Month: July 2010

Is your chili the best? Find out on Saturday

By LYNDON ZAITZ Of the Keizertimes Florence Carter’s suggestion has grown from a little wine tasting into a full-blown chili cook-off at her son John’s restaurant, Tuff Ranch BBQ, at McNary Golf Club. The first Spicy Pepper Chili Cook-off and Wine and Beer Festival will take over the patio at Tuff Ranch from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 31. The public is invited to bring their best chili or salsa to the cook-off. There will be no cooking at the event; contestants will cook prepare their chili at home and bring their entries to Tuff Ranch BBQ. Entrants should plan on bringing “a few gallons of chili to sample,” said Carter. Those entering a salsa should also bring enough for 150 people to sample. Admission and sampling of the chili and salsa entries is free. Cost to enter the cook-off is $5 for each entry with an unlimited number of entries per person. Along with the chili and salsa contest more than 10 area wineries and four breweries will display their products.  A 5-ounce beer or a 3-ounce wine will each cost $4. Each winery will have bottles of several varietals for sale. Food Services of America (FSA) and Sysco have donated ribs, chicken, and pork for the event.  Food will be sold throughout the day aside from the cook-off entries. The evening will be capped...

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KNOW YOUR PARKS: Chalmers-Jones Park a great place to splash, skate or sit

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes In a nutshell: Chalmers-Jones Park is a well-manicured park on the civic center campus with some of the newest amenities, including a splash fountain and Carlson Skate Park. Budget cuts mean the splash park won’t run as often as planned this year, but it’s available on hot days. Not much for younger kids to do if the fountain is closed. Time visited: 1:30 p.m. on a Thursday Size: 2.9 acres, which includes the skate park. Who was there: A half-dozen or so children and their families were cooling off in the new splash fountain. Older kids were using the skate park. Where is it: Behind the Keizer Civic Center, with access from Rickman Drive NE and Chemawa Road NE. A separate parking area for the skate park is on Rickman Drive. [MAP: 6] Mowing level: Very good, although weed control was spotty around light posts. Dry grass indicates the park could use some irrigation or sprinklers. Lots of young trees and shrubs planted as part of civic center project; it is likely the most landscaped park in Keizer’s park system. What’s there: A brand new splash fountain opened this summer and will be open limited hours. Visit Keizer.org for the details. It’s free and open to the public. Water shoots up from fountains built into the concrete (it doesn’t have a pool where...

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Chamber lays out vision for freeway visitors center

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes A vision for a visitors center near Interstate 5 is becoming clearer. Top officials from the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, which acts as the tourism agency for the city, say it would dramatically increase visibility and aim to double visitors to Keizer if the facility is built. There’s been no decisions made, but some hope to establish a partnership with Salem-Keizer Transit, which plans to build a transit center on Lockhaven Drive at Keizer Station Boulevard. Any expansion would be contingent on funding. While no one’s sure yet where money for building would come from, officials believe grants from organizations like Travel Oregon and even contributions from youth sports groups could be used to operate it once it’s built. Transient occupancy taxes (TOT) could also come into the equation. The Chamber received $16,118 from the city of Keizer in TOT, more commonly known as a hotel/ motel tax, in 2008-09. Their proposal calls for hiring one more full-time employee, increasing fulltime staffing to three. The visitors center would serve to “promote Keizer as a destination to stay, play or shop … or to live and work,” it states. Christine Dieker, executive director of the chamber, acknowledged doubling tourism in three to five years is ambitious – but she thinks it’s doable. Chamber President Joe Egli said attracting more tourists – be it for...

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Raises abound at Keizer Fire District

By LANCE MASTERSON Of the Keizertimes Non-represented staff at Keizer Fire District will receive 2 percent raises in fiscal year 2010-11, a unanimous board of directors decided at Tuesday’s regular meeting. The pay increase is retroactive to July 1. Non-represented staff will also receive 2 percent raises in 2011-12 and another 2 percent in 2012-13. These raises are consistent with what union represented employees received earlier this year following contract negotiations with the board. According to Fire Chief Jeff Cowan, it’s the practice of the district to have benefits offered to represented and non-represented employees mirror each other. Union employees also received a more generous benefits package, specifically as it relates to the monthly accumulation of sick leave and vacation. But non-represented employees will have to wait at least a month before they receive similar benefits after Director Greg Frank requested more time to review the policy changes proposed by Cowan. A survey of similar-sized districts from throughout the state showed district staff were underpaid by about 10 percent. In other news: • Deputy Chief Randy Jackson estimated the district will receive half of its ambulance service billings for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Jackson said while $2 million was billed, an estimated $1.1 will be written off as bad debts. Medicare and the Oregon Health Plan pay set fees that average about half what the district charges for ambulance...

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