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Month: December 2014

Progress in KYSA, KLL talks


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.


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.


End of year tax write off

To the Editor:

Parents of McNary High School students are preparing for the senior graduation party. We hope to make the 2015 event just as successful as those in the past, a success made possible by hard-working volunteers and generous support from community members like you.

The evening will be filled with entertainment, games, prizes, food, fun activities, and a gift for every student. Rented buses will transport students to and from the event.

We need the community’s help to make this a memorable celebration for our graduating seniors.

Some ways to support the Celtic Celebration are to donate cash, prizes, gift cards or gift certificates.

Please mail your donations to:

McNary Graduation Party-Celtic Celebration, P.O. Box 21114, Keizer, OR  97307-1114

For your records, our tax identification number is 93-0849190.

We would be happy to pick up any donated items, if that would be more convenient
for you.

Your support of McNary High School students is greatly appreciated.

Trina Turner

Warming relations with Cuba is good

Interest was aroused in the debate over normalizing relations with Cuba when House Speaker John Boehner said, “Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom—and not one second sooner.”  Then, too, incoming Senate majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell agreed with Boehner as did GOP Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who view the change as an opportunity for the Castro brothers to perpetuate themselves in power.  Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has also chimed in by calling it a “very, very bad deal for a free and democratic Cuba.”

These guys have apparently forgotten about what’s happened in Egypt, Iran and Libya, among many others, when the old regimes were overthrown and a new order of things was attempted to replace the old.  What has happened anywhere U.S. military power and the CIA have been directly or indirectly involved with overthrows is that what replaces them are organizations like ISIS that, in the vacuum that follows, terror and turmoil reign.

That’s what’s predicted for Cuba should the old regime be forced out and a power vacuum created.  What’s highly unlikely to happen soon thereafter is a law-based new government with a constitution that provides freedom and democracy for its citizens.  The Castro brothers are old and should be allowed to die in office where, afterwards, hopefully, the Cuban people will slowly but deliberately move to practice self-rule through laws based on democratic principles.

The case of Cuba is that it has been run and controlled by a succession of despotic leaders, first by the Spanish, who were routed by the Spanish-American War of 1898, and since then by wholly corrupt, self-aggrandizing dictators.  In more modern times the dictator has been Fidel Castro and, when he became too ill to continue in charge, he turned the reigns of power over to his brother, Raul Castro, who has maintained a status quo.

President Obama has announced that “we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” History shows that the strained relationship has continued frozen in time long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union with the abiding hope by U.S. presidents who waited for Fidel’s demise and what turned out to be a false hope for change when Raul took over.  In the intervening years, curiously enough, the U.S. has built relations with Communist nations like China and Vietnam while no formal ties with Cuba have been advanced.

After winning re-election, Obama resolved to make Cuba a priority and authorized secret negotiations that progressed through nine meetings by Americans appointees with their Cuban counterparts.  These meetings were held from June 2013 to the present, most of them in Canada, which has maintained ties with Havana.

Pope Francis encouraged the talks with letters to Obama and Castro and had the Vatican host a meeting in October to finalize the terms of the deal.  Obama spoke with Castro by telephone last week to seal the agreement: We got an American back and one Cuban who worked for American intelligence while Cuba received back three imprisoned spies.

We will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking, while Cuba will allow more Internet access and release 53 Cubans identified as political prisoners by our government.  The embargo will remain in place; nevertheless, Obama wants an “honest and serious debate about lifting it.”  That lifting of the embargo requires an act of Congress which looks unlikely in the next two years due to opposition to any change in relations with Cuba by the Republicans.

A survey of Cuban-Americans in south Florida has determined that the children of Cuban exiles are 88 percent open to change while a majority of Americans, six in 10, support re-establishing relations with Cuba.  Further, the Catholic Church, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Human Rights Watch and major agricultural interests support Obama’s efforts to normalize relations.

My family has no Cuban connections but we strongly support Obama on behalf of his moves with Cuba: We view this matter as an opportunity where the Cuban people and the American people can re-establish old ties with the prospect of working together for common advantages in the years to come.  After all, why should the U.S. continue the old policy when it’s come down to doing the same thing decade after decade, mindlessly expecting a different outcome.  And, haven’t the Cuban people suffered enough already?

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

No farewell speeches yet for mayor, council president

Mayor Lore Christopher shows the flowers she received at the Keizer City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 15. After 14 years as mayor, Monday’s meeting was the last Christopher will preside over as Cathy Clark takes over the top position at the Jan. 5 council meeting. Christopher, Joe Egli and Jim Taylor are all leaving and will be honored at a Jan. 17 event. KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy
Mayor Lore Christopher shows the flowers she received at the Keizer City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 15. After 14 years as mayor, Monday’s meeting was the last Christopher will preside over as Cathy Clark takes over the top position at the Jan. 5 council meeting. Christopher, Joe Egli and Jim Taylor are all leaving and will be honored at a Jan. 17 event.

Of the Keizertimes

Mayor Lore Christopher declined the opportunity to give a speech.

That didn’t stop others from giving speeches about her, however.

Christopher presided over her last Keizer City Council meeting on Monday evening. The next time the council meets, on Jan. 5, she will open the meeting but soon turn the gavel and center seat over to Cathy Clark, a councilor of the past eight years who won an uncontested race to replace Christopher as mayor last month.

Council president Joe Egli and veteran councilor Jim Taylor will also be leaving at the Jan. 5 meeting, while Clark, Brandon Smith, Roland Herrera and Amy Ripp will be sworn in. The three who are leaving will be giving farewell speeches at the meeting.

Christopher, Egli and Taylor are being honored for their years of service at a dinner and recognition event on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Keizer Community Center, 930 Chemawa Road NE. The event starts at 5 p.m. with a social hour, followed by the dinner at 6. The cost is $15 per person, with proceeds going to the Keizer Parks Foundation. To RSVP, contact councilor Marlene Quinn at 503-510-1706 by Jan. 14.

During public comment Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, gave her gratitude to Christopher, who served seven terms as mayor and took over the seat in 2001.

“It’s my honor to be here just to say thank you,” Dieker told Christopher. “It’s been a long 14 years of you serving as mayor. I wanted to give public testimony sharing the Keizer Chamber’s gratitude. We’ve been through many encouraging moments and sessions from art to tourism to economic development to membership. You have worked with the chamber on so many occasions. I wanted to say thank you very much.”

Dieker likened the age of the city – incorporated in 1982 – to that of a human.

“I thought back to 2001, the city wasn’t even 20 years old yet,” Dieker said. “We were closer to adolescence, but we knew we could get it done. We’re not a minor anymore. We’re a young adult, if not a full-fledged adult, on the way to success. I can’t thank you enough for the communication skills you have and the help you’ve given the chamber.”

Nate Brown, Keizer’s director of Community Development who filled in for absent city manager Chris Eppley and thus sat next to Christopher on Monday, offered his thanks at the end of the meeting.

“I want to express our appreciation for your service as well,” Brown said. “When the phone rings and we see Lore is calling, we take a deep breath.”

“Because of happiness!” Christopher quickly interjected with a laugh.

After the chuckles died down, Brown continued.

“You have been extraordinary in your involvement,” he told the mayor. “It’s an honor and privilege for me to sit next to you at your last meeting.”

Christopher ended the meeting by noting she wasn’t giving a speech quite yet.

“You all know what a remarkable staff we have,” she said. “Don’t think for a minute I don’t love taking the credit, but I had little to nothing to do with what we have accomplished. The heavy lifting has been done by (city staff). It’s our privilege to sit up here and provide the citizen perspective.”

After Christopher spoke, members of the small audience gave her a standing ovation.

Student dies at Chemawa Indian School on Dec. 14

Melissa Abell Sugar Shot Photography
Melissa Abell
Sugar Shot Photography

The death of an 18-year-old student at Chemawa Indian School on Sunday morning has been attributed to natural causes.

Around 7:30 a.m. Dec. 14, emergency personnel were called to the school, located at 3700 Chemawa Road NE in Salem, after 18-year-old Melissa Abell was found collapsed in her room.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office personnel responded since Chemawa is a Native American boarding school contracting with the MCSO for law enforcement services.

Emergency personnel arrived to Abell’s room but were unable to resuscitate her.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office requested an autopsy to be performed by the State Medical Examiner’s Office. The autopsy came back at noon on Tuesday, listing natural death as the cause. The MCSO investigation had found nothing to suggest any foul play was involved.

Abell was from Nampa, Idaho.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and students at Chemawa Indian School,” Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers said.