In Keizer Homegrown Theatre’s (KHT) latest production, a troupe of has-been thespians attempts to stage a comeback, but the bodies keep piling up.
“It’s pants-wetting funny,” said Tyler Fredrickson, who plays the stage manager of the production. “My character alone flips from passive to assertive to aggressive at a moment’s notice.”
The play is Drop Dead! by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore. Directed by Molly Fitzsimmons, the plot progresses along two tracks. The first is the actors trying to salvage their careers and slowly biting the dust, and a play-within-a-play that’s also something of a murder mystery.
The show runs May 13-14, 20-22 and 27-28. All shows are at the Keizer Lions Auditorium, 4100 Cherry Avenue N.E. Tickets are $15. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays. For performances during the Iris Festival, Keizer Homegrown is donating $5 to the McNary High School drama department for audience members who wears Celtic blue or say “Code Blue” when purchasing their tickets.
Keizer Homegrown founder Linda Baker showed up at Fitzsimmons’ house with a dozen roses to ask her to direct the play. Fitzsimmons had never heard of the play before, but discovered a lot to enjoy in the script once she read it.
“I love farce, so that was a big draw. Once I got together with the cast and we found the vibe of the script, everything else fell into place quickly,” Fitzsimmons said.
Edward Stiner, who plays failed director Victor LePewe, said he wanted to work with KHT group as much as anything.
“I’ve been around and done plays with some of the other groups in town, but never Keizer Homegrown. I’ve talked with some of the other actors they’ve had and it just seemed like a fun group,” Stiner said.
KHT regular Laura Reid plays Mona Monet, a former star whose best days are likely far behind her.
“She still cops the attitude that she’s something worth seeing. She likes to upstage everyone else,” Reid said.
That proves to be a difficult task when Jolie Gilman takes the stage as Monet’s mother Constance Crawford, an aging stage star who is barely hanging onto life, much less her lines.
“It’s so like me: a little spacey, a little wandery and a little old womanish,” said Gilman. “It’s been great though because I work hard all day and then I come here and we laugh and have fun and I go home totally relaxed.”
Jeff Minden plays Brent Reynolds a classically-trained Shakespearean actor who is almost incapable of conventional pronunciations.
“He’s thinks he’s all that and a bag of rocks,” Minden said. “In the play-within-play he’s brought home his latest in a line of wives.”
The wife, Candy Apples played by Kristin Sprauer, comes with her own set of baggage.
“She’s an ex-porn star trying to break out into legitimate acting and she’s very excited for her first speaking role,” Sprauer said.
While keeping track of the various storylines can be a challenge, there’s a lighthearted feel to the play with a healthy dose of the madcap and chaotic.
“It’s almost a bit of dance,” said Tavis Evans, who plays Chaz Looney and Drools the Butler, “But it’s a dance where we’re trying to make people laugh out loud.”
By most measures, the McNary High School varsity softball team had a rough start to its season.
The Lady Celts won only two of their first 12 contests, but those days are looking more and more distant. The team, which has been known for its offense in seasons past, has scored 65 runs in its last six games. Their opponents have scored 20.
“We’ve had struggles with different parts of our line-up, but the past few weeks have been really good. Everyone has been really consistent and, on top of that, it’s starting to feel like the whole team is clicking together,” said Celt Kinsey McNaught.
The Keizer team won both its games last week by large margins. McNary beat McKay High School 16-0 and Forest Grove High School 15-3.
“We’ve been working on talking more and once we start talking, things just seem to fall into place. We work better as a team when we talk,” said Emma Kinler, a McNary sophomore.
Kinnler led the team at the plate in the game with the Royal Scots Tuesday, May 3. She went 4-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs and four runs scored.
McNary scored 11 times in the first inning: McNaught crossed the plate on a Kinler double; Kinler scored on a single by Nicole Duran; Duran scored on a walk; Xena Lane and Callista Srofe scored on a single by Gabby Schmit; Sabella Alfaro and Schmit scored on a single by Kinler; McNaught and Kinler scored on a double by Madisen Oliver; Nadia Witt scored on a single by Faith Danner; and Duran scored again on a single by Danner.
The game ended after five innings under mercy rules. Oliver pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts.
Good vibes from the win over McKay carried into the Forest Grove game Friday, May 6, McNaught said.
“At Forest Grove, we focused on stringing hits together. Instead of ‘I need this base hit,’ it was more about hitting the ball so we can move runners around the bases,” she said.
It was McNary’s game to lose after the first inning. The Lady Celts piled up seven runs on a two-RBI triple by Witt, a RBI-single by Kinler and a pair of two-RBI singles by Duran and McNaught. The Celtics scored one run in each of the innings leading up to the sixth and then unloaded for four more to clinch the 15-3 win after six innings.
Danner pitched the complete game allowing five hits, three runs and retiring three batters.
McNary faced South Salem, McMinnville and Sprague high schools in the final games of the Greater Valley Conference this week. The Grizzlies (8-5) were a game behind the Celts (9-4), making it likely the most important game.
“We don’t want to go into the games scared and thinking about all the pressure, we need to stay positive and play the game we love,” Kinler said.
The Lady Celts were in third place in the GVC as the week began.
Yes, the Keizer Budget Committee was able to approve the 2016-17 fiscal year budget in two meetings last week.
But not everyone was happy.
In particular, funding for another police officer position – or the lack thereof – once again caused a great deal of angst.
The Keizer Police Department currently has 37 officers, down from the 41a few years ago. Adding back at least one officer has been a top priority for several years and was identified as such again during a recent long-range budget planning session.
However, adding a police officer was not in the proposed budget. Several budget committee members expressed disgust. That led to Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark – a longtime cheerleader of the city – to question if things need to be changed.
At one point during the May 5 budget meeting, the $1.4 million in reserves was explained. That fund would be brought up again later.
After police chief John Teague went over his budget, nine-year budget committee member Ron Bersin started with his questions.
“We’re still only at 37 police officers,” Bersin said to Teague. “Why is that?”
Teague smiled at Bersin.
“I’m the wrong guy to ask,” Teague responded. “You know that.”
Bersin thus turned his questioning towards city manager Chris Eppley and finance manager Tim Wood.
“Earlier we talked about a 15 percent reserve fund,” Bersin said. “Right now we’re 2.7 percent over that. We should be at $1.4 million, but we’re actually at $1.7 million. There’s $273,000 there, so we should be able to get a police officer in (the budget). We talked about it at long-range planning. I don’t know what we need to do, but we really need to talk about adding the position. There is money in the budget, while still staying in the (desired) reserves.”
Wood said the amount in the reserve fund was right at 15 percent, which the city uses to cover bills in the time between the start of the fiscal year in July and money coming in from the tax rolls in November, while Eppley emphasized the need for sustainability.
“I have said this before to this group, I don’t withhold funding just for fun or to hoard cash,” Eppley said. “I will never suggest a budget I don’t believe we can fully sustain in the future. What would be worse than adding a position is adding one we’d have to terminate next year because we can’t afford it. Personnel services are very expensive. Police officers are the most expensive with costs, training, retirement, etc. I would love to put another officer in this budget. But we would have to dismantle the parks and community development departments to do that.
“I don’t agree with Mr. Bersin on his calculations,” Eppley added. “If you look at the long-range plan, what we anticipate, we would need to go into the reserves or go into the red. At the point we can add an officer and we can sustain it, I’ll be the first person to call for it. I hope at mid-year we’ll see I’m too conservative and we can add it then. We will do it when it’s fiscally sound to do so.”
Councilor Amy Ryan also questioned why no officer position was added.
“I’m confused,” Ryan said. “This is my second year on the budget committee and adding an officer has been the top priority both years. We’re at $156,000 in overtime for the same number of officers. This (request) isn’t new; we approved it last year.”
Eppley said this year’s newsworthy crimes – a fatal shooting in February, a shooting in March and a fatal stabbing in April – don’t necessarily reveal an ongoing trend that could justify a new officer.
“We can’t look at them and project there will be every year more and more,” he said.
Ryan then asked why the budget is status quo in light of more revenue coming in with new housing.
“Revenues don’t support adding more positions,” Eppley said. “The county will send us tax dollars, but they are coming in at a slower rate than would support (a new officer). The general fund, which is property tax supported, supports police which is 80 percent of the fund, plus community development and parks. They are all competing for the same dollars. Any additions to police have to impact those other functions, since it’s the same pool of money. They compete with one another.”
Ryan stated adding the officer had already been approved.
“We approved it based on having enough revenue to support it, but it didn’t occur,” Eppley said.
Ryan continued to press the issue.
“The numbers are there, but we’re not moving forward,” she said.
“Show me how the numbers support that,” Eppley retorted.
Councilor Marlene Parsons, chair of the budget committee, attempted to stop the discussion, but co-chair Joseph Gillis continued the line of questioning.
“I share the concern,” Gillis said. “We talk about police being a priority, but we don’t take action on that. You say the budget doesn’t support it. I’m not sure I buy that there are not the funding mechanisms. When and how do we explore other ways?”
Eppley said there are indeed other ways to try and fund the position.
“There are communities that have passed public safety assessments,” the city manager said. “For example, they agree to charge a certain amount on the water bill, for a specific thing like an officer. We tried it six or seven years ago. It went to a vote of the people, but it was soundly defeated by the people to add to water bill, by a margin of something like eight to one. That was after a fair amount of public outreach. We did a bunch of open houses, campaigned and it was still soundly defeated. I’m not saying we can’t do it again, but we don’t want to do it every year. Maybe it is time to do it again.”
Eppley said the number of homes added wouldn’t be enough to overturn the past results.
“I really want to provide a budget that gives this group and this community the level of service it wants and demands,” Eppley said. “That’s tough to do with limited resources.”
Committee member Allen Barker wanted to know how quickly an officer could be added once there is the funding. Eppley said getting an officer that has to go through the necessary training would be an 18-month process, while a lateral officer (trained elsewhere) would be quicker.
Teague said his department has all the tools a new officer would need, minus the cost of a uniform.
“Those costs don’t keep me from doing this,” Teague said of adding a position.
Clark said the issue goes back to the city’s low tax rate of $2.08 per $1,000 of assessed value, which has been a source of pride for nearly 25 years but limits the funds coming in.
“We brag about having the lowest tax rate in Oregon,” the mayor said. “I see our staff work hard each year. We’ve stretched, matched, leveraged, granted and volunteered tremendously. But at some point the elastic wears out. I’m hearing we might have finally hit that point. We keep pulling, but the elastic wears out. From 1992 to now we’ve been at the $2.08. Cities in our (comparables) are at a much higher rate. We are frozen unless we find another funding mechanism.
“It’s time for this community to have an honest conversation about how to have the community we want to live in,” Clark added. “I’m not still living on a 1992 budget. We’ve made changes in our income. But we’re asking Keizer to operate a 2016 city on a 1992 tax base. We have taken those dollars and stretched them out. But is it time to have that honest conversation? Have we stretched that elastic as much as we can? We’ve got to be realistic what those dollars can buy. We’ve gotten a whale of a deal, with city staff and volunteers. But we have to face financial reality.”
Clark wants to see what citizens wants.
“I’m willing to have that conversation,” she said. “People in parks are willing to have it. We need to have that conversation about police as well. Trying to pick apart our budget to eek out another half of aposition is not a good use of time. We need to have a deeper community conversation.”
As was pointed out in a series of Keizertimes stories in 2014, the tax rate can’t be raised due to the state Measure 50.
“The cheapest way to (add revenue) is on the utility bill,” Eppley said. “Others have used that method. We can cost that out.”
After more discussion followed, Parsons once again paused things by calling for a seven-minute break.
Bersin brought the issue up again later.
“I’ve been on this committee nine years,” Bersin said. “Every year we’ve asked for more police officers. Again we’re not going to do that. We find funding where we want, but not for this. The city continues to grow. We have more households coming in and a large retirement center. It all requires more resources,but we’re not adding more resources. People ask for safety as their number one priority. Until we can support that, I’ll be a no vote (on the budget).”
Bersin indeed voted against the budget.
“To Mr. Bersin and to Amy, I truly hear what you’re saying,” Eppley said following the vote. “The moment we’re able to add an officer, I will bring it back for your approval.”
Jerry Darras, 79, passed unexpectedly from an infection at Salem Hospital on April 30.
Born Sept. 19, 1936 in Noonan, North Dakota to Louis and Malvina Darras, Jerry went into the U.S. Army with his cousin Dale, stationed at Fort Sill, Okla.
Jerry later moved with his family to Salem where he met and married Doreen Handley on Sept. 27, 1958. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2008 and raised their family on a small farm in northeast Salem, keeping chickens and cows for fresh eggs, milk and beef. In 1974 Jerry bought and operated Frank’s Power Ditching.
He was a Blazer fan and enjoyed his children’s and grandchildren’s sports. He was an avid reader, enjoying westerns and mystery novels and loved music, especially Neil Diamond and Roy Clark.
His wife preceded him in death in 2009 and son Jerome “Joe” Darras Jr. died in 1991.
Jerry is survived by his sister Betty Melby of North Dakota, brother Jack (Carol) Darras of Yakima, Wash. and three children: Ione, Mike (Carrie) and Jay, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, eight of which graduated from McNary High School.
In lieu of flowers, consider donations to the Union Gospel Mission or any Veterans Association. A service will be held Saturday, May 14 at 11 a.m. at City View Funeral Home at 390 Hoyt Street South in Salem.
Parks or police? What should be the focus of Keizer’s city government?
At recent completed Budget Committee meetings the call for adding at least one cop position to the Keizer Police Department was loud and clear. Also loud and clear was the call for better funding of the city’s 19 parks. A vast majority of Keizer residents would opt for adding cops over extra funding for parks.
Law enforcement and parks are both key to a good quality of life for any community. The cost of employees is more than their wages—it is pensions, health care and PERS. Those three take a larger slice year after year. With Keizer’s tax base frozen at $2.08 per $1,000 there is little wiggle room when it comes to budgeting; some things must be funded. The ‘wish to have’ items take a backseat to the ‘need to have’ items.
That’s why there is spirited discussion on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board about how to find funding outside the city budget to pay for all the projects and maintenance the board identifies.
One of the ideas getting a closer look is adding one dollar per month to every city water bill. That could raise more than $100,000 annually that would be dedicated to city parks. This idea needs to be seriously considered. To remain a livable city we cannot shortchange our parks.
In our current national political climate talk is more about tax cuts than establishing new sources of revenue.
Unlike new funding that benefits a subset of the population, everyone will benefit with parks that are well maintained and adding needed amenities.
How a city’s parks and greenspaces and maintained and prized is an important calculation in how potential new residents, new businesses and visitors view a community.
Parks and greenspaces enhance the neighborhoods in which they are located. A family may be more apt to purchase a new home if there is a nice park within walking distance for their children to play and enjoy.
Most people who have moved to Keizer in the past 10 or 20 years say they came here, in part, because of the quality of life and the quaint small town feel. Park of that includes having parks throughout our neighborhoods.
Once an independent source of funding for the city’s park is established it will be a short step to starting funding additional police officers. Government operations is not inexpensive, it never has been. We have to pay for the amenities we want, whether we want to or not. It is what a society does. The key is to do what the city has been doing for more than 35 years: have as much as possible at the least cost.
Once tax revenue starts rolling in next year due to all the development in 2016, funding new officers should be a no-brainer, especially when paired with non-general fund revenue for the parks. Let us all choose police and parks. —LAZ
By now I’m sure you are all aware that an election is just around the corner. Hopefully you’ve registered to vote and may have received your ballot in the mail already. I have been out putting up a lot of lawn signs and I know I’m not the only one—you can hardly drive a block or two in Keizer without running into someone’s campaign sign.
Personally, I love it. I love seeing people express their opinions like this. I had to laugh, the other day a friend told me that a person had stolen one of my signs from their yard during the night. The funny thing was, my friend’s home security camera caught the guy in action. Apparently he had nothing better to do at 9 p.m. than to rip my sign out of the ground and smash it to pieces.
In the larger scheme of things, what’s one yard sign, right? But that got me to thinking: It’s an example of how our country is shifting from being able to have honest dialogue about our differences, into a place where people are actually afraid to express themselves for fear of retaliation. We have a very vocal minority that uses fear and shame to “silence” the majority. We are seeing this all across the country, at political rallies, universities and even in our grocery stores and it’s not exclusive to one party or any “side of the aisle.”
As your state representative, one of the issues that is dearest to my heart is ensuring that our right to freely express our deeply held beliefs is protected. I disagree with many of my colleagues but that doesn’t mean I have to demonize them. I am committed to finding the areas where we do agree and working collectively to get things done for you, the voters in my district, and ultimately for all of Oregon.
So what does all this mean? It means celebrating that your neighbor put up a lawn sign for the guy running against the candidate whose sign is in your yard – maybe you can chat about it and agree to disagree, but at least you could speak about your differences and maybe learn a thing or two.
Our government may not be perfect, but ours is the best system the world has ever seen and it functions on the premise that each of us can believe what we choose and have the freedom to respectfully express that belief.
Turning in your ballot by May 17 is one way to ensure those freedoms are protected and to participate in this incredible government our founders called “the great experiment.”
(Bill Post represents House District 25. He can be reached at 503-986-1425 or via email at [email protected])
I slowly study the newspaper each morning. Here’s what I learned today:
• The featured national crisis of the day was worry over who you might meet in a public bathroom. In my first 67 years I’ve been spared a traumatic event in any public restroom.Well, actually, there was Japan.I was shocked to find men and women using the same space. I can’t say for sure that it had no effect on my character development. In North Carolina they are nervous enough to risk $4 billion in federal funding for schools.I admire the resolute… something.
• We are now discovering that pregnant moms who drink lots of diet soda are twice as likely to have an obese newborn. Isn’t that something?All the effort it takes to purchase a different soda is wasted.
• Ammon Bundy continues to base his defense on the claim that the federal government doesn’t own federal lands.That continues to get a poor reception in federal court.
• “What is the remainder when 999,999,999 is divided by 32?”A 13-year-old Seattle boy won $20,000 in a national math contest by taking only seven seconds to answer, “31.”There is still hope.
• Republicans, after paving the road and putting up the signs, are now scrambling to disavow the oncoming Trump campaign bus.Who knew that an atmosphere of name-calling, obstruction, and disregard of facts would produce a candidate like this?
• In Chicago there were eight killed and 34 wounded over Mother’s Day weekend. It’s hard to divine any kind of meaning in that. We were on the road on Mother’s Day and stopped briefly at a farmer’s market in Moscow, ID.The featured entertainment was a dozen or so elementary school kids performing as a marimba band.They were good beyond reasonable expectation; polyrhythmic, precise and playing with heartfelt musicality.Raise your kids in Moscow instead of Chicago if you are allowed the choice.
• Research is showing that computer screens change how we think.Reading from a screen promotes tunnel vision—focusing on details of the moment and missing the broad views/ideas.Details stuck in the memories of electronic readers whereas those reading paper copy were more likely to accurately absorb the overall intent/message of the piece.
• They are just about to elect the Philippine version of Donald Trump.This candidate has said “if you are into drugs, I will kill you.” He routinely brags about his Viagra-fed sexual triumphs and threatens to dissolve Congress and install a revolutionary government if legislators are uncooperative with his administration. It looks as though a Donald Trump test case will be available for us to study.
• Both the published guest opinions discussed the near term future of the Trump juggernaut.In March the New York Times said that Donald Trump had received well more than twice the amount of free media (not paid political ads) as Hillary Clinton.Bernie Sanders gets measurable coverage. All others were invisible. If this election is most patterned on an American Idol template it seems less impossible that we could get a stupendously unqualified billionaire as president.
• The next several days will be nearly 15 degrees above average.April broke all temperature records.Carl Sagan said that we have never lived in a world so exquisitely dependent on science and technology, nor have we ever made less effort to understand it.
That’s what I found out this morning.I hope for a better tomorrow.
(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)
Any Keizerite who watched the GOP debates may remember that Donald Trump quite often used nicknames on his competitors.
He referred to Marco Rubio as “Little Marco,” Jeb Bush as “Low Energy Jeb,” “One in 41” for Kasich and, and for his biggest obstacle, “Lying Ted” for Ted Cruz, among other derogatory labels he pinned on those who have stood in his way to becoming the Republican nominee. Now that he’s the presumptive GOP standard bearer, he has turned his attention to who he anticipates will be his chief competitor in the race for president, Hillary Clinton, whom he calls “Crooked Hillary.”
In all cases, Donald Trump has used the most basic means to persuade, that is, message repetition. As we all know when we think about the matter, repetition is used everywhere as we find it when we read advertisements in newspapers, listen to the radio, and watch television. So, politicians repeat the same messages endlessly.
Any 101-level text will inform the student of psychology with this learning. It seems too simplistic that just repeating a message should increase its effect, but that’s exactly what psychological research finds again and again. Repetition is one of the easiest and most widespread methods of persuasion. In fact, it’s so obvious that we sometimes forget how powerful it is. Further, people typically rate statements that have been repeated just once as more valid or true than things they’ve heard for the first time.
All this is what psychologists call the illusion of truth effect and its arises at least partly because familiarity more often breeds liking (as opposed to contempt). As we are exposed to a message again and again, it becomes more familiar. Because the way our minds work, what is familiar is also true. Then, too, familiar things require less effort to process and that feeling of ease unconsciously signals truth.
We are yet to witness full-blown campaigns between Trump and Clinton but it’s anticipated that on the Trump side, as he’s proven to date, there will be no limits on his use of abusive language. Meanwhile, Hillary is no patsy and will fight as hard as she has fought in previous campaigns. It is predicted to get very tiresome as has happened in all previous presidential campaigns but it could turn at times (almost) entertaining as has been, from the number of followers he’s inspired, the case with Trump to date.
It is most likely to be Trump vs. Hillary. She has already suffered the slings and arrows of Trump abuse where he’s repeatedly called her “Crooked Hillary” and a player of the “woman card” to which she has smartly replied in the latter case, “Deal me in.” One personal handicap that Hillary suffers from is her preference for a zone of privacy around her and her inclination to be less than transparent. For example, on campaign planes most politicians will interact for the entire flight with news people aboard: Hillary is known to keep to herself and not engage with the other passengers.
Jill Abramson, a respected journalist, who’s been the executive editor of the New York Times, and now writes for The Guardian while she also teaches part time at her alma mater, Harvard, has followed both Clintons for years and argues that Hillary Clinton’s not crooked; rather, Abramson argues that she’s fundamentally honest and trustworthy. Abramson argues also that Hillary has not been influenced by Wall Street money, influenced by any campaign donation, money given to the Clinton Foundation, or by speaking fees for her appearances before Wall Street firms. Yet, Abramson says that while Hillary ranks way up there on the truth-o-meter she’s accurately criticized for not being willing to practice openness and quickly release the transcripts from her Wall Street presentations.
The period following the Civil War (1865-1900) much of the nation’s wealth in the U.S. kept getting concentrated in fewer and fewer hands with workers becoming serfs while government officials did the bidding exclusively for rich guys’ benefit.
Those who pay attention to their U.S. history lessons learn that Roosevelt’s tough determination, breaking the trusts, regulating the railroads and other monopolies by the rich, saved the our democracy and helped to build an American middle class that’s lasted almost to this day with, more recently, those with great wealth and through Citizens United taking over the place again.
Donald J. Trump may possess the brains and ability to be an effective president and surprise the doubters but he should drop the showboat routine and sound more like a seaworthy rescue ship that can navigate rough waters at home and abroad without capsizing.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)