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Day: March 9, 2018

McNary getting new scoreboard

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

 

McNary High School is finally getting that new scoreboard.

After discussing a new board during the turf field project in 2015 and instead deciding to refurbish the old one, the McNary Athletic Booster Club has raised most of the $100,000 for a new scoreboard to be purchased in April and installed this summer.

The new 18-foot, 9-inch tall and 25-foot wide scoreboard features a 5-foot, 9-inch tall and 15-foot, 11 inch wide LED screen for live track results and sponsors. The scoreboard can also post shots on goal during soccer games.

The scoreboard can also house a sound system but that will have to wait since it would cost an additional $30,000.

“It’s a dynamic scoreboard in that it can work for track, lacrosse, soccer, all of our user groups inside and outside of McNary can use this,” McNary Athletic Director Scott Gragg said.

“Obviously, football will benefit from this but many more groups will benefit as well.”

Gragg and the booster club are interested in projects that will benefit the most students at McNary.

“My interest is what’s the biggest bang for our buck,” Gragg said.

“If we can do something that’s going to impact 1,500 students versus 30 varsity students, then I’m going to do things that are going to impact 1,500.”

Gragg has worked closely with the booster club since taking over as athletic director last summer.

“They are progressive and fast moving and wanting to get things done,” Gragg said. “They are closely tied with our community so they know what the heartbeat and the interests are of our community.”

Keizer and Salem residents will vote on a $619.7 million bond on May 15. If that bond passes, the booster club’s next project could be equipping a new weight room.

McNary would use part of its $42 million from the bond relocating its softball/soccer fields to the nearly 4.5 acres purchased from St. Edward Catholic Church. The current softball and soccer fields would become additional parking. Gragg would like for part of the new fields to be turf, which would be paid for by the booster club.

“Practice field are great five or six months out of the year and then they’re a swamp the rest of the six months,” Gragg said. “I could easily see a booster project of turfing that, putting lights in that, having a field house. If we were able to turf an additional practice field or multi-use field, that instantly becomes a year-round practice facility for marching band, for soccer, for softball, for numerous sports, lacrosse, youth athletics.”

Gragg would also like to see a new scoreboard in the gym that would benefit basketball, volleyball and wrestling as well as upgrading banners and trophy cases in the school.

“Some of those little things are a big deal in a tight community,” Gragg said.

 

Arming teachers might not be as simple as it’s being sold

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In the wake of a shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead last month, one of the most talked about responses has been arming school staff to deter such violence.

While the presence of more weapons might give those looking to shoot up a school more pause, there is a vast gulf between handing a teacher a gun and learning how to use it to confront an active shooter.

In an email interview with Eriks Gabliks, director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), Keizertimes asked what types of training current law enforcement officers receive for such scenarios to get a better understanding of what an armed teacher would need to do to prepare to confront active shooters. DPSST provides certification and training for all law enforcement officers, from guards at jails to Oregon State Police. Gabliks is also part of the Oregon School Safety Task Force.

Gabliks likened a school campus to what a law enforcement officer would encounter on a plane with a hijacker.

“It’s not just about the perpetrator. It’s about a dynamic situation that has many variables: time of day, location, innocent bystanders, potentially other perpetrators, what is behind or next to the perpetrator, if I shoot my weapon where will the bullet go,” Gabliks said.

Gabliks stressed that DPSST provides the training required by state and federal laws only to public and private safety organizations. If a mandate were to come from the Oregon Legislature to begin arming teachers, it may not require DPSST training or its equivalents, or school staff could receive training at private ranges without any sort of public agency vetting.

“A school teacher with a gun (legally) would have no more rights or protections given to them than any other armed citizen,” Gabliks said.

Still, there are many other considerations and questions that would have to be answered, he added. If teachers were to begin packing heat, the district’s insurance company would likely have to increase coverage and premiums. Determining how weapons would be stored on the campus would be another concern.

“Off the top of my head, here are some things to consider: the school teacher that is armed is overpowered by an angry parent or student and now has a firearm; the weapon is taken from a desk drawer and used for unlawful purposes; the teacher uses the weapon and shoots an innocent bystander, a student in crisis, a first responder or a fellow employee,” Gabliks said.

At DPSST, instructors work with the Department of Homeland Security’s model for best practices  and coordinate with state and local agencies to make sure everyone is on the same page. Additionally DPSST follows the work of national organizations and culls from the insight produced in trade journals, conferences, webinars and other resources to create its response plans.

“We need to keep our staff up to date so they keep the curriculum we use and the training we offer current and relevant,” Gabliks said. After earning initial certifications, officers are required to complete a certain amount of continued training hours each year.

Training for new police officers takes 16 weeks and takes place in the classroom and through hands-on environments. About half of the training takes place in a classroom, but it only begins once recruits have passed through rigorous background checks and physical and psychological screenings – none of which are required for teaching.

Once recruits are attending the academy, roleplaying becomes a major component of how they learn.

“One scenario we use involves making what is called a high risk vehicle stop. Making the vehicle stop follows a specific procedure but to give new officers complex problem solving opportunities we add things such as a school bus coming down the street, people on a sidewalk or sitting on a bench who walk up to the area and start recording the incident on their phone, and other variables. We don’t specifically focus on active shooter in basic but we do allocate a lot of our regional training effort to this important topic,” Gabliks said.

Generous support by Oregon’s elected officials has ensured that the training facility the agency has is top-notch. Gabliks said DPSST has received visitors from almost every state in the nation and six other countries who hope to model their facilities on Oregon’s. Active shooter classes take place in real venues, like schools and office complexes, that officers might be called to for service.

Emotional survival is also a component of what is taught at DPSST. Confrontations with an active shooter on a school campus could rapidly take turns no one predicted in the chaos that ensues. Aside from the stress of the moment, DPSST is working to create programs that prepare and help officers recover from the at times horrific nature of their jobs.

Gabliks said five officers in the past three years have died by suicide in part because of trauma from their job. To help combat the issue, Oregon is taking a page from firefighters and the military, both of which have developed programs generally called stress first aid.

“This program has been well received and we offer it to all newly promoted supervisors and managers in their two week training program at the Academy. We are expanding it now into the basic police course. The concept is that if your coworker doesn’t seem to be themselves, ask if they are okay,” Gabliks said.

Safety issues dominate River Road conversation

James Hutches, an insurance agent and Keizer resident, responds to the potential of assessing construction and remodeling efforts along River Road with a public amenity fee.
KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Community Conversation regarding the future of River Road drew about 40 business owners and residents who shared ideas and hopes.

The town hall-style event took place at the Keizer Civic Center Wednesday, Feb. 28, and the primary theme that emerged was increasing safety.

Keizer Community Development Director Nate Brown began the proceeding with a brief history of River Road improvements drawing the through-line from when it was two-lane unimproved county highway up to the creation of an Urban Renewal District to put utility lines underground and more recent aesthetic improvements.

“We want to get a feel for the threshold of change and how assertive (the community) wants us to be,” said Brown.

Hersch Sangster, a member of the Keizer Traffic Safety, Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee was among the first to speak and safety was at the top of his mind.

“All of our major injury accidents are on River Road. I want to emphasize safety south of Chemawa, where the road is narrower,” Sangster said. “River Road at Wells Fargo is 62 feet across and, with that, you can’t make improvements for multimodal transportation. We can’t afford the right-of-way and we have to look at how we can redesign the lanes and the striping to maximize it.”

Sangster’s comments tipped off a string of safety-themed issues.

Some of the suggested safety improvements included:

• Installing more street lights.

• Reducing the number of lanes and driveways.

• The improvement or addition of parallel roads and alleys allowing travelers to move along River Road without having to exit and re-enter.

• Installation of a signalized entrance/exit at Creekside Shopping Center.

• A flashing yellow light at the intersection of River Road and Manzanita.

Beautification – and maintaining what already exists along River Road – was another hot topic.

“When I was very young and came to this community, there were trees up and down River Road. I would like to see more of them,” said Carol Doerfler.

While there were no objections to added greenery, Bob Shackelford, a Keizer resident and River Road business owner, said keeping existing greenery from causing safety issues was already a problem.

“I like everything to look perfect, and a lot of places look really nice, but having trees and shrubs that overhang the street is an issue,” Shackelford said.

Shackelford’s comments tapped a vein into the larger issue that spawned the community conversation in the first place: a proposed 1 percent fee on new construction and major remodels that would be used to create public amenities.

City staff proposed the fee in 2017, and it was approved by the Keizer Planning Commission, but the idea died when it went to the Keizer City Council after strong rebuke from members of the business community.

Danielle Bethell, speaking on behalf of business owner Valerie White, asked when funds would come available to beautify River Road.

“What business owners are looking for is partnership and incentives,” Bethell said.

Brown responded, “The concept behind the 1 percent was that we had a major business come to River Road and there was very little investment in improving the quality of life in Keizer,” Brown said. “ It’s not about who can write who a check, it’s about taking ownership in the community.”

Keizer Chamber of Commerce member James Hutches said that a city-installed bench near the end at one River Road intersection was rarely used and wanted to see more thought put into what constitutes public amenities.

“Should we force things that are not functional just to say we put in an amenity? I think we should have incentives to put functional things in the community,” Hutches said.