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Month: November 2014

Larry J. Miletta

L. Miletta
L. Miletta

It is with great sadness and significant loss that we announce the sudden passing of Larry Miletta, 57, on Nov. 17, 2014.

Larry was born May 19, 1957 to Roy and Sue Miletta in Salem. Larry graduated from McNary High School in 1976, and then went on to complete his Associates Degree at Chemeketa Community College.

In 1980, he began his firefighting career with the Salem Fire Department. Soon after, he met his future wife, Doneva Gooch, in 1981. They married on May 10, 1986 at the First United Methodist Church. Two years later, in 1988, he was promoted to the rank of captain with the Salem Fire Department. Later that same year, they welcomed their first child, Brandon Joseph Miletta. They then welcomed their daughter, Amber May, in 1993.

Larry retired from the Salem Fire Department in 2012 after 32 years of dedicated service. Larry enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking and was an enthusiast of sports, history, politics and science.

Larry is survived by his wife, Doneva; son, Brandon; daughter, Amber; mother, Sue; siblings: David, Lisa, and Lora; brother in-law Daryl Gooch (Sue); sister in-law Linda Walker (Louis); nephews: Troy Miletta, Daniel Miletta, Ryan Martinmaas, Jon Walker and Darren Gooch; nieces: Nikki Dayton, April Harris, Mindy Walker and Shelley Watts. He was predeceased by his father, Roy Miletta.

The memorial service took place on Monday, Nov. 24 at The First Methodist Church at 600 State Street, Salem.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Center for Hope & Safety, 605 Center Street NE, Salem, OR and Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, Attn: West Salem High School Memory Garden, 233 Commercial Street NE, Salem, OR 97301. Arrangements are by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

School board: Pension bonds get approval

480x270-Salem-Keizer School-District-logo

For the Keizertimes

Saving the Salem-Keizer School District large amounts of money by issuing pension obligation bonds was approved at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The bonds will pay down the district’s portion of the state liability of the Public Employees Retirement System. District staff had told the board that the district would benefit by issuing bonds at a lower rate than the 7.75 percent PERS assumed earnings rate if the proceeds earn an average rate of return that exceeds the interest rate of the bonds.

The actual payoff amount will be determined by PERS, Superintendent Christy Perry told the board, but she said the district to date has saved over $67.7 million from its 2002 and 2004 bond issuances. PERS has determined that the district’s portion of the liability is $51,450,037, and after consulting financial and legal experts, staffers recommended a maximum interest rate of 5.25 percent.

Also at the meeting, the board approved amendments to the constitution of the Oregon School Boards Association and revisions to board policies. Directors showed some concern over wording of a requirement for them to state the reasons for positions they take at meetings, but chairperson Rick Kimball said they should not take the wording too literally.

In the Spotlight on Success portion of the meeting, the Parent Club Board of Claggett Creek Middle School was honored as Volunteers of the Month. Krina Lee of the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation said in presenting the honor that Kristy Fletcher, board president; Lisa Buik, vice president; and Justine Christensen, treasurer, were nominated by school staff “for multiple reasons.”

They have worked many hours, Lee said, to support parent involvement and have provided club meeting presentations and supported various student-oriented programs.

Wednesday of this week was National Education Support Professionals Day, and the board approved a proclamation honoring district support professionals, formerly designated as classified employees.

Personnel actions approved by the board included the following in the McNary High School attendance area:

• Contract for Trisha Dalke as a temporary part-time first-grade ESOL teacher at Keizer Elementary School.

• Contracts for temporary full-time teachers: Rhonda Rhodes, behavior specialist at McNary; Sarah Brending, first-grade ESOL teacher at Gubser Elementary School; and Lori Lloyd, third-grade teacher at Clear Lake Elementary School.

• Retirement of Craig Nicholas, health teacher at McNary.

• Resignation of Abby Federico, learning resources teacher at Claggett Creek.

Agenda for Keizer City Council meeting







Monday, December 1, 2014 

7:00 p.m. 

Robert L. Simon Council Chambers 

Keizer, Oregon 







This time is provided for citizens to address the Council on any matters other than those on the agenda scheduled for public hearing. 


a. RESOLUTION – Relating to Sewer Administration Fee – Repeal of R2006-1702 

RESOLUTION – Relating to Wastewater Service Charges (2015-2016) 

b. ORDINANCE – Establishing Erosion Control and Pollution Prevention Regulations; Repealing Ordinance No. 2011-635 

RESOLUTION – Relating to Erosion Control Fees – Repeal of R2011-2152 


a. RESOLUTION – Adopting 2014 Keizer Rapids Park Master Plan Amendment – Amending R2006-1729 

ORDINANCE – Adopting an Amendment to the Parks and Recreation Master Plan Dated January 2008 (Keizer Rapids Park) – Amending 2008-570 

b. ORDINANCE – Prohibiting Truancy – Repealing Ordinance No. 99-409 ORDINANCE – Amending Ordinance Specifying Hours of Curfew for Minors – Amending Ordinance 99-410 


a. RESOLUTION – Extending City Attorney Contract 

b. RESOLUTION – Extending City Manager Contract 

c. Approval of November 3, 2014 Regular Session Minutes 



This time is provided to allow the Mayor, City Council members, or staff an opportunity to bring new or old matters before the Council that are not on tonight’s agenda. 


To inform the Council of significant written communications


December 8, 2014 

5:45 p.m. – City Council Work Session 

2015-2017 City Council Goals 

December 15, 2014 

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session 

January 5, 2015 

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session 

Oath of Office for Newly Elected Council Members 

Election of Council President 

Council Liaison Appointments 


Upon request, auxiliary aids and/or special services will be provided. To request services, please contact us at (503)390-3700 or through Oregon Relay at 1-800-735-2900 at least two working days (48 hours) in advance. 

New art coming to River Rd.


Of the Keizertimes

More public art is coming to Keizer.

At their Oct. 28 meeting, members of the new Keizer Arts Commission meeting approved the placement of two sculptures.

One of them, depicting a tuxedo-clad man with a staff and top hat, will be placed on a slab at Copper Creek Mercantile (4415 River Road North) by Bentley’s Coffee. The second sculpture, a kneeling fireman, will be placed at Abby’s Pizza (3451 River Road North).

No timeline was specified for the placement.

The motion for the two placement, passed on a 5-0 vote with two absent, came after commissioners reviewed six submissions by the same artist who previously did the Rejoice at Keizer Plaza. The Keizer Chamber of Commerce Foundation had previously approved the funding for displaying two sculptures, according to Arts Commission vice chair Rick Day.

Mayor Lore Christopher, chair of the commission, noted a previous sculpture at Keizer Veterinary Clinic – one of the six submissions – was found to be too provocative.

“Everyone thought it looked like a dead baby,” she said. “We got that comment more than once. It was placed on the doorstep. It literally looked like someone had dropped off a baby.”

Christopher noted the placement involves a $500 stipend to the artist for the first year, followed by $200 a year after that.

“This is the guy who did Rejoice, Christopher said. “People love that sculpture. We did a call to artists and this is all we received.”

Christopher said artist Bruce Fontaine’s “Sentry,” the city’s first public art project when it was installed in June 2010, was damaged by vandalism and Fontaine took it back.

“It was the cutest dang thing,” the mayor said. “It ended kind of badly.”

The first piece discussed by commissioner was a female in a long dress with a billed cap. Jill Hagen expressed concern about youth deciding to hang on one of the lifted arms.

“That is a viable concern, if they would hang on the arm and if it would snap off,” Day said. “We could ask the artist if there are any concerns about kids jumping on it.”

Commissioners passed on a reclining body sculpture as well as the sleeping baby one.

“I’d want to pass,” Christopher said of the latter. “It might look different elevated on the pedestal. It was provocative to begin with.”

Day predicted the sculpture might get some ink because of that.

“The paper gets bored, so they’d probably jump on that,” Day said with a chuckle.

“Exactly!” Christopher replied. “They’re particularly bored right now.”

There was unanimous love for the man in the tuxedo with the staff and top hat.

“That is really cool,” Day said.

Christopher and others agreed.

“I think that is adorable, too,” she said. “We totally like him.”

A hooded person sculpture didn’t elicit such favorable response, but the kneeling fireman did.

While there were three locations considered – Sonic being the third – Abby’s and Copper Creek were the two chosen.

After discussion of whether there was a rush, Day indicated the placement should happen soon.

“We have three empty spaces, the money has been allocated, it’s time to take action,” he said.

Christopher is confident there will be more interest in public art thanks to the formation of the Arts Commission.

Thank a politician today


It’s a mistake to be nostalgic for some golden age in politics when everyone was nice to each other. Such a time never existed.

Still, this is a particularly rotten moment to be an elected official, and especially a member of Congress, a body whose ratings are even lower than those of journalists. If you run for office these days, all your mistakes (and some you never made) are broadcast widely in some horrible TV spot.

So this Thanksgiving, let’s all express gratitude to our fellow Americans who dare to run for the House and Senate. By way of offering mine, I want to thank a few good people we’re losing to retirement or electoral defeat.

Progressives will miss Reps. George Miller and Henry Waxman, both California Democrats. I wrote about Miller when he announced his retirement at the beginning of the year, singling him out as a fearless liberal who’d fight the Republicans at every step, but also work with them happily if something useful could get done.

Waxman is one of the smartest members of Congress, and you never wanted to be at the wrong end of a Henry Waxman hearing. My colleague Harold Meyerson listed just some of the things Waxman bills accomplished: They made our air cleaner and our drinking water safer, put nutritional labeling on food, got medical care to people with AIDS and increased safety standards for food. Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson called Waxman “tougher than a boiled owl,” probably not something you want to think about at your Thanksgiving table.

Miller and Waxman (like the late Ted Kennedy) spent their careers championing universal health care. So did Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. It’s fitting that all of them got to help Obamacare pass.

During budget skirmishes, politicians found it easy to stand up for Medicare, but Rockefeller stood up for Medicaid, which isn’t as popular. He also tried to get a public option into the Affordable Care Act. Harkin is a wonderfully outspoken populist, and I particularly admire the message he sent when he ended his 1992 presidential campaign. A lifelong battler for the disabled whose brother is deaf, Harkin made his announcement at Gallaudet University, which is geared to deaf and hearing-impaired students—and started his speech in sign language. How many presidential candidates have made such a personal moment about people other than themselves?

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., is one of the nicest people in Congress—that’s how they seem to make them in the Midwest—and is best known for the detailed tax reform proposal he offered earlier this year.

But I also owe Camp an apology. He has devoted a lot of energy to adoption and foster care reform. I wrote about a successful bipartisan bill in that area back in 1997 and mentioned the roles of Rockefeller and the late John Chafee, (R-R.I.). Camp should have received credit, too, and being Catholic, I knew I’d feel guilty until I got that fact in print.

Candor demands that I note I was rooting for my friend and former Georgetown dean Judy Feder when she twice ran against Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. I honor her public service, too, and still think she belongs in Congress. But I respect Wolf, who is retiring, for the exceptional work he has done on behalf of religious liberty around the world, and he was very early among politicians in seeing danger in the spread of gambling throughout the country.

A quick thanks to Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., for trying to remember his roots in the progressive Republicanism of the old Ripon Society; to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., for her personal witness against the horrors of gun violence; to Sen. Carl Levin, D-M.I., for being brave and prophetic on the Iraq War in 2002; and to Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., for casting a courageous vote for background checks.

Thanks also to editors who saved me from many stupid blunders in columns like this, particularly my friend James Hill whose retirement means I will miss enormously enlightening, twice-a-week conversations.

These folks, and others I wish I could mention, no doubt identify with Teddy Roosevelt’s tribute to the person in the arena “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

 “If he fails,” TR told us, “at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

(Washington Post Writers Group)

The Big But


Following President Obama’s ambitious executive order on immigration — not unprecedented in subject matter but unprecedented in scope and ambition—we are left to pick through the wreckage of law and precedent.

Obama’s action was a substitute for legislation—imposed precisely because legislation he favored did not pass. So what issues might have been raised during the legislative debate Obama pre-empted?

There is the matter of arbitrariness. Obama’s defense of his action is sweeping and unqualified. We are not a nation that “accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms.” Unless, of course, they arrived less than five years ago. A moral rule is apparently bounded by a bureaucratic line. And an appeal intended to put Republicans on the defensive also puts Hillary Clinton on the spot. One possible news conference question: “Madam Secretary, if an American president has the unilateral power to remove people from the shadows, why not people who arrived during the Obama years?”

There is also the matter of implementation. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes about 4 million cases of all kinds each year. Now as many as 4 million applications — involving documentation of the arbitrary five-year limit — will be added over an indeterminate period of time. USCIS — which is currently overwhelmed — has six months to prepare for the onslaught. Opportunities for fraud and exploitation will certainly multiply. Will the lines for services provided to legal immigrants lengthen? An actual legislative debate might have clarified these challenges, particularly in light of the administration’s Obamacare and Veterans Affairs debacles.

The American political system not only lacks action; it lacks deliberation. On immigration, Obama has provided the first by circumventing the second — and provided a precedent for other presidents to avoid deliberation on other matters. During campaign-like events, Obama has made a strong case for immigration reform legislation, employing arguments that could have been made (and were) by George W. Bush. He has not made a case for short-circuiting the legislative process, except for noting that Congress has not acted in the way he wants, on the timeline he prefers. It is an Augustinian ploy, made from a Jimmy Carter-like political position.

But—and this is perhaps the most significant conjunction of its kind since Kim Kardashian’s —Obama’s action shows the power of even a weakened president to influence a public debate. After all of the important legal, practical, political and procedural objections to Obama’s executive order, he has called attention to a fundamentally sympathetic group of human beings caught in an unjust and unworkable system. People who come to America to construct a better life, sometimes at great personal cost and risk, are not common criminals, even when they lack documentation. They (and all of the rest of us) deserve an immigration system that honors both the rule of law and human dignity. Our current one does not.

Obama’s willful revision of that law has problems of its own. It falls short on visas for high-tech workers. It provides no path to citizenship. In the most cynical (and most likely) interpretation, it uses undocumented workers in a vast political ploy.

But, no Republican running for president—or, at least, no Republican with serious prospects of actually becoming president—can simply say that the group that Obama has registered will be summarily deported. This would be impractical, immoral and politically self-destructive. Any future Republican proposal for comprehensive immigration reform will need to include a provision that deals with this humanitarian concern. Obama’s action, however currently controversial, will not be entirely undone.

This is already evident in the serious Republican response to the executive order — from a strengthened and disciplined Republican congressional leadership—which has focused on confronting Obama’s overreach rather than scapegoating people his action is designed to help. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush placed his opposition to Obama’s power grab within the context of a call for comprehensive reform — the only position that allows the GOP to confront its long-term demographic challenges.

Obama’s action on immigration creates a situation similar to health care. Obamacare was passed in a partisan march, implemented incompetently and sold to the public (as we know from professor Jonathan Gruber) in a deceptive fashion. But Republicans running for president will still need to propose a market-oriented alternative for the people currently getting health coverage under Obama’s plan.

This may be Obama’s very mixed presidential legacy. His methods are controversial, divisive, sometimes disturbing and often failed; his goals have shifted the American political debate.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Walker headed to St. Martin’s

Mickey Walker, a pitcher for the McNary High School varsity baseball team, smiles after signing his letter of intent. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Mickey Walker, a pitcher for the McNary High School varsity baseball team, smiles after signing his letter of intent. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Before the varsity baseball season got underway last spring, Head Coach Larry Keeker heard the same thing about Mickey Walker from two different assistants during an intrasquad scrimmage.

“They said Mickey knows he belongs, and he knows he belongs on the mound. When he walks out there and plays, that’s how he plays,” said Keeker.

At the time, Keeker wasn’t exactly certain where Walker would fit in the line-up, but Walker made his presence known every time out. He finished the season 6-0 with three shutouts, one one-hitter, a pair of two-hitters and a win against every team in the league. He was named to the all-league first team and tapped as Central Valley Conference pitcher of the year before being honored as a second team all-state pick.

“That’s a great journey and a great accomplishment, and it’s a result of Mickey’s dedication, hard work and passion for the game of baseball,” Keeker said.

Those same three traits are what led to Walker signing to play with St. Martin’s University in front of a McNary High School library packed with friends, relations, and several former coaches Tuesday, Nov. 18.

“(The Saints) have some good talent coming up in the program, and it’s a smaller school which fits what I’ve gotten used to,” said Walker, who attends school in Silverton and plays for the McNary baseball program.

Most high school athletes struggle to get looks from college recruiters, but Walker benefitted from a special invitation to play for Capitol City Select, a Salem-based college-preparatory team. Despite being 16, Walker was invited to play with the 18U team and traveled much of the West Coast throughout the summer.

Two of the team’s coaches, Scott and Justin Barchus, have close ties to McNary.

“The coach at St. Martin’s saw me play in a tournament up in Washington and invited me to come and check out the school,” Walker said.

As part of the Lacey, Wash.-based Saints, Walker will occasionally return close to home for games against conference foes Western Oregon University and Portland’s Concordia University. The St. Martin program is graduating 10 seniors in June meaning Walker will have a good chance of starting in his freshman year.

Walker said he’s most looking forward to the freedom college represents, but he’ll be working on honing his game during his senior year.

“It will all be fundamentals,” he said. “Trying to get better and more consistent in the little things.”

Walker is the son of Jerry and Lisa Walker, owners of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

Taking a surface look at Big Toy

Clint Holland (right), shown manning the Big Toy booth during the annual RIVERfair celebration at Keizer Rapids Park back in August along with Linda Baker, has been looking at what kind of surface to use for the play structure. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)
Clint Holland (right), shown manning the Big Toy booth during the annual RIVERfair celebration at Keizer Rapids Park back in August along with Linda Baker, has been looking at what kind of surface to use for the play structure.
(KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Now the location is known for the Big Toy.

The website is up and running at

Among the details still to be determined: what the Big Toy will be placed on.

Members of the Keizer City Council approved a new location for the community build play structure at Keizer Rapids Park earlier this month. The structure is scheduled to be built over a five-day span from June 10 to 14, 2015.

Before then, one of the details yet to be finalized is what type of ground covering to use.

Budget figures have ranged from $16,000 using wood chips to $167,000 using spongy rubber material. The current budget lists $105,000 for rubber chips.

Clint Holland has talked about getting a rubber surface from RB Rubber Products in McMinnville, but noted at a recent fundraising committee meeting the company sold its division that does the work.

“We were trying to get rubber that looks like bark chips,” Holland said. “If we want to do this, we need to really look at it. The rubber surface is more than the rubber chips. The $105,000 in the budget is for rubber chips.”

Marion County Commission Janet Carlson, chair of the fundraising committee, feels a more final cost figure needs to be secured.

“We need a better number for this as soon as we can,” she said.

Mayor Lore Christopher feels a range can be okay at this point.

“We can have a range of flooring, from X to Y amount,” Christopher said. “I think this is a moving target.”

Carlson likened the cost to a different type of flooring.

“We need to get a range, for different size areas,” Carlson said. “Once we find the price, it’s like getting pricing for carpet.”

Holland showed pictures on his phone of a new large play structure in McMinnville, putting an emphasis on the surface used.

“You spread dust in, which helps with the softness,” Holland said. “In McMinnville, they spread the rubber surface. It looks like wood with all the rough edges taken off. It’s like driftwood.”

In recent months, health concerns have been raised about rubber crumbs from artificial turf causing cancer among soccer players – in particular goalies, whose faces are more likely to come into contact with the turf.

Due to the concerns, Holland has vowed whatever surface is used in Keizer won’t have anything that could potentially make children sick.

“The Big Toy is not going to use it,” Holland said of rubber crumb. “It’s the loose material, the fine shavings. When goalies hit their face on the ground and the stuff goes up in the nose, the chemicals might be causing the cancer. There might be other types of products to put in there instead.”

At recent meetings, Holland has been carrying around a block of the type of product he’d like to use. The base is black and stiff, with a blue-green top.

“This stuff can be used,” Holland said. “This is used in McMinnville. It’s like driftwood from the ocean is what it looks like to me. You can get it in any color. The costs might go down with something like this.”

For nearly a year Holland has talked about being able to get the material at RB Rubber at a good price, but that opportunity seems to have passed.

“They sold that division, so we couldn’t get it there anymore,” he said.

2014 season took toll on gridders’ bodies, spirits

Celt Brady Sparks tries to shake a tackler in McNary’s game with Oregon City High School in the first round of the state playoff tournament. (Photo courtesy of J&H Photo)
Celt Brady Sparks tries to shake a tackler in McNary’s game with Oregon City High School in the first round of the state playoff tournament. (Photo courtesy of J&H Photo)

Of the Keizertimes

At the beginning of the football season, the McNary High School varsity football team was expected to be a major player in the new Greater Valley Conference.

However, a key early loss and then an ever-growing number of injuries began taking its toll on the team, and the hits, it seemed, kept coming with each successive game. While the Celts finished in fourth place with a 5-3 GVC record, and 5-5 overall record, the season took a toll physically and on the team spirits.

“The injuries this year were very concerning to me, it took a toll on my personal spirits this season as I felt bad for our kids who got hurt,” said Isaac Parker, McNary head coach.

After starting the season with a win over North Salem, the Celts took a loss to Westveiw High School in early September. The team’s hurry-up offense simply proved too much for the Celtic defense. It left the team with a split 1-1 record heading into a game with West Albany High School the next week.

McNary gave up a 20-0 lead in a game that saw the Bulldogs win 28-27 in overtime.

“We lost to West Albany and we probably shouldn’t have. It doesn’t look like as bad of a loss now given how well that team has played this year, but in that moment, that was a tough one to swallow,” Parker said.

The team bounced back the next week to beat McKay High School, and came through in a huge way the next week in a contest with McMinnville High School.

With the scored tied 39-39 going into the final minute, junior varsity kicker AJ Johnk hit a field goal from 30 yards out to win the game with a second left on the clock. While the victory was a high point, the game had taken a toll.

“We went from thinking we were going to start getting healthy to losing both Kyle Torres, our best offensive player, and Lacroix Hill, our best defensive player, for the season,” Parker said. “ I felt like our kids responded well after the West Albany loss and put a little (three-game) winning streak together. Granted, we lost kids to injuries during that winning streak, which showed up big time against West and South.”

After suffering through a shutout by West Salem and 48-14 drubbing by South, the Celts had only one league opponent left, Sprague High School.

“The Sprague game I was very proud of because coming off of back-to-back losses, we found a way to compete and play our best game of the season that night. So while we had our ups and downs, I felt like our kids always found a way to respond and fight,” Parker said.

McNary edged the Olys 34-33 after the Celtic defense came up with some big stops on Sprague’s final drive. But, as with seemingly every victory this season, the Celts also suffered a loss. Against Sprague, junior Parker Janssen went out for the season with a badly fractured leg.

Drill duo seeks oohs, ahhs

Dawson Young and Connor Hogan demonstrate a dual armed drill routine during halftime of a McNary varsity football game earlier this season. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Dawson Young and Connor Hogan demonstrate a dual armed drill routine during halftime of a McNary varsity football game earlier this season. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Two years later, Connor Hogan and Dawson Young can still vividly remember unpacking the dummy rifles they would become closely acquainted with.

“They were shipped in from another program and I remember thinking how cool they were,” said Hogan.

Since that day, the pair of McNary High School juniors has devoted a not insignificant amount of time to perfecting their armed drill routines, basically a marching performance that includes spinning and tossing the dummy rifles.

When Young first heard that an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps was taking root at McNary, he was quick to badger Hogan into joining with him.

“During orientation, they told us there was an armed drill camp coming up, and we decided to go check it out,” Young said.

At the camp, Hogan and Young were introduced to the basic elements of armed drill performance. It starts with learning how to spin an eight-and-a-half pound, off-center rifle around the wrist.

“People think that it’s not that heavy, but then they pick it up,” said Hogan. “I think they really hooked us once they said we could do dual routines in competition. Then we were all in.”

Hogan and Young gradually began building their own routines, which now include aerials (throwing the rifles in the air while spinning), passing the arms behind their backs, and tossing the rifles back and forth between each other.

“The way we explain it is we take something we know and ask ourselves: how can we make this more dangerous? Or, what’s the dumbest thing we could do that would look cool?” said Hogan.

Through it all the biggest injuries have been cuts and bruises, but they’re willing to sacrifice a bit for their art.

“You spend a lot of time dropping the rifle and hitting yourself, but then you catch it and it pays off in that moment,” Young said.

Both young men spent five years in marching band before taking up unarmed drill performance and said the experience helps immensely as far as keeping time and rhythm. Executing a clean routine requires ample doses of both, but they don’t communicate audibly while performing.

“It’s the sound of the rifle hitting our hands. That’s how we know if we’re in sync,” said Young.

Young said the feeling of exhilaration after completing a difficult and flawless routine is what keeps him striving to improve, but both feed off the response of the audience.

“There’s a pressure that comes with performing and it lets people know about the JROTC program, but we want the oohs and ahhs. It’s a great feeling,” Hogan said.

Much of this year has been spent polishing up the things they are most familiar with, but they’ve still got some tricks up their sleeve.

“When we take the floor, we have to report in, it’s when we salute ask for permission to use the space. At the end, we have to report out. Right now, we’re working on a report out where I am spinning both rifles while Dawson is saluting,” Hogan said.