Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: September 25, 2015

Adopting with faith

The Drahn family of Keizer (from left: daughter Avery, father Matt, mother Breea and daughter Paisley) is looking forward to adopting a young boy from Ethiopia. The family still needs to raise about $30,000 but has faith God will provide. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
The Drahn family of Keizer (from left: daughter Avery, father Matt, mother Breea and daughter Paisley) is looking forward to adopting a young boy from Ethiopia. The family still needs to raise about $30,000 but has faith God will provide. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Avery and Paisley Drahn can’t wait to meet their baby brother.

The 7- and 4-year-old sisters don’t know exactly when the newest addition to the family is coming, what he’ll look like or his name.

But they are still excited.

“We’re sharing bunk beds,” Avery proclaimed with a big smile. “I’m going to be on the top one. We’re going to play with him.”

Paisley was likewise happy to hear the news.

“I was really excited,” the younger and more shy sister said.

Parents Matt and Breea Drahn are excited as well. Even though there are obstacles, they cling to their faith.

“We’ve had friends who have adopted,” Breea said. “It was something we didn’t feel we were called to do. We thought it was a great thing, but we didn’t feel called in that particular area until a year ago. Matt and I wanted to have another child. I was sitting to read the Bible one day. God just broke me. I was emotional. I was almost grieved and upset.”

Breea, 27, met with two close girlfriends who are also her accountability partners. They introduced her to the book “Kisses from Katie,” about a woman who moved to Uganda and adopted 13 girls, following God’s direction.

“It was so inspiring,” Breea said. “I couldn’t put the book down. I told my husband God really wanted us to adopt and maybe that was why I was broken.”

Matt’s reaction surprised her.

“For the first time ever, I said, ‘Yeah, I think you’re right about this,’” recalled Matt, 33. “God totally opened our hearts and placed such a burden for the fatherless.”

The Drahns are working through Christian organization America World Adoption Agency to adopt a boy between the ages of 2 and 5, if not younger. Ethiopia has the largest population of orphans in the world, with 4.6 million children needing homes. One in six children in Ethiopia die before the age of 5, while more than half of the children have stunted growth and development.

On average, an Ethiopian adoption costs between $35,000 and $40,000. The Drahns have raised about $10,000 so far and estimate they still need about $30,000. A gofundme.com account (https://www.gofundme.com/drahnadoption) has been set up, with $445 raised as of Tuesday afternoon.

The family had a garage sale this summer with another coming up next month. They are also selling t-shirts.

“When you look at the numbers, this is a huge step of faith,” Matt said. “But it didn’t cross my mind that God wouldn’t come through. We know He can provide. There have been challenges, but it hasn’t changed our trust and faith in Him. He’s working out the details. When He’s ready, He will allow it to be.”

The Drahns have already seen some miracles. As part of the application process, they had to be honest about issues such as marital problems and Matt’s struggles with alcohol.

“He’s gotten the victory in that,” Matt said of God. “August 28 (2014) was the last sip of alcohol I had and will ever had. God has completely changed my desire and my heart in such a mighty way. I’ve never been more on fire for God than I have right now.”

Breea acknowledges the road is tough.

“Adoption is not for the faint of heart,” she said. “You really have to be called. There are the unknowns, the wait, the cost, all the paperwork. That is why we sought God so much in the beginning. We didn’t want to commit to something so big without knowing for sure. We know God is able. In the right time we’ll get the money. But it is overwhelming. It is scary.”

The Drahns got an anonymous $3,500 donation, plus there was a cool call from Matt’s cousin in Minnesota.

“He called us and said they felt being called to give us their Honda CR-V,” Breea said, noting she and Matt sold a vehicle they could no longer afford. “They paid for our trip there to pick it up. The car is in great condition. It’s amazing to see God work.”

Just to submit a dossier, the Drahns have to raise $6,000 more.

“That money is needed really soon,” Breea said. “The longer we wait to submit, it extends the wait time. If you look up families that have gotten children from Ethiopia, the average time I’ve seen is two-and-a-half years.”

Matt noted there was an unexpected issue: some resistance from family members.

“That was an obstacle we didn’t expect,” he said. “We thought it would be well received. That was a challenge. But it came back to remembering why we are here and why He laid it on our hearts. He’s going to get the glory through it all. Our families have started to come around to us more. We have seen some breakthroughs.”

Within their own walls, family has been on board from the start. Avery and Paisley light up when asked about their upcoming brother.

“We’re very transparent with our girls,” Matt said. “We love God and talk about God all the time. We had some cool first conversations about what God was stirring in our hearts. They were both very excited. They can’t stop talking about bringing their brother home and about bunk beds. Their hearts were ready, too. It’s been so cool for them to be part of the process.”

Salem theatre to present Broadway master class

enlightened-theatrics-LOGO

Enlightened Theatrics along with Broadway Dreams Foundation will present Broadway Dreams Master Class | Vocal Performance:  Acting A Song on Sunday, Oct. 4.

The master class will be held 1-4 p.m. at the Historic Grand Theatre, 191 High St. NE.

The class will feature Alex Newell of Glee, Broadway performer Craig D’Amico and theatre producer Annette Tanner.

Tickets are $5 with two cans of food at the door. For more information visit enlightenedtheatrics.org

Council approves Bowden Estates

The revised intersection of Burbank Street and Trent Avenue. (Submitted)
The revised intersection of Burbank Street and Trent Avenue. (Submitted)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Look at what’s coming around the corner.

More houses – 32, to be exact – are coming after Keizer City Councilors reversed a Hearings Officer decision and approved plans for the houses to go in at Burbank Street and Trent Avenue.

Last month, Keizer Hearings Officer Cynthia Domas denied the plans submitted by Mark Farrow on behalf of Trademark Enterprises LLC for property owned by Robert Bowden and Doug Harner on behalf of JDC Homes LLC to build the homes on 5.73 acres of land.

The key reason for the denial last month was concerns about compromised sight lines at the intersection of Trent and Burbank.

Since then, an alternative design of the intersection was proposed that entailed adding a stop sign at Burbank Street, no parking along two sections of Trent Avenue at the intersection and raised reflective bi-directional placement markers through the intersection. The denial was appealed by Mark Grenz of Multi-Tech Engineering.

“Staff believe this revised alternative addresses the concerns of both the hearings officer and the city engineer and staff supports this alternative,” a memo in Monday’s council packet read.

City staff recommended the hearings officer decision be overturned.

That’s just what happened Monday, with a 6-0 vote.

Farrow said afterwards he was surprised the project was denied initially.

“We thought previously we had everything taken care of,” said Farrow, who was not part of the effort in 2008 to change the zoning for the property. “We wished it had been accepted (last month), but we met with with city staff to make it beneficial for everyone.”

With the approval Farrow, who also recently did the Aldine Meadows subdivision on McLeod Lane, hopes to move forward quickly.

“We hope to start breaking ground in the winter, with buildable lots in the spring,” he said. “We’re hoping to have the first homes ready by the end of next summer or early fall. We’re very excited. Keizer is a great place to be, with good accessibility to the north. Keizer needed good lots to build on.”

According to plans, the lots in Bowden Meadows will range in size from 5,000 to 10,856 square feet.

Councilor Brandon Smith noted a response from the Salem-Keizer School District talked about overcapacity issues at McNary High School getting worse with the subdivision.

“The staff report says the capacity is now at 105 percent and will rise to 107 percent of capacity,” Smith said. “Where do we draw the line? If there are a few more subdivisions, will we be up to 130 percent?”

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, noted that was the school district’s criteria. He also noted SKSD can move boundaries to move students from one school to another, regardless of city limits.

“That is not a criteria for the subdivision approval since we have no way to correct the issue,” Brown said.

After similar questions from councilor Dennis Koho, city attorney Shannon Johnson reiterated what Brown stated.

“You can’t deny solely based on schools,” Johnson said.

There were several questions asked about stop signs to be put up in the area.

“The recommendation is to stop northbound traffic on Burbank,” Brown said. “Through traffic (on Trent) would continue.”

Smith was wary of the intersections not lining up.

“To not have stop signs seems like an accident waiting to happen,” Smith said.

Brown noted councilors had the option of adding more stop signs.

“If you’re convinced the additional requirements are good, you’re well within your ability to require as such,” he said.

Koho asked Farrow about adding stop signs.

“Would it cause heartburn if we had three stop signs?” Koho asked.

Farrow said he’d have to get back on that one.

“I’m not an engineer,” he said. “That’s why I pay one and you pay yours.”

Smith then asked the same question to Grenz, who said adding stops shouldn’t be a problem.

“That was our original proposal, so no, not a problem,” Grenz said. “Our client does not object. Your options are one, two or three. We wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

WMS teacher hits high notes atop Kilimanjaro

Sean Turner (right) with his father, John, atop Mt. Kilimanjaro. The pair trekked to the summit where Turner played the UO fight song on tuba. (Submitted)
Sean Turner (right) with his father, John, atop Mt. Kilimanjaro. The pair trekked to the summit where Turner played the UO fight song on tuba. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Whiteaker Middle School band teacher Sean Turner is never far from his tuba or, at the very least, a tuba mouthpiece. Even when he’s on top of Africa’s highest peak.

While being interviewed, Turner produces a plastic mouthpiece from his pocket to demonstrate the “buzzing” that he uses to keep in practice when he’s traveling.

“It comes with me just about everywhere,” Turner said. However, when Turner was planning a trip to Africa with his father, John, to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, he landed on an idea of a grander scale.

“The trip came together and then I heard that one of my former college professors had acquired a travel tuba,” Turner said. “I thought wouldn’t it be cool to actually play tuba at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Then I thought to contact the Guinness Book of World records to see if anyone had done anything like that before. It turned out they hadn’t.”

While a typical tuba weighs about 20 pounds, the travel tuba weighed less than 10. But, permission to use the instrument came with a caveat: Turner would have to play Mighty Oregon, the University of Oregon fight song, at the summit and capture it on video.

He agreed to the terms and took off for his monthlong vacation last summer.

“When you go through security, everyone has to see the tuba because they think you’re using it to smuggle drugs. At one airport, one of the security officers offered me the equivalent of about $100 for the instrument itself. It costs a couple of thousand, but she was insistent,” Turner said.

It’s a seven-day hike from the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro to its summit and that proved to be just as interesting as reaching the destination.

“In the first day, you’re in the jungle and you’re passing by elephant dung and seeing monkeys. You’re dressed for warm weather and you’ve got seven layers of clothing in your backpack for the summit,” Turner said.

In the first four days of the hike, Turner and his father passed through three different biomes – jungle, low bush and high desert – before spending the final three days hiking through the rocks that comprise the highest points.

“Almost the whole trip up these awful, deathly, white-necked ravens are following you. They don’t go to the summit, but they follow and scavenge the food from hikers,” Turner said.

About two days from the summit, Turner realized that playing tuba at such a high altitude might come with unexpected complications.

“On the third night I woke up to use the bathroom. I got out and looked around and the mist had frozen. Everything was like ice and I started to realize this might be an issue. It was a beautiful sight, though, and it would crunch underfoot,” Turner said.

Sure enough, when the Turners reached the base camp, the valves on the tuba had frozen. Blowing hot air through the instrument loosened them enough to play and Turner played Somewhere Over the Rainbow. He saved the fight song for the peak.

Turner and his father spent the rest of their trip on safari and relaxing in Zanzibar.

“We literally ended up in the middle of a zebra migration. We were parked in the middle of a heard with thousands of zebras running all around the car,” Turner said.

Turner, who has traveled extensively, said the experiences leave him refreshed every time.

“It kind of puts everything in perspective when you see people who are growing food and hunting to survive. It makes me very grateful to live where I do and work with the kids I work with,” he said.

For video of Turner playing at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, visit www.keizertimes.com.

Scots, Celts battle Friday

Celtic Brodie Nepstad dodges a tackle in the game with West Albany High School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celtic Brodie Nepstad dodges a tackle in the game with West Albany High School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Neither the players nor head coach of the McNary High School varsity football team believe the team has lived up to its potential so far this season.

They’ll get another chance to prove themselves Friday, Sept. 25, at McKay High School.

“It’s not good enough to just beat them. Putting up a big score would really show what we’re able to do and the type of team we are,” said Celt Kyle Aicher.

McNary (2-1 overall, 2-0 in the Greater Valley Conference) faces a struggling Royal Scot team just getting over its third consecutive loss. It might be tempting to overlook the Salem team, but Celt Jon Anderson wanted McNary to step back and take it a game at a time.

“I want us to come out and not underestimate McKay. We have to take it seriously and hit them hard every single play,” Anderson said.

Three games into the season, McNary is becoming known as a running team despite having lots of options in the air.

“Our receivers can get a little more open on the outside and Trent (Van Cleave) can get the ball to us if we can get open,” Aicher said.

Van Cleave completed 16 of 29 last week for 183 yards with no interceptions and one touchdown. Brendan Van Voorhis led the receivers with four catches for 64 yards, but Brady Sparks, Aicher, Matt Aguilar, Brodie Nepstad and Tanner Gordon all made contributions.

On the ground, Van Cleave pounded out 127 yards on 20 carries and Sparks piled up 105 yards on 25 carries.

“I’d like to see us put the pressure on, keep the pressure on and take another step forward this week,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary head coach. “We need to come together as a group and have everyone making the best play they can to the best of their ability.”

Last week, McKay lost to North Salem High School 22-7. The Royal Scots were first to the board with a touchdown in the first quarter, but the Vikings began unloading beginning in the third quarter.

McKay had 123 yards on the ground and 19 by air for the game.

Gordon said the Celtics were still building last week, and that the progression will continue.

“We built off the loss to Westview and we’ll build off the win over West Albany,” he said.

Pedestrian killed in accident with vehicle

KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy
Keizer Police and other law enforcement personnel investigate a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident Friday morning, Sept. 25 at Chemawa Road and Newberg Drive. The 68-year-old pedestrian was killed. The Ford Ranger at the left of the picture was the involved vehicle. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A vehicle vs. pedestrian accident on Chemawa Road North Friday morning has been confirmed at fatal.

Lt. Andrew Copeland with the Keizer Police Department said a 68-year-old male was killed after being struck by a Ford Ranger pickup. The accident happened shortly after 7:30 a.m. Sept. 25 at Chemawa and Newberg Drive North, resulting in the area being closed to traffic.

“An older gentleman was crossing the road and walked right in front of the pickup,” Copeland said from the scene. “There was nothing criminal in nature. The guy didn’t make it.”

Copeland said the name won’t be released until family can be contacted.

Several items could still be seen on the road about an hour after the accident, including a shoe and a bottle of pop. A number of officers and a state trooper were on scene to begin the reconstruction of the accident.

Copeland noted the female driver of the Ranger appeared to have done nothing wrong.

“The driver of the pickup has been cooperative,” he said. “This type of accident is very traumatic for the driver. There’s no indication of anything other than she was driving lawfully at the speed limit when the pedestrian just crossed right in front of her.”

Pearson gets 40 years to life

Brett Pearson (right), flanked by attorney John Storkel, tears up while listening to a family member speak during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday morning. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Brett Pearson (right), flanked by attorney John Storkel, tears up while listening to a family member speak during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday morning. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM – Keizer teenager Brett Angus Pearson was sentenced to life behind bars with the possibility of parole after 40 years on Wednesday for his involvement in a shooting that killed his mom and injured his dad.

Brett, who turns 19 on Oct. 7, pleaded guilty to several charges in the spring in connection to the March 5, 2014 shooting at his family’s home. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Dale Penn read the sentence in a courtroom filled with family members, including Brett’s father Wilfred “Bill” Pearson, who recovered from the shooting that left his wife Michelle dead.

Brett was charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder with a firearm and conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.

Miller entered a guilty plea last week and had his sentencing later on Wednesday. He received the same sentence as Brett.

The main question for Brett Pearson was if Penn would have the 10 years for the attempted aggravated murder charge run concurrently or consecutive to the 30 years for the aggravated murder  charge. Penn ultimately went with consecutive, meaning Brett won’t be eligible for parole until after 40 years. There was no additional time for the conspiracy charge, as it was merged into the attempted aggravated charge.

“This is a heavy sentence, but this is a heavy crime,” Penn said to the teenager. “I hope as you leave the courtroom the words from your family members will continue to move through your head. I have no doubt your mother would forgive you if she were here today.”

Deputy District Attorney Brendan Murphy said the real Brett Pearson was “the one that walks through his mother’s blood without any emotion at all” and thus deserved the extra time.

“This never should have happened,” Murphy said. “It’s so senseless. This act deserves the extra 10 years because of its senselessness.”

Family members showed more compassion while also stressing the pain.

“Only evil can explain what you have done,” Brett’s grandma Shelia Wahl told him. “I understand you have made peace with God. Jesus can forgive. If He can forgive, how can I not? But I will never forget the pain you brought to the family.”

Kim Wahl noted she was best friends with her sister Michelle, who came into the family as a foster child at age 11.

“This has left a big hole in my heart that such a special person is gone,” Kim said. “The domino effect of this single action is overwhelming, the impact it’s had on all of our lives.”

Sally Prinz, Michelle’s biological sister, also spoke.

“(Michelle) was always so kind and forgiving,” Prinz said. “I want to be angry, but I want to do right by her. I want to forgive and I do. But I don’t forget what they did. It has almost destroyed us emotionally…They were young and are forgiven by me. I hope they can be helped so by the time they have served their sentence, they can be something Michelle would be proud of at the end.”

Brett’s sister Dana called her little brother compassionate and empathetic.

“Brett was good at seeing people who needed stuff,” Dana said. “That led him to a group of people that maybe weren’t the best choice. He saw their hurting and was loyal to them. I don’t think you can judge a life by a month’s span.”

John Storkel, Brett’s attorney, said his client was on methamphetamine, robbing him of the ability to be compassionate.

“It’s not a justification or a defense,” Storkel said. “He wants to take responsibility for what he’s done.”

That was indeed the case as Brett spoke.

“I am sorry for everything that happened, the pain I caused, what I put people through,” he said. “My family has to live with something they shouldn’t have to. I was intoxicated, yes, but that’s no excuse at all. I take responsibility for what I’ve done. I’m not the person this crime makes me seem to be. I love my mom and miss her very much.”

Penn recommended Brett Pearson be sent to Oregon Youth Authority for the initial part of his sentence.

A million pennies

Does anyone reach down to pick up a penny anymore? In earlier days when a kid found a penny (or a nickle or a quarter)  it was like finding treasure. Nowadays an errant penny is passed over with nary a glance.

One can only guess the value of all the pennies laying on the ground in Keizer. More importantly, one can only imagine the value of the all change in all the vehicles in Keizer. That can add up to some serious money, which would be good for the Keizer Community Food Bank which is holding a fundraiser starting Oct. 1.

Originally conceived as “12 Miles of Pennies,” an effort to raise more than $10,000 in the month of October. But, $10,000 equals more than 1million pennies, that’s unweildly. The food bank is still seeking to raise the money to help fill its shelves, which today are woefully sparse.

Keizer kids are being asked to pick up a penny if they find one on the ground and put them in any number of collection cans that will be popping up around town late next week. Keizer drivers are asked to clean out the change cache in their vehicles and donate to the food bank, too.

In one day Keizer generosity with its ‘car change’ could raise the money that is needed by the food bank. Food donations are accepted by community pantries but they are able to leverage cash donations in a way that public is not able.

Food donations are always needed at food banks, not just during the holiday season. There are expansive food baskets distributed by a number of organizations in the area including the Keizer Network of Women, Marion County Fire District #1 and the Keizer Elks Club. Those gift baskets of food are delivered during the holidays. The Keizer Community Food Bank serves people throughout the year; not all their clients are recepients of gift food baskets.

People think of donating food during the holidays or during a food drive by a club or organizaton. Unfortunately the need is constant. Food insecurity is a shameful condition for any rsesident a country as rich as the United States to face. If there is a solution to eradicating hunger in the world, let alone in our own background, it has not been presented yet. Until that happens we must be our brother’s keeper and give a hand to those who need it.

The coinage sitting in our cars is often overlooked. Let’s put it to good use and assure that the shelves at our local food bank are filled now and going into the holiday season. And next spring, do the same thing, we can all donate and we’ll barely miss the pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters that now just rattle around in the ashtray or cup holder.

  —LAZ

KFD equipment bond request

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Measure 24-389, the Keizer Fire District’s request for a 20-year bond to replace aging fire apparatus and ambulances.

The staff at Keizer Fire District has spent extra dollars and manpower in an effort to maintain an aging fleet of vehicles. It is time to continue supporting our emergency service providers by providing the monies necessary to purchase new firefighting apparatus, new ambulances and associated equipment to fully furnish these new units.

You may see the KFD apparatus go by and say to yourself, “that looks new” when in reality the newest engine is now 11 years old, and our newest ambulance is seven years old. Recently one of the three ambulances was towed for repair, putting it out of service to respond.

By approving this bond request the Keizer Fire District will be able to establish and maintain a schedule of vehicle replacement that will provide years of service to the constituents of Keizer Fire.

From me personally, I support this worthy effort. I look at it as very inexpensive insurance to have adequate and advanced equipment available if I am ever in need of fire or EMS services.

Please join me in voting YES for Measure 24-389, the Keizer Fire District equipment bond measure.

Greg Ego
Keizer

Church’s 25th anniversary

To the Editor:

Truth Tabernacle Church of Keizer would like to formally invite the public to come and celebrate their 25-year anniversary services on Sept.  25, 26 and 27. Service times will be Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Truth Tabernacle is located at 3795 Pleasant View Dr. N.E., in Keizer. Transportation is available. Phone 503-393-1352. Guest speakers will be Pastors Danny Perdew (Greeley, CO), Russell Frazier (Fontana, CA), and Robert Davis (Wheelersburg, OH).

Michael R. Hearn
Truth Tabernacle Church
Keizer