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Month: October 2018

On the beat with a crime lab technician

Of No Adults Allowed

Ashley Chu’s cool career includes regular trips in the Salem Police Department Mobile Crime Lab, a van equipped with most of the necessary tools to collect evidence from crime scenes all around the area.

“In high school, I took a forensic science class and I volunteered for the Portland Police Bureau in their criminalists unit and armory. That’s how I initially got into the field and gained some experience,” Ashley said.

He’s been a police laboratory technician for Salem Police Department for almost two years, but he’s done similar types of work all along the West Coast and even in Australia.

“Our duties include picking up evidence that officers collected at scenes of crimes and we will do a fingerprint processing and comparison. We also work major crime scenes where we photograph and process the scene, document and collect evidence,” Ashley said.

As part of the Salem Police Department, most of what Ashley does is look for fingerprints, but even that can involve a lot of science.

“We use physical and chemical techniques to develop latent prints. For example if we have a soda can, we perform a visual inspection to see if there are any fingerprints that are visible, if not we can use cyanoacrylate fuming tank (superglue tank),” Ashley said. “When we touch something, we transfer oils and other contaminates onto that surface. The fumes from superglue adhere to contaminations on the surface of the can to make it visible. We use photography techniques to capture that fingerprint.” That means knowing how to operate cameras well is a valuable skill in his line of work.

If there is enough of a fingerprint to be useful, it can be put into a computer database that looks for matches with other fingerprints that have been collected.

“If we get a fingerprint match, the crime techs have to check each other’s to ensure there are no mistakes and then we send the information back to the police,” Ashley said. “Sometimes we don’t find a matching fingerprint in the database. In those cases, we can register the new fingerprint and if the criminal gets arrested later they might be charged with the older crime.”

Either way, he’s helping making the community safer, which is a why he likes his job.

“I like to help people. My big thing is put yourself in the victim’s shoes and remember that they want to feel taken care of and that they want to feel like justice was done. That’s how I try to view every item we process,” Ashley said.

School was a big part of preparing Ashley for his career. After high school, he got a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. Then he got a master’s degree in forensic science that required him to study past research and conduct his own. His research focused on developing a database to compare the markings firearms make on bullets.

He had three big pieces of advice for kids thinking about a career as a crime tech.

“Pay attention in all your classes. Forensic science is such a broad field, a lot of the classes you take can help in this field such as mathematics/physics, biology and chemistry. You also want to get experience, so try to volunteer some place where they are doing this type of work,” he said.

The last lesson was one you can start working on right now: remember you are part of a team in most things that you do.

“With this type of work, it’s not just one person, it requires teamwork. We play a small part in the investigation. I’m lucky to get to work with a lot of good police officers and detectives” he said.  “The cool thing about this job is that every day can be different, you might be doing something in the lab or writing reports and next thing you know, you could be called out to a crime scene.”

Lady Celts miss playoffs

Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s girls soccer team gathered Tuesday after school for pizza and a short practice, hoping for good news.

The Lady Celts didn’t get it.

McNary just missed making the 32-team state tournament, finishing 33rd in the final OSAA power rankings.

“We had this season probably six moments where we came on an unfortunate side of a decision or a key play and that would have been the difference,” McNary head coach A.J. Nash said.

The Lady Celts finished the season on Friday, Oct. 19 with a 0-0 tie against Mountain View.

Despite missing the playoffs, Nash said McNary had a lot to hold its head high about.

“We had some significant things that we had not done in the past that happened this year,” Nash said, pointing to road wins against Southwest Conference champs South Medford and Mountain Valley Conference rival South Salem.

Along with beating Forest Grove this season for the first time in the last five years, the Lady Celts also led MVC runner-up West Salem 1-0 before giving up a goal in the final 2 minutes to fall 2-1.

McNary only lost to Summit, the conference champs, 1-0 on a penalty kick.

“We were in every game this season,” Nash said. “We just needed one more fortunate result. This is clearly the strongest team we’ve had in McNary history. We’ve got incredible depth at every position, which means even though we lose eight seniors we return a strong McNary team next year. I’ve got significant optimism going into next year that the program will continue to move forward in the right direction.”

The Lady Celts will get a sneak peak at next year’s squad with a scrimmage on Tuesday at 6 p.m. when returning players will play McNary alumni.

“We’re hoping this allows the program to connect with its history,” Nash said.

Celtics win Mountain Valley Conference championship

Of the Keizertimes

McNary has spent the last four years under head coach Jeff Auvinen focused on getting better, not just every season or even every game, but every play.

That work paid off last Friday with the football program’s first league championship since 2005.

The Celtics defeated South Salem 40-33 to clinch the Mountain Valley Conference title.

McNary made no more progress within a single season than this one. After starting 0-5, the Celtics won all four of their league games.

“We stayed the course and got better,” Auvinen said. “That’s all you can do is play the next play.”

McNary appeared like it would roll over the Saxons when the Celtics led 25-6 and recovered an on-side kick with 5:40 remaining in the first half.

But South Salem took advantage of a McNary fumble and turnover on downs to score 14 straight points on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Elijah Enomoto-Haole to Diego Fulmaono and then a 10-yard touchdown run by Enomoto-Haole with 27 seconds remaining to get within 25-20 at halftime.

South Salem sophomore Gabe Johnson then returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown to give the Saxons a 26-25 lead with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter.

“I think we might have came in a little over confident,” McNary senior lineman Wyatt Sherwood said. “We tried to keep that out of us this week. It’s going to happen. When they took the lead, I think we realized that we needed to step up and finish this.”

Junior Walling put McNary back up by two touchdowns with a 13-yard run at the end of the third quarter and a 1-yard run with 7:49 remaining in the fourth.

“We just lost our toughness,” said Walling, who finished with 210 yards, three touchdowns and a two-point conversion on offense to go along with nine tackles and two sacks on defense. “We battled that in the beginning of the year and we knew we could bounce back from it.”

Quarterback Erik Barker ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns and connected with Noah Bach, who broke a tackle and ran down the McNary sideline for a 52-yard score.

“We knew we were the better team and if we just did our jobs and didn’t make stupid plays, we’d come back and win the game,” Barker said. “Our O-line was making big holes all day and Junior was running great and he blocked for me when I would run it.”

McNary linebacker Dyami Rios had 12 tackles and two sacks.

The Celtics (4-5) finished No. 22 in the final OSAA power rankings and will travel to No. 11 Lakeridge (6-3) on Friday, Nov. 2 for the first round of the state playoffs.

Report: Slow walk growth talks until 2021

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer has limited options for growth and should wait until at least 2021 for a new population growth projections before making any major changes. That was the message from the final report on a cost of growth study at a Keizer City Council work session Monday, Oct. 22.

Glen Bolen, a senior planner with Otak – the consulting firm that conducted the study – led an audience through the findings of an analysis of what Keizer can expect to pay in terms of dollars and livability if it chooses to grow.

City officials and staff are wrestling with the challenges presented in a 2013 Housing Needs Analysis adopted by the city. That analysis concluded that Keizer would fall short of the land needed to accommodate expected growth for the next 20 years – to the tune of 1,674 residential units or 197 acres. Keizer could absorb some of the expected impact through zoning changes, but not all of it and what can’t be absorbed might come at a high cost for current residents.

The growth expectations might also change in three years. Currently, Portland State University issues a growth projection for the entire Salem-Keizer Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), but the university will look specifically at Keizer when the projections are revised in 2021.

“We verified that it’s really not feasible to expand while sharing with Salem. Salem has enough capacity to handle the regional capacity,” Bolen said.

Keizer shares its UGB with Salem that hems in urban sprawl. Divorcing the two cities will require an agreement between the affected local governments or legislative action.

When Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark asked whether the city could skip the agreement and appeal directly to the state Legislature, a regional representative of the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) cautioned against it.

“We would  recommend to follow [agreement] process first, and the legislature will look for you to do that first,” said Angela Carnahan, of DLCD.

In the study, Keizer was compared to three other municipalities that attempted to expand their UGBs. Of the three, only one was successful. Clark asked whether there were any other examples of success. Bolen said Redmond was one city that had incorporated new lands while also revitalizing a downtown core. Carnahan added the City of Donald to the list.

“Donald expanded 80 acres last month and they worked together with all their partners,” Carnahan said. The partners mentioned were some of the same ones that opposed other attempts to expand UGBs.

If all those hurdles were cleared, Keizer would still need to decide whether expansion was worth the cost. Any new land would need to be hooked up to water, sewer and power grids and that would likely mean an increase to system development charges (SDCs), which would drive up to costs of any new homes and could scare away investment. Bolen noted that Keizer’s existing SDCS are already “surprisingly low.”

Bolen said there are two dominant schools of thought on growth. The first is that growth should pay for itself. The second is that investing in growth pays off over time in taxes on new and redeveloped property. However, with Keizer’s frozen property tax rate of a little more than $2 per $1,000 of assessed value, recouping costs would likely take years.

One of the few silver linings in Bolen’s report was that Keizer could absorb about half the expected housing need by simply upzoning multifamily properties near River Road to commercial mixed zones. While the city could change the zones with relative ease, attracting reinvestment might prove more difficult.

“That might require catalytic projects where the city puts some skin in the game – gets concessions from developers – and proves the market for other investment,” Bolen said. “Even though it wouldn’t change the city overnight it would change the city over time.”

Meals on Wheels needs drivers

Of the Keizertimes

“Todd’s an angel. You’ve probably noticed his halo,” Adam Wiktorek, a Meals on Wheels driver, says about Todd Putnam, another volunteer, while the two men wait for food to arrive at the Keizer Elks Lodge.

Both Wiktorek and Putnam have been delivering food to people in Keizer through Meals on Wheels for so long that they no longer count the years.

Putnam’s mom used to rely on Meals on Wheels volunteers to get fed.

“Because someone was delivering meals to her I thought I’d get involved,” Putnam said. “That’s how I started. That’s probably about 15 years ago, I’m guessing. Now that we’re retired, it get us out of the house and gives us something to do. It keeps us busy.”

Wiktorek saw volunteers deliver meals to his neighbors back in the 1990s when one day he thought he’d see what the program was all about. He filled out an application to become a driver, thinking he would volunteer for about a month.

“The thing is they never fire anybody,” Wiktorek joked. “I think we all love it. I look forward to it.”

Along with serving meals, volunteers are also there for people when they need them most.

Wiktorek was delivering food to a retired postal worker in Keizer who’d had a stroke when he found the man on the ground in the garage. He’d been laying there all morning. Wiktorek called 911, saving the man’s life.

“It’s a great honor to do this and help our people,” Wiktorek said.

Volunteers gather Monday through Friday beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Keizer Elks Lodge to pick up food for their routes. On a typical day, 70 meals are delivered through seven routes.

All of the cooking is done at Center 50 plus in Salem.

Steve Morton, the kitchen director, has a team of 10 people, half of which are chefs.

“We’re always looking for drivers,” Morton said. “We’re coming out of probably our driest recruiting time of year.”

To volunteer with Meals on Wheels, call 503-364-2856, visit or pick up an application at the Keizer Elks Lodge.

McNary opens soccer playoffs at Beaverton

Of the Keizertimes

McNary didn’t achieve its goal of winning the Mountain Valley Conference championship.

But that hasn’t taken the Celtics focus off the grand prize—a state title.

“There’s one big goal in everyone’s mind,” McNary senior Miguel Bravo said. “Our goal right now is to be state champs. Coach (Miguel Camarena) told us a state championship is worth more to him than 10 league championships. We’re aiming for the big goal and hopefully we do our best to accomplish it.”

The Celtics climbed as high as No. 4 in the OSAA power rankings and opened league play with a 5-1 win over West Salem on Sept. 25.

But McNary began free falling after a 1-0 loss at Summit on Sept. 29. The Celtics tied both South Salem and McKay 1-1 in their next two matches.

“Unfortunately that loss really brought the team down,” Bravo said. “Failures always going to occur in life and it’s up to us to pick it up and show what the McNary team is all about, which is hard work and dedication for the sport.”

With three goals by Jovanie Bravo and one by Luis Lopez, the Celtics closed the regular season with a 4-1 win at Mountain View on Friday, Oct. 19 to finish 3-2-2 in league play.

As the 19-seed, McNary will open the state tournament at No. 14 Beaverton on Saturday.

“It’s a new season on Saturday,” Camarena said. “Our goal is going to be one game at a time. But our hope is to win five.”

Camarena added the Celtics must enter every game 100 percent focused and finish goals, two things that cost them wins during the regular season.

“If we put in half of the opportunities, we should win every game,” Camarena said.

24J may threaten eminent domain

Process would result in school district getting land, church getting compensation

Of the Keizertimes

From the outset of bond discussions in the 2016-17 school year, Salem-Keizer School District officials made it known that land northeast of the existing McNary campus, owned by St. Edward Catholic Church, was needed to move forward with a planned expansion to accommodate a growing student body.

However, after months of talks, negotiations fell through, said Mike Wolfe, SKSD chief operating officer. The school district now plans to use the eminent domain process to condemn the roughly six acres needed and gain possession for the purpose of expanding the school.

“The school and the church have always been great neighbors and we started with talks about purchasing a portion of the land and maybe leasing other parts. They’ve had more time to think about it and now they don’t want to sell their land,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said the district’s first choice has always been to purchase the land outright, but that was never a consideration for St. Edward’s leadership, said Rev. Gery Zerr.

“We had some preliminary discussions with the district about potentially selling or leasing a portion of the parish’s property. But we were never interested in selling all of the bare land that the district now wants to acquire. That would have a very detrimental impact on the parish’s future,” Zerr said.

Zerr said the school district came forward with an  “unacceptable appraisal of the bare land, far below the fair market value.” He added that no written offer for lease or purchase was ever made.

“In our view, the district’s discussions were not made in good faith.  Then, this past summer, the district told us that it wants to acquire all of our bare land. The district also told us in no uncertain terms that the parish has no choice in the matter – if we refuse to sell, the district will sue us and take 6.18 acres by eminent domain,” Zerr said.

In addition to Zerr, the St. Edward church business manager and chair of its facilities department have been included in the evaluation of the district’s proposals.

The school board held a reading of a resolution of necessity, the first step in starting eminent domain processes, at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 23. School board members will vote on any next steps at its Nov. 13 meeting.

School District Spokesperson Lillian Govus was unable to comment on what led to the breakdown of negotiations, but added that construction at McNary for bond-paid improvements is still planned for 2019.

“We began negotiations nearly a year ago, so it was our hope that they would have been completed by this time,” Govus said.

The six acres being targeted for the eminent domain process would become softball fields and tennis courts, but it’s essential to expanding the number of classrooms, which is displacing existing fields and parking space. Reconfiguring parking is one of the highest priorities leading up to the bulk of the construction effort. The district’s goal is to establish a new traffic flow by the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Keeping on track will require a deal for the church-owned land to be struck by Dec. 15, 2018.

Wolfe said the intent of the move is not to throw the church or its leadership “under the bus” but the district intends to move quickly to stay on its bond-funded construction schedule. If the eminent domain process is successful the church would still be compensated.

Zerr said the move toward exercising eminent domain was disappointing on several levels.

“The parish is disappointed with the school district’s approach on this matter, as we have always supported McNary and have been a good community supporter in the past. We are praying for a peaceful resolution, but we will, of course, have no choice but to defend our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights if the district follows through on its threat to sue us to take our property,” Zerr said.

The last time the school district used eminent domain processes to obtain land for schools was during the construction of Straub Middle School and Kalapuya Elementary School in West Salem.

Celtics 0-5 start now paying off

I did believe McNary’s non-league schedule would better prepare the Celtics for conference opponents.

I said so on the radio and wrote it here.

But did I see this coming—an 0-5 start followed by three straight wins, each one more impressive than the last, with the Celtics one win away from the Mountain Valley Conference championship?

Of course not.

Did anyone?

But that is where McNary sits now, after winning 35-23 at West Salem last Friday, in a game that honestly wasn’t that close.

Along with their five touchdowns, the Celtic offense moved the ball inside the West Salem 15 yard line three more times and got zero points to show for it, thanks to a missed field goal and two fumbles, one at the two yard line.

Honestly, part of the reason I wrote that the non-league schedule would turn out to be good for McNary is because I wanted it to be true. I didn’t want to cover an 0-9 team.

The Celtics did a good job of throwing me off the scent and testing my belief. Let’s not forget, while those first five opponents were tough, none of the games were competitive, minus the fourth quarter at West Linn, which turned into another blowout.

McNary then defeated Sprague in a game that looked like the Celtics had just got the best of another struggling, winless team than they had really turned a corner or made some giant leap forward.

But then McNary went to Bend and knocked off a 5-1 team sitting at No. 10 in the power rankings, and followed that up with the win at West Salem.

The 0-5 start, as tough as it was at the time, had obviously paid off.

“You really can learn more from a loss sometimes,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said after defeating West Salem. “If we play a team that’s not very good and we don’t play very well, and just win because we were better than them, I don’t think you learn very much.”

The Celtics saw what it takes to compete against the best teams in the state.

“They are learning what it takes to be a 6A football player and play with that low center of gravity and running their feet and finishing plays,” Auvinen said. “And what it’s like to come together and trust your teammates. All 11 doing their job, it can be a beautiful thing.”

Now, McNary is one win away from winning the Mountain Valley Conference.

Will the Celtics get it?

My picks:

McKay at Crescent Valley

The Royal Scots will hope to close out the regular season on a high note against a Raider team that had won three in a row before falling to Lebanon by 37 points last Friday. McKay has been outscored by 70 points the last two weeks since getting its only win of the season at Corvallis.

Pick: Raiders 20, Royal Scots 14

North Salem at Lebanon

Like McKay, the Vikings haven’t really benefited from moving down to 5A. North Salem is coming off a 43-point win against South Albany but the Warriors are a playoff team, riding a three-game winning streak.

Pick: Warriors 38, Vikings 24

West Salem at Sprague

The Olympians are another squad that has benefited from playing a strong non-conference schedule. Sprague followed up a 35-point win over Summit with a 28-point victory over Mountain View. An upset over West Salem could get the Olympians into the playoffs. But the Titans have won the previous two matchups and should rise again, even though I predict this game to be much closer than I would have thought two weeks ago.

Pick: Titans 38, Olympians 35

South Salem at McNary

These two squads are obviously heading in opposite directions. While the Celtics have won three games in a row, the Saxons, with Ryan Rickman out for the season, have dropped four in a row, the latest to a 1-6 Summit team at home. McNary defeated South Salem last season for the first time since 2013 so the Celtics shouldn’t overlook the Saxons. As long as McNary shows up ready with the same fire it has the past two weeks, the Celtics will celebrate the Mountain Valley Conference championship.

Pick: Celtics 45, Saxons 21

Derek Wiley is the associate editor of the Keizertimes.

Last week: 2-3, Overall: 26-16

Protect emergency services

To the Editor:

Keizer Fire District consistently rates as one of the most tax efficient departments in the state while providing critical service response that our community has come to expect.

Voting yes on Keizer Fire District’s Measure 24-432 will allow KFD to continue the same level of services for our community without increasing cost to our existing levy.

The call volume has increased 45 percent in five years.  This is a much needed yes vote.

Hank & Sandy Tarter

I support Elizabeth Smith

To the Editor:

I am supporting Elizabeth Smith for Keizer City Council Position #5.

I have known Elizabeth for over 20 years and have found her to be a no-nonsense lady. She’ll bring a fresh perspective to the council and is not afraid to speak her mind.

I am sure Elizabeth will work hard to serve Keizer as a city councilor knowing that the time she gives will make a difference.

Jim Taylor