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Month: May 2018

A thank you to teachers and coaches


We are a privileged group—those of us who grew up in Keizer. Our city and state provided 13 years of education designed to prepare us for success in ways we often rejected or tried to ignore in our youthful demeanors.

We often complained about the ancient buildings, the packed classrooms that were always too hot or too cold, and of course about homework (or any kind of work for that matter).

In some ways our concerns had some merit—our system is imperfect and needs the support of society, but as my classmates and I neared the end of our public school experience at McNary in 2014 we were starting to realize the most impactful part of our education had not been in the infrastructure or official curricula opportunities—this honored place was held by our teachers and coaches.

Being four years detached and about to graduate college, my respect for the quality of our teachers has only grown. Despite every obstacle in their paths for doing so from logistics to bureaucracy to funding to even some downright mean students, they came to work every single day to give everything of themselves to push us to the greatest success possible. They gave of themselves not only in academic rigor, but in the greater lessons of life that are taught by that vehicle—the value of maximum effort, living a life in service to others, and the respect for each other and our society that is so important to every part of American life.

I will forever remember Coach Hafer running lines with us for what felt like hours to teach our 8th grade football team respect and brotherhood, the Big Four of junior year (Borresen’s Honors American Literature, Tiller’s Pre-Calculus, Hanson’s Honors Chemisr., and, of course,  Litchfield’s AP US History) each pushing us past our intellectual limits to set a foundation for us to achieve academic success based in thoughtful values, Master Sergeant Ellis and his wife serving the human needs of students in ways a normal classroom never could while pushing us all to respect and support each other as an AFJROTC family.

Mrs. Bell loving her students as if her own children and supporting all of us in our individual growth, Coach Fordney and those dreaded Verda Lane 400s and the mental grit they instilled in us, the stories could go on forever as the mosaic of growth that all of us students went through to become who we are today.

As I prepare to enter the career of my dreams straight out of college, I will forever stand on this base that our Keizer teachers and coaches helped to mold for me. For this, I and all Keizer students are forever in their debt.

A special thank you to many of the teachers and coaches who had an impact on my life from the beginning all the way back in 2001 to now from Clear Lake, Whiteaker, and McNary:

Mrs. Zahradnik, Mrs. Stai, Mrs. McFadden, Mrs. Percy, Mrs. DeVos, Mrs. Tipelin, Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Biamont, Mr. Hein, Mr. Staley, Mrs. Erickson, Mr. Earl, Mrs. McNulty, Mr. Hunter, Mrs. Sweeney, Mrs. Mahi, Mrs. Coe, Coach Hafer, Mr. Coburn, Mrs. Ambert, Mr. Mulligan, Mrs. Keeker, Mr. Crockett, Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Bowers, Mrs. Sheridan, Mrs. Bushey, Mrs. Tavares, Mrs. Roberson, Mr. Ward, Mrs. Cramer, Sra. Jensen, Mrs. Bell, Mr. Parker, Mrs. Graham, Mr. Melting, Mr. Myers, Mrs. Bell, Mrs. Stefani, Mrs. Bello, Maj Garcia, MSgt Ellis, Mama Ellis, Mama Hawaii, Mr. Borresen, Mr. Tiller, Mr. Hanson, Mr. Litchfield, Mr. Looney, Mr. Heimerdinger, Mr. Nicholas, Mrs. Olson, Mr. Freeman, Coach Gauntz, Coach Fordney, Coach Anagnos, Coach Auvinen, Coach Walker et al.

An incredible list of mentors and educators if I ever saw one.

(Tristan Briggs graduated from McNary High School in 2014 and will graduate from the United States Air Force Academy this year.)

Opposition to mascots not a trivial matter

In this day and age of a threatened nuclear war delivered by ICBMs, another president’s impeachment, huge homeless numbers, impending  infrastructure failures, global warming and weather catastrophes, substantive tax relief only for the nation’s wealthiest citizens, “hush money” payments, the corruptions of “pay-to-play” by national office holders, gasoline price increases, illegal immigrants, etc., there are .  .  .  the mascot crises.

Taking what may be argued as the most easy to denounce because it was inherently wrong in the first place, news out of Albany recently announced that South Albany High School has decided to surrender its Rebels nickname for something more acceptable, even though the old nickname has been quite difficult for some to give up.  It has been used at South Albany for years while its origin was the Confederacy, adopted as a battle cry in fighting the North, the objective being to preserve, protect and perpetuate the enslavement of their fellow African-American citizens.

Such a time from our past cannot be labeled anything other than grossly inhumane since it’s indisputably known that African-Americans are just as human as all the other homo sapiens: the difference solely skin color with all other body parts identical. Nevertheless, a war was fought by Americans against other Americans, resulting in 1.5 million casualties.  So, how many modern day Americans feel right about attending sports events where participants and spectators cheer for the Rebels?

Meanwhile, although the matter is not brand new to Portland, a few moons ago one of its secondary schools, Cleveland High School, argued long and hard, with many a bitter feeling aroused, to preserve their Indians mascot.  Now, we, the informed among us, know how the American Indians, and original dwellers of what became known as North America, were treated.  The real American Indians, those same natives who settled in North America—long before Europeans arrived—having their name taken to celebrate victory or defeat in sports events.  Incidentally, at Cleveland High in Portland, Indians has been replaced by Warriors.

Never wanting the dust to get entirely settled in mascot land, there now brews in Portland another mascot donnybrook. This time it’s over Quakers as a mascot name for Franklin High School.  Never mind that early and famous American patriot Benjamin Franklin was never a Quaker, the founders of Franklin somehow decided that would be a better mascot name than, say, for arguments sake, lightening, as old Ben had something to do with enlightening humankind vis-a-vis the fundamentals of electrical conduction.

A formal complaint was made with the Portland Public Schools Education Board over the use of Quakers at Franklin High and the complaint resulted in the PPS board devoting a year’s time to choosing a new name.  The complaint was explained as Quakers is the name of an organized religion and, as such, is “inappropriate, offensive, and unconstitutional” for use as a school’s mascot name.  Incidentally, the board, after receiving the complaint, has decided to review all its district naming policies and make changes accordingly.

Whether an issue is viewed as great or small often depends upon the beholder.  The mascot debates are probably considered by many Americans as “small’ issues.   Nevertheless, no matter the degree of importance, these debates are symbolic of the American spirit since colonial times to try to serve the needs and concerns of all citizens rather than what’s narrowly self-serving and self-centered, biased and prejudicial.  It is the belief of this writer that we Americans should do everything possible to pull together: A prevailing condition of cooperation and sensitivity for all, hopefully enabling our nation to reunite as in some former times where every American sees this as a place to call home.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

KeizerFEST rolls back into town

KeizerFEST, formerly the Iris Festival, returns to the city this weekend with a jam-packed 72-hour schedule.

The fun kicked off Thursday, May 17, and live music scheduled throughout the day and night Friday, May 18. Saturday, May 19, is when most of the activity really gets rolling.

River Road North will close at 9 a.m. to make way for 3K, 5K, 10K and half-marathon runs sponsored by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. The Valley Credit Service Iris Festival Parade takes off at 10:30 a.m. and travels south two miles along River Road through Keizer before ending at Glynbrook Drive.

This year, one Keizer business is building a float spectators can win.

Remodeling by Classic Homes will be pulling a 9-by-8-foot playhouse/shed to advertise its services, but the structure will be raffled off after the parade.

“I’ve wanted to build a float for a while, but I could never figure out what I would do with it after,” said Kyle Juran, owner of Remodeling by Classic Homes.

Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and will be sold at the KeizerFEST information booth near the entrance to the Lion’s Club property on Cherry Avenue Northeast.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Keizer Network of Women Giving Basket program this winter.

This year’s theme is The Keizer Way. Keizer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Danielle Bethell said chamber employees have fielded many calls asking precisely what that means.

“We’ve been telling them that it’s whatever you think about when they think of Keizer,” Bethell said. “I’m hoping that means we have a lot of interpretations of people’s heartfelt thoughts on Keizer.”

Cherry Avenue will be closed between Manbrin Avenue and Alder Drive until Sunday evening to make space for ADA parking and pedestrian access to the KeizerFEST tent.

There’s also lots of buzz circulating around Sunday’s line-up at the tent. More than $2,000 will be up for grabs at the KeizerFEST Teen Talent Showcase on Sunday, May 20.

“We’re looking for musical talent, not just singing but instrumental, too, any style, any size ensemble, it’s all good.” said McNary High School choir director Joshua Rist, who is one of four judges. “We’re hoping to get a good turnout from the community. We just want kids in middle school and high school in the Salem-Keizer School District to have an outlet to show off their talents.”

Judges selected contestants from video submissions to compete in the talent show. Round 1 is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., the final round at 3 p.m. and then a winner presentation at 4:15.

First prize is $1,000, second is $700 and third receives $400. The showcase is hosted by Keizer Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Uptown Music.

Other festival-related events include:

• Dayspring Church, 1755 Lockhaven Drive N.E., is hosting a block party from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 19. The event includes carnival games, a bounce house, free hot dog lunch and music.

• The Keizer Elks Car Show runs from Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 4250 Cherry Avenue.

Celtics lose play-in game, ending season

Of the Keizertimes

Errors plagued McNary’s baseball team all season.

On Tuesday, May 15, errors ended it, as the Celtics committed nine errors in a 15-11 loss to Centennial in a state playoff play-in game.

After a clean first inning, a single, infield error and hit batter loaded the bases with zero outs for the Eagles. Carl Rumbaugh then walked in the first run of the game.

But McNary had chances to get out of the inning without giving up more runs. Rumbaugh got a ground ball to first base but Ryan Thompson’s throw home hit the Centennial runner in the helmet.

Rumbaugh then got a fly ball to left field but Robert Benson couldn’t catch it in foul territory, extending the inning.

The Eagles took advantage, scoring seven runs to put McNary in an early hole.

“We haven’t been a great fielding team all year so it kind of showed up again tonight,” McNary head coach Larry Keeker said. “We’ve made some improvements in fielding but tonight obviously our defense was subpar. When you’re giving up that seven spot in the second, it’s an uphill battle from there.”

But the Celtics fought back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second. After Noah Bach walked and Dave Alfaro singled, Benson tripled to get McNary on the board. Thompson, who reached on a fielder’s choice, then scored on a Centennial error.

The Celtics added two more runs in the bottom of the third to get within 7-5.

But the wheels continued to fall off in the top of the fourth.

With runners at second and third after a base hit and another error, Rumbaugh struck out back-to-back hitters. But Centennial answered with a RBI single and double to stretch its lead to 9-5.

Pitching in relief, Kyle McCallister got a fly ball to the mound but misplayed it, allowing two more runs to score.

The Eagles continued to give McNary chances, committing seven errors of their own.

“We had a ton of opportunities,” Keeker said. “Really quite frankly it wasn’t a very good baseball game. It just really wasn’t. Neither team played well defensively. Offensively, I guess you’ve got to give our guys some credit because I thought we had some really good swings. We had some balls that were hit hard right at people. The bottom line is we also left some guys on base.”

After Jacob Jackson reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the fourth, Lance Becktel drove him home with a triple. Ty Covalt then delivered a sacrifice fly to get the Celtics within 11-7.

But McNary had three more errors in the top of the fifth, including failing to turn a double play and catching a ball at home plate, that accounted for two more runs.

Alfaro and Collin Wentworth delivered RBI hits in the bottom of the sixth as the Celtics scored three runs to get within 13-11.

But Centennial scored two more runs in the top of the seventh on another error and Covalt grounded into a double play in the bottom of the inning, ending McNary’s season.

“The good news is the kids kept battling and we gave it a shot,” Keeker said. “We just couldn’t stop them. They scored 15 runs. It’s hard to win when you give the opponent 15 runs.”

Alfaro was 3-for-4 with a RBI.

Covalt and Wentworth were both 2-for-4 with a RBI. Benson was 1-for-3 with three RBIs.

McNary finished the season 12-15.

“I’m proud of the seniors. We’ll miss those guys,” Keeker said. “Now we’ll take a couple weeks off and on to summer ball and start to get ready for next year.”

McNary’s best not enough to qualify for state

Of the Keizertimes

Nine McNary athletes ran either personal or season bests on day two of the Greater Valley Conference Track and Field Championships on Thursday, May 10 at West Salem High School.

But none of those times were fast enough to qualify any more Celtics for state.

Kailey Doutt was the closest, finishing third in the 800 in a season best 2:19.40. Hailey Lewtag of South Salem captured the final qualifying spot, placing second in 2:19.17. Elizabeth Khoury of Forest Grove won the race in 2:18.83.

“Kailey, she ran her fastest district time in the finals that she’s run at the conference meet,” McNary head coach Franklin Gauntz said. “She kind of let them (Khoury and Lewtag) go at the 400 mark a little bit and maybe should have kept it a little bit closer but she tried as hard, I don’t think she left anything out there. It’s just unfortunate.”

Doutt also ran on McNary’s 4×100 and 4×400 relays, which both finished fourth.

Joining her in the 4×100 were freshmen Leah Doutt, Ashlin Samples and Isabella Walker, and in the 4×400 were Doutt, Walker and Reyna Terrazas.

Leah finished eighth in the 100 in 12.91.

“My start was actually pretty good today but I think I might have slowed down a little too early,” Leah said. “I just didn’t finish through the way I wanted to.”

Determined to do better in the 200, Leah placed fifth in 27.25.

“I just really didn’t want to get last again after that 100,” Leah said. “So I was pushing because I was kind of angry. Overall it was a good experience as a freshmen getting to run in finals. t’s definitely good competition and definitely pushed me to do my best. I think it will be good for the next few years.”

Walker finished sixth in the 300 hurdles in 50.64. Hannah Mallery, a sophomore, ran a PR of 50.81 to place seventh.

In the 100 hurdles, sophomore Caitlyn Kiefiuk Yates ran a season best 16.86 to take fifth. Samples finished sixth with a PR of 16.87.

“Our young kids, we’ve got some talent, so we’ve just go to grow on that,” Gauntz said.

Noah Grunberg PR’d in both hurdle events, finishing sixth in 16.22 in the 110 and seventh in the 300 in 42.28. Casey Toavs placed fourth in the 300 hurdles with a PR of 41.83.

Victor Zavala advanced to finals in the javelin and finished sixth with a throw of 144-09.

Lucas Garvey and Brian Hernandez took seventh and eighth in the boys 200 in 24.12 and 24.60. Garvey also finished sixth in the 400 in 53.21.

McNary’s boys 4×100 relay team (Garvey, Hernandez, Jose Solorio Diaz and Dyami Rios) placed fourth in 44.84. Garvey, Solorio Diaz, Emanuel Figueroa and Brayden Ebbs took sixth in the 4×400 relay in 3:32.65.

West Salem swept the team titles. McNary’s girls finished fifth. The boys placed eighth.

“I’m not discouraged because we were setting personal records so that’s good,” Gauntz said. “We’ve just got to get faster. We competed. West (Salem) is just really fast. North (Salem) is really fast. It’s a tough conference with nine teams.”

Pole vaulter Paige Downer is the only McNary athlete competing in the state track meet. The 6A girls pole vault is scheduled to begin Friday, May 18 at 12:30 p.m. at Hayward Field in Eugene.

McNary mixes 70s with Shakespeare

Of the Keizertimes

McNary theatre students spent the last weekend of April bell-bottom shopping.

The drama department has set its final show of the 2017-18 season, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, in the 1970s after the Vietnam war.

The show features a disco scene, choreographed by Zoe-Lisa Banton, of City Dance Theatre. During the masquerade ball, one character attends as Princess Leia.

“The kids have been challenged to do all of the homework they can do on ‘70s catch phrases to sprinkle in,” McNary drama director Tom Cavanaugh said. “There will be as many ‘70s references as we can cram in there as possible.”

The play opens on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m., followed by an after school performance at 3 p.m. and evening show at 7 on May 18. A matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 19 with a final show at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $7 for adults.

Cavanaugh had planned to do Twelfth Night as McNary’s annual Shakespeare play but decided to change course after more than 40 students auditioned.

Twelfth Night is (a cast of) 16 or 17 and there’s not a lot of room for expansion,” Cavanaugh said. “The base cast is kind of what you’ve got. Much Ado I believe starts at 25 but there’s lots of room for party goers, towns people, wedding guests. I didn’t want to cut 30 when it could be bigger.”

Cavanaugh ended up with 30 students in his cast of Much Ado About Nothing.

In the show, Hero, played by Ivy Parker, and her groom to be, Claudio, played by Noah Schnell, team up to play matchmaker to two people who absolutely despise each other, Beatrice, played by Sydnie Gould, and Benedick, played by Jacob Fritts. Parker Kehret plays Beatrice’s father—Leonato.

Since only six boys are in the show, Cavanaugh had to do as much cross-gendering as possible. Abrianna Feinauer had turned Don Pedro into Donna Pedro. Dogberry and Verges are also females.

“The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West” by John Branch

“The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West” by John Branchc.2018, W.W. Norton
$26.95 / $35.95 Canada
288 pages

Book review by Terri Schlichenmeyer.

You can’t take it with you.

People have tried for millennia to keep all their toys but eventually, there comes a time to step aside and pass the baton to the next person who needs a chance. It’s their turn, their time to take things and run. The tricky part, as in the new book “The Last Cowboys” by John Branch, is understanding when let go.

The seventh generation was coming up.

With thirteen children and numerous grandchildren, sixth-generation rancher Bill Wright knew that his family’s spread in Utah , near Zion National Park , would likely be passed to one of them someday. Meanwhile, working cattle, maintaining water reservoirs, it was a full-time business, but ranching was in Wright’s blood.

Once, though, for him, there was the rodeo.

That was the other thing Wright, a former bronc rider, had bestowed upon his sons: love of rodeo. His eldest boy, Cody, had reached high-level status as a bronc rider, and Cody’s brothers were moving up the ranks behind him. There was pride in that, not envy, and a dream for Cody that he might someday compete alongside his own sons.

But bronc riding is a hard way to make a living. For eight seconds, a rider must maintain balance, position, and form while astride a bucking, twisting, jumping horse. Points come from rider and horse, both; purses are cumulative and help rank the riders. Injuries are so common, they’re almost expected.

Says Branch, “The next ride might be a winner. Or it might be the last.”

While his sons criss-crossed the country each summer to ride in as many rodeos as possible, Wright cared for the ranch his family loved. He “wasn’t sure about all the talk on climate change” but he knew things weren’t like they used to be. Areas that once had plenty of grass were now drier. Grazing permits for federal lands were a tangle of rules. Ranching got harder and harder each year – but how could he sell a generations-old legacy?

In a way, “The Last Cowboys” is one of the most time-stretching books you’ll ever read.

Half of it is written in eight-second timelines, as author John Branch describes the skill, technique, and problems with staying on a rarely-ridden horse long enough to win what could be six-figure payouts. Though it’s difficult to read, Branch writes about how hard such a sport is on a man’s body, and how addicting it can be.

As it should, the other side of this book moseys through 150 years of ranch life. Branch describes beautiful, mountainous views; and dusty pastures often tied to bureaucracy and boundaries. This side gives readers a chance to dwell in the lushness while reading, with sinking feeling, about its dwindling appeal to newer generations.

 In the end, the answers are as complicated as are the rules for bronc riding and grazing rights, and readers who cherish the Old West shouldn’t wait to read about this New one. Start “The Last Cowboys,” and you’ll want to take it everywhere with you.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin

Childress finishes second in Greater Valley Conference

Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—Hannah Childress battled cramps in both feet to reach her first Greater Valley Conference girls singles final on Saturday, May 12 at Salem Tennis and Swim Club.

But the McNary senior couldn’t bring home the title, falling to three-time district champion Ceanne Elliott of West Albany 6-0, 6-1.

I think it would have been a lot more competitive if she would have been more fresh,” McNary head coach Mathew Osberg said.

After cruising to the semifinals, dropping just five games in three matches, to qualify for her fourth state tennis tournament, Childress defeated South Salem sophomore Abby Fedor 7-5, 6-2 Saturday morning to reach the finals.

The first set was really challenging,” Childress said. “Starting the second set, she (Fedor) was really motivated. But all the energy just dropped and I noticed she was getting more tired and frustrated so I picked up my game then and I hit a little bump when she won the second game and the rest I just really wanted to win. I’d put so much energy into that match and wanted to make it into the finals. I love how it’s my last year and I made it to the finals. It’s progress.”

Gina Munguia and Natalia Gonzalez, who didn’t begin playing together until the last match of the season, reached quarterfinals of the doubles bracket, where they lost to the eventual champions Avari Ridgway and Amy Gilliat of McMinnville 6-0, 6-0.

They really have a lot of communication on the court and move well together,” Osberg said of Munguia and Gonzalez. “I think both of them had their best matches. They kept being patient and kept the ball in play and tried to force errors from their opponents and it worked out.”

McNary senior Katherine Perez regrouped from losing in the first round to win four matches in a row, including a 5-7, 7-6, 6-0 victory over Hannah Leichty in the consolation finals.

In the boys tournament, McNary junior Alfredo Villarreal also rebounded after losing in the first round to reach the consolation finals, where he lost to Josiah Barkes of Sprague 6-1, 6-1. Villarreal shut out Rees Jones of South Salem 8-0 to get to the finals.

In practice, I’m just trying to get better everyday,” said Villareal, who only began playing tennis last season. “I’m not just out here just to take up time. I’m trying to get better and put in effort every day and that’s how I’ve got to the point I am right now. I think I still have a lot of potential and I still have a lot of room to improve so if I just keep working I’ll be able to go even farther next year.”

The 6A tennis state championships are May 17-19 at Babette Horenstein Tennis Center in Beaverton.

Childress, the No. 7 seed, has a bye in the first round and will get the winner of Olivia O’Halloran (Barlow) and Lucy Erickson (Sunset).

Budget includes support for several local efforts

Of the Keizertimes

Members of the Keizer Budget Committee were in a giving mood last week as a number of local organizations were granted additional funding or first-time funding in the city’s annual budget.

Three of the standouts were the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, the Keizer Cultural Center and a non-profit known as Keizer United. The Chamber and Keizer United were tentatively approved for additional funding, but will need to come back and present detailed plans to the city council prior to money being disbursed.

The Chamber’s typical annual support includes about $3,000 for a membership package, an advertisement in the group’s annual lifestyle directory and $2,500 for support Chamber employees supply in visitor services.

Last week, Chamber Executive Director Danielle Bethell and Chamber President Nate Bauer requested an additional allotment of $8,500 from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Keizer collects on hotel stays. The amount is 10 percent of what Keizer collects annually in TOT.

“The Chamber promotes the businesses, but also the community. We’re asking for some funds to help do that,” said Bauer.

Until 2011, the Chamber received 20 percent of the TOT collections, but an slow economic recovery combined with the need to prop up a new civic center while it gained a place in the event market meant money was used elsewhere.

Bethell said the Chamber intends to use the additional TOT money to help secure a new space on River Road North.

“The 1,000 people that we bring – awkwardly -– to our space in Keizer Station would double if we were on River Road. We need help to do that,” Bethell said.

Budget Committee members, which include city councilors and a citizen advisory group, approved the additional request for TOT dollars with the caveat that a more detailed plan was needed.

The same was true for Keizer United, a non-profit that is working to connect the varying efforts of many Keizer organizations and schools seeking volunteers, funding and in-kind support.

After a request for $2,000 in the last budget cycle met with concern, Meredith Mooney, a spokesperson for Keizer United, returned this year loaded for bear.

“We are asking for some financial support because Keizer United is repurposing its mission and vision, and we’ve more than doubled our representation at the table,” Mooney said.

Mooney said the group’s new mission includes being a neutral ground for collaborations to happen among other efforts from all sectors of the Keizer community. She also pre-sweetened the pot by securing a matching $2,000 grant from the Salem Leadership Foundation.

While Keizer United was approved for funding, a more detailed plan will need to be presented at the city council.

The committee also approved doubling financial support for the Keizer Cultural Center, the old school next to the Keizer Civic Center.

Leaders from the Keizer Art Association, Keizer Heritage Foundation, Keizer Homegrown Theater, Keizer Heritage Museum, and Keizer Community Library all turned out over the course of two nights to make their case for a $20,000 allocation to help support all five groups during the next fiscal year.

Linda Baker, founder of Keizer Homegrown, said a cultural center is something unique to the surrounding areas.

“The closet cultural centers are Lincoln City and Lakewood, and we are the only one that has the theater smack dab in the middle of town,” said Baker. “Arts money also stays in the community, 45 cents of every dollar stays in the local area. We’re looking at bringing something to the community not just asking for it.”

One point of concern was money from the city being put into the sinking fund for the building as a whole. Committee Member Ron Bersin wanted to see the tenants of the building build up that fund rather than seeing taxpayer money go into it. Nothing was set in stone, but representatives of the cultural center made verbal concessions.

Chris Erich, representing the Keizer Heritage Foundation which oversees the facility, said management is also investigating insurance plans to cover catastrophic expenses.

City Manager Chris Eppley said his support stemmed from almost purely pragmatic concerns.

“A cultural center provides an esoteric value to the community, but I support this because I am certain, if we don’t do this, that the organizations will fail and the city will inherit the building. At that point we either tear it down or it goes into disrepair,” Eppley said. “Under any scenario, doing something else is going to cost way more than the $20,000.”

Other projects that received special attention in the budget included: allocating $60,000 for an electronic readerboard for the Keizer Civic Center, the funding will come from a contingency fund dedicated to the civic center; a $2,000 increase in stipends for public art; $2,000 to replace the lights and wiring for the city’s Christmas tree; $6,000 for the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation after school programming; and $5,000 for the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative, which helps cover the costs of a program manager connecting the various organizations that reach out to the area’s homeless residents.

KLL breached contract with city

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Little League (KLL) pocketed $12,000 from concession stand proceeds in 2017, money contractually mandated to be spent on park upkeep. And the Keizer City Council is on the verge of granting the organization a “get out of jail free” card.

Under the terms of a contract with the city signed in 2016, net proceeds from the Keizer Little League Park’s concession stand are supposed to be reinvested in maintenance and improvement of the park itself. In 2017, the concession stand netted $24,000 and only $12,000 went back into the park for maintenance.

Keizer Little League President Brad Arnsmeier said the remaining $12,000 offset costs of running a free T-ball program for 220 players, purchasing uniforms, equipment, insurance, and as scholarship money for athletes’ families who would otherwise struggle to pay registration costs.

Arnsmeier, who was elected KLL president last year, said he was not aware of the language in the contract until December 2017.

“Had I been aware, we never would have opened the concession stand. The contract, as it was written, was an unfair contract,” Arnsmeier said in a phone interview after a Keizer City Council meeting Monday, May 7, where the financial discrepancy was brought into the public light. Arnsmeier was unable to attend the meeting because he was out of town.

Arnsmeier contended that asking volunteers to work the concession stand for no benefit to the KLL program was akin to asking them to volunteer for the state. When pressed regarding the definition of volunteering being an act of selflessness, Arnsmeier responded, “When you’re talking about the number of hours it requires to run the concession stand, then that is a very large ask. It takes a tremendous amount of work to get those volunteers to come out and work the stand.”

To be fair, KLL leaders and volunteers have put a large amount of work into rehabilitating the facility. The organization has received two matching grants amounting to $20,000 out of the city’s general fund in recent years. Led by Clint Holland, a KLL board member and longtime Keizer volunteer, KLL leveraged that money to secure another $50,000 over four years from the Rotary Club of Keizer. Volunteer hours and in-kind donations likely amount to tens of thousands more.

However, KLL has been asked twice to submit a detailed budget to the city for review and come up short on both occasions.

When KLL requested the city council’s permission to increase field fees by $10 across the board, the budget it submitted was mostly a collection of expenses with only one source of revenue listed.

This week, KLL was requesting the city council modify the contract it operates under to allow the organization to keep half concession revenue and all tournament income from non-youth users. The budget KLL presented this time also left city councilors wanting.

“There’s a lot of different information here, but I would prefer to get a detailed profit and loss statement like MYB,” said Councilor Bruce Anderson of KLL new budget document. “This is a contract we have with them and I would like to have a better handle on things. There’s a lot of things moving around here that I’m still confused by.”

A competing youth baseball organization, known as McNary Youth Baseball (formerly KYSA), has been more forthcoming.

In the budget made available to the council Monday, there was no accounting at all of the $12,000 KLL kept from the concession stand.

“I don’t see concession costs, incoming revenue. I don’t know how many kids are playing. I look at this and it’s really hard to understand,” Councilor Amy Ryan said. “Supporting (the change you are asking for) is hard when we don’t have information that should support you.”

Holland attended the meeting and spoke as a representative of the Keizer Little League Board, but rather than defend the decision allowing KLL to pocket the money, Holland spoke for more than five minutes about the improvements that have been made at the fields.

When Ryan asked why no one read the contract, Holland responded, “We put all the extra money (into improvements) because it’s what has to be done.”

By the end of the evening, no solid answer regarding knowledge of the contract requirements was given, only that the specifics of the contract were brought to light in December 2017. Holland also sits on the Keizer Parks Advisory Board, which reviews the applicants for the Little League Park management contract and makes a recommendation for awarding it to the city council.

The council voted unanimously to have staff craft amended language to the contract allowing the managing group to keep half of concession and all tournament revenue – and keep the process moving – but seemed to be leaning toward revising the terms.

“Would it be alright with you if KLL can come back and show the equivalence of the $12,000 invested in the park?” Mayor Cathy Clark asked city councilors and representatives of MYB in attendance.

Nods were the only response.

As far as city staff’s role in the process, City Manager Chris Eppley appeared to want to wash his hands of the whole thing.

“Technically (KLL) broke the letter of the contract, and I would be concerned about that if the field was not looking good. Each group wants to see what the other is doing so they can be held accountable and the city is put in the middle,” Eppley said. “We need to find a scenario where there is a third party that operates and generates income to cover the costs of the complex and the city supporting larger projects.”

The matter is expected to return to the council during its first meeting in June.