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Month: July 2018

Let’s end need for clean-up

We congratulate Richard Boyes on being named Volunteer of the Quarter by the Keizer City Council earlier this week.

Boyes was nominated by members of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association for his work over the past years collecting trash along Chemawa Road from River Road to Keizer Rapids Park. The volunteer works on his own to assure Keizer keeps up its neat and tidy look.

It is unfortunate that anyone has to clean trash from our roadways. After decades of anti-littering messages, especially from an owl (Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute), one would think that private-sector street trash collectors would be a thing of the past. It is not, as evidenced by Mr. Boyes efforts and by those who adopt a street.

Each year volunteers help SOLVE clear tons of trash from Oregon beaches. If volunteers didn’t chip in and pick up wrappers, bottles, cans and other debris, our streets and beaches would look like a landfill.

We grew up hearing the ‘don’t pollute’ message. If we threw a can out the car window or along the curb, we were swiftly comforted. In other words, we were shamed into picking up our cast-off and disposing of it correctly.

We all need to be guardians of our planet, not to mention our neighborhoods and stand up to those who so cavalierly use public lands as their personal waste basket. There’s a place for everything.

We adults have to give a hoot and shame those, of any age, who choose to litter. Until the day comes when no one litters, we will rely upon the concerned volunteers like Richard Boyes.   —LAZ

Tariffs stuck on the spin cycle

By VERONIQUE DE RUGY

American firms cheering for protectionism in the form of tariffs on their foreign competitors should be careful what they wish for. As they say, “What goes around comes around.” Case in point: The American washer and dryer manufacturer Whirlpool Corp.

Last January, the Trump administration imposed a penalty on Americans who buy foreign-made washers. The administration argued that the need to protect our domestic washer makers from competition required the imposition, for a period of three years, of a 20 percent duty on the first 1.2 million imported washing machines each year and a 50 percent duty on quantities above that threshold. Whirlpool loved the idea of getting a leg up on two of its most fierce competitors and increasingly consumer darlings, South Korean Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. Why bother trying to produce goods that your consumers want to buy when Uncle Sam can make your competitors’ stuff artificially more expensive?

Marc Bitzer, the chief executive officer of Whirlpool, touted this protection as “without any doubt, a positive catalyst for Whirlpool.” Of course, it’s not so good for American consumers who must now pay a penalty if they insist on buying the foreign-made washers that they prefer over American-made washers. One result of this penalty, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that washer prices have risen by about 20 percent since January. From Whirlpool’s standpoint, the policy seemed like a raging success. Imports of large residential washers fell from a monthly average of 350,000 in 2017 to an average of 161,000 each month of 2018 through April.

But it’s not only American consumers who are harmed by Trump’s tariffs. American businesses also get hurt in the process when consumers, having to fork over hundreds of dollars more for washers, must forgo the purchase of other products that they would have otherwise bought. This isn’t surprising since tariffs always divert resources toward government-protected (read: favored) businesses and away from unprotected ones (read: everyone else).

Here’s the thing: When you cheer for protectionism, you never know when you might become the victim of the next round of consumer-punishing tariffs. That’s what happened to Whirlpool, which is now a victim of the 25 percent steel tariffs imposed by the administration to protect the steel industry from foreign competition.

It’s funny how that works. Whirlpool isn’t too happy about this particular version of protectionism. The steel tariffs increase the company production costs for washers and dryers. And some of these higher production costs are covered in the form of higher prices for consumers. As a result, since the Trump tariffs were announced and set in place, prices have gone up across brands and the demand for washers has fallen.

Meanwhile, appliance-repair businesses are making a killing as consumers put off the purchase of new appliances in favor of the expensive (but relatively cheaper) repairs they wouldn’t have purchased in a not-so-long-ago pre-tariff past. Poor protect-me-but-not-thee Whirlpool; this sad turn of events has forced the company to reconsider many of its hopes for expansion.

With imports down, the company planned to add workers at its washer plant in expectation of a new rush of tariff-induced washer sales. Not so fast. Thanks to the many tariffs applied to over $90 billion of imports from China and other places (including inputs and raw materials like steel), Whirlpool not only didn’t add 1,300 workers to its Clyde factory in Ohio; it has actually reduced its production. It’s therefore unsurprising that Whirlpool’s share price is down 15 percent since the washer tariffs were put in place. That’s in spite of the massive cut in the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 21 percent and other tax cuts.

The bottom line is that a government that’s powerful enough to protect some producers against foreign competitors is powerful enough to protect other producers—protection that winds up inflicting net damage on most or even all producers. As for the 6.5 million workers in America’s steel-consuming manufacturing plants (including Whirlpool’s), they can be added—along with all consumers—to the laundry list of long-suffering victims of cronyism that the Washington, D.C., swamp has left out to dry.

(Creators Syndicate)

Trump’s foreign policy style rankles

After a two-hour, private, no-observers meeting between a Russian dictator and what looks like his understudy, the news conference that followed required no training in body language interpretation to conclude which one of them enjoyed the upper hand. The one, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin presented himself with a cocky smile built on a confident, in-charge stride while the other, President Donald J. Trump, appeared nervous, petulant, unsure, and emasculated.

The two stood at separate podiums for a press conference where the American president displayed deference to his Russian counterpart, lavishing high praise on him while assuming a subordinate role.  In answering the very first question from an audience of reporters, Trump blamed disputes and problems between the U.S. and Russia on his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and his challenger for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.  He also recognized Putin for being honest in claiming Russia did not interfere in our 2016 election and repudiated his own intelligence appointees.

Then, Trump returned to Washington, D.C. and the next day changed one word in his giveaway to Putin before the whole world. He followed over the next week by reversing himself and, to date, has done so multiple times (as before Helsinki and now after). Meanwhile, we’ve gotten familiar—from his 18-months in the White House—that whatever he says the first time is what he really believes.  What’s become clear is that Trump listens primarily to himself, sometimes to daughter Ivanka, but is most influenced by Putin, a KGB agent dedicated to returning Russian to the Soviet Union-era and its former sphere of influence, adding, presently, and his greatest ambition, the West, too.

If the reader does not know it already, every objective fact relating to America’s special counsel, Robert Mueller and his team of U.S. assistants, had already disclosed that Putin’s Russia helped Trump into the presidency. Putin has also confirmed that he wanted Trump elected to the presidency.  At this juncture in U.S. foreign affairs, it must be remembered that, in Philadelphia during the 1787 convention, the authors of what became the U.S. Constitution, the founding of our democratic-republic design, worried a lot about foreign corruption of the new nation’s presidency.

The month of July, 2018, has provided, compliments of Donald Trump, other mind-boggling actions besides his throw away in Finland.  He also denounced the European Union as our “foe,” threatened to terminate NATO, wrecked the US-led world trading system, and intervened in the United Kingdom and German politics in support of extremist and pro-Russian forces.  These matters in addition to his refusal to stand up to protect and preserve the integrity of our voting system.  Is our sovereignty about to become a victim of a Russian’s ambitions?  Will we let it?

Can we actually wait for another election several months away when our president, who swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America” has subordinated himself to Putin? Special counsel Robert Mueller now investigates how deep and destructive the union between Trump and Putin is. In the meantime, Trump has invited Putin to visit the White House for another private meeting where, it’s surmised based on Helsinki, the fate of more than 320 million Americans will remain a secret.

The world’s people want to avoid a nuclear holocaust and that’s why it is critically important that our president maintain an open line with Russia’s president.  However, because Vladimir Putin is a dictator who seeks to spread his power, he sees the West’s democratic principles and practices as standing in his way.  Hence, to help himself, he’s using Trump, a naïve, self-centered leader who admires his strongman status.  Those who value our way of life, our laws, institutions, norms and freedoms, are encouraged to give serious consideration to what’s at stake before willfully surrendering the 229-years-old great American experiment to the wiles of a foreign totalitarian.

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion every week.)

Elsie Elzine Alt

September 23, 1921 – July 18, 2018

Elsie Elzine Alt, 96, passed away peacefully on July 18 surrounded by family. Elsie lived a full life of service and dedication to those around her. Her hobbies included sewing, gardening, canning, and caring for her kids and grandkids. She will be greatly missed.  Her lessons and guidance will remain with those she loved, served, and fostered.

E. Alt

Elsie was born in Trenton, Nebraska on September 23, 1921 to Alvin Long and Soiux Roush. She was one of nine children. She spent the majority of her childhood in Idaho, and graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1942.

Elsie met Raymond Alt, the love of her life, in Bremerton, Washington while they were both working in the sheet metal shop in the Navy yard. They married on October 13, 1945 and moved to Salem, Oregon, in 1948. Together they fostered nine children, adopted one child from America, and three children from South Korea. Elsie accepted the Lord in September 1948 and has been a member of Salem First Baptist Church ever since. She served on the deaconess board for several years and helped teach Sunday school for over 40 years. Many children played with Elsie’s homemade playdough and learned about the Lord from her. She truly leaves behind a legacy.

Elsie is predeceased by her husband, Raymond Alt; children Kathy Alt and Robert Alt; and her eight siblings. We know she is happily with them now in heaven.

Elsie is survived by her two children, Patty Ignatowski (Gerry) and Tim Alt (Salem), five grandchildren (Joshua Alt, WA; Raymond Alt, Salem; Max Alt, Salem; Alyce Alt, GA; and Crystal Ignatowski, Salem) and two great-grandchildren (Charlie Converse, Portland; Kai Alt, Salem).

A memorial service will be held at 1pm on Friday, August 17th at Salem First Baptist Church.

Ellen Neal

December 18, 1927 – June 21, 2018

Ellen Neal died peacefully in her sleep on June 21, 2018 at the age of 90 following a stroke.  Her final day was spent sharing stories and singing songs with her children, sister and other beloved family members at Capital Manor in Salem. Throughout her life, Ellen was recognized as a quintessentially gracious, dignified lady.  Words that describe her include thoughtful, generous, organized, wise, engaging, practical, and nice, all traits which did an excellent job of concealing the fact that she was amazingly tough. Ellen made a meaningful difference in the lives of Oregonians for over 60 years through her career as a high school teacher and her community volunteer work.

E. Neal

Ellen was born in Grants Pass, Oregon in 1927 to George and Lula Williams who were also native Oregonians.  In her formative years during the Depression, she remembers many encounters her family had with needy citizens who were then known as hobos, and how her mother often gave food to them.  In high school, Ellen joined The Toppers, a popular big band in southern Oregon, as their pianist and sole female member. Upon graduation from Grants Pass High School at the age of 16, she matriculated to Oregon State College where she received her bachelor’s in education in 1950.  A decade later, she continued her education during summer months and she received her master’s in education in 1964.  While attending OSC, Ellen joined the Delta Gamma sorority.  She remained active in the organization for decades, serving as a mentor to students in several DG chapters and spearheading their largest annual fundraising event for many years.

During the summer of 1947, while working at the soda fountain in her parents’ pharmacy in Reedsport shortly after her family’s move from Grants Pass, she met Ernie Neal who also attended Oregon State.  Ernie was three years older than Ellen, a World War II veteran, and a member of the Beaver basketball team. He had enough life experience to know a good thing when he saw it!  Ernie wisely courted Ellen and the following summer, they were married.  Their loving union of 67 years lasted until Ernie’s death in December of 2015.  Their first child, Steve, arrived in 1949 followed by Dan in 1952 and Gary in 1955.  While Ellen was fully occupied raising the boys, Ernie began his teaching career in Rogue River for a year, then in Florence for three years before they settled in Bandon in 1955.  Ellen commenced her career as a business teacher in Bandon in 1958.  The family loved their decade in Bandon, forming many lifetime friendships as well as an abiding love for the Oregon coast.

Ernie and Ellen moved the family to Salem in 1965 to provide their children with broader educational opportunities over the vigorous objections of their youthful progeny.  Discontent abated quickly as the family flourished in their new home at 333 Hollyhock Place.  Ernie and Ellen lived there for 48 years before moving to Capital Manor in 2013.

Ellen was one of the original faculty members at McNary High School when it opened in 1965.  She taught there for the remainder of her career.  When Ellen retired from teaching, she became a member of the Assistance League of Salem.  She served in leadership positions for many years and was particularly adept at grant writing which helped the organization raise funds to provide clothing, books and cultural experiences for children from low income families.  Ellen was honored with an award for outstanding service to the Assistance League in 2014.  She was also an active member of the PEO Sisterhood for 66 years, serving as chapter president twice, and holding every office at least once.  Her special joy came from identifying young women wishing to improve their lives but who lacked resources for higher education.  Ellen counseled many such women, assisting them in obtaining PEO scholarships, and often remaining in touch with them throughout their lives.  Her volunteer activities also included serving as an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church where she was an active member.

After their retirement, Ernie and Ellen purchased a beach house at The Capes near Oceanside, Oregon. Their cozy coastal retreat became the site of countless family gatherings and fishing/crabbing/hunting adventures.  Ernie and Ellen’s travels included  Europe, Egypt, Australia, the South Sea islands and the Panama Canal. Their favorite destination, though, was Hawaii where they stayed many times.  Ellen was also fortunate enough to visit China, together with her mother and sister, within the first couple years after China began accepting foreign visitors.

Ellen is survived by her sons Dan (Peggy) of Eugene, Gary (Bridget) of Yamhill, and daughter-in-law Susan Neal of Chicago, ten grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and her sister, Mary Helen Socolofsky (and family) of Portland.  She was preceded in death by her son Steve of Chicago in 2004, and her husband Ernie.

Ellen will be remembered for her unerring good advice, her excellence in nurturing others and perhaps most of all, for her ladylike fashion sense and uplifting, unflappable demeanor.   As one nephew said, “I never walked away from a conversation with Ellen without feeling better about myself and the world.  She had a special way of bringing the best out in everyone.”

The life of Ellen Neal will be celebrated on August 12 at 12:00 p.m. at Capital Manor, 1955 Dallas Highway NW in Salem, Oregon.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ellen’s memory may be made to: OSC P.E.O. Sisterhood Charitable Trust mailed to: Chapter G, 1935 Wickshire Ave. SE, Salem, OR 97302. Or to Assistance League of Salem, 1095 Saginaw Street South, Salem, OR 97302.

The Tempest at Keizer Rotary Amphitheater July 26-28

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Homegrown Theatre will present what Shakespeare scholars believe to be the last play he ever wrote on July 26-28 at Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park.

“Prospero’s monologue right at the end of the show is considered his (Shakespeare’s) farewell to the theatre,” said Linda Baker, director of The Tempest.

The free show begins at 7 p.m.

Set on a remote island, The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, a sorcerer and the rightful Duke of Milan who plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the tempest, to cause his brother Antonio and the complicit Queen Alonsa of Naples to believe they are shipwrecked and marooned on the island, where Prospero’s schemes bring about the revelation of Antonio’s lowly nature, the redemption of the duke and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.

“It is a comedy,” Baker said. “People think it’s serious but if you read the script it’s not serious. It’s not a tragedy. Nobody dies. Everybody that should be comes together.”

The play is also easier to understand than some of Shakespeare’s other shows.

“The language is beautiful,” Baker said. “It’s just a pleasure and it’s very accessible, surprising enough. It’s much more accessible than a lot of the shows. We’re throwing druids and thunder and lightning and a little more comedy than there usually is. We’re playing with humor in this show.”

Todd Logan, a veteran of Pentacle Theatre in Salem, is making his Keizer Homegrown Theatre debut as Prospero.

“In reality, Prospero is this great magician but really the only thing he really threatens anybody with is cramps and pinches,” Baker said. “Prospero lost his dukedom because he wasn’t paying attention. He was all involved with the naturals and the natural world and now he’s got it and it’s not as interesting as he thought it would be and he’s ready to go home and be duke. He’s not this weird mystical creature that he’s often played. He’s a guy who thought it might be more fun not to be duke.”

Logan’s son Spence, who played Romeo for Keizer Homegrown last summer, is one of two actors, along with Allison Reid, cast as Ariel, spirits who serve Prospero.

“I thought it would be kind of fun to see two Ariels, a male and a female, a yin and a yang,” Baker said. “He’s one of the few fantastical characters in the show. Everybody else is real.”

Kyra Wood, of Aumsville, plays Prospero’s daughter, who has only known life on the island. Antonio is played by Roy Esquivel and Alonsa, Queen of Naples, by Shannon Remple. Her son, Ferdinand, is portrayed by James Schmidt.

The rest of the cast includes Sam Tibbits as Caliban, Michael Jaffee as Sebastian

Richard Leppig as Gonzolo, Shilah Kahree as Trinculo, Braden Pippert as Stefano, Lyndon Zaitz as lords Francisco and Adrian, Jordan Reid as Boatswain and Tim Reid as Ships Master.

Sydney Colman, Megan Cox, Chantelle Gemmill,Becky Nielson, Rebekah Pippert and Lauren Stenson play druids, inhabitants of the island who come to the aid of Prospero and Ariel.

Sprinkled in throughout the show, leading characters in and out of scenes, The Tempest also includes more music than most Shakespeare shows. Hillary Hoover, previously in Dog Park the Musical, is a featured soloist.

New this year, Keizer Homegrown will take its Shakespeare in the Park to Aumsville for three performances on Aug. 3, 4 and 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Porter Boone Park Stage, 1105 Main St.

“It’s a lot of work for a three night run so this gives us six performances at two different venues,” Baker said. “We’ve all worked together in the past. They are there to see our shows. We have helped them with costumes and we’ve traded actors back and forth. It’s been a really good collaboration.”

‘It’s the hardest, best thing we’ve ever done’

By CASEY CHAFFIN
Keizertimes Intern

Jessica Ratliff had five kids in her home: four of her own, and one foster baby. Then a Department of Human Services (DHS) worker called: Can you take a foster sibling set, two kids under the age of two?

“How many people have you called?” Ratliff asked.

Twenty-four people. Ratliff was the twenty-fifth.

Ratliff said yes, for the meantime.

“When you tell me you’ve called 24 other homes, I can do it, but I can’t do it for long,” she said. Foster families often have to provide short-term care while DHS workers find suitable long-term placements, often outside of Marion County. Ideally, there would be open foster homes available for immediate long-term care, but that’s just not the case. There are too few foster families and too many kids in foster care.

Foster parents usually show up in the news for the wrong reasons: abuse, mismanagement of the foster stipend, and so forth. But the cameras don’t show up to document the foster parents working hard and doing the best they can for the kids that come into their care.

“I think because there’s such negativity in the press around foster care lately that no one wants to go get involved with it. When all you see in the headlines around it are scandals and abuse, people don’t want to sign up and do that,” Ratliff said. But that’s not the mindset the community needs.

“If people don’t like what they see on TV about foster homes, they need to step up and be the good foster homes. We just need people to step into that role and give these little children what they need,” she said.

Ratliff and her husband opened up their home to foster youth just under four years ago and have generally fostered kids under the age of four. They’ve taken in about eight long-term placements and many more short-term placements over that time.

“It’s the hardest, best thing we’ve ever done,” she said.

But foster parenting isn’t a task to be taken on lightly. Foster parents need to have a love of children, but they also need more than that—a willingness to stay with a child even when the going gets tough.

Shane and Malia Witham have fostered 24 kids over a period of six and half years. Malia and Shane also have three of their own “forever” children in the home, in addition to the children they foster. But they don’t usually make this distinction when they have a foster child in the home: “We’re not babysitters, we’re parents,” Shane said.

Foster parenting is a task that requires the involvement of one’s entire community—not just those acting as foster parents, but also their own kids, their extended families, their circle of friends.

“It’s a family affair, it is not just my husband and I, because it changes the entire dynamic of our home,” said Malia.

Incorporating foster kids into the dynamic of one’s home requires acceptance of the children as they are, not as one would like them to be. This requires adjusting one’s expectations of behavior.

Kids who come into one’s home from somewhere else are often used to different routines, and in the case of kids coming into foster care, these routines often aren’t ideal for the children’s age group.

Ratliff described a one-year-old she fostered who threw his food on the ground when she put him in a high chair for snack time. Usually when a small child throws their food, Ratliff said, it means they’re done eating.

But when Ratliff took the child out of the chair, she saw him trying to eat off the floor. She realized he was throwing food because he wasn’t used to eating in a high chair.

“He wasn’t done, he wanted to eat in a more comfortable environment,” she said.

Especially when working with young foster children, who can’t yet articulate their needs, listening to behaviors and adjusting one’s sense of a “normal routine” accordingly is important.

As opposed to forcing the child to eat in a high chair immediately, she tried to find safe, but less restrictive places in the kitchen to feed him. “Their worlds have been flipped upside down,” she said, just by coming into care, so one shouldn’t force change too quickly.

“Over time, we gradually work on that to get them to healthy, scheduled routines that are appropriate for their age,” she said.

Malia noted that while fostering is truly challenging, the impact a foster home can have on a child is immense. Throughout our conversation, the Withams referenced a sibling set of three who lived with them for two years before moving on to live with their biological relatives a year ago. They still keep in touch and provide respite care for the kids on occasion.

The three kids came to the Witham household with high needs and intense behaviors, but over the course of the three years they’ve known those siblings, they saw how their supportive environment allowed the kids to grow.

“The growth that we’ve seen from when they moved in with us to now, you can see in behaviors what unconditional love, what stability, what routine, all of those things that were not a part of their lives before, it changes them,” Malia said. “They are different kids.”

One of the most challenging parts of being a foster parent is letting go and saying goodbye to the foster kids, especially when they’ve been in the home for an extended period of time. And that’s often a reason people cite for not becoming a foster parent, because it would hurt too much to give up a child they’ve developed a bond with.

But foster parents are supposed to get too attached. That’s part of their job.

“They need us to be heartbroken when they leave, because that means that we loved them with every part of our being and that’s what we do,” Malia said. “It is hard. And sometimes I wonder how many times can we do it. At what point does your heart say I can’t break anymore? I don’t know. We’re not there yet. It is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but they’re worth it.”

To find out more about becoming a foster parent, adoptive parent, or short-term respite care provider, visit MarionFosterOrAdopt.com, where you can contact local foster parent certifiers.

Travel ban impacting local refugee resettlement efforts

By CASEY CHAFFIN
Keizertimes Intern

In the two and a half years since the Salem-Keizer area became a new Oregon hub of refugee resettlement, 220 refugees have been resettled in the area. Refugees, who often arrive in family units, have been aided in their transition to a new country and a new life by Salem for Refugees, a local volunteer organization dedicated to providing support to incoming refugees, or, as co-director of SFR Anya Holcomb refers to this burgeoning community within our community, “our new neighbors.”

For resettlement non-governmental organizations (NGO) that receive funding from the government to provide services for new arrivals, immigration changes have cut deeply into budgets and staffing. But for a volunteer-run organization like Salem for Refugees, “The main practical implication for us is the decrease in numbers,” Holcomb said.

Since founding the organization in response to a need for support for refugees beyond that offered by governmental agencies and NGOs, Holcomb has seen the flow of refugees to the community change based on policies coming from the Trump Administration. Since President Donald Trump took office, the yearly quotas for refugee resettlement have been slashed—according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in 2016, the last year of the Obama Administration, almost 79,000 refugees from around the world departed to be resettled in the U.S. In 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, the number of resettlement departures fell to under 25,000.

The lower quotas, paired with three iterations of a travel ban on certain countries, have also impacted Salem for Refugees’ and other resettlement organizations’ ability to welcome “new neighbors.”

The third and latest version of the travel ban—which the Supreme Court ruled in June to be constitutional and therefore permanent policy for the meantime—restricts admission of refugees and immigrants from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Critics of the ban have derided it as a dressed-up ban on Muslim immigration and refugee resettlement. Those working in the field of refugee resettlement have found that it targets the system as a whole, considering some of the world’s largest producers of refugees are on the list.

Holcomb, who says she’s just about lost track of the countries impacted by the shifting travel ban policy over the past year and a half, has seen the effect of the travel ban on their organization. For a solid four months during one iteration of the ban, Salem for Refugees didn’t receive any new families at all.

Over the two and a half years of the Salem area’s resettlement program, Salem for Refugees has welcomed refugees from nine countries: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. However, since the first implementation of the travel ban, the demographic of new arrivals has shifted. The organization now receives virtually no Middle Eastern refugees, who are often Muslim.

“Since the travel bans have taken effect almost all of our families are from Africa, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Holcomb said. And the short breaks that have separated different iterations of the travel bans hasn’t changed that; even when the travel ban hasn’t been in effect, people from Middle Eastern countries still aren’t getting into the United States in large numbers.

In addition to added restrictions from the travel ban and quotas, additional “security measures” have been implemented since the onset of the Trump Administration for refugees awaiting resettlement in the U.S., making the refugee screening process—which already took upwards of two years prior to 2017—even longer.

Even with refugee-negative policy coming from the highest branches of government, Holcomb remains positive. “We’ve just tried to really stay focused on loving and supporting the families who do come,” she said.

At press time, there are 270 Salem for Refugees volunteers supporting 17 refugee families in the Salem-Keizer area. Salem for Refugees hosts open meetings for new and continuing volunteers on the first Monday of every month from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Salem Alliance Church. For more information on getting involved, visit SalemForRefugees.org.

Community garden needs help to go solar

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The coordinators behind Keizer’s Rickman Community Garden are looking to make it even more self-sufficient.

Earlier this spring, Peggy Moore took to social media to ask for donations of flower starts and pots to add to the garden, then she decided to get bold.

“I put a request up asking for a greenhouse and, within a few days, I had two offers,” Moore said.

Now, Peggy and her husband, Jerry, are looking to take the greenhouse solar. Last week, the couple received $1,270 in matching grant funds from the Keizer Parks Advisory Board to make it happen, but Peggy said the group is still about $1,000 short of making it happen. The total cost to install six solar panels on an adjacent shed to fuel the greenhouse is about $2,500.

Jerry said a bid he received to purchase and install the equipment came within $150 of what it would cost to buy the materials alone at a local hardware store.

“But a lot of contractors don’t want to do a project this small,” said Jerry. “Adding electricity to the greenhouse will power a fan to control the temperature in the summer and a heater in the winter.”

Peggy already has a number of plans for how a solar-powered greenhouse would transform what the garden already does.

“The plants we get from the Marion-Polk Food Share are leftovers from the big box stores and they aren’t always in the best shape or we don’t get the varieties we want,” she said. Being able to raise anything gardeners desire from seed will expand the possibilities exponentially.

With enough lead time, she would even like to see the garden host a giveaway of vegetable and flower starts to home-based gardeners each year.

The garden currently has 17 plots and all are currently in use by members, but several of the plots serve large families. Peggy estimated that there are between 80 and 100 people who eat directly from the Rickman garden’s produce, but surplus goes to local organizations like Simonka Place, a women’s shelter, on River Road North.

If you would like to contribute to the solar effort in some way, contact the Moores at [email protected]

KLL walks off $13K in debt

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Withholding nearly $30,000 in payments to Keizer Little League complex proved to be nearly a break-even proposition for the organization running it during a meeting of the Keizer City Council July 16.

Two months ago, it was revealed that Keizer Little League (KLL), the organization charged with the maintenance and management of the park fields, kept $13,434 of concession sales it was contractually obligated to reinvest in the facility itself. During the past eight weeks, the city’s finance director assisted the league president and secretary, Brad Arnsmeier and Lisa Buik, respectively, with compiling complete financial data on the group’s activities. When the report was released last week, it turned out KLL owed more than double the initial amount. KLL also kept $15,030 in slot fees and tournament revenues amassed in 2017. According to the contract, those revenues should also have been put into the account of the park complex.

Offering no apologies, Arnmeier told city councilors that the KLL board concluded that a 50/50 sharing of concession revenues was “an equitable split. I hope that when we finish the process tonight that you agree.”

Arnsmeier said he told City Manager Chris Eppley in January of the plan to keep the concession revenues while waiting to see if the city would retroactively amend the park management contract to include concession revenue sharing with the management group.

Arnsmeier did relatively little talking during the meeting, but city staff made that easier. Before getting into the detailed review City Finance Director Tim Wood heaped effusive praise on Arnsmeier and Buik.

Eppley also stepped in to defend the KLL organization.

“When we first started looking at this, I asked (Wood and City Attorney Shannon Johnson) the ugly question: does anyone think that KLL was embezzling money?” said Eppley. “Tim was able to say, ‘no.’ None of us believed that it was the case. This is an issue of transitory boards who are not professional bookkeepers. If kids weren’t playing baseball and the fields weren’t in great shape, I would be a lot more concerned.”

In exchange for the retroactive change to the contract splitting concession sales and permitting the managing organization to keep tournament fees, Arnsmeier offered to repay the delinquent KLL slot fees, amounting to $13,550. Any group using fields at the complex pays a slot fee for the time they spend there, but KLL paid only $410 in 2017 while KLL teams were, by far, the most predominant users of the facility.

“I strongly feel that whoever is in charge has an obligation to invest back in the complex. The 50 percent (of concession revenues) is a safeguard to make sure the hard work that is being put in now is maintained,” Arnsmeier said.

The members of the city council approved a motion – in a 6-1 vote, Mayor Cathy Clark was absent – to forgive the concession stand debt on the condition of payment of the slot fees within 10 days.

Prior to the approval, Councilor Amy Ryan, the sole “no” vote, made a motion to forgive the entire $28,464 sum “for the hard work and hours they (KLL) put in.” The motion died in the absence of other support from council members.

Councilor Roland Herrera, recalling his days as a field manager for KLL, said, “I am in favor of the 50/50 and I appreciate being in that role at one time. I think moving forward we will know where all the money is going.”

Arnsmeier and Buik were all smiles as their time in the hot seat ended, but Eppley offered one last admonishment, saying, “I would encourage that each year, you coordinate with Tim (Wood) so we don’t end up here again.”