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By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
2017 will be remembered for many things, but in Keizer it will most likely be remembered as the year city residents had to start paying more for the services the city provides.
No stories dominated headlines more than the addition of fees to the city’s utility bill to pay for police staffing and parks services.
The pursuit of the fees began in earnest in 2016, but it took most of 2017 for the city council to vote on the issue. Keizer residents now pay $4 per month into each of the funds on a newly renamed “city services” bill.
Members of the Keizer Parks Advisory Board spent almost two years building the case for the fee that will pay for repairs and maintenance throughout the Keizer parks system. The police administration spent only slightly less time making their case for hiring five new officers.
There were plenty of speed bumps along the way. Some residents didn’t like the idea of fees being enacted without a vote by all residents, especially as it pertained to parks, but the police fee was buoyed by broad support from those who turned out at public hearings on the issue.
In the end, the Keizer City Council voted unanimously to approve the police fee, but the parks fee passed with a 5-2 vote.
As the year draws to a close, the new fees are already being put to use. The parks department is in the process of hiring two new employees in hope of having the crew ready to hit the ground running when the busy season hits in spring 2018.
In addition, plans are in the works for remodeling Meadows Park in North Keizer with turf improvements, a new play structure for kids of all ages, and improved pathways. On the police side of things, Keizer is recruiting two new patrol officers.
Here are some of the other stories that we thought were the most important of the year, in no particular order:
Woman strangles son to death
In January, Keizer police were summoned to a south Keizer apartment complex where Amy Robertson was living with her son Caden Berry, 12.
Robertson was outside the apartment waving her hands and screaming as police arrived. Neighbors found Caden dead under a blanket in their apartment. Robertson was charged with strangling Caden to death in the following days.
In May, Robertson was ordered to the Oregon State Hospital after being found mentally unfit for trial. The hospital superintendent will submit reports to the court every six months updating it on her status. At a memorial service for Caden held at Dayspring Fellowship, Caden was remembered as happy, loyal, smiling and as a true friend. Teacher George Krause said Caden was the type of student that breathed life into the halls at Claggett Creek Middle School. “The world now has a bit less of that. As hard as it seems right now. I believe it’s up to us to step into that gap.”
Keizer gets eclipsed
For two minutes on August 21, city residents and visitors from near and far were held rapt with their eyes on the sky as the moon passed fully between the earth and sun.
Billed as a once-in-a-lifetime event, a total solar eclipse passed directly over Keizer reducing the visible portion of the sun to a corona and dropping the temperature several degrees.
People flocked to get into the path of totality from all over the globe and Keizer pulled out most of the stops to welcome them. The Keizer Parks Foundation arranged for camping in the Keizer Rapids Park that was a bargain by most standards and raised about $30,000 it plans to use for a matching grant program to bolster the city’s parks. The Volcanoes packed the stadium and held baseball’s first ever eclipse-delayed game.
Visitors traveled to Keizer from the United Kingdom, Sudetenland, Netherlands, Brazil, Tijuana, Japan, and Australia to name just a few.
Keizer man gets epically picked
The cast and crew of American Pickers visited a Keizer man and made their largest purchases to date.
The episode featuring Keizerite Zane Leek aired in April 2017.
Leek invited Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz to look over his family’s collection of automobile antiques including a 1922 Ace motorcycle he ended up selling to Wolfe for $45,000. Leek thought his dad paid about $35 for the bike when he spotted it under a porch in Portland.
In the end, Wolfe and Fritz handed over more than $90,000 for three motorcycles, an engine and several miscellaneous items.
The pickers spent two days poring over the Leek family’s collection in Keizer and Macleay.
Leek said he was happy with how the whole process worked.
“What you see on TV will be exactly the way it happened,” Leek said.
Man arrested, re-arrested in matter of weeks
In February, Keizer police brought a weeks-long investigation to close with the arrest of Casey Miser, 36.
Miser was found in possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and 10,000 oxycodone pills in addition to several firearms and two sets of body armor.
He was taken to Marion County Correctional Facility and held on $1.5 million bail, but jail overcrowding put him back on the street less than two weeks after that arrest.
Within eight hours of his release, Miser was arrested again on numerous drug charges when Salem police executed a search warrant on a home he owned in Salem.
Miser’s court case is still making it’s way through the judicial system. His next court appearance is scheduled for January 2018. Miser remains in the Marion County Correctional Facility where he is being held without bail.
For the rest of the Top 10, pick up a copy of the December 29th print edition (on newsstands through Thursday, Jan 4)