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Day: January 30, 2015

Lady Celts bowlers win district

The McNary girls bowling team: Sierra Mo, KayLynn Hatfield, Brittney Kiser, Hannah Russell and Aneeka Stephen. (Submitted)
The McNary girls bowling team: Sierra Mo, KayLynn Hatfield, Brittney Kiser, Hannah Russell and Aneeka Stephen. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

After leading for most of the day at the district bowling tournament, the McNary High School girls bowling team hit its first snafu in the first game of the finals match.

“The whole day had been going really well. We were 300 points ahead of the second place team most of the day, and 500 points ahead of the last-place team,” said Lady Celt Hannah Russell.

It wasn’t until the Lady Celts had to sit out for a game while the second and third place teams competed that the girls began to lose a bit of steam.

“All we could do was sit and wait, and I think that’s what got into our heads,” said McNary’s Sierra Mo.

The Celtics finished two pins behind McKay High School, 168-166, in their first finals game, but stormed back to take the district championship with a score of 183-135 in the second game.

“We didn’t have as many strikes as we wanted, but spares make the game,” said senior KayLynn Hatfield.

Junior Brittney Kiser said the team spirit is what carried them through to the big finale.

“In past years, we’ve always had moments where we got down on each other. This time, we were just believing in each other all day long. I don’t know when we’ll have the chance to do something like that again,” Kiser said. “In the three district tournaments I’ve been to, this one felt the best.”

The boys finished third in a field of tough competition, but overall the Celts posted five All-Star bowlers who will get to compete in another tournament in March. For the boys, Scott Bridger and Nick Blythe earned All-Star status. Hatfield, Russell and Mo all qualified out of the girls team.

Kiser and freshman Aneeka Stephen are hoping to qualify when the girls head to the state competition February 21 and 22. That competition will be held at Salem’s Firebird Lanes.

Head Coach Kathy Kaplan said the team “went above and beyond” at the district tournament.

“In practice, we had some low scores of around 100, but I told them they need to be aggressive and practice like they would need to play at the district tournament. In the district competition, their low game was a 134 and their high was a 214,” Kaplan said.

She added that having Stephen practice with the team while she was still in middle school was a huge boon.

“I would love to have more middle schoolers come out and bowl with us during practices. It gets them used to the style of bowling we do and it was a huge advantage this year when Aneeka could join the team,” Kaplan said.

Rising at the banquet

Rob Miller (right) was named Merchant of the Year at last year's Keizer First Citizen Awards Banquet. (KEIZERTIMES file/Eric A. Howald)
Rob Miller (right) was named Merchant of the Year at last year’s Keizer First Citizen Awards Banquet. (KEIZERTIMES file/Eric A. Howald)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Things will look a little different this year at Keizer’s First Citizen Awards Banquet.

The annual banquet starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Keizer Quality Suites, having moved from its previous spot at the Keizer Civic Center. There will be a prime rib dinner and no host bar. Tickets are $44 each or $400 for a table of eight seats.

Per usual, awards will be handed out for First Citizen, Merchant of the Year, President’s Award and Service to Education.

Nominees for the First Citizen award are Rich Duncan, Richard Walsh, former mayor Lore Christopher, Don Conat and Mark Caillier. Merchant of the Year nominees are Keizertimes publisher Lyndon Zaitz, Joe Egli, Scott and Kalynn White, Shelly Paddock and Larry Jackson. The Service to Education nominees are Chuck and Krina Lee, JoAnne Beilke, Jim Taylor, Scott Coburn and John Honey.

The different part ties in with this year’s theme of Rising to the Occasion.

“You can bring someone in who will be recognized that night,” said Audrey Butler, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce board. “Maybe it’s someone you want to recognize. We will have small awards.”

Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce that puts the event on, said the idea ties in nicely with this year’s theme.

“We are wanting to start something special with this rising to the occasion recognition,” Dieker said. With a table, a business or organization that wants to honor and recognize those rising to the occasion daily or annually can do so. They might not be considered for the main awards, but they are the workhorses behind the scenes. They are doing what they are passionate about.”

As an example, Dieker said her husband’s company is sponsoring a table and recognizing the coach of their daughter’s soccer team. She also noted Chemeketa Community College is sponsoring a table and wants to honor people at McNary High School.

“We’re so happy about that,” Dieker said. “Sometimes we can’t thank those kind of people enough. This is for businesses, schools or government organizations to sponsor a table. Maybe they have a list of people and will share one or two. The sponsors of the tables will be recognized and get better seats. They will also get the warm feeling that comes with this.”

At this point, it’s unclear if the new recognition will be a one-time deal or will become annual.

“I would love to see it be annual, but let’s see the participation level,” Dieker said. “I would love to see 15 tables of that nature.”

Dieker noted steps are being taken to ensure the main award winners don’t get overshadowed in any way.

“The main recipients will be presented their awards as they have in the past, given by (last year’s) recipients of each of those awards,” Dieker said. “They will have that platform on the stage, as much time as we’ve had in the past. The rising to occasion recipients will not be brought to the stage. They will be in the program and we’ll have them stand at the table. There will be a camera going around the room with an introduction of our rising people. We’ll highlight them quickly on the screen. It’s their 20 seconds of fame. Many of these people have never been to the banquet before.”

There are other smaller changes this year, including a return to the Keizer Quality Suites.

“We love to give an opportunity for all of our chamber members to spend money (at the hotel),” Dieker said. “We want to do it in a rotating fashion. The caterer we brought in last year was a chamber member, while the Quality Inn is as well. It is a nice venue.”

Things will also sound a bit different this year.

“We are doing professional audio this year,” Dieker said. “We decided to increase the ambiance. Nathan Bauer will be the emcee.”

Last year’s winners were John Doneth (First Citizen), Rob Miller (Merchant of the Year) and Ron Hittner (Service to Education). For the first time, two President’s Awards were handed out last year, to Mark Caillier and McNary High School teacher Jim Taylor.

Hurdles still to clear for Area C proposal

A proposal calling for 180 apartment units and a 154-unit senior living facility got the green light from the Keizer City Council last week, but is not yet a done deal. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
A proposal calling for 180 apartment units and a 154-unit senior living facility got the green light from the Keizer City Council last week, but is not yet a done deal. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Approval at the Keizer City Council level does not mean apartments and a retirement community in Keizer Station Area C are a done deal.

After all, this is Area C we’re talking about – the area where a Walmart was reported to be going in back in 2011 before backlash led to the project coming to a halt.

Previous decisions were appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), which forced changes to plans that at one point included a 116,000 square foot commercial space.

The last commercial plans for the property were submitted by Chuck Sides in the fall of 2012, but ended up not happening.

Mountain West Investments and Bonaventure Senior Living teamed up last fall on a proposal calling for 180 apartments (Mountain West) spread out over two buildings across from each other on an expanded McLeod Lane and 154 units (Bonaventure) in a facility ranging from one story in places to four stories in other places. The two Salem-based companies will also be taking care of infrastructure that can be used for future commercial development, including McLeod Lane being punched out towards Ridge Drive.

Councilors waded through more than 500 pages of documents and approved the proposal last week. Brian Moore with Mountain West said he is hoping to break ground by mid-year.

“It’s our desire to start construction in June,” Moore said following last week’s meeting.

Ben Settecase with Bonaventure Senior Living wasn’t as committed to a timeline, but did say starting in 2015 would be fine with him.

“There are a lot of factors, down to the weather,” Settecase said. “If those factors go well, if we feel comfortable with the stormwater downstream analysis and the reimbursement district, if things fell into place for sometime in 2015 that would be great. But the infrastructure has to go first, with McLeod Lane.”

Sam Litke, senior planner for Keizer, said an order approving the master plan will come to councilors at their Feb. 17 meeting.

“Once that is done there will be a 21-day appeal period,” Litke said. “If no one appeals then they are good to go. They would have to comply with the conditions of approval such as having the property surveyed, doing the storm water analysis, getting the construction drawings for the public improvements reviewed and approved.”

Of course, past experience shows an appeal to LUBA could change everything.

“If it is appealed to LUBA then it would likely take several months until there is decision from LUBA what with putting together the record, written arguments, hearing and then decision,” Litke said.

Appeals to the previous plan were spearheaded by Kevin Hohnbaum with Keep Keizer Livable, who came out against the revised plans last fall. Hohnbaum credited Moore and Settecase with revising plans – including adding more trees – based on concerns he raised, but was still surprised by some of what he saw in council chambers last week.

“I expected approval,” Hohnbaum said. “But I expected a bit more discussion among councilors. I was really surprised they voted to not install stoplights at McLeod (and Chemawa Road) until commercial development starts. Traffic impact is one of the greatest concerns. The traffic is not good now. Putting in (180) apartments and (154) senior living units and no stoplights, to me that is insane. That is just crazy.”

Further, Hohnbaum questions whether the new development fits into the area.

“It’s a really nice way to squeeze an elephant into a Volkswagen,” he said. “It doesn’t fit to have a four-story building added into that neighborhood. You see the pink house there now, then picture a four-story building 200 feet behind that. It just does not make sense. It just does not fit. It’s a very pretty elephant they squeezed into a Volkswagen.”

So will Hohnbaum be protesting last week’s decision?

“I don’t anticipate doing that, no,” he said. “It’s too early to say at this point. City staff has to create the ordinance and council has to vote on that. Staff may come back with something that doesn’t look like that. I don’t anticipate doing something unless it comes back drastically different.”

Most vocal in his criticism to the current proposal has been Jack Yarbrough, who owns Area C land adjacent to the property being used.

“At this point I don’t have any comment,” Yarbrough said when asked if he plans to appeal. “I’m having some people who are much smarter than me look at it. I didn’t like how they did it so quickly. I just want to make sure I know what I’m talking about before I give my opinion. I’m having an expert in the field give me an opinion. That will determine if I appeal it or not.

“I was ill prepared for the hearing,” he added. “I didn’t get a notice. I was out of town for two or three weeks. It isn’t the developer’s problem. I just want to make sure I know what I’m talking about. I haven’t had a chance to review every document they provided. I will do that with an expert. That’s my opinion at this point.”

Plowing ahead with MHS turf

An artist's rendering of what the new turf field will look like at McNary High School. Work on the field is expected to get going on June 1, with turf installation starting in July and project completion in August. (Submitted)
An artist’s rendering of what the new turf field will look like at McNary High School. Work on the field is expected to get going on June 1, with turf installation starting in July and project completion in August. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Think of it as an 80,000 square foot carpeting job.

That’s what’s in the works for a new artificial turf field at McNary High School. The project, which got underway in earnest last year, is expected to begin work June 1, said Bill McNutt, project manager.

“Our goal is to begin moving dirt then,” McNutt said. “The grass field will be taken off and taken to a field owned by Bob Zielinski. School will still be in session so, in the early days, we’ll start after the first bell and wrap up before the end of the school day.”

McNutt spearheaded the installation of the Salem-Keizer School District’s first turf field at Sprague High School in 2007. He also consulted on the West Salem High School turf project in 2012.

Initial preparation is expected to take about a month and entails removing the existing field and laying the groundwork – rock, concrete and drainage – for the new turf. The FieldTurf product being used is the same as all the other high schools in Salem-Keizer as well as Autzen and Reser Stadiums.

Actual turf installation is expected to begin in July with the goal of having the project completed by McNary’s Blue Day, the third Saturday in August. Georgia-based FieldTurf, which has a Wilsonville office, will handle the installation. McNutt said the McNary Athletic Booster Club’s goal of $500,000 in cash and $500,000 in in-kind donations are nearing the finish line.

To date, the group has about  $340,000 in pledged donations, some of which includes on-field advertising.

“We have a local health care business, tire business, local real estate and local financial representative who will have logos on the home team’s side of the field,” McNutt said.

While the side of the field nearest the grandstand is sold out, there are six logo spots still available on the visiting side of the field for $15,000. That price covers the logo for the expected life of the field, about 10 years. Organizers are also being mindful of the type of logos that will appear on the field. No alcohol, tobacco or firearms companies would be allowed.

McNutt said cash donations have arrived in amounts as small as $10 and as much as $100,000.

The turf itself will feature alternating light and dark green segments every five yards. A large McNary “M” will be placed in the center and the end zones will be blue with “McNary” and “Celtics” in white.

In addition to lines for football, the field surface will include lines for boys and girls lacrosse. While that portion of the project was uncertain in planning stages, it is now a certainty.

“It gives that those teams an opportunity to play at home, and we need the lacrosse community’s support as well,” McNutt said. Lacrosse is still a club sport at the school, but the boys team has had only one home game in four years due to the constraints of the grass field.

McNutt said the usage of the field will likely skyrocket upon completion. Whereas a natural grass might only sustain 160 uses a year, an artificial turf field could be used 10 times as often. Most importantly, it gives the school itself more opportunities for outdoor activities in physical education and other classes.

“In sports at Sprague, we’ve also seen it cut down on the number of knee injuries and concussions due to the soft surface,” McNutt said.

The school district now possesses equipment for turf field upkeep, which should help avoid the rapid aging that West Salem’s field experienced.

As the start date nears, there are still some outstanding needs. Organizers still need about $150,000 in cash as well as in-kind donations of rock and concrete work, drainage work and drainage pipe, trucking for removal of the existing field and fuel for those vehicles.

McNutt said a gofundme.com account is being worked on for accepting financial donations online.

For financial donations, contact Ted Anagnos at [email protected] or Ron Richards, McNary athletic director, at 503-399-3238 or [email protected] Contact McNutt at [email protected] to discuss in-kind donations.

Get out of town

The leaders of Keizer, especially members of the city council, don’t like to try new things unless or until they’re been done somewhere else. What is Salem doing? is a regular question when policy questions are discussed at the council level.

It’s a policy that suits Keizer—why take the risk of being first when we can benefit from what other municipalities already know? We may ask the leadership of other cities how they handle a particular issue. When it comes to infrastructure and development ideas the leaders of city staff and the city council should keep an eye on what is done in the places they travel (whether the trip is official or personal).

Keizer as a city is not unique. There are thousands of suburban towns across the country that serve as bedroom communities for larger cities. Every tangible issue Keizer faces has been addressed in a similar city somewhere else. Our community is poised to build a large playground project at Keizer Rapids Park because someone saw one elsewhere and talked about it here. What other ideas can be borrowed from somewhere else?

The things our traveling leaders should observe include public art placement, commercial signage, curb appeal of business areas, amenities in city parks and the like. Collectively our leaders could put forth many ideas for what to do in Keizer.

What cannot be observed by city officials are municipal policies. That takes communication at seminars, training sessions and conferences. What are like-sized cities doing to fund their 9-1-1 obligations? What are  cities doing to actively recruit businesses (and jobs) to their towns?

This is a good thing to keep in mind for the members of the newly created Economic Development Commission. The commission, which will meet only four times a year, is charged with, among other things, to create development incentives for Keizer and create outreach to recruit targeted industries to locate in Keizer.

The members of the commission should leave no stone unturned, no expert unquestioned, no resource unread, no idea dismissed out of hand. We believe one of the duties of the commission is to know what Keizer has to offer now to businesses considering a Keizer address. Commissioners need to know their product from River Road—south to north—to Keizer Station and all points in-between.

The main question that should be asked of targeted business is: “What is needed in Keizer for you to move here?” As a city we can sell what we have but if it is not completely what a business is buying, we need to consider our course of action. That’s a good job for the Economic Development Commission and our city leaders as they consider a local, a regional and a national recruiting strategy.

  —LAZ

Keizer Rapids Regional Park

To the Editor:

I am under the impression our Keizer Rapids Park was a regional park since Marion County contributed funds to purchase some of the property.

The county was able to spend county park money. If the park is regional, the county should provide the city with funds for some park maintenance.  County Commissioner Janet Carlson is the co-chairman of the Community Build Task Force fundraising committee to fund the Big Toy in the park along with former Keizer city councilman Richard Walsh. If the county is so involved why is it that only people living within the city are on the Keizer Parks Board? It only makes sense that someone from the county should have a vote on how the regional park is managed and run since it has money in the park.

The citizens of Keizer should thank the Marion County Commissioners for their interest and financial support.

There are plans to construct a large indoor sports facility within the park in the future. The footprint for the building is set out in the revised park master plan. The money for the facility will have to come from the park budget at the expense of the other city parks. Besides the cost of construction there will be constant maintenance and administration cost throughout the year. The facility would need heating and cleaning in the winter and maybe air conditioning in the summer.

There were rumors that some Keizer Rapids Park supporters want to create a park district for a greater source of revenue. This means a new set of elective officers and a paid staff like the fire district. Of course this would raise taxes on everyone in Keizer. I assume a parks district would not be entitled to receive Systems Development Charge funds. One possibility would be to charge the people who use the indoor sports facility. If and when a sports facility is built in the future, then anyone could pay to use it and not just Keizer residents although we paid for most of it in the first place.

Bill Quinn
Keizer

State of the Union

To the Editor:

The President’s State of the Union address is, by long standing tradition, a chest thumping opportunity for the administration in power. I would have expected no less from Obama. And a negative rebuttal by the other party is expected as well. It seems like things have never been better—or worse.

Let me give my own “unbiased” views about what has or should have happened since Obama first became president.

One of the Administration’s most significant actions, I feel, is beginning “normalization” of relations with Cuba, something that was long overdue.

Closing of Gitmo—on track (I guess) but taking far too long. The previous administration’s action in denying prisoners access to courts of law has done irreparable damage to the credibility of the United States.

Renunciation of torture – it’s about time.  I can hardly believe that we allowed such things as waterboarding and sleep deprivation to occur.

Affordable Health Care—Seriously needed but so many concessions were made to Republicans and the health care industry (that failed to win their support, anyway) resulting in a very flawed health care act.  The Administration should have built on the Wyden-Bennett Bill which already had a measure of bi-partisan support.

We have allowed our relationship with Russia to deteriorate, which is a very dangerous thing, indeed. The president should have entered into direct talks with President Putin, attended the Moscow Olympics, participated in the Paris Anti-terrorism Rally and should recognize the legitimate concerns of Israel and moderate Arab states about nuclear weapons development in Iran.

Finally, like his predecessors, Obama has done little toward recognizing and strengthening the UN as the best hope to lead the fight against radicalism and provide support for human rights throughout the world.

At least, that is my take.

Art Burr
Keizer

Who’s missing in economic growth?

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

To say that you are worried about America’s future is no different than saying you are worried about America’s children.  Last week we learned that just more than 50 percent of public school children are now from low-income homes.  In the same week we learned that the world’s richest 80 men collect the same income as the world’s three and a half billion poorest citizens.  The richest one percent will control half the world’s wealth by sometime in 2016.  That’s half for one percent, the other half for the 99 percent.  Even Congressional leadership is beginning to publicly speak of this inequity as a problem.  Is it time to connect the dots?

Income level is now the surest indicator of successful outcomes in public schools.  Achievement gap is more reliably predicted by wealth than skin color.  Children from low income families often have more hurdles to clear than their financially stable classmates.  They often face disadvantages in hygiene, health, nutrition and sometimes safety and nurture in their homes.  There is humiliation in poverty.    

We are fond of telling ourselves that America is the land of opportunity.  Anyone can rise from humble origin to become a success—societal or financial.  It isn’t borne out by reality.  Upward mobility is a hard thing to measure, but in our country children of poverty most often remain trapped in poverty and the children of affluent parents usually grow into the same prosperity. Since the 1960s the achievement gap between low income and higher income students has increased by forty percent. Raised in a 1950s small town, my assumption that we all progressed through K-12 learning about the same stuff and graduated with a common body of knowledge now seems like wishful thinking.   

It may help to view this as a national security problem. If America can only remain safe and strong by producing healthy and well-educated citizens then that is our first responsibility.  We seem to have turned our backs to it.

Since 2009 the stock market has grown by 60 percent, GDP is up eight percent, and corporate profit as percentage of national income is at a record high while median household income shriveled by five percent.  Any talk of reversing this trend through legislation is called “class warfare.”

Since 1952 corporate taxes as share of all revenues has dropped from 33 percent to 9 percent. That’s class warfare.  Since 1963 the top personal income tax rate has fallen from 91 percent to 36.9 percent. That’s class warfare.  We all tend to socialize and congregate with people about like ourselves.  Congress does the same. It is a millionaire’s club that is demonstrably passing legislation in correlation with the views of wealthy America.  Intentional or not, that’s class warfare.  Is a hedge fund manager or a schoolteacher more instrumental in forging future citizens?

Even more inflammatory is raising the “socialism” bogeyman. In the Scandinavian countries income is distributed more evenly.  I’m not sure why.  More significantly they have the best education systems in the world.  Their education investment begins in children from one to five years old. They continue to support them by tracking them in high school and then making college affordable to qualified students.  These countries know how to prepare for their future. Maybe we can call it something besides socialism while still matching that dedication in taking care of America’s children.  Our future and theirs depends on it.

(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)

Republicans in the immigrant minefield

By MICHAEL GERSON

Any Republican event convened by Rep. Steven King—he of “calves the size of cantaloupes” fame—could easily have degenerated into a festival of immigrant bashing. It is to the credit of the serious GOP presidential prospects in attendance that the Iowa Freedom Summit generally was not.

Yes, Donald Trump emerged from his stretch clown car to say that “half of them are criminals.” And King declared that protesting Dream Act supporters were from “the other planet.” But the Republican script in Iowa was mainly focused on criticizing President Obama’s immigration executive actions rather than negatively characterizing illegal immigrants themselves. Avoiding offensive language is admittedly a low bar. But it is progress for Republicans to realize that they are walking in a minefield instead of a meadow.

The greatest hazard to Republican prospects with rising demographic groups came in the form of an argument rather than an epithet. Former Sen. Rick Santorum made the case that the GOP should be “the party of the worker.” Which is better than being the party of disdain for “takers” and the “47 percent.” But Santorum went on to claim that immigration has depressed the earnings of native-born Americans. “We need to stand for an immigration policy,” he said, “that puts Americans and American workers first.”

The campaign slogan “America first,” it turns out, is already taken. But Santorum is proposing a serious response to the GOP’s national electoral challenge. Republicans, in this view, need to shift their focus away from high earners to struggling middle- and working-class families; and they also need to choose between courting the working class and courting Hispanic voters, because immigrants take jobs and depress wages at the low end. The party of the worker therefore must be the party of immigration restrictionism.

Santorum is often thoughtful; in this case, he is thoughtfully wrong. His economic case is overblown. Economists sift and dispute the evidence. But the long-term impact of immigration on native wages seems to be slight—slightly positive for those with a high school and some college education, slightly negative for those who don’t graduate from high school. These effects, however, are overwhelmed by other economic trends, such as the advance of technology and globalized labor markets. The white working class does have many problems, but competition from low-skilled immigrants is not among the biggest ones.

Effectively focusing on the white working class also buys into the notion that Republicans can win the presidency by running up the white vote. This might, for all I know, work in the next presidential election. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and gets 80 percent of the minority vote, Republicans would probably need about 63 percent of white voters. (The highest percentage Republicans have ever gotten was Ronald Reagan’s 64 percent in 1984.)

This is not impossible, with the right conditions and candidate. But because the electorate is growing less white over time—by about two percentage points every four years — this strategy becomes harder and harder to implement. Mitt Romney won the white vote in a landslide—59 percent —and lost his election handily. Republicans, in other words, need the appeal of Reagan at his height to narrowly win the presidency in the current electorate. Eventually, even that will not be enough.

It is one thing for a political analyst to recommend a get-out-the-whites strategy. But when this thought is consciously entertained by a politician, something disturbing has happened. We have too much tragic history with political lines drawn along ethnic and racial faults.

The issue of immigration has a way of clarifying some of the deepest beliefs of a political movement. Does it regard outsiders as potential threats or potential allies? Does it empathize or dehumanize? The public character of a political figure is often judged by voters—especially immigrant voters —intuitively, by signals and symbols. When arriving at a party, you generally know immediately if you are welcome or not.

No effective reconstitution of the Republican Party’s appeal can begin with pessimism about the drawing power of Republican ideals. A party that has lost the ambition to convince is a party in decline.

   (Washington Post Writers Group)