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Day: December 26, 2014

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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

By ERIC A. HOWALD
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 www.keizertimes.com), 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

By MICHAEL GERSON

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

By E.J. DIONNE JR.

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.
Submitted

By CRAIG MURPHY
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.”

Progress in KYSA, KLL talks

KLL-KYSA

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Youth Sports Association (KYSA) and Keizer Little League (KLL) are still two entities.

However, signs point to a renewed effort to merge the two youth sports groups.

One such sign: the two groups won’t both be offering softball programs in 2015; only KLL will be doing so.

“We did vote as a board last week and voted to give softball to Keizer Little League, effective for 2015,” new KYSA president Andrew Copeland said on Monday. “When we go to register, we will include that information. I think it will work for both organizations. It’s better for the community to have a larger rec league. All parts of softball will go to KLL. KYSA will not be running a softball program at all.”

Jamie Vasas, a KLL board member who also serves as the KLL webmaster in addition to helping with other issues, confirmed that is the case.

“It sounds like that is what is happening,” Vasas said on Monday. “That’s what KYSA voted on. It sounds like KLL is doing all the softball. Everyone who signs up for softball for rec will have to do it under KLL. We always offered softball. Last year KYSA offered softball and so did we. They are not offering it this year. It was nothing we told them to do.”

Vasas is estimating at least 200 girls will be signed up for softball this coming season.

“For softball it’s a good thing,” he said of one organization offering the program. “That’s one thing I would like, is one program. This way you’re not getting kids playing either KLL or KYSA. Now they’re all playing softball (with KLL). There are so many tournament teams now, it’s harder when they’re over 10 to continue with rec softball. Now they can continue to play until they’re 14 or 16. We should have quite a few softball players this year.”

Copeland noted Albert Castaneda ran the softball portion of KYSA in 2014 and is willing to help with the transition.

“Softball numbers are not as strong as baseball,” Copeland said. “There needs to be one Keizer rec league. That’s almost an immediate thing that needs to happen. It would be like a test run. It’s making us work closer together.”

Copeland said board members from KYSA and KLL met together in October and found common ground.

“There’s a difference of opinion when it comes to baseball styles,” Copeland said. “We both have a rec league, we have 10U and 12U for baseball. There are slightly different rules to each one. That’s not an obstacle in itself. We both agree there needs to be one rec league for all the kids in Keizer. It’s just working out the details.”

Copeland and Vasas both noted the far higher turnout for youth baseball in Keizer, which Copeland said prevented a merger between the programs for now.

“We’re looking at the schedule and we couldn’t iron out all the details,” Copeland said. “If you transfer all the kids from KYSA to KLL, you would manually have to enter 800 names. It’s not going to work based on time.”

Vasas noted members of the KLL board have supported the idea of a merger between the organizations.

“We’re open to it,” he said. “It sounds like it didn’t work this year, whether because of time or still some issues. Little League has always been open to it and remains open to it. If something happens next year and it’s close, we will (merge). I get along really well with Andrew Copeland, he’s a good friend of mine. We’ve coached together.”

It sounds like the two are committed to working together as well.

“My goal in the next year is we know we need to merge the two rec leagues,” Copeland said. “Whether it be called KYSA, KLL or something else, that’s something we need to decide. We have had numerous discussions. We couldn’t get there this year. There was timing, strong opinions, questions of how it’s going to look. I would like to see us work toward that for next year. We’ll get some people from both sides together. We’re not going to merge the two rec baseball league this year, but I hope we can be under one umbrella next year.”

In the past, KYSA had the management contract for Keizer Little League Fields. KLL was awarded the contract for 2014, with a two-year contract that expires after the 2015 season. City Manager Chris Eppley made his desire known for the future of that contract at a recent Keizer City Council work session.

“Ideally you would have a third-party group not associated with baseball run that park,” Eppley said earlier this month. “It would be an independent third party, whose sole interest is the facility alone and when it’s used. There has been talk of KLL and KYSA having a third party, maybe having people like Clint Holland, people who don’t have a dog in the fight.”

Vasas and Copeland agree with Eppley’s stance.

“If the two (organizations) can never fully merge, that is the best option,” Vasas said of having a neutral third party. “If they can merge, we won’t need that because everyone would be working under one program. If we can’t merge, that is a good idea. Even if you merge, you still need a middle group to do scheduling, be in charge of budget, schedule who goes into concessions, etc. You would still need that third group.

“I hope we can merge,” he added. “Our board has always been open to it. We had a board meeting this year with KYSA. I don’t think we’ve done that before. That’s huge progress. Andrew and I both know it’s about the kids. We want to get to that point (of merging). I think it can still happen. Our board is still open to it. Maybe we can start the process earlier next year.”

Copeland sees a third party for the field as a good idea.

“For 2016, we need to make sure the contract goes to a neutral party for the fields,” he said. “Either we have a third party or some people, say Jamie and I, would both be on the middle group with representatives from both (organizations) in that middle group, just running the fields. I look forward to working together with KLL to make the fields look good again. I think we’ll get there.

“There was a split several years ago to go separate,” added Copeland, who was not part of either group when KLL was split in 2008. “I don’t know the history, but it doesn’t matter to me. I got into it because I want to help out the kids. Hopefully by next year we can get there.”

When KLL took over the field contract for this year, some KYSA leaders responded by removing items such as mowing equipment, ice machines and more from the premises. While a new mower was purchased, the shape of the fields was called into question by many during a Parks Tour in September. There was also the poison oak outbreak in the spring, which once again flared up KYSA vs. KLL sentiments.

Vasas, who was among those working on the fields throughout the season, said things will be better this year.

“The things they moved out were eventually replaced,” Vasas said. “The big thing now for this year is last year we went into it without instructions, like having a big model without instructions. We didn’t know where the sprinklers or sprinkler heads were. We were going into it blind. This year we know from last year what it takes, where things are, how much the budget is, things like that. That is a big thing.”

Copeland believes it makes sense for equipment that was removed to be brought back.

“The chalk, liners or whatever, we can bring some of the stuff back,” Copeland said. “If we have equipment they need, it would be reasonable for us to bring it back. The main thing we need to do is to work together so the fields are maintained and are a good for kids to play on. KLL, to their credit, they have a plan in place to clean the fields up. We’re going to do our best to help them. Ultimately what it comes down to is the kids of Keizer, kids who come in and play. We want the fields clean, We just need to make sure fields are maintained. I think we’ll get there. There are some things now that need to be fixed. I think we can get there. It kind of stinks that folds back on KLL.”

Vivian D. Anderson

Vivian passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease on Nov. 30 at the age of 89 in The Dalles.

She leaves behind her beloved husband, Richard Anderson, three children (Beverly Davis, Donna Bowman and Richard Nelson), seven grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild with a second one on the way.  She was predeceased by her first husband, Ray Nelson, and her oldest son, Larry Nelson.  A Celebration of Life will be held at her church (Emmanuel Baptist Church in The Dalles).

Jeffery Lee Burhans

J. Burhans
J. Burhans

Jeffrey Lee Burhans of Keizer, 50, died Saturday morning, December 6, at Salem Hospital, Salem, following a sudden cardiac incident. Jeff was born June 13, 1964 in Eaton Rapids, Mich. to Clinton S. Burhans Jr. and Barbara A. Burhans. He later graduated from Midland High School in Midland, Mich. and Michigan Technological University, after which he spent several happy years in Tucson Ariz., utilizing his computer skills for Tucson University Medical Center, writing articles for both professional and sporting magazines, and establishing his own software company, Griffon, Ltd.

He later moved to Keizer, where he was a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Keizer Fire Department and taught part-time at several middle schools in the area in addition to computer consulting.

Jeff joined the U.S. Army in 2007, and was deployed to Iraq in 2009. Upon his return to the United States, he became a member of the Reserves, and was proud to be employed by the Oregon State Police, again using his considerable computer skills and creative mind for the greater good.

Jeff was a decorated veteran and a fearless adventurer with a great sense of both honor and humor. He loved kayaking, hiking, camping, traveling, flying, music, writing, his friends, and his two cats.

Jeff is survived by his mother, Barbara Stoughton, brothers Clinton (Rebecca) Burhans, Michael (Michelle) Burhans, sister Bronwen (James) McKenzie, nephew Dylan Burhans, nieces Shelby and Kayleigh Burhans, uncle James (Janice) Almstead, cousins Elizabeth Elmer and Neil Almstead.

He was predeceased by his father, Clinton S. Burhans, Jr. and much-loved step-father H.L. “Bud” Stoughton. He also leaves grieving friends in many parts of the United States and the United Kingdom.

All are especially thankful for Jeff’s close friend Philip Hofmann, who has been of immeasurable help in this difficult time, to the men of Keizer Fire who raced to help, and to dear brother-in-law Jim Mckenzie, who leapt into action when the rest of us were unable.

Following Jeff’s wishes, cremation has already taken place. A military funeral was held in Keizer, with members of his unit from Ft. Lewis, in addition to a gathering of friends and coworkers from the Oregon State Police and Keizer Fire.

Family and friends plan a further celebration of his life next mid-summer in Midland, Mich.

Helen E. Kupneski

H. Kupneski
H. Kupneski

Helen E. Spicer Bray Kupneski, 100, died peacefully Dec. 11, 2014. She was born in Kansas City, Mo. on Nov. 22, 1914, the only child of William and Julia Spicer. As a young girl they moved several times before settling in Oklahoma City, Okla. Helen graduated from high school and attended college briefly. In 1933 she was a second violinist in the Oklahoma City Junior Symphony.

In 1935, she married Claude Bray and together they had four children: Robert Bray (Gwen) of Kingwood, Texas; Beverly Bray Utti (Mickey) of McMinnville; Tom Bray (Sharon) of Salem and Larry Bray (Linda) of Elkton, Md. They resided in Oklahoma until moving to Portland in 1943, residing in Vanport. There she worked in the shipyard as a welder during the war. In 1948, they moved to Astoria where Claude managed a bowling alley and were reunited with her parents.

She met and later married Leo (Ski) Kupneski, a Navy Chief stationed at Tongue Point Naval Base at Astoria. Moves followed to California and Maryland where their daughter Manya Kupneski-Phillips was born. She survives along with her husband Jeff Phillips in Keizer.

Our mother was loved by all whom she met over the years. Helen worked a number of years as a bartender in Salem. Her favorite job was housekeeper on the baby floor at General Hospital in Salem, especially in the preemie wing. She loved a good joke, her VFW membership, Sunday night football, the beach, good food (fried shrimp was her favorite), long rides in the country and to the coast, March of Dimes Walk-a-thon, (she was honored as the oldest walker at 71 years of age) and every flower she came across. She always had a beautiful garden. She loved and took great delight in her children and grandchildren.

Her family gathered around her for her 100th birthday on Nov. 22 and enjoyed a great celebration of sharing and laughter.

Helen is survived by her children, 15 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter. She was preceded in death by her parents, Claude Bray, Leo Kupneski and son Thomas Bray.

Helen’s family is grateful to the staff at Avamere in Keizer for their care and kindness where she resided many years. Private services will be held.

Watch out Heaven, a free spirit has just arrived.

What will new year bring?

What amazing or tragic events  will 2015 bring to the world? Two thousand fourteen has been a year of challenges for people throughout the world—Syrians, Ukrainians, Russians, west Africans, the middle class in America and victims of violence anywhere in the world.

At year’s end we were distracted by a tinpot dictator’s rant about a Seth Rogen movie and opened Sony Pictures internal communications via a cyberattack. Will that be considered one of the major stories of 2014? It certainly doesn’t top revelations of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture by the Untied States in the years following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ebola swept three countries in west Africa. One person who had traveled from that area died in a Dallas hospital while others were hospitalized but survived. There was fear that the incurable Ebola virus disease affect millons of Americans—it didn’t.

On the economic side the American stock market is reaching record heights, corporate profits are up, unemployment is down and gas is nearing $2.50 a gallon for the first time in years. That scenario is contrasted with the plunging ruble that is sending Russia’s economy into recession.

But not all is bad news. Most positve news came from individuals doing good deeds. On a larger scale, man landed a space probe on a comet zooming 40,000 miles per hour through the cosmos and let us know what a comet sounds and smells like.

Research has show over and over that humans are more intrigued by bad news than good news. Good news is where we look for it—in our community, with our family and friends, with those who share our interests. We share our own good news every day via social media, but global good news is harder to come by. New year’s resolutions are generally small-step determinations to make ourselves better.

A committment, rather than a resolution, by society is needed to make 2015 a quieter year—less shouting, less vitriol, less harassing. Instead the world needs to listen more than it talks, understand more than it dictates.  Will that make the world in 2015 a better, safer place?  We won’t know if we don’t try.

We cannot stop the next natural disaster, we may not stop the next geopolitical crisis, but we can each do what we can. After all, world peace begins with each of us. In our own amazing way.

  —LAZ

Chemawa project done right

The project to improve Chemawa Road from River Road westward to Keizer Rapids Park was to have been completed in 2012. All good things come in their own time—the project is now completed.

Both sides of the road now feature wide, safe sidewalks, bioswales filled with native plants and trees. The best addition of all is the traffic light at the entrance to McNary High School. That entrance has been a bottleneck every school day morning for years. Now traffic will be able to flow more efficiently, not to mention safer.

Though the city of Keizer contributed a small percentage of the overall cost, the project was ODOT’s. It was more complex than one might think, especially with the relocating of utility lines and poles. A project such as this cannot be completed in haste. Kudos to ODOT for a fine job.

The rebuilt Chemawa Road came at a good time. The addition of new housing on Keizer’s west side has increased traffic on Chemawa. That traffic would have been untenable without the street improvements.

Regardless of the delays of the project, it is completed and west Keizer’s drivers and pedestrians are better for it.

  —LAZ