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Month: December 2015

Ring in new year with style, laughs


Time is short for New Year’s Eve plans, but here are a few options for last-minute gatherings to ring in the new year and celebrate 2016 this weekend.

• Town & Country Lanes, 3500 River Road N., is hosting a New Year’s Eve party starting at 9:30 p.m.Tickets are $25 and include music, three hours of moon-glow bowling, a New Year’s countdown and champagne or cider toast, a nacho buffet and raffle drawings.

• Capitol City Theatre is offering one all-ages show and one adults-only show New Year’s Eve. The all-ages show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and should wrap up about 9 p.m., 210 Liberty St. SE, Suite 150. Tickets are $12 and $9 for ages 12 and younger. The 21-and-older show begins at 10:30 p.m. and ends with a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Tickets are $20. Purchase tickets in advance at capitolcitytheater. com.

• New Year’s Eve Dance at Keizer Salem Area Senior Center, 930 Plymouth Drive N.E. Doors open at 7 p.m. Live music by Don and Pat Schuetz with Glen Walker & Lee and Evelyn Easter.Tickets $10.

• If you don’t mind a bit of travel, or would like a bit of traditional culture education with your revelry, check out the Native American Rehabilitation Association’s annual New Year’s Eve Sobriety Powwow at Portland’s Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. The dry event features drum groups and community dances and is free to the public. 1 p.m. to midnight.

• The festivities go on all night long at Spirit Mountain Casino. Activities include bingo at 7:30 p.m., a wandering magician from 7 to 11:30 p.m.; bucket drummer/dancers at 9, 10 and 11 p.m.; juggler/stiltwalker at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 p.m.; Joe Stoddard Band at 9 p.m.; photo booth from 9 to 11:30 p.m.; Rock & Roll Cowboys at 9 p.m.; bead tosses at 9:45, 10:45 and 11:45 p.m.; and confetti cannons and balloon drop at midnight, 27100 Salmon River Highway, Grand Ronde.

• Salem’s Riverfront Carousel is offering free rides between noon and 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1. Canned food donations to support Marion- Polk Food Share are suggested.

• On Saturday, Jan. 2, C4, The Capitol City Comedy Challenge, takes the stage at 210 Liberty St. SE, Suite 150, in Salem. Six stand-up comedians. Three challenges. One stage. Who’s the winner? Audience decides. 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, 18 and older only.

Wrestlers take down Grizzlies

Celt Carlos Vincent grimaces as he attempts to free his wrist from his opponent. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Carlos Vincent grimaces as he attempts to free his wrist from his opponent. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Four McNary High School wrestlers were key to picking up the team’s first win, 44-28, over McMinnville High School since the Grizzlies joined the Greater Valley Conference.

“It was a four-man puzzle, and we had some kids step up who had never been bumped up a weight class before. You do that and it’s like a flip of a coin. It was a string of kids that came out of their shell and did some good things,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

McNary hosted the meet Thursday, Dec. 17.

It came down to needing a 195-pound wrestler to win the duel, Ebbs added. To make that happen, Celt Jesse Gomez wrestled at 160 pounds and lost by pin. Up next Carlos Vincent, usually a 160-pound entry, wrestled at 170 and won in a 16-8 major decision. Blake Gerstner wrestled at 182 pounds and won a barn burner with a 15-9 final score. McNary’s Isaiah Putnam, who was giving up about 20 pounds by the time he took the mat at 195 pounds, won in an 8-2 decision.

“It was a good milestone. McMinnville is one of the teams that floats near the top and we knew they had four studs coming out this year. We ended up losing those matches, but we competed well even in those matches,” Ebbs said.

The evening started with the 106 pounders and Celt Brooke Burrows taking on August Hirsch. Burrows dominated throughout, but struggled to turn Hirsch for a pin as the match wore on.

“I realized it wasn’t working, so I decided to try for a tech fall,” said Burrows, who has been part of McNary’s Mat Club for about eight years. Burrows got close to her goal of the tech fall, but simply ran out of time. She won in a 19-8 decision. “It helps that I only have brothers,” she said. “It’s made me really competitive.”

At 120 pound Joey Kibbey won by pin in 1:30; Jon Phelps won by pin in 1:12; and Wyatt Kesler won in a 16-0 tech fall.

Keifer Smith finished out the night for McNary with a win by pin in 1:34.

“I had never wrestled him before, but I like those matches better. I felt confident, like I was going to win from the start,” Smith said.

Smith said a win over Silverton High School the prior week set the table for the McNary-McMinnville match.

“When we wrestled Silverton, we weren’t expected to win, but we won and that flipped the switch for us. We realized we are good enough to compete with some of the top teams,” Smith said.

Burrows said a focus on being a team also helped.

“We did a really good job of communicating and cheering each other on, and we were just there for each other,” Burrows said.

At the Oregon National Guard tournament Saturday, Dec. 19, Phelps made it all the way to the final match and finished second as the result of a major decision; Brayden Ebbs finished third by pinning his final opponent in the third round.

In addition to Phelps, a number of Celtics managed good showings. Kibbey made it all the way to the third round at 120 pounds;  Sean Burrows and Gerstner won five matches in consolation rounds to finish 17th; and Kesler, Putnam and Smith also made it to the third round.

With winter break looming, the Celts are now challenged to keep their spirits up and bodies in shape.

“We’ll be having some workouts and some morning runs, but honestly we just need to stay in the mindset of being as good as we are,” Smith said.

New lease on life for orchard

Earlier this year, it seemed there was no future for the filbert orchard at Keizer Rapids Park. That has changed, as a new lease was signed recently for the farming of the crop. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)
Earlier this year, it seemed there was no future for the filbert orchard at Keizer Rapids Park. That has changed, as a new lease was signed recently for the farming of the crop. (KEIZERTIMES file/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

There is a future again for the filbert orchard at Keizer Rapids Park.

After Tony Weathers was granted a release from his contract to harvest the orchards in June, there was considerable question if another farm would take his place, especially given the desire to not use chemicals necessary to fight off the blight impacting the trees.

Kevin Schurter with Schurter Enterprises LLC submitted a proposal in July to do the harvesting, with the proposal accepted the following month. It was only a short-term lease, spanning from Aug. 20 to Nov. 30.

A Request for Proposals was run in mid-October for the city-owned orchard, resulting in two proposals. The one selected was from Schurter Enterprises.

Keizer City Councilors approved the contract without comment during the consent calendar portion of the Dec. 7 council meeting.

Rental income received from Schurter will be used for city park operations, including maintenance of the filbert orchard.

According to the contract, the lease terminates when all crops are removed from the property, or no later than Nov. 30, 2017. The rent paid to the city will be 10 percent of the net proceeds from the farming of the crops grown on the property.

When Weathers asked to be released from his contract in the spring, a key issue was the use of chemicals on the property. Weathers and Willamette Mission Farm, Inc. signed a five-year contract with the city in March 2012 to lease the filbert orchards at $10,000 a year, with Weathers keeping all the profits made by harvesting the filberts. Weathers was spraying pesticides on the orchards three times a year.

However, after the Big Toy site was moved to the orchards, concerns were expressed about the possibility pesticides from the spraying could spread to the play structure, which was completed in June.

“My concern is my ass being sued,” Weathers said in the spring. “My concern is someone using the toy when the park is closed, get flu and found out I sprayed. I have too much to lose. I informed the city I would like to get out of the lease.”

The contract signed with Schurter this month thus reflects the concern, as section 9 deals with chemicals and fertilizers.

“The only chemicals and fertilizers to be used by tenant are fuel and oil contained in equipment and mobile servicing vehicles and Glyphosphate (Roundup) applied to the ground,” the contract reads. “Tenant shall not, without landlord’s prior written consent, use any other fertilizers or chemicals.”

A concern about not using chemicals on the property is the deteriorating health of the trees, as the chemicals were being used to stave off the blight of the trees as long as possible.

“The parties acknowledge that without use of chemicals and fertilizers, the trees will suffer and the life of the trees will be shortened,” the contract reads in part. “Tenant is not liable for the death of the trees, but shall promptly remove dead trees within 30 days after completion of harvest.”

Schurter referenced the health of the trees when he submitted his original proposal last summer.

“Because of the poor health of the trees, Schurter Enterprises LLC will not be liable for the death of the trees,” Schurter wrote at the time. “The non-use of chemicals will speed up the death of the trees, but it is hard to say exactly how long they will last. Hazelnut trees of that variety and age suffer from Eastern Filbert Blight, and spraying and pruning is the only effective way to combat it. Pruning will hold it at bay, but they will eventually succumb.”

Mayor Cathy Clark expressed surprise last summer someone else had stepped forward to replace Weathers.

“It did seem like it was done,” Clark said.

Schurter explained at the time why he submitted his proposal.

“I thought it would be a shame that the crop would fall and rot on the ground,” he said. “I figured it’s not a bad idea to at least harvest it and farm it. Even if (the trees) are going to die, at least you can get something out of it. The city benefits with a percentage of the sales and, even more, it will look good. The orchards will be mowed and dead trees will be cut out.”

“My Grandmother asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman


My Grandmother asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman

c.2015, Atria
$25.00 / higher in Canada
372 pages


“I forgive you.”

Are there any three more powerful words?  Can “I love you” – also used for countertops, couches, or coats – bestow such mercy?  I don’t think so.

“I forgive you.” In release and relief, those words put things back on track – although, in the new book “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman, the transgressions hardly need absolution.

Every grandmother’s house smells a little different.

Some smell like cookies or old magazines, soup or stale perfume. But seven-year-old Elsa’s granny’s flat – the whole building, in fact – smelled like coffee, cigarettes, a “very large animal of some sort,” and Granny.

For her entire life, Granny was the only friend Elsa had. Granny played games with Elsa, gave her rides in Renault (the car Granny said she won in a poker game), told Elsa stories (Granny loved stories!) and she taught Elsa how to get to the Land-of-Almost-Awake, the magic kingdom of Miamas , and a troubled knight named Wolfheart. Granny had a lot of superpowers, one of which was always being on Elsa’s side.

And that, perhaps, was why she never mentioned the word “cancer” to Elsa. She didn’t want Elsa to know, or to mourn. That was probably why Granny never said goodbye before leaving Elsa with an assignment befitting a knight of Miamas.

The assignment was a treasure hunt (Granny loved treasure hunts!), with clues and messages for people in their building: Britt-Marie, who was a “nag-bag,” and her husband, Kent; the boy who danced, and his mother; Maud, who fixed everything with cookies, and Lennart; Al, who drove Taxi. The first clue took Elsa to the door of a vicious dog that lived downstairs. If the dog didn’t kill her, surely the second delivery would: it was an apology for The Monster, who lived next to the dog.

As Elsa made the deliveries, three more clues appeared until everything – including Granny’s not-so-goodbye – began to make sense. And so did the knowledge that “It’s possible to love your grandmother for years and years without really knowing anything about her.”

Did you ever read a novel that was so captivating that when it was over, you felt a little adrift?  That’s how I was when I finished “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.”

If you can remember that time in your life when magic was real, grown-ups were mysteries, and you were about to learn the truth about both, then you’re halfway to understanding what makes author Fredrik Backman’s book so appealing: though she’s “insanely” precocious, Elsa still relies on a magic-and-pretend life that’s whisked away so quickly, it’s breathtaking. And yet, that having-to-grow-up-fast time is mercifully aborted by the posthumous wishes of the kind of grandmother you’ll wish you had, the one who knows there’s no need to hurry childhood’s exit.

Bring tissues when you start “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,” but bring your funnybone, too. It’s that kind of book – one that, if you miss it, you’ll never forgive yourself.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Boys surge to sixth on win over Vikings

Celt Cade Goff dribbles around a Forest Grove defender just before putting up a shot. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Cade Goff dribbles around a Forest Grove defender just before putting up a shot. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

In one of the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team’s most controlled wins in years, the Celts handily defeated the Forest Grove Vikings 76-62 Friday, Dec. 18.

The victory sent the Keizer team soaring up the state rankings to sixth in the OSAA 6A classification.

“Forest Grove is a very talented team, but our kids have practiced and prepared with a sense of purpose that they can win regardless of the situation. They’re not arrogant or cocky, but they are very confident in their abilities and have a strong belief in themselves,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach. “It was just beautiful to watch them at times tonight.”

The Celtics started the game with a 5-0 lead but soon found themselves trailing the Vikings 12-5. Three-point goals by Harry Cavell, Easton Neitzel and Alex Martin help close the gap to 23-18 by the close of the frame, but Forest Grove still led.

A three-pointer by Chandler Cavell kept the Vikings within reach shortly after the beginning of the second period. Coupled with another trey by Martin, McNary then kept the game close. The Celts finally retook the game lead with a two-point goal by H. Cavell with 3:30 to go in the half.

The Vikings took the lead back on their next possession. As the clock was winding down, C. Cavell scored his second three-point goal of the night to give McNary a 41-40 lead and then H. Cavell made a steal and scored on a dunk to give McNary a 43-40 lead going into halftime.

“We shut down (Taylor) Jensen, who is one of the leaing scorers in the state right now, but they had a lot of other guys step up,” said Mathew Ismay. “The only problem was we gave up 40 in the first half, which isn’t something we want to do.”

The second half was all McNary from the get-go. The Celtics scored seven unanswered points at the top of the third frame, five by Ismay.

With limited trips to the foul line, the Keizer boys outscored the Vikings 33-22. Until the Forest Grove match, the Celts had relied on making trips to the foul line to win close games, but only got one in the fourth period this time around.

“We came out strong in the second half and really executed. On defense we played hard and shut down their better players,” said Neitzel.

Kirch said the game came down to some key performances in a strong team effort.

“Mathew doesn’t always get the cheers when you have dunks and three-pointers, but he’s a kid who very rarely makes mistakes. He’s fundamentally sound, he doesn’t turn the ball over, he doesn’t take bad shots, and he was a quiet leader tonight,” said Kirch.

He also lauded the efforts of the Cavell brothers.

“Harry came in and improved on his game by leaps and bounds and really showed what he’s made of. Chandler also came in and played fearlessly. That can be good or bad when it comes to taking shots, but it was mostly a good thing tonight,” Kirch said.

Neitzel said the key to moving forward was keeping an even keel like the team has done so far this season.

“We have to keep being unselfish and keep playing as a team with great chemistry,” Neitzel said.

Ismay said the Celtics were able to build on a strong 72-35 win over North Salem High School three days earlier.

“That was the first time this season when we put it all together for 32 minutes,” Ismay said. “People are starting to notice us and, if we can keep this roll going, we’re going to have a hell of a season.”

Man extradited to Keizer for 2007 case

Raul Xalamihua-Espindola
Raul Xalamihua-Espindola

Of the Keizertimes

A man who allegedly took an 11-year-old Keizer girl to Mexico in the spring of 2007 has been extradited to Oregon to face criminal prosecution from the Marion County District Attorney’s office.

Raul Xalamihua-Espindola, now 28, was escorted Dec. 15 by two special agents from the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from Mexico City to Portland, where custody was transferred to members of the Keizer Police Department who were awaiting his arrival.

Xalamihua-Espindola was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant issued in April 2007 for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and for one count of custodial interference in the first degree. Another warrant was issued in December 2007 for four counts of first degree rape.

Authorities investigated the case the whole time and worked collaboratively with the federal government of Mexico.

All criminal charges stem from the investigation that began on April 6, 2007 when it was reported to the KPD 11-year-old Deysi Cisneros left a note for her mother and father explaining that she had run away with her boyfriend, Xalamihua-Espindola, who was 19 at that time.

Within five days of the investigation beginning Xalamihua-Espindola had been indicted for one count of custodial interference in the first degree. Investigators from the KPD and the FBI worked to locate the victim and suspect, who had left Oregon and were thought to be enroute to Mexico. The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children created a flyer that was distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and to border crossing agents on the United States and Mexico border.

On May 1, 2007 investigators confirmed the suspect and victim were in Zongolica, Vera Cruz, Mexico. Special agents from the FBI began coordinating with the Mexican government to locate and recover the victim and to apprehend the suspect.

On Sept. 4, 2007 the victim was located and safely recovered in Mexico, though the suspect evaded capture at that time. Two weeks later, a member of the KPD and an FBI employee flew to Mexico City and took protective custody of the victim at the United States Embassy. She was reunited with her parents at home in Keizer.

The Keizertimes ran two stories on the case at the time.

Within the past two years Xalamihua-Espindola was located and apprehended in Zongolica, Mexico by the Mexican Federales. He spent the last two years incarcerated in a Mexico prison litigating appeals regarding his extradition to the United States to stand trial for the criminal charges from this investigation. He faces four counts of rape in the first degree and one count of custodial interference.

Anyone having information about this investigation is asked to call KPD detective Chris Nelson at 503-390-3713 ext. 3489.

According to the Sept. 14, 2007 Keizertimes, Xalamihua-Espindola lived in the same apartment complex as the Cisneros family. The search stretched from Keizer to Alabama to Mexico.

Initially, police didn’t know how old the suspect was and only had the note Deysi had left for her parents, telling them not to worry.

Police located relatives of Xalamihua-Espindola, who were able to provide the man’s cell phone number.
Two days after Deysi went missing, police caught an apparent break: a relative of the suspect called the KPD and said Xalamihua-Espindola had told him he would have Deysi home in two hours.

That didn’t happen.

“We knew then that this was more than a weekend rendezvous,” KPD deputy chief Jeff Kuhns said at the time.

Kuhns had Det. John Troncoso follow up with the relatives that night, at which point police learned the two were on a Greyhound bus scheduled to arrive in Birmingham, Ala., early the next morning. Troncoso coordinated with the FBI, who had agents waiting at the Alabama bus stop. But when the bus stopped, neither Xalamihua-Espindola or Deysi were anywhere to be found.

On April 11, Deysi called home and indicated she was at a pay phone in Colorado. Other calls were made home as well, with authorities determining by April 20 the calls had been made from Mexico. It took months for U.S. and Mexican governments to put a plan together to get Deysi back home safely.

At the time, police took some heat for not issuing an Amber Alert.

“However inappropriate that relationship might be, it did not lead us to believe she was in danger of serious bodily harm or death,” Kuhns said.

Producers from the TV show America’s Most Wanted called and asked if the KPD wanted the case featured on their show. The offer was declined. More help came from the FBI.

“They have helped us so much,” Troncoso, who retired earlier this year, said at the time. “They’re the ones that facilitated the operations in Mexico.”

Troncoso was the KPD employee who helped pick up Deysi in September 2007.

Lady Celts take down Oregon’s 6A leaders

McNary’s Kaelie Flores heads for the rim in the game with Sheldon High School. The girls beat the then-No. 1 OSAA 6A team 75-57. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary’s Kaelie Flores heads for the rim in the game with Sheldon High School. The girls beat the then-No. 1 OSAA 6A team 75-57. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School girls varsity basketball team took most everyone by surprise in a 75-57 win over Sheldon High School Saturday, Dec. 19, themselves included.

“It was kind of a surprise to be winning but, by the end of the game we were like, ‘Oh, this is us and who we are as a team,’” said Kaelie Flores, a Celtic senior.

Going into the game, Sheldon was the top-ranked team in the OSAA 6A division, McNary moved up to No. 14 with the win.

McNary hosted the match-up and started out with a seven-point run that included two two-point goals by Flores and a three-pointer by Madi Hingston.

The Keizer girls carried that lead into the second frame and lost it only briefly midway through the quarter. After falling behind 26-24, sophomore Kailey Doutt hit a two-pointer to knot the game 26-26. The Lady Celts would trail through the end of the half, but a final bucket by Reina Strand sent the teams to halftime with the Fighting Irish leading 35-33.

“We started doing things a bit different even in the pre-game warm-ups and that made for a good start,” said Strand.

By midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Celts had a 19-point lead over the Irish. McNary spent much of the late minutes at the foul line making free baskets. Sheldon didn’t get many opportunities offensively in the second half and McNary kept them from offensive rebounds. Sheldon scored only 12 points in about 12 minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters, an atypical output for a team accustomed to running up 60 to 70 points per game on opponents.

“We scouted them and practiced what they run,” said Hingston. “We knew our game plan and locked down on defense.”

Strand said the only hiccup in the night was some lax help-side defense in the first half.

“We realized we had to focus on help-side, but we all came together and fixed that right away. It was great,” she said. “Other than that, we focused in on who we had to guard after studying them and their plays.”

McNary had two games prior to facing off with Sheldon and won both easily. McNary handed North Salem High School a 69-9 drubbing Tuesday, Dec. 15, and then pasted Forest Grove High School with a 49-24 loss.

Derick Handley, McNary head coach, said the team hasn’t encountered any surprises in recent games, the result of scouting teams and the Lady Celts’ buy-in when it comes to taking care of business.

“There’s often times we’re not surprised. Forest Grove had 11 points through three quarters,” Handley said. “The one thing about our girls is they are very studious about the game, and they are taking what we learn before each game and applying it when they’re playing.”

Handley had hoped to finally crack the OSAA 6A Top 10 with the Sheldon win, but the powers-that-be apparently weren’t in a giving mood this holiday season.

“There’s not a ton of respect for the GVC in the state and that’s just the way it is. What we’re trying to help the girls prove, as coaches, is that we are ready to compete at this level of basketball,” Handley said. “What’s important for us is winning the non-conference games. We have to prop ourselves up and take care of ourselves when we get the chances.”

No matter what the future holds, Flores said the team is ready.

“We are really underestimated as a team and this win (over Sheldon) was our chance to go out and prove that,” Flores said.

Decorated for the season

KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy Barbara and Harlan Naegeli for years have had a well-decorated Keizer home for Christmas, inside (below) and out (above).
Barbara and Harlan Naegeli for years have had a well-decorated Keizer home for Christmas, inside (below) and out (above). (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

If you’ve been through the Gubser Miracle of Christmas Lights Display in the last 25 years, odds are you’ve seen the decorations at the Naegeli house.

Not to mention the Halloween decorations.

And the Valentine’s Day setup.

Oh yeah, there’s also the Easter display.

Yes, Harlan and Barbara Naegeli like to decorate their home at the corner of McLeod Lane and Rock Ledge Drive for various holidays.

For Christmas time, the couple goes all out – and in.

While the outside display is impressive in its own right – award-winning, in fact – the theme is continued inside, as Christmas decorations are everywhere.

If there was room, there would be even more.

Barbara and Harlan came to Christmas decorating from opposite perspectives. Barbara split her childhood between America and England, where the focus is on the inside of the house. Harlan, on the other hand, grew up in Silverton with plenty of outside decorations but nothing on the inside.

“In England we didn’t do outside lights,” Barbara said. “We met one October. Then he came to my house the beginning of December and walked in. It was interesting for him to see all the decorations inside. I say our kids got the best of both worlds. We did Christmas crackers and paper crowns. It took Harlan a while to warm up.”

Harlan flashed a quick smile.

“It’s been 44 years and I’m still warming up,” he quipped.


The two met in Salem and married barely a year later. After living in West Salem for nearly 20 years, the couple built their home in Gubser and moved in 25 years ago.

Early on, a friendly competition started between the Naegelis and the neighbors across the street, Dennis and Mildred O’Shea.

“Dennis didn’t have that many lights at first,” Harlan said. “I would put something up, then he would have to put something up. That first year was interesting. The light tour was in the older part of the neighborhood. This part was not part of the tour. The road was barricaded off. We had a little protest, standing at the barricade. We were part of the tour the next year.”

Barbara credits the O’Sheas for elevating the game.

“Their windows are painted,” Barbara said. “That was a one-up move. I said, ‘Millie, that’s not fair.’ She just smirked at me.”

While the Naegelis have been doing their decorations for years, don’t take that to mean it’s the same each year. Some new pieces and features have been added regularly, while some parts need to be replaced or don’t get put out due to a lack of room.

“It’s started and has grown each year,” said Barbara, noting her daughters-in-law have complained about the bar being set too high. “Not everybody does quite so much, or at least that’s what I’ve heard. I can’t put everything out. I have a lot of stuff. I let friends go through a pile of stuff I don’t use.”

Since they are both in their 60s, things have been scaled back somewhat. For example, Harlan no longer puts lights on the roof. Son Andrew used to do that task, but not anymore.

“When he had a child, his wife didn’t want him to do it anymore,” Barbara said. “I understood. I couldn’t watch anymore.”

Though not as much gets put up, that doesn’t mean purchases aren’t made. After all, lights wear or burn out, new technology is more energy efficient and so on.

“He’s on timeout from Lowe’s,” Barbara said, smiling at Harlan. “He’s not allowed to go there by himself anymore.”

Harlan acknowledges having more items than space.

“You get to a certain point where you’ve put enough up and pack the rest of it away,” he said.

Barbara admitted not putting every decoration up is hard.

“If we could, we would put things up everywhere,” she said. “We can’t fit it all out there. We’ll do this item this year, then this thing will go up next year. Everything has meaning to me.”

It’s not unusual for people to get in the Christmas mood when seeing the Naegeli home. Heck, it even happens to Barbara.

“The outside is wonderful,” she said. “I love driving home at night and seeing the lights. It makes me happy. I’ll watch dads and moms walk their kids by the house. They stop and take pictures. I think it’s lovely.”

Barbara calls the manger scene her favorite part of the outdoor decorations, while Harlan enjoys everything.

The two have had to compromise over the years. For example, fishing and car ornaments are no longer on the tree, a compromise Harlan had to make. On the other hand, Barbara quit putting up streamers about 15 years ago.

Lest you be worried the family tradition will end with Harlan and Barbara, both of their sons still live in town and carry on the decorating tradition. The next generation has gotten into the act as well, both for Christmas and Halloween decorating. Grandchildren, ranging from 9 year old Sara to 3 year old Layne, help grandpa with the pirate ship at Halloween. Layne got to also help out with the Christmas decorations this year.

“They all help build the ship,” Barbara said. “Layne hauls the big plastic Mary out for the manger scene and puts out every candy cane. That’s why it is so much fun. I’ll watch from the window. Plus they’ll help me do the tree inside.”

Harlan said putting up the Christmas decorations can take two or three days, depending on the weather. Things were late in getting up this year due to all of the recent rain. But once things are in place and the compliments start rolling in, that warms Harlan’s heart.

“That makes all the effort worth it,” he said.

Barbara said the utility bill jumps about $125 in December due to the lights. They got help with the bill once.

“One year we won $50 from the Keizer Chamber for having the best looking house,” she said. “We didn’t even know there was a contest.”

Like Harlan, Barbara loves the reaction from others.

“Our neighbors seem to really like it,” she said. “Or they think we’re crazy. It could be that, too.”

Wish list

Sadly, the 2015 holiday season is slowing ebbing away. The Christmas gifts have been opened, the wrapping recycled and the tree is beginning to look a little forlorn.

The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is spent by many looking forward to the coming 12 months, some people make resolutions (and stick to them). Others think about what they will do with the new year and what they wish to happen.

We have our wish list, too, of things we’d like to see in the coming year.

• The round-about at Chemawa Road and Verda Lane to be completed on time and with signage that will make it easy for uninitiated drivers to navigate a traffic control tool that works just fine all around the globe.

• A plan to make the Keizer Civic Center conference room financially stable, enough so that a lighting system can be installed that won’t leave speakers and performers in dark.

• Money is obtained to finish the big playground at the Keizer Rapids Park and other amenities so we can move onto other projects.

• A home for Keizer Homegrown Theatre. We think a pavilion at Keizer Rapids Park would do very well. It would serve not only as a 200-seat theatre for our performing groups including the Keizer Community Band and non-profit groups. The pavilion would also serve as a green room for weddings and concerts held at the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre.

• A move forward to expand the Urban Growth Boundary. We advocate for an expanison along Interstate 5 north of Keizer Station and zoned for light industrial, medical and office park that would attract the types of business that would create jobs  here.

• A serious and sober discussion on the state of Keizer’s main commercial thoroughfare. Wishing River Road to be a vibrant retail core won’t make it so. We seek action utilizing all the tools the city and other organizations have to foster a plan involving business, property owners and stakeholders.

• Push to have the 97303 zip code correspond exclusively to the border of the city of Keizer. This will make marketing the city to business a more straightforward endeavor.

• We push for the Keizer City Council, once again, to add neighborhood tours to its agenda just as they do park tours several times a year. National Night Out in August is a good time for residents to see their councilors, but we want them to be seen more regularly out in all the neighborhoods, where the people are.

• We want to see a push for more density in the city’s core in place of infill development that makes our desirable neighborhoods less so. The city should build up rather than out. Small town Keizer is long gone—our city is a mid-sized city that is close to busting at the seams. Rather than encroach on valuable agricultural land, let’s go tall and make it expensive for those who want to push out.

• We wish everyone a good new year that is filled with good health, prosperity and tolerance for others.

              — LAZ

Back on the job

Greg Biben (Submitted Photo)
Greg Biben (Submitted Photo)


“Without my back I could not do this job,” said Greg Biben, a firefighter/paramedic with the Keizer Fire District for the past 14 years.

Unfortunately, Biben hurt his back while on the job on two different occasions. The first was in 2012 while lifting a man onto a stretcher. Biben ended up with a ruptured disk and needed surgery.

Two years later at the scene of a house fire, Biben felt his back pop as he was cutting siding off an exterior wall to get at the fire.

“That took me to the absolute lowest that I’ve ever been,” said Biben. “With the injury and my mental state of being hurt again and not being able to go to work, I felt hopeless.”

His doctor referred him to Salem Health’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services and its Work Injury Management team of physical and occupational therapists.

“The staff there is just amazing,” said Biben. “They create a routine that mimics your work, whatever it is. In my case, they customized all of the exercises for firefighters.”

“I eventually pulled a 50-pound bag that was strung from a second floor balcony in the rehab center to mimic lifting a bundle of fire hose from one floor to the next,” said Biben. “Also, I pushed a 300-pound sled to simulate rescuing somebody or moving the heavy gear we have.”

“The exercises shadowed the constant barrage of bending and working your back on the job. The rehab staff took the time to research my job and customize my experience there,” said Biben.

The Work Injury Management physical therapist also developed a customized workout routine for Biben to help prevent future back injuries.

“Every time I get off work, I have a set routine that strengthens my back and core, and puts me back to square one,” said Biben. “And hopefully it will see me throughout my career.”

“I owe them my life,” said Biben. “I really appreciate what those folks did for me. I’m back on top again.”

For more information about Salem Health’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, ask your doctor or visit

(Mark Glyzewski is a public relations consultant with Salem Health.)