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Day: June 30, 2017

McNary goes local for drama director

Of the Keizertimes

After four years of a two-hour commute to Parkrose High School in Northeast Portland, Tom Cavanaugh is looking forward to working just five minutes from his front door.

But that’s not all that drew him to McNary High School.

“I knew the reputation of McNary theatre,” Cavanaugh said. “I’ve known Dallas (Myers) for years and years and years. I knew a lot of what they had going on there. It was all really exciting. To have that many kids interested and participating in theatre is amazing.”

Cavanaugh is replacing Myers, who stepped down after seven years as McNary’s drama director. Cavanaugh and Myers were at Western Oregon University at the same time and acted in many shows together. Cavanaugh’s wife, Jessica, now a teacher at Roots Academy in Salem, did her student teaching at McNary under then drama director Linda Baker.

“She was able to speak to the fact that there’s this amazing community of support in theatre,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh was introduced to theatre as a high schooler at Westview in Beaverton when athletics didn’t go his way.

“I thought I was a three-sport athlete,” Cavanaugh said. “I played football my freshman year, got cut from basketball my freshman year, played baseball my freshman year, got cut from baseball my sophomore year, took a couple of theatre classes because (it was an) easy A when I was a freshman and I ended up really connecting with the teacher and when sports were no longer an option, she encouraged me to start doing some shows. It worked out. I found out that’s where my talent was.”

After high school, Cavanaugh worked at Starbucks and acted in plays in the Portland area.

“Teaching was always going to be the goal but I wanted to do some things first and kind of settle into it,” Cavanaugh said. “I really enjoyed doing performance. I wanted to act for a while but it was never New York or LA. It was just something I enjoyed doing and I wanted to keep enjoying doing it rather than make it my job.”

After getting his undergraduate degree from Western Oregon in theatre performance, Cavanaugh got his Master’s in education from Willamette four years ago. He student taught at McKay High School. His first job was at Parkrose, which didn’t have the theatre tradition like McNary. Of the 900 students in the high school, only 22 and just five boys came to the first audition.

“My goal was more interest from students who don’t traditionally do theatre,” Cavanaugh said. “It was my goal to make it more of a school-wide theatre rather than just working with theatre kids.”

When Parkose did High School Musical in November, 2015, Cavanaugh had 65 in the cast and another 30 backstage.

“A lot of what I was trying to do was build relationships with students and trying to pick plays that I knew the kids would be interested in,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh also had to build up the theatre classes. In his first semester at Parkrose, Cavanaugh taught yearbook and two freshmen orientation classes because there wasn’t enough kids interested in theatre. By his second year, Cavanaugh was a full-time theatre teacher.

Since McNary has already done forecasting, theatre classes will mostly remain the same in 2017-18 but Cavanaugh would like to teach stage combat in the future.

“I love teaching it,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s something that really gets the kids interested. It’s a great way to draw outside interest. A kid might not want to get up and do a monologue but he might want to get up and swing a sword.”

McNary has announced its musical for next year—the Wizard of Oz. Choir teacher Joshua Rist and choreographer Zoe Banton led auditions on June 13-15.

“Transitioning to a new theatre teacher is hard so we didn’t want to do something that the kids have never heard of so they have to both buy into a musical that they’ve never heard and don’t want to be a part of and a teacher that they don’t know anything about,” Cavanaugh said. “They’re coming in really excited, hopefully, about a musical and we get to have that awesome experience while we get to know each other.”

Cavanaugh is meeting with the McNary Thespian Board on July 11 to plan the rest of the season.

Big Leaguer

Of the Keizertimes

Austin Bibens-Dirkx warmed up six different times in the Rangers bullpen before he was finally called to the mound to make his Major League debut on May 17 in Texas.

As a 32-year-old rookie, who spent more than 11 years in the minors, Bibens-Dirkx was used to waiting.

“I had a smile on my face pretty much the whole time,” Bibens-Dirkx said of his first appearance in the big leagues, which came in the top of the ninth inning with the Rangers leading 9-2. “It was the perfect time. They always try to give you a soft landing when you make your debut and not put you in a high pressure situation. I had to take a step back after my warmup pitches off the mound to take everything in, take a deep breath and then get back on.”

After a called strike on his first pitch, Bibens-Dirkx hit Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr with his second. But Bibens-Dirkx followed up with a strikeout on a curveball and got outfielder Michael Saunders to pop out to the catcher. With two outs, third baseman Maikel Franco hit a slider to center field to score a run. Bibens-Dirkx then got a line drive to third base for the final out to finish the first inning of his MLB career, something that had been a long-time coming.

Bibens-Dirkx, right, played on Roland Herrera’s, left, Keizer Little League Junior All-Star team in 1998. (Submitted)

Bibens-Dirkx weighed about 150 pounds and threw in the low to mid 80s when he graduated from McNary High School. If he didn’t get a baseball scholarship, Bibens-Dirkx was probably going to enlist in the Navy. But Chemeketa Community College offered and Bibens-Dirkx took advantage. Then after one season at the University of Portland, Bibens-Dirkx was drafted in the 16th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2006.

In the Mariners organization, Bibens-Dirkx quickly worked his way up to AAA and struck out five batters in his first two innings of work. He thought he was on his way to the majors but a setback began to put his baseball career in a tailspin.

“They tried to change my delivery a little bit and my mechanics and I ended up getting hurt,” said Bibens-Dirkx, who had shoulder surgery in 2007.

“The next year I struggled, just mentally, physically, it wasn’t all there.”

Bibens-Dirkx was then released by the Mariners before the 2009 season.

In July of 2009, Bibens-Dirkx got another chance with the Chicago Cubs. He started with the Class A Peoria Chiefs, moved up to AA to start the following season as was back in AAA by the summer.

Bibens-Dirkx spent the rest of the 2010 and 2011 seasons primarily with the Iowa Cubs before signing with the Washington Nationals, who invited him to spring training in 2012. But Bibens-Dirkx didn’t make the big league roster, instead being assigned to the AAA Syracuse Chiefs. He was then demoted to AA before being released.

Bibens-Dirkx spent the rest of 2012 with the Colorado Rockies organization before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. He pitched mainly in AAA but couldn’t make the next step.

“There were a couple of times when I thought I probably should’ve been given the opportunity,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “There were times that opportunities were probably there and I just wasn’t pitching well and didn’t deserve it.”

Bibens-Dirkx then found himself out of the minors and in an independent league playing with the Lancaster Barnstormers in Pennsylvania.

Keizer City Councilor Roland Herrera visited with Austin Bibens-Dirkx in Texas after the Rangers game on Wednesday, June 21. (Submitted)

“It’s guys who don’t necessarily want to go get a real job yet,” Bibens-Dirkx said of independent baseball. “It’s not the end of all baseball but it’s definitely leaning towards that. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to get out of. A team really has to take a chance on you or is in need of something that you can provide. There are so many guys in the minor league system already.”

Thankfully for Bibens-Dirkx, the Rangers were looking for a pitcher with experience to send to AAA and he had spent a lot of time there.

Bibens-Dirkx signed with Texas in June of 2016 and reported to the Round Rock Express. Bibens-Dirkx remained in Round Rock for the rest of 2016 and started the 2017 season there as well before finally getting the call he had waited so long for.

“I started practicing my signature when I was seven years old,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “I had an idea of what I wanted to do. You can’t really see that far in the future at seven years old but that’s just something (playing in the major leagues) I wanted to do and I wanted to work as hard as I could to achieve that.”

The hard work included spending his offseasons pitching in Venezuela.

“Going down to Venezuela every offseason has really helped me because I’m playing against a lot of these big league guys down there,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “I’ve been getting big league hitters out, which I think has finally opened people’s eyes.”

Bibens-Dirkx got the call to the majors at 7:30 a.m. on May 6 and flew to Seattle, where the Rangers were in the middle of a three-game series with the Mariners. He was activated on May 7.

“My phone flooded with texts from guys on the (Round Rock) team,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “A couple guys said, ‘No matter what happens to me, this makes my year, you getting an opportunity.’ That meant a lot.”

Bibens-Dirkx went to the Rangers as a long relief pitcher, someone who could eat innings when the starter struggled. But on May 31 Bibens-Dirkx was tasked with starting himself.

Against the Tampa Bay Rays, Bibens-Dirkx’s goal was to pitch at least five innings. He made it four and two-thirds but would get a second start against an organization that had released him five years earlier — Washington Nationals.

“I want to prove people wrong and say you should have given me a chance,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “Going into games against teams you played for that didn’t give you an opportunity, there’s always that extra little chip that you want to prove that they definitely made a mistake.”

Going head-to-head with two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and facing a lineup that included 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper and 2016 Silver Slugger Daniel Murphy, Bibens-Dirkx allowed just three hits and one run, a solo home run to the first hitter of the game, over seven innings to earn the win on June 11.

“That might be probably one of the most memorable outings that I might ever have in my career,” said Bibens-Dirkx, who retired 19 Nationals in a row.  “I just kept the ball down with making quality pitches and if you do that in any league, you can get guys out.”

Playing at a National League ballpark, Bibens-Dirkx also got to hit for the first time, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Scherzer.

“I fouled off a couple pitches,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “The ball comes in pretty quickly.”

After allowing five runs in a no-decision against the Blue Jays in his next start, Bibens-Dirkx bounced back to shut down another of the best lineups in baseball. In New York, he allowed five hits and one run over seven innings to defeat the Yankees on Saturday, June 24.

Bibens-Dirkx’s success has been emotional for Keizerites like city councilor Ronald Herrera, who coached him as a 13-year-old little leaguer and followed his career since.

Herrera watched Bibens-Dirkx’s first start with his stepdad Jeff McDonnell and former McNary athletic director Mike Maghan.

“It was very emotional for a lot of us,” Herrera said. “I was teary eyed. The whole thing is so incredible. It’s a movie. Austin has put our town on the map. He was always a scrapper, always hustling. It’s a lesson to kids to stick with what you really believe and love. Austin had a dream and he never gave up. It’s the best example I’ve seen of hard work and determination.”

In Texas for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Annual Conference, Herrera went to the Rangers game on Wednesday, June 21. He then watched Bibens-Dirkx start against the Yankees from a sports bar in Dallas.

“It gave me goosebumps to walk into the stadium and see him on the field down there,” Herrera said.      

Bibens-Dirkx entered his next start, Thursday, June 29 in Cleveland, with a 3-0 record and 3.68 ERA over 36 and two-thirds of an inning.

“I’m enjoying every second that I’m up here,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “I’m going to try to take full advantage of every opportunity that they give me and hopefully it’s enough to stick around. If not, I’ll go down and do everything I can to scrape my way back.”

Expensive week in Salem

This has been an expensive couple weeks for you in the Oregon legislature. Despite record amounts of revenue, the majority party has focused on getting more money.  First from large corporations and having failed at that, turned to those who do not have the means to defend themselves: small businesses. The Oregon Constitution clearly states that any law that would raise revenue must be passed by a 3/5 majority of the legislature. This session, that would mean that at least one Republican in both the House and the Senate would have to vote with all of the Democrats to raise revenue. Instead of following the Constitution, the majority party moved forward with House Bill 2060, a bill to raise revenue from small businesses—and they chose to pass it without any Republican votes because they said it only “removed tax breaks” instead of raising revenue.  This was based on the opinion of one attorney in the Capitol.

For small businesses with less than 10 employees—which, across the state, that size makes up over 80 percent of our businesses, and in Newberg it’s 91 percent—this is a huge deal.

HB2060 combined with HB 2391, the health insurance premium tax on small business would make a total of $341 million raised in new small business taxes in the past two weeks. At some point, government must learn to live within its means, not keep squeezing money out of Oregonians who are just trying to pursue their dreams and who create the majority of the jobs in our state.

In addition to passing taxes the House also passed another controversial bill last week—HB3464. This bill seeks to restrict the ability of state and local agencies, including law enforcement, to inquire about an individual’s immigration status. The bill specifically prohibits public agencies from disclosing information to the federal government except in certain circumstances. As someone who was elected by you to represent House District 25 and who swore an oath to uphold both the Oregon and United States Constitutions, I find this bill very offensive—our nation is one of laws, not lawlessness.

I firmly believe that America is and will continue to be a nation of immigrants—but we have clear laws and procedures for our immigration process and those need to be followed by those who would come to build a new life in our amazing nation. Passing laws like HB3464 is a cheap way to score political points, not the way to thoughtfully create laws for our state and nation.

On a more positive note, one of the bills I was happy to cosponsor, HB2732, recently went into effect. This bill allows a passerby to break a window to free a child or pet left in a hot vehicle. During the heat wave last weekend, at least one dog was already rescued from a hot car because this bill was passed. As we go into the summer, remember if you see a kid or pet trapped in a hot car, you can do something about it.

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

Anyone can run for council

To the Editor:

This is in response to Lyndon Zaitz’s editorial of June 23 (You can’t force people). I agree with most of his comments and opinions in regard to the issue of “inclusivity.”

One of the themes in the editorial is you can’t legislate what people think or who they like. I totally agree with that.

There are standards, however, that the city must follow. They are called the law. To my knowledge the city has followed the law in its charter, ordinances, and resolutions.

Where I take issue with the editor is where he laments that while one fifth of the population of Keizer may be Hispanic only one Hispanic in 35 years has ever been elected to the City Council. He says that is “sad.”

The reason only one Hispanic has ever been elected is because only one Hispanic has ever run for election. That is the “sad” element here.

There may be various reasons why Hispanics do not seek election and that would be an interesting discussion. However, assuming a Hispanic meets the requirements of office like every other candidate must do, there would be no reason they could not be elected.

Jerry McGee

The big lies about health care


To succeed in gutting health coverage for millions of Americans, Senate Republican leaders need to get a series of lies accepted as truth. Journalists and other neutral arbiters must resist the temptation to report these lies as just a point of view. A lie is a lie.

Lie One: Democrats and progressives are unwilling to work with Republicans and conservatives on this issue.

“If we went and got the single greatest health care plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democrat vote,” President Trump told an Iowa crowd recently.

In fact, Democrats, including President Obama when he was in office, have said repeatedly they would like to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s office put out a list of such offers, including a June 15 letter from Schumer to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for a cross-party meeting to “find a way to make health care more affordable and accessible.”

But Democrats can never be complicit in a wholesale repeal of Obamacare that would take health coverage away from millions of Americans.

This first lie is important because it rationalizes the Republican claim that the bill has to be draconian because it can’t pass without support from the party’s most right-wing legislators. “This is not the best possible bill,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “It is the best bill possible under very difficult circumstances.”

But those “circumstances” have been created by the GOP itself. A completely different coalition is available, but Republicans don’t want to activate it because they are hell-bent on repealing Obamacare. Why?

This brings us to Lie Two: This bill is primarily about improving health care for American families.

No, this effort is primarily about cutting taxes. When it comes to health care, the main thing the bill does is take money away from providing it to pay for the tax reductions it contains and for future bonanzas the Republicans have promised.

The tax cuts in this legislation alone would amount to some $700 billion over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. About $33 billion of this would go to tax cuts conservatively averaging $7 million every year to each of the 400 highest-income families in the country. What could $33 billion buy? The CBPP reports it would be enough to pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Nevada, West Virginia, Arkansas and Alaska. Talk about income redistribution.

A telltale: One of the main Republican complaints about Obamacare has been that the deductibles and co-pays under ACA policies are too high. But the Republican bill only makes this problem worse.

As The New York Times’ Margot Sanger-Katz wrote: “Many middle-income Americans would be expected to pay a larger share of their income to purchase health insurance that covers a smaller share of their care.”

If this bill were truly about health care, Republicans would take all the tax cuts out and use that money to ease the pain their bill would cause. But they won’t, because the tax cuts are the thing that matters to them.

Lie Three: The Senate bill is a “compromise.”

Really? Between whom? The House wants to destroy Obamacare quickly, the Senate a bit more slowly while also cutting Medicaid more steeply over time. This is only a “compromise” between two very right-wing policies.

Imagine you are negotiating with two creditors who say you owe them $1,000 and you insist you owe nothing. The first creditor wants the money quickly. The second says you can take a bit little longer, but you have to pay $1,200—and he has the nerve to call this a “compromise.” Nowhere in this deal is your position taken into account. Welcome to the logic of the Senate health care bill.

I hope I never have to write about Lie Four, which would be Republican senators who surely know better—including Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake, Shelley Moore Capito and Rob Portman—ajustifying their votes for this monstrosity by claiming that it’s the best they could do.

Actually, only by killing this bill would these senators open the way for reasonable fixes to the ACA. Do they really want to say someday that one of their most important votes in the Senate involved taking health care away from millions of Americans? I would like to believe they are too decent for that (and Heller, for one, criticized the bill on Friday). I hope I’m not lying to myself.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Sugar still makes up much of our diet


Appropriately, summer begins with an “S” as do words we associate with it, such as staycation, saddle sore, shorts, sunglasses, shells, sand and sandals. Of course, this list may be expanded by you. Also, there’s soda, which is also associated with summer stuff.

Sodas contain sugar and lots of it, contributing to the average American’s consumption of it at 130 pounds per year.  Which reminds one of a historical fact regarding sugar use in the U.S., as rationing was imposed by our government during World War II, starting in 1942.  Supplies of it were cut or burned off in Pacific cane fields, denying it to the enemy while the war effort itself required sugar to make many things from antiseptics to explosives.

Sugar for war was exampled in a Smithsonian magazine article where it was reported that firing a large five-gun salvo used up the amount of sugar harvested from a full acre of it.  Meanwhile, on the home front, cook books urged all chefs to sweeten cakes and pastries with the syrup remaining from canning fruit.

Back in time, Douglas Owsley, an anthropologist with the Museum of Natural History, reports on the wife of a colonial Maryland’s governor who passed away 300 years ago and apparently was able to use a lot of sugar.  You see, when her remains were exhumed it was found that, since she was a wealthy woman with lead coffin and fine burial wearing apparel, she had lost 20 teeth, with those remaining down to root stubs.  The exhumed bodies of her contemporaries possessed most of their teeth because they couldn’t afford a sugar habit.

Fact is, Americans have always taken as much sugar as they could get their mouths on.  When George Washington was president in the late 1700s, the average American annually consumed about six pounds of sugar.  That number rose as sugar beet growing got underway while later the U.S., in 1876, signed a treaty with the then-sovereign kingdom of Hawaii for sugar cane. Incidentally, sodas increased a lot in popularity with or without homemade rum during Prohibition.

Nowadays, as we all know, sugar’s in abundance and used (along with plenty of salt) in almost all prepared foods Americans eat or drink.  There’s probably no exaggeration in stating that an encyclopedia’s entire “S” volume could be given over to a discussion of sugar uses in modern-day U.S.A.

Suffice it to comment in educating terms here that Brazil and India grow the most sugar beets with the U.S. in fifth place, they being grown here and elsewhere as an underground root crop in eleven U.S. states, including California, Oregon and Washington.  Sugar cane thrives in warm, moist, tropical climates found in the American states of Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and parts of Texas.

In the mean time, never fear: Should we in the U.S. ever run out of drinkable water, sodas can be made with a carbonating agent and fruit juice.  Addendum to life: it has always been true in all humankind civilizations that death and taxes were the only absolute certainties.  Nowadays, at least in our country, with the advent of excessive sugar use, we can realistically add dentists and dentures to that list.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)