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Day: June 21, 2017

Ismay to dual enroll at Linn-Benton, Oregon St.

Of the Keizertimes

Matthew Ismay, three-time Greater Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, will be terrorizing a whole new group of opponents over the next two basketball seasons.

The 2017 McNary graduate has decided to play at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany.

Before Ismay chose Linn-Benton, he first had to decide which sport he would play in college.

Playing third base and hitting in the heart of the Celtics lineup this season, Ismay was unanimously voted to the All-GVC First Team by the league’s coaches after hitting .425 with two home runs, 11 doubles, 20 RBI and 22 runs scored.

But Ismay’s mind was already made up before the baseball season even started.

“I probably had a choice to play either (basketball or baseball) but I’ve always just enjoyed basketball a little bit more,” Ismay said. “I think it’s a little more exciting, a little more vigorous, and that’s why I like it. Even though I knew I was probably better at baseball, my goal was always to play basketball.”

While Ismay also looked at Southern Oregon and Oregon Institute of Technology, he ultimately chose Linn-Benton for more playing time on the basketball court and a dual enrollment program at Oregon State, where he plans to major in engineering.

“If I go to a place like that (OIT), I might not play for a couple of years,” Ismay said. “I’d rather just go to Oregon State where I’m going to have a lot more of my friends and people I know going there and just play right away.”

Due to Oregon Promise, Ismay, who was one of 20 valedictorians in McNary’s 2017 Class, can also take classes at Linn-Benton for free, before taking engineering and science courses at Oregon State.

“I’ve always had an affinity for science and math and I’ve taken some classes like that in high school that I’ve really enjoyed so that was one of the key things I was looking for was a good engineering program,” Ismay said.

Ismay, who was voted all-league First Team, led the Celtics in points (13.5), assists (4.6) and rebounds (5.1) last season.

His favorite memories on the basketball court were when McNary cut down the nets after winning league his sophomore season and then a 61-47 win at home against West Salem on senior night.

“I’ve always had a ton of great teammates over the years and I’ve been able to play on a lot of good teams,” Ismay said.

“There’s just a lot of big games and it was always fun to play in that environment.”

Few barriers for Keizer youth wanting tobacco

A Keizer kid under the age of 18 has about a 50/50 chance of walking into a River Road business and walking out with a pack of cigarettes they paid for.

That’s according to numbers provided based on Oregon Health Authority inspections in 2015. According to 2016 figures, the successful purchase of tobacco by minors was down to about 14 percent, but it’s difficult to compare year-over-year, said Inga Suneson, a health educator with the Marion County Health Department (MCHD).

“Because the teams don’t go to the same locations at the same times, there’s no real control number,” Suneson said.

The numbers themselves are alarming, Keizer has one of the worst rates of tobacco sales to minors in all of Marion County – Salem averages about a 13 percent rate with exponentially more outlets – and there are no inspections of vaping shops that now line River Road.

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

To arrive at the aforementioned numbers, OHA sends 16-year-olds paired with retired Oregon State Police officers to tobacco-selling retailers and successful sales are logged. The teens are even look-tested by others to make sure they appear underage.

Suneson and MCHD Prevention Program Supervisor Kerryann Bouska set out last year to take the temperature of local jurisdictions’ openness to increasing regulation of tobacco products in all forms. The process included interviewing as many city councilors and mayors as they could regarding the potential support for new policies and regulations.

Suneson and Bouska are concerned about tobacco use by youth in all forms, but especially given an onslaught of new products seemingly aimed at the youth market.

Federal rules banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, but new products quickly took their place.

“Cigarettes have a minimum pack price, but you can roll flavored tobacco in brown paper and sell them two for $1.29,” Suneson said. “A lot of parents don’t go into the gas station when they are getting their fill-ups, we have to remind them that this is part of their world.”

The new products, dubbed “little cigars” and often in brightly-colored packages, sidestep the federal rules.

“It’s constantly evolving and we’re chasing them all the time trying to keep up,” Suneson said.

Current penalties for selling to underage users are also less-than-helpful. The clerk selling the tobacco is the one cited not the retailer.

“That means the owner can put the blame on individual clerks rather than establishing better policies for the whole store,” Bouska said.

The latest trend the pair is trying to catch up to is vaping.

“The idea that vaping is a better choice than using tobacco in another form is just erroneous. Taking superheated liquid into your lungs is not healthy,” Bouska said.

Vaping pens can also be used to smoke cannabis oil without the distinct associated odor.

Suneson said the general scientific consensus is that vaping is not the effective quitting tool it is sometime sold as.

“More often people start vaping and continue using traditional tobacco. The amount of nicotine in vaping liquid is also anybody’s guess,” Suneson said.

Also, because a single vaping tank can last for hours, it’s likely that vapers are ingesting more nicotine than they would otherwise because they no longer reach the natural end of a cigarette, she added.

Currently, Oregon does not require a license to sell tobacco products – even though one is required for selling Christmas trees and owning a dog – but that is the part Marion County health would like to change. Proposed legislation at the state level often gets hung up in the process, so MCHD is advocating for local jurisdictions to take up the issue.

It would start by establishing a citywide tobacco retailer licensing program and that would allow enforcement of associated rules, which could range from regular audits of the kind OHA performs to even increasing the purchasing age to 21. Suneson said roughly 90 percent of underage tobacco users are supplied by those age 18 to 21.

While middle school and high school students learn how to avoid things like peer pressure and deconstruct advertising campaigns, which are essential skills, more could be done to protect youth from the dangers of tobacco use, Bouska said.

“We have the tendency to put the onus of refusal on the youth, and their frontal lobe that includes reasoning and logic are still developing until the age of 25,” she said. “The economy is important, but at what health cost? And what could the (policy) umbrella do for our youth?”

Suneson suggested putting yourself in the shoes of a 15-year-old with all the power of Google in your pocket.

“If you’re 15 and do a quick Google search on vaping you will find arguments on both sides,” Suneson said.

Choosing which to believe, at a young age, is likely a better reflection of desire than informed decision-making, she said.