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Day: July 3, 2015

Verboort’s mom gives thanks

Kathy Verboort (far left) thanked Keizer Dutch Bros. Coffee employees Danny Custer, Courtney Brute and Hayley Cole for the $20,900 raised on June 3 for her injured son, Austin. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Kathy Verboort (far left) thanked Keizer Dutch Bros. Coffee employees Danny Custer, Courtney Brute and Hayley Cole for the $20,900 raised on June 3 for her injured son, Austin. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Kathy Verboort continues to be blown away by the love being shown to her son.

Son Austin, 16, was critically injured in a two-vehicle accident May 22. Austin’s Jeep Wrangler crumpled after being hit on the driver’s side, leaving the McNary High School junior in a coma.

Immediately family, friends, businesses and strangers pitched in to help in anyway possible. A one-day fundraiser at Dutch Bros. Coffee in Keizer on June 3 raised $20,900 while a gofundme.com account has raised nearly $24,000 from almost 300 people.

Through it all, Austin has continued to improve. He was moved to Randall’s Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in early June. An update from June 25 noted Austin had risen to a level 6 (out of 8) on the Rancho coma scale and family members heard his voice on June 23 for the first time since the accident.

On June 26, Kathy picked up a check from Dutch Bros. and thanked the employees for giving all proceeds from June 3 to the Verboort family. The family is friends with several employees there, plus employees from other locations came to help out that day.

An emotional Kathy read the note she sent to the Oregon-based company.

“On behalf of Austin Verboort and our family we thank all the employes who sacrificed an entire day of wages and tips, knowing many of you have your own financial struggles, and (those who) traveled from out of town to help,” she said.

Kathy also thanked MHS staff and students who designed T-shirts that were sold on Austin’s behalf and various companies that have stepped up. She also thanked personnel from Keizer Fire District for their fast response.

“We wish to thank the Keizer, Salem and surrounding area for those of you who endured the long wait and who dug deep and gave generously,” Kathy said. “We wish to thank all those who have been sending up prayers on behalf of Austin Verboort and our family. We have been in awe at the outpouring of support and feeling totally embraced and loved by our community during such a difficult time in our lives.

“We could not be doing this without the emotional, spiritual, financial and physical help from all of you,” she added. “Austin was born and raised in Keizer and I feel proud to be a part of this community and am touched deeply to be the recipients of such selfless generosity.”

Hayley Cole, one of the Dutch Bros. employees, loved seeing so many people supporting the family on June 3.

“It was wonderful,” Cole said.

Kathy has been by her son’s side on a regular basis and has seen the improvements.

“He is quickly progressing,” she said. “He’s saying my name. He said ‘mom’ on Tuesday (June 23) and he said, ‘I love you’ today. He amazes us with his tenacious spirit. He gives his all every day. He’s a fighter.”

Each day Kathy is stunned by Keizerites.

“We’ve been in awe of the community support,” Kathy said. “We’ve been embraced by the community. People have been digging deep. We’ve been amazed by the outpouring. People we don’t even know are reaching out. Austin has a long journey ahead of him, but it’s great to know we have such amazing support.”

Kathy also gave thanks to a higher authority.

“It’s totally by the grace of God that Austin’s with us today,” she said. “His Jeep collapsed around him. I give all glory to God and His amazing grace. He’s touching so many lives through Austin. I am totally trusting in God’s plan for Austin and know our God is a God of healing and miracles. We are witnessing a miracle each and every day with Austin. I could not be doing this without my faith and the faith of those surrounding us and lifting us up in prayer.”

Looking for heat relief?

File artwork
File artwork

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Looking to beat the heat during this ongoing heat wave?

Head over to Salem.

Jeff Cowan, chief at Keizer Fire District, referred to a press release from the City of Salem when asked about what Keizerites can do to stay cooler in the hot weather. Forecasts call for highs to remain in the 90s through next week.

Salem has several locations open to the public as cooling shelters until 9 p.m. including the public library, most malls and the Center 50+ at 2615 Portland Road NE.

Other tips include keeping hydrated with a cup of water every 20 minutes, doing the hardest physical labor in the cooler parts of the day, wearing light-colored cotton fabric clothing, pulling blinds or shades to keep heat from coming in windows, staying indoors in an air-conditioned room if possible, making pets stay hydrated and checking on sick or elderly neighbors that may be susceptible to heat illness.

Keizer City Manager Chris Eppley noted the limited options in Keizer.

“People can come to the Splash Fountain,” Eppley said. “Or there are misters in the fire truck at the Big Toy. We don’t have cooling stations specifically designated.”

The Splash Fountain is open Wednesdays through Sunday behind city hall from noon to 7 p.m. It will also be open on Mondays and Tuesdays through the summer when the forecasted high is 95 degrees or above.

Given the heat and the dry, some concern have been expressed about fireworks for the 4th of July. Cowan referred to a statement from the office of the State Fire Marshal.

“Decisions to prohibit the sale of retail fireworks and the display of professional fireworks are determined by local fire authorities through local ordinances,” the statement read in part. “The Office of State Fire Marshal does not have any legal authority regarding the use of legal fireworks in Oregon. Therefore our office cannot issue a ban on their use.”

Eppley said on Tuesday there wasn’t a ban in place for Keizer.

“We haven’t discussed any sort of ban,” Eppley said. “Not really sure whose call it would be, probably mine or the council’s.”

Keizer City Councilors did not discuss the topic at their most recent meeting on June 15 and don’t meet again until July 6.

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, said a ban could only be done through a certain code.

“If there were a ban on lighting fireworks that would have to come through the authority of the Uniform Fire Code,” Brown said. “If the city wanted to prohibit the sale we could have not issued the temporary permits, but that didn’t happen so the only course of action would have to be through the emergency clause of the UFC.”

Gray and blue battle anew

A cannon is fired during last year's Civil War reenactment. (KEIZERTIMES file/Dee Moore)
A cannon is fired during last year’s Civil War reenactment. (KEIZERTIMES file/Dee Moore)

It’s the silver anniversary of the Civil War.

The Civil War reenactments, that is.

This 4th of July weekend once again means the Northwest Civil War Council’s (NCWC) reenactment at Willamette Mission State Park, just north of Keizer. The holiday falls perfectly this year, as the three-day event starts Friday, July 3 and concludes on Sunday, July 5.

Approximately 1,000 reenactors are expected to be on hand for the 25th anniversary event, demonstrating the living and fighting conditions from the early 1860s. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors 55+ and for students, while children under the age of 6 are admitted for free. The admission prices are in addition to the $5 day-use park fee.

Events begin at 9 a.m. each day and conclude at 6 p.m. Each day starts with battalion dress parades, with a Civil War-era church service on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Each day features a cavalry drill at 10:30 a.m. Morning battles take place at 11 each morning, followed by an artillery demonstration at noon. Various demonstrations and educational talks take place after that, including a talk about flags of the Civil War on Friday and Saturday.

One of the annual highlights takes place Saturday at 1 p.m. as Abraham Lincoln, once again portrayed by Stephen Holgate, gives a presidential press conference. Holgate has been referred to as the top Lincoln impersonator in the country.

Afternoon battles take place each day at 3 p.m. For a complete weekend schedule, visit http://nwcwc.org/willamette.html.

Cooling stations for Keizer

This summer promises to be a hot season here in the Willamette Valley. We’ve already seen a hotter June than normal and we expect to see high temperatures in the coming months. How are those residents without benefit of air conditioning to fare during 85, 90, 95 or 100 degree days?

People who have option of hunkering down in their cooled houses or driving off to the beach or other water playgrounds will do fine. Keizerites who live in houses and apartments without air conditioning will do the best they can. Those who can get to the Keizer Splash Fountain at the civic center can find heat relief there.

The city leaders must link up with local churches and Keizer Fire and Marion County Fire Districts to devise a system of cooling stations for summer days that are hotter than normal. The city has a large conference center, the fire district’s fire stations in Keizer also have large spaces. They can be opened to those seeking relief from the heat.

It is not enough to just have a cool space.There would be need for water and perhaps cots for the young and elderly to rest on. Bottled water and cots can be donated by local churches in a mission of community service.

Large cities, including Portland, Seattle and many in the Sunbelt, have a history of providing cooling stations durng excessive heatwaves. It is second nature to those cities in the southeast and southwest. It is not a habit here in the Pacific Northwest. To protect and serve the public a partnership between governments and the faith community would allow people to face hot weather with less dread.

Much like the schedule for Keizer’s Splash Fountain, opening of cooling stations could be triggered by reports of excessive temperatures longer than one day.

Some people thrive in very hot weather, some people flag in the same conditions. For those who can’t fend for themselves we should give them relief at very little cost but with a big dividend of an appreciative public.

  —LAZ

Eight hands, two shovels, one pool

By LYNDON ZAITZ

When the Zaitz family moved from Keizer to the Los Angeles area in early 1973 it moved into a house in Redondo Beach; it had partial views of downtown LA and if you craned your neck just right you could see the ocean.

It sat on a corner in a nice, quiet neighborhood. When dad told the family that the house he and mom bought had a pool, there was cheering around the dining room table. The four of us kids who would make the move had our fingers crossed for weeks hoping we’d hear this exact news.

We were moving to sunny California. And we’d have our own pool. Things couldn’t get any better. And then the other shoe dropped.

With a chuckle dad said the pool was filled. With dirt. Apparently the previous owner enjoyed gardening more than swimming.

The late January morning our family first drove up to our new house all us kids ran to the postage stamp-sized backyard to see our pool. Who could care about our new rooms when there was a pool just steps from the back door?

Dad said from the beginning that if we kids would shovel out all the dirt out of the pool he would have it resurfaced and made operable. He said we could be swimming by June.

Our first task was to rip out all the plants in the pool, then the work really began. We had shovels. We had one wheelbarrow. We started shoveling.

I don’t remember thinking about how much dirt was actually in that pool, it was certainly not Olympic size but you could swim laps in it, not that that’s what us kids wanted to do with the pool.

It became clear quite quickly that we did not have nearly enough space on our corner lot to dump the dirt. We added a lot to the flower beds around the house, but that was only a dozen or so wheelbarrow loads. We started dumping the dirt in a pile at the driveway and stuck in a ‘free dirt’ sign. Of course that sign would come weeks after we started digging out the pool.

We three boys and our sister, Janet, made that project our full time job. After school we’d dig and wheel dirt out to the street. There was no play for us kids on those weekends—it was dig, shovel and wheel. Over and over.

It seemed we were making no progress; we’d dig and dig and didn’t seem to get anywhere. The pool was still filled with dirt.

After many weeks and thousands of loads of dirt we hit the bottom of the pool. Our determination kicked in and we worked harder and longer. We would be swimming by summer, we excitedly told ourselves.

While the pool got emptier, the dirt pile got bigger. Our mountain of dirt attracted attention, a patrol car stopped by one time and said we had to get our dirt pile off the street. Cars  and pickups would stop and take as much of the dirt as they wanted.

The final shovelfuls of dirt were excavated. We swept the empty pool, washed it down and waited for the contractors to arrive to sandblast and refinish it; dad built a new facade around the pumphouse. A new pump and filter were installed. The digging and restoring project was done.

Just as we had no idea how much dirt it takes to fill up a swimming pool we had no idea how long it would take for one garden hose to fill it again with water. It was the most torturous week we kids had ever experienced. Each morning we’d awake and run out back to see how much progress the garden hose had made. Slowly, inch by inch, water crept to the top.

The inaugural plunge took place about three months after we first starting digging. All that hard paid off. There was a six foot wall on one side and a detached garage on another, both were perfect places from which to jump into the pool. The Zaitz kids lived in that pool all the summer and successive years.

We worked hard for something we wanted and were rewarded handsomely with the best toy a kid Oregon could have: a pool just steps outside the backdoor.

All it took was four kids and a couple of shovels.

(Lyndon Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Keizertimes.)

The responsibilities of liberty

A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

A wise editor once advised me not to respond to the inevitable criticisms.  Martin Doerfler’s able and concise response to the most recent backlash relieves me of that need.

But since that original piece we’ve had another sickeningly stupid shooting.  A young man entered a church and shot nine worshipers dead.  So I ask, was it Dylann Roof’s inviolable right to own that murderously efficient weapon?

The founding fathers, noting the need for a well-regulated militia, ended the Second Amendment with “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  As Doerfler notes, there are a host of restrictions, or infringements, on private ownership of weapons.  Of the staggering variety of weapons manufactured within U.S. borders only the tiniest fraction can legally be owned by private citizens.

Would I welcome restrictions to the First Amendment—being tested and vetted before publicly expressing my opinions?  In fact nothing of mine has ever made it onto this page without being examined and edited by qualified professional journalists.  There are many restrictions on published works, most of which I am aware and glad of. I do not feel restricted.

The main objection to the original piece was my failure to separate rights from privileges.  If we accept Thomas Jefferson as a Constitutional authority then the self-evident truth is that “all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  The Constitution did not “grant” those rights, but was created to protect them.

Privileges come from a great many places outside of government.  I had the privilege of shopping at Costco this afternoon because I grudgingly fork over $55 a year.  Tonight I might sit and stare at a television program, a privilege I am granted simply by sending a check to Comcast each month.

Another Jefferson quote was noted in a letter to the editor in today’s Oregonian.  “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.  As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.  We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regiment of their barbarous ancestors.”  That such a profound mind was joined to such profound humility shows he expected much of us.  Thomas Jefferson hoped an informed and responsible citizenry would react to their own times, would grow and govern themselves. He, more than anyone, knew that the Constitution didn’t arrive from the mount, etched onto stone tablets.

I wonder who on the board of the NRA could conjure up any plausible connection between Dylann Roof and a “well-regulated militia.” Any honest discussion of gun rights going forward will have to include what was intended by that phrase’s inclusion in the Second Amendment.

If you can afford a car and meet all requirements necessary for ownership you are free to do it.  If you can afford a gun and meet all requirements necessary for ownership you are free to do that.  One is a right, one is a privilege—neither seems unalienable, both are subject to restriction.  The responsibility is ours.

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

Can we make education engaging?

Today’s high schools are relics of an age when the teacher was the possessor of knowledge and wisdom that was imparted to assemblies of students. Sitting in uncomfortable desks and not allowed to slouch, they were expected to say nothing unless a question was asked and an invitation to show the ability to answer was allowed by hands raised. Thereby, one eager learner was chosen among the throng to attempt an answer that the teacher, and only the teacher, would acknowledge as correct…or not.

That scene could have been witnessed 100-, 50-, 25-years ago and it can still be witnessed most every day schools are in session.  That continues to be true, even though today’s high school age youth bring their respective knowledge, experience and know-how outside the classroom, sometimes superior to the teacher, that was not available to them before modern-day technology.

The conditions of the typical high school too often place a damper on creativity and destroy inventiveness and unique ability that could have contributed to something worthwhile if it had not been repressed and destroyed in a high school. Some will lie and say they liked it, those are usually the prized athletes and students who played the game for A grades.  Personally, discussing high school with friends over the years of my life, I never met anyone who confessed to liking his years there.

Inspiration to write about this subject came from an opinion piece in The Oregonian by OHSU’s President Joe Robertson,  Marylhurst’s Melody Rose, and PSU’s Wim Wiewel.  The three of them were invited to help Portland’s St. Mary’s Academy plan for a major expansion of their high school campus and could influence makeovers of Portland’s public high schools, too.

The three want educators to keep in mind that “more and more learning will be self-directed and will draw on sources of information and knowledge far beyond the teacher and the school.”   They remind the reader that students no longer come to school with empty heads ready for teachers to fill while principals hold every kid for robotic obedience in a Full Nelson.  Teachers nowadays, they argue, should be guides who help youth to explore their paths of interest and develop their interests and skills.

They also borrow a thought or two from John Dewey, yesteryear education leader, when he wisely advised that youth learn best by doing.  In the reimagined high school, some will do best in collaborative study, others by individual assistance, some can best develop abroad and then there are other innovative means used in a creative atmosphere.

The reforms that should be underway cannot be expected to come from teachers or, even less likely, school administrators.  These folks are more often among the most conservative, tradition-bound Americans.  They keep their jobs by doing reasonably well at what’s always been done while school administrators and their “leaders,” superintendents of schools, are so busy trying to keep a lid on what’s always been done for the coveted FTEs, that they’re afraid to implement a new idea, much less to try different approaches that address modern day challenges.

Badly needed changes will most likely never come from those who keep the torches lit for the “tried and true” which is what I’ve personally observed here in the Salem-Keizer   area, where we have a new superintendent who won’t answer emails from district taxpayers. Eventually, under the weight of more and more disillusioned youth and their parents, those who find the high school less and less applicable and relevant, the institution will ultimately crumble from old age and from the internal rot already in advanced form.  As long as we continue to hire people to “lead” in our schools who are rigid and fixed in their faith of past practices, nothing will change beyond higher salaries for superintendents who prove their worth by standing firm in hidebound traditions.

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