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Month: May 2017

Worried about the state of our leadership

By GENE H. McINTYRE

Every American is free to accept and reject societal values. It is only when the expression of those values does harm to other Americans that the line of what’s lawful is crossed.  This aspect of human interaction is the difference between chaos and order.  Then, too, a society’s core values are what provides its youth  a means of emulating traditions, carrying them from one generation to the next, sustaining the Constitution that established America’s foundational values.

It was this very matter of values that alarmed this voter about candidate Donald J. Trump. During the 2016 campaign season we learned that Trump viewed most Mexicans as “rapists and drug dealers.”  He commented on John McCain as “not a war hero.” He said of Megyn Kelly’s questions during the first GOP debate that they resulted from a menstrual period. He said he witnessed 9/11 celebrations on the part of Muslims in America. He mocked a disabled reporter using wild gestures and guttural sounds. He owned a Trump University that took money from would-be students and pocketed that money without delivering any educational programs.  Then there was that despicable Access Hollywood tape where groping and objectifying women was glorified by Trump as his way of treating the opposite sex.

After Trump’s election, there have been a virtual avalanche of lies and exaggerations proven time after time to be untrue. One of the first lies had to do with the number of persons who watched his inauguration in Washington, D.C.  Then there was the lie about the number of persons behind the Electoral College count versus the actual number of votes for him and Hillary Clinton.Then there was the ongoing lie about the Trump-imagined number of illegal voters that have been determined by research to be about 30.  Then there was the proven-false wiretap accusation.  More recently the firing of the former FBI Director James Comey has resulted in contradictory explanations for the firing from Trump versus his spokespersons.  And this, that and the other go on and on and on.

Yet, according to polls, no matter what President Trump says or does, something between 35 to 40 percent of those Americans asked about him, still support him as apparently do most GOP members of Congress.   This leaves one to ask whether our nation is into a crisis in values where lying and exaggerating has become for many the standard for all interactions within and outside the nation.  Sadly, after the way firing Comey was handled, it appears we are on the verge of losing our way as a democracy with the Constitution trashed and the horrors of authoritarian rule by strong man dictatorship replacing it.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

Mervin Riley Halbeisen

Dec. 3, 1935 – May 7, 2017

M. Halbeisen

Mervin Riley Halbeisen, age 81, passed away at home with his wife, Betsy, by his side on May 5, 2017.  Mervin was born on December 3, 1935 in Lincoln, NE.  He is survived by his wife Betsy; two sons, Randy and David; daughter Connie Franklin (Alan); three step-children Randy,  Russell and Brigetta Hoch; eight grandchildren; and six great grandchildren.  He was preceeded in death by his first wife Donna.

Halbeisen served the country as a paratrooper in the US Army.  He owned the Santiam Depot Restaurant & Lounge in Stayton.  He also was owner/operator of Merv’s Trucking Company in Salem.

He was active in both the Keizer Elks and Eagles and also the Lincoln City Eagles.

Services will be held at the Keizer Elks Lodge, 4250 Cherry Avenue, on June 3, 2017, at 2 p.m. Donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Julius Caesar gets an upgrade in new McNary play, #Caesar

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School is bringing William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar to the Ken Collins Theater stage May 17-20 but instead of physically murdering Caesar they are socially murdering him.

The play, adapted by McNary drama director Dallas Myers with the help of students, is titled #Caesar and takes place in a present day high school.

“We’re all students and we’re reading Julius Caesar but these students are these characters in real life,” said McNary senior Josiah Henifin, who plays Brutus. “This is all actually taking place in the classroom. We’re reading it in class and those same things are actually happening in the classroom.”

All four performances begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available at mcnaryhs.ticketleap.com/caesar.

The play has a strong anti-bullying message.

“It’s about bullying and the use of social media and technology and how we’re talking behind people’s backs and spreading horrible things about each other,” Henifin said. “That’s how it actually is in high school and we’re trying to show the reality of that though this play. It’s really powerful.”

McNary senior Annie Purkey plays one of the biggest bullies—Cassius.

“The thing I like about placing it in a school is the important message that we bring to it, which is bullying and how deeply your words can affect other people, especially in a high school setting where that’s super prevalent,” Purkey said. “It’s the perfect show to set in a high school.”

Purkey, who’s been picked on in the past, wanted to see what it was like to be a bully.

“I wanted to be something that’s not like me at all so that I can really act,” Purkey said. “I was thrilled to find out that I was Cassius because he’s a big bully. Playing that kind of role where you’re the one that starts the rumors for your own personal gain, it’s kind of come full circle for me so that I can try to put myself in the people’s shoes that did it to me and really have empathy for everyone all around. Hopefully it will be something impactful so that people can look at my character and see just how wrong it is to do that kind of thing.”

McNary is using a series of movements to show the damage bullying can have at a high school.

“This is the most intensive theatre physical that we’ve done in this show,” Purkey said. “That piece in itself is really cool because it tells the story in a very different visual way instead of just the lines. Through the movement we do different pieces that end up leaving people alone and by themselves.”

Everyone is affected by the bullying, not just Brutus, which really comes out in the Battle of Philippi scene.

“Everybody has had their backs turned on them at one point so it’s showing how far that can escalate and it really does affect every single person,” Purkey said.

Senior Spencer Lamb, who plays Caesar, said the dialogue in the play still sounds a lot like Shakespeare, including long monologues. He also recommends people pay close attention to the way the different characters move.

“This is the play where you should observe the movements and how people are interacting with people a lot more,” Lamb said. “A lot of our transitions and some of our story telling moments are seen through large movement pieces.”

While Henifin, Purkey and Lamb are all seniors and have been in many McNary productions over the years, #Caesar will be the first for freshman Isabel Pineda, who plays one of the conspirators plotting against Caesar.

Pineda has never taken a theatre class but has wanted to give it a try ever since watching her cousins preform in shows at McNary.

“It’s a little nerve-racking,” Pineda said. “I’ve never done a super huge production like this and I’ve seen what McNary has done in the past and I know that it’s very big and it draws quite a bit of attention to their shows. But it feels so good to be part of such a wonderful community, like everyone in the group has been supportive right from the beginning.”

Man chose wrong site for alleged drug house

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Police Department Community Response Unit uncovered a trove of drugs and guns while executing a search warrant on a nuisance property Monday, May 8.

Keizer and Salem police officers executed the warrant – issued for a high probability that controlled substances were being used and delivered there – about 4:45 a.m. at 4945 Delight Street N.

“We received several complaints from more than one neighbor, and everyone noticed the continual foot and vehicular traffic,” said KPD Deputy Police Chief Jeff Kuhns.

Investigators also had probable cause to believe the primary resident sold oxycodone on two separate occasions from the home.

Six occupants and a dog were found inside, but only Kevin Ivan Lara-Alvarez, 24, aka Kevin Lara, was arrested.

Investigators allege Lara is the primary person responsible for the residence where he maintained and sold controlled substances. When the suspect was taken into custody he was found to have in excess of $3,400 cash on his person. Police also found marijuana, more than 400 oxycodone pills that were packaged for sale, packaged heroin (approximately 25 grams), methamphetamine (more than a gram), cocaine, crack cocaine (more than 13 grams), buprenorphine pills and alprazolam pills.

There was also evidence Alvarez was extracting THC from marijuana for use in edibles including cereal treats and brownies. Extracting THC is now a felony in Oregon for unlicensed manufacturers because of the dangers and risks associated with it.

The Salem Police Department Bomb Squad was also called to the scene to investigate a suspicious device found among a stockpile of firearms, at least two were stolen. The largest of the weapons was a PTR-91F, a .308 caliber semi-automatic rifle with bi-pod and scope.

Police went in at the early hour because they suspected the occupants had firearms and presented an imminent danger. It also prevented interruption to students getting to school at Cummings Elementary School (385 feet away) and McNary High School (901 feet away).

Lara-Alvarez is charged with: three counts of possession of oxycodone, one count of heroin possession, one count of methamphetamine possession, one count of cocaine possession, one count of manufacturing marijuana extract, two counts of theft by receiving, one count of tampering with evidence, maintaining a place where controlled substances are used and six counts of delivery of controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a school.

His bail was set at $405,000.

Claggett, Whiteaker face off

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

The bright future of McNary’s track and field program was on full display Thursday, May 4 as Whiteaker and Claggett Creek middle school went head-to-head in both team’s final dual of the season.

Whiteaker eighth grader Leah Doutt won both the girls 100 and 200-meter races in 12.88 and 27.40 seconds.

Claggett Creek eighth graders Ethan Martin and Dyami Rios battled in the boys 100 and 200. Martin won the 100 in 11.21. Rios took second in 11.31 and then won the 200 in 23.63. Martin was second in 24.03.

Whiteaker won both the girls 4×100 and 4×400 relays. Doutt, Isabella Walker, Taylor Ebbs and Isabel Cartwright finished the 4×100 in 53.68. Doutt, Kylie Nepstad, Emily Lettenmaier and Kennedy Buss then completed the 4×400 in 4:44.13.

Claggett Creek swept the boys 4×100 and 4×400 relays. Martin, Rios, Gabriel Martinez and Emanuel Figueroa finished the 4×100 in 46.59. Figueroa, Torren Hamilton, Elijha Devoursney and Juan Diego Acosta Rosales then completed the 4×400 in 3:58.13.

Buss won the girls 400 in 65.01 and Devoursney placed first in the boys 400 in 59.02.

Whiteaker swept the girls and boys 800 and 1500 races with eighth grader Ella Repp winning both the girls 800 and 1500 in 2:47.36 and 5:35.21 and eighth grader Edgar Salazar winning the 800 in 2:22.47 and the 1500 in 5:00.37.

Whiteaker also won both 100-meter hurdle races as eighth grader Ashlin Samples finished the girls event in 16.43 and eighth grader Rian Canini completed the boys race in 14.88.

Emerson Woomer, a Whiteaker eighth grader, won the girls shot put with a throw of 35-1.5. She also took second in the discus at 84-04. Buss won the discus at 84-05.

Rios won the shot put with a throw of 42-3.5 and Claggett Creek eighth grader Christian Aguilar won the discus at 115-10.

Walker took first in the girls high jump, clearing 4-08. Canini and Martinez both went 5-0 to tie for first in the boys high jump. Canini also won the long jump at 17-0.

Whiteaker seventh grader Stephanie Wade won the girls long jump by leaping 14-09.

Lady Celts take down McMinnville

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary thought it was the better team last time.

This time the Lady Celts proved it, throttling McMinnville 14-4 in five innings on Tuesday, May 9.

The Grizzlies were undefeated in Greater Valley Conference play and hadn’t allowed more than six runs in a game all season. McNary got that in the first inning.

“I think the girls were a little fired up because we felt like we got up on these guys 3-0 last time and kind of let off a little bit and squandered it,” McNary head coach Kevin Wise said. “They’re a great team so to be a team like this the way we did, it’s a great thing this time of year. We’re heading into playoffs with good momentum.”

Nadia Witt reached on an error to start the bottom of the first and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alexa Cepeda. Haley Ebner then drove Witt home with a line drive single to right field.

After Hannah Carr drew a walk, Emma Kinler then singled to left field to bring home Ebner and give the Lady Celts a quick 2-0 lead.

McMinnville decided to make a pitching change, bringing Ashley Rhoads in for starter Payton Hudson.

The decision did not pay off, at least not for the Grizzlies.

With two outs, McNary freshman Haley Bingenheimer busted the game open, hitting an outside pitch over the left field fence to put the Lady Celts ahead 5-0.

“When I was running home I had to keep my head down because I was smiling so much,” Bingenheimer said. “We really wanted to beat these guys. The last game, we shouldn’t have lost that one.”

Just two pitches later, Faith Danner continued the big inning, hitting a solo home run to center field.

McMinnville began to slowly chip away at McNary’s lead in the top of the second, scoring two runs on a home run and double.

But with Hudson back in the circle, the Lady Celts added three more runs in the bottom of the second.

The Grizzlies threw four different pitchers at McNary and made substitutions every inning in the infield and outfield but none of it mattered as the Celts continued to knock around McMinnville.

“We took the information that we had from the first game and we figured out if we can just poke the ball and just get good base hits, we’ll be fine,” Wise said. “Yesterday we worked on zero defense and we spent two hours hitting and it showed today. We had a plan and they stuck with it and executed it perfectly.”

McNary loaded the bases in the second. After Cepeda scored on a wild pitch, Kinler hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Ebner. Carr then came home on a pop fly single by Duran.

The Lady Celts scored four more runs in the third. Witt drove in Danner and Sabella Alfaro with a single to left field.

After another pitching change, Carr hit a two-out single to score Witt. Duran then added another single to bring home Carr.

Alfaro scored McNary’s final run of the game in the fourth on a ground ball by Ebner.

Danner, who pitched all five innings, allowed just one hit in the top of the fifth before finishing off the Grizzlies to earn the win.

The Lady Celts improved to 17-4 overall and 12-2 in the GVC. Their final league game is Friday, May 12 at home against Sprague.

The state tournament begins Monday, May 22.

Parks fee talks go south quick

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A conversation among Keizer city councilors about whether to impose a fee on residents to support Keizer parks short-circuited upon liftoff.

The council hosted a public forum on the topic of parks fees Monday, May 8, and turned to their own discussion of the issue after taking public testimony (See related story Page A11).

While the council eventually passed a motion directing city staff to craft an ordinance that would impose the fee, at least three councilors – of the six in attendance – expressed reservations regarding how the city should approach the next steps.

The ordinance will include at least the following: a $4 fee per month assessed to both residential and commercial customers with no increases for one year; an $8 cap on future increases; a reporting requirement for the Keizer parks and public works staff; and available discounts for seniors and low-income residents along with the stipulation that no one will have their water cut off due to not paying the fee. This, however, is only the first step in the council’s process. Any ordinance will have to come back before the council with additional opportunities for public input.

Even before the discussion began in earnest, Councilor Roland Herrera suggested he was wary of the idea of imposing a fee without a vote.

“In most of the conversations I’ve had, (people) support the idea, but they want to have a vote,” Herrera said.

Councilor Amy Ryan said her conversations with residences had a different flavor.

“My experience was that we had questions about putting it on the ballot, but the majority of people I talked to said they trusted the council,” Ryan said.

A vote has two potential consequences, if city staff were ramp up the effort to place an ordinance on the November ballot, it will incur additional costs (about $1 per registered voter according to City Recorder Tracy Davis). Deciding to wait for a 2018 election, in which the city could forego the per-voter expense, defers needed maintenance and repairs for at least another year.

Councilor Bruce Anderson said he was uncomfortable with any action given the city’s lack of conversation about how to create greater funding for the Keizer Police Department. He was joined in his concern by Councilor Kim Freeman.

“The people I talked to said they love their parks, but they said police come first. I want to have that conversation before we move this forward,” Freeman said.

Mayor Cathy Clark countered she did not want the conversation to become an either/or proposition. Police officials have come up with a plan for what they need, but the past year was spent collecting information from residents about the parks because they are “the experts,” she said.

“We have good information and we know what our (parks) needs are. In my mind, waiting another year would not be responsible. The safety and maintenance issues are critical,” Clark said.

Ryan was the only councilor to voice support for a structured fee increase from the outset.

“If we increase incrementally, people can prepare for it,” Ryan said.

Councilor Laura Reid, who played her hand close to the vest all night, was most interested in how residents would be billed.

Reid asked several questions regarding how the billing would be handled. From a monetary point of view, the cheapest method would be to include a fee as a line item on existing utility bills already issued by the city. Creating an additional bill sent with the current bills would cost an additional $1,500 to $17,600 depending on whether it was annually or monthly. An entirely separate billing would cost a minimum of $9,200 for an annual statement or $111,300 for 12 monthly statements.

“Having the separate bill might give us more flexibility to ask for people to increase their contribution,” Reid said.

Clark said previous attempts to collect funds in that manner had rapidly diminishing returns and e-payment systems have made it unlikely many residents even open their bills.

While the motion to have staff draft an ordinance passed unanimously, Anderson and Freeman reaffirmed their reservations in how it was being handled.

“I will support moving forward to draft an (ordinance), but that doesn’t mean I am supportive of the (ordinance),” Anderson said.

Freeman said she hoped the council would begin discussing a fee to support the police department sooner rather than later.

“All (Chief John Teague) needs is for me to tell him when and he will be ready. We can have that robust discussion quickly,” said City Manager Chris Eppley.

Thomas named top music educator

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Andy Thomas, choir director at Whiteaker Middle School, wants all kids to experience music.

It’s why a couple years ago he started an Exploratory Wheel class for all sixth graders. It’s why he volunteers his time after school to teach guitar lessons.

And why every summer he leads a week-long choir and drama camp for fourth through ninth graders that last year had over 220 kids.

Thomas was recently honored for providing more opportunities to Whiteaker students and kids throughout Keizer with the Salem-Keizer Music Educator of the Year award.

“It’s a great honor to be given an award like that,” Thomas said. “It’s just nice to be given a pat on the back sometimes for the work you do, all the extra time and effort and hours that you put in as a music educator.”

Thomas got his own education in music at McKay High School.

“My high school choir director (Charles Graber) is the reason why I’m here today,” Thomas said. “He was a very inspirational and had a powerful presence in my life.”

Thomas is in his 12th  year at Whiteaker, which already had a tradition of excellence, but he has grown the choir from 180-190 seats to over 280. The annual cabaret also existed as a dessert night but Thomas turned it into a bigger fundraiser event that draws an audience of more than a thousand.

“I love it because it is an event that brings the community together,” Thomas said. “It’s an event that let’s our kids shine. We make money. Their self confidence and self worth just goes off the charts.”

The guitar lessons came out of the summer camp and last year Whiteaker was able to purchase a full set of guitars. Thomas teaches two to three sessions a year of 20-25 kids each.

“Where there’s a need, I go with it and kids were interested in guitar,” Thomas said.

“They love to sing at home and I can teach you four chords and you can play a lot of songs with just four chords. That’s nice because we get kids in the population that aren’t in a music class that come in and we get more kids exposed to music.”

Thomas has also been able to travel, taking his advanced choirs on trips to Florida, Los Angles, San Francisco and Portland.

Whiteaker was one of two middle schools invited to preform at the American Choral Directors Association Northwest Conference last March.

“That’s a huge honor because they have one to two each year and to be selected is really difficult,” Thomas said.

Whiteaker will preform at the Oregon Music Educators Association conference next year and Thomas hosted 22 choirs in Keizer for a choral adjudication festival this spring.

When asked why he continues to go the extra mile, Thomas replied, “A passion for the arts, a passion for the kids and a passion to give kids opportunities and experiences that will be highly impactful to them and who they are and for their growth and development. It’s so good for the kids to get to do this stuff.”

Gilbert to pitch at Pacific University

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary senior Josiah Gilbert has wanted to play college baseball for as long as he can remember.

But when making the decision to go to the next level, Gilbert looked beyond the sport.

“Baseball is a dream and you have to realize that sometimes the odds aren’t really in your favor,” Gilbert said of playing after college.

“I knew that and that’s why I picked a school that was academically exactly what I wanted.”

Gilbert signed with Pacific University on Thursday, May 4 in the McNary library.

“Pacific held my attention the whole time,” Gilbert said. “It was my No. 1 from the get go. They are one of the top physical therapy schools in the nation, which is what I want to do. It was pretty much a no brainer for me. I’ve played there before in a tournament. It’s a gorgeous facility, a gorgeous field and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Pacific is a Division-III program located in Forest Grove, less than 50 miles from McNary.

“It’s close to home and my family,” Gilbert said. “It’s exactly what I wanted.”

Gilbert, a First Team all-league pitcher last season, will also have the opportunity to play right away.

“If I put in the work and I do what they think I can do, I have the opportunity to be an impact freshman, which is big,” Gilbert said. “That doesn’t really happen very often. It felt pretty good to have somebody think that highly of me.”

At the signing, McNary head coach Larry Keeker told a story from one of his first encounters with Gilbert as a freshman.

“We held pitcher and catcher workouts at 5:45 in the morning and for freshmen that’s sometimes a shocker but Josiah would show up with a big smile on his face and he was ready to go,” Keeker said.

Gilbert also didn’t know the level of his talent, asking Keeker at the end of the two weeks of workouts if he’d made the team, even though Gilbert was the best pitcher in the class.

“What struck me at the end of the process is Josiah in his innocent way didn’t even realize how good he was,” Keeker said. “It was just that humble innocence that got my attention about him as a ninth grader that I remember.”

By his sophomore year, Gilbert was pitching on the varsity team.

“I remember going out to state my sophomore year,” Gilbert said. “I was the third starter and we played against Sheldon and I got the opportunity to go pitch against the team that ended up winning state and I gave up two earned runs, two unearned runs in four innings of work. It was a great experience for me and something I definitely needed. It was just exceptional.”

Gilbert was voted a team captain before the 2017 season.

“Josiah has earned every bit of this in terms of his future to play baseball at Pacific University,” Keeker said.

No trial for woman in murder of son, 12

A. Robertson

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer woman charged with strangling her 12-year-old son to death will not face trail after being found mentally unfit.

Amy Marie Robertson was charged with the aggravated murder of her son, Caden Berry, on Saturday, Jan. 14. Robertson was being held without bail at the Marion County Correctional Facility.

In April, Judge Lindsey Partridge ordered a psychiatric evaluation on Robertson’s fitness to stand trial. On May 1, Partridge ordered the evaluation sealed and remanded Robertson to Oregon State Hospital.

The order signed by Partridge states that Robertson is a danger to herself or the community and that the supervision and services required are unavailable in the community.

Robertson will be confined to the hospital until she regains the capacity to stand trial or a maximum of three years. Within 60 days, hospital staff will need to report whether there is a substantial probability of her ever regaining her capacity. The hospital superintendent will have to submit a progress report to the court at least once every six months while she is there.

All other proceedings have been suspended.

After her arrest Robertson was charged with aggravated murder, murder by abuse and two counts of criminal mistreatment in the first degree.

Keizer Police Department officers were summoned to an apartment at 175 Garland Way North about 12:45 p.m.

Robertson was discovered outside the apartment waving her hands and screaming. Caden was found unresponsive under a blanket inside.

Two days later, an autopsy determined the boy had been strangled to death.