Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: February 24, 2017

Black student dropout rate spotlighted at SKSB meeting

Of the Keizertimes

The dropout problem, especially involving African-American students, took up much of Salem-Keizer School Board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14.

While it was not an action item, the board heard several comments from the audience, largely calling for the Community School Outreach Coordinator to expand from its focus on English Language learners to become involved with the problems of black students.

“We need to institutionalize support for African-American students,” was one of the comments from Phil Decker of Salem, principal of Four Corners Elementary School.

Benny Williams of Salem, president of the Salem-Keizer branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the district was making progress “but at a snail’s pace.” He observed that dropouts occur because students feel disengaged.

Will Collins of Salem, a classified employee and former student of the district, who has a minority background, said the disengagement led to his absentees and suspension.

On a related matter, several representatives of the Salem-Keizer Education Association spoke of the SKEA’s affirmation that it is an inclusive union whose objective is to protect all students’ rights. One of them noted that Oregon leads the United States in per capita hate incidents.

In other business, the board approved several grants, the largest of which was $2,408,849 from the Oregon Department of Education to ensure that students in schools with high percentages of poverty meet the challenging state academic standards.

Other grants from ODE are $21,218 for trainings and activities involving students who have disabilities, $20,700 for other student disability matters, and $1,000 for career and technical student organizations involving McNary High School and Grant Community School. The remaining grants are $15,000 from the Northwest Health Foundation Fund for physical activity programs before, during, and after school, for Keizer Elementary School and seven other schools; and $1,785 to provide supplies for the 2017 Eagle Feather Graduation Celebration.

Board members praised the work of Mary Paulson, who is resigning as chief of staff of the district to become deputy executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association. Her successor is Linda Myers of Keizer, whose title will be director of strategic initiatives.

Myers comes from the Silver Falls School District, where she was director of curriculum and instruction for 10 years. In the preceding 10 years, she taught in the Salem-Keizer district.

Personnel actions approved at the meeting involved three people in the McNary attendance area. Hired as temporary part-time teachers were Sherrin Landis at Claggett Creek Middle School and Tracy Loumena at Whiteaker Middle School. Also at Claggett Creek, Melissa Koenig was hired as a first-year probation full-time teacher.

Weed, meth, cocaine, heroin and oxy

Of the Keizertimes

A weeks-long investigation into the activities of a Keizer man yielded a major drug bust for the Salem Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit (SCU) on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Members of the SCU, assisted by officers from the Keizer Police Department, acted on three search warrants in Salem and Keizer resulting in the seizure of 40 pounds of marijuana, 17 pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of cocaine, a quarter-pound of heroin, 10,000 oxycodone pills, $40,000 in cash, five firearms and two sets of body armor.

Police arrested 36-year-old Casey Miser, of Keizer, who is charged with delivery of methamphetamine, delivery of cocaine and delivery of heroin. Miser is being held at the Marion County Correctional Facility with bail set at $1.5 million.

“Miser’s been on our radar for about two years and we just recently got enough on him to start working the case,” said Lt. Steve Birr, of the SPD Special Operations Section. “He’s unusual from the standpoint that you don’t usually see a guy working an 8 to 5 job and slinging dope in the evenings.”

Miser worked at All-American Truck & SUV Accessory Centers on Portland Road Northeast, the site where one of the search warrants was served. Birr said Casey Miser is the son of an owner of the parent company.

Birr said drugs were found at both the business and Miser’s home in the 1300 block of Rafael Avenue North.

“It was one of the nicest homes we’ve ever executed a search warrant on,” Birr said.

Jeff Kuhns, KPD deputy chief, said the home was not a source of complaints to the department.

“The illegal possession and distribution of controlled substances can have many different faces. It can include those who have a lower economic status and lifestyle to those who have a much higher economic status and lifestyle. The spectrum can be very broad from those who use, distribute or possess grams or ounces of controlled substances to those who possess and distribute pounds,” Kuhns said.

Given the large quantities of many different controlled substances, Birr placed Miser on the upper end of the spectrum of drug dealers.

“The baffling things are the weed and the cocaine,” Birr said. “Given the legalization of recreational marijuana, 40 pounds is a lot of marijuana. We also rarely see cocaine anymore, most of that has given way to meth. (Miser) had two full kilos of coke and little bit more.”

Birr was not able to offer insight into why Miser had the body armor, but said the bust was the largest in the area since the spring of 2016.

The KPD Community Response Unit provided manpower to conduct surveillance and then execute the search warrants.

While the arrest and seizure capped the investigation, it isn’t the first time Miser has had run-ins with law enforcement. In 2011, he was convicted of possession and delivery of marijuana, as well as first-degree theft. Miser served 16 months in prison as a result, according to court records.

McNary bowlers going to state

Of the Keizertimes

What started with just three bowlers, junior Aneeka Stephen and two sophomores, Mimi Garza and Cassidy Steckman, blossomed into a district championship for McNary High School.

With the addition of sisters Cecilia and Natalia Valle midway through the season, the Lady Celts defeated McKay on Sunday, Jan. 22 at AMF Firebird Lanes in Salem to win the district crown.

“They didn’t have a lot of experience and won district,” said Dan Kaplan, who coaches the McNary boys. “That shows (girls coach) Kathy (Kaplan) is an amazing coach.”

With the victory, the McNary girls qualified to compete against 15 other teams in the state high school tournament on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26 at KingPin’s in Portland.

McNary’s boys team also qualified for the state competition by finishing third in the district behind McKay and Silverton.

The Celtics team includes Nick Blythe, Tim Kiser, Derrick Lucas, Adam Teal, Layton Thurlow, Konnor Sjullie, Garrett Hughes and Chandler Gregory.

The boys will also compete against 15 other teams at KingPin’s in Portland.

Elizabeth “Betty” Swick

E. Swick

Elizabeth M. “Betty” Swick, 98, was born in 1918 in Gates, Nebraska. She passed away on Saturday February 11, 2017 at her Keizer residence.

In her 98 years she attended Kearney State College, was a Boeing Aircraft inspector during World War II, married Weldon Swick in October 1945, they farmed for 10 years in Gates, Nebraska where three sons were born.

In 1956, the family moved to Oregon where later a fourth son was born. She obtained a teaching degree from Oregon College of Education and taught grade school at North Howell and Brooks Districts, retiring in 1979. She was a charter member and organist of Keizer Christian Chruch.

She is survived by sons Roger and Ronald of Portland; sons Wayne and Todd of Keizer; three granddaughters, one great grandson; and her sisters Marion Woodward of Mt. Vernon, Mo., and Gwen Den Dooven of Denver, Colo.

A memorial service will be held at Keizer Christian Church on Saturday March 18, 2017 at 11 a.m. Assisting the family is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Margaret “Margo” Bowerly

Margaret “Margo” Bowerly passed away Feb. 5, 2017.

Margaret was born to John and Frieda Zieg who emigrated in 1918 from Frankfurt Germany to Colfax, Wash. John came first to buy a farm and get things set up, then Frieda joined him and they got married.

Margo was born on July 19, 1923, and two years later her brother Albert was born. Her German heritage was always an important part of her life. She attended Laurelhurst Elementary and Grant High School. In the summer, Margo attended Hastings Business College. After graduating, she got a job at Hyster Co. who manufactured war equipment. As a receptionist and bookkeeper, she worked evenings until 10 p.m. 

One evening a young man convinced a security guard to allow him in to fill work orders. Once the door was opened, he spied Margaret working as the receptionist. A lifetime romance began that evening. Jerry, a dental student, was also working nights for Hyster.

Margaret had to walk two blocks to the nearest streetcar after work, so Jerry rode his bike next to it each night so she had an escort. Often he had one hand on his bike and the other holding her hand.

They were married on March 4, 1944, at the Evangelical Reformed Church in Portland, and remained married for more than 72 years. They had four children: David Bowerly (deceased), Judy Luse, Ronald Bowerly and Laura Heiman. They have nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Jerry and Margo settled in Keizer after time in California during Jerry’s stinit with the U.S. Navy. Jerry was the first dentist in Keizer and they lived here for more than 60 years.

Margo became the bookkeeper for Jerry’s dental office and managed the Fernwood Court Apartment complex they built and owned in Keizer. She stayed busy raising her family, attending neighborhood luncheon club, church service activities and knitting over 100 hats for orphans and relatives. She loved tole painting, quilting, knitting and gardening as well as cooking and entertaining. A love for music stayed with her through playing the organ and piano.

Margo and Jerry’s retirement years were spent traveling with friends, enjoying their condo at Black Butte Ranch and spending time with the family. While camping with family, hugs and snacks were passed out freely and many games of cards and tile rummy were played.

Margo’s deep faith sustained her throughout her life and became a major example impacting the lives of her relatives. She had a grateful and giving heart. She attended church her whole life and most recently at Salem Evangelical Church.

Services for Margaret will be on Saturday, March 4, at 10 a.m. at Keizer Funeral Chapel.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to Franklin Graham Samaritan’s Purse at PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.

A healthy city

The wheels of government turn slowly. In many cases that is a good thing because government bodies need to assure that policy making and budgeting have many moving parts and all interests and consequences need to be considered.

There are times when the wheels of government do not need to slow to a crawl, especially when it concerns free money.

The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign, funded by Kaiser Permanente and other partners, is designed to play a role in reversing the trend toward sedentary behavior (think watching TV and playing video games for hours on end) and high calorie counts.

The project supports cities in efforts to improve the physical environment and give residents more opportunities to be physically active and eat healthful foods.  Keizer is a fairly healthy community already—there are the many youth athletic organizations, plus the sports programs in all the schools. We are home to a number of running events. Even with one grocery store, a majority of Keizer residents have access to healthy food with WinCo, Walmart and other large stores in Salem.

There is always room for improvement in the drive to be the healthiest community Keizer can be.

To that end the city council needs to stop nitpicking the HEAL Healthy Cities program, approve applying for the designation, move forward and apply for a grant.

We suggest the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the council and the Public Works department work on exercise kiosks erected around city parks. Exercise kiosks are informational signs that have illustrations of how to do specific exercises for runners, walkers, specific ages. They can also include information about heart rates, pulse numbers and general information. These types of kiosks are found in public spaces all around the nation.

It is not just signs; many cities incorporate equipment made from natural materials such as logs. The equipment is used for leg work, balancing, push-ups, any number of exercises a runner or walker may do.

Our former First Lady led the “Let’s Go!” fitness campaign. Let’s go, City of Keizer. Let’s take the free money (even if it must be matched, half of it is still free) and be as healthy as we dare to be. —LAZ

Some good bills, some not so good

From the Capitol
By Rep. Bill Post

The past three weeks in the Oregon legislature have been fascinating. In my second term as your state representative, I should never be surprised by some proposed bills, but I still am.  For instance, in recent days there have been bills to: make marionberry pie the official pie of Oregon; change the words of our state song, Oregon, My Oregon; a tax on coffee and a tax on cars over 20 years old;  an official dog of Oregon;  a ‘no dogs on lap while driving’ bill and many others.

Both parties are guilty of some pretty “frivolous” bills. Just because a legislator can write a bill doesn’t mean they have to.  The cost to the taxpayers is enormous for each one and that’s why I’ve said from day one “I’m not going to do that.” I have introduced seven good ideas that either reduce or remove bad laws or bring about more freedom for Oregonians.  You can see all of them at my legislative website: 

There has been some misinformation about some of the bills, though.  For example, House Bill 2365 calls for a task force to study the transfer of federal lands to Oregon. I am a chief sponsor of that bill because I believe a task force is a good idea.  Let’s study this issue since so many in Oregon on either side of the fence, are interested in it.  I am not calling for the transfer of lands, just a study.

Meanwhile the serious work that needs to be done in the Capitol is finding a way to balance a budget while not raising taxes or cutting education, health care or public safety.  I am very interested in what will come in the next few weeks and months.

At this time there are at least 30 or more tax bills that I know of.  Oregonians spoke loud and clear (they voted 59 percent-41 percent against Measure 97), yet the son of Measure 97 is one of the bills introduced. It must be noted that Oregon’s revenue has increased by over 30 percent in the past three biennium (2011-2017), yet we are told there is a “shortfall” in the budget. I am fully aware that inflation is a reality but state government must learn to live within its means.  We cannot continue to spend at the same rates as we have been doing for the last several years.

Lastly, I continue to fight the dreaded “emergency clause” that is on so many bills (meaning the bill would not allow for a ballot measure). It’s still a big problem as well as is the fairly new tactic of introducing “committee bills” with no name attached. I am in favor of open and transparent government and have called on my fellow legislators to think along those lines.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the Oregon legislature.  Please stop by and say “hello” some time.

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

Food bank thanks Keizer

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Keizer Community Food Bank I want to thank the Keizer community for their continued support of the food bank during the 2016 year.

Special thanks to Uptown Music, Tony’s Kingdom of Comics, Keizer Elks (both men and ladies), Habitat for Humanity Recycle Store, Safeway, 7-11, and you, the community.

We are continually grateful for the ongoing support of our food ministry program. In most cases, for every dollar we receive, we can buy three dollars’ worth of food. Core foods that we like to keep on our pantry shelves that offer basic nutrition are peanut butter, tuna fish, macaroni and cheese, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruits and vegetables, soups and cold cereal.

Donation barrels can be found at Uptown Music and Tony’s Kingdom of Comics.

For more information call Curt at 503-871-9100.

Curt McCormack, director
Keizer Community Food Bank

America’s sacred fire must not be doused


“Well, I preach the Church without Christ,” says a vivid Flannery O’Connor character named Hazel Motes. “I’m member and preacher to that church where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.”

At the heart of Donald Trump’s public rhetoric is a similar emptiness. He is a president who preaches America without exceptionalism. He is the leader of the free world who seldom mentions freedom. He belongs to a political faith in which America’s political miracle is only for us, and dissidents and democratic activists are on their own, and those who are oppressed stay that way.

Trump’s rhetorical rejection of internationalism is an aberration from America’s bipartisan, post-World War II foreign policy consensus. It is also a culmination of recent trends.

During the Barack Obama years, America retreated from internationalism in practice. At first, this may have been a reaction against George W. Bush’s foreign policy. But Obama’s tendency became a habit, and the habit hardened into a conviction. He put consistent emphasis on the risks of action and the limits of American power. In the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, following the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, as Russian influence returned to the Middle East, America inaction was taken as accommodation. “The fear of making things worse has paralyzed the United States from trying to make things better,” said Russian dissident Garry Kasparov in recent congressional testimony.

This geostrategic retreat is consistent with a broader political trend. Summarizing recent survey data, researchers Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk conclude: “Citizens in a number of supposedly consolidated democracies in North America and Western Europe have not only grown more critical of their political leaders. Rather, they have also become more cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives.”

This is a sobering development —the deconsolidation of support for liberal democracy itself. Both America and Europe are seeing the rise of leaders who have chosen to ride this trend rather than buck it. Trump’s version of strongman democracy and his abandonment of the language of liberal democracy are only imaginable in this environment.

This shift has outward-facing consequences. Dissidents and democratic activists—often driven by a stubborn, defiant passion—are not going to give up because America loses its ideological nerve. But regimes tempted to crack down on them have greater confidence in impunity. America is now less likely to criticize their “way of life,” even when these regimes evangelize with the gallows.

This shift also has inward-facing consequences. A nation that ceases to speak for human rights may become less confident in civil rights. This type of relativism—this neutrality between freedom and authoritarianism—is easily imported across the border.

But we are not there yet. And the Trump administration itself is divided on these matters. Stephen Bannon certainly has the president’s ear and control of the speechwriting shop, which is strategic high ground. His ethno-nationalists are anxious to get a running start on the road that would take America toward dishonor and failure. But the Defense and State Departments are headed by committed internationalists who understand that the growth of freedom and the spread of prosperity are essential to long-term global stability and American security.

The tools of internationalism—a strong military, strong alliances, strong international institutions, strong support for global development and democracy promotion—have a considerable cost. “Such investment,” said Kasparov, “is far more moral and far cheaper than the cycle of terror, war, refugees and military intervention that results when America leaves a vacuum of power.”

In assuming this calling of leadership, it is not ethnicity that grips the American imagination and justifies sacrifice; it is the animating ideals of the country. And it is a national advantage that our deepest beliefs are in accord with the durable hopes of humanity.

We will not find security, only darkness, by dousing America’s sacred fire.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

One agreement is first step to a functioning country

February 20 was President’s Day.  On this day in 1792 the Postal Service Act was signed into law by George Washington.  It was felt that a universal and affordable delivery service would help to include everyone in participatory democracy.

Universal delivery was mandated with the specific idea of all citizens having equal access to news and information regardless of income level. Getting information about current affairs through the US Postal Service seems quaint in the smartphone age but the idea of everyone sharing in the cost of having an informed citizenry seems more important than ever.

My thirty years in the postal service made me believe it is a microcosm of America. Postal employees are mainly a hard-working, decent bunch of men and women trying to provide timely and accurate service.  There are conservatives and liberals.  There are religious beliefs of every stripe and some without. There are lots of outstanding employees and some that drain on the performance.  There are cheerful employees and crabby. All that is set aside toward the common cause of getting the mail delivered.

The recent presidential election showed all that we, as a nation, have lost in sharing a common cause.  Though we have been willing to form up sides and despise each other I doubt there is much difference in what a “liberal” and a “conservative” want for their families and future.  What is it that has put us at each other’s throats?

First and most important is the realization that Congress has abandoned us. Since we’ve let stand the idea that money is free speech it is money that is heard in Washington, DC, not speech. If money is speech then without money you are speechless. If Congress is influenced by the voices with money then legislation will always be crafted to protect and increase wealth of the one percent.

President Trump was elected as angry reaction to the abandonment of middle class America by Congress.  Hillary Clinton was rightly perceived as ensuring more of the same.  There is no explanation for voters’ belief that a billionaire would somehow be the champion of the working man.  The appointment of a full deck of Wall Street tycoons and billionaires to Cabinet positions does not bode well for increasing the fortunes of working class America.

During the course of the recent election it seemed like wishful thinking that simply choosing the right president could fix things.  The President has a lot of influence but it is Congress that has brought consensus government to a grinding halt in fealty to their largest donors.  The President can bluster and name names but legislators seem unaffected as long as campaign donations keep rolling in.

It’s hard to see how we might regain the attention of our legislators short of storming the walls with pitchforks and torches. As long as we are paralyzed by our divisions so will Congress be. Are there some things that we all agree would make America remain great? We’ll never know unless we talk to each other as equal partners. That is the definition of participatory democracy. That means we must trust a shared source of information.  That is no longer delivered by the Postal Service.  There is no longer a universally trusted source of national news. That is pulling us apart.

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