Day: May 13, 2011

Celts take problem-solving skills to state competition

By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes Devon Nelson and Steven Douglas pride themselves on taking the time to do a job right, but time is a luxury they won’t have when they head to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition at Mt. Hood Community College Friday, May 13. “The slower you go the better it is, which is hard to do when you have a 90-minute deadline in the competition,” Douglas said. In the competition, the duo will have to debug one of ten 2012 Ford Mustangs using the skills they’ve learned in their shop classes at McNary High School and on their own. “They’re hard workers, they wouldn’t be as good as they are if they didn’t work at it outside of class,” said Mike Melting, Celtic shop instructor. Half an hour into class both Nelson and Douglas’s hands are some of the blackest as they work over the cars in the shop. Both are seniors and have been working through the school’s shop programs for three years. They are also the first McNary team to ever qualify to participate in the statewide competition. “We had to take a test online to qualify. I got 40 [out of 50] and Steven got 39,” Nelson said. Part of their reward for participating will be getting to drive one of the Mustangs themselves, another will be customized jackets, but...

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Save our sports, students plead

By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes Salem-Keizer athletes, coaches and families packed a budget meeting to defend the schools’ athletic programs from cuts Monday, May 9, but the programs might not be under the threat that many in attendance expected. “We had a citizen member of the budget committee ask to see a detailed accounting of the athletic programs, but the only cuts to those programs at the high school and middle school levels being considered are about $150,000 each,” said Krina Lemons, a budget committee member and executive director of the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation. Once the request was made, however, it was misinterpreted as a call to eliminate all athletic programs and prompted the mass turnout at the budget meeting in support of athletics programs and what they offer students. “I grew up under the influence of gangs and violence and I wanted a life to be proud of, not a life of regret. Turning to sports as an alternative was the most gratifying decision I ever made,” said Celt Edgar Jimenez, a three-sport athlete at McNary High School. “Wrestling has taught me endless life skills. Sports are the reason I am the person I am today. I guarantee you will change another student athlete’s life for the good of the community.” Budget committee members heard from parents of former Celtic athletes about the power of sports...

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Our greatest assets

By LYNDON A. ZAITZ If children are our future and this nation’s greatest natural resource, why do we keep giving them the short end of the budget stick? I shudder everytime I see reports of school budget cuts that will adversely affect our kids. We, as a society, can not embrace our children with platitudes and then hit them with cuts that will negatively impact their development.  Education is the great leveler in the human condition and it should not be given short shrift.  Study after study shows that America falls far short of some nations in math and science—skills and knowledge experts say will be crucial for the U.S. to be competitive on the global economic stage. The Salem-Keizer School Board has the unenviable job of cutting more than $50 million from the 2011-12 budget.  Members of the local school board have to craft a budget that funds the basic functions of the district as well as pay for federal education mandates.  The reality is that $55 million have to be cut from the budget.  The debate is over where those cuts will come from. The district has already proposed the closing of three small elementary schools.  It wants to lay off grade school librarians.  It will lay off almost 300 teachers.  It is getting concessions from employees on salaries and benefits.  Welcome to the new normal. Claggett...

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Local campaigns can get nasty

By ROSS DAY On Monday I was in Wasco County attending a hearing and I noticed there were several lawn signs around the county advertising different candidates for the local fire district board.  I thought to myself “that is curious, where else have I seen lawn signs and field signs for various candidates for the local fire board?” A lot of people think that national politics can get downright nasty at times.  I tend to agree.  But I have found in my experiences in politics that the “closer to home” an election gets, the nastier the campaigns become. And the campaign in Wasco County for the local fire board is a perfect example of how nasty local elections can get. For instance, the challengers are supported by the local fire fighter’s union. The challengers claim that the incumbents have made poor decisions while they were on the Mid-Columbia Fire District’s Board of Directors.  As evidence of the poor decisions, the fire fighters’ union points to the amount of money the board of directors has spent on legal fees just over the last year. In response, supporters of the incumbents claim that the challengers were recruited by the fire fighters’ union in response to recent actions the board of directors took freezing the pay of fire fighters in order to deal with budget restraints.  There were a couple of letters...

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Re-elect Franke and Downer

To the Editor: As a lifelong resident of the fire district both as property owner and voter, I’m supporting Orville Downer and Randy Franke for re-election to the board of Marion County Fire District #1. Like me,  both Orville and Randy grew up on their family’s farm, and learned the meaning of hard work, how to roll up your sleeves and tackle problems head on.  I serve on the Fire Board’s budget committee and know firsthand the financial challenges facing the district.  To continue the current level of service, the Board last year demanded a no-cost contract with the local union.  That kind of fiscal restraint in these hard economic times is what we need from our leaders.  Join me in re-electing Orville Downer and Randy Franke to the Board of Directors. Bruce R. Chapin...

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