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Day: March 18, 2016

Celt beatboxer has freestyle flow

McNary High School senior Tyrell Kennedy drops a dubstep beat on an enthusiastic crowd at the McNary Talent Show in February. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary High School senior Tyrell Kennedy drops a dubstep beat on an enthusiastic crowd at the McNary Talent Show in February. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Tyrell Kennedy can make a beat you feel in your chest using only his mouth.

The McNary High School senior and beatboxer is a regular standout in area talent shows with a regular gig mimicking the drum beats using his mouth, lips, tongue and voice every Sunday at Salem’s Barrel and Keg. But his journey from promising novice to budding star began at Houck Middle School.

“The summer after fifth grade, my brother was really pumped up to show me this stuff a guy named Rahzel was putting out. He was making this Mortal Kombat beat and launched into Iron Man (by Black Sabbath),” said Kennedy.

The performances inspired him to give it a shot and he spent the next nine months listening to mp3s, doing his best to mimic the sounds and then add in his own takes. Then he heard about a talent show being held the last day of his sixth grade year at Houck.

“I was all pumped up and I had my beats perfect, and then they told me there was auditions. After I heard that, I was freaking out because I had only ever performed for my family,” Kennedy said.

He made it through with ease, and he spent three hours watching videos and trying to figure out how to hone his act the night before he was scheduled to take the stage. On his way out the door the next morning, he grabbed a large jug of water. The sounds he makes can take a toll on his vocal cords, and water provides lubrication.

“You have to have water that you drink before the show and during the show because you’re sucking up a lot of air and dubstep actually hurts your throat because it’s almost like holding a long growl,” Kennedy said.

Throughout his day at school, people kept asking him what the water was for and, when he told them it was for beatboxing, few of his schoolmates believed him.

“They would tell me to perform and I wouldn’t. Instead, I was practicing in the bathrooms all day long. Any free chance to practice, I took it,” Kennedy said.

As his debut neared, Kennedy had a realization: he’d never actually been to an all-school assembly. He had no idea what one looked like or the number of people on-hand. When he took a peek inside the gym, his hands started shaking.

It wasn’t until he saw the response students were having to the other acts that he began to worry.

“I thought, ‘What if that doesn’t happen for me?’” Kennedy said.

When it was finally his turn, Kennedy was handed the mic and had another epiphany: he’d never performed with a mic. After some false starts, he pulled it up close to his lips.

“While I was doing it I put my finger on the side of my nose. Now I realize everyone thinks I’m picking my nose when I do this,” Kennedy said.

He was more than nervous, he was putting himself on the line in front of his entire school, and all the girls he had crushes on, in particular. His legs started shaking, but he closed his eyes and launched into his first beat.

“As soon as I started, everyone was cheering me on and wilding up and, when I stopped, I opened my eyes and everyone was still cheering. I’m blushing, there’s girls screaming and I walk over to my spot and I get high fives and that’s when I got over being scared. I was like, ‘This is it. This is the start of me,’” Kennedy said.

After the talent show was over, kids were passing around yearbooks and Kennedy didn’t have one to pass around for signatures. As he was quickly learning, he was good at improvisation. He pulled out a notebook and started having friends sign it. When the day was over, he had numerous notes encouraging him to keep going.

Since that first performance, Kennedy has gone on to stand out in the local beatboxing scene with wins in talent shows, music competitions and on-the-spot battling with other beatboxers.

After sixth grade, he and his family moved to Keizer and he transferred to Claggett Creek Middle School where he assumed he would know no one.

As it turned out, a few of his friends had also made the switch unbeknownst to him.

“That’s when I started meeting new people because my friends were telling everybody else I could beatbox. I was friends with the AVID kids and they had connections to the teachers and I started performing for them, too,” Kennedy said.

It was only a matter of time before he was performing at school dances, talent shows, assemblies and more.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to love this school.’ I had a lot more chances to get out there than I would have at Houck,” Kennedy said.

Since making the leap to McNary, he’s performed with the school’s a capella group, Danger Tones, gone back to local elementary schools to perform for other students and has plans to work with a local jazz group and tap dancing studio.

“It’s crazy when little kids are looking at me out in the community or parents even recognize me from performing at the schools or in coffee shops. It kind of freaks me out, I don’t know them, but I’m really thankful. It gets me pumped up that people around Keizer and Salem know who I am,” Kennedy said.

It was while traveling to McKay High School with a contingent of the Celtic Val-o-gram ensemble that he ended up in an impromptu battle with his cross-town rival, Charlie “Robotic” Torres.

Kennedy visited the same room where Torres was in class and the two battled on the spot.

“He does his beat and I do mine and suddenly everyone is freaking out. They wanted me to come to their school so they could see battles all the time,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy ended up winning on Torres’ home turf.

His most memorable battle thus far was with a local named Greg Williams. Williams was serving as a security guard at McNary and was showing off his skills to students when he challenged Kennedy to a duel.

Kennedy lost that first round, but the two ended up performing together last December at Barrel and Keg.

“I did my thing, closed my eyes and I did the beats he did then reversed them. I was making some of the craziest noises I’d ever made,” Kennedy said. “He was amazed at how much I’d learned.”

Kennedy has hopes of working in music production at some point after high school with hopes of going to community college then transferring to a four-year school. He’s even entertaining the idea of becoming a teacher.

One of the things he enjoys most about beatboxing is sharing it with audiences and trading tips with other beatboxers. Even he and Torres share feedback on each other’s work.

He still closes his eyes when he performs, but he’s always listening for the crowd and their response.

“Once I start, everyone is going crazy and it gets better and better, and that’s why I love it to this day,” Kennedy said.

For videos of Kennedy performing, check out the Keizertimes on Facebook)

Latest Celt play radiates and resonates

McNary junior Annie Purkey stars as Tillie Hunsdorfer in the Celtic production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary junior Annie Purkey stars as Tillie Hunsdorfer in the Celtic production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Family dyfunction crescendoes over a science project in the latest stage production at McNary High School.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds  by Paul Zindel runs Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19, at the Celtic’s Ken Collins Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for both shows. Tickets are $5 and available online at or at the door.

The play has three leads and two smaller roles. Annie Purkey plays Tillie Hunsdorfer, the second of two daughters, who is struggling to break free of the traps laid around her by her sister, Ruth (played by senior Jaida Watson), and mother, Beatrice (played by senior Morgan Hoag).

Purkey read the script before trying out for a role in the play, but it hadn’t prepared her for what happened during the audition.

“It felt so different and I realized how wonderful the character is and how there is so much inside of her,” Purkey said. “Even in the hardest and darkest situations, she has this hope that she holds onto for the entire show. She chooses to see life so differently compared to how her sister and mother view it.”

Beatrice is constantly trying to sabotage Tillie’s attempts to see beyond the confines of their desperate existence caring for an elderly woman. Ruth, who has been diagnosed with epilepsy and suffers seizures, plays her own part in the turmoil.

Like Purkey, Watson found passion for her character through the auditioning process.

“She acts like she doesn’t care what people think about her, but she cares so much. She wants her mother to accept her and people at school to not think she’s crazy because she’s epileptic,” Watson said.

Ruth’s true feelings about Tillie emerge slowly over the course of the play.

Beatrice is a nasty piece of work, but Hoag has found motivation in everything she does and says.

“She lives in the past and chooses to see the past differently than what was actually happening at the time,” Hoag said. “She got married too young, her father died and she ended up alone with two daughters taking care of an old lady she doesn’t know in a beat-up house. She takes all of it out on everyone.”

At times, finding ways to react to Beatrice as instructed by the script has been a struggle for Watson.

“She’s so harsh. There are times when I think she’s just being flat out mean and my normal reaction would be to call her on it. It leaves you feeling a little glum after we do a run through and I have to find a place to just be quiet for a while,” Watson said.

The play is far from light-hearted, but Purkey, Watson and Hoag were so dedicated to the script that all three had their lines memorized on the first day of rehearsals. It left them time to develop even greater insight into their respective characters.

“People, when they first see the show, are going to think Beatrice is a horrible mother and Tillie is a perfect girl and everything around her is horrible. But you have to think about what led up to it all the way back to when Beatrice was born and Ruth first had her seizures,” Hoag said.

Seeing past the tribulation, difficult as it might be, has its own rewards.

“It’s a good show if you’re looking for a something that can connect you to the deeper part of yourself. It will mean a lot of heartbreak along the way, but the characters are so beautiful,” Purkey said.

Defying odds: Lady Celts take 4th in state tourney

The Lady Celts exit the court after winning a game against South Medford High School in overtime to take fourth in the OSAA 6A state tournament. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
The Lady Celts exit the court after winning a game against South Medford High School in overtime to take fourth in the OSAA 6A state tournament. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

All season long, the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team had occasion to let their emotions get the better of them.

When South Salem High School denied them the chance to capture a Greater Valley Conference title, they didn’t break. When Jesuit High School ousted them from contention for a state title in the first round of the state tournament last week, they didn’t even bend.

“This group has bounced back,” said Derick Handley, McNary head coach. “We lost to Jesuit and it would have easy to mail it in, instead they turned around and beat the No. 1 team in the coach’s poll (Oregon City High School) entering the tournament by nine points.”

The 55-46 win over Oregon City pitted the Celts against the second-ranked team in the state, South Medford High School, in a game for fourth place Saturday, March 12, at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center.

The game went not only the distance, but an extra four minutes of overtime that saw McNary win 57-52. It was only then that the tears of joy began to flow.

“For us seniors, going out like this it’s such a great accomplishment, because there is no other team we’d rather do it with. We got here together and we made it all the way to the end,” said Lady Celt Madi Hingston.

It was a pitch perfect ending to a season in which the team had already made school history with the most wins for a girls basketball team. MHS ended the year at 23-6.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing and surreal once it’s all over to pick up that trophy. Now it’s ended on a good note and we’re happy,” added junior Sydney Hunter.

McNary’s victory was never a sure thing in the match with South Medford. The teams knotted the score three times in the first frame alone before a two-pointer by Kaelie Flores put the Celtics ahead before the buzzer.

In the second quarter, South Medford began making a strong offensive push and led by as many as five points before a trey by Hingston and a bucket by senior Reina Strand tied the game again, 27-27, going to halftime.

“Once we got to halftime, we finally started settling down and that’s when I think the game began to change. We kept our composure no matter what,” said Kailey Doutt, a sophomore and the Greater Valley Conference’s Defender of the Year.

In the first half of the third quarter, the Celts snapped a 7-0 run by the Panthers with a trip to the foul line by Strand, then Hingston hit another three-pointer to retake the lead 35-34. South Medford took it back on the next possession, but a trey by Flores and two-pointer by Hingston put the score at 40-38, McNary leading, as the fourth quarter began.

The Panthers tied the game and took the lead again at the beginning of the fourth period. They carried it until there was 3:19 left in the game. Then, Hingston hit a trey and a two-pointer to overtake South 49-47. With 16 seconds left in the game, Hingston made a trip to the foul line and sunk both shots making the score 52-49, but South Medford took the ball back down the court and hit a three-point shot to tie the game with seven seconds left.

The Celtics were able to make it back down the court and get off a shot and two rebound attempts, but none of them fell.

All five of the points in the four-minute overtime were made at the foul line by Hunter, Flores and Hingston.

“We knew they were lacking depth, so part of the game plan was we wanted to wear them out. I didn’t want to give up a three with seven seconds left to go to overtime to wear them out, but we knew that their energy would be an issue,” said Handley.

The loss to Jesuit in the first game of the tournament served as a wake-up call for how McNary approached the next two games of the tournament.

“We knew it was going to be a struggle for us, but it showed us that we were going to have to come out even harder the next day and that’s what we did,” said senior Kaelie Flores.

In the first round of the consolation games with Oregon City, McNary got blitzed in the opening minutes and was trailing 12-0 by 3:41 in the first frame. The Celts regrouped and cut the lead to five by the first buzzer and had a 14-4 run that spanned the first two periods.

McNary never let Pioneers get that far ahead again. In the third period, after 23 minutes of Oregon City leading the game, Hingston hit a trey to tie the game at 37-37 and then another on McNary’s next possession to take a 40-38 lead the Keizer team would never relinquish en route to the 55-46 win.

McNary wreaked enough havoc on offense in the fourth quarter to cause three of Ore-gon City’s starters to foul out of the game.

“It’s great to prove people wrong. We were the underdog coming into this and we were expected to come in and lose two games and go home,” said Strand. “Instead we came in, hung around and we showed them what McNary is made of.”

Agenda for Keizer City Council meeting







Monday, March 21, 2016

7:00 p.m.

Robert L. Simon Council Chambers

Keizer, Oregon







This time is provided for citizens to address the Council on any matters other than those on the agenda scheduled for public hearing.



a. ORDINANCE – Amending Keizer Development Code Regarding Section 2.102 (Single Family Residential), Section 2.103 (Limited Density Residential), Section 2.104 (Medium Density Residential), Section 2.105 (High Density Residential), Section 2.106 (Residential Commercial), Section 2.107 (Mixed Use), Section 2.108 (Commercial Office), Section 2.110 (Commercial Mixed Use), Section 2.113 (Industrial Business Park), Section 2.119 (Employment General), Section 2.303 (Off-Street Parking and Loading), and Section 2.407 (Home Occupations); Amending Ordinance 98-389


a. RESOLUTION – Authorizing the City Manager to Enter Into the City of Keizer Street and Right of Way Landscape Maintenance Services Contract with Cascade Grounds, Inc.

b. RESOLUTION – Approving the City Engineer’s Report; Declaring the City’s Intent to Form Bowden Meadows Street Lighting Local Improvement District; Providing Notice and Setting Hearing

c. RESOLUTION – Restating the City of Keizer Governmental Money Purchase Plan and Trust Adoption Agreement Under Section 401A of the Internal Revenue Code

d. RESOLUTION – Authorizing the Community Development Director to Apply for an Integrated Land Use and Transportation Planning Grant

RESOLUTION – Authorizing the Community Development Director to Apply for Community Education and Outreach Assistance

e. Approval of March 7, 2016 Regular Session Minutes



This time is provided to allow the Mayor, City Council members, or staff an opportunity to bring new or old matters before the Council that are not on tonight’s agenda.


To inform the Council of significant written communications.


April 4, 2016

6:00 p.m. – City Council Special Session

City Council Position #6 Vacancy – Candidate Presentations

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session

April 11, 2016

6:00 p.m. – Long Range Planning Task Force Meeting

April 18, 2016

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session

Swearing in of City Councilor #6


Upon request, auxiliary aids and/or special services will be provided. To request services, please contact us at (503)390-3700 or through Oregon Relay at 1-800-735-2900 at least two working days (48 hours) in advance.

The stain of accommodating Trump


     WASHINGTON — Whatever you think of Donald Trump, his political achievement is enormous, and he deserves the credit.

     With no background in elected office, Trump has led the Republican presidential field for eight months. His strong plurality has proven to be demographically and geographically diverse. He has soundly beaten a series of talented, well-funded opponents. He has effectively tapped into deep-seated anger and resentment, promising the recovery of a nation that his followers regard as weak, lost and unrecognizable.

     And Trump is not just winning; he is redefining how politics is done. Out: policy speeches, white papers, paid media, the ground game. In: monologues, social media, free media, advance work on big rallies. Few politicians in history — Franklin Roosevelt’s mastery of radio and Ronald Reagan’s use of television come to mind — have more instinctually and effectively adapted to new communication methods.

     Many Republicans now look at these undeniable successes and ask: “How far should we go for unity’s sake?” Some are beginning to make their inner peace with Trump. He will, after all, eventually need experts to advise and guide him. His Supreme Court picks are bound to be better than Hillary Clinton’s. Maybe we just need to respect the democratic will.

     These justifications are not insane, but they are ultimately not persuasive. Trump has little history of changing or refining his views through study and policy advice. Many of his goals, while too foolish to implement, are too vivid to revise. Try to imagine President Trump backing down on building the great wall or halting Muslim migration.

     On the Supreme Court, even well-intentioned Republican presidents have made choices that didn’t work out quite as planned. How would Trump, lacking a serious judicial philosophy, and perhaps facing a Democratic Senate, make his decision? Consult his radically pro-choice sister, an appeals court judge? Let his prospects battle it out on a season of “Survivor”? On these matters, Trump is entirely unmoored and unpredictable. It is hard to justify a presidency, which would be dangerous and destabilizing in other ways, on odds this long.

     What the argument for accommodation is missing is the core reality about Trump. His answer to nearly every problem is himself — his negotiating skill, his strength of purpose, his unique grasp of the national will. But this is more “will to power” than separation of powers; more Nietzsche than Madison. Trump is not proposing a policy debate that can be adjudicated in the normal processes of our government. He is offering himself as master of every situation. We are supposed to turn in desperation to the talent and will of one man, who happens to be bristling with prejudice and blazing with ignorance. We are seeing the offer of personal rule by someone with no discernible public or personal virtues.

     Americans are discontented with the governing class, with good reason in many cases. But Trump would be the oddest answer in our history to a leadership void. He has offered disaffected people an invitation to political violence. “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” he said at one rally. “Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

     And this permission for violence is paired with an embrace of ethnic and religious bigotry, casting blame and suspicion on Muslims and undocumented immigrants. It would be difficult — or should be difficult — for any Republican to endorse a presidential candidate whose election would cause many of our neighbors to fear for their safety. Or to embrace a candidate who promised to purposely target children in the conduct of the war on terrorism. Or a candidate who has praised the “passion” and patriotism of followers and predicted riots if he doesn’t get his way at the GOP convention.

     For Republicans, accommodation with Trump is not just a choice; it is a verdict. None will come away unstained. For evangelicals, it is the stain of hypocrisy — making their movement synonymous with exclusion and gullibility. For GOP job seekers, it is the stain of opportunism (consider the sad decline into sycophancy of Chris Christie). For conservatives, it is the stain of betrayal — the equivalent of supporting George Wallace in 1968 as an authentic populist voice.

     All this leaves completely horrible options: sitting the election out, supporting a third-party candidate, contemplating a difficult vote for Hillary Clinton. But these are the only honorable options. As one Republican friend wrote me of Trump: “He would destroy everything Hillary Clinton would destroy, plus one more thing: the Republican Party.”

     Michael Gerson’s email address is [email protected].

     (c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

What grocers could come and where would they go?


Of the Keizertimes

When the idea of a new grocery store in Keizer is brought up, two main questions typically come up: what store and what location?

For months, many Keizerites have been requesting a WinCo. The former Roth’s space in Schoolhouse Square is too small, while the former Albertsons/Haggen space in the Creekside Shopping Center, at about 35,000 square feet, is also much smaller than a typical WinCo.

George Grabenhorst, a veteran realtor and senior advisor with Sperry Van Ness Commercial Advisors in Salem, said that’s about half the needed size for the Idaho-based chain.

“Normal for WinCo is 80,000 square feet, some are more than 100,000 and some are down to 70,000,” Grabenhorst said. “That is their model, where they like to be. Roth’s and Albertsons footprints are 50,000 to 60,000 or lower. Ones like Fred Meyer or Safeway are a little above.”

Grabenhorst said one WinCo option is a smaller store with the Waremart name, but he feels the company would still need a new space.

“They would rather build a bigger store here, from what we’ve heard,” Grabenhorst said. “It comes down to dirt and the size of the dirt. They would prefer to have 10 to 12 acres. At the old Haggen site, with the condition of those buildings, they’d be better off scraping it and starting over.

“It all comes down to economics,” he added. “They want to have something that fits into their economic model, to help them build what they want to build. If they can’t find the dirt at the price they need, they won’t do it.”

In November, WinCo spokesperson Michael Read told the Keizertimes most of his company’s stores are 85,000 square feet and larger, though the company has recently opened smaller ones in the 55,000 to 60,000 square foot range. The company has converted previous Costcos and HomeBase locations.

“We have certainly done plenty of that,” he said at the time. “We mostly build our own stores, but if it’s sufficient size, we have converted. We look at both opportunities.”

As of last week, Read said there still hadn’t been a decision made about whether WinCo would be coming to Keizer or not. The company has a location in south Salem and a distribution center in Woodburn.

“Sorry, but nothing new to report,” Read said. “We continue to look at various locations for new stores in Oregon and Keizer is a market we look at occasionally.”

Another detriment to the Haggen building is the ongoing litigation between Haggen and Albertsons. Marion County records show Haggen Property North as the owner of the building.

Deborah Pleva from Weinstein PR, which handles public relations for Haggen, said the property has not been sold yet and that Haggen Property North is not part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

“It’s a separate part of Haggen,” Pleva said. “I don’t know any more than that.”

A receptionist answering the phone at a number listed for Haggen Property North referred questions back to Pleva.

Mayor Cathy Clark referenced the legal woes with the closed building.

“The one retrofit is not available due to litigation,” Clark said. “A new place (for a grocery store) would have to be a new build. They don’t want to bring in a store and then not be successful. That would be expensive all around. We’ve seen with Haggen what that does to perceptions of the brand.”

With the Albertsons/Haggen lot likely being too small anyway for a store the size of WinCo, the next question is usually about building in Keizer Station Area C.

Jack Steinhauer, vice president of Acquisitions and Development with Keizer Station owner Donahue Schriber Realty Group, said his phone hasn’t exactly been ringing off the hook with grocery inquiries.

“We would gladly welcome a grocery store into Keizer Station, but at the moment we do not have any interested parties,” Steinhauer said last week. “We have reached out to every grocer in the market multiple times. We continue to stay on them but unfortunately no interest at this time.”

Bloch Properties closed on a deal to purchase Schoolhouse Square in December. Principal Darren Bloch noted prospective tenants have been talked to regarding the former Roth’s space.

“There have been an ongoing number of tenants we’ve been in talks with,” Bloch said. “My understanding is the community would prefer a grocery store there. We would like to have a grocer there, but the Haggen/Albertsons situation could have a potential impact on Schoolhouse Square. As far as Roth’s space, there’s nothing that is finalized. There’s only a handful of operators that would operate a market there in that location. We’re having discussions to see if we can have one step up to the plate.”

Bloch said a new 8,000 square foot building pad will be going in at the corner of Chemawa and River Roads, likely breaking ground in July. Once that is built, the current Starbucks building would be demolished. Starbucks recently announced plans to move slightly south on River Road in a new location.

“We’re looking at doing a drive through,” Bloch said. “My intent was to retain Starbucks, but I just missed out on it. The train had just left the station when we took over the property and we couldn’t retain them. I’m disappointed they decided to leave.”

Michael Roth, president of the Roth’s Fresh Market chain of stores, hasn’t given a solid yes or no on returning to Keizer.

“We are still working on our other project,” Roth said on Tuesday. “No news to report.”

Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, said there are calls to the chamber from time to time.

“Some chains do call for information,” Dieker said. “We tell them what we know and offer to mobilize a visit. With Silverton Health, we were able to mobilize some people so they could come visit people. For grocery stores, I haven’t had Albertsons or Safeway call. We talked to a chain in Salem, but it’s one of those things where no one wants their name out there unless they’re ready to sign on the bottom line. It was just a small inquiry, not that we’re going to for sure have another grocery store.”

How Keizer ended up with ONE GROCERY STORE and the future prospects of more

A lone shopping cart sits in front of the shuttered Albertsons/Haggen grocery store, which remains boarded up. (KEIZERTIMES/Lyndon A. Zaitz)
A lone shopping cart sits in front of the shuttered Albertsons/Haggen grocery store, which remains boarded up. (KEIZERTIMES/Lyndon A. Zaitz)

Of the Keizertimes

Amid rumors of a Walmart opening soon in Keizer Station, the Roth’s grocery store in Schoolhouse Square was closed in the spring of 2012.

While that was a big loss, at least Keizer still had two grocery stores.

Until last year, that is. The former Albertsons at Creekside Shopping Center was converted to a Haggen, as the Washington-based grocery store chain undertook an ambitious growth strategy to take advantage of the merger between Safeway and Albertsons. Plans fell apart spectacularly, however, and by the end of September Haggen was closed.

So then there was just one grocery store left in Keizer, Safeway.

Almost immediately, there were cries for another grocery store to come. So far, the most common request has been for a WinCo. That was, by far, the leading vote getter in a Keizertimes reader poll last fall and a “Keizer Wants WinCo” group was started on Facebook. As of Monday, the group had more than 1,300 members.

On the surface, it seems a given Keizer will get a second grocery store, sooner rather than later. The city has a population of approximately 37,000 residents and growing, as evidenced by multiple new housing, apartment and senior living projects recently completed or currently underway.

On multiple occasions, mayor Cathy Clark has thrown out this phrase: “The first person to get money and plans together to say ‘we’re going to open a store here’ is going to get our money.”

The grocery store topic brought a large crowd of about 70 people to a town hall meeting in January hosted by state Rep. Bill Post at the Keizer Fire District building.

There was much optimism expressed at the meeting that Keizer would soon have another grocery store.

“The market will correct itself,” John Morgan, Keizer’s first director of Community Development, said at that meeting. “Vacant storefronts are costing businesses money. There are 15,000 rooftops in Keizer. There’s an overwhelming market demand and opportunity. We just need patience. I’d bet at least one (vacant grocery store building) will be filled in the next year.”

That meeting helped lead to this in-depth look at the grocery store issue and the challenges – as well as opportunities – in terms of Keizer landing another grocery store.

Simply put, the problem isn’t merely a town of 37,000 people only having one store. George Grabenhorst, a veteran realtor and senior advisor with Sperry Van Ness Commercial Advisors in Salem who spoke at the January town hall, is a fourth-generation realtor who’s been in the business for 30 years and has sold land used for grocery stores.

According to Grabenhorst, companies looking at opening a grocery store in the area look at the whole area – not just Keizer.

“They look at factors like the population of the area, the median income, what are peoples’ habits and where they look to do their shopping,” he said. “It’s all about the demographics.”

There is also the profit issue. Grabenhorst said stores typically try to operate at a 3 percent profit. Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocers Association, put the margins at about 1.5 percent after expenses and taxes.

Gilliam said there’s a reason for only one grocery store in Keizer currently.

“I want to be frank without being negative about the situation in Keizer,” he said. “I have heard about the concern that Keizer only has one grocery store within the city limits and the idea of how to attract other stores. In this case, the consumers have shaped the market.”

Gilliam expanded on that.

“Keizer citizens have decided how many grocery stores will be close through their own shopping routines,” he said. “That is, they don’t shop in Keizer. It was less than (four) years ago Keizer had three grocery stores; two chains and one independent. Two of these stores found that there wasn’t enough volume from Keizer citizens to justify the cost of operation, and at 1.5 percent margin, you can’t stay very long when you’re losing money.

“It may be hard to accept, but Keizer residents’ shopping habits only justify essentially two local stores: the Safeway in the center of town, and the Fred Meyer at your southern border that has a normal service area for a retail store that encompasses Keizer, essentially making it a local store,” Gilliam added.

At January’s town hall meeting, several people mentioned driving around the area to either chase sales or lower prices. Andy Orcutt, whose father Sam Orcutt operated a small grocery store for years in the building now housing J.C.’s Pizzeria, noted those habits only hurt stores.

“The grocery business is tough and margins are very low,” the former Keizer mayor said at the meeting. “Stores do loss leaders to bring people in. When everyone is driving down the street for the loss leader, no one is making money.”

Gilliam said that only spreads the money out further instead of keeping it in Keizer.

“Part of this acceptance is to understand that convenience does not equal volume,” Gilliam said. “If customers drive across Salem to chase price or selection, but only shop in town when it meets their need for convenience, then the available local volume is distributed away from Keizer and over the entire greater Salem area.”

In an economic analysis done on Keizer a few years ago, it was found six out of seven working Keizerites work outside the city. Gilliam said that also works against Keizer stores.

“If most Keizer residents work outside of the city and commute back and forth between Salem or other cities, residents are stopping to shop in other areas before returning to their own town,” he said. “This isn’t a criticism, it’s just an observation of how consumers shop. For example, if I am returning home from work, what is the easiest access (in and out) on my way home?

“City boundaries between Keizer and Salem don’t matter much when you’re trying to shop, pick up the kids, prepare a meal, do homework and get to soccer practice,” Gilliam added. “Convenience is not defined by where you reside, but where you are at the moment you need to get your shopping done. If you leave Keizer on a regular basis, then you are likely to shop outside of Keizer as well.”

Grabenhorst pointed out the Haggen debacle wasn’t about economics in terms of shoppers but of the chain itself.

“They bit off more than they were ready to take care of,” he said of the chain that went from 18 stores to 164 thanks to regulations in place due to an Albertsons/Safeway. merger “Whenever someone takes a bite like that, you have to wonder where they are financially. They didn’t have the backing to bite off the chunk.”

In November, WinCo spokesperson Michael Read told the Keizertimes there isn’t one particular thing the company looks at when deciding where to open a new store.

“There are a variety of economic and demographic things,” Read said at the time. “The big thing is how close our nearest location is. We also look at the demographics of a community, traffic patterns, visibility, just dozens and dozens of factors. We continue to look at locations in states we currently do business in.”

Grabenhorst said bigger chains crunch numbers internally, while smaller companies rely on local people to sift through information.

Gilliam said the idea of attracting a new grocery store to Keizer is tricky, based on history.

“By their own shopping habits, Keizer shoppers didn’t offer enough volume to keep two out of three stores,” he said. “To provide an incentive for a new store to come to town, the city would have to offer a substantial artificial subsidy (e.g. property tax breaks) to make a store viable. But then what about the one store that is currently servicing the limited volume? Now they are at a competitive disadvantage to the new store, and with limited volume, they too may exit the market as the others did in the past. Now Keizer is back to one store and losing money on the subsidy. You may be able to offer the subsidy to both stores to level their market, but this gets expensive pretty quick and other non-grocery retailers will want the same subsidy to level the overall playing field.”

Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, also referenced the history.

“Grocery stores have to look at what Keizer will support,” Dieker said. “We can all say we want this or that, but will Keizer pocketbooks support a place like that? When we had the three grocery stores here, it was a struggle.”

Gilliam said shopping local would need to be a priority in order to attract a new store.

“If Keizer citizens want to have more grocery retailers, then the city and/or the chamber need to begin an education process of the value of shopping local and keeping their dollars at home,” Gilliam said. “If this message doesn’t resonate with Keizer citizens, then there is no harm in letting Keizer residents shop outside the city and accept the shopping choices that support the volume of business citizens are willing to distribute in the city.”

Mayor Cathy Clark points to another way citizens can help.

“When a business considers coming, they are looking for a number of things,” Clark said. “The more positive we can be, to be the kind of community they would come to, the more receptive they will be to come here. If there are fights, there is a negative light. We want to portray we are a welcoming, warm community, that we are a place they want to do business. That is part of messaging everyone in our community can help with.

“I am convinced the answer is going to be yes for a company or companies,” the mayor added. “They have to do their diligence. Clearly we have the population base. Clearly we need another grocery store. The one full service store within city boundaries is extremely busy.”

Is this America?

The violence and fear-mongering at political rallies in the United States is reaching levels not seen in modern history. A national candidate uses words that incite his supporters who are all too willing to throw a punch or epithat at those who deem to protest at those rallies.

The same candidate asks his supporters to raise their hands to swear their allegience to him (some did so with what could be construed as a Nazi-esque salute). Plus crude and inappropriate language is used again and again from the podium.

Many Americans feel their lifestyle is insecure and there are plenty of things to blame (fanned by some candidates for president): immigrants, Mexicans, Chinese, the rich, the bankers, the media, the liberals, the conservatives. Passions are inflamed when people think their way of life is under threat, whatever the source.

At one time the nation turned to its leaders who offered calming words during tough times (remember “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”). Now many reach out for leaders who reinforce their prejudices and biases. Would any presidential candidate today ask what you can do for the country rather than what the country can do for you? Them’s fightin’ words these days.

Regardless of how one views the policies of Ronald Reagan it is impossible to deny his ability to use the right words and staging to make people feel better about themselves and the nation. The soaring rhetoric Reagan is known for is nowhere to be found these days. Most of this year’s campaign speeches and debates have been shrill; some of the content we’re hard pressed to explain to our children. The people who attend the political rallies of presidential candidates don’t seem to want inspiring words, they want results.

The bubbling political cauldron is being stirred by talking head pundits, president-wanna-bes and Congressional leaders who will oppose any President Obama request until the bitter end. Of course people will reach out to the person who promises to end the deadlocked politics of the country. That includes the usual tax cut promises as well as a lessen of the role of government in the lives of Americans.

In Oregon the overreach of the federal government was at the core of the militia overtaking of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County.  Residents in that county were divided about tactics used by the militia though many did support parts of their message. The refuge takeover demonstrated a deep-rooted anger at and mistrust of the federal government.

The anger seething around the country at all levels needs to be addressed by any person who wants to lead this country, actually, by any person who wants to hold public office.  We seek leaders to lead us, not follow us to our most base instincts. Poetic oratory is as useless as rants in America today. People are good individually but when they gather in groups it is easier to manipulate them. No one wants to be standing outside the circle of consensus. Politicians know that and have used it to full effect this campaign year.

Flowery or fiery talk needs to be replaced with proposals that benefit every segment of America. But the result is only as good as those who do their civic duty and vote.

As the adults in the country we owe it to our children to leave them a United States that has a government of the people, by the people and, most of all, for the people. —LAZ

A modern moral to Downton

Many Americans, myself included, have enjoyed PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre presentations, Downton Abbey being no exception.  A very old nation, specifically compared to our own, there would seem to be a nearly endless selection of subject matter from which to choose.

Nevertheless, Downton Abbey just completed a six-year serialized presentation that ended like all dramas my wife will watch, that is, with almost everyone among the players happy and fulfilled. In review of that statement, it would seem that only the forced medical retirement of the Earl of  Grantham’s butler, Mr. Carson, is negative news: He may not face a future full of anticipated satisfactions.

But what about this fascinating story of great wealth that enabled families, like the fictitious Crawley family, to own and control a palatial estate, employing dozens of workers who, around the clock, year-in and year-out, kept the family and the estate in tip-top shape. It must have been rather pleasant for family members as they were waited on to the extent of having an “in service” worker dress them and undress them at least six times a day and respond whatever the hour to a bell calling them to meet a family member’s or household guest’s every need.

As for the small army of persons in service to do their bidding, I cannot imagine any other ultimate state of mind than that of chronic exhaustion and just a bit of bitterness, too, although Downton Abbey left the viewer with the notion that most everything went very well and the nearly slave-like lives of the service workers was rewarded by doing the bidding of a collection of pampered and spoiled rich folks. After all, viewers may have noticed that while the family’s bedrooms were spacious, there were no indoor toilets in sight.  So, among their duties, perhaps more than once a day, was the coming for, disposing of, and cleaning the so-called chamber pots used for urine and defecations.

The fictitious Crawleys, like their kind all over England back then, had managed to make fortunes by being granted land and other wealth-producing means by the king or the queen upon appreciation for their service to the crown such as also were soldiers granted land and titles. These recipients could pass these riches along to relatives, mainly first-born sons, but friends, too, and over time, through decades and centuries, enable them to stand tall in wealth and establish lavish estates with fine buildings and landscaped grounds built and cared for accordingly by a peasant class.

Along with baron, tenant in chief, lord, earl titles, one had land which meant also one had local power.  Additionally, the church was immensely powerful and wealthy, too, everyone having to pay 10 percent tithe to the church. This way of doing things meant that the money just “rolled” in to those who managed to secure secular and ecclesiastical titles.  However, while things went this way through local battles for years, the Black Death or Bubonic Plague in the 1340s wiped out about 20 percent of the population so there was property to be had by the cunning among the survivors and the race to the top in merry old England took off again when the plague somewhat subsided.

The agricultural, feudal society continued until Henry VIII’s reformation, a big money and land grab from the church took place and was redistributed to Henry’s friends who agreed with his divorce and his break with the Pope over it.  Life went on afterwards with a whole lot of peasants and a few rich lords served by them. The industrial revolution threw a wrench into all the traditional ways of the British with the new-growth cities referred to by the landowners as irreligious, venomous, and vermin-ridden “dark, satanic mills.”  The escalators of change from the 1800s were set into warp speed with the First World War (1914-1918).

World War II slaughtered masses of young aristocrats, causing many families to cease to exist.  With fewer male heirs, the grand houses were often sold off, even razed.  There was depression after the war with an economy that was dicey to say the least.  Many surviving families sunk what was left of their inheritance to buy stocks and bonds and then 1929 took place.  Well, anyway, the Crawley’s story did not go beyond January 1, 1926, so we don’t know what Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes would have done with them but we do know that the real Downton Abbey (Highcleve Castle), still stands but must charge visitors a few pounds to visit it, that which upset the Earl of Grantham and his butler, too.

Is there a moral to this Downton Abbey story?  Possibly, but it requires an American to stretch it a bit into the U.S. context.  You see, the wealth in the U.S. is being greatly concentrated into the hands of something like one percent of the population with more and more citizens sleeping under bridges, in public parks, stacked like cord wood in abandoned buildings and anywhere else they’re permitted to rest with no means of financial support while those, often with hungry, threadbare children in tow, wanting even a roof over their heads, will be resorting to peasant work in the grand homes of the U.S. rich in order to survive.

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

Working to make Oregon the best it can be

From the Capitol

The Oregon state legislature just finished a grueling 32 day “short session” at the Capitol and I’m still recovering.  I am not very happy with much of the legislation we passed so I am now working very hard to get new folks elected in House seats all over the state and to perhaps even repeal some of the very hurtful legislation.

This week I’d like to respond to last week’s column by Don Vowell (The effect of Trump on Republicans).  He wrote about the effect of Donald Trump on the country and Republicans specifically and wrote about how he felt about being represented by Sen. Kim Thatcher and me.  First of all, as for my view on Trump, he was correct in his assumption that I am not a fan of Mr. Trump’s.  I have another choice in the Republican Primary and will vote for that person in May.

Most humbling was when he wrote such kind words as: “I am at ease being represented by Sen. Thatcher and Rep. Post even though I’m a wild-eyed liberal.”  The reason that really makes me happy is it represents perfectly what I have tried very hard to do in the Capitol: be a friend to all.  I try very hard to reach out to the “other team,” so to speak, and work with them on legislation I feel is best for Oregon and my district in particular.

I can honestly say some of my closest friends in the Oregon Legislature are Democrats.  The greatest compliment they can give was once summed up by one of them when she said: “I wanted to hate him for all that he represented on the radio, but after two weeks of working with him he voted just as he said he would, he speaks just as he said he would and you always know where he stands, I now call him ‘friend’.”  That means a lot to me and so does what Mr. Vowell wrote.  You see, we can completely disagree on the politics of any matter but if we respect each other, if we “agree to disagree” and walk off having shook hands, well, doesn’t that make the world a better place?  Neither side has to “compromise” their values or beliefs, they just have to respect those values and beliefs.

After reading in the Keizertimes about the upgrades to parks around Keizer, especially a place that I have many fond memories of, Keizer Little League Park, I am reminded again of how much I love my hometown and how proud I am to serve it.  The May 17 primary election is coming up soon. This is not a platform to encourage you to vote for me but rather to encourage you to register if you haven’t and vote—period. I would love to see our little town have 100 percent voter turnout, nothing would please me more.

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