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Day: February 3, 2017

KFD honors excellence with annual awards

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer firefighter Matt Dryden pinches himself all the time.

“I always wanted to work at Keizer Fire District,” Dryden said. “I’m ecstatic to be here. I was tripping over myself to get my application in. It is truly a huge gift to me, just to work here.”

That enthusiasm is just one reason Dryden was voted both Keizer Fire’s 2016 Rookie and Employee of the Year by the district’s captains and chief officers.

“Matt is always very happy and cheerful and smiling,” KFD Public Education Specialist Anne-Marie Storms said.

Dryden also has a strong work ethic.

Keizer Fire District Chief Jeff Cowan congratulates firefighter Matt Dryden on one of his two awards Monday, Jan. 23. (Submitted)

“You ask him to do something, he’s going to see it to the very end,” Captain Aaron Pittis said. “You never have to worry about any issues whatsoever. Say it once and it’s done.”

Dryden, who grew up on a farm between Monitor and Woodburn, moved to Keizer in 2001. He started at KFD as a volunteer in 2005 as a way to meet people and get involved in the community.

“I had no envision of making it a career,” Dryden said. “I caught the bug and after a year or so thought I would really like to make this a career. It’s a great way to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Dryden remained a volunteer firefighter for five years and began taking classes at Chemeketa Community College, where he earned his associate’s degree.

Dryden was then hired as a career firefighter and maintenance officer at Stayton Fire District. After five years, a paid position at KFD opened in December, 2015.

Coming back to Keizer was an easy decision.

“I always loved it here,” Dryden said. “It’s where my kids go to school. It’s central for me, great people, great department.”

Dryden was surprised to win even Rookie of the Year, much less Employee of the Year.

“I was pretty shocked,” he said. “I was very humbled to receive it. I just come to work and do my job and work hard and I always have and I always will. And I love coming to work and I love helping people out.  I just do my job and there’s 32 paid guys here and we’re all doing the same work and we’re all doing our jobs above the level.”

Other honorees at KFD’s annual banquet were: Mike Jensen was named EMT of the Year, Victor Hess was voted Volunteer Firefighter of the Year and Jared Caruth responded to the most alarms.

Four service awards were given: Amber Butler (20 years), Greg Biben (15 years) and Jeff Gallinger (10 years). Greg Rands was honored for serving on the KFD Budget Committee from 2004-16.

Celtics hold on, win first dual

McNary freshman Noah Gatchet celebrates with teammates on Wednesday, Jan. 25 after securing a dual victory for the Celtics by defeating his South Salem opponent 11-6. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

With McNary holding on to a four-point lead entering the final match of the night, all Noah Gatchet had to do was not get pinned.

But the Celtic freshman decided to do his team one better, picking up a 11-6 decision over Kelton Bollier as McNary defeated South Salem 43-36 on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Gatchet trailed 4-0 before earning 10 straight points in the second period and holding on for the victory.

“I can’t think of another kid with a bigger heart on our team and he knew his job when he stepped out on that mat,” McNary head coach Jason Ebbs said.

“Instead of being satisfied with not getting pinned, he stayed in good position, he scored points, put the guy on his heels and won that match. Hands down one of the most savvy and intelligent wrestling freshmen I’ve seen come through this program in a while. That’s having the right mindset, not being satisfied with a mediocre job but seeking a higher job and a higher purpose and going after it. I will always promote our kids, win, lose, or draw, always wrestle to win and you’ll find yourself in a good place.”

While the Celtics celebrated Gatchet’s performance, even picking up the 106-pounder on their shoulders and chanting, “Noah, Noah,” Ebbs noted the dual victory, McNary’s first of the season, was a team effort.

The Celtics jumped out to a 40-0 lead thanks to a forfeit at 113 pounds, followed by a 14-6 decision by Ryan Mosgrove at 120 pounds and five straight pins from Jerry Martinez (126),  Sean Burrows (132), Killian Dato (138), Brayden Ebbs (145) and Wyatt Kesler (152).

But South Salem stormed back with five pins and a forfeit to get within 40-36.

“I knew it was coming,” coach Ebbs said. “We hit them right in the youth of our program. We have all the young kids right in a row.

“We actually lost some matches we shouldn’t have lost. On the flip side we won some matches we weren’t supposed to win. It all balanced out in the end and just fantastic tonight. I’m just happy to see these kids start standing together. Wrestling is a team sport. I’ll always say that. I’ll always believe that and they did a good job tonight. We always say we’re training to be the best wrestlers we can be come February and today was a big jump.”

McNary has two more league duals—Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Forest Grove and then Thursday, Feb. 9 at home versus Sprague.

The district meet is Feb. 17-18 at West Salem.

Utility bills a shock?

Photo illustration

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

After weeks of frigid temperatures – and more winter weather potentially on the way – it’s likely that some Keizer residents are in for a surprise when their utility bills arrive.

“For our existing utility customers we provide discounted sewer rates for qualifying senior citizens or disabled heads of households,” said Tim Wood, Keizer finance director.

Sewer rates typically account for more than 50 percent of the standard Keizer utility bill. Roughly three dozen households take advantage of discounted rates. To apply for a discounted rate, city officials require proof of income such as an income tax return or annual social security statement.

While the city can provide discounts for some customers, those needing short term assistance are referred to The Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul for help. To find out more about Salvation Army options, call 503 585-6688 or visit www.salem.kroccenter.or. Information on St. Vincent de Paul programs is available at svdpsalem.org or by calling 503 364-5672. Wood said only a handful of Keizer residents seek such help in a given month.

For homeowners with natural gas bills, Northwest Natural offers several options for alleviating the strain caused by sharp bill increases. Customers can enroll in programs that spread out the cost of the average year’s worth of bills or work out payment plans that will keep them from having their gas shut off. Very low or fixed income customers can apply for assistance through the federally-funded Low Income Energy Assistance  program. Visit www.nwnatural.com for more information.

Portland General Electric offers several assistance programs that can help cover the cost of unexpected bills as well as payment plan and due date options. Some families can also qualify for free weatherization assistance. For more information, visit www.portlandgeneral.com.

Salem Electric customers may qualify for a one-time payment assistance of $150 to $225 per heating season (January to April). Priority is given to seniors and those with disabilities. For more information or to schedule an appointment to talk about option, call 503-362-3601.

The Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency can also offer assistance ranging from bill assistance to weatherization services. Visit www.mwvcaa.org for details.

Divergent paths

Sixty is the new forty.  Sixty-eight is not.  It’s just old.  I am still younger than our newly elected President.  It is a time for introspection. How is it that Donald Trump became a self-professed billionaire president instead of me?

It is petty of me to point out that he had a several million dollar head start.  As last born of my parents’ four children they had without complaint taken on three jobs between them by the time I was judged old enough not to do dangerously stupid things, left unsupervised.  That enabled us to enjoy a princely lower middle class existence.

That I started with less cannot be used as an excuse. We all know that America is the land of opportunity and anyone with a good idea, a will to work hard, and total disregard for other’s welfare can become fabulously wealthy.  It can’t be helped that thousands of people must be content to work at the poverty level in order to support each millionaire’s lifestyle. I accept that.

Mr. Trump and I each had the chance to go to college.  I only lasted the first year at University of Washington before the siren call of wannabe rock and roll hero drew me away.  Another strike against me—he is well educated and I learned that I was not rock and roll star material. Well, it was really fun.   

We each had some business setbacks.  As a partner I contributed much toward bankrupting a restaurant in Spokane.  Again I am just a piker in the business failure arena when compared with Donald Trump.  Nobody would ever have extended to me loans necessary to accumulating a billion dollars in debt.  It’s not easy to become too big to fail.

Mr. Trump has turned his name into a brand that sells board games, steaks, cologne, vodka, furniture, menswear, hotels, beauty pageants, and even a university.  I have yet to create any branded product boasting my name.  Maybe it’s not too late for me to seek funding for Vowell Cheese Spread or Vowell budget motels.  Or I could, with hostility, take over the Oregon Dairy Princess Pageant and jazz it up a little.  Onstage milking contest and cow trivia. If I understood Twitter I could then mock the losers. And the winners.   

Like Mr. Trump I came late to the political battleground. He clearly had far more of the strength and savvy needed to run a successful campaign.  In my failed campaigns to become your mayor I had the mistaken notion that it would be bad to say something that wasn’t true.  I may have even admitted that I was demonstrably less qualified than the candidates I ran against.  I deserved the losses.

Mr. Trump has revolutionized America’s election process.  Born with more cash than working class Americans will earn in a lifetime of labor, he has sold himself as their champion. Carrying that logic to its inevitable extreme, he has appointed a Cabinet full of billionaires who, having read that some citizens are not billionaires, are ready to fight for working class Americans. You should get flotation devices now for all the trickling down that their increasing wealth must surely produce.   

I am sixty-eight.  Is it too late for me to be a billionaire President?  It doesn’t matter. I like living here in Keizer. It is enough to have a really great column which is read in print and online by more Americans than any other column ever in the history of earth.

(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)

Protect Medicare Advantage

To the Editor:

I am writing to you as an Oregonian and senior. I am one of over 348,000 Oregonians that benefit from having a Medicare Advantage health care plan. While many people have heard of Medicare and Medicaid, not as many people have heard about Medicare Advantage or know just how beneficial it is for seniors.

For myself and every senior on Medicare Advantage, the health plan provides many more options to live a healthy lifestyle, including preventative screenings, routine checkups, the Silver & Fit and Silver & Strong fitness programs, and a gym membership among others. These aspects, which are not often available under traditional Medicare, truly have been a tremendous blessing for me. The program further helps encourage an active lifestyle, leading to a better overall quality of life.

Despite this, almost every year Congress proposes new cuts to Medicare Advantage, threatening the very programs that help take care of and promote healthy lifestyles for 348,000 Oregon seniors. More and more seniors are relying on the program, yet it continues to face possible budget cuts at the hands of our legislators.

I am so grateful for the support Reps. Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader and Earl Blumenauer, who have already voiced for the program and sincerely urge Oregon’s other members of Congress, and the other seniors relying on Medicare Advantage, to stand up to Congress, let them know how valuable the program is, and tell them to stop cutting funding to Medicare Advantage.

Virginia Gates
Brooks

A picture of American shame

By MICHAEL GERSON 

The image of President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, signing an executive order that (among other things) excludes Syrian refugees from America, is indelible. Three powerful American leaders, targeting and dehumanizing some of the most vulnerable people on earth. A picture of bullying. A picture of cruelty. A picture of national shame.

It sits in my head beside images of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, bewildered by the loss of their old lives, assets depleted, living (in some cases) eight to a room, exploited by human traffickers. Many families feel compelled to put their boys to work and their girls into early, forced marriages. “My home is all broken in Syria,” a girl of 6 told me while coloring a kinetic picture of helicopters and bombs. Trump is a champion at punching down, but seldom this far.

This executive order is a security measure that very few actual security professionals would prioritize, given that refugees are some of the most carefully vetted people who enter the country. Meanwhile, the downside of (in effect) targeting foreigners by their religion is immediate and considerable—worrying American Muslims and embarrassing America’s Muslim friends and allies in the world. When some radical cleric in, say, Central Asia, says, “The new American president hates Islam,” he does not require a conspiracy theory to support his claim. And all of this may have been done with no security upside at all, given the utter incompetence with which the order was drafted, and the likelihood that the courts will prevent its implementation.

Trump came to power promising that masterful leadership would replace the “stupid” kind. This action was malicious, counterproductive and inept—the half-baked work of amateurs who know little about security, little about immigration law, and nothing about compassion.

There is more systematic thought, however, behind Trump’s attempt to recast America’s global role—presumably the guiding influence of adviser Stephen Bannon. In his inaugural address, Trump asserted the “right of all nations to put their own interests first” and promised, “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone.” Trump’s version of America is a normal nation, like Holland or Ghana, concerned with its own borders and business, and generally indifferent to the “way of life” chosen by others. Our national identity, like for other nations, is ethnic and cultural. Trump’s America is vaguely Christian. Vaguely 1950s. Vividly white.

A number of policies emerge from these convictions: a walled country, a closed economy and highly restricted immigration. Traditional American commitments—to the special relationship with Britain, to a strong and growing NATO and European Union, to America’s Pacific security umbrella—seem up for grabs. The trumpet always calls retreat.

Every American president since World War II has disagreed with the stunted and self-defeating view of the country now held by Trump. Over the last century the United States has been a cheerfully abnormal nation. American identity (in this view) is not based mainly on blood or soil, but rather on the patriotic acceptance of a unifying creed. American leaders, Democratic and Republican, have believed that a world where the realm of freedom is growing is more prosperous and secure; a world where freedom is retreating is more dangerous. The reason is not mystical. Dictators tend to be belligerent. Governments accountable to their people are generally more peaceful.

It is the lesson of hard experience. America found that it could not avoid the bloody disorders of Europe by ignoring them. It found that a Pacific dominated by a single, hostile power is a direct threat to its economy and security. It found that Russian aggression in Europe is like Newton’s First Law—moving until some force stops it.

And America has often accepted refugees, reflecting its deepest values and building reserves of trust and respect. The Soviet Union or Cuba under Fidel Castro were not working out unique and special “ways of life.” They were producing fleeing victims who would be imprisoned or murdered at home. It is in America’s nature to offer at least some of them a home and refuge. The same should be true for Bashar Assad’s victims, including the children of a broken country.

This is the difference a creed can make: When Ronald Reagan spoke on foreign policy, tyrants sat uneasy on their thrones and dissidents and refugees took heart. When Donald Trump speaks on foreign policy, tyrants rest easier and dissidents and refugees lose hope.    

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Early impressions shaky

Granted, it’s early to make conclusions about our new president and his cabinet.  Nevertheless, there are a couple of serious concerns here that have already come up in the past two weeks.

The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and political traditions have established freedoms that have not been seen, even considered, in many parts of the world.  They are (1) a free and fair vote and (2) a free and respected press. These are two premises upon which our American society, its values and standards, has been built and have endured the tests of time for more than two hundred years.

President Donald J. Trump now insists, regarding the last election, the one that elected him, that there were three to five million who voted illegally and, further, that these fraudulent voters cast their ballots for his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton: This proven would enable Trump—who won the Electoral College vote—to claim the popular vote which every pertinent fact on the subject has denied him so far.

He demands that an investigation take place even though there is a total lack of evidence to back up his assertion while a universal conclusion has been reached that there was no fraud.   When Trump makes charges of this kind he reinforces the prejudices of his true believers, who apparently believe, without question, everything he says, while, in doing so, they undermine confidence in our democracy which, as we know from history, is a fragile condition.

Another matter that confounds is Trump’s assault on the free press.  He calls reporters the most dishonest people on earth and persons who lied about his inauguration turnout numbers.  He also has made a huge effort to disagree with the numbers who showed up in cities all over the nation to advocate for the protection of women’s rights and to denounce him as president.

Photos of the two events, the inauguration and march on Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, cannot lie but Trump says they do, causing one to wonder whether a reputable ophthalmologist should be brought in.  Of course, America’s press is human and has made mistakes; yet, to accuse all the press as willfully practicing mendacity is silly, sad and subversive.

Though I want to know more about how he will ultimately deal with immigration, trade agreements and treaties, Social Security and Medicare, “the Wall,” the Affordable Care Act’s replacement, the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, voting rights, sanctions against the Russians,  NATO, and other urgent and pressing domestic and foreign matters, my immediate concern is the effort on his part to deny voting rights and dictate what reporters write and say about him.

We want change that financially benefits all Americans, improves all facets of our infrastructure, and keeps us safe from harm as much as possible.  However, to improve on some conditions of life in these United States does not mean one favors a totalitarian state, a dictatorship, tyranny or a fascist government to take the place of what we value, cherish and do not want to lose for the sake of any one man’s vanity, a need to make himself larger at freedom’s expense.

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