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Day: October 20, 2017

GVC adds Bend high schools

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Salem-Keizer expects $700,000 per year in additonal travel costs

Of the Keizertimes

WILSONVILLE—Emotional parents, booster club presidents and athletic directors from West Salem, South Salem, Sprague and McKay as well as Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry all pleaded with the OSAA not to place three Bend schools in the Greater Valley Conference.

But in the end it didn’t matter as the executive board voted 10-1 on Monday, Oct. 16 to approve the classification and districting committee’s final recommendation.

Mary Lou Boderman, coordinator of Music and Drama in the Salem-Keizer School District and former band director at South Salem, gave the only no vote.

Nine passionate Salem-Keizer parents, five from McKay, three from West Salem and one from Sprague, testified at the meeting held at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville.

Their biggest concern was safety, citing the new student drivers and bus drivers who aren’t used to traveling in the winter conditions of the Santiam Pass to Bend. One parent noted the 10 inches of snow that fell on the pass last week.

Perry spoke to the executive board about the costs of traveling, which initial estimates call for an increase of $700,000 per year for transportation, lodging and certified substitute teachers. This does not take into account the additional costs to families.

“We travel already, almost all around the world in miles traveled by our buses,” Perry said. “We have a large geographical area, very different than Portland public and Beaverton, who have lots of kids but a lot less geography. We already carry a really big burden for transportation of our kids, much like a rural district, only we have 42,000 students.”

Salem-Keizer also has a bus driver shortage with 7-10 bus driver positions vacant.

“To add this level of transportation, our only option will be to do charter buses,” Perry said. “Ideally, we wouldn’t take charter buses but I don’t know if the bus driver shortage turns around in this amount of time.”

While schools in other classifications asked to be moved down or refused to move up, when requesting a geographical exception, because of competitive imbalance, Perry said that wasn’t the case with Salem-Keizer. McKay even met the criteria to move down but decided to remain in 6A.

“We aren’t opposed to Bend,” she said. “In fact we think they will add nice competition to the 6A schedule. They’re very good teams, very competitive teams but from a dollars and cents, student safety and geography standpoint, Salem-Keizer shouldn’t carry the burden for all.”

While the OSAA placed the Bend schools in the GVC because they are closer to Salem-Keizer than the Southwest Conference and east Portland schools, West Salem athletic director Bill Wittman argued that wasn’t the case if you factor in non-league games.

The Southwest Conference, which has just six teams (Grants Pass, North Medford, Roseburg, Sheldon, South Eugene and South Medford), will have to schedule four non-league football games. While the Southwest Conference has partnered with the GVC in the past, McNary’s football team is playing at North Medford Friday, Salem-Keizer schools would no longer being able to afford to do so after traveling to Bend. That leaves the Southwest Conference having to travel to Portland.

“If Salem is in a league with Eugene, the amount of money that we’d save from our Bend travel budgets is enough to continue our relationships with the Southern Oregon schools,” Wittman said. “We’ve felt an obligation to help out our brothers and sisters down South. My teams at West currently play down there regularly. Those relationships will cease because of where we are with travel budgets. If you’re looking at mileage as the basis for making your decision, take a look at league and non-league mileage.”

Brian Armstrong, athletic director at South Salem, added he’d hate for students in traditionally non-cut sports to not be able to compete because there wasn’t enough seats on the bus

“We want kids to be involved,” Armstrong said. “We want kids to be connected. We want kids to graduate.”

Sprague athletic director James Weber said the OSAA was choosing competitive balance over safety and educational time.

Athletic directors from the Southwest Conference weren’t happy with the final proposal either but for a completely different reason.

“All a long we’ve maintained that the worst thing to happen to us is to end up with six schools in our conference,” Roseburg athletic director Russ Bolin said. “In football, South Eugene may be in a situation where they go independent. We have four league games and we’re going to try to find five football games. We won’t find them. There’s no way to find those games. We’re going to be stuck with some of those scheduling aspects.”

But Bolin didn’t want the Bend schools either.

“They’re (Salem-Keizer) saying it’s not safe for their kids to travel over all the passes but all of the sudden it’s safe for all of our kids to travel all over the passes,” Bolin said. “In reality, the passes that we’re traveling over are a lot more dangerous than the passes that they would be traveling over. I have a hard time saying it’s not okay for their kids but it’s okay for our kids. It’s less safe for us to go there and more mileage.”

Bolin wanted Willamette, which has moved down to 5A, to remain in the Southwest Conference.

No one from the Bend high schools (Bend, Summit, Mountain View) testified at the meeting. Neither did anyone from McNary or Keizer. Although athletic director Scott Gragg previously told the Keizertimes McNary would adapt to whatever the executive board decided.

“You can look at it two ways,” Gragg said. “You can look at it as a problem or a negative or you can look at it as an opportunity. I’m surrounded by leadership in our district that will use it as an opportunity and we’ll make the best and make sure that our kids are engaged and safe and successful.”


Keizer man headed to prison for at least 25 years in murder

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Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer man has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years after pleading guilty to stabbing another man after his car crashed into a tree.

Darnell Harris, 37, was sentenced by Judge Tracy Prall for the murder of 32-year-old Andrew Ramon in Salem in November 2016.

Salem police officers responded to a report of a single vehicle crash into a tree at the intersection of Liberty Street Southeast and Superior Street Southeast in Salem about 1:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Officers found a Chevrolet Trail Blazer that had run into a tree and found Ramon deceased inside.

D. Harris

An autopsy revealed that Ramon had died from multiple stab wounds and not the result of the crash. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident found that Ramon had been involved in an altercation with Harris hours before the crash. Harris was arrested three days later.

Court records show that Harris threatened potential witnesses on the day of the murder, but those charges were dropped as a result of Harris’ guilty plea. However, in January 2017, Harris was indicted for soliciting another inmate at the Marion County jail to kill a witness who testified in front of a grand jury regarding Ramon’s death. Harris was convicted of solicitation of murder and tampering with a witness in connection with the jailhouse incident. He received sentences of 9 years and four months and 13 months, respectively, on the latter charges.

Prior to sentencing, Harris’ attorney filed a memorandum to the court asking for leniency and shedding some light into Harris’ background.

Harris is the father of a 19-month-old child and graduate of McKay High School who joined U.S. Marines shortly after receiving his diploma. He was injured during military training and left the Corps in May 2011. A severe bout of depression followed.

He eventually found a job in a group home working with abused children and was working there when he was arrested. He continued to struggle with depression and self-medicated with “alcohol and drugs, primarily large doses of Xanax and marijuana.”

While his arrest put an end to his drug and alcohol abuse the memo claims “still not fully thinking” when he asked his cellmate to kill a witness.

While in jail, Harris received a mental health evaluation and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder.

“Like everyone else he should not be defined by his biggest mistakes. In the words of Oscar Wilde: “Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future,” the memo concludes.

Harris will be 63 years old before he is eligible for parole.


McNary traveling to North Medford

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Of the Keizertimes

McNary head football coach Jeff Auvinen wanted the Celtics to remember last season’s opening drive against North Medford as they began preparing for the Black Tornadoes on Monday.

“They went down the field on eight or 10 runs, no passes, and really came off the ball and backed us off the ball and stood us up,” Auvinen said. “They took it to us pretty good last year.”

While North Medford won last year’s game at McNary 38-17, the score was tied 14-14 early in the second quarter before the Black Tornadoes really took control.

Auvinen wants the Celtics to set the tone this time around.

“I’d like to see us go down and step right up and match their physicality and maybe be the physical team, maybe be the team that comes off and sets the tempo,” Auvinen said. “We’re going to really try and stress that this week.”

North Medford is 2-5 overall but plays in the Southwest Conference with Sheldon and South Medford, two teams ranked in the top six in the OSAA power rankings.

Sheldon, No. 4, gave West Salem its only loss, 41-7, on Sept. 18. North Medford gave Sheldon a slightly closer game, losing 35-7, but were blown out by South Medford the next week 55-6. South Medford only beat South Salem 28-21.

North Medford is 22nd in the power rankings. McNary is 18th.

“Week in and week out, they’ll be very competitive teams down there,” Auvinen said. “It will be interesting, a long trip. The kids aren’t used to that. These kids I don’t think have ever gone on one. We’ve played Crater and North Medford in non-league but it was a long time ago before these kids were playing.”

With last week’s win at West Albany, the Celtics are third in the Greater Valley Conference behind West Salem and Sprague and in a good spot to finish at least inside the top four.

“I told the kids last week before the game that it’s going to be kind of a playoff environment, starting with West Albany,” Auvinen said. “North Medford, I think is a playoff caliber team.”


You, too?

Social media has been filled with posts that say “Me, too,” over the past week or so. That two word message alludes to the fact that the poster had been a victim of sexual harassment.

The ‘Me, too’  campaign started after it was revealed that a Hollywood producer had paid out huge sums of money to a number of his accusers. That producer has since lost his company and has been kicked out of some organizations including the one that passes out the Academy Awards.

It is good there is a ‘Me, too’ campaign; it brings the issue to the forefront of the  news. It does not necessarily bring it to the forefront of the collective consciousness. There are people who will  harass regardless of public norms. Harassment is, and always has been, a matter of power and control, not about sex.

No one asks to be a victim of this behavior. No one invites inappropriate comments and physical touch. And certainly, no one is eager to have their career in the hands of a boss who uses their position to maintain control.

Harassment has been part of the human condition forever. If you don’t put out, you’re put out. How does society stem the tide of this type of harassment?

As all things, it needs to start at the beginning. We teach our children the golden rule—do unto others as you wish them to do unto you. We don’t want our child to be a bully. There are so many positive messages that need to be instilled at an early age (one need look no further than  Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which is as relevant today as the day it was written in 1986. The messages in that books are a great place to start for teaching kids about how to behave and share.

We all know that there are people who are not susceptible to positive messages—harassers come from somewhere. Bad behavior is the reflection of what a person has seen or endured. If a child sees an adult belittle and harass another person and there is no consequence, the message is received: I can control with this type of behavior.

The antidote is in the telling. No one should let themselves be a victim of harassment. The notion that a victim doesn’t tell because they feel no one will believe them is wrong. Victims of harassment should tell everyone, all the time, about what has happened.

Truth is the greatest disinfectant. A perpetrator will have few places to hide and lurk if it is publicly known who and what they are. No job and no career is worth putting up with belittling and soul-crushing harassment. Go on, tell the world “Me, too” and let’s start ending harassment now.


What if a band-aid cost $345?


Donald Trump doesn’t even care that I can’t afford a massive dose of Viagra.  I don’t really know that but it looks like the most reliable way to get his attention is to publicly insult him.  He invariably takes the bait and nothing is more public than this newspaper.

One symptom of pulmonary fibrosis is pulmonary hypertension.  Fibrosis constricts your arteries and makes your heart work harder to pump blood through your lungs. You don’t want that for your lungs or your heart.

The currently favored drug to open the arteries in your lungs, or any body part that might work better with increased blood flow, is Viagra.  My pulmonologist actually said a “massive dose of Viagra,” and then prescribed it.

We live in a world today where no one has the sense to be embarrassed about anything so I figured it was alright if I showed up at the local pharmacy to pick up a massive dose of Viagra, despite some anxiety about advertised possible side effects.  I wore my portable oxygen generator so they could easily understand my legitimate G-rated need for this drug.

At a dosage of three a day, my month’s supply was priced at $1,639.  I was just as unwilling as my insurance company to pay for the Viagra benefits as touted in television ads.  I tearfully explained that I was only hoping to reduce my level of pulmonary hypertension. The pharmacist said that insurance companies would sometimes make an exception if the attending physician verified that the drug was treating pulmonary hypertension as a primary symptom. If, however, pulmonary hypertension is instead just a secondary symptom of fibrosis, then they may not pay.

If they decide they needn’t pay because no field testing has shown that Viagra will be effective in this precise set of circumstances then I’ll need to pay.

You are right to wonder why on earth I would discuss all this here. I just thought you’d judge me more kindly when you see me at a busy corner holding up the “Will work for Viagra” cardboard.  Passersby might be more giving if they knew I needed it for breath support rather than recreation. The same is probably true of a Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign for financing Viagra.

I thank you in advance. You are already buying for me a newish drug called Esbriet.  It is in the $90,000-a-year range and my co-pay so far has been zero.  Insurance is hard to understand.  Esbriet is only marginally helpful.

If the price of a band-aid was suddenly raised to $345 the American discussion would be about how we can afford the subsequent rise in insurance premiums rather than challenging the cost of a band-aid.  Dr. Kitzhaber has been trying to explain that for years.

Sometimes obscure diseases are brought to light when a very famous actor or sports hero steps up to advocate for research and funding.  Not so with Viagra. Who’s going to buy a team jersey or spend money watching a first run movie featuring some poor schlub who needs Viagra?

Thus I need to provoke the president so he’ll pressure Big Pharma into reducing the cost of this drug.  So, tweet this Mr. President.  Real men need Viagra and can’t afford it.   Clearly the problem is inflation.

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

Is US condemned to repeat history?


Americans not now interested in Russia may want to reconsider that indifference. After all, while Russia may no longer export internationally, it hasn’t stopped trying to involve itself in the internal affairs of other countries, namely, for one salient example, the U.S.A.

An essay, titled What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution, by American writer Ian Frazier, that appeared in the October issue of Smithsonian, brings much light to those in search of understanding Russia, a nation most often nowadays depicted here as an arch enemy.  One notice that heralds our attention is that the Russian Revolution marks its centennial this year.

Before that landmark year, 1917, Russia experienced for a hundred years, great disorder mixed with a whole lot of political violence. Its considerable contributions to literature previously became a backdrop to revolution unlike the world had ever seen.  Frazier commented in his article that “today, a hundred years afterward, we still don’t know what to make of that huge event” while the Russian people themselves, he says, “aren’t too sure about its significance.”

Of course, the Russian Revolution took time to complete and, while underway in momentous happenings, for a long time prior to actualization, required most of a year to bring to the Bolshevik foundation of a new order.  There had been drastic failures in trying to deal with the people who worked the land, the shortcomings of an inept autocracy to address an exploding industrial society, the inadequacies of the Romanovs, and, among so many other matters  not redressed, the deplorable conditions of land-born workers who were living in squalid conditions in Petrograd and other Russian industrial cities.

The Russian people writ large reached a point of critical mass where they screamed something like ‘we’re mad as hell and will not take it any more.’ As you may remember there were many individuals and groups vying for top dog status while Lenin’s Bolsheviks ultimately succeeded at grabbing the baton of power.  However, a Socialist revolution encompassing the entire world came up far short of the glorious expectations of the Bolsheviks. Fact of the matter is, there was not another country in the world at the time that followed Russia’s attempt at world leadership.

Eventually, there were others who followed. China’s revolution, by far,  added the most people under Communist rule. It remains the most significant nation among any who had leaned toward or tried Communism to embrace Lenin’s dream of a worldwide proletarian uprising.  Fifty years after the 1917 revolution, about one-third of the world’s population was under a version of Communism; however, even among them, now, they’ve swung toward a market-based economy.

But the Bolsheviks in our time have not gone en mass to their graves.  Instead, they’ve found mischievous ways to intrude themselves into a presence throughout the world and, most poignantly, recently, U.S. elections and those of several other Western democracies.

Nevertheless, there would not have been a Soviet Union without Lenin.  Today, Lenin would likely be disappointed that a Marxist utopia never materialized. Yet, the way he got things done may be what’s his greatest contribution to a Russia without the USSR.  You see, it’s Lenin’s tactics that are alive and well in 2017.

Russia is now more capitalistic than communistic but what you see in the workings of President Vladimir Putin is that his takes care of his friends, holds power absolutely and will not compromise with anyone. But you see Lenin in America, too, where the strictest rules of partisanship prevail while President Trump’s pal, Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon, has said that he’s a Leninist who wants to bring everything crashing down and destroy America’s establishment.

However imperfect and divided our nation, it just seems as though there are enough of us who  view our way of life important enough to fight to preserve rather than surrender to Bolsheviks, Steve Bannon and their ilk.  The alternative being a form of the Soviet Union that Russia’s evolved into where nothing works well and the only national objective is to try to take the freedoms and rule of law away from countries like ours with an 200-year effort underway for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)