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Month: December 2014

Freshman three seconds from new school record

Lady Celt Marissa Kuch cruises through the pool at the Kroc Center in a school record attempt in the 200 free.KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald
Lady Celt Marissa Kuch cruises through the pool at the Kroc Center in a school record attempt in the 200 free.KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

Of the Keizertimes

Neither the boys nor girls varsity swimming teams managed a win over the South Salem High School Saxons Thursday, Dec. 18, but one young Lady Celt nearly set a new school record.

Freshman Marissa Kuch hit 1:59.67 in the 200 freestyle, just three seconds more than Celtic record of 1:56.59. On Dec. 10, Kuch swam the race in 1:53.70 in the Speedo Winter Junior Championship.

Kuch’s time in the event at the Junior Championship put her among the top 150 swimmers in the nation for her age, 15.

Kuch won the event at the South Salem meet by more than 16 seconds (she was the only race winner for either Celtic team at the varsity level), but the girls fell to the Saxons 95-74. The girls fared better than the boys who lost 132-37 against a deep South Salem roster.

“The biggest thing is keeping our legs going. We get good swims and we’re finishing strong, but our legs are fading,” said Casey Lewin, McNary head coach.

Junior Kiana Briones said that the team performed well even without a lot of race winners.

“We had all of our swimmers for the first time this season and we have good depth when everyone is here,” Briones said.

In addition to the 200 free, Kuch also won the varsity freestyle in 1:00.63. Second place varsity finishers for McNary were: Anjelica Glassey, Briones, Sara Eckert and Kuch in the 200 medley relay in 2:05.53; Abby McCoy in the 200 individual medley; Josie Ellis in the 100 free in 1:03.54; Eckert in the 500 free in 5:47.96; Samantha Williams, Ellis, Briones and Kuch in the 200 free relay; Briones in the 100 breast with a time of 1:18.58; and Glassey, Julianna Kelson, Eckert and Ellis in the 400 free relay in 4:26.07.

Briones said the 100 breast will be her main focus as the season progresses.

“I feel like if I focus on tempo and pacing and don’t rush it, I will be ready when the district meet comes,” she said.

The Celts faced Forest Grove and West Albany high schools in the early weeks of the season, but swimming in different pools made for more than a few hiccups.

“At Forest Grove everything was different. They were recording everything by hand and we’re just not used to the old school way of doing it,” Briones said.

Senior Tanner Hughes said the boys team was ready to return to the Kroc after two meets at foreign pools.

“I think we’re in a good place though and we have a good foundation to build on,” Hughes said.

Lady Celts get first wins on hardwood


Of the Keizertimes

After two weeks of narrow misses against undefeated teams, the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team was ready for a win in a big way.

Unfortunately for the North Salem High School Vikings on Tuesday, Dec. 16, they were the victims. In the second Greater Valley Conference contest of the season, McNary routed North 70-18.

“We had a chance to give the whole bench solid minutes. By getting the eighth, ninth, and 10th players long runs it has helped us deepen our bench play,” said Derick Handley, McNary head coach.

Every single Lady Celt put points on the board in the game, but it was a result of spirit-crushing defensive work.

“With our pressure we were able to get some easy baskets early, which only increased our intensity as the game went along,” Handley said.

The girls made good on the promise of that win with a 47-38 win over Forest Grove High School. It was the most complete-team effort of the season, Handley said.

“Forest Grove was the first team we’ve seen play predominately man-to-man, so that was a bit of an adjustment for us. Their pressure got to us a little early, but the girls made great adjustments and took care of the ball for the final three-and-a-half quarters. It was also the first game this season where we didn’t settle for outside jump shots and were willing to attack the basket,” he said.

Building the confidence to move in closer to the net has been high on Handley’s agenda since the season began, but the Lady Celts’ early opponents often crowded out the McNary players.

“We made (Forest Grove) work for every basket. I liked how aggressive we were on offense and hopefully that carries over into our winter break games,” Handley said.

McNary will travel to Bend December 27-29 for a tournament at Bend High School.

“We’ll be playing some very talented teams so it’s just another chance for us the get some experience in an atmosphere similar to the playoffs. We play the defending 5A state champions in Willamette in the first round, and could possibly play the current No. 1 5A team in La Salle. Competition will be great, so it’s another opportunity for us to see where we are and try to get better,” Handley said.

Year in review 2014: Political shakeup, drugs and a Big Delay

Some of the top Keizer stories in 2014 included (clockwise from left) a fatal apartment fire on Oct. 24, the conviction of Victor David Smith, and the opening of Kaiser Permanente’s medical facility. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Some of the top Keizer stories in 2014 included (clockwise from left) a fatal apartment fire on Oct. 24, the conviction of Victor David Smith, and the opening of Kaiser Permanente’s medical facility. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

There was a change in Keizer’s political landscape in 2014, but so much more.

Before the year even started, big news items from late 2013 already were having an impact. As the year progressed, more issues kept coming up.

Below is a brief summary of the top 10 Keizer stories, as selected by the Keizertimes staff.

Political change

Late in 2013, state Rep. Kim Thatcher of House District 25 announced she would be running for Senate. Fellow Keizer Republican Bill Post simultaneously announced he would be running for Thatcher’s old House seat.

Meanwhile, longtime Keizer mayor Lore Christopher had said she would not be seeking a record-extending eighth two-year term. Christopher made it official in January: after 14 years, it would be time for a new Keizer mayor.

Post handily overcame a controversy about FCC fair time rules to easily beat Barbara Jensen in the primary, but went on a memorable rant after claiming the election cost him his job at KYKN. Post went off about the low voter turnout, posting on Twitter that “worthless lazy Americans get what they deserve.”

Post then defeated Chuck Lee in the fall general election, while Thatcher overcame a controversy regarding a court case with the Oregon Department of Transportation to beat Ryan Howard for the state Senate District 13 race.

There were four open seats on the Keizer City Council, counting the mayor’s seat. Whereas multiple races in 2012 were contested, such was not the case this year. Councilor Cathy Clark went unopposed and will take over as Keizer’s next mayor at the Jan. 5 council meeting. Former city employee Roland Herrera joins the council for the first time, while Brandon Smith returns to the council after a two-year absence. In the only contested race, Amy Ripp defeated Matthew Chappell in a race that got interesting late as news broke of Ripp’s financial issues.

Two high-profile drug cases

Late in the year, two cases with drug connections brought national attention to Keizer.

The first happened in late October, when 4-year-old Andre Joaquin Sosa perished when trapped in his family’s burning apartment. Witnesses reported his mom, 23-year-old Niya Breann Sosa-Martinez, tried coaxing her son out but didn’t physically go in to pull him out of the fire. Witnesses further reported that as her son was dying, Sosa-Martinez went to a nearby gazebo and started calmly texting.

Sosa-Martinez was arrested on various charges. In her initial court appearance, it was revealed Sosa-Martinez had used marijuana the day of the fire.

While the community was still coming to grips with that incident, an investigation by the Keizer Police Department led to the arrest of a couple for use and selling of drugs in their home – with drug paraphernalia within easy access of the couple’s two young children. In addition to Erin and Jarrod Wells, a former beauty pageant winner, Jamie Lynn France, was also arrested. Before-and-after photos showed a startling change in the appearance of France, prompting national interest in the story.

Big Toy moved, delayed

When 2014 started, a location and build date had been selected for the Big Toy play structure project at Keizer Rapids Park.

The year also ends with a set location and build date – but both are different.

For months the plan was to utilize community volunteers to build the 10,000 square foot playground in a five-day span in September. However, it was determined things wouldn’t be ready by then – especially in terms of fundraising – so the project was pushed back to June 2015. Fundraising efforts are ongoing, though the project didn’t qualify for a large state grant that had been viewed as key.

Since the project was delayed, councilors agreed with Christopher’s suggestion to consider other areas within KRP for the play structure. That set off action to expand the Urban Growth Boundary for the park, bringing in 28 new acres of land into city jurisdiction. With the new area added, meetings were held on an updated master plan for the entire park.

By the time the dust had settled, a number of new amenities were added to the plans for the park, including a new location for the Big Toy, an indoor sports facility, two softball fields and the first flush toilets in any Keizer park.

Mom murdered, dad shot by son

In early March, Michelle Pearson was found murdered in her home while husband Bill was clinging to his life. Two people were arrested in the case, including 17-year-old son Brett Angus Pearson.

As the case progressed, Brett Pearson was arraigned on various charges, along with friend Robert Daniel Miller II. Pearson was accused of agreeing to pay Miller “money and things of value to unlawfully and intentionally” cause the death of his mom.

Bill Pearson was released from the hospital a little more than two weeks after the shooting. The younger Pearson and Miller were both tried as adults. Brett Pearson told a TV station he was high on methamphetamine at the time of the shootings.

Victor Smith convicted

It took more than 10 years and two trials, but Victor David Smith was finally convicted in September for the July 2004 murder of Keizer’s Phillip Johnson.

Smith was a prime suspect early in the case, but it wasn’t until key witnesses gave KPD detectives new information in 2009 that the investigation was narrowed to Johnson. Prosecutors argued that Smith was upset with Johnson for staying involved in his girlfriend’s life and felt the only way to solve his problem was by shooting Johnson. Adding heartache, Johnson’s daughter with his then-girlfriend was born a few months after the murder.

The case first went to trial in late June, just before the 10th anniversary of the murder. After three days of deliberation, a hung jury led to a mistrial being declared. A second trial took place in September, with a new witness telling jurors Smith had admitted to the murder while in prison. The jury took four hours to return a guilty verdict, sentencing Smith to 30 years in prison.

Johnson’s family from Oregon and from out of state traveled to both trials, with mom Jean Ausborn addressing Smith.

“Matthew 5:21 says, ‘You shall not murder and whoever commits murder will be in danger of the judgment,’” Ausborn said. “Victor, today is the judgment day.”

Two new medical centers

The year was bookended with the openings of two new medical facilities in Keizer. A Silverton Health clinic opened on Inland Shores Way in February, while a Kaiser Permanente facility opened in Keizer Station in December. A key benefit for both facilities is a number of Keizer families no longer have to leave town to get medical treatment.

Wooing such facilities had long been a goal for Keizer leaders such as Christopher and Christine Dieker with the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.

The Kaiser Permanente facility has the added bonus of high visibility along Interstate 5. While the KP building was opening, several other projects in Keizer Station continued, including a Gustav’s German restaurant, a Taco Bell, a Chipotle Grill, a Carhartt store and a maurices clothing store. A formerly vacant building was reopened as REI in May.

At the same time, the legal battle over the former Rawlins property drew to a close after the parcels of property behind the Lowe’s and Target were foreclosed on.

Peterson pours in 35 points in 92-57 rout of Forest Grove

McNary’s Tregg Peterson escapes from Woodburn High School defenders on a fast break in a game Monday, Dec. 22.  KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald
McNary’s Tregg Peterson escapes from Woodburn High School defenders on a fast break in a game Monday, Dec. 22.

Of the Keizertimes

McNary senior Tregg Peterson put up 35 points in a McNary High School boys varsity basketball team road game against Forest Grove High School Friday, Dec. 19.

Peterson knocked down five of seven from behind the three-point line and 13 of 17 from the paint to lead the team to a 92-57 win.

“We shared the ball well, took balanced shots, and played without fouling. The game was a big step for us in that we played well on the road. The guys are playing with a lot of confidence and trust in one another,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.

The Celtics had a 31-17 lead by the end of the first frame, but the foot came off the gas in the second period while the Vikings staged a rally to put the teams at 40-34 going into halftime.

The Celts outscored Forest Grove 52-23 in the second half for the win.

Junior Harry Cavell had 20 points and four assists; Trent Van Cleave had 15 points and nine assists; Cade Goff and Wyatt Grine had six points each; Devon Dunagan and Mathew Ismay had four points each; and Adam Harvey had two. Peterson, Cavell and Van Cleave shot 11-14 from the three-point zone.

That game was a sequel to the Celtics’ 62-44 win over North Salem High School three days prior.

Dunagan led the team with 15 points and six rebounds; Peterson put in 14 points; Van Cleave and Goff had 10 each; Ismay had nine; and Cole Thomas and Cavell had two each.

In hands of MHS grad… Bicycles are blessings

Austin Rogerson, a 2007 McNary High School graduate, repairs a bike to be donated as part of his latest project, Bicycles are Blessings. Submitted
Austin Rogerson, a 2007 McNary High School graduate, repairs a bike to be donated as part of his latest project, Bicycles are Blessings.

Of the Keizertimes

With a wrench, a pair of tubes and some grease – actual and elbow – a 2007 McNary High School grad is making the world a better place one bicycle at a time.

Austin Rogerson’s fledgling interest in bicycles turned into a full-on passion after arriving at college in Boise, Idaho.

“I worked as a work-study student for the College of Business at Boise State University, and nearly all of my coworkers were cyclists throughout the year. They rode their bikes to work, they went mountain biking during lunch breaks and they did extended bike rides on the weekend,” he said.

He’s kept up his interest riding in two Ironman races, in the mountains and foothills around his Boise home and by commuting via pedal power to his job as an interactive marketing specialist for the Idaho Lottery.

It was while he was working on his own bike at Boise Bicycle Project (BBP), a cooperative dedicated to spreading bicycle knowledge and usage, that the idea for his latest pursuit struck him.

“BBP taught me so much of what I’ve learned today. I’ve always had the desire to help others and, for quite some time, I’ve been looking for a way that I can do so that fits my life. That’s where I came up with Bicycles are Blessings,” Rogerson said.

He was already the go-to guy when friends needed a hand whipping their rides into shape or simply getting a tune-up, and he was more than willing to help.

“It was the joy that I felt when fixing up these bikes for others, that made me curious if there was more to this passion than just tuning up my own bikes or those for people close to me,” he said.

Rogerson started out looking for older bikes and working them back to street-worthy condition. He turned to Craiglist for bikes that others were giving away for free and it wasn’t long before he’d started up a Facebook page (, where he could share his ideas about what he wanted to do. At that point friends, and friends-of-friends, began searching their garages for old bikes and reaching out to Rogerson offering them as donations to Bicycles are Blessings.

With a bit of a backlog in stock, the costs to repair the bikes (typically new chains and tire tubes), were mounting. In December, Rogerson launched a gofundme campaign with a goal of $500. He met it in four days.

“I was absolutely in awe and overly encouraged! It made me realize how special the program I started truly was. People understood what I was doing and they realized how it could impact others and our Boise community in an amazing way,” Rogerson said.

While he fixes or repairs the immediate concerns with each new intake, he overhauls every bike in the hope that they’ll continue working for years down the road.

Recipients have included members of his church, Revolution 22, Love Inc., a faith-based organization with a mission to mobilize local churches to transform lives and community, and friends who were unable to afford new bikes for their own children.

“For each bicycle that I give, I pray considerably about it. There are so many people who are in need of a bicycle and, for that reason, I ask the Lord who needs it most right now and that prayer has always been answered,” Rogerson said.

His goal is to meet everyone who receives one of the bikes so that he can write about the experience for his Facebook followers.

The most powerful delivery so far was a birthday gift for a friend.

“Several months before, her bicycle was broken and stolen, which had been a joy to her and an option for transportation,” he said. “A group of her closest friends brainstormed ideas for her birthday. Everyone decided it had to be something special, something that would truly make an impact on her life.”

He’s regifted seven bikes in the past two months with several more in the works, but he plans to continue his work for as long as he possibly can.

“Reactions of others, their thankfulness, their gratitude; this is one large reason that keeps me motivated and encouraged to continue what I’m doing. The fruits of my labor are blessing others in beautiful ways,” Rogerson said.

Meet the new mayor (with VIDEO)

Cathy Clark laughs during an interview with the Keizertimes this week. Clark takes over as Keizer's mayor on Jan. 5. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Cathy Clark laughs during an interview with the Keizertimes this week. Clark takes over as Keizer’s mayor on Jan. 5. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

On Jan. 5, Cathy Clark takes over as Keizer’s new mayor.

Clark is a longtime educator and a lifetime learner who is always eager to learn something new.

Those who know basics about Clark or have watched her serve for the last eight years on the Keizer City Council may not be surprised by that.

Probably fewer people know Clark has taught Sunday School for 25 years, mainly at the kindergarten or elementary level.

The mom of four never has trouble remembering her anniversary to husband Kevin: they got married in December 1982, just weeks after Keizer was officially incorporated as a city. Kevin is a retired firefighter with the Marion County Fire District who is currently deputy chief at West Valley Fire District.

If you need to talk about Star Trek with someone, you can meet Clark during one of her Coffee With Cathy monthly meetings and chat away.

“I’m a diehard, long-term, hard-core Trekkie,” Clark said this week with a laugh. “I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was 12. Am I a nerd? Yes, and proud of it. I’ve been a nerd all my life.”

Clark was born in Los Angeles, fitting since her parents met at UCLA. Her dad was an electrical engineer who also had a furniture business his mom had started.

“I grew up around engineering and aerospace,” said Clark, who went to college at University of California Davis to study wildlife and fisheries biology.

Clark originally wanted to go to vet school, then changed plans. She did graduate work at Kansas State University, studying parasitology, or fish parasites.

“KSU was one of the schools with the grad programs and also had grad teaching positions to pay the bills. For three years I was a TA (teaching assistant),” she said.

Clark can still remember two students she had in one class.

“My third year, I had a father and son in my class,” she said. “Dad decided it was his turn to get his degree. Father got an A, while son got a C.”

The teaching bug had bitten Clark early.

“I started tutoring in high school,” she said. “It was a peer tutoring program. It was for the more nerdy types to help other kids with their homework.”

After getting her masters at KSU, Clark met an Oregon State University professor and thus moved to Corvallis to work at the vet medicine school. She did testing on large animals and worked on liver flukes.

“I did some interesting research,” Clark said. “I organized a symposia for parasitology. Some of the technology allowing us the understanding of the stuff was just getting underway. It was amazing to hear about it. It was a great opportunity.”

A few months after moving to Oregon, Clark met Kevin in church. While the first date on the road to marriage is often seen as the memorable one, for the Clarks the second date holds that honor.

“We went to a sweetheart banquet for firefighters,” Clark recalled with laughter. “It sounded like fun. I found the station on Cordon Road, where he was working. I get there and he’s not there, because he’s on a call. I followed him to the Chumaree (now Red Lion). His driver also had a date. I spent more time with the driver’s date than with him. He got one call after another all night. I had to drive back to Corvallis, so I said goodbye and left. When I left, he said, ‘I blew it.’ He showed up to church the next day and took me out to make up for it. We told the story the next year at the banquet.”

After a year of dating the two got married and lived together in Corvallis. By 1989 the couple had two children and a crowded home. Her job at OSU had ended and he was commuting to Salem each day, so moving to the Salem area was only logical.

“I told him where’s the place to live up there?” Clark said. “He said either West Salem or Keizer. We looked at different properties. As soon as we walked into the Keizer house, it was home. We knew we were home.”

Clark found that her children – Emilene, Alex, Allison and Alana – had a great childhood in Keizer.

“What I love about our neighborhood is we all spent time together. It was a whole group of kids that grew up together,” she said.

When one neighbor was burning brush in the backyard, Clark went to find a solution. She ended up on a city task force with Jerry McGee, referred to as one of Keizer’s founding fathers.

“I watched how he problem solved and brought people together,” Clark said. “To take care of yard debris, you bring in garbage haulers. He brought all of these people together. I learned so much from that experience.”

Clark homeschooled her children, so her next involvement was with community policing since truancy and day curfews were a hot topic for homeschool families in the mid-1990s.

“Law enforcement was getting aggressive about enforcing truancy rules,” Clark said. “When I heard it come up here, I got involved. Through that process I met Jacque Moir and got involved with the budget.”

Clark was the only audience member at budget meetings and was thus appointed to the budget committee the next year.

In 2004 Mike Gaynor talked to Clark about taking over his council seat.

“I was interested and knew it would be a tremendous opportunity. But the kids were too young,” said Clark, whose oldest child didn’t graduate from high school until 2005. “I knew if I was going to do it, I had to be all in. It was too soon.”

Two years later Moir approached Clark with the same conversation. By then Clark had two children either done with high school or almost done, so the timing was better. She was elected and joined council in 2007.

“That was a tremendous year,” Clark said. “That was the year I turned 50. I liken it to the year of Jubilee. In the Old Testament, it’s like a reset. It’s a year of celebration, embracing change. It was a tremendous growing opportunity. I was working part-time in Salem and my husband retired from the fire department in 2007. A lot of changes happened about the same time. It was a phenomenal opportunity to learn about myself and how to serve. I learned what it was like to serve the community.”

Clark had attended council meetings, but found Jim Taylor’s football analogy spot on.

“It’s like watching a football game and then playing in it,” Clark said. “Once you’re on the field, it’s a whole different perspective. I had to listen more deeply (once on council). I had to slow down and listen. I practice that. I try to listen deeply enough to get to the nugget. If I listen well enough and long enough, there is a nugget where we’ll be able to connect. That’s not by nature for me, that’s by practice.”

When Clark decided to run for mayor this year, she started the Coffee with Cathy series, meeting constituents at different coffee shops around Keizer.

“I engaged in wide-ranging conversations,” she said. “We would work through ideas. I have a notebook (an inch) thick. I have ideas written down, with names and dates.”

Clark is finalizing a schedule for such monthly meetings in 2015. Fliers with the information will be available at Keizer Civic Center.

“If you want to talk, come talk to me,” she said. “I will have my notebook with pen. Coffee will be optional.”

Clark calls her faith part of her DNA. She started singing in church choir in second grade and is currently on the worship team at Countryside Christian Church in Keizer.

“I was baptized when I was 19,” she said. “Serving the Lord is the foundation of who I am. I look at what I do in the community as my ministry. It’s what I do in my service to others. I share my blessings with other people. In turn, I’ve been blessed far more.”

Powered by GIRL

Leilani Salang set national records in powerlifting at the U.S. Powerlifiting Association’s Western Regional Championships in Newport Saturday, Dec. 14. Submitted
Leilani Salang set national records in powerlifting at the U.S. Powerlifiting Association’s Western Regional Championships in Newport Saturday, Dec. 14. Submitted

Of the Keizertimes

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Keizer’s Leilani (Lani) Salang, 15, set new state and national powerlifting records.

But, in a way, her journey to that point started on a come-from-behind run at a Jaycee Relay about seven years ago. Lani’s team had fallen behind by several lengths, when she had a vision.

“I wanted to know what it felt like when the tape broke across my chest,” Lani said. Before anyone in attendance could fully grasp what she was doing, she’d won the race for her team.

It was a desire to run faster that led the Blanchet Catholic School sophomore to the weight room last summer after track season. She continued by taking weight classes once school resumed this year. After the first five weeks of school, she knocked one former schoolmate’s name off the record board for the vertical jump. A collection of names is now piling up in her room.

“The first time it happened, I was so excited I just wanted to keep chasing the other names on the board,” Lani said.

The explosiveness she’s getting out of the weight training is paying dividends in her running starts and with her club volleyball team (she’s playing with 18-year-olds), but she hadn’t even considered lifting competitively until a few weeks prior to the West Coast Regionals hosted by the U.S. Powerlifting Association in Newport earlier this month.

Lani’s father, Jorge, knowing the records being set at Blanchet, did some research online to see how Lani was stacking up against competitive lifters.

“She’d beaten the old record for the bench press with her record at school. I looked at the state numbers and then the national numbers, and I knew she could beat it,” Jorge said. “In my mind, I knew she could do way more.”

Jorge picked her up from school a few days before the event to get some last-minute coaching in Corvallis and Lani was putting up numbers that left current USPA records in the rearview.

“The biggest difference was the squat because you have to get lower than we’ve done at school. You also have to hold the weights after you come back up, and I’m used to taking a step forward immediately to re-rack the weight,” Lani said.

Expectations are one thing, but nothing could quite prepare her for stepping into the spectacle of the competition. There weren’t a lot of women to be found, and she had her own description for the types of men in attendance.

“There’s a lot of gym meathead dudes,” she said. One was sniffing a bottle of ammonia before each lift.

“I knew the bench would be the easiest because it was most like what we did at school,” Lani said. Her final weight in that event was 143.30 kilos.

The technicalities involved with the squats were most worrisome. She had four attempts and redlined (fouled) in her second one because she didn’t get low enough. She set a new national record on her fourth attempt bearing 252.52 kilos. The bar curved around her shoulders.

The deadlift was the most foreign event. Lani had completed cleans, which involves bringing the weight up to her shoulders and then over her head, but the deadlift meant more weight brought up only to her hips. She was performing a deadlift for only her fifth time at the competition.

“We had to declare the weight we wanted before she made the attempt and she’d seen some of the older girls struggling with 303.14 kilos. I think it made her want to try it more,” Jorge said.

Lani had only reached 245 kilos in her brief Corvallis training session, but she leapt over the 285 kilo weight to attempt the lift at 303.

“They bring in a whole new set of judges for the national attempts and they announce it over the speaker that it’s a national record attempt,” Lani said. “When I came out from behind the curtain I could hear people talking and screaming, but I couldn’t see anybody. It was like I was in an empty room,” she said.

In video of the attempt (provided by her mother, Gina, and available at, Lani hefts the barbell with astonishing ease. After setting the new national record, she went to sit down and her hands were shaking uncontrollably. Every small cut and nick on her hands was bleeding.

Lani’s total for all three events was 688.95 kilos, about 95 kilos more than the current USPA record. She also won the gold medal for her division at the event.

“Seeing her being so dedicated and disciplined makes me ecstatic. Pound-for-pound she’s way stronger than me,” said Jorge.

Lani’s talents are not limited to sporting pursuits although she’s a basketball player and a black belt in addition to runner and lifter. She holds a 3.9 grade point average at Blanchet and was named that school’s orchestra’s Most Outstanding and String Player of the Year as a freshman.

“I think sports has taught me how to work with all different types of people and it’s taught me how to work hard,” she said. “My philosophy is three things. Set goals and visualize it, then believe and have confidence so you know you can do it. The third step put all your effort into it.”

It’s a philosophy that helped her break a ribbon as an elementary schooler and now it’s carried her all the way to national records in powerlifting – and she’s only 15.

A global conspiracy of health


In the category of stunning, heartening, woefully underreported good news: In 2000, an estimated 9.9 million children around the world died before age 5. In 2013, the figure was 6.3 million. That is 3.6 million fewer deaths, even as population increased by about 1 billion.

Shout it from the rooftops. Or, more topically, paste it to the posterior of a celebrity. Put Dianne Feinstein in charge of keeping it a secret.

There are a variety of reasons for increased child survival, including improved prevention of malaria and HIV. But according to a recent report in The Lancet, about half of these gains came from reductions in pneumonia, diarrhea and measles — diseases addressed by vaccination. We are seeing the continuation of what is perhaps the single greatest scientific contribution to human well-being: the artificial preparation of the immune system to ward off bacteria and viruses.

The provision of vaccines is a particularly clear instance of what economists call a global public good. A tetanus shot, for example, is a very good thing for the individual getting it; he or she doesn’t end up with lockjaw. But it is not, strictly speaking, a public good. Only the treated person benefits. The broad provision of the pneumococcal vaccine, in contrast, creates herd immunity and reduces anti-microbial resistance. The circulation of pneumonia in children is diminished, helping protect the elderly as well. Once this public good is produced, everyone can enjoy it without reducing anyone else’s share.

\What is exceptional about this particular public good is how much of it has been generated by a single source. The Internet loves speculation about shadowy, menacing global institutions — the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission. But there is a little-known global institution based in Geneva — Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — that supports vaccination for nearly 60 percent of the world’s children. It is a global conspiracy of health.

Gavi provides heavy but eventually diminishing subsidies for immunizations in poor countries. It also acts as a sort of purchasing co-op, helping nations get better prices on vaccines. And it amounts to a guaranteed market for vaccines that would not otherwise be profitable to research and produce.

This organization has gathered recent attention during the Ebola crisis. Two Ebola vaccines are currently in testing and may be available (God and the science willing) by the middle of next year. Gavi is raising funds (from governments and development banks) to purchase millions of doses. Perhaps more importantly, it guarantees a market for the development of second-generation Ebola vaccines that will have a longer shelf life and work on a broader variety of strains. In addition, Gavi will help Ebola-affected countries play catch-up on other childhood vaccinations neglected during the crisis.

But the prospect is broader. Gavi has begun an ambitious push to fund its next five-year period, with the target to provide 2.7 billion vaccine doses that will immunize 300 million children. This would prevent 5 million to 6 million deaths. The outcomes of few other development interventions are so precisely measurable. Gavi has a 3 percent overhead rate. The results with a given level of inputs can be specified with incredible accuracy.

And this, in all likelihood, will be the highest level of resources Gavi will ever need. The program requires even the poorest countries to pay a portion of the cost of purchasing vaccines. Participating nations are then given five years to take over the full cost — which they generally do on schedule (barring coup or crisis). This graduation model means that during the next five-year funding period — following the one currently being planned — only 2.1 billion doses will be required. And downward from there.

There is serious debate about the effectiveness of certain types of development assistance. Advocates must be able to account for the lack of economic results, say, from decades of foreign aid in Haiti. But the value of vaccination as a global public good is hard to question. Gavi is rigorous, dramatically effective — and temporary.

The Obama administration and other governments are in the process of determining their commitments to Gavi. America is generally hesitant to make large, multiyear development pledges. This should be a big, bipartisan exception.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

The duck that roared


Politics in a democracy is a team sport that leans heavily on individual high performers. This explains the paradoxical closing of President Obama’s most difficult year in office.

He ends 2014 in surprisingly buoyant spirits, having proved that he still has the power to push policy in new directions in foreign affairs and on issues ranging from immigration to climate change.

But his underlying political position is weaker, meaning that Obama and his aides are aware that changing the trajectory of the nation’s debate and the fortunes of his party are among his primary obligations over the next two years. Just as Ronald Reagan’s legacy was secured by the presidential victory of George H. W. Bush in 1988, so does Obama need a Democrat — at the moment, this would seem to be Hillary Clinton — to win in 2016.

In the short run, Obama has demonstrated that the term “lame duck” has its limits. Over the seven weeks since the Democrats’ pummeling in November’s midterm elections, the president has moved forcefully to show he will use all the power he still has.

He used executive action to legalize the situations of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants and in doing so created a political problem for Republicans. They are split on the immigration question and will greatly weaken their ability to appeal to Latino voters in 2016 if they are too aggressive in trying to reverse what Obama has done.

He reached an agreement with China setting ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gases. It was a signal, his senior aides say, that acting on climate change will be a central focus of Obama’s final two years in office.

And last week, he upended 53 years of American policy by opening diplomatic relations with Cuba. Republican opposition was fierce. Yet, as on immigration, Obama’s opponents will have difficulty altering the course he has set unless they win the presidency in 2016. And by then, both initiatives may be too widely accepted to uproot.   

In the meantime, Obama continued with negotiations to stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, even as some of his older bets were paying off. The Russian economy is reeling from sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine (and from low oil prices). An approach seen by its critics as not tough enough is beginning to show its teeth.

     The health care website, whose crash was an enormous political and practical problem for Obama and his party in 2013, is working smoothly. The fact that so many Americans are interested in obtaining health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, his aides argue, is a vindication of the effort Obama put in to passing it. And the economy continues to hum with the unemployment rate at its lowest in six years while gas prices are also sharply down. This year is set to produce the largest increase in payrolls since the late 1990s.

Thus did Obama’s good mood at his news conference on Friday defy the political obituaries that proliferated after the election. “My presidency is entering the fourth quarter,” he said brightly. “Interesting things happen in the fourth quarter.”

But in that quarter, Republicans will control both houses of Congress, and Obama will have to work with them just to keep the government running. He will also have to pick his fights. A senior administration official said the president would lay out bottom lines — one imagines especially on health care and financial reform — where he cannot compromise with the GOP and will count on congressional Democrats to uphold potential vetoes.

On the economy, Obama will try to square a circle that flummoxed Democrats in the midterms. His aides say he wants to highlight what’s working in the economy while also making clear that ending wage stagnation will require government to invest in variety of areas, including infrastructure, education and economic development. Democrats can also be expected to press fights on issues related to employee rights, including overtime rules, the minimum wage and family leave.

The irony is that while Republicans can certainly make life more difficult for Obama, the president and his party can also make life more difficult for the newly empowered GOP by casting them as obstructing broadly popular measures.

Obama has shown he can still accomplish a lot on his own. The harder test will be whether he can advance ideas and arguments that strengthen the ability of his allies to sustain his policies beyond the life of his presidency.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Albertsons to become Haggen store in Keizer

Washington-based Haggen Food and Grocery is adding 146 stores, including the Keizer Albertsons. Submitted
Washington-based Haggen Food and Grocery is adding 146 stores, including the Keizer Albertsons.

Of the Keizertimes

Pretty soon Keizer will no longer have an Albertsons.

That’s because the grocery store located at 5450 River Road N will become a Haggen sometime in 2015. Haggen Food and Grocery was started in Washington in 1933 and currently has 18 locations. Florida-based Comvest Partners purchased a majority stake of the company in 2011.

Albertsons and Safeway underwent a merger earlier this year, with the agreement to sell 168 stores to acquire merger approval as part of AB Acquisition LLC agreeing to buy Safeway for $9.4 billion. Haggen is acquiring 146 of those stores, including the Albertsons in Keizer that opened in 1985. The Safeway in Keizer will be unchanged.

Darren Dye, store manager at the Keizer Albertsons, referred questions to Dennis McCoy, Communications and Public Affairs manager for the Idaho-based company. McCoy said shoppers won’t notice much difference.

“Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Haggen has agreed to hire all store employees upon the close of the Albertsons/Safeway merger,” McCoy said.

According to a news release from Haggen, the company will convert all acquired stores to the Haggen banner “in phases during the first half of 2015” after the transaction closes. However, a certain time was not specified for individual stores.

“I don’t have a more specific timeline for the Keizer location at this time,” McCoy said.

Deborah Pleva, an associate with Weinstein PR that sent out Haggen’s news release, noted the changes should be seen first in the north.

“They will most likely convert stores from north to south, so Washington stores would be converted first and Oregon would come next,” Pleva said.

With the purchases, Haggen will add 20 Oregon locations and expand from having stores in two states to having stores in five states with California, Nevada and Arizona added.

Once the store becomes a Haggen, shoppers maybe notice some difference in brands.

“Haggen has its own private label,” Pleva said. “The company is committed to sourcing locally, so they will work to bring in more produce and products from the region.”

The acquisition remains subject to Federal Trade Commission approval. Haggen would go from having 2,000 to more than 10,000 employees.

“With this pivotal acquisition, we will have the opportunity to introduce many more customers to the Haggen experience,” said John Caple, chairman of the Haggen board of directors and a partner at Comvest Partners. “Our Pacific Northwest grocery store chain has been committed to local sourcing, investing in the communities we serve, and providing genuine service and homemade quality since it was founded in 1933. We will continue our focus on sourcing and investing locally even with this exciting expansion.”

John Clougher, CEO of Haggen Pacific Northwest, is pleased with the acquisitions.

“The stores are well run and very successful, thanks to the dedicated store teams,” Clougher said. “We want to retain these existing teams while allowing our growing company to build on their past successes.”