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Category: Entertainment and Recreation

Students make quick work of park clean-up

Of the Keizertimes

A group of about 60 Keizer students rose to a challenge that would cause many adults to cower Saturday, Oct. 27.

The group, representing, McNary High School and Claggett Creek and Whiteaker middle schools, removed about 50 yards of wood chips from a play structure, repainted a picnic shelter and generally cleaned up Country Glen Park in north Keizer.

“I love how we bring the community together in our schools and get a bunch of work done to make parks better and more presentable,” said McNary’s Miranda Coleman.

Coleman and Whiteaker students Kyler Carmichael and Tristyn Campbell were making repeat appearances at community service efforts organized through the schools.

“We have a lot of garbage laying around and it’s good to get out and pick it up,” said Kyler.

“I just like doing it and it’s a good workout,” added Tristyn.

Some of the chips removed from the play structure were spread around the trees in the park for weed control, the rest were hauled away. City staff planned to replace the old wood chips with relatively new ones taken out of the Keizer Rapids Big Toy last year.

Robert Johnson, Keizer’s parks supervisor, was grateful for the assistance, but he had larger goals in mind as well.

“This is a park where we’ve had some graffiti and vandalism and, if we get these kids involved in the community, then when they see someone doing something wrong they can speak up and talk about how they helped make it a better place,” Johnson said. “There’s about 60 kids here right now and that’s a lot of ownership happening.”

Aside from that, the students allowed Johnson to direct parks employees’ efforts elsewhere.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in parks and help like this is crucial. For my guys to come in here, three or four of them, it would take a week just to remove the wood chips. We are going to, I hope, have it done in half a day. The kids will repaint the entire shelter in a few hours and that would take one of our employees a day or more.”

Matt Lawyer, a member of the Keizer Parks Advisory Board, was helping lead the volunteer effort alongside Johnson. The parks board was a driving force behind getting a parks services fee instituted to bolster maintenance and improvement efforts, but there is a long backlog of parks-related work to chip away at. It means volunteers are still needed to make the most of available resources.

“This project, specifically, speaks to the pride, spirit and volunteerism. We got the parks fee put in place, but these are the type of volunteer activities that we want to encourage people to do. Especially students at McNary,Whiteaker and Claggett Creek,” Lawyer said. “I think it’s still a very important part of why Keizer is awesome and the fee is a mechanism to continue doing these sorts of projects because now the parks department can pay to sponsor them.”

While students represented all corners of the three schools, McNary’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and Latino Club made concerted efforts to bring out their groups’ members.

Keizer Homegrown brings The Quality of Life to the stage

Of the Keizertimes

Jesse Whitehead had not directed a Keizer Homegrown Theatre show in four years when he received a phone call from the troupe’s founder—Linda Baker.

She had a script, The Quality of Life, for Whitehead to read.

“I didn’t know anything about the play so I didn’t know what to expect and I read it and I was just really, really moved by it. I called her back and I said, ‘I hate you because I have to direct this now.’”

The Quality of Life opens Friday Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Keizer Cultural Center, 980 Chemawa Rd. NE, with additional shows Oct. 20, 26-27 and Nov. 2-3 at 7 p.m. and matinees on Oct. 21, 28 and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Written by Jane Anderson, the play tells the story of Dinah and Bill, a devout, church-going couple from Ohio who are struggling to keep their lives intact after the death of their daughter.

Dinah is compelled to reconnect with her left-leaning cousins in Northern California who are going through their own trials. Jeannette and Neil have lost their home to a wildfire and Neil has cancer. However, they seem to have accepted their situation with good humor, living in a yurt on their burn site and celebrating life with hits of marijuana and red wine.

While Bill and Dinah are both moved and perplexed by their cousins’ composure, their sympathy turns to rage when they find out Jeannette is planning to take her own life to avoid a life of grief without her beloved Neil.

“There’s a lot of interesting conversations about marijuana, right to life, the afterlife,” Whitehead said. “A lot of interesting subjects get broached in the dialogue. It’s a very talking play. I think people will find a surprising amount of laughs. They can enjoy some really good acting by local actors.”

Robert Herzog and Franca Hernandez play Neil and Jeannette. Dinah and Bill are portrayed by Danna Swanenberg and Tim Jaeger.

“Act two is my favorite part of the show,” Whitehead said. “Things really come to a head and actors get to really act with each other and it’s very moving and powerful. I’m really looking forward to other people having similar reactions that I did.

“It doesn’t necessarily come to any hard conclusions. It raises a lot of issues and asks the audience to think about them and I hope they are thinking about them long after the play is over.”

To reserve tickets, email [email protected]

McNary mixes 70s with Shakespeare

Of the Keizertimes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Board backs parks smoking ban 7-2

(Editor’s note: Due to a reporter’s error, the print edition of the paper erroneously stated the final vote as 7-1. The actual vote was 7-2, this version of the story has been updated.)

Of the Keizertimes

After a public hearing and lengthy debate, the Keizer Parks Advisory Board is moving forward with a recommendation to ban smoking in Keizer parks.

Board members voted 7-2 to recommend the action to the Keizer City Council. Matt Lawyer and David Louden were the voices dissent on the issue at a meeting of the board Tuesday, Feb. 13.

The recommendation will go to the council and suggest revisiting the current Keizer parks ordinance and replacing existing language that pertains to smoking in areas of high fire risk with an outright ban.

The suggestion of amending the existing ordinance, rather than creating something whole cloth, came from the board’s newest member, Zaira Flores Marin, who attended her first meeting prepared to cite chapter-and-verse.

Flores Marin said that a smoking ban represented a first step in “more of a cultural change in the city.”

Smoking is already banned in Salem and Marion County parks as well as Oregon’s state parks.

The handful of residents who offered testimony on the issue favored the ban, but it was testimony from Kerryann Bouska, a program coordinator with the Marion County Public Health Department who oversees anti-smoking education programs, that appeared to sway most of the remaining holdouts. Bouska, who is also a Keizer resident, was careful to walk the line of educating as an employee of Marion County and speaking in her role as a Keizer resident.

“When we as Keizer citizens say we care about health, we can send a stronger message”
— Kerryann Bouska, Keizer resident

Bouska said that smoke free rules and policies are typically self-enforcing and that previous attempts at mitigating smoking in Keizer parks, like designating smoking areas in each park, are hampered from the outset.

“Statistically, we find that self-regulation is enough to get by along with signage that is clear, consistent and visible,” she said.

One of the most steadfast arguments against a ban from several on the parks board has been the city’s inability to afford enforcing another ordinance, but board member Jim Taylor wanted to move forward and let the Keizer City Council and the Keizer Police Department (KPD) administration hash out the specifics.

Taylor said he’d had a conversation with KPD Chief John Teague about enforcing a cigarette ban and Teague didn’t want officers to become the smoking ban enforcers.

Bouska also echoed Flores Marin’s sentiments regarding a cultural shift.

“There are great opportunities to send the message that the parks and recreation are about health,” Bouska said. She then switched chairs and spoke on the issue as a resident of the city, continuing, “When we as Keizer citizens say we care about health, we can send a stronger message.”

By the end of the night, two of the board’s longest holdouts against an outright ban, Cat Gaynor and Dylan Juran, had moved to the other side of the issue.

Juran ended up being the one who initiated ban recommendation.

“I was maybe the most against this change, and I’ve slowly been slipping to the other side,” Juran said.

Gaynor said she once sided with those against the ban because of the difficulty in “legislating behavior,” but that her position on the issue shifted as a result of testimony.

“I was very against the idea of more regulation but, after hearing the testimony, I’m for a ban. If we start now, maybe in 20 years nobody will be smoking in parks any more,” she said.

Lawyer remained firmly opposed to the ban, but said he would be among the first to ask violators to snuff out cigarettes.

“If this is a real, functional solution needs to be a conversation rather than throwing up perfunctory signs,” Lawyer said.

‘Heaven can wait’ but only through Nov 19

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Homegrown Theatre hopes to highlight the absurdity of Heaven Can Wait, the story of a boxer who arrives in the afterlife 60 years early and in order to return to earth must take up the body of a nefarious millionaire.

“We are taking a 1930s play that was unabashedly sentimental and giving it a twist where we recognize the absurdity of the situation far more specifically than it was recognized in the original,” director Linda Baker said. “The absurdity of it all is really the thing.”

The play runs November 10-11, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and November 12 and 19 at 3 p.m. in the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center chapel.

Tickets are $15 and available at the door or online at

Jeff Minden, a 1999 McNary graduate, plays the prizefighter, Joe Pendleton. Minden was in the play in high school as the overeager messenger who mistakenly picks up Pendleton and takes him to the afterlife to start the story.

“It’s kind of fun doing it again so many years later and doing a different role this time and seeing it from a different prospective,” Minden said. “Joe’s a fantastic character. He’s so honest and earnest and straight forward but also just so not right. He also talks a lot so that’s been a challenge, getting the lines down. But it’s also so much fun, really finding him and channeling him and getting into character.”

Minden already had a background in CrossFit but has added boxing workouts to get into character.

Craig Will has been cast as the messenger. Kevin Crawford, one of the founders of Aumsville Community Theatre, is playing Mr. Jordan, who is in charge of finding another body after Pendleton’s manger Max Levene, played by Sam Tibbits, cremated his body.

Jordan finds the wealthy Jonathan Farnsworth, who is about to be murdered by his wife Julia, played by Allison Reid. While in Farnsworth’s body, Pendleton falls in love with Bette Logan, a naïve, sweet young woman played by Elizabeth Ming.

“This is the first time she’s played the ingenue,” Baker said of Ming. “Everybody wants to play the ingenue until they have to and they realized they have the stupidest lines in the whole play. The fact that Elizabeth is making them work is pretty amazing.

“The girl that has frequently had to play the ingenue and has played the ingenue her whole life is now playing the wicked wife. Allison is stepping outside of her general norm, which is fun. Everybody is kind of playing, not against type, but against usually what they have been cast.”

The rest of the cast includes Dylan Marley (Tony Abbott), Becky Nielson (Mrs. Ames), Chantelle Gemmill (Ann), Kevin Strausbaugh (Inspector Williams), Linda Cashin (First Escort), Kiley Smith (Second Escort), Elijah Rodriguez (Lefty), Edward Stiner (Workman), Dennis Koho (Doctor) and Tim and Jordan Reid as Plainclothesmen.

Strausbaugh, a 2005 McNary graduate, is also helping Baker direct the show.

Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of the play and parking is free at the Kroc Center.

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