a major fight on my part.”

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, emphasized – as did Moore and Settecase – this project didn’t have anything to do with the upper part of Area C.

“They are not intending to proceed with the other part,” Brown said. “Your property is smack dab in the middle. You have the ultimate say on what to do with it. This is in advance of any public hearing that will take place. All of that is still open and on the table. Your input is still required and desired.”

Moore emphasized he’s optimistic, but knows nothing has been approved yet. Further, he believes adding infrastructure would benefit Yarbrough.

“We believe what we do will facilitate development of your property,” Moore told Yarbrough.

The issue is expected to come to the Keizer City Council for a public hearing in December.

One issue not coming to council before the end of the year, according to Brown, is a proposal for privately-held land in Keizer’s jurisdiction in Area D of Keizer Station. A development group met with city staff on Tuesday. Brown didn’t give a timeline of when the proposal would be brought to council, other than saying it wouldn’t be before the end of the year.

Mark your ballot

It could not be easier for citizens to vote in Oregon elections. The ballots come in the mail to registered voters. The ballots can be returned through the mail or dropped off at convienent ballot sites outside the Keizer Civic Center (you don’t even have to get out of your vehicle) and at the U.S. Bank branch on River Road.

The only way to make voting easier is via the Internet, but there are security and privacy issues with that type of voting.

As with every state-wide election there are important issues and candidates on the ballot this year. Politics is not a pretty business but that is no reason not to exercise one’s right to cast a vote and be part of the democratic process that has been part of this nation for more than 200 years.

Those who think their vote doesn’t matter need only be reminded of the races that have been won by razor thin margins across the country. Every vote does count. It is rare that one side or the other in an election has won by one single vote, but some elections have been won by less than 500 votes out of millions cast.

Oregon voters will be electing a governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representatives, state legislators and hundreds of local officials. They will also vote yes or no on issues that will affect their lives—legal recreational marijuana, driver ID cards, genetically modified food and no-party primary elections, to name the measures getting the most attention.

Voters will elect people to office with views to the left or to the right of the political spectrum. They will make decisions in the public’s name regarding regulations, taxes, spending and more. There is no more important civic duty than exercising the right to cast one’s vote.

Some can cite many reasons not to vote in any election, but they pale in comparision to the reasons to mark one’s ballot in every single election.Some say that if people don’t vote they shouldn’t complain about government. Our democracy gives people the right to complain without voting, but it is better to be part of the process than not.

How the nation, state and one’s community works depends on who is elected and that’s a decision in the hands of those eligible to vote and do so—and that should be as many as possible. All the time.    —LAZ

Increases under two percent?

To the Editor:

The news recently was that there would be a 1.7 percent increase in the Social Security cost of living soon. It was noted that the increase would be the third time in a row that the increase would be below 2 percent. The news given was that the inflation rate has also been very low at 2-3 percent, implying good news.

The reason the inflation rate is reported so low is because the U.S. government years ago took increases in the price of food and energy out of thevinflationary index.  As you know, the cost of food and energy the last several years has been through the roof.  Food prices are up almost every time you go to the grocery store, gasoline prices have been close to $4 a gallon for the last few years and more occasionally.  The price has just recently gone down to the point where you think paying $3 a gallon is a great deal.

So without the increases in the costs for food and energy, the U.S. government is able to report a low inflationary index and misrepresent the cost of living to you.  Then with a low inflationary rate reported they can pay a 1.7 percent increase for Social Security.  The actual inflationary rate is more like 12 -13 percent.  The U.S. government executive branch and your members of Congress, that you continue to elect year after year, are responsible for this outright economic lie.

This is your government, having so much disrespect for you, that they pull stunts like this. This issue should be raised with every member of Congress.  If they don’t hear from us, they will believe we are just too dumb to figure it out?  Sad, as our senior citizens are the ones most adversely affected.

John P. Rizzo
Keizer

Support for Bill Post

To the Editor:

I want to encourage residents in House District 25 to cast your vote for Bill Post. Bill has been serving our community in numerous ways for many years.

I’ve known Bill personally for almost 15 years. Back when our sons were going through Little League baseball, I had the opportunity to watch Bill sharing the sport he loves with many of the youth in Keizer both as the opposing coach of my son’s team and as my son’s coach. He treated you with the same friendliness and respect whether you were on his or the opposing team.

Then we got to enjoy his play by play talent as the announcer for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for a few seasons.

 Those of you who have been listening to his radio show (now on the internet) for the past few years have been kept informed on what is going good and bad in Oregon politics. He’s never been afraid to ask the tough questions on any topic or to any elected official. You have also learned who Bill Post is, what he believes and that he truly cares about the folks in our community and beyond. He won’t change those beliefs every time the wind shifts direction like many career politicians seem to do, or his political affiliation in an attempt to get a few more votes.

Rick Melhorn
Keizer

To the Editor:

I am writing to support a true patriot. Bill Post has stepped up to the plate not to be part of the problem with current Oregon politics, but the solution. When honest, hardworking people run for office we need to step up and vote. Bill is informed and he is aware of historical, economic and political climates. If ever we needed a good man, it is now.

If you haven’t voted yet, please call Bill Post and talk to him. Ask him the hard questions. He is a thinker, conservative and he cares about Keizer, Oregon, and America. Vote for the good guys.

Fay DeMeyer
Keizer

Trust Rep. Thatcher

To the Editor:

I want to assure my fellow citizens that you can trust Representative Kim Thatcher, who is running for Oregon Senate District 13. I’ve known Kim and her husband, Karl, for seven years and they are dedicated, honest citizens working to improve government.

You may have read recent news about them suing ODOT in 2007 after feeling their company was being unfairly fined, and then ODOT accused them of destroying evidence. These stories gave insufficient attention to how neither side prevailed and the suit was stopped because of mounting legal fees. While some have tried to hold this against her and question her integrity, I don’t feel this is fair. Wouldn’t you have tried to protect yourself from a $200,000 fine you felt was not your fault?

Over the past five years, Kim has championed an effort, with bipartisan support, to improve government transparency. Her legislative priorities include holding the government accountable, which is sorely needed. I’ve met her opponent, Ryan Howard, who is capable, personable, and has much to offer the communities he serves. However, I feel we would lose too much if Kim is not reelected. I encourage you to stand by Kim this November.

Brad Coy
Keizer

The past is the future in education

Formerly and currently, the Oregon Education Investment Board has been mainly an unmitigated dud.  Its beginning was beaten up and badly bloodied by the fouls of its first director while its more recent efforts can be measured as positive only if the evaluator ignores the huge costs of its administrative team and those board members who meet to blow their own horns, having little of substance toward reform or building-block consequences to show for all the hoopla at its outset.

We should look to the past to fashion an effective state of Oregon education future. It is proposed that we go back slightly longer than a hundred years ago in search of inspired leadership from back then that could produce a viable future for the state’s youth in our schools today. I reference John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas deserve a long, hard study by those who meet as members of the Oregon Education Investment Board, but haven’t evidenced the slightest idea of what real change looks like as they simply comprise members of Governor John Kitzhaber’s wealthy-pals social club.

John Dewey opened the University Elementary School at the University of Chicago in January, 1896.  It got underway with 16 children; however, by 1902 there were 140 students. 23 teachers, 10 University of Chicago graduate students.  Rather quickly, it became an international sensation.

What was soon called the Laboratory School, it was a place where Dewey realized learning occurred “in the concrete instead of merely in the head or on paper.”   It incorporated a Dewey theory that went by the importance of “unity in knowledge” by which he meant that knowledge worth having is inseparably tied with doing.  Dewey was, incidentally, a renowned epistemologist or someone who studies how knowledge is acquired.

 Education at the Dewey school was based on the idea that knowledge is acquired through activity: People do things and in the doing of them learning results and that learning is the pathway or building block into the next level of activity.  Before Dewey’s school design, teachers handed down disembodied information and knowledge that was cut off from any activity where it acquires meaning and relevance (Sounds familiar down to the present day in too many American schools).  Dewey recognized that a huge consequence of doing things that way in schools not only brought about boredom but, when knowing is separate from doing, or theory is divorced from application, the memory of it has no lasting value.

One of Dewey’s curricular foci was cooking classes.  Students cooked and served lunch to everyone at the school: learning to cook was coeducational, as were carpentry, sewing and whole host of other subjects. Cooking a meal at his school involved arithmetic (weighing and measuring ingredients with instruments the students fabricated themselves), chemistry and physics (observing combustion processes), biology (diet and digestion) and geography (exploring the natural environments of plants and animals).

The pedagogical challenge was to make chemistry, physics, biology, social and living challenges in America tangible and known from doing or manipulating them in school.  Dewey noticed that there should be no separation made between the social side of work, its concern with people’s activities and their mutual dependencies, and science factors from physical facts and forces.

When one thinks about the way a Dewey school operates, one realizes that it directly and effectively integrates academic learning with vocational, career and technical learning about which too many Americans have been foot-draggingly reluctant  to establish.  Too often they fear that their child will go to a trade school and not attain a traditional college education, thereby disgracing the family where the offspring must be reported to family and friends as someone who works with his hands.This attitude prevailing, when the U.S. drop-out problem could be significantly reduced if all students in public schools could work with their heads and their hands, applying theory to practice.

John Dewey’s The School and Society remains in print.  Those friends of Kitzhaber, who’ve been appointed to leadership roles in reform for public education in Oregon’s schools, should have this as required reading should they be sincere in their dedication to bringing real and lasting change to this state’s efforts at establishing real, relevant and retention-to-graduation-designs as the architectural feature of all our centers of learning.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

What to do when GPA has no meaning?

By ERIC A. HOWALD

There’s a story about a teacher, Paulo Friere, who is said to have taught 300 Brazilian sugar cane workers to read and write in fewer than 50 days.

The workers were seeking to have a greater voice in the forces that controlled their lives at the factory and in government at large. Friere’s method to help them, at the time, stood in sharp contrast to what the establishment thought of as pure education. Instead of filling the sugar cane workers with facts that could be recited on demand, Friere sought to make learning a partnership between teacher and student. By prompting students to reflect on and share stories about their own lives, they educated each other and opened pathways that made them more receptive to learning about other things, like reading and writing. Essentially, the sugar cane workers not only learned new things, they learned there was much they already knew. The sense of empowerment translated into greater belief in their own capabilities and rapid progression when it came to acquiring literacy skills.

The story might be apocryphal, but I couldn’t help but think Friere would have smiled broadly had he seen the crowd of more than 100 people in attendance at the Latino Advisory Board meeting held at McNary High School two weeks ago.

The Latino Advisory Board is an outreach project of Western Oregon University. After looking at enrollment data at the Dallas-based school, administrators discovered Latino students were underrepresented in the student body and set out to change it beginning in January 2013. Last May, the group elected its own board and is in the process of expanding the scope of what it will tackle beyond getting more Latino students into higher education.

The initial mission was getting information into the hands of Latino families about important dates, application procedures and financial aid opportunities – all the things any family would want to know about the college application process. Or, maybe that should be any moderately-affluent family of a student with parents who have already completed a similar process. The devil, of course, is in the details.

One of the newly-elected board members, dragged the pointy-tailed miscreant into the spotlight as she shared her story. Her son, she said, passed some of his high school classes with Ds. While he earned his diploma, he ran into a wall when he began looking into college opportunities. The schools wouldn’t accept him with his GPA (grade point average), she said.

During the next few minutes, the story prompted questions in the crowd about what she meant by GPA. For some of the families there, the three numbers at the bottom of a report card had little meaning, but the educational future of their sons and daughters might very well hinge on them knowing how important those numbers are.

For the members of the LAB, the task before them is enormous. It’s no longer about getting information about college into the hands of parents, it’s about changing the fabric of their culture at home. Its members are striving to find ways to make education a priority within their families beyond simply making sure assignments are completed. It’s about Latino parents knowing where to apply the pressure to ensure the best possible outcomes and demonstrating, through their own participation in the LAB, that education needs to be a priority. The meeting attendees empower each other through the sharing of what they’ve experienced, and WOU is doing its part by offering $2,000 scholarships to the students of parents who regularly attend LAB meetings.

However, with the group now controlled by its own board, the future holds other exciting prospects. It’s the type of grassroots gathering that could spawn school board candidates, city council candidates, state legislators and who knows what else. And, in less than two years, they drew in a third of the crowd that sought out Freire.

There’s a lot of work any reporter does that feels like a grind – one more thing we’re doing to fill up empty space on a page. Most jobs have those moments, but the thing about this particular job is, every once in a long while, you witness something that feels a bit like magic. I will be eagerly waiting to see what the Latino Advisory Board conjures up next.

(Eric A. Howald is associate editor of the Keizertimes.)

Measure 91 deserves a yes vote

By JUDGE WILLIAM RIGGS

As a former Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court with more than 30 years of experience as a judge, I have reviewed thousands of laws. I have carefully read Measure 91, which will regulate, legalize and tax the adult use of marijuana. I believe it is a solid, well-written law and the right thing to do.

 Oregonians this November have an opportunity to cast a vote for common sense. The legalization of marijuana is inevitable, but it is important that we do it right. If Measure 91 passes, Oregon will have a safer, more sensible policy on marijuana, with strict controls, protections and much needed revenue flowing to state and local law enforcement, drug treatment and schools.

It will also deal a crippling blow to the criminals and drug cartels who currently control and profit from the system of treating the adult use of marijuana as a crime. Illegal drug dealers don’t ask for ID nor do they have scruples about selling to youth. On the other hand, Measure 91 is clear that selling to anyone under 21 a felony, and it provides additional resources to help enforce that.

The time and enormous amount of money spent on the current system represent both a waste and a damaging distraction for law enforcement. Rather than arresting or citing a person every 39 minutes for a marijuana-related crime, I’d prefer our police officers and deputies spend more time going after violent criminals, identity thieves and child predators. We pay for the police to keep us safe. Diverting law enforcement resources to pursuing adults over 21 for no other reason than they choose to use marijuana doesn’t do that.

That is why prominent voices from law enforcement and the criminal justice system have spoken out in favor of Measure 91.

Another compelling reason to vote Yes on 91 is that we have the advantage of being the third state to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana. Legal, regulated marijuana is on sale in those two places, and by the time it’s on sale in Oregon in 2016 nearly a decade of experience will be shared between the three states. Traffic fatalities are down or flat in Colorado and Washington. Wasteful arrests are down.  In Colorado, teen use is down. Both states have already collected millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

As you consider your vote, I would encourage you to read the measure itself in the Voters Pamphlet.  I believe you will see that it is a thoughtful, careful approach that has earned the endorsement of Oregon newspapers like The Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard and the Medford Mail Tribune, alongside an impressive number of respected organizations representing senior citizens, working families and healthcare professionals.

You don’t have to like marijuana to see that the regulations and protections of Measure 91 are far better than the system we have now.  An Oregon with Measure 91 will be a safer, healthier place than an Oregon without it.  I hope you will join me in voting yes.

(Judge William Riggs served on the Oregon Supreme Court from 1998 to 2006.)

Mom texted while child died

By Tuesday afternoon, a makeshift memorial had been set up in memory of Andre Joaquin Sosa, the 4-year-old killed in a fire Oct. 24 at the Susan Court Apartment unit seen in the background. His mother, Niya Breann Sosa-Martinez, was arrested early the next morning. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
By Tuesday afternoon, a makeshift memorial had been set up in memory of Andre Joaquin Sosa, the 4-year-old killed in a fire Oct. 24 at the Susan Court Apartment unit seen in the background. His mother, Niya Breann Sosa-Martinez, was arrested early the next morning. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

The situation was tragic enough to begin with.

Details that have emerged since a 4-year-old boy died in an Oct. 24 Keizer apartment fire have made the situation even more tragic.

At the same time, more questions are being asked.

Early last Saturday morning, 23-year-old Niya Breann Sosa-Martinez was arrested in connection with the death of her 4-year-old son, Andre Joaquin Sosa. Her 6-year-old daughter, a student at Weddle Elementary, has been placed in foster care.

Sosa-Martinez
Sosa-Martinez

Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the Keizer Police Department said the father, 24-year-old Alex Sosa, is in prison.

Questions have arisen as to why the children were not in protective custody to begin with, based on Sosa-Martinez’s criminal history.

Questions are also being asked about Sosa-Martinez’s behavior during the time her son was trapped inside an apartment at 1178 Susan Court NE.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, Keizer Fire District firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at the apartment off Candlewood Drive, assisted by the Salem Fire Department, Marion County Fire District No. 1 and Rural Metro Ambulance. Sosa-Martinez was outside, but Andre was trapped inside. Both Kuhns and Hector Blanco, division chief with the KFD, confirmed no one else was inside.

“When we arrived, we did a search of the complex,” Blanco said. “No one else was in that structure.”

Blanco said firefighters found there were no fire alarms going off inside the apartment.

“When we arrived, we did not hear anything sounding,” Blanco said. “We then cut the power.”

Patricia Vance, an apartment manager at Susan Court, said all units have fire alarms.

“There were detectors in there,” Vance said. “It’s up to tenants to change batteries. They are hard wired detectors, so they don’t work if the power is cut.”

Vance added Sosa-Martinez wasn’t the resident of the apartment.

“She’s not the tenant, her mom is,” Vance said.

Kuhns, however, said the mom had recently moved out.

When the fire started, Dianne Petrovich, who had just moved in two days earlier, was among those who rushed over to help.

“She had come out,” Petrovich said of Sosa-Martinez. “We heard her yell ‘fire!’ We all ran over.”

Petrovich noted her brother and sister went to get the boy out, but fire blocked the entrance.

“My brother thought he would break a back window,” Petrovich said. “When they did that, black smoke was coming out. My brother could hear the kid screaming inside.”

Meanwhile, Petrovich noticed odd behavior exhibited by Sosa-Martinez.

“It was all so weird,” she said. “The mother went over and sat in the gazebo and started texting like nothing was happening. We couldn’t figure out what the hell she was doing. She had tried to get the (burning) mattress out. She said she tried to coax her kid out. She didn’t try to pull him out. To me any parent, whether or not in danger themselves, would go in and try to get their kid. But she went to the gazebo. She wasn’t even crying.”

By Tuesday, the gazebo – located just north of the charred apartment – had become an impromptu memorial for Andre.

An autopsy was performed last Saturday in Clackamas by doctor Karen Gunson. Preliminary results indicated the cause of death was smoke inhalation.

Kuhns confirmed Sosa-Martinez was in the apartment when the fire started and said the investigation has shown the mother and son were the only two present at the time.

The scene soon became a death investigation.

“It was a death investigation before a fire investigation,” Kuhns said. “Within minutes of us arriving, we were able to confirm, unfortunately, the death of this 4-year-old boy, so we took over the investigation.

“The mother was outside the apartment as the firefighters continued to battle the blaze,” he added. “It became apparent the 4-year-old was not going to make it out. We drove her quickly from the scene to the Keizer Police Department. She remained here until early the next morning.”

Around 1 a.m. Saturday, Sosa-Martinez was arrested on charges of second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, endangering the welfare of a minor and second degree child neglect. She was booked into the Marion County Correctional Facility later in the morning. The investigation is continuing, with assistance from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Oregon State Police. Rich Hoover, community liaison with the fire marshal’s office, referred inquiries to Kuhns.

On Monday afternoon, Sosa-Martinez made her initial court appearance behind a glass divider at the Marion County Courthouse Annex. The room was packed with friends, family members and media.

Katie Suver, a Marion County deputy district attorney, noted during the arraignment Sosa-Martinez had pleaded guilty to child neglect in 2012 and was on probation. Twice since she had been found in possession of marijuana.

“(There was) the use of marijuana by the defendant’s admission on the day that her child passed away,” Suver said. “The defendant has a history of marijuana use which has resulted in ongoing criminal sanctions.”

Based on that, Suver requested no bail be imposed on the manslaughter charge. Judge Channing Bennett agreed with the request.

“I do find probably cause Ms. Sosa does cause a danger to the public,” Bennett said.

A preliminary hearing for Sosa-Martinez is set for the afternoon of Nov. 3, with another arraignment set for the morning of Nov. 5.

Based on the criminal history, a key question has been why Sosa-Martinez was able to be with her children. Gene Evans, a public information officer with the Department of Human Services (DHS), had little to say Tuesday afternoon.

“Nobody here will be able to answer that,” Evans said. “Information about child welfare cases is protected under state and federal law. Also, there is a law enforcement investigation. Some information will come out through the court process. We don’t have anything here we can release.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call lead investigator, KPD detective Ben Howden, at 503-390-3713 ext. 3525.