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Day: February 26, 2016

Kuch takes fifth in state 100 free

Celt Marissa Kuch finished in the top 10 in two races at the state meet Feb. 19 and 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Celt Marissa Kuch finished in the top 10 in two races at the state meet Feb. 19 and 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

After setting two Greater Valley Conference records two weeks ago, McNary High School’s Marissa Kuch claimed top 10 finishes at the state meet Feb. 19 and 20.

“Friday wasn’t the best day of racing for me, but I improved from sixth to fifth in the 100 free,” said Kuch, a sophomore.

Kuch swam the 100 free in 24.96 seconds and finished eighth in the 200 free with a time of 26.15. Kuch actually had a better time in the 200 free than several of the higher-placing finishers, but she was relegated to the B Final after her tough day on Friday.

“The best part was swimming with a bunch of amazing girls in the A Finals of the 100 free. I know a lot of them from club swimming,” Kuch said.

Kuch swims competitively year-round and started at age 6.

“When I was little, my grandparents in California had a pool and I always wanted to get in it and never get out,” she said.

At the beginning of her second season with McNary, she had two goals: claim a school record and repeat as a district champ.

“The school records are really hard to get, but I got the 500 free record and then the district meet went really well,” Kuch said.

Kuch won the district title in the 200 freestyle in 1:53.84 and the 100 freestyle district title with a time of 52.11. Both were GVC records and she was named Female Swimmer of the Year.

“Honestly, I was just having a good day at districts. After I touched the wall in the 200 I had to look at the board twice. That was super exciting,” Kuch said. “After I touched the wall in the 100 free, the timer was like, ‘You did it.’ I still don’t think I realized what I’d done until I got on the podium and they announced it.”

Kuch will swim with her club team in Arizona next week to compete on an even larger stage. She’s chasing the cut times for the junior national swimming competitions.

“My ultimate goal is to get a Division I scholarship,” Kuch said.

Two wrestlers, zero excuses

McNary alum Kacey McCallister shows off his dance moves to Whiteaker Middle School students.McNary alum Kacey McCallister shows off his dance moves to Whiteaker Middle School students. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary alum Kacey McCallister shows off his dance moves to Whiteaker Middle School students.McNary alum Kacey McCallister shows off his dance moves to Whiteaker Middle School students. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Two former wrestlers with similarly unique challenges visited Keizer schools last week delivering messages of inspiration.

Anthony Robles, who won the 2011 national NCAA wrestling title at 125 pounds, visited McNary High School Wednesday, Feb. 17. Keizer’s own Kacey McCallister, a wrestling standout at McNary who ended his career with a second place finish at the state tournament, visited Whiteaker Middle School Friday, Feb. 19. Robles was born with only one leg, McCallister lost both of his when he was struck by a semi truck at age 6.

Both wrestlers credited their parents for setting the standards by which they would learn to live their lives.

“(My mom) raised me thinking that missing a leg wasn’t going to be an excuse, it was a challenge,” said Robles.

After the accident, McCallister’s parents were told by doctors to let him figure things out for himself. If it meant figuring out a way to scale the cabinets to get a box of cereal, so be it.

“I had to figure out how to be awesome,” McCallister said. “The next summer I was playing t-ball. I would hit the ball and my dad would push me in the wheelchair, but he would run like he was the one playing. There were kids dodging me and trying to tag me out at the same time.”

Anthony Robles, who won an NCAA national wrestling title despite being born with one leg, speaks to students at McNary High School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Anthony Robles, who won an NCAA national wrestling title despite being born with one leg, speaks to students at McNary High School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

McCallister knew from the beginning that he didn’t want to be stuck in his wheelchair playing video games and eventually figured out how to run using his arms to carry him.

Robles was 14 when he first tried wrestling. After trying out – without his mother’s knowledge – he returned home with dried blood on his stretched out T-shirt.

“My mom thought I got beat up at school and she was ready to go after somebody,” Robles said. “I thought it was the most awesome thing I’d ever done. She asked me if I’d seen my face.”

Robles placed last in the city in his first year as a wrestler. After his last match, he went to shake the hand of the opposing coach and something in the man’s voice told him he’d never had a chance.

“That lit a fire inside of me, I sat in my room alone and told myself it was the last time I would lose like that. I wrote down my dream of being a national champ in my bedroom,” Robles said, pulling out the now-laminated note he’d made to himself so many years ago.

McCallister hit his first roadblock when he tried out for a youth basketball team.

“My older brother was playing basketball and I thought, ‘Sweet, I’m going to go play basketball.’” McCallister said. “But when I tried out the coaches went to my parents and said, ‘We recommend your son doesn’t play basketball.’ They didn’t want responsibility if anyone got hurt.”

He eventually found a spot on a Boys & Girls Club team, but would discover a passion for wrestling in later years.

By the time Robles finished high school, he was a two-time state champ and a high school national champ, but colleges weren’t looking at him.

“They told me they couldn’t take the risk of offering me a scholarship, but when opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to build your own door,” Robles said.

Robles ended up earning an academic sholarship at Arizona State University and walked on to the wrestling team. He was in his second year, and starting to make waves as part of the team, when he was hit with a bout of mononucleosis. Then he found out his stepfather had left his family back home.

“It was a negative time, but my mom encouraged me to stay at school and keep pursuing my dream,” Robles said.

It all came to a head shortly before Robles was set to go to the national tournament. In an attempt to spur Robles to action, his coach pitted him against his alternate on the ASU team. Robles said he got destroyed six times before the coach told him, “You’re not what we thought you were. There’s the door.”

Robles went to the locker room and started clearing out his things. Not long after, his coached followed him in – slamming the door behind him.

“I stood up to face him and was planning to headbutt him in the chin as soon as he started yelling,” Robles said. “I’m waiting to explode and he opens up his arms and hugs me, and I told him everything that was happening at home. He told me there’s always going to be an obstacle and you can use that as an excuse to quit or you can grind through that.”

McCallister never let his lack of legs become an excuse. In addition to competing in sports, whenever he could, he found ways to tackle other challenges – even a paper route.

“There was this huge hill on my route and I had to go up it backward in the chair,” McCallister said. “The cool part was getting to go back down the hill.”

In college at the University of Arizona, McCallister joined an actual wheelchair basketball team, but soon discovered he was a wrestler moonlighting as a basketball player.

“I couldn’t dribble and I couldn’t pass to save my life. My coach had me throw a ball against a wall for like an hour,” McCallister said.

Robles’ tenacity finally paid off as a senior at ASU. At the national tournament, he was slated to face the returning champ.

“I don’t remember much of the match, but I remember with 10 seconds left I was up 7-1 and the only way he could win was by turning me on my back,” Robles said. “I was on the ground underneath him and I had my elbows in. To try to get me to move my arms, he had his arms locked under my chin and kept punching me in the jaw as he tried to get a better grip. The whole time I had a smile on my face because I was thinking he could punch me as much as he wanted because I was about to be a national champ. Even if he choked me out, I wake up national champ.”

Since achieving his dream, Robles said he cares less about the wrestling itself and more about the impact he can have on others.

“I just want to be remembered as someone who helped someone else achieve their dreams,” Robles said.

McCallister told the Whiteaker students that they, too, can do anything they dream of as long as they persevere.

“You can do anything, but it doesn’t just happen like that. It’s not about trying hard one time, it’s about trying hard day after day,” McCallister said.

The journey for both men is far from complete; each of them has new goals they are working toward. For Robles, it’s learning to run on a prosthetic leg. McCallister is set on figuring out how to snowboard.

Teens hurt in Windsor Island Road crash

Emergency responders work to get Keven Potts and Connor Campbell out of their mangled car after a crash Feb. 19. (Courtesy Keizer Police Department)
Emergency responders work to get Keven Potts and Connor Campbell out of their mangled car after a crash Feb. 19. (Courtesy Keizer Police Department)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Two 17-year-old boys from Salem were injured in a one-vehicle crash last Friday afternoon, Feb. 19.

Keven Potts, who had just turned 17 the day before, was driving a 1992 Toyota Camry when he struck a large tree along the road on the 5900 block of Windsor Island Road North shortly after 3 p.m.

Potts’ passenger, Connor Campbell, had serious injuries and underwent surgery at Salem Hospital. Potts had serious but non-life threatening injuries, according to the Keizer Police Department.

According to Facebook pages, both boys attend West Salem High School.

Mark Glyzewski, public relations consultant for the hospital, said on Tuesday afternoon Campbell had been updated to fair condition. Potts was released from the hospital on Saturday.

Potts’ mother, Theresa, posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon her son had a broken arm, a concussion and staples in his scalp, while Campbell was still recovering from surgery but was in good spirits.

Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the KPD, said it was a one-vehicle accident with the cause still under investigation as of Tuesday afternoon.

The Marion County CRASH Team responded to the scene. KPD officers were assisted by the Oregon State Police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

There was rain off and on Feb. 19, but it’s not clear if it was raining at the crash scene at the time. Windsor Island Road was re-opened to traffic shortly before 8 p.m.

Anyone with information or who may have seen the crash can call officer Eric Jefferson at 503-390-3713 ext. 3477.

Word of the accident spread in the hours afterwards, including on the KPD’s Facebook page. Around 1:30 a.m. Monday, Keven Potts responded to some of the speculation on that page.

In response to speculation careless driving was involved, Potts posted at 1:30 a.m., “Hey why don’t you look at the condition of the road way before you make assumptions.”

Potts also responded to another person who speculated the teenager was either texting or on the phone.

“How about you figure out what actually happened before making assumption that makes teenagers look bad,” Potts posted at 1:28 a.m. “Adults are on there (sic) phones more then (sic) teenagers when they are behind the wheel. So…just be happy my friend and I are okay.”

Privacy vs. security

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is ordering Apple to break into the cell phone of the San Bernandino shooters to get what could be vital information. The information that is now locked away inside that iPhone could reveal important data that would help authorities get a clearer understanding of the movements and contacts of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. The couple killed 14 people and injured 22 others in December.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that hacking into that phone would set a dangerous precedent involving issues of privacy rights.

The situation has drawn battle lines between those who say that citizens privacy rights are paramount against those who say that hacking one cell phone in the battle against terror is not the first step on a slippery slope of widespread and random hacking of phones of American citizens.

If pressed, most people would say that the number one job of the U.S. government is to protect Americans.  For a government that has gathered billions of phone messages after Sept. 11 as well as surveil communications from around the globe, hacking into the phone of a terrorist would seem to be child’s play.

In a world in danger from lone wolf terrorists and terrorist organizations, any weapon that allows us to get in front of any terrorist threat—foreign or domestic—should be used.

There should be no open season on the feds getting their hands on information from any phone or computer. Harvesting the information from Farook’s iPhone should be done with the full participation of Apple, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the ACLU.

There should be an iron-clad agreement that this would be a one-and-done operation. The American people want to be safe but they also want their privacy rights secure.

The phone’s information should be gathered but it should not be an invitation for the government to use as a first step to tap into anyone’s phone at any time.

Given a choice between privacy in a time of social media and stopping another terrorist attack most people would rather be safe.

  —LAZ

Short session plus one party control

From the Capitol
By BILL POST

If you have been following this “short” legislative session in the news over the past few weeks, you may have seen conflicting reports on what has transpired. I can tell you one thing, the pace of this session is incredible and even longtime legislators, lobbyists and staff in the building have said so. I am honored to represent you in the legislature, but I have grave reservations about what is happening here.

In 2010, the people of Oregon voted to approve the legislature’s suggestion to have “short sessions.” Both in the ballot explanation as well as in the resolution that formed the ballot measure, it is clear that the purpose of the short session was to deal with emergencies in the budget and any other fixes needed to previously passed legislation.

As you can see, that’s not what has been happening here, as we are voting on very complicated and controversial bills. In spite of all that, I want to tell you how proud I am of Keizer. I can’t tell you how many Keizer residents have come down here to the Capitol multiple times, to share their thoughts and opinions on these important topics. Business owners have come down to explain how the proposed minimum wage increase will impact their businesses, farmers have testified about seed regulations and how minimum wage will affect them. These are very important issues that need time to vet and to understand and 35 days is not enough time.

I love it when you visit and get involved. This is your building, and your process and our nation suffers when people like you give up expressing deeply held beliefs. So thank you. I know you have busy lives and you have to work and take care of your families, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your involvement.

I wish I could say that the testimony of these involved citizens has impacted the legislation that is passing out of this session. Sadly, these “short” sessions have turned into political grandstanding as they are in an election year. Many people here fondly remember the 2011 and 2012 sessions when the House of Representatives was split with 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans. That was a session where people had to come to a consensus to get anything done. Middle ground had to be achieved. No matter which party it is, the state as a whole suffers when that one party has complete control. When one party controls all the committees, all the bills and all the processes, Oregon is not being properly represented.

(Bill Post represents House District 25. He can be reached at 503-986-1425 or via email at [email protected])

Trump and the Megyn Kelly effect

By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS

During a recent CNN town hall Donald Trump offered up that he probably works too hard and if he had worked “a little bit less,” he “probably wouldn’t have had two marriages that didn’t work out.” Moderator Anderson Cooper then thanked Trump for participating in the event, and the last town hall before South Carolina Republicans hit voting booths was over. There were no follow-up questions about the role of Trump’s—so public it was front-page news—affair with second wife, Marla Maples, in the breakup of his first marriage.

I understand CNN’s rationale for staging one-on-one interviews in lieu of a debate to give the public a peek at the more personal side of each GOP hopeful. As a journalist, I appreciate the delicate balancing act of trying to ask probing questions without being so confrontational that you become part of the story. But Cooper shouldn’t have let Trump turn his airtime into an infomercial.

I sympathize with the plight of any journalist who interviews the reality TV star. Trump tells so many whoppers that the relentless moderator would have to challenge practically everything he says. On Sunday, I watched CNN’s Jake Tapper and Fox News’ Chris Wallace ask Trump about something he said at the CNN town hall: “I like the mandate,” Trump had said, even though he wants to repeal Obamacare. That Sunday, Trump ran from that quote, saying that he and Cooper were talking at the same time. “There’s no mandate, no mandatory anything,” Trump told Tapper. In fact, Trump had volunteered to Cooper that he supported the mandate, because he supports health care for all.

Tapper and Wallace are no pushovers, but eventually they let it slide and moved on. That’s how Trump gets away with his endless fabrications. He is such a constant and shameless liar that there’s no way to pin him down without throwing out interview decorum.

In South Carolina on Friday, Trump told the story of an American general who is said to have captured 50 Muslim prisoners and ordered his troops to shoot 49 of them. The general told the 50th, “Go back to your people and you tell them what happened.” There were no problems for 25 years, Trump concluded.

That seems to be the template for his strategy with TV news. Trump famously went after Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for asking him about comments —fat pigs, dogs, slobs—which “The Donald” made about women. To retaliate against Kelly for reporting what he said, Trump waged a Twitter war, boycotted her Fox News show and even passed on a later debate because Kelly was a moderator.

Watch other shows and you see the “Megyn Kelly Effect.” It sure seems as though some TV newsers shrink from pinning down Trump because they fear his fire, while others play up to Trump to boost their ratings. “Le Show’s” Harry Shearer aired audio of off-air banter in which Trump teased “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski: “You get all the ratings and a raise. Me, I get nothing.” Actually, he gets guests and hosts who marvel at his ability to break the rules without breaking his campaign.

I think back to the 2008 media feeding frenzy that bloodied GOP runningmate Sarah Palin. She didn’t have the gravitas to be on the ticket, critics asserted. It was the media’s job to expose her shortcomings for the good of the country. Where she was greeted with disdain, Trump enjoys accolades. It turns out Palin’s biggest weakness was not that she was unworthy, but that she wasn’t as good as Trump at kicking back.

(Creators Syndicate)

Which candidate can allay our fears?

Is there anything to worry about today in the United States?  There just may be a few reasons to feel some fear.

President Obama is a silver-tongued orator but has let us down in so many ways from what we thought he would do.  Sure, he’s put some Americans back to work as there are more now tossing burgers, baking pizzas, and growing/selling marijuana.

But what about the drugs that keep flowing in from Mexico; the family wage jobs that have gone overseas; companies that have taken them there and pay no U.S. taxes; threats from North Korea that could become real any day; the promise of the Affordable Care Act that serves a few Americans but has become too expensive for the families it was intended to help.

Among so many letdowns, Wall Street and investment firms all over the land can any day now return us to the Great Recession from which we’ve never fully recovered while not one of the perpetrators has gone to jail.

We could put more of our citizens to work in living-wage jobs. For example, in public infrastructure projects, if we didn’t continue to fight winless battles in the Middle East while our national debt continues into the stratosphere.  Too often our military members come back in coffins or so destroyed mentally and physically that they can only sit and wish they hadn’t gone to “free” Iraqis, Syrians and others who want no American-style freedom.

Too many Arabs only want more Sharia law imposed and when our mindless politicians allow too many of them to enter the U.S. they break our laws with impunity, eschew our customs and traditions, practice female genital mutilation and have no interest in becoming Americans like immigrants of yesteryear.

Our military has proven it cannot defeat these religious zealots but is directed by war-hungry American politicians to do more of the same, guaranteeing more failure.  Obama made promises about getting us out of these never-ending commitments but has apparently lost his way or simply can’t say no to the war hawks. Banging on the White House door are a set of candidates who promise as the Commander-in-Chief, most poignantly Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, to carpet bomb the Middle East, killing everyone in sight. Are any of the GOP candidates for president mature enough to act rationally?

The race to replace Obama is underway. Senator Bernie Sanders does not appear to be the sort of Commander-in-Chief who’d do more than talk a lot and utter vague threats to our adversaries.  The Bern, as he’s fondly called, promises to provide qualified American youth with a free college education and no-cost health insurance for all Americans.  However, we Americans do not appreciate a nation where those with the means to accumulate considerable wealth are willing to share in the costs of what he promises by paying their fair share in taxes. This means that if the Bern’s plans were to take living form, the costs would be laid on the backs of the shrinking number of members of the middle class.  Under the terms of the American reality that those who vote for the Bern will be let down like those in the past who’ve been promised big this and that, never to see such things come true followed by wholesale disillusionments.

As for The Donald, Trump’s resounding position among a crowded field of more experienced and accomplished candidates is a stunning turn of events for a party that vowed four years ago to be more inclusive after failing to unseat Obama in 2012.  The Donald cannot specify in any detail how he will fulfill all that he says he will do.  If elected, those items on which he promises to act are only vaguely known and most likely will not materialize unless Trump can become a dictator, doing away with the Constitution.  What arouses interest, though, is why so many of U.S. super rich want Trump stopped?  Is the obvious answer that when they can’t buy a president to do their bidding they are terrified he’d choose his own agenda, leaving them to fend for themselves.

There are other GOP candidates running to be our president who do no better than Trump.  John Kasich tries to make himself into a person who’s folksy. Ben Carson should try to get a “clue” on what’s real outside an operating theatre.  Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio with records of accomplishments that are short and weak, a person has to ask whether these guys lacking relevant experience would do any better than “shorfall” Obama has done.

Fear abounds in these United States not unlike those fears that have faced Americans over the past two centuries.  However, one wonders nervously whether we’ll survive intact this time what with North Korea promising to send us hydrogen bombs, ISIS cancer spreading throughout a huge chunk of the world while promising to visit the U.S. destructively, the number of Americans on addictive drugs, a Congress that’s stalemated into near total dysfunction, bands of anti-government Americans in lawless militias ready to spring into taking over federal property and shooting any other American who gets in their way, and many a wealthy American who wants to use the riches accumulated from the freedoms afforded them in this nation to destroy all vestiges of this nation’s 235-year experiment to establish and maintain a democracy.

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