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Month: October 2017

General shames briefing room


Since retired Gen. John Kelly became White House chief of staff, news outlets have portrayed him as the disciplinarian sent to impose order over an unruly President Donald Trump. Kelly rejects that scenario—when it comes to taming, he has other fish to fry.

To wit, at last week’s press briefing, Kelly tongue-lashed the usually feisty White House press corps so relentlessly that in 18 minutes he reduced the usually swaggering scribes and talking heads into shamed silence.

After Kelly slammed reporters for taking a “sacred” moment—the notification of family when a military member is killed in action—and turning it into a cable-news chew toy, after he pointed out the thankless toil of the 1 percent of Americans who serve in the military and after he directed members of the media to raise their hands if they knew any Gold Star families, Kelly offered one final salvo.

“We don’t look down upon those of you who haven’t served,” Kelly closed. “In fact, in a way, we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kind of things our servicemen and women do. Not for any other reason than they love this country.”

Kelly’s trip to the podium was a rescue mission of sorts designed to extricate Trump from another media mud pit of his own making.

It started Monday when Trump strolled into the Rose Garden with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player in the GOP effort to pass a tax-cut bill. This summer Trump told the press he was “very disappointed” in McConnell. But Monday, Trump promoted McConnell to longtime friend with whom he is “closer than ever before.”

When a reporter asked Trump why he had not commented on four U.S. soldiers recently killed in an ambush in Niger, the president’s need to frame himself as better than his predecessors prompted a tortured response. Trump said he had written letters to the soldiers that would be mailed over the weekend, and that he would like to call the families even though “President Obama, and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.”

Politifact rated Trump’s statement “misleading.” Obama went to Dover Air Force Base to receive the bodies of 18 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and comfort their families in person.

Having backed himself in a corner, Trump phoned the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four killed in Niger. Later, family friend Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, told the media that Trump cavalierly told the widow that Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” but “it still hurts.” Johnson’s aunt added that Trump was disrespectful.

Trump denied that he said the words Wilson had repeated. At Thursday’s briefing, Kelly essentially confirmed Wilson’s quote—although Kelly took strong issue with the suggestion that Trump said anything that did not bestow deserved praise on the slain soldier. Kelly framed the controversy as a new low—with Wilson going after Trump when the president was trying to do the decent thing.

For the Trump voter base, the episode was a clear win. Kelly set the rules that determined which reporters had the right to ask him questions —only Gold Star parents or siblings. When no journalist could claim that painful honor, Kelly offered to take questions from reporters who at least knew a Gold Star family. Thus Kelly exposed the White House press corps as a pack of feckless East Coast elites.

Yes, they squirmed because no one could claim a child, brother or sister killed in action.

It doesn’t matter that Trump could not raise his hand to that question either. Or that Trump was the beneficiary of five Vietnam-era draft deferments. Or that the controversy erupted because the insecure Trump felt he had to one-up his predecessors in every corner, including making phone calls to grieving families.

So John Kelly bailed him out.

(Creators Syndicate)

Rules on religious giving is a slippery slope

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In a somewhat convoluted statement, media recently reported that the U.S. Justice Department has issued new guidance aimed at giving religious groups and individuals broad protections to express their beliefs when those beliefs come in conflict with government regulations.

Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions’ directive, coming after President Trump’s executive order, mainly targets a tax law provision that thereby allows churches direct involvement in political campaigns but really set the stage in future for allowing Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus and all others to ignore the nation’s civil laws.

Long anticipated, Sessions’ action, following Trump’s announcement in May, also provides protections to America’s religious orders in hiring decisions that could threaten those whose sexual orientation conflicts with the chosen faith of employers.  Referring to his directive, Sessions has said that “except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law” and that “to the extent practicable, religious observance and practice should be accommodated in government.”

Now, there’s much more to Sessions’ mix of religion and government than the latest expression of his thinking on the subject.  During Sessions’ confirmation hearing early this year, he was pressed by his questioners to answer whether job security of a “secular attorney” would be respected in his Justice Department.  Sessions answered citing his concern about truth nowadays not being respected in our nation and that “objective truth is impossible without a certain religious understanding” and that “a post-modern, relativistic, secular mind-set is directly contrary to the founding of our republic.”

Not uncommon in our history have been some Americans who have expressed the belief that the writers of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were devout Christians and view our origins as ultimately a ‘second coming’ where the United States of America will be ruled by fundamental Christian theology and beliefs.  More than one historian of repute has taken issue with such a foundational understanding and argued that the views of the founding fathers were most poignantly expressed by them about religion in the Constitution’s First Amendment as “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Sessions has often remarked on his distaste for and dislike of secularists.  What’s a secularist? A secularist is a person who advocates separation of the state from religious institutions.  The secularist asserts the right to be free from religious rule and its teachings as well as separate from the imposition by government of religion or religious practice upon its people.  Our founding fathers were men of faith but also knew what religion had done for centuries to subjugate the peoples of Europe and did not want the same fate for U.S. citizens.  Virtually all of them also had spoken in speeches and written in essays of a new government that embraced secularism.

When our Constitution, our laws and way of life can be ignored and replaced by the most powerful among the nation’s political and/or religious forces we Americans should keep in mind an insightful message from another country in a time not long ago.  That was the message written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller regarding the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)


Celtics rack up 500 yards at North Medford

Of the Keizertimes

Determined to be more physical, McNary defeated North Medford 40-20 in a non-league football game on Friday, Oct. 20.

“Last year we got smacked because they just came out and were just 10 times more physical than we were,” McNary senior Brayden Ebbs said. “So all practice we were focusing on being able to match or exceed the toughness that they were going to bring to the game and I think we did really well in that part. This game we were just taking it to them and running the ball down their throats because that’s what they did to us last year.”

McNary senior Jonny Williams caught two touchdown passes and had 97 yards receiving at North Medford on Friday, Oct. 20. (MAIL TRIBUNE/Denise Baratta)

The Celtics finished with more than 500 yards on offense—211 rushing and 301 passing.

McNary jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter as quarterback Erik Barker threw touchdown passes to Jonny Williams and Jose Solorio.

The Black Tornado stormed back with 75-yard and 1-yard touchdowns to take a 14-13 lead.

But the Celtics quickly answered as Barker connected with Junior Walling for an 11-yard touchdown.

McNary’s defense then gave the team a spark going into halftime as Walling recovered a fumble deep in North Medford territory and returned it for a touchdown to give the Celtics a 26-14 lead.

“That last score was a huge gift for us,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “It was the last play of the half. The bell rings halfway through the play. It was a pretty good snap. The guy (North Medford quarterback Josh Robbins) mishandles it and then we kick it and Junior picks it up and runs it in.”

The Black Tornado opened the second half running the ball inside McNary’s 10-yard line but the Celtic defense was able to hold on fourth down.

“We were a little worried because they had got together that (first half) drive and we thought they were going to power it right at us again and they tried,” Auvinen said. “We responded and played with more confidence. It ended up being a really good day.”

McNary scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter on a pass from Barker to Williams and a run by Walling to bust the game open and take a commanding 40-13 lead.

“We were thinking it was going to be a pretty close game but going down there and putting the work to them was a pretty good confidence booster,” Ebbs said.

Solorio added an interception before North Medford scored the final touchdown of the night with 10:51 remaining. The Celtics were than able to run out the clock.

“We handled ourselves really well,” Auvinen said. “They were not as good as they were last year. They lost some kids. We played a ton better than we did last year. We did play really well offensively. We played well defensively.”

Walling rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries and caught two passes for 25 yards. Robert Benson had 84 yards on 17 attempts. Barker completed 22 of 31 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Jacob Jackson caught eight passes for 96 yards. Williams had three receptions for 97 yards.

“Our O-line made huge holes for us, gave Erik some time in the pocket,” Walling said. “I think Erik did really well throwing and it was easy for me to run the ball with the O-line doing so well.”

West Salem on tap

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Of the Keizertimes

McNary (6-2) will need to play its best game to knock off West Salem (7-1) as the Celtics close the regular season on Friday, Oct. 27 at home.

“Since [last] Friday night, we’ve been talking about just getting our minds right and be ready to play West the best we can,” McNary senior Brayden Ebbs said. “Last year we played them the best we could and we came out on top.”

Since losing to Sheldon 41-7 on Sept. 18, the Titans have won five straight Greater Valley Conference games, outscoring their opponents 273-49. West Salem’s closest league game came in 35-15 at McKay to open the season.

The Titans are No. 8 in the power rankings. McNary is 15th.

Despite its lofty numbers, Ebbs said McNary won’t give West Salem anything.

“We’ve been watching some film but the key to being successful against them is not giving them too much respect because they have to earn that from us,” Ebbs said.

West Salem is led on offense by quarterback Grant Thies, running back Jacob Denning and receivers Anthony Gould and Micah Pugh.

“They’re aggressive,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said of the Titans. “They’re good both offensively and defensively. They’ve got good athletes. They’re well coached. We need to play well in all three facets against a good team and it’s going to be a playoff type atmosphere. Most weeks we’ve continued to take a step up so we’re going to continue to do that.”

West Salem defeated Sprague and McMinnville, the two teams that beat McNary, by a combined score of 97-13, but Auvinen isn’t putting any stock in that.

“Every matchup is different,” he said.

Ebbs, who plays H-back as well as linebacker, said the key will be controlling the time of possession and keeping the ball away from West Salem’s playmakers.

“Our offense has to keep doing what we do best,” Ebbs said.

“We’ve got to put the ball in the end zone, keep the ball moving, keep our offense with the ball.”

Seniors Jakoby Doke (shoulder) and Blake Norton (back) both missed Monday’s practice recovering from injuries but Auvinen expects both to play against West Salem.


Celtics show bright future at GVC Championships

Of the Keizertimes

McNary didn’t accomplish everything it wanted at the Greater Valley Conference Championships this season but the future continues to look bright for the cross country program.

“The kids this year, seniors all the way down to freshmen, they competed really hard, they worked really hard and they pushed themselves all season long,” McNary coach David Holcomb said. “We’re excited with how young we are and how much we have to improve on for next year.”

McNary senior Kailey Doutt and freshman Ella Repp both ran their best times of the season on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at Bush’s Pasture Park but missed out of the top 10 and advancing to the state meet by finishing 12th and 13th in 19:39 and 19:46.

Doutt said she felt good for the first mile but her legs just wouldn’t allow her to keep up with the lead pack. North Salem senior Madison Willhoft placed 10th in 19:18.

“I was trying to be super confident and positive,” Doutt said. “I was telling myself to go but my legs didn’t feel very good. They haven’t felt very good this whole season.”

Repp, who was able to break 20 minutes for the first time, battled a side ache for the first mile.

“I grabbed on to my side to try stopping the pain and tried ignoring it,” Repp said. “I thought I was going to runner slower but I thought this has to go away, it just has to and it ended up going away. That shouldn’t be an excuse why I didn’t get top 10.”

Sprague junior Ginger Murnieks led from start to finish to easily win the varsity girls race in 18:04. South Salem junior Anna Chau took second in 18:23. Sprague put two more runners in the top five, Kaylee Mitchell and Elise Abbott, to edge Forest Grove for the team title.

The Lady Celts placed seventh.

Another McNary freshman, Nina Garland, beat her season best by nearly 40 seconds, finishing in 21:31. Sophomore Duyen Barr, who also had a PR of 23:14 and Alison Repp (23:56) completed the scoring.

The varsity boys race was much closer with Forest Grove sophomore Quincy Norman edging out McMinnville junior Zane Fodge by two seconds for first place.

McNary junior David Allen finished 21st in 17:40.

“I’ve just got to keep practicing,” Allen said after the race. “It’s obviously been working so far. I just to need to keep working hard and running more.”

Senior Jonas Honeyman (18:25) and freshman Tristan Proctor (18:29) both PR’d for the Celtics, who finished sixth as a team behind McMinnville, South Salem, Forest Grove, West Salem and North Salem. Freshman Ethan Whalen (18:39) and junior Francisco Orta (18:57) also scored for McNary as all seven varsity runners finished under 19 minutes for the first time this season.

Running in the junior varsity race, freshman Nathaniel Prout was also able to cross the finish line in under 19 minutes with a PR of 18:49, which gave Holcomb yet another reason to feel optimistic about next season.

“If we can get guys who have bought in this year to buy in more and come to summer workouts, if we can grow the girls numbers, the sky is the limit next year,” he said. “I think we’re just going to see times just continue to drop.”

Lady Celts win big on senior night

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Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s honored its three seniors, Jessy Shore, Natalie Ito and Iris Rodriguez, with a dominating 9-0 victory over North Salem on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Shore scored two goals in the rout with assists from freshmen Ashlyn Lyda and Kennedy Buss.

“It was a lot of fun,” Shore said after the match. “It was definitely my favorite season because everybody got along so well. Our chemistry was fantastic. We all really lived up to our motto of grit this season.”

Rodriguez, a defender who transferred from Western Mennonite for her senior year, scored the Lady Celts final goal of the night and her first of the season on a header from a corner kick by Gina Munguia.

“That was crazy,” Ito said.

“I didn’t think that would ever happen. I was so amazed.”

Rodriguez, a captain on the JV 2 team, got her first varsity start, and played for most of the game.

“Iris has been in the program for three years and is just a joy to be around,” McNary head coach A.J. Nash said. “It takes a special person to take on that role on the JV 2 team and go out there with a great attitude and show up day in and day out and be a captain and a leader.”

All three seniors have played an important role in the growth of the girls soccer program at McNary.

Shore started as a freshman and led the Lady Celts with 10 goals as a sophomore.

“She had leadership qualities even as a freshman that you can build a program around,” Nash said. “She’s been a huge part of the culture that’s been built and we’re going to miss her next year.”

Ito joined a defense that returned only one starter this season but has allowed only nine goals in 12 matches.

“She’s added a toughness to this team,” Nash said. “In training and in games, we can count on her to bring that intensity and more importantly that toughness.”

McNary controlled the game against North Salem from the starting whistle and in the sixth minute junior Natalia Gonzalez found the lower corner of the goal off a cross from sophomore Julie Dieker to start the scoring.

In the 15th minute it was junior Katy Wyatt inside the six yard box who found the end of a Dieker cross for the Lady Celts second goal. Sophomore Haley Hughes then slotted home a third goal, serviced by sophomore defender Samantha Alfano in the 24th minute. Junior Abigail Hawley found the ball off a turnover in the North Salem end, and placed a shot to the lower left corner from 20 yards out to give McNary a 4-0 lead at halftime.

Seven minutes into the second half, Buss nearly stretched the lead to 5-0, firing a shot off the post. But 15 seconds later, Buss was able to finish on a cross into the box from Shore.

Shore’s two goals came less than two minutes apart. After firing a shot off the cross bar, sophomore Ariana Santana was able to finish a shot in the lower right hand corner in the 59th minute.

Ito’s header came in the 62nd minute. McNary mostly called the dogs off in the final 17 minutes, kicking the ball around in the back.

The win over North Salem was the Lady Celtis ninth of the season, which is the most in the program’s history.

“This year we got to honor those who have really given to the program, whether it’s one year or their full four years,” Nash said.


Parks plan begins with two new jobs

Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has started formulating its recommendation for putting the new parks fee to use.

Beginning in November, the city will begin collecting $4 a month/$8 per utility bill to pay for parks maintenance and improvements.

Members of the parks board are developing a plan for the first three years of the fee. In the immediate future, it calls for adding two full-time parks employees, increasing services like mowing and fertilization, replacement of aging equipment and vehicles and system-wide tree maintenance and invasive species removal.

In the second half of 2018, residents might begin to notice some of the bigger changes in the works: replacing the playground at Meadows Park and the sports courts at Claggett Creek and Northview parks.

The current plan represents only a draft of things to come and will need to be formally accepted by the Parks Board and then the Keizer City Council before anything happens. Parks board members are trying to get a jump on the next construction season as contractors will need to be hired from some projects and nearly all of the work is weather-dependent.

The largest projects on the docket include capital improvements such as rehabilitating the large lawn in the southwest corner of Keizer Rapids Park, additional work at Carlson Skate Park and construction of a new Parks Shop to house equipment. None of those have a projected start date and will depend on how quickly funds accumulate and whether partners can be found to push them further up the calendar.

At the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10, Board member Jim Taylor said he would like to see the field at Keizer Rapids Park get underway soon. The city had hoped to rehab the field with volunteer effort prior to the Keizer eclipse event in August, but a required permit and lack of funds to pay for it stalled the effort.

Taylor said the nature of the work as far as seeding the ground lent itself to a spring start.

His call for action was met with reticence on the parts of board members Donna Bradley and Matt Lawyer.

“There is a lot of feeling in the community about everything going to Keizer Rapids Park, and there are a lot of other things that need to be done. It needs to be considered, but I don’t think it should be No. 1,” Bradley said.

Lawyer advocated for taking care of some of the more underdeveloped park spaces first.

“We need to have a serious conversation about the underdeveloped parks and the transient population using those spaces for camping. That is a serious concern for the neighbors of those parks and a safety issue,” Lawyer said.

Residents who would like a chance to provide input on the plan are encouraged to attend a parks fee planning meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Keizer Civic Center.

The board expects to bring a finalized plan back for approval in November.

Complaints, solutions abound at McNary community forum

Officials also unveil plans post-bond measure

Of the Keizertimes

The Salem-Keizer School District (SKSD) is already planning how it might revamp the McNary High School campus in 2019 if a new bond measure passes next year.

That may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but the cost of what might be a massive project is a factor.

“We are moving forward as if the bond will pass because, if we don’t it, it will delay the whole program and cost $30 million more. It makes sense to do that prep,”  said SKSD Chief Operations Officer Mike Wolfe.

1. Expansion of administrative offices (970 square feet) to accommodate additional staff needed to serve larger student population.
2. Career Technical Education (CTE) addition supporting one large, and one small CTE program area (9,000 square feet), as well as replacement classrooms (CTE and other) for those lost in the demolition (17,200 square feet).
3. Flexible learning space (2,500 square feet) and science lab with prep area (1,625 square feet).
4. General Classrooms (13,020 square feet), Special Education Classrooms & Support (3,938 square feet), Extended Learning and Small Group Areas (2,200 square feet).

Wolfe and Principal Erik Jespersen unveiled a conceptual map of potential changes in the works at the school during a community forum at McNary Thursday, Oct. 12. School and city officials called for the forum to deal with the impacts of a growing student body on parking and traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“One of the reasons McNary is one of the first in the queue is because of parking issues,” Wolfe said.

For the past two years, neighbors along Newberg Drive North have voiced complaints to the Keizer City Council and Salem-Keizer School Board regarding drastic increases in school-related traffic and parking on their street.

The conceptual map, and the changes it forecasts, hinge on striking a deal for additional land behind St. Edward Catholic Church. School district and church officials are already in talks for an acquisition.

If everything goes according to the concept plan, the softball fields and tennis courts would be moved to the field behind the church. The current softball fields would be converted into additional parking and a drop-off loop. New classrooms – for career and technical education, science labs and special education – would be added to the north end of the building.

The district plans on assembling a task force of McNary area stakeholders to hammer out specifics of the any redesign if the bond passes.

While Wolfe and Jespersen hoped to redirect some of the growing animosity from neighbors along Newberg Drive toward hope for the future, there was plenty of grievance aired throughout the evening.

Residents along Newberg argue that closing two other pedestrian gates to the McNary campus – on Sandy Drive and Robindale Drive –  have only served to shift the problems to Newberg.

“What motivated us was escalating criminal activity. It wasn’t just kids behaving poorly, but interacting poorly with adults living in that area,” Eppley said.

During a question and answer session, residents voiced concern regarding lack of respect on the part of parents using Newberg to drop off their students, the lack of sidewalks and street lights along Newberg Drive and the lack of a signalized intersection at the entrance to the school on Lockhaven.

The most resounding moment of the proceedings came when a resident of Newberg Drive asked the residents of Robindale and Sandy in attendance what should be done. “Close the gate,” was a near-unanimous refrain.

While it was the consensus of the audience, Wolfe said it wasn’t something the school would act on immediately.

“The more barriers that we can remove for students getting (to school) is one of the things we have to balance,” Wolfe said.

Some of the solutions proposed included expanding the number of parking passes sold, having staff park off campus and shuttled in, creating park-and-ride areas for students to utilize public transportation, posting campus monitors at the gates and opening all three during drop-off and pick-up times, and having a Keizer traffic patrol officer stationed at the Lockhaven entrance during drop-off to keep traffic flowing.

The sheer number of complaints and potential solutions was illustrative of the size of the problem, Jespersen said.

“If every person in this room was passionate about the same solution, we would do it,” he said.

The one idea that seemed to find some favor with the officials in attendance was opening the school to students earlier. Currently, the school doors open at 7 a.m. and the first class begins at 7:35 a.m. Opening the doors earlier might spread the number of cars utilizing Newberg over a longer time frame and reduce bumper-to-bumper jams.

While much of the discussion focused on student activity and expectations, some in attendance felt that students should not be blamed, or punished, for the actions of parents.

“I feel like it’s the parents who are most disrespectful as far as traffic goes. How do we get them involved in whatever happens with this situation? They need to be good neighbors,” said one resident.

McNary alum turns parents’ wedding anniversary into Liberty House benefit

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Keizertimes Intern

After a long break, classically-trained singer Bethany Staats is ready to sing her heart out at the “Fall Into Love” recital at the Liberty House on Sunday, Oct. 22. Her 14-song set serves a dual purpose: to raise funds for the Liberty House and commemorate her parents’ 40-year anniversary.

The recital marks Bethany’s return to singing after a hiatus following the birth of her two sons, age eight and five. “Now that they are both in school, I have a little more freedom to pursue some of my own interests again,” she said.

While formulating her plan to honor her parents’ marriage, Bethany knew that she wanted it to also be a “blessing to others,” leading her to partner up with Liberty House. Bethany’s parents are Christina and Chet Patterson; Chet was elected as one of Keizer’s first city councillors in 1983 and served in the position for 12 years. Liberty House is a non-profit organization in Salem that provides assessment, counseling, and support for children and families who are facing concerns of abuse, neglect, and trauma. Their mission is to provide compassionate and educated care for children who need it at no cost.

“I tried to choose repertoire that would be enjoyable for people with all different musical backgrounds,” Staats said on her choice of songs. “There are some classical art songs, but there are also folk songs and well-known songs from musicals.”

Bethany Staats

Emmanuel McGladrey, her choir teacher from Whiteaker Middle and husband of her voice coach, will be accompanying for a few songs with his recorder.

“[My parents] have been an amazing example for my in my marriage,” Bethany said. She’s been married 13 years herself, and added that her parents showed her how to love one another through both good and bad times of life.

“You wake up and choose to be the best spouse you can be,” Bethany said. “Love is not a feeling, it’s an action.” For Bethany, this undertaking was a natural decision to honor that marriage: “They’ve always been so supportive of me and my singing; I thought it would be a gift for them to do this recital.”

Liberty House relies on community donors to keep their services operational; a jar will be passed around at the end of the recital to accept free-will donations from anybody who feels compelled to give. The recital will take place 3 p.m. Oct. 22 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem.


‘A prevailing and tragic crime’

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Council updated on impacts of domestic violence

Of the Keizertimes

A trio of local community members spoke to the Keizer City Council about the continued efforts to end domestic violence at its meeting Monday, Oct. 15.

District Attorney Walt Beglau, Deputy District Attorney Kim Larson and Jane Downing, executive director of the Center for Hope and Safety (CHS), talked with the council as Mayor Cathy Clark declared it Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“We have teamed up for years that it continues to be a prevailing and tragic crime day in and day out. These range from shoving and pushing to murder. I have an entire team of deputy district attorneys to manage 1,000 cases of violence,” Beglau said.

The number of cases merits a “continuous and unrelenting dialogue about domestic violence in our community,” he added.

Beglau also complimented the efforts of the Keizer Police Department in regard to combatting domestic violence. Nearly 80 percent of domestic violence cases forwarded to the district attorney’s office result in filing of charges against the aggressor.

“The chief and his staff are doing an extraordinary job of investigating and giving us cases where we can hold people accountable,” Beglau said.

Downing said efforts to expand access to the CHS prove that the problem isn’t going away.

“We opened an advocacy office in downtown Salem two years ago. In the first year, we doubled the number of contacts from people needing our services. They doubled again last year,” Downing said.

Last year, CHS had more than 22,000 contacts from domestic violence victims between offices in Salem and Woodburn.

CHS recently opened a new shelter and is now working on a capital campaign to add kennels for domestic violence victims whose pets also need shelter.

Larson, who heads a victim assistance team within the District Attorney’s office, said efforts have focused on two areas: training and advocacy.

Staff from the victim’s assistance team have trained police on the best investigation techniques and local faith leaders on how to access support services when a member of their clergy comes forward to seek help.

“We’ve also worked hard recently to shore up what we do with victims who desire restraining orders,” Larson said.

Victims can now choose to appear in court with an advocate at their side or even appear in court through video conferencing without needing to be in the same room as their abuser.

The team has also recently added a juvenile advocate for families with children that are experiencing domestic violence issues.