Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: February 2, 2018

Keizer Fire presents awards

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

When the Keizer Fire District got back on the conflagration list in 2017, Sean Cummings led the way, serving as the engine boss on wild fires at Chetco Bar, Eagle Creek and Napa, Calif.

He spent about two weeks at each fire. Chetco Bar and Eagle Creek, according to the United States Forest Service, were at one point the No. 1 priority fires in the nation.

KFD chief Jeff Cowan presented Cummings with Employee of the Year at the annual district awards ceremony on Monday, Jan. 22.

As much as he meant to helping Keizer navigate fighting wildland fires, Cowan said Cummings is also just an outstanding guy.

Sean Cummings, a full-time career firefighter in Keizer since 2015, was named Employee of the Year at the district’s award ceremony on Monday, Jan. 22. Cummings responded to wildfires at Chetco Bar, Eagle Creek and Napa, Calif. (Submitted)

“He had an immediate impact on the organization and he’s got a positive outlook on life and the world,” Cowan said. “When you get a standing ovation at the awards reception from your fellow firefighters, that’s a big deal.”

Cummings grew up in California, set to become a teacher like his mom and sister. But while working in the special education department for a school district in Sacramento, he spoke to a fire captain on a 911 call, who convinced him to switch paths and enroll in the Regional Fire Academy.

For a year, he continued working in special education during the day and trained to become a firefighter at night. Cummings moved to Keizer in 2013, following his girlfriend, who graduated from Willamette University.

He worked full-time for the Beaverton school district and then the Oregon Department of Forestry in the summers. He became a volunteer firefighter in Keizer at the end of 2013 and then was hired as a full-time career firefighter in 2015.

He was the only certified engine boss on staff when Keizer Fire reported to its first wildfire at Chetco Bar in August. Cummings then went to Eagle Creek in September and Napa in October.

“I enjoy it because I’m so used to it because that was what my career was all summer,” Cumming said of fighting wild fires.

“But it was hard on my girlfriend. She’s the most understanding person and totally supports everything, which made it easy.”

Cummings went to Napa with a crew of three other Keizer firefighters, one of which was a battalion chief and another was a captain. But since Cummings had the most experience dealing with wildfires, he led the effort.

“For wildland since I had the certification, I had to be put in the role where I was the officer,” said Cummings, who is 29 years old. “It was kind of a weird dynamic, especially as a young firefighter. I felt like I handled it well. I was super open with my communication and I’ve heard nothing but good things said to me. It made me feel good that the district feels comfortable enough in me and my experience that they were willing to let me go out there as our engine boss.”

Employee of the Year is voted on by the district’s captains.

“None of us are truly comfortable receiving accolades or awards because we’re just doing our job. But it always feels nice to be recognized for doing a good job,” Cummings said.

KFD also gave the Volunteer Firefighter of the Year to John Fowler; EMT of the Year to Jacob Brinlee and Rookie of the Year to Matt Miller. Noah Murayma responded to the most alarms in 2017.

Ryan Russell was honored for his 15 years of service. Jared Caruth, Chris Waldrop and Christina Wilson were acknowledged for their 10 years of service. Andrew Alderson, Vickey Dosier and Aaron Pittis received five years of service awards.

Celtics to fight for district crowns

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Missing most of last season with an injury, Enrique Vincent was able to sneak up on other wrestlers to win the district title.

As the No. 1 seed this year, Vincent is determined to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to him.

McNary senior Brayden Ebbs (160) will lead the Celtics into the district tournament at McKay High School on Friday and Saturday. (File)

“I have a pretty good feeling about it but that can always happen,” Vincent said. “There can always be people I don’t even know that can sneak up.”

Vincent will enter the district tournament at McKay on Feb. 2-3 undefeated at 126 pounds in league duals this season.  He expects Ethan Tyler of West Albany and Luke Merzenich of Sprague to be his toughest competition.

At 160 pounds, Brayden Ebbs will also enter the district tournament undefeated, but did miss two duals, Forest Grove and Sprague, with a concussion.

“I’ve had a few big wins and I feel very confident going into my district tournament and I intend to win it,” Ebbs said.

His toughest match came in a 6-4 win over David Rubio of McKay.

“It wasn’t my best match that I wrestled but I was fresh off a concussion and just getting back in my groove pretty much,” Ebbs said. “Two weeks off takes some conditioning off you. I’ve been focusing a lot more on my conditioning and getting in better shape so I can be in that third round and not have to worry about being in a close match.”

McNary freshman Grady Burrows hasn’t lost at 106 pounds but didn’t wrestle in the Celtics final four duals against North Salem, McKay, West Salem and West Albany.

Logan Basham of North Salem and Bollong Joklur of Sprague are the other wrestlers to watch at 106.

McNary senior Blake Norton went 7-1 at 220 pounds with his only loss coming to Jacob Luna of Sprague.

As a team, the Celtics finished third in the Greater Valley Conference this season at 5-3, behind West Albany and Sprague.

McNary placed seventh at the district meet last year, finishing only three points out of third.

Head coach Jason Ebbs projects this year’s tournament to be just as tight.

“Our league has a lot of parity and everybody’s got their strengths and weaknesses,” Ebbs said.

McNary is expected to fill 23 of 28 spots at the district meet.

Wrestling begins Friday at 11:55 a.m. and then resumes Saturday at 10 a.m.

Third/fourth and fifth/sixth place matches will start at approximately 3:30 p.m., followed by championship finals at 4:30.

The top four from each weight class advance to the state tournament on Feb. 16-17 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

Athlete of the Week: Nicolette Parra

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK:

NICOLETTE PARRA
McNary High School wrestler

McNary sophomore Nicolette Parra finished second at the girls wrestling state qualifier at Thurston High School on Jan. 26-27. Parra’s weight class, 135, featured 47 girls from across the state. She advanced to the finals with five pins, three in the first period and two in the second. Sarah Conner, a USA Freestyle national champion, won the tournament. Parra will wrestle in the first OSAA-sanctioned girls state tournament on Feb. 16-17 in Portland.

Woman stole mail from 42

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A woman found in possession of mail from 42 different addresses is now being held in the Marion County Correctional Facility on $825,000 bail.

Keizer Police Department (KPD) Officer Rod Bamford responded to a disturbance call about 12:15 a.m. in the 600 block of Wilshire Drive North on Sunday, Jan. 28. The caller reported a woman in a white hoodie and jeans was walking through the neighborhood and throwing packages into yards. The caller had retrieved one of the packages and found it addressed to someone on Willamette Drive North, which runs perpendicular to Wilshire.

M. Harris

Bamford responded to the site and discovered several open mailboxes and the suspect was found walking south on River Road North just beyond the fork dividing River Road and Broadway Street. She was carrying a large, soft cooler that appeared to be stuffed with additional mail.

After the woman was detained and arrested, officers searched the cooler and found mail from 42 addresses in south Keizer and north Salem. Included in the collection were tax documents such as W-2s and bank statements for 38 different people.

Marcie Ann Harris was arrested and charged with 42 counts of mail theft, 38 counts of identity theft and one count of aggravated identity theft. Theft of mail is a federal crime and carries heavy penalties.

Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns, of KPD, said officers contacted as many victims of the thefts as they could the following day and made arrangements to return the stolen mail.

In addition to the charges for the most recent incidents, Harris had a warrant out for her arrest for failing to appear in Multnomah County Circuit Court on previous charges of mail theft and aggravated identity theft.

Harris has court record dating back to at least 1995 with convictions for robbery, burglary, possession of controlled substances, theft by extortion and identity theft.

Don Vowell to be missed

To the Editor:

I am sorry to have read of the passing of Don Vowell. Over many years I have ‘consumed’ many of his Boxes of Soap.

His thoughts and columns will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends.

Bob Mitchell
Keizer

‘We’ can become the ‘They’

Thousands of cities and towns across the nation elect a mayor and a city council. Most have a city manager-city council form of government such as we have here in Keizer.

City manager Chris Eppley oversees the directors of the city’s departments: administration, community development, public works, finance and more. The operation of the city gets done with these departments and their leaders.

What these departments manage is generally at the direction of the city council, which sets policy in all areas of the city. That makes the city council important when it comes to current issues and especially the future of Keizer.

In recent years, Keizer city council elections have been more like coronations as too many council races have had one candidate. In contrast, during the first two decades of citydom, races for mayor and city council seats attracted multiple entrants.

One could argue that life today is much more complicated compared with the early 1980s; activities and commitments take up so much of our time that many feel they have no time to devote to a two- or four-year political job. Voting in elections, especially on the local level, is as involved as most people get. But there are other ways to have a say in how one’s hometown is operated: run for public office as a city council candidate.

With this path anyone can become a ‘They.’ Being a ‘they’ doesn’t have to be negative or nefarious, becoming a ‘they’ means that a ‘me’ will have a place at the table where decisions about the city are made. The job of city councilor is rewarding. Whether one believes Keizer should stay quaint and mid-sized, or that Keizer’s growth should be maintained in a beneficial way, there is room for those views on council.

In most instances the people who are elected to the city council are those who come from the grassroots. Keizer is a city of neighborhoods and that is where are government leaders come from.

What does it take to run and be elected to the city council? It takes the belief that one would be a good addition to the council, that their background and experience would bring a unique perspective to that body’s deliberations. And to win? It takes votes, pure and simple. That means asking people for their vote either through door-to-door canvassing, advertising or both.

Every potential city councilor is part of a group—a service club, a sports organization, a school, etc. This is the base—the people most likely to support a candidacy of ‘one of ours.’

Some may think that running for public office costs lots of money, funds that have to be raised. To run in a local election is fairly inexpensive. The hard costs include placing information in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Softer costs can include yard signs and advertising, but those are not required.

Some campaigns need only one issue to be successful. In the early 1970s there was an unknown woman running for California secretary of state. Her issue? Getting rid of pay toilets in public places such as airports. It was an issue that resonated with voters and she went on to serve 20 years in that office. All because of one issue.

Closer to home, some past Keizer city councilors owe their election to a single issue, such as sidewalks. There are issues that can be used as a campaign platform; some people have been elected to council with a promise to keep an eye on the city’s budget.

With Keizer’s future in the balance, the next city council will grapple with some big issues. Some of those issues will be resolved in a way that will anger some residents and please others. That is how democracy works, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you don’t win if you don’t play.

Morphing from a ‘Me’ to a ‘They’ is good thing when it means you help your community.

  —LAZ

Donald Stuart Vowell

January 17, 1949 – January 15, 2018

Don was born in Clarkston, Wash., to Raymond and Marcia Vowell.  As described by Don, he and his siblings, Chuck, Anita, and Elizabeth had an “Ozzie and Harriet” upbringing.  After a brief jaunt to Japan to play in a rock and roll band and a bit longer in Seattle to attend classes at UW, he moved to Spokane where he met his future bride, Nancy.  They moved to Unalaska, AK where he began his 32 year postal career.  Eventually they moved to Port Orchard, WA and on to Keizer, OR where they settled down and raised their two beloved and adored children, Hannah and Schuyler.  Over all else, he was extremely proud of his family.

Don never outgrew being the class clown.  His keen and wacky wit was a source of entertainment to all.  His love of music and photography also spilled over into others’ lives.  His eye for beauty ran deep.  He went through life with joy and even when Pulmonary Fibrosis took hold, he was determined to remain true to himself.  He will be missed by many.

A memorial service will be held at First Christian Church on Marion Street, February 17, at 2:00pm.  A reception will follow.  In lieu of flowers a donation to a charity of your choice would be appreciated.

Squeezing both sides in the Middle East

By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS

President Donald Trump wants to negotiate a “deal of the century” between Israelis and Palestinians like a high-rolling real-estate don.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Trump defended his decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to withhold $65 million of $125 million to the U.N. Relief and Welfare Agency that provides care for Palestinians.

Trump told reporters at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the money is on the table.” The U.S., he said, gives “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the Palestinians, and “that money is on the table. Because why should we do that, as a country, if they’re doing nothing for us?”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, wants to negotiate like the British colonel played by Alec Guinness in Bridge on the River Kwai.

The Israeli outlet Maariv reported Thursday that Kerry met with Hussein Agha, an ally of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in London. Kerry reportedly asked Agha to tell Abbas to “stay strong,” “play for time,” and not yield to Trump’s demands. He came across as more interested in protecting his rank than ending decades of strife, which was supposed to be his mission.

It seems Kerry is so committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute that he prefers no deal to a deal with Trump.

Maariv also reported that Kerry, the Democrats’ losing presidential nominee in 2004, told Agha that Trump could be out of office in a year and that he was considering running for the White House in 2020.

It is rare to have a discussion with experts about Trump’s actions without hearing the definition of insanity —doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, cited the definition of insanity and mused, “I’m not saying it won’t work for sure,” although “I might have looked for a more thoughtful change that allows each side a total amount of dignity.”

“At the end of the day, the Palestinians are going to have to make the decision, whether they want everything or whether they want part” of everything, he said.

Hartman warns that it often is a mistake to consider Palestinians simple bargainers at a table—when they see their pride at stake.

When Vice President Mike Pence visited Jerusalem this week, he repeated the administration’s new talking point—that the administration supports a two-state solution “if both sides agree.”

When Trump hosted Abbas at the White House in May, the president opened the door to an unimagined deal. But there has been no movement, and between the Dec. 6 Jerusalem announcement, the withholding of funds and his questioning of a two-state solution, he essentially is signaling that Palestinian leaders better walk through the door now, while there still are concessions to be had.

“Palestinians are not very thrilled by this new formula,” Ghaith al-Omari of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy observed.

“Palestinians are now saying that because of all of this pressure, the U.S. can no longer serve as a mediator,”al-Omari added. “Whether this is just posturing remains to be seen, as many Palestinian leaders understand that a peace process cannot proceed without the U.S. playing a leading role.”

As for the withholding of funds to U.N. relief, Colum Lynch wrote in Foreign Policy, “There is concern that the move against the Palestinians could backfire, feeding greater extremism in the region.”

For Trump, this is all about getting a deal, and he showed himself ready to squeeze concessions from Israel as well. As Trump told Netanyahu in Davos, “You won one point”—on the embassy—“and you’ll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place.”

“Obama and Kerry, were they able to make the deal?” Hartman asked, rhetorically. The answer was no, because they lost the Israeli side. And Trump can’t win a deal without the Palestinians.

(Creators Syndicate)

 

Bundys open era of legal law breaking

By GENE H. McINTYRE

I have read widely, as many an Oregonian have, about the long, arduous and dedicated work of several Americans that came before us and got our national monuments, refuges and parks established, it was with alarm that the events at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge unfolded two years ago.  Described as an armed, self-described militia group, protesting the sentencing of father-son ranchers in Burns, Oregon, for burning federal land, they seized control of the eastern Oregon refuge for 41 days.

That group of outlaws substantially wrecked the buildings and equipment there and, besides protesting over the incarceration of father-son for criminal actions, clearly wanted to take our Refuge away from decades-long protection by the federal government as a sanctuary for bird and beast in order to declare the Refuge for personal use and personal profit from all manner of personal and private development.  Some of these people were already under law-breaking status by the federal government for tax evasion in the state of Nevada where, for all intents and purposes, they used federal land there as though their private property.

Bundy family members and followers were brought to federal court in Oregon but had the charges against them dismissed as have had the federal charges against the father, Cliven Bundy, dismissed in Nevada.  These outcomes predict more trouble for all of us who want the federal lands set aside as sanctuaries for Americans to visit and view and essentially have now given Bundy look-alikes to believe they can do as they please with public property while the average American who cares should be on notice that the next round with these law-breakers is about to get underway, and predictably, with Trump Administration help.

One of Oregon’s newspapers, The Daily Astorian, through its editorial board, has commented that “Most Americans have little sympathy for Bundy, his family and supporters.  He might like to think himself a folk hero, but his hidebound refusal to abide by longstanding cattle-grazing rules placed innocent lives in danger, degraded public lands around his ranch and made a mockery of the law.”  However, the reader may have noticed, as did I, that government attorney ineptness failed to obey the rules of evidence in the Oregon and Nevada prosecution efforts.

The judge in the Nevada case, the honorable Gloria Navarro, decided the holding back of evidence useful to the defense bungled their case and thereby ended it. Hence, the government prosecutors, stumbling around like cowboys in from a cattle drive for a night on the town, demonstrated an inability to herd things to convictions. Replacements, trained and experienced to get the job done, as a new set of federal of prosecutors, should be appointed to re-try, with success, these lawless types.

Unfortunate for those of us who do not want a repeat of the Malheur take-over and the subverting of rangeland actions by the Bundy ranch in Nevada, President Trump and his Secretaries of  Energy Rick Perry, and Interior, Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency directory Scott Pruitt, who seek to convert public lands to private purchase and use, those of us who want monuments, refuges and parks protected will not be in any likely way see a saving of federal lands before January, 2021.  Those of us who want the land that belongs to all Americans for posterity must fight for public lands protection because those among us who will exploit for profit are pals of Trump and have his ear.

Another chapter in this saga is currently underway by the family of the law-breaking occupier who died in a shootout with federal and state law enforcement officers.  Meanwhile, preliminary costs to American taxpayers for FBI and state police, the wreckage by occupiers, the loss of work by fish and wildlife employees, the damage to businesses, et cetra in the area now adds up by available figures to something around $6,000,000.  The family suing seeks $5,000,000.  Wouldn’t that be something if our fellow Americans award the amount wanted, thereby essentially forcing us to condone and financially reward criminal behavior.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)