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Day: March 17, 2017

From KYBA to state champs

Keizer girls lead Blanchet to first girls basketball title

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

With a roster of mostly sophomores, Blanchet Catholic wasn’t supposed to win a state championship.

But its road to a title didn’t begin two years ago.

It started when five future Lady Cavaliers—Ana Coronado, Bailey Hittner, Hailey Ostby, Lauren Elmore and Trinity Phipps—came together as fifth graders on the same tournament team in the Keizer Youth Basketball Association.

That squad, which won a state middle school championship as sixth graders, was coached by Bailey’s father Ron Hittner, who was an assistant at Corban University and is now the head coach at Blanchet.

“You could definitely tell the potential at an early age,” coach Hittner said. “They loved the game and you knew they were going to improve.”

Kalea Salang joined the girls at KYBA in the eighth grade.

Ron Hittner’s sixth grade KYBA team won a state title. (submitted photo)

“There seemed like there was no weak link to the team,” Salang said. “The whole team, we were all strong players and we went to the state tournament that year and placed third. We already knew from there that we had a gift and we could go far places if we stuck together.”

With all six girls on the varsity team as freshmen, Blanchet made the 3A state tournament last season for the first time since 2012 but were eliminated in the first round.

With the goal of getting back to the playoffs and this time winning, the fifth seeded Cavs easily defeated Amity 51-29 in the first round to advance to the state quarterfinals at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay. They then edged No. 4 Portland Adventist 46-44 to play PacWest Conference foe and No. 1 Salem Academy in the semifinals.

Blanchet had defeated the Crusaders by two points early in the season but had since lost twice by an average of 10.5 points.

The Cavs evened the score in the semifinals, winning 51-39 to advance to the state championship game for the first time in school history.

“The kids did a great job executing the game plan,” coach Hittner said.

“We’re a strong defensive team and when we play defense, we can compete with anybody. We also shot the ball well. It was the most complete game we had on offense and defense.”

Up next was two-time defending state champion Dayton, who Blanchet had narrowly lost to back in December.

“We knew us going to the championship game that was a big check but we weren’t settled for that,” Coronado said. “We thought we could push even more and win a championship and make even more history.”

But the Cavs fell behind by 14 points early in the fourth quarter.

Needing a miraculous comeback, the girls went to a defensive drill they’ve practiced since the fifth grade. The objective is to play defense for an entire minute without making a mistake.

Blanchet did it for seven minutes, holding Dayton without a basket while scoring 16 straight points.   

Coronado capped off the run by stealing the ball from two-time 3A player of the year Shawnie Spink and making a layup on the other end to give the Cavs a lead with 30 seconds remaining.

“I wasn’t expecting myself to steal the ball but it was out there so I took it,” said Coronado, who led Blanchet with 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals in the 36-34 state championship victory on Saturday, March 4.

Blanchet, which prides itself on playing full court pressure defense, simply wore Dayton down.

“We still had another gear in us, I guess,” Coronado said. “They got tired at the end and we kept going and kept pushing. We’ve always played that way, since fifth grade. I can’t even explain how big defense is to us. It truly has been our key.”

The Cavs also fed off the crowd.

“The atmosphere was electric,” coach Hittner said.

“Our fans were great and our kids really fed off their energy.”

Once the final buzzer sounded, the girls couldn’t hold back the tears.

“We were all bawling our eyes out in the locker room,” Bailey Hittner said. “I remember turning to Trinity and saying this is what ever since fifth grade has led up to. It’s crazy to think that every practice, every game in the tournament has led to this moment right here. It was just so surreal.”

“I just started crying,” Salang said. “I was so happy for my team and my coaches. The moment was so real and intense. It just took me over. It was just unbelievable. It almost seemed like a happy ending in a movie.”

“It was amazing,” Ostby added. “We’ve been working so many years to get to this point. It was just fun to share it with all of them.”

Bailey, who’s been coached by her dad since she began playing basketball in the third grade at KYBA, said her favorite moment was watching him cut down the net.

“He’s had so many nights where he’d stay up all night doing scouting reports, watching film on the other teams,” Bailey said. “It made me feel super happy to see that all of his hard work had paid off. My dad was just such a great influence on us and he taught us not only about basketball but we’re a family and we have to watch out for each other on and off the court.”

After a snow day, the team, which also includes Sophia Poole, Wendy Liao, Emily Collier, Najma Suri, Sierra Archer and Katey Moore, were honored at a school assembly.

“That’s when it really sank in that we had won state,” Salang said. “The whole weekend, I couldn’t believe that it happened. When we got back to school and they had our bracket and they played a video and it had all our pictures and our trophy, it just seemed so real. It finally sank in that we had won state.”

Lady Celts open season with shutout

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Batting leadoff, Nadia Witt said she was just trying to get on base.

The McNary center fielder did more than that, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored as the Lady Celts shut out Cleveland 10-0 on Thursday, March 16 to open the 2017 softball season.

“We played a lot better than I expected,” Witt said. “I wasn’t expecting us to play bad but we played really good and we all communicated well and just played as a team.”

McNary sophomore Faith Danner pitched all five innings, recording six strikeouts and no walks. She allowed seven hits but only four got out of the infield.

“I was focused on hitting my spots, no matter what was behind me,” Danner said. “I was hitting the corners pretty good. I wasn’t throwing a lot down the middle.”

Freshman outfielder Alexa Cepeda, who hit second in the Lady Celts lineup, claimed she was nervous before her first high school game. But it didn’t show as Cepeda went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.

“My first at bat, I was kind of shaking but I think I got them (nerves) out,” Cepeda said. “She was pitching outside so I tried to take it the other way.”

Witt and Cepeda’s bats sparked McNary early. After Witt doubled to leadoff the bottom of the first inning, Cepeda roped a double of her own down the third base line to knock in Witt for the Lady Celts first run of the season.

With two outs in the bottom of the second, Witt and Cepeda did the same and their back-to-back doubles gave McNary a 5-0 lead.

“She gets on a lot and she has wheels, the kid can fly,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said of Witt. “And that’s what you want as a leadoff hitter. You want some one who is aggressive, who is going to push the issue. And then Alexa, I mean that kid for a freshmen, she already hits like she’s an upperclassman. She can hit and she can slap so we’ve got the best of both worlds.”

First baseman Haley Ebner singled to bring home Cepeda to give the Lady Celts a 6-0 lead after two innings. McNary added four more runs in the third.

Danner was 2-for-2 with a walk while courtesy runner Sabello Alfaro scored two runs. Emma Kinler and Nicole Duran both had RBI singles. Freshmen Kendyl Jennings and Haley Bingenheimer both had a hit and scored a run in their first game.

“One thing I like about our lineup, all up and down, we don’t really have a weak spot this year,” Wise said. “We’ve got kids who can hit one through nine. Last year, we lost to this team 13-17 so to have us come out and play like this, especially when you look and we had one senior on third base and four freshmen starting today. I’m really happy with this start. It’s good. I couldn’t be happier.”

Mayor: ‘The Keizer way works’

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark delivered a largely upbeat message in her annual state of the city address delivered to a gathering of Keizer Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday, March 14.

“The Keizer way works,” Clark said. “The people who formed the city of Keizer took charge of pride, spirit and volunteerism, thought through what they needed and made it happen. We started out as not-Salem, but we’ve become a significant part of the financial and social fabric of the region.”

Clark said the city survived the bursting of the housing bubble mostly unscathed, but now faces a housing shortage.

“We still need 214 acres beyond the current urban growth boundary to meet the current needs of the population,” said Clark in a nod to continuing discussions about expanding the urban growth boundary that keeps Salem and Keizer within a confined space.

Clark also addressed the issue of homelessness early in the speech. She was part of a task force that spent a year looking at the issues around homelessness in the region and is now working toward implementing the recommendations that resulted from the process.

“We have a rising homeless problem and we don’t have the services and support and safe, secure shelter for them. I want to be clear that the people are not the problem, it’s about our ability to take care of the people that we are facing,” Clark said.

She lauded the efforts of Salem’s Union Gospel Mission and Habitat for Humanity in serving the vulnerable population.

Clark spent several minutes praising the local business community and suggested a revitalized economic development effort was in the offing.

“You bring your A-game everyday and that is the heart of the Keizer business community,” Clark said.

At the city government level, there are no staff members tasked directly with economic development. A city task force was convened to discuss a way forward, but meetings have been intermittent at best.

“I am working with Councilor Bruce Anderson and, together, we are going to be looking at how to redefine the committee to partner with local business to plot the course forward,” she said.

She encouraged the representatives of local businesses in attendance to find ways to get involved at McNary High School and help students discover how to continue their journey after receiving a high school diploma.

“If a student takes one career technical education class, the graduation rate jumps to 88 percent. The diploma is no longer the end game for them. Mentoring those students is critical. The opportunities for them open up in business and life when someone comes up to them and speaks to their potential. That goes a very, very long way,” Clark said.

If there were any hidden asterisks attached to the Keizer way working, they were reserved for the end of the speech when Clark addressed the state of funding for parks and police. The Keizer City Council has identified both as needs for the city, but one of the only ways to create sustainable dedicated funds is through the creation of fees. That leaves some residents with a bad taste in their mouth.

“We chose Keizer because it works. But, it’s old enough to begin replacing and maintain the things we built, and do so in a sustainable way,” Clark said.

McNary lacrosse home opener Friday

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Led by a strong junior class, McNary lacrosse coach Ryan Bowlby expects a solid season.

The Celtics opened the 2017 campaign on Monday, March. 13 with a 12-8 win at Newberg.

McNary’s first home game is Friday, March. 17 versus Hermiston at 7 p.m.

“We have lots of experience on offense,” Bowlby said. “Our defense is extremely new but our goalie is a third-year starter. We’ve got a good mix-match.”

Jonathan Williams, who scored three goals and added three assists against Newberg, will lead the offense.

“Right now pretty much everything is ran through Jonathan Williams,” Bowlby said. “He’s a super athlete. He’s running track this year and doing lacrosse.

McNary junior Marcus McCoy is a three-year starter for the Celtics at goalkeeper. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

“The other team ended up blacking him out, so isolating him and face guarding him and taking him out of the game entirely and he still scored two more goals and got an assist. He’s a supreme, supreme lacrosse player.”

Williams wasn’t happy with how he started his junior season.

“I started off terrible,” Williams said. “I turned the ball over the first two times down. I settled myself down and got the offense going and realized I didn’t have to get the goal, somebody else could get it. The pressure isn’t all on me. We have other guys who can score the ball just as easily as I can.”

One of those players is another junior, Chad Pinney, who has played midfield the past two seasons but is transitioning to attack and scored three goals at Newberg.

Marcus McCoy returns at goalkeeper where he was an all-league honorable mention as a freshmen and Second Team selection as a sophomore. As a junior, McCoy is ready to take on a more leadership role.

“Since freshmen year, our coaches have always told us our freshmen class once we get up to junior and seniors, that’s when our true leadership was going to come up and that’s when we’re going to show our true power and that’s when we’re going to shine the most,” McCoy said. “This year, I think we got it. We’re coming out strong. We’re ready to win.”

“I just started crying,” Salang said. “I was so happy for my team and my coaches. The moment was so real and intense. It just took me over. It was just unbelievable. It almost seemed like a happy ending in a movie.”

“It was amazing,” Ostby added. “We’ve been working so many years to get to this point. It was just fun to share it with all of them.”

Bailey, who’s been coached by her dad since she began playing basketball in the third grade at KYBA, said her favorite moment was watching him cut down the net.

“He’s had so many nights where he’d stay up all night doing scouting reports, watching film on the other teams,” Bailey said. “It made me feel super happy to see that all of his hard work had paid off. My dad was just such a great influence on us and he taught us not only about basketball but we’re a family and we have to watch out for each other on and off the court.”

After a snow day, the team, which also includes Sophia Poole, Wendy Liao, Emily Collier, Najma Suri, Sierra Archer and Katey Moore, were honored at a school assembly.

“That’s when it really sank in that we had won state,” Salang said. “The whole weekend, I couldn’t believe that it happened. When we got back to school and they had our bracket and they played a video and it had all our pictures and our trophy, it just seemed so real. It finally sank in that we had won state.”

Who deserves health care?

By DON VOWELL

Is there someone you think should not be able to see a doctor?  The new proposal hopes to improve access with the exception of 45 million or so (American exceptionalism?), who can’t or won’t afford it. It is a question we must answer according to our humanity rather than political affiliation, ideology, or income level.  We need to ask instead how we’ve decided that some Americans don’t deserve health care.

Almost all other industrialized nations pay much less to provide universal health care. They have made a conscious decision that a healthy citizenry makes a healthy nation.  Should I care about your health?  Should you care about mine?  In most other countries the answer is a compassionate and fiscally pragmatic, “yes.”

Now there is a push to repeal the Affordable Care Act  and put in place a system that would reduce the number of insured by 24 million and increase premiums by 15-20 percent in 2018-2019.  The selling point is a reduction of $337 billion in costs over 10 years, that reduction delivered by less “customers” served, paying higher premiums.    

House Speaker Paul Ryan on the CBO analysis: “This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will provide massive tax relief, dramatically reduce the deficit and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation.”

He neglected to mention for whom tax relief is massive, or that the deficit is reduced in proportion to the numbers of Americans denied health care.

Many of the 24 million no longer insured will be those simply willing to gamble on their continued good health, or no longer able to afford the increased premiums.  They are free to make that decision because there is no longer a penalty for going without coverage. With fewer young, healthy enrollees, insurance companies may be less willing to offer coverage plans if the sick and the elderly are not seen as a profitable customer base.

The idea that competition will lower costs and provide better plans seems patently silly.  Instead it has given us the $650 Epipen and Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750.00 overnight. Leaving health care to the tender mercies of insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry has given us the highest per capita costs in the world.

This is our decision to make: Should American health care policy be designed for the benefit of the sick and injured or the benefit of for-profit providers?    

I care about the health of my family.  I even care a little about the health of those on Pettygrove Court.  Should I also care about the health of those on Dearborn Ave.?  Wheatland Rd.?  Maybe I should care about the health of everyone in Oregon.  It may be a failure of mine if a kid in inner-city Chicago ends up in the emergency room for lack of routine wellness care.  To paraphrase just a tiny bit, “Truly I tell you whatever care you provided for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Medical care has been around since biblical times. Is it now a business opportunity?  Though we allow it a major stake in our decisions, health insurance as a for-profit industry hardly even existed before World War II. One of its principal effects has been to drive low income Americans to the very costly services of hospital emergency rooms. Is there no more humane way to provide health care for all?

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

Resistance from both sides

By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS

This should be the moment President Donald Trump cleans up Obamacare with a broad smile on his happy face.

He won the Electoral College—and as his predecessor Barack Obama liked to say, “Elections have consequences.” Trump’s Republican Party controls the House and the Senate, which should mean there are no sand traps or water hazards on his golf course.

Problem is, Trump finds himself in the land where it’s often easier to vote no than to vote yes. Members of his own political party and conservative think tanks became standouts because of their principled opposition to Obamacare. Now their party wants them to support a plan championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan that doesn’t live up to their pre-2017 rhetoric.

The House plan keeps two popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act—adult children can stay on their parents’ health plans up to age 26 and insurers can not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Ryan reconfigures other provisions. His House plan ends the individual mandate that required most adults to get coverage or pay a fine; instead it requires insurers to add a 30 percent surcharge for individuals who allowed their coverage to lapse. Some conservatives complain that the surcharge is a mandate by another name.

The House plan ends premium subsidies, but replaces them with tax credits for middle-income earners who buy their own coverage. That’s a different form of entitlement spending, critics say.

Probably the hardest change politically is a switch to a formula that tells insurers they can’t charge older consumers more than three times what they charge young adults. The House plan would allow health care providers to charge seniors up to five times what they charge 20-somethings—a change offset by higher tax credits for Americans aged 60 to 65. The new formula should make coverage more attractive to the youth market the system desperately needs.

The Affordable Care Act reimbursed 31 states that increased their Medicaid enrollment for families earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The House plan would continue the full federal subsidy until 2020, when the system would switch to block grants for states. Conservative critics want to end the full federal subsidies in 2018. Trump has signaled he is open to accommodating them.

The House plan would end Obamacare taxes on medical devices and so-called Cadillac health plans. The GOP plan also would end the employer mandate that the right sees as a job-killer.

Rachel Bovard of the Heritage Foundation summed up the opposition when she said, “If you ask the average American person what Obamacare really means, it means that the insurance plans that they used to have that they liked were canceled and replaced with plans that cost you know 20, 30, 50, 100 percent more than they used to.” She doesn’t see the Ryan plan delivering pre-Obamacare health care. The tax credits, she added, “will just give people money.”

It especially angers the right that the Ryan plan rewards the 31 states that expanded their Medicaid rolls, rather than reward states that did not.

Bovard sees an easy remedy—let Congress pass the same repeal measure that both the Senate and House passed in 2015.

Bad idea, countered House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at a recent press conference: “If you just repealed the bill, you would double your premiums and you would collapse the market.”

McCarthy did not add that when Congress passed the repeal bill, Republicans knew that Obama would veto it. They had nothing to lose.

McCarthy stood with Committee chairmen Greg Walden of Energy and Commerce, Kevin Brady of Ways and Means and Diane Black who chairs the Budget Committee. These are the Republicans who have to do the heavy lifting—and they know that means not losing moderate Republicans who want low-income families to feel secure about their health care.

“Sometimes when you have pushback on one side and the other side from a political spectrum, you might have found the sweet spot,” McCarthy argued.

At a Politico event Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Republicans have to get out of their default position of “sparring” and get into “governing mode.”

Sparring has become the domain of Democrats. During the Obama years, they were outraged at Republican obstructionism. Now they call their obstructionism “resistance”—without even a hint of irony.

Health giant Humana has announced it will exit the exchanges in 2018. Last month Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told the Wall Street Journal that Obamacare has entered a “death spiral.” Trump’s election win has allowed the left to dodge the bullet it created. (Creators Syndicate)

City looking at McNary parking

From the Mayor’s Desk
By Cathy Clark

The city has received numerous complaints about the high school traffic and parking on and around McNary High School. The safety and livability for people living in our neighborhoods and the safety and access for our Keizer students to get to school are very important to us. In order to let people know what is going on, I felt it would help to write an open letter and share the issues and options we are facing.

Mayor Cathy Clark

Students are having more difficulty getting safely to McNary High School. All the entrances are crowded as the more than 2200 students plus staff members converge on the school. Parents have contacted the Traffic Safety Commission and me about making it safer for students to walk, bike or drive. And residents living in areas around the school have faced problems over the years from littering to drugs.

The Salem Keizer School District is aware of the problems and our city manager and police staff have been working with the district regarding school overcrowding and the neighborhood impacts. Until the school and its parking are expanded, we are committed to work with their administration to help solve issues as they arise.

Recently, the majority of issues have been centered on Newberg Drive. Some we have been able to resolve quickly because the city has the authority to take action. Some are more complicated and require coordination with the school or neighbors. And some problems are directly connected to the overcrowding, so the city is actively participating in the site planning process with the district.

Issues that the city can directly solve include:

Cars were parked in muddy gravel areas around a house near the school. It turned out not to belong to a resident but was public right of way so the city did appropriate maintenance to take care of the mud.

Parking by the fire hydrant: The curb has been painted to clearly mark the no-parking zone around the fire hydrant which makes it an enforceable violation to park there.

Littering: School staff, students, including student leadership and some of the neighbors have been keeping the trash picked up on a regular basis. I agree with everyone’s frustration with trash – the mere idea of being so self-absorbed that one does not put trash into appropriate bins is beyond my comprehension. And we all appreciate people who volunteer to clean up and take pride in our community.

A resident raised the issue of towing cars that are blocking driveways and as a result, we found an inadvertent change in our ordinances in the 90’s that is now being corrected to give our police the authority to call for towing in that situation.

Blocked driveways have been an issue, particularly for one neighbor who has been blocked in and was written up for being late to work. With Newberg Drive being an unimproved street, some driveways are not clearly defined. We can work on ways to clearly and consistently mark the driveways. That would provide objective, enforceable spaces for no parking. I am asking our Community Development Department to bring information on options to both Traffic Bike Pedestrian and Planning Commissions. Their recommendations will then be provided to residents who have driveways that are not clearly defined.

There are some issues that need to be handled by the residents with the help of the city:

Newberg Drive is dark. Keizer neighborhoods are each covered by their own street lighting district paid for by the residents. Older neighborhoods like Newberg Drive were built without them, but may at any time establish a street lighting Local Improvement District to install lights and pay for their operation each year. Those of us who live in neighborhoods that have street lights are willing to do so because we value the safety and security they provide. I encourage residents on Newberg and throughout Keizer to all seriously consider putting in street lights if you don’t have them.

Newberg Drive also has no sidewalks. We have a long list of sidewalk projects to build and are getting projects built each year as funds allow. In the meantime, neighborhoods may form a local improvement district program to build sidewalks. The LID allows those costs to be paid back over 20 years or upon sale of the property. Information on sidewalk LID is available from the Community Development Department.

Before school, there is noise and traffic clogging Newberg. According to the Chief, police have been monitoring the area regularly. He explained that traffic congestion is not generally a ticketable offense. The city paid for the traffic signal at Chemawa, which helped ease problems there. Our police department does not have the staffing capacity to monitor the three high school entrances plus the two middle schools and about nine elementary schools; Gubser Elementary has a similar problem to the congestion on Newberg. We have been strongly urging the school district to come up with a short term plan for more parking while preparing for site upgrades in the future.

And there are some issues or concepts that have been proposed which may work but are not as simple as they seem.

Opening another gate at the end of Orchard Street would ease congestion with an additional access point. But students would be walking straight right into traffic on Celtic Way. The future site plan could add sidewalks and realign the roadway, but it is not safe to do currently.

A “No McNary Parking” zone has been repeatedly proposed as a simple solution to the problem.  It is true that the signs are cheap and easy to put up. However, as our city staff has explained several times, the signs alone do not provide enforceable violations that will stand up in court, and the signs inconsistently deny people the use of a public right way. The street belongs to the people of Keizer. Parking in front of a person’s home is not reserved space. We can ask students to not park there. We can ask people attending sporting events to not park there. But it is a public right of way and we cannot legally deny people the right to use it.  Other jurisdictions that have tried voluntary compliance have all had to go to an enforceable program. Another option our staff proposed is limited time parking, such as a three hour limit during the day. But, again, this would have to apply to ALL vehicles, as the residential and non-residential vehicles would not be distinguishable without a permit.

When there is a need established to restrict public parking on public streets, cities across the country have developed residential parking zones. The program like the one in Salem for areas around North Salem and South Salem High Schools has provided clear vehicle identification, parking preference on public streets for residents, and is legally enforceable.  See this link (www.cityofsalem.net/residents/parkingservices/documents/residentialpermit.pdf) to show how those zones are established and the program for residents to purchase parking permits. In order to reserve public right of way as parking for residents, there is a cost to establish and enforce the program. We do not have such a program in place, but I am forwarding this information to the Planning Commission and Traffic Bike Pedestrian Commission to consider the matter. If such a program is established, guidelines and costs would be established for designating residential parking zones.

The city staff and Council know that school overcrowding has led to safety and livability problems for students, residents and families. I am committed to working with you all to achieve effective and equitable solutions.