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Month: March 2017

Keizer teen makes most of pencil

Of the Keizertimes

Long before she got her first violin, Kim Ockerman, 14, Keizer, would tuck a recycled egg carton, or really anything she could get her hands on, under her chin, and using a pencil, pretend like she was playing.

“She’s wanted to play the violin since she was tiny, two, three years old,” Kim’s mother Jessica said. “I played (cello) in a quartet with my friends and she was exposed to it.”

When Kim wasn’t using a pencil to pretend playing the violin, she was using the tool to draw.

Ockerman, who has a piece in the 10th annual K-12 exhibition “The Langauage of Art” at the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, draws in her favorite notebook. (Submitted)

“I’ve drawn for as long as I could pretty much hold a pencil,” Kim said. “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember.”

The drawing eventually turned to painting and the two hobbies, music and art, recently got Kim a seat in the Salem Youth Symphony and a spot in the 10th annual K-12 exhibition “The Language of Art” at the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

While Kim submitted an acrylic portrait of her mother playing cello, she prefers to paint animals.

“I’ve been working on trying to paint more people because it’s newer for me to do,” Kim said. “I’ve always done animals. I have a hard time with hands because they’re weird to paint. So it’s a new thing for me to be doing.”

The exhibit, which runs through May 28, is also a first. Kim’s piece was one of 45 chosen from over 200 submissions.

“I had never really done anything like that before, a real exhibit, so this was pretty exciting for me,” Kim said.

Kim got her first violin from Uptown Music in the third grade when the Ockermans moved to Keizer from the Eugene area.

Kim takes private lessons from Eadie Anelli in Silverton.

“I played violin when I was little and I couldn’t make it sound like I thought it should,” Jessica said. “She (Kim) just picks it up and it sounds like it’s supposed to.”

Kim plays classical musical in the Salem Youth Symphony, which was also a change.

“It’s been interesting, very challenging,” Kim said.

“The music that they pick is really difficult but it’s really fun to play. I’ve never been in a symphony before. I’ve been in an orchestra so now I have the drums, woodwinds. It’s really fun to hear everything come together.

“I also like to play fiddle music. I like the Irish jigs. Those are fun to play.”

Kim went to Cummings Elementary and then Howard Street Charter School in Salem.

For high school, she enrolled in Oregon Virtual Academy, which has given her more flexibility to play music, draw and paint.

“It fits her style a little better,” Jessica said.

“She gets over stimulated with all the people. It’s very stressful for her so I think home schooling has let her relax a little bit and she’s shown a lot more creativity and more interest in what she wants to do.”

One of those interests is learning a foreign language—Russian.

“That’s going okay,” Kim said. “It’s a very difficult language.”

“She doesn’t do anything easy,” Jessica added.

The Ockermans attend a Jehovah’s Witness Russian congregation in Keizer, which has given both Jessica and Kim plenty of opportunities to practice the language.

“Everyone is out of their comfort zone because we have friends who are from Ukraine and Russia, they’re learning a new language and how to get jobs and we’re learning their language, so we’re all foreigners together,” Jessica said.

“I think it’s a great learning experience for her. It opens up the whole world because we know people from everywhere that have been everywhere and it makes the world accessible.”

Kim wants to continue to explore the world by traveling and then drawing and painting whatever she sees.

“That’s pretty much what I do. I draw and I paint and I play music,” she said.

Students need bus funds for Day of Service

Of the Keizertimes

Whiteaker Middle School teacher James Decker is looking for help to turn Whiteaker students into a one-day,volunteer army.

Decker, and some of his students, spoke to members of the Keizer City Council Monday, March 20, to ask for donations to pay for buses that would carry students to sites around the area for a Day of Service in June.

“There is less and less civic engagement, and a community that thrives works together,” said Decker. “We would like to be at the forefront of that change.”

Decker hopes to secure $2,000 to transport all the seventh and eighth grade students off campus to sites throughout the area on June 15.

He’s waiting for the bus funds to solidify further plans, but Decker has a long list of potential projects in mind ranging from assisting at local senior homes to volunteering with other civic and public entities.

Sixth grade students would stay on the Whiteaker campus to work on projects there such as cleaning, planting and even making treats for residents at area animal shelters.

Decker is working on setting up an online funding campaign, but those interested in supporting the effort can call the school at 503-399-3224.

Burglary underscores need for more officers

J. Alvarado

Of the Keizertimes

A 42-year-old Salem man, found stuck in a window and bleeding, is in cuffs after allegedly attempting to burglarize Keizer’s One Stop Smoke Shop in the wee hours of Thursday, March 16. But it wasn’t Keizer Police officers who responded to the call.

At 12:51 a.m., the Keizer Police Department were contacted by a private security officer who responded to a burglary alarm at the store located at 3926 River Road North in Keizer.

When the security officer arrived on the scene to check the business he found a burglary suspect stuck in a window on the north side of the business. The security officer reported the suspect was moaning in pain and requested paramedics respond as well.

None of Keizer’s three night shift officers were available to respond, but Salem Police Department officers and Keizer Fire District both did.

Six minutes prior to the report of the burglary attempt, KPD’s three night shift officers responded to a report of trespass and menacing at Smoker Friendly Market, 5135 River Road N.

The suspect at Smoker Friendly had been asked not to return to the business after a prior encounter and the 9-1-1 caller reported he had just pulled a knife.

“This was a serious call with a report of a subject that was armed with a knife, therefore sending three police officers was prudent and justified,” said KPD Deputy Police Chief Jeff Kuhns.

At the time of the One Stop burglary call, Keizer’s night shift officers had just begun their investigation at Smoker Friendly. The investigation including taking statements from eight people present during the incident. The suspect later admitted to police that he had not drawn a knife but a screwdriver that had been sharpened.

When SPD officers arrived at One Stop Smoke Shop, the suspect was still trapped and found to be bleeding from lacerations suffered while trying to enter the business.

A door to the business needed to be breached by officers so they could enter to detain the suspect and provide medical treatment for his injuries, a process that took about 40 minutes.

Jose Manual Alvarado was then transported to Salem Health for treatment of the injuries. He was released from Salem Health about 9:30 a.m. the following morning after receiving treatment for his injuries. He was transported to the Marion County Correctional Facility.

At Smoker Friendly, 32-year-old David Anthony Kellum was arrested and taken to the Marion County Correctional Facility where he was charged with disorderly conduct.

Keizer police officials would like the city to add five officers to the current roster of 37 officers. Two of those new hires would become part of night shift patrols, which would mean four officers on duty each night instead of three.

If the city were to create a dedicated fund, through a fee, the cost is $44 per year for each residence and business.

New barber shop opens

Of the Keizertimes

A local barber has opened up a new shop in Keizer.

After eight years of working in another shop, Dave Wells has opened Dave’s Place at 148 Chemawa Road N.

“I come from a line of production line workers and just decided I wanted to try something else,” Wells said.  “I’m passionate about it and I like making people feel good about the way they look.”

Wells and his wife, Emily, recently purchased a home in town with their family – including Brennan Dobson, a baseball player for KYSA, Jasmine Wells, a volleyball player for Claggett Creek Middle School, Hazel Dobson, a softball player of Keizer Little League, and 6-month-old Chase Wells, official team mascot for whoever happens to be on the field or court at the moment – is laying down roots.

For the time being, Dave’s Place is open seven days a week 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will probably be some adjustments after he discerns what the peak times are. Cuts are $17 and that includes children. Wells can also do straight-razor shaves.

When designing his shop, Wells paid particular attention to the way young customers would feel once in the chair.

“I wanted to have a sporty feel, but I also wanted kids to feel good about being here,” Wells said. In place of a third chair in the shop, the youngest customers can sit in a race car while getting a new “do.”

After tragedy strikes, drag racer puts skills to work for teen drivers

Of the Keizertimes

Learning to drive can become a contentious ordeal for even the most patient teens and their parents.

Former drag car racer Doug Herbert started out hoping to help teens improve their driving skills, but he’s ended up creating some better parent-teen relationships along the way.

“Some of the kids come to BRAKES kicking and screaming, but at some point during the day the light bulb comes on and they realize everything they don’t know. Those same ones that come in kicking and screaming have their arms around their parents at the end,” Herbert said.

BRAKES is a non-profit organization Herbert founded in memorial to his sons. He and his crew will be coming to Keizer’s Volcano Stadium on April 1 and 2 to help teens dive deep into defensive driving skills. There will be four chances to participate, from 8 am. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. each day.

The course is free, but a $99 refundable deposit is required. Students must be age 15 to 19 with a valid permit or license and 30 hours of driving experience. At least one parent also needs to attend with the student. Registration can be completed at A University of North Carolina study of the program showed that BRAKES graduates are 64 percent less likely to be involved in a car crash within the first three years of driving.

Herber never expected to become a driving instructor. His enthusiasm for driving fast found an outlet in the drag racing scene, but he always gave safety concerns their due. He was an early adopter of body harnesses and custom seats when they became available.

Everything changed in 2008, when his sons Jon and James, 17 and 12, respectively, were killed in a crash less than a half mile from their home in North Carolina.

“They’d hopped in the car to go to McDonalds and Jon was driving too fast,” Herbert said.

The following week, the local school closed for his sons’ funerals and Herbert went and talked with students about not only what he was going through as a parent, but what the students needed to do to be safe on the road.

“That’s when I realized I knew a lot about driving fast, but I also knew a lot about driving safe. It was as much therapy for me as it was for them,” Herbert said.

Not long after, Herbert founded BRAKES and enlisted a slew of highly-trained drivers to help in the effort.

“Most of them have their own BRAKES story and a reason for why they teach. It’s not like the local coach who also teaches driving,” Herbert said.

The BRAKES course begins in a mobile classroom, but soon both parents and their student drivers are taken to separate parts of the parking lot to take turns behind the wheel in a variety of high-risk scenarios like crash avoidance, emergency lane changes, steering with anti-lock brakes engaged, skid avoidance and recovery and what to do if a wheel drops off the road.

“We have special tires on some of the cars that perform like they are driving on ice,” Herbert said. “Each of our instructors makes sure that every driver has a good handle on the skills before sending them to the next part of the course.”

The end result is an experience that leaves an impact far beyond imparting defensive driving skills.

“I think everyone leaves with more appreciation for the fragility of life and knowing they need to pay more attention to those they love as well as the road,” Herbert said.

The BRAKES courses are being sponsored by Power Kia and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

Commishes want more on Safeway fuel proposal

Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Planning Commission opted to continue a public hearing on a proposed Safeway fueling center on River Road North at its meeting Wednesday, March 15.

Representatives of Safeway requested a continuation of the process while they determined how to deal with a prohibition on sales of other merchandise in a proposed amendment to the city’s development code. But commissioners also wanted to hear more on other issues brought up during a public hearing. Concerns about traffic, especially in regard to the Keizer Fire District’s ingress and egress, were at the forefront for the commission (see sidebar below).

Continuing the public hearing delays the commissioners’ decision regarding whether the fueling center should be permitted. The Keizer City Council, however, will have the final say on the matter.

In most other areas along River Road, a gas station would be a permitted use. But, even before Keizer had a development code, the then-city councilors decided to put an “overlay” zone in the area between Claggett and James streets on River Road North and Elizabeth Street and Bailey Road on Chemawa Road. The overlay still prohibits several types of development (see sidebar, below) and one of them is a fuel station. Safeway needs the restriction to be modified for the fueling center to move forward. The fuel center would be placed on an undeveloped spot in the Safeway parking lot.

Commissioners were given four options for a decision: doing nothing and keeping the restrictions in place; eliminating the restrictions entirely; backing a text amendment proposed by Safeway that wouldn’t allow the city to place conditions on traffic mitigation and other issues; or allowing the fueling station as a conditional use so long as Safeway committed to other improvements and traffic mitigation efforts.

Seth King, a land use attorney, spoke on behalf of Safeway saying that the staff-proposed amendment to the zone was largely acceptable except for a prohibition on sales of other merchandise. If approved, fueling center plans call for a convenience stand where items like soda, coffee, cigarettes and other convenience fare would be sold.

“This is not a workable business model. It wouldn’t be a full-service convenience store, but some ancillary sales are expected and a necessary part of these fueling stations,” King said.

King said Safeway would either like to have the prohibition on such sales removed or have the hearing continued at a later date.

Safeway had looked into building a gas station on the site as early as 2013, but the plan never moved forward internally, said Chris Miles, a construction project manager for Albertsons, the company that acquired Safeway in 2014.

“This is something our customers have requested over and over. Our nearest fueling center is in Salem,” Miles said. “We’ll survive without a fueling center, but we will most likely do something with the property because it is a dirt lot and ugly right now.”

Miles said the additional merchandise sales were an essential part of the package.

“That sale doesn’t do much for us overall, but if we don’t offer it, we lose the fuel sale,” Miles said.

A main point of contention in the conceptual plans is an increase in traffic to the shopping center that would result from adding a gas station.

Keizer Fire District Chief Jeff Cowan said the district would not support a change to the overlay zone.

“Don’t change it. It’s there for a reason,” Cowan said. “We have to go into oncoming traffic to reach River Road or the other side of Chemawa every day,” Cowan said.

Miles walked commissioners through some of the changes Safeway is proposing to help alleviate clogs on Chemawa if a fuel center gains approval. The main entrance would be widened by 12 feet to allow for easier flow into the parking lot, especially for those turning left from westbound lanes. However, the draft plans also included a reworking of the parking lot near the main entrance. At least three of the parking spaces on both sides of the first aisle of parking spaces would be removed and some handicapped parking added to force customers further into the lot rather than allowing them to wait for the closest parking spaces to open up and creating congestion on Chemawa.

“I don’t think we addressed the fire district, but we addressed the flow,” Miles said.

Chris Brehmer, an engineer with Portland’s Kittleson & Associates, said additional mitigation might be possible with some linking of the signals on River Road North.

“The development will increase traffic and we are trying to understand what they will be, but this is a chance to improve the entrance issues,” Brehmer said.

Commissioners didn’t show much of their hand with their questions on the proposed changes, but said they wanted to get more input from the other entities that might be impacted like the Keizer Fire District and Salem-Keizer Transit District.

“This is a big investor in our community and I don’t want to slow them down, but if we are going to continue this, I want the other interested parties to be here,” said Commissioner Garry Whelan.

Other code limitations take fire during Safeway fuel hearing

Of the Keizertimes

If politics makes for strange bedfellows, the same might be said for business.

While the Keizer Planning Commission was taking testimony on a proposed fueling center at Safeway on River Road North, the proposed removal of an overlay zone drew support from a connected pair of individuals. They supported the Safeway proposal, but had other vested interests in having the overlay zone removed.

While Safeway wants a prohibition on gas stations in area between Claggett and James streets on River Road North and Elizabeth Street and Bailey Road on Chemawa Road lifted, the same part of the development code also prohibits auto dealers, auto rental and auto repair businesses, recreational vehicle parks, public utility structures and building and drive-thru windows associated with eating and drinking establishments.

That last provision is what brought out Adam Wittenberg and Coldwell Bank Commercial realtor Pam Rushing.

Wittenberg recently acquired the old Bank of the Cascades building at 5120 River Road N. and has had some interest from a restaurant looking to locate there. The drive-thru prohibition stands in the way.

Wittenberg did not say who was interested in the site, but said “great businesses like Burgerville, Chick-Fil-A and Del Taco” aren’t looking at Keizer, and implied that the drive-thru window prohibition is snarling the deal for a potential tenant at the Bank of the Cascades location.

“We’re excited about reinvesting in Keizer,” Wittenberg said. “When companies want to invest, we have to make sure we’re not prohibiting (it).”

He said he fields multiple offers each week to set up a marijuana dispensary, but it sits within 1,000 feet of McNary High School.

Rushing said that it is getting easier to attract businesses to River Road, but that prohibitions like the ones set forth in this specific section of the development code make it difficult.

“The Bank of Cascades has a drive-thru and we have a tenant that would like to make it a food drive-thru, but it can only been used for a bank,” Rushing said. “I’ve been fortunate to work a lot in Keizer and represent a lot of property owners and tenants. It’s been hard to attract national tenants to River Road and it hurt the (other) business owners on River Road, but the trend is starting to change now.”

While there is a prohibition on new food drive-thrus, old ones – like the ones at the old Roth’s location – are grandfathered in. Because those windows are now inactive, the property owner was able to shift them to the new building that will be home to The Human Bean, a coffee company. When Starbucks  reps selected its new site south of Chemawa Road, they chose the first property in the immediate vicinity not included in the drive-thru prohibition zone.

Larry James Smith

Big Lar

Larry James Smith, 70, of Keizer, Oregon, passed away March 19, 2017 after a three-year courageous battle with cancer.

He was born February 10, 1947 in Ontario, Oregon, to Gail and Charleen (Dentinger) Smith. He graduated from Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon. He went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree from Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University) where he excelled on the football field and was a proud member of the TKB. He spoke fondly of his time at OCE and the positive impact it had on his life.

He married Diane Robertson on March 17, 1973. They have three daughters Tana (Kevin) Thomson, Amy (Jeff) Campbell and Haley (Mark) Cooper and six grandchildren Parker, Kellen, Rylee, Cayde, Eaelyn and Brayson. He was a very proud dad and papa and always made his family his top priority. Larry cherished his family and extended family and always looked forward to spending time with them and his visits to Eastern Oregon.

Larry is the ultimate example of service to others. He dedicated his life to children and the community he lived in. He coached youth football, softball and baseball. Larry worked behind the scenes by contributing his time and money to ensure our youth had the best facilities. He recently received the Keizer Service to Education award for the impact he had on Keizer youth.

Larry spent his entire career in the lumber industry and worked up until his death. He was passionate about his career and never viewed his job as work. He formed many strong relationships with his colleagues whom he considered second family. He spent the last twenty-one years working and growing Billboard Lumber and was very proud of the company Billboard Lumber is today.

His love for learning and personal growth was contagious. Larry was a mentor to many and had an amazing ability to motivate and inspire confidence in others. He focused on positivity and was there to encourage others in their time of need.

Our life will never be the same but his spirit will continue to live on through the many lives he touched.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 24 at Zenith Vineyard in Salem, Oregon.

Kevin Compton

Kevin Compton, 67, was born on November 5, 1949 to Osia and Victor Compton and passed away March 12, 2017 in his Keizer home from ALS. He is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, (Marlene), favorite daughter (Nichole Black), adored and cherished grandchildren (Isabella and Tyler Black), brother and sister-in-law (Barry and Emma Compton), many treasured nieces and nephews and Honey Boy Blue (Little One).

Kevin’s Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 1pm at the Grace Community Church, 4105 Lancaster Dr NE, Salem, OR 97305. In lieu of flowers, Kevin would be delighted to have donations made to The Oregon and Southwest Washington Chapter of The ALS Association. Arrangements are by Keizer Funeral Chapel.

Carma Sue Miletta

Carma Sue Miletta  passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on March 3, 2017. “Sue,” as she was known, was born August 30, 1934 in Des Moines, Iowa to Winnett and Beulah Conrad. After graduating from North Salem High School, Sue met the love of her life, Roy Miletta. They were married on December 8, 1952 and had four children: David, Lisa (Martinmaas), Larry, and Lora. The family moved to Keizer in 1959. After raising her family, Sue worked in food service for Salem-Keizer School District at McNary High School and Kennedy Elementary. After retiring from the school district, she worked for the Oregon State Fair (Poultry Building), eventually becoming superintendent. Sue was a long-time volunteer for the Keizer Heritage Foundation. She loved to read, travel, paint with watercolors, and cheer on the Keizer Volcanoes–she was a season ticket holder for many years. Sue’s positivity, humor, and smile will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

Sue leaves behind her children, seven grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. She is also survived by her brother, Jay Conrad. Sue was preceded in death by her husband, Roy, and son Larry Miletta.

Sue was a member of First United Methodist Church of Salem (600 State Street) and services for Sue will be held there on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Sue with donations to United Methodist Church – MICAH  Center (600 State St, Salem, OR 97301) and/or St. Brigid Home (c/o Catholic Community Services, PO Box 20400, Salem, OR 97307-0400).

Keizer girls bring ‘Wrath’ to derby

Of the Keizertimes

McNary freshman Anneke “Wrath” Titus joined the Cherry Blossoms junior roller derby team three years ago.

But she would’ve started much sooner.

“My mom was originally in it (roller derby) so I really wanted to do it ever since she was,” said Warth. “They didn’t have a junior league at the time though. I just started skating with her. She was all for me doing it.”

Wrath’s mom competed for Panty Raiders, which is one of six adult roller derby teams in Salem. The junior team, which is in its third year of competition, is for girls and boys ages 12-17.

The Cherry Blossoms next bout is Saturday, March 25 at 6 p.m. against the Emerald City Junior Gems in the Cherry City Derby Girls Mad House, 1335 Madison St. NE Salem.

Tickets are available online for $10 at or at the door for $15.

Wrath, who began skating when she was eight and is now a captain for the Cherry Blossoms, said she’s never really been a “sports kid” but has always enjoyed roller derby.

“I like that if I had a really bad day I can come here and kind of get my stress out,” Wrath said. “It’s really fun because I make lots of friends and I meet new people. It’s challenging and demands a lot physically but it’s really great going out there and having fun and seeing the team grow.”

Maya “Mercury” Blaisdell Wood, a seventh grader at Whiteaker Middle School, started roller derby when she was eight years old in Los Angeles but had to wait two years to turn 12 when she moved to Keizer.

“When I was in elementary school, a kid told me I couldn’t play basketball because I was a girl,” Mercury said. “My mom started looking at sports for me to play and I found this one, which is a really all-inclusive sport, no matter what your size or gender is. It was kind of this hidden sport. What I really love about it is you get to know your teammates really well and it’s just such a unique sports. It’s on roller skates. It’s the greatest.”

In roller derby, each team fields four blockers and a jammer, who wears a star on their helmet and scores points by lapping the pack. Jammers earn one point for each opposing player they pass while opposing blockers try to stop the jammer while also helping their own jammer through the pack.

Cherry Blossoms compete in Portland, Bend, Eugene and Seattle. They are traveling to California in June.