Day: May 11, 2010

Stranded half a world away, local woman gets kids out of the dumps

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes An 11-day mission trip ended up being a three-week odyssey for a Keizerite and her group. Malia Witham of Keizer was on a mission trip to Ethiopia and Uganda, with a group called Visiting Orphans. The group sends small groups of missionaries around the world to help orphaned children via reunification with family, sponsoring them or simply playing games with them, maintaining human connection. In Witham’s case, they were searching for children who are scrapping for survival in an Ethiopian garbage dump and sending them to boarding school. Witham and Cherrie Cornish were supposed to be on the trip for 11 days. But the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, an Icelandic volcano, changed all of that. Ash from the volcano’s eruption shut down air traffic across much of Europe, which meant their connecting flight from Amsterdam got cancelled. The ordeal extended their trip by about 10 days. Malia and husband Shane are no strangers to mission work, having volunteered both in the United States and abroad. She found out about Visiting Orphans through a blog detailing a missionary’s feeding program and adoption of 14 Ugandan children. “For the last three years probably, I have wanted to go to Uganda,” Malia said. “I didn’t know Ethiopia would be the one that would steal our hearts the most.” She and Salem resident Cherrie Cornish joined the group...

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Stormwater franchise fee proposed

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes Federal and state mandates leave no choice but a stormwater fee increase, city officials said last week. The City of Keizer’s public works department leaders will make a push for a stormwater fee increase that will add about $2.25 every other month to residential water bills. It has nothing to do with the general fund shortfall that has top city staff scrambling to fill. In fact, the roughly $5.40 bimonthly fee paid by water users in Keizer mostly goes into its own specially designated fund, although a portion does make its way into the general fund. But Elizabeth Sagmiller, environmental program coordinator for the City of Keizer, said the city faces three mandates, yet only has funding for one. (See sidebar for an explanation of what these mandates are). “(The Department of Environmental Quality) expects us to do what is in our plan, not what we have budgeted for,” Sagmiller said. They say fines for non-compliance with each could go as high as $25,000 per day. She, along with Public Works Director Rob Kissler, will make their case in front of the Budget Committee this month. The city has known about the Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permit need since September 2008. However, officials there anticipated the state wouldn’t fund the program as soon as it has. “The department as a whole wanted...

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Environmental manager says two new programs mandated by feds, state

The City of Keizer is mandated by state and federal law to manage its stormwater runoff. This is water that falls from the sky, i.e. rain and snow, and must be dealt with. City officials are tasked with making sure pollutants from the air, ground and street entering local waterways like the Willamette River or Claggett Creek are minimized. These can be anything from leaked oil flowing into stormdrains or loose sediment getting into a creek. The city currently has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit (NPDES), which allows it to discharge stormwater directly into local waterways. This is reflected in the stormwater fee on residents’ water bills. It must meet two more mandates to fully comply with the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act: • Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plan – The state developed a plan that shows how much pollution can enter the Willamette River before bacteria levels, water temperature and mercury contamination render it unsuitable for ideal fish spawning or human use, like swimming. Each government that contributes to the pollution – Keizer is one – must have a plan to reduce its contributions. The city’s plan has been approved, but funding to comply with the plan was not included in the previously-passed stormwater fee. • UIC Program/Water Pollution Control Facilities Permit – Many cities and counties in Oregon, for various reasons,...

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