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Month: August 2018

Market headwinds may curb growth

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

From the outset of the Keizer Revitalization Plan, Community Development Director Nate Brown has said the city intends “to change the way it does business” with regard to development along River Road. However, the city can change its practices and still find itself in a market unable or unwilling to meet it halfway.

According to a Gap Analysis the Keizer City Council and Keizer Planning Commission will discuss in a work session Monday, Aug. 27, the market to develop or redevelop in Keizer is “soft but rising.”

That conclusion is based on trends in the rental market. An average Keizer rent pencils out to approximately $1.20 per square foot, or $900 a month for a 750-square-foot apartment.

“While it may sound like a lot of money, such rent levels will not justify new construction. Simply put, the rate of return will not be high enough for a bank to loan on a project at that rate,” states the analysis prepared by Otak, Inc., Angelo Planning Group, Johnson Economics, and Kittelson & Associates.

The $1.20 per square foot amount would mean about a 5.8 percent return on investment and builders would likely seek a 10 to 12 percent return before pulling the trigger on a new Keizer project.

Driving up the going rate per square foot would likely also require Keizer’s “downtown” to become a destination space that residents would pay more to be closer to. However, currently the city lacks entertainment options for anyone under the age of 21 and the diversity of services remains somewhat limited overall.

Another hurdle is the city’s low jobs-to-housing ratio. A balanced ratio is considered slightly more than one job per household. Keizer has .48 jobs per household and more than a third of them are in the retail sector. According to the study, economists suggests ideal communities have about 10 percent of their jobs in retail.

Additionally, new and redevelopment could potentially price some Keizer families out of Keizer completely. In the most rosy projections, the city could add as many as 2,500 new residences, but those will most likely come at the expense of those already in the lower income brackets.

“New buildings are generally built at the high end of the price range within the city. Rental residential buildings that redevelop are often also the ones with the lowest monthly rents,” the study suggests.

Signs for the times

By CASEY CHAFFIN
Keizertimes Intern

When Rev. Gary Zerr took his first tour of the St. Edward Catholic Church campus, he honed in on the sign out front. He was less than impressed and told his guide as much.

“I said to the guy driving me around, ‘Gosh, that sign’s new? That’s the ugliest sign I’ve ever seen.’”

That’s when he found out his driver was the one who paid for it. He half-chuckles, half-sighs at the memory.

“Oh brother, I got off on the wrong side with this guy,” he remembers thinking. “Because it was brand new, I couldn’t change it for a couple years. We were stuck with it – it had too-small lettering, and it was metal and ugly-looking.”

So he lived with the sign. For a few years. A decade ago, the church replaced the sign with a new one, with bigger, more readable lettering. But that wasn’t the only part of the sign that has changed over the years.

Zerr said of the sign in the early days, “We had really boring things…like ‘community dinner this Wednesday.’” The sign didn’t have any interest to it. Then Zerr discovered Keizer Christian Church’s sign on Wheatland Road in north Keizer.

“I used to go walking out there at Willamette Mission Park and I’d see their pithy sayings. … We were doing ecumenical things with [Keizer Christian] back then and I see this pastor and I say, ‘Where are you getting all this good material?’ She said, ‘That’s for me to know and you to find out.’ Come to find out, she had a book. When she retired, I said I want to buy that book from you. And she said nope, I’m giving it to the next pastor.”

Nevertheless, Zerr decided St. Edward could do better. He bought his own. There are a surprising number of books on improving one’s church-sign slogans – five of which Zerr keeps in his office. He found new material, but it didn’t always occur to Zerr how meaningful the sign was to people.

“When we had groundbreaking for this church, which was six years ago, former mayor Lore [Christopher] was there, very happily, at the groundbreaking. … She said to me kind of in an offhand comment, ‘I want to thank you for the sayings on the signs. Some of them made my day,’” Zerr said. “And that’s when I began to realize that we had an obligation in a way, it’s the only sign like that in Keizer, and it’s just a moment to help people with life a little bit.”

Zerr sees the sign as a way to make a small impact in people’s lives, even if it’s just a momentary chuckle as they drive down River Road.

“The world’s in such bad shape these days – I don’t want to read the news anymore – you get these things and it sticks in your head, and if somebody’s having a bad day, and the sign cheers them up or gets them thinking a little bit, gosh, I think that’s great.”

And while the messages bend toward Jesus-centric, they are also meant for the community at large.

“I think that that’s a way that we can make a difference, by not being Catholic so much as assisting people with life a little bit,” Zerr said. “What we put up there is very denomination-neutral, it’s faith-neutral in some ways, because it is meant for the whole community.”

The sign has its evangelical purpose, however. Some current parishioners were lured into the church by the pithy sayings on the sign.

“We had a guy who came in named Ed. We called him Drive-By Ed because he drove by, came in and joined the church,” Zerr said. “Many people spur-of-the-moment will come in from seeing those things. They think, well, there’s a Catholic church with a sense of humor and they’ll come in and check it out. Some stay,” Zerr said.

Announcements for twice-annual Catholics Come Home classes have also found receptive audiences in the drive-by crowd.

The slogans that end up on the sign go through a vetting process. Suggestions for the sign are brought forward at St. Edward’s 15-person staff meetings, to make sure they really are funny, and definitely not offensive or political. Suggestions come from Zerr himself, the church staff, his collection of church-slogan books and the community.

“I’m a strong believer in collaboration. These things need to be discussed in a group, so we can decide what works,” he said.

One of the most popular slogans the church has used was a pun-filled suggestion during the Fourth of July barbecue season: “Ketchup with Jesus, lettuce praise and relish him.”

“That was the saying that got the most attention of anything,” Zerr said.

But more than Zerr’s love of puns, the sign helps him live out a mission rooted in faith, one that he didn’t come upon until after a 10-year career with American Airlines. During that time, he was involved with his church, but didn’t make the commitment to become a priest until he was 35 years old.

“I had a career before I came here. … Having been somebody that drove by many times before I ever got into the clergy, I know what it’s like to need something. I know how much I would’ve appreciated seeing something like that, before I was a priest, on my local church or on somebody else’s church, anybody’s church,” Zerr said. “I would’ve been so grateful that they put those darn things up, because life is just not always very happy for people.”

MHS alum returns as Celts’ band director

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

When Chris Nelson walked into the McNary band room for the first time in more than a dozen years, hundreds of memories rushed through his head.

“It is literally a trip down memory lane,” said Nelson, McNary’s new band director. “I imagine at some point I’ll get past that and it will be where I live and where I work but when I go to the high school, I just picture it how I remember it.”

Nelson began playing in the percussion section as a 12-year-old at Whiteaker.

He picked percussion because of its versatility. Instead of being stuck to one instrument, he could play bass drum, snare drum or even bells.

In high school at McNary, he fell in love with mallet pitched instruments like the xylophone.

“You could play melodies and tunes instead of just playing a beat on a drum,” said Nelson, who along with being in the marching band and jazz band, was also part of McNary’s competitive indoor drumline. “If it was in band, I tried to do it. I was all in on band in high school.”

By his senior year (2005), Nelson knew he wanted to be a teacher.

“I remember vaguely kind of imagining wouldn’t it be cool to be the band director here but it was nothing more than a day dream,” Nelson said.

Nelson earned a bachelor of music in instrumental music education from Brigham Young University and master of arts in music performance with an emphasis in conduction from Washington State.

After college, he became the band director of Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah. Nelson started the program with 50-60 kids and grew it to 80-90 in three years.

“The band program was pretty small and the goal was to grow it and try to get more kids in the group,” Nelson said. “What I’m really proud of is we grew in terms of quality.”

His ensembles were consistently recognized for their quality with superior ratings at concert band, jazz band, and solo and ensemble festivals. The Timpanogos marching band was recognized with numerous first place finishes and caption awards in their division, and was named Utah’s 2016 Division 1A State Champion. During his time at Timpanogos, Nelson served on the School Community Council, and received numerous grants to develop curriculum and materials as a member of the Orem City Band Directors collaborative group.

Nelson had not planned on leaving.

“We liked what we had there,” he said. “We were really happy. But when this job came open I had several people push me to take a serious look at it.”

Nelson’s parents still live in Keizer and his in-laws are in Tigard. Nelson and his wife have three small kids, ages 5, 3 and 1.

“When they made the job offer, we didn’t have to think about it too long,” Nelson said.

While Nelson is open to bringing back the competitive drumline, he’s not looking to make any immediate changes.

“McNary is already a very successful band program so there’s no reason to go in guns blazing and changing everything,” Nelson said. “That’s not my goal. I want to come in and see what’s making us successful. We’re just going to continue delivering high quality music.”

He also wants to hear from students and parents.

“We could do more competitive stuff in the future if there’s a demand for it,” Nelson said. “It’s really time consuming and cost a lot of money. If the students and the community, if that’s something they want to push for then I’m all for it. I don’t want to push them unless they want to.”

Nelson wants to continue the McNary tradition of serving the community.

“I don’t apologize for holding them to a high standard but I also hold myself responsible for teaching them how to achieve that standard,” Nelson said. “I like to build personal relationships with students. I want them to feel like when they come to band that there are going to be difficult things expected of them but they are going to have all the tools to achieve those difficult things.”

Along with teaching, Nelson has also played professionally with the Utah Wind Symphony and the Utah Premiere Brass, a British style brass band.

“I love playing and I think it’s important for music teachers to play and perform so I’ll be looking for opportunities and groups to play with,” Nelson said.

McNary returns versatile volleyball squad

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s 2018 volleyball team won’t look the same on any given night and that’s exactly how Crystal DeMello, entering her second season as head coach, likes it.

“The girls are well-versed in volleyball so if we want to run different offenses or defenses, we’re able to implement changes mid-game,” DeMello said.

“Most of the girls play more than one position and that’s always a key to matching our opponents, versatility is definitely an asset.”

The Lady Celts return seven girls from last year’s varsity squad that finished 10-13 overall and fourth in the Greater Valley Conference—seniors Sofia Zielinski, Kara Thomas, Hannah Corpe and Gabby Shepherd, juniors Zoie Warner and Chloe Diede and sophomore Taylor Ebbs.

Thomas and Warner were both GVC All-League honorable mention selections last season.

“I have several returning players who started most of last year and players that are new to varsity were leaders on our JV team. I know we have the leadership that’s required for successful season,” DeMello said. “All of them are competitors and I expect them to challenge each other every day in practice.”

McNary has 42 girls in its volleyball program, 14 on each team—varsity, JV and freshman.

Dividing up the three teams wasn’t easy.

“It was a long tryout,” DeMello said. “We’re carrying the largest squad that we can at every single level because tryouts were extremely competitive.

“They know each player has skills we need as a team, each player is key to pushing our limits. They have to compete every time they step on the court or their spot is in jeopardy. It creates competition and that is always good.”

Playing in the new Mountain Valley Conference, the Lady Celts will be tested early.

McNary travels to Bend, winner of the 2016 and 2017 5A state championships, on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Summit, the state runner-up in 2017 and champion in 2015, then comes to Keizer on Thursday, Sept. 6.

“They’re very competitive and strong,” DeMello said. “It doesn’t matter that they’re coming from 5A. They are strong programs. It will be good for the girls to start the season with them. We are looking forward to it.”

The Lady Celts open the 2018 season at home on Tuesday, Aug. 28 against Mountain View.x

Celtics ready to compete for state title

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

In 17 years as the head boys soccer coach at McNary, Miguel Camarena has had three teams he felt could seriously win a state championship.

This is one of them.

“We’ll take it step by step but that’s our goal,” Camarena said. “The possession of the ball for this group of kids is impressive. We have 22 guys who can really possess the ball. It’s a dream scenario.”

The first step is instilling confidence in a group that has finished sixth in league play the past two seasons and returns zero players from the 2014 squad that won McNary’s last conference championship.

“They have to believe they can do it,” Camarena said. “That’s it. The talent is there and the kids are working hard. I’m really excited with what I have seen so far.”

The Celtics are led by captains Miguel Bravo, a senior midfielder, and junior Luis Lopez, who made the varsity team as a freshman but has missed most of the past two seasons with injuries. However, Lopez enters the year healthy after a successful club season.

“He’s super good,” Camarena said of Lopez. “He’s strong right now. We need him in the field. I don’t want to see him injured anymore.”

Senior Sebastian Lopez will start at goal keeper for the fourth season in a row.

“He’s the best goal keeper in the state, no doubt,” Camarena said.

Senior Jesus Lopez, another four-year starter, will lead McNary’s defense, which allowed a league-best 19 goals last season.

Camarena expects senior Jose Zamudio and sophomore Alex Salazar to lead the Celtic attack.

Salazar is one of five sophomores who played varsity last season as freshmen.

“We have experienced combined with a lot of young kids,” Camarena said.

McNary will play in the new Mountain Valley Conference. In place of McMinnville, North Salem and Forest Grove, which finished first, second and fourth in the Greater Valley Conference last season, the Celtics add Bend, Summit and Mountain View. Bend had the most success last season, losing in the semifinals of the 5A state playoffs.

McNary opens the 2018 season at home on Tuesday, Aug. 28 against Central at 7 p.m.

Cummings principal wants to inspire

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Magda Romero had no intentions of going to college after graduating from Dayton High School.

But her school counselor had other plans.

“She completed a scholarship for me and got me going,” Romero said. “It was just never in my mind to do higher education. That was just not something that my family talked about.”

Now, as the new principal of Cummings Elementary, Romero wants to encourage kids in the same way the school counselor did for her.

“That’s what I love about my job is to just start planting those seeds and telling people if I can do it, you should be able to do it,” Romero said.

Romero’s journey to becoming a principal started as an office manager at an elementary school in McMinnville. It was there where she was encouraged to go back to school to become a teacher.

After finishing what she had started about 10 years earlier, getting her associate’s degree from Chemeketa Community College, Romero enrolled in the Bilingual Teacher Pathway program at Portland State University.

Her first job was at Richmond Elementary in Salem, where she taught third through fifth grade for nine years.

“I never intended to become administration,” Romero said. “I think it’s all because I wanted to be able to advocate for kids and families and encourage them do what I do and believe that you can have it.”

Romero saw she could make a bigger impact as a principal so she went back to school and got her master’s in special education at Portland State.

She spent the 2017-18 school year as an assistant principal, working part-time at Keizer and Chavez Elementary schools.

Cummings is her first principal job.

“This is the sweetest place they could have asked me to come to,” Romero said. “I feel so fortunate to be here at Cummings because they have a really strong community. The neighborhood association is amazing. The PTC is outstanding. They’re relentless in working to provide the school with whatever it is they need. The staff, a lot of them have been here a long time. I’m really excited to be here and feel really lucky that it’s such a strong community and a good school.”

Romero isn’t looking to make any immediate changes.

“I don’t feel like it’s my school,” she said. “I feel like I’m going to catch the train as its going and I want to ride the ride with them.”

Romero, who has three children of her own, has asked the faculty at Cummings to share photos of their families on a wall in her office.

“Family is really important,” Romero said. “ I want to not just get to know them but get to know who their family is and what drives them is really important to me. That’s what I like about Cummings is it feels like a family.”

Cummings is hosting an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 4 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Romero looks forward to meeting all the families.

“I’ve always loved kids and I feel so lucky,” Romero said. “I would do this for free. I really would because I love kids so much.”

Volunteerism: The Moores make it work as a team

By CASEY CHAFFIN
Keizertimes Intern

Peggy and Jerry Moore oversee the Rickman Community Garden.

They serve as ushers at the Elsinore Theater.

They also sit on the board of Keizer United. Well, Jerry does. Peggy supervises, though.

Prior to some health issues—these kinds of things happen once you begin measuring your life in decades—they picked crops at Salem Harvest, served lunch and dinner at the Salvation Army, worked with Marion Polk Food Share. They did things separately, too. Jerry gave fork lift lessons to workers trying to become certified operators at Marion Polk Food Share, Peggy taught angling with Fish and Wildlife.

To put it simply, Peggy and Jerry Moore are volunteers.

“I don’t want to use the word servant, but they are humble servants—they’re always here to serve,” said Meredith Mooney, chair of Keizer United. Mooney has worked with the Moores through Keizer United for two years. “They won’t even tell us, they’ll just go out and find amazing things” for the organizations Keizer United partners with, whether that’s in-kind donations of toiletries for the McNary Kloset or monetary donations to build a fence around the Rickman Community Garden. They knock on doors until they get what they came looking for.

It’s what they do.

“There’s a lot of places that do a lot of good, and we’d like to support them, but financially we’re not able to support them the way we’d like to, so we donate our time and our labor, maybe our expertise like gardening,” Peggy said. “So that way, we give away hour-wise a lot more than we could give money-wise.”

The Moores weren’t always volunteers. Jerry owned and worked in underground utilities for 25 years and worked for Drakes Crossing Nursery for 20 years. Peggy was a waitress. Their schedules were flexible enough for spontaneous car trips to Washington, but they had other priorities. Kids, work, relationship, the usual.

Then they retired.

“Once you retire, you got to find something to do. If you don’t, you’ll go stir-crazy,” Jerry said. “So [Peggy] said, ‘Well let’s go down to the Salvation Army.’ Then we went to other things they had, and then we went to the Food Share.” And it just spiraled out of control from there. In a good way, of course.

***

The Moores weren’t always The Moores. They knew each other for two decades decades prior to tying the knot, when Peggy was 50 and Jerry was 56.

What took them so long?

“I was not the marrying type,” Peggy said. “I was very independent and very self-sufficient.”
So what changed?

“He kept pursuing me and I got to thinking, one of these days I’m not going to have anybody to sit and have dinner with, it might be a little lonely,” Peggy said. In this weakened state of mind, she found herself with Jerry at the Lancaster Mall.

“Let’s go to the jewelry store,” he said.

She was defiant. “What for? I don’t wear jewelry.”

But so was he. “Either pick out a ring or we’re done.”

“So I picked out a ring,” Peggy said.

22 years later, the Moores are both in their 70s, and they finish each other’s sentences and squabble about details in the affectionate way only two people who have known each other too well for too long can.

A good example comes when Peggy starts to tell the story of her surgery and recovery.

“I had open-heart surgery. You can see my scar,” she says, gesturing to her chest. “They tried to cut my throat, do you see how high it went?” She chuckles.

Jerry interjects: “She had six bypasses.”

“No, it was five,” she corrects him. “It was only five.”

Then she moves on.

“I took the first year and recovered, and then the last couple months of that year, I thought I had to do something to celebrate. I don’t want jewelry, I don’t want to go out to dinner. What can I do?”

Jerry picks up the thread. “So I took her down to McNary, and we went around that track,” Jerry says.

Peggy sighs, humor mingling with exasperation. “We. There’s that we again.”

“I was with you a lot of those times,” Jerry returns.

“Sitting on the bleachers,” she says, getting in the last dig before continuing.

“So I started going at my little pace around. Then I thought I’m going to do a 5K, that’ll be my celebration. And I found a 5K.”

But that wasn’t enough of a celebration. In 2013, the year after her recovery, she completed a 5K every month for twelve months. Because why not?

“Don’t think about how old you are in numbers,” she said.

***

Peggy has another piece of life advice for you.

“Every five years, look back and see the things you’ve done and accomplished,” she said. Life runs in stages, and it’s important to see where you’ve been, so you know where you want to go. Travel has been one of those things for Peggy, staying healthy has been one of those things for both of them. In addition to Peggy’s heart surgery, Jerry was hospitalized for several serious health issues. During one stint in the hospital, he lost about 90 pounds. Peggy nursed him back to health. That was three years ago.

Now, they continue to do what they do best: volunteer. It’s important to them, because people are important to them.

“You never know who you’re going to touch, or where the person you’ve touched is going to go,” Peggy said.

One instance of touching people’s lives Jerry cites is their work in the community garden, where they installed special, raised planter boxes for gardeners who couldn’t maneuver in the dirt as well as they used to.

“When we made those high-rise boxes for those two elderly ladies, you should’ve seen the expressions on their faces,” Jerry said. “They just hugged her and wouldn’t let go.”

Peggy nods. “I promised them I’d get it done.”
And she did. They both did. Because that’s how the Moores work: as a team. And while

they’ll tease each other when asked the question of what makes their life together work, you can see the truth in the way they interact with each other.

At the end of the day, they’re happy.

“We haven’t had a lot of money, but we’ve had a good life,” Jerry said.

School boundaries getting 2nd look after bond passage

After the successful passage of the $619.7 million bond measure, Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) has begun planning for construction – school boundary changes may follow.

In 2019, Gubser Elementary, Waldo Middle, Judson Middle, McNary High and North High will begin receiving significant capital construction. In order to utilize increased capacity and ensure the safe progression of construction, the Salem-Keizer Board of Directors reviewed the boundary change process at its July 24 meeting.

The boundary change process is being facilitated by FLO Analytics, a consulting firm with expertise in data analysis and experience in assisting school districts with boundary changes. FLO Analytics utilizes research and population forecasting from Portland State University to guide enrollment projections.

The boundary change process will take about eight months and will include public input sessions to collect parent and community feedback. The process will also include a Boundary Review Task Force that will vet an initial staff recommendation and prepare a report and recommendation to the School Board.

Boundary adjustments may be needed across every high school feeder system; however, comparatively small changes are predicted within the McNary feeder system. For example, changes to balance enrollments in some elementary and/or middle schools within the McNary progression may be needed, but changes to the high school boundaries are not expected.

The boundary adjustments also incorporate the construction of special education spaces at each of the district’s six traditional high schools.

SKPS will host a series of community meetings between September and December to gather feedback on the proposed boundary adjustments. The Board is expected to take action on boundary adjustments in February 2019 for implementation in the fall of 2019.

Poppin’ tags

Mike Kenney is manager of The Thrift Store, which is planning a September opening in the old Goodwill location.
KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Goodwill vacated its Keizer location in April, but a new thrift shop is gearing up to take its place.

The Thrift Store, 3840 River Road N., is pushing for a September opening, said manager Mike Kenney.

“It will be a thrift store first and foremost, but there will be different selection and a more varied mix of new items to complement the used items customers expect,” Kenney said.

The differences start with the store’s layout. Kenney relegated shelving units to the outside walls and added about 200 feet of additional space for clothing items. He’s also doubled the size of the book section.

“We’re trying to create a different shopping experience. We don’t want things like shelves jam-packed with picture frames because you can’t shop them,” he said.

Dispelling clutter and preconceived notions is only part of the plan. Customers might also find high-end items unexpected for a thrift store setting.

“We will have shoes that someone might find at Payless or Walmart up to Jimmy Choos, it will be the same with handbags up to Louis Vuitton and Coach,” Kenney said. “We want to put quality products in front of people at a real value – about half of retail.”

Kenney said the business is a new venture for the owners who have chains in California and part of another in Texas. The Thift Store isn’t technically part of those operations, but it is the flagship location in Oregon.

Those looking to donate items, like they once did at Goodwill, can also donate to The Thrift Store knowing they are helping a worthwhile cause.

All proceeds from clothing donations will support the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Foundation. The store will provide the service, but Big Brothers and Big Sisters will be the receiving agency of the donation and The Thrift Store will purchase the items from the foundation.

Kenney, a longtime Salem resident who owned and operated a delivery service for 15 years before joining The Thrift Store, said Keizer and the former Goodwill location were a natural fit for the new venture.

“We followed them into a spot that was doing well to begin with. Keizer has a nice demo and it’s a good place to start,” he said.

Volcanoes president retiring

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

For 22 seasons, Rick Nelson has not missed a Salem-Keizer Volcanoes home game.

But like all baseball streaks, that must come to an end, as Nelson is retiring as president of stadium operations at the end of the 2018 season.

Nelson has been friends with Jerry Walker, owner of the Volcanoes, for 42 years. The two met in the circulation department at the Everett Herald.

After 20 years in the newspaper industry, Nelson left his job as circulation director at a newspaper in California to join Walker with the Bellingham Giants.

He then came with Jerry and his wife Lisa to Keizer in October of 1996 to meet with contractors, architects and city officials about building a new stadium.

“We liked this location because of the proximity to I-5 and the amount of vehicles going by and the exposure that we get,” Nelson said. “The city was looking for a catalyst to get Keizer Station going. By bringing a stadium in here, we brought in all of the infrastructure for Keizer Station. The water, the sewer, the power, to make that happen was because we were here. That’s why the city invested in it and they’ve been great partners.”

Work on the stadium began in early January of 2017 and was completed in June in time for the start of the baseball season.

However, the first game was rained out. There have only been three other rain outs since.

“It was done and ready to go and God stepped in and said no, you’re going to wait one more day,” Nelson said. “We had over 4,000 people here that night but they came back the next night and we did it again.”

The Volcanoes play 76 games, 38 in Keizer and 38 on the road, in 79 days each summer.

As president of stadium operations, there isn’t much that Nelson doesn’t do.

“This is Single A short season baseball so we all wear many hats here,” Nelson said. “It’s a team effort and if it needs to be done we step in and get it done. My job here is to make sure that the fans that come out have a good time.”

And the work doesn’t stop after the summer baseball season. Volcanoes Stadium is also home to Corban University’s baseball program and hosts events like the OSAA state baseball championships and RV and car shows year round.

There are also renewals for season tickets and marketing to take care of.

Since the San Francisco Giants Single A short season affiliate moved to Keizer, the Volcanoes have won five Northwest League championships—1998, 2001, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

More than 100 Volcano players have reached the big leagues where the Giants have won three World Series—2010, 2012 and 2014.

Nelson has rings from all eight titles.

“We’ve had great coaches,” Nelson said. “The Giants are a great organization.”

Retiring will allow Nelson to take a summer vacation with his family for the first time in 22 years and give him more time to spend in Dublin, Ireland, where is daughter Zoe, a 2013 McNary graduate, is a veterinary student.

It will also drastically shorten his wife’s commute, who as an employee of Alaska Airlines, has driven over 400,000 miles commuting back and forth to work from Keizer over the past 22 years.

The Nelson’s have a floating home and a sailboat on the Columbia River about three miles east of the airport.

Nelson will miss the people he interacts with each season the most.

“A lot of the fans have become friends of mine,” he said. “We’re basically putting on a show 38 times a year. It’s our job to make that happen and have the players and the fans have a good time here.”

But Nelson isn’t completely going away.

“I’m still going to be around,” he said. “It’s not like I’m walking away. I’m just not going to be here as often. I’ll come in if they need something because after 22 years of gaining knowledge of what’s gone on here, there’s still a lot to share.”