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Author: Eric Howald

McNary competes at district meet

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary boys and girls swim teams competed in the Mountain Valley Conference District Meet on Friday, Feb 8. But due to unforeseen circumstances, this was no ordinary meet.

Originally, the schools were supposed to swim over the course of two days (Feb. 8 and Feb. 9) at Bend High School.

The weather, however, had other plans.

With snow covering the roads of the Santiam Pass, the Salem-Keizer School District announced on the morning of the event that all athletic trips over to Bend would be cancelled. 

However, the SKSD, along with the rest on the MVC, was able to call an audible. 

It was determined that the Salem-Keizer schools (McNary, McKay, Sprague, South Salem and West Salem) would swim a one-day meet at the Kroc Center while the Bend schools (Bend, Mountain View and Summit) would swim in a separate meet over the mountain. 

Over the weekend, OSAA officials would calculate the times and determine which swimmers qualified for the state meet.

It was not an ideal scenario, but McNary head coach Casey Lewin was proud of the way his team dealt with the unique circumstances. 

“I thought we handled the situation well, considering how much was unknown Friday morning,” Lewin said. “The week leading up to districts, we were focused on our races and doing what needed to be done, regardless of where we swam. Friday morning was stressful for everyone involved, but we cleared our heads and were ready to race.”

When it was all said and done, the Celtic girls placed fourth with 194.5 points and the McNary boys placed fifth with 220 points.

But even though there were some close calls, both McNary teams were unable to qualify a swimmer for the state meet.

“We were very close and just missed out on a couple relays and individuals,” Lewin said. “We did everything we needed to on our end with our swims and felt like we would be in good position to get some swims at the state meet.”

McNary’s biggest state hopefuls for the boys were Kyle Hooper and Harrison Vaughn. Unfortunately for the Celtics, both of them failed to swim up to their potential. 

“Harrison and Kyle still held their own, but didn’t have their best swims,” Lewin said.

Hooper took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:09.00 and seventh in the 500-freestyle (5:13.05) — top two times qualify for state in most instances. 

Vaughn, on the other hand, took eighth in the 100-breaststroke (1:06.35) 

Both Hooper and Vaughn, along with Wyatt Sherwood and Jabez Rhoades, were less than two seconds away from earning a state spot in the 200-free relay, but had to settle for third place (1:36.51).

Rhoades was the only other McNary boy to earn a top-eight finish, taking sixth in the 50-free (23.97). 

The McNary girls 200-medley relay team of Alex Beard, Bella Beard, Paris Boyd and Alyssa Garvey was also nearly able to nab a berth at the state meet. But even though they blew away the competition against the Salem schools, their time of 1:56.89 wasn’t enough as Bend and Mountain View’s relay teams came away with faster finishes. 

Boyd came back shortly after the relay to swim her best time of the season in the 50-free (25.98), which was good enough for seventh place.

“Boyd had some huge splits in her relays, and her individual swims were also great. She was able to break (26 seconds) in the 50-free, which is great for a freshman,” Lewin said.

Alex Beard was the only girls swimmer for McNary to earn a pair of top-eight finishes as she placed sixth in both the 200-IM (2:19.97) and the 500-free (5:32.63). 

Bella Beard had the highest individual placing out of all Celtic swimmers with her fifth-place finish in the 100-breast (1:11.66).

Despite not qualifying for state, there is a lot to build on for this McNary program going into next season as both teams ended the dual season with a 5-2 record. 

Both squads also return the vast majority of their respective teams in 2019-20.

“Our season was very successful. A large team, a lot of raw, young, talent and strong leadership from our upperclassmen,” Lewin said. “I’m hoping we can take this and use it as motivation for next season. We’ll be back and even faster.”

KPD union bid fails: Judge sees merit in some arguments, not enough

Of the Keizertimes

An effort by the Keizer Police Department’s sergeants to join the Keizer Police Association union was dismissed by an administrative law judge in late January. 

The dismissal follows two days of hearings on the matter that took place in 2018. (See related story Sergeants dispute.) However, the dismissal is not likely to be the end of the discussion, said Machell DePina, human resources director for the City of Keizer. Keizer’s police are a department of the city and thus work in conjunction with city staff policies and procedures. 

“The Keizer Police Association, via their attorney Daryl Garrettson, has filed an objection to the administrative law judge’s proposed order so this issue is still far from over,” DePina said. 

During the hearing, KPD’s sergeants contended that their roles do not amount to supervisory positions and are eligible for inclusion in the union. If they are successful in making the case, it could lead to a different pay schedule and less personal contribution to their healthcare plans. 

“If the sergeants were to become part of the bargaining unit, the city and Keizer Police Association would be obligated to bargain any change in compensation and other terms and conditions of employment (benefits, hours, etc.) with the association. The city would  conduct a salary survey to determine what compensation employees who perform similar duties for comparable agencies are earning,” DePina said.

For the time being, Administrative Law Judge Martin Kehoe has rejected the sergeants’ arguments overall but found merit in some aspects.

At the heart of the issue is whether the sergeants’ roles in the field, and not their actual job descriptions issued by the city human resources department, rise to the level of supervisory authority within Oregon Revised Statutes.  

According to statute, a supervisory employee is: “any individual having authority in the interest of the employer to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively recommend such action, if in connection therewith, the exercise of the authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature but requires the use of independent judgment.” 

While sergeants can decide who to place in special units of the department, which can result in higher pay, an “officer remains fundamentally an officer,” Kehoe concluded. On the other hand, sergeants oversee a wide variety of duties and independent authority, he added. 

The most common intervention initiated by sergeants is “coaching and counseling.” Keizer’s sergeants contended that it does not equate to supervisory action, Kehoe disagreed. 

Sergeants “can also make a formal record of it in an officer’s digital personnel file and warn that repeat offenses or failure to comply with the coaching and counseling will result in progressive discipline. Sergeants can also issue verbal or written reprimands and enter those into an employee’s record, with or without a superior’s permission,” Kehoe wrote in his decision. 

While it is common practice for sergeants to consult with superiors regarding coaching and counseling and other types of intervention for officers on their shifts and units, they have the authority to conduct such action without a superior’s input. 

Additionally, Kehoe cites the union’s collective bargaining agreement that recognizes a sergeant’s “responsibility to ensure that counseling and appropriate discipline occurs.” 

Kehoe ends the dismissal stating, sergeants can “assign, discipline, direct and effectively recommend the same with independent judgment … and that they exercise that authority in the interest of management.”

KPD union bid fails: Sergeants dispute roles despite signatures stating otherwise


Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Police Department (KPD) sergeants sought access to the Keizer Police union over two days of hearings in 2018, but the effort appeared handicapped from the get-go. 

Five of the KPD current sergeants testified on behalf of the Keizer Police Association (KPA), which they were seeking access to, in July and September of 2018. The hearings took place at the Employment Relations Board with Administrative Law Judge Martin Kehoe presiding. While the request was denied an objection has been filed.

The sergeants contend that their duties do not rise to the level of supervisory and therefore qualify for inclusion in the KPA.

While the sergeants took issue with the job description issued by the City of Keizer Human Resources Department, all of them had signed statements and checked boxes indicating no changes were needed within a year prior to their request for union inclusion. 

Some sergeants took responsibility for signing the job description while others said it was presented to them at the last minute and under clear pressure to “get it done.”

Sgt. Trevor Wenning was the most blunt in responding to a question from Cathy Peck, the city’s legal representative, as to why he would sign such a document knowing there was disagreement over the duties therein.

“I didn’t read it. I have clearly defined goals and I’ve seen how other sergeants do business. I honestly don’t feel I need a document to tell me what my job is,” Wenning said. 

When Sgt. Bob Trump asked whether he understood the sergeants’ position to be a supervisory one when he applied for the position 19 years ago, he replied simply, “I did.”

Sgt. Jeff Goodman said sergeants routinely participate in performance evaluations, but that he often consulted with lieutenants, his direct superiors, when issuing oral or written reprimands to officers on his shifts. While consulting with superiors regarding reprimands is common practice within the department, Kehoe later determined sergeants had the authority to issue them without going to supervisors first. 

Sgt. David LeDay testified on another common theme throughout the hearings: whether coaching and counseling rose to the level of supervision. 

“Counseling is not supervision. We all have areas to improve. There can be 20 ways to do something and there still be a better way,” LeDay said. “It’s not discipline.”

In the end, Kehoe disagreed with that assessment as well. 

All the sergeants whose time in the position spanned other eras of department leadership said that the culture of the department has changed over time and there has, generally, been less need for verbal and written warnings. 

Wenning said that only matters leading to some sort of monetary penalty – loss of an assignment that warranted additional pay or a loss of step increases – would constitute a supervisory action, but “I’ve never done it and haven’t been subjected to it.”

Another core contention of the appeal for union membership was the ability of sergeants to act on “independent judgment.” But, most of the sergeants arguments stood in contrast to recent action. 

When an officer assigned to the traffic unit did not to perform up to expectations, the sergeant in charge of the unit did not renew his assignment in the job after two years. The officer was placed back in the patrol unit and lost a 5 percent pay increase that went along with the special assignment. Then, when a new sergeant took over the traffic unit, he placed the same officer who had been taken out of the unit back on it with the expectation that he could improve the officer’s performance. The new sergeant did so despite consulting with his supervisors who counseled against the action.

Whiteaker choirs prep for annual cabaret bonanza

Of the Keizertimes

Ken Collins Theatre at McNary High School has been the host of numerous great local productions by students in the Keizer community. 

They’ll have one more to add to the list next week.

The Whiteaker Middle School choir program will be performing their annual cabaret concert on Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22 with each show beginning at 7 p.m.

The concert will feature more than 200 singers and five different choirs.

“We plan to put on a highly entertaining, high energy show that will keep the audience entertained throughout the night,” said co-director Andy Thomas. “People will be blown away with the quality of our production.”

Thomas has been the director the Whiteaker cabaret for each of the last 12 years. But since he has also taken a choir teaching job at McNary High School this year, he will be receiving some assistance in the form of Rebecca Hollen, the show’s other co-director. 

“It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for Andy and I to work together to make this program go, but it has been so great being here so far,” Hollen said. “The kids are so excited and it’s fun to work with excited kids. This is one of their favorite parts of the year.”

Hollen, who is in her first year as a choir teacher at Whiteaker, spent the last eight years teaching at Walker Middle School and even won a Crystal Apple Award in 2015. 

“It’s been absolutely amazing to have her,” Thomas said of Hollen. “She is a phenomenal director and a phenomenal person. She is just great to have in our program.”

The concert will feature musical numbers from four  Broadway shows. 

Whiteaker’s boys and girls sixth-grade choirs, otherwise known as Wolverine and Bella Voce, will be performing songs from Oliver. The seventh and eighth-grade girls group, which is an intermediate group called Audacity, will be singing numbers from Motown.

The seventh and eighth- grade advanced concert choir (viva voce) get the opportunity to sing songs from Mamma Mia! K-Town, which is the choir’s most advanced group, will be performing the melodies of Hairspray

“This is my first year in the viva voce choir, so I’m just really excited for our first really big performance,” seventh-grader Angelina Fajer said. 

A lot of middle school choirs might just stand on the risers and sing in their robes that match school colors. But Whiteaker’s performances not only involve 70’s themed neon costumes, but rehearsed choreography as well.

“The choreography is very fun and active,” said Whiteaker seventh-grader Logan James. 

Eighth-grader Cristian Garcia also added: “The audience should expect a lot of lights and a lot of dance moves.”

While everyone involved hopes audience members are throughly entertained by the show, they also encourage the crowd to get involved with the music. 

“We really want our audience to be pumped up,” eighth-grader Maddie Kurz said. “We’re going to want them to dance and we’re going to want them to sing along. It’s going to be one awesome party.”

Tickets will be $10 at the door, but can also be purchased online at or at the Whiteaker Middle School main office. Dessert will be served after the show. 

The money will be used as a fundraiser for the Whiteaker choir program. 

Students, seniors exchange Valentines

Signature Healthcare at Home,  Avamere Court at Keizer and The Arbor at Avamere Court decided to make a difference with the seniors in the Keizer community. 

Personnel at the three care facilities contacted Jeanne Williams, who is a fifth grade teacher at Keizer Elementary, with an idea. They asked her if she would be interested in being part of a Val-O-Gram exchange between some of their students at Keizer Elementary and the residents of Avamere and Signatures home-bound and hospice patients. 

“I was immediately interested” said Williams “What I thought would be a few classrooms participating exchanging with approximately 50-100 residents bloomed into 400 students blessing 400 residents and patients.”

This allowed the students of Keizer Elementary the opportunity to give of themselves  and hopefully gain insight into the lives of our valuable older generations who are full of love and share experiences from which we can all glean. This also gives our young generation an opportunity to demonstrate that same love and attention towards our often-overlooked senior community. 

“My hope is that this door is now open for Keizer Elementary students to be a part of the Keizer senior community so that we can be a blessing to them and that in return, we can be blessed ourselves,” Williams said. 

Williams also has a special interest in fostering this amazing project within the Keizer community — both her parents reside at Avamere. 

When visiting with them, she had several opportunities to sit with many of their residents and saw first-hand how precious they are.  

Dawn Hull, one of the organizers of this event, concluded: “I believe our residents will experience so much joy when they receive these Valentine cards. We are hoping they will be reminded of happy traditions from childhood. It’s all about enriching the lives of those we serve.”

Board fires starting gun on parks workout projects


Of the Keizertimes

A proposal to install fitness stations in Keizer parks has entered the sprint stage. 

Jeff Davis, a Keizer resident and local financial advisor, has talked with the city officials and representatives for about six months about a plan to install fitness equipment throughout Keizer’s parks system. In less than 48 hours, Davis’ project turned from a vision into something he’ll have to make good on. 

On Monday, Feb. 11, Davis received the endorsement of the Keizer Rotary Foundation to the tune of $25,000 over two years and approval for a $7,832 matching grant during a meeting Keizer Parks Advisory Board Tuesday, Feb. 12. 

“Thank you all. I’ve gotten so much great advice and guidance,” Davis told the members of the parks board. 

Davis’ grand vision was covered last month in the Keizertimes, but funding to begin work on a scaled-back Phase 1 came to fruition quickly. 

In addition to financial backing, Davis said Rotarian Bob Zielinski has offered use of an excavator and an employee to run it and Herc Rentals offered use of additional equipment during down time. That leaves the largest outstanding need to begin moving forward assistance with installing concrete pads. Those with the know-how and ability are encouraged to contact Davis at 541-905-5192 or via email at [email protected]

The terms of the parks matching grant will require all work to be completed by June 30. As a result, Davis has scaled back the initial roll-out. Instead of four parks, installations at Country Glen Park and Claggett Creek Park could be complete by this summer. 

Claggett Creek Park will receive a tamper-proof seven-station multigym, produced by Outdoor-Fit Exercise Systems. The single piece of equipment enables users to do regular or assisted chin-ups and dips, knee raises, back extensions, squats, push-ups and calf raises. Country Glen Park will be the recipient of a set-up of high and low chin up and push-up bars along with two box stations that could be used in a variety of ways. 

The total value of the projects is just north of $28,000. However, the Rotary backing all but assures Davis will be able to complete the intended four-park rollout in 2020. Meadows Park and Wallace House Park are next up on Davis’ plans. 

“If this goes well, and we learn along the way, we might be able do more next year,” Davis said. 

He is already eyeing the possibility of an additional grant from a community program Keizer belongs to called Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL).

In discussions before approving the grant, Parks Board Member Matt Lawyer said, “Your attention to detail has been outstanding. The fact that you are bringing $28,000 to the parks system is outstanding. I think this is a multi-use opportunity for a lot of people.”

Keizer hoopers receive All-American recognition

Of the Keizertimes

The state of Oregon had 24 prep girls basketball players nominated for the 42nd McDonald’s All-American game this spring, and four of them hail from right here in Keizer.

Senior hoopers Ana Coronado, Bailey Hittner, Trinity Phipps and Abigail Hawley each received consideration for the annual all-star contest.

Coronado, Hittner and Phipps all play basketball at Blanchet High School while Hawley is a star at McNary High School.

The girls were put up for recognition by coaches and administrators at Blanchet and McNary. After going through all the local nominees from each state, the national committee for the McDonald’s event settled on selecting 24 candidates from Oregon. 

Even though the girls don’t play on the same high school team, their friendships go all the way back to fifth grade when they played youth basketball together for Keizer Youth Basketball Association (KYBA). 

Coronado, Hittner, Phipps and Hawley all played together until their freshmen year. Even during high school, the girls still play on the same Amateur American Union (AAU) team called the Mid-Valley Monarchs. 

Ron Hittner — who is the father of Bailey and the head coach at Blanchet — started coaching all four of these girls in fifth grade and has continued to coach them at the AAU level as well. 

Seeing them grow into the excellent players and people that they are has been a gift for Coach Hittner.  

“Their personal athletic achievements speak for themselves, but they deserve this because they are all great girls,” Coach Hittner said. “They work incredibly hard both on the basketball floor and in the classroom.”

All four girls have been crucial to their respective team’s success so far this season.


Hawley is in her fourth year playing for the McNary varsity team and leads the squad in scoring at 13 points per game. 

She also leads the team in three-point field goals (23) and helped the Celtics start the Mountain Valley Conference season with six straight wins.

She received second-team all-Greater Valley Conference recognition last season and played a big role in the Celtics reaching the postseason. Hawley also received an honorable mention nod her sophomore year.

“I definitely couldn’t be where I’m at right now if I didn’t have the support of my coaches and teammates,” Hawley said. “I’ve really been working on my leadership skills and keeping my team excited about what we’ve done so far this season.”

What her coach says:

“She is just a joy to coach. She works hard every day,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “She is very consistent on both ends of the floor.”

Other Sports: Hawley was a first-team all-league performer for the McNary girls soccer team in the fall. 


Phipps has been a starter for Blanchet in each of the last three seasons and is in her second year as a team captain. 

She is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12 ppg. She is also pulling down three rebounds a game and shooting 48 percent from the field. 

Phipps earned second-team all-PacWest Conference honors last season.

“It’s a big honor to be nominated,” Phipps said. “It’s pretty cool that all four of us have gotten recognition.”

What her coach says:

“Ever since fifth grade, Trinity has been one of the most flexible players on the team,” Coach Hittner said. “She has really come in to her own on the offense end, but she’s just a great all-around player.”

Other Sports: Phipps is the back-to-back 3A state champion in the 110-meter hurdles. She also placed third in the state in the triple jump. 


Just like Phipps, Hittner has also been a three-year starter for the Cavaliers, as well as a team captain.

Hittner is one of the team leaders in assists (4.0 per game) and steals (2.1 per game). She shoots 81 percent from the foul line and has knocked down more than 80 shots from behind the arc over the course of her career.

She was a first-team all-conference and third-team all-state performer last season.

“I’ve always seen the McDonald’s All-American nominees and thought it was such a cool thing when I was growing up, so to be able to say that I am one of those is such a big honor, especially being able to share it with my best friends,” Hittner said. 

What her coach says:

“I think she is the best defensive player in the state when she puts her mind to it,” Coach Hittner said of his daughter. “She can shut down anyone. We always have her guard the best player on the other team.”

Other Sports: Hittner has won the 200-m event at the PacWest District track meet for the last three years.


Regardless of level, Coronado has proven herself to be one of the most dynamic guards in the state over the course of her career. 

Not only is she her team’s top scorer at 14.2 ppg, she also leads the Cavaliers with 4.6 assists per game and an incredible 5.6 steals per contest. 

Coronado has been a starter for Blanchet in all four years of her high school career and has been a team captain for the last two seasons. She received first-team all-conference honors in her first three years as a members of the Cavaliers and was recognized as the conference player of the year last season. 

She also earned first-team all-state honors as a junior, as well as second-team all-state nods as a freshman and sophomore.

“This is a pretty big honor for me. It’s one of those things you see a lot on social media,” Coronado said. “Even if we don’t get chosen for the actual game, it’s still such a honor to receive recognition for the things we have done on the court and off the court.”

What her coach says:

“I believe she is the best player in 3A and I hope she gets player of the year this year because she deserves it,” Coach Hittner said. “She has been one of the best players in the state for the last four years and she is just a complete player on both ends of the court … I’m super proud of her and I’m super excited to see her play at the next level. She is going to help whichever school she goes to.”

Other Sports: Coronado has also received all-league recognition in volleyball and softball over the course of her decorated career at Blanchet. She also won the 400-m event at the PacWest District track meet last season. 

Coronado plans to play basketball in college at either George Fox University or Corban College.

Hawley, Coronado, Hittner and Phipps have all experienced incredible success in athletics in their careers. But even though their lives as star prep basketball players is coming to a close, they still have some more things they would like to accomplish.

After a slow start to the season, Hawley looks to lead  the youthful Celtics squad back to the postseason.

“We have a lot of determination as a team and we have grown so much,” Hawley said. 

Coronado, Hittner and Phipps each were instrumental pieces to Blanchet’s state title in 2017. After taking third place in 2018, these three seniors are hoping to end their high school basketball careers with a second state championship.

“We’ve already done it once, so we know we have the potential to do it again,” Coronado said. “This year, I think we are 10 times stronger than what we were as sophomores. We’re probably one of the most experienced teams in 3A.”

Blanchet enters the postseason as the number two ranked 3A team in the state with a 21-3 record, meaning that a second state title in three years is well within reach for the Cavaliers. 

“Having one last run where we get all the way to the end and finish it out would be the perfect way to end our basketball careers,” Phipps said.

Eminent domain defense might be breaking new ground

Willamette Law School Professor Paul Diller talked with the Keizertimes about what makes the Keizer eminent domain case unique.


Of the Keizertimes

UPDATE: St. Edward Catholic Church has agreed to sell the land in question for $2.26 million. The district will take possession on Feb. 19 if no further obstacles appear.

Usage of eminent domain claims to take possession of property needed for public use is older than America itself, but the defense
being deployed by St. Edward Catholic Church to ward off a claim by the Salem-Keizer School District is distinct. And it’s part of a handful of cases that could one day reach the highest court in the nation, according to a professor at Willamette University Law School.

“The church is asserting here that the fact that they are a religious entity should make it harder to take their land. It’s an argument buttressed by the relatively recent Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RIULPA),” said Professor Paul Diller, who spoke with the Keizertimes as part of a monthly on-air interview segment at the studios of KMUZ on Friday, Feb. 8. 

RIULPA was passed in 2000 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was designed to curtail government action burdening religious organizations. RIULPA is much more narrow and applies specifically to land use. 

“RIULPA is often used when they think [churches] are being discriminated against in regard to zoning. What the church is arguing here is that it also applies to eminent domain. A couple of courts have accepted it and some have a rejected it. I will be curious to see how that fares,” Diller said. 

While Judge David Leith rejected a request to dismiss the school district’s claim on grounds of RIULPA and procedural disputes, the issue could come back around if the church decides to appeal an eventual decision. 

The school district is seeking to take possession of six acres of land owned by the church to accommodate expansion at McNary High School. McNary is landlocked and cannot proceed with its plans unless it acquires the property. 

The district paid for two appraisals of the property and the church rejected a $1.75 million offer in December. According to the district, the church’s counteroffer was nearly twice that amount, but church officials would not confirm it. 

Despite voters approving a bond to fund the expansion and other improvements throughout the district in 2018, Diller said courts are unlikely to see that as a mandate. 

“It may be as a rhetorical tool, but we’re talking about a school district bond passed by more than just the city of Keizer,” he said. 

As far as who holds the burden of proof in cases on eminent domain claims, Diller said the district will have a slight edge in that it intends to use the property for the public good.

“The details vary by state in Oregon, there is a presumption in favor of the state’s necessity for the land,” he said. “The burden is on the condemnee to to show why the land is not needed for the public interest.”

However, the fair market value the district has to pay will be decided by a jury on a more level playing field. 

“Both parties are likely to turn to experts who do a market valuation. The [development] possibilities are highly relevant. If someone is willing to pay for future value, which they quite often are, then that’s something that could come into play,” Diller said. 

To listen to the full interview with Diller, visit

Soldier may be honored with stretch of highway


Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer soldier killed in Iraq in 2007 might soon have a stretch of Oregon highway named after him. 

House Concurrent Resolution 13, which is set to be considered during the current legislative session, would result in Hill’s family working with Oregon Department of Transportation officials to designate a stretch of highway in Pvt. Ryan J. Hill’s honor, said Abby Weekly, legislative director for state Rep. Bill Post. 

Post is co-sponsoring the resolution with Rep. Julie Fahey of West Eugene/Junction City. The 2015 Legislature created the process through which individuals can be recognized, Weekly said. 

Hill served with Charlie Company in Adhamiya, Iraq. At the time, the area was heavy with insurgents, and the locals were paying a steep price. Caught in the middle of warring factions, some 10 to 20 villagers a day were reportedly being killed as Sunni and Shiite waged war against each other.

Hill, 20, was driving a Humvee on Jan. 20, 2007, when an improvised explosive device detonated (IED) near the vehicle. Hill was killed and the vehicle’s gunner ended up in  critically injured. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division based in Schweinfurt, Germany. He was serving his first tour in Iraq at the time of his death.

Hill’s sense of duty took him to Iraq after graduating from the Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program in 2006. He had attended McNary High School and worked at the Keizer Albertsons prior to enrolling the Bend-based ChallNGe program. 

Prior to his death, Hill told his mother Shawna Fenison, “I’ve made my peace with God and I’m not afraid of something happening to me. My fear is that something will 

happen to one of my friends and I won’t be able to save them.”

Hill had already experienced the loss of three friends during his months abroad. The first to a sniper attack, the second to another IED and the third was killed while throwing himself on a grenade. 

“I have never cried this much in my entire life,” wrote in a blog post after the first two deaths. “Two men got taken from us way too soon. I wonder why it was them and not me.”

His strong desire to protect friends and allies led him to volunteer to drive the lead vehicle in a caravan on the day he was killed, according to his commanding officer. 

In the years since his death, Hill’s death has been recounted in a book, They Fought for Each Other by Kelly Kennedy, and a Keizer city park in Keizer Station was dedicated to him in 2013. 

Hill was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge.

8-year-old volunteer honored for work


Of the Keizertimes

Giving your time, energy and effort into volunteering can make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others, especially in a community like Keizer.

Autumn Siegel learned that value at a very young age.

In December, the 8-year old second grader from Weddle Elementary was presented the first ever Keizer Little League Concessions Volunteer of the Year award for her outstanding work in the concession stand during the 2018 baseball/softball season at KLL Park.

The award was to presented to Siegel by Clint Holland, who has been in charge of operating the concession stand for the last two years.

“Usually, we don’t let kids under the age of 14 work in the concession stand, but we made an exception for her because she was fabulous,” Holland said. “People can’t believe how good she is.”

With Siegel’s father, Ryan, being the softball director for KLL and her older sister, Violet, playing softball for KLL, Siegel spent quite a bit of time at the little league facility. 

One afternoon, Siegel walked by the concession stand and offered her assistance. 

After spending the rest of the day working in the stand, Siegel realized that it was something that she really enjoyed. 

“I just like getting orders and using the cash register on the iPad,” Siegel said. “Sometimes I got to do other jobs, like make pretzels … It was fun.”

It wasn’t long before Siegel was spending long hours volunteering at the stand multiple times per week. Her willingness to help was not only greatly appreciated, it was much needed. 

“We had kind of a hard time getting volunteers, but it seemed like whenever I was in trouble up there, Autumn was there to come to the rescue,” Holland said. “There were times where it was just her and me running the whole stand.”

Siegel’s mother, Shelly, also added: “She’s like a concession stand mascot. Everyone knows who Autumn is.”

Siegel even got to a point over the summer where she could work at the concession stand all by herself. 

Some people might be skeptical of an eight-year old running the cash register without the supervision of an adult. But Siegel always proved herself to be trustworthy and even showed other people how to use the system.

“Everything always balanced out, even when she was running it by herself,” Holland said. “She didn’t make mistakes.”

During a particular Saturday in July is when Siegel shined the brightest according to Holland. 

While KLL was hosting an all-day tournament, Holland was swamped at the concession stand. Fortunately, Siegel came to the rescue.

Over the course of 11 to 12 hours, Siegel’s efficiency and effectiveness behind the counter caught the eyes of all that went to the KLL concession stand that day, which allowed her to make $51 in tips.

“The public saw how hard she was working,” Holland said. “I can’t say enough about how helpful she was that day. It made me want to do something for her to show my appreciation.”

That is when Holland got the idea to make an award for Siegel to display his gratitude.

“I brought the idea up to someone on the (KLL) committee and they loved it,” Holland said. 

Holland got a gold plaque made and presented it to Siegel in front of her teacher and classmates right before the holiday break.

“I was really shy because I don’t really like when all the eyes are on me,” Siegel said. “I was a little nervous, but I was excited at the same time.”

“I actually cried a little bit when I gave to her,” Holland added. “She was so shocked.”

Siegel will be playing softball for KLL this spring, so she might not be in the concession stand as much as she was last year. But Siegel still plans to help out whenever she can. 

“I just like helping people,” Siegel said.