KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

Of the Keizertimes

 Clashes were not out of the norm in Keizer in 2012.From a hotly contested mayoral race to fire district battles to ongoing controversy regarding Keizer Station, several topics were a source of constant debate.

In no particular order, here are the top 10 Keizer stories of 2012, as selected by the staff of Keizertimes.

Contested mayoral race

Lore Christopher winning her bid in November to stay Keizer’s mayor wasn’t out of the norm. After all, Christopher won her seventh term as mayor.What made this year’s win noteworthy was the fact it was Keizer’s first contested mayoral race since 2002. Also noteworthy was Christopher’s opponent, veteran Keizer City Councilor Dave McKane. The two had some history – McKane’s brief resignation from council after comments from Christopher quickly comes to mind – and the two waged a spirited battle.

There were three council seats open, with two being contested.

Roth’s closes door in Keizer

Roth’s Fresh Market delivered a bombshell in May: the longtime local store would be closing its location at River Road and Chemawa in late June.

The main reason given for the closure was concern about the struggling Keizer location in the face of anticipated expansion of Target and the possible Walmart in Keizer Station area. The Roth’s building still sits vacant.

Keizer Station development continues

How big of a topic was Keizer Station in 2012? Big enough that three top stories were centered around the shopping area on the east side of town.

Restaurants took center stage this year, with plans announced for a Panera Bread. The café bakery opened its doors – and drive-through window – last weekend.

As Panera was getting ready to open, plans were submitted for an Outback Steakhouse in Keizer Station. If plans indeed come to fruition, it would be the first “sit down” type of restaurant in the shopping area.

Sides gives city ‘worthless’ property

Behind on his taxes for several properties, developer Chuck Sides became current on all properties but one in the fall. It was what happened on the last property that stirred controversy.

Instead of paying taxes, Sides deeded over property worth nothing, according to the county, since low power lines made the parcel undevelopable. The city paid more than $600,000 for the parcel. City officials argued the land wasn’t worthless, but couldn’t come up with a dollar amount since an appraisal wasn’t done.

Area C plans altered

For many months, the widely-held view was the proposed 116,000 square foot building in the Area C portion of Keizer Station would be the future home of Walmart. Plans for the building were subject to a Land Use Board of Appeals hearing.

In the early fall, Sides had a revised plan: two buildings totaling about 72,000 square feet.

Clear Lake annexation into KFD control nixed

Attempts by Keizer Fire District officials to annex the Clear Lake neighborhood into their territory were rejected by voters in a special May election. The annexation would have meant roughly 1,000 homes and the affiliated tax revenue would have been transferred from Marion County Fire District No. 1.

Two measures would have to have been approved by voters, but neither garnered more than 43 percent support.

City hall, KPD adjust to realities

A year after predicting the worst was yet to come in terms of the city’s budget, city manager Chris Eppley sang a different tune in the spring, announcing that expenditures were stabilized and things were looking much brighter.

The good news wasn’t felt everywhere, however. The Keizer Police Department had to adjust to tighter budget confines following an overwhelming defeat of a public safety fee in November 2011.

Two Gates Foundation winners at McNary

Prior to 2012, McNary High School had zero Gates Foundation Scholars ever. Now the school has two.

Jessica Mendez-Vasquez and Justin Schneider were named recipients in March of the college funding package that will pay for all college expenses up through and including graduate work.

Non-U.S. citizens can’t be youth councilors

In the summer, Keizer City Councilors approved a new procedure that banned non-U.S. citizens from serving as youth councilors. New language prevented any immigrant who did not have citizenship from serving in the role.

The move came after former youth councilor Hugo Nicolas finished his term, after being brought to the U.S. without documentation at age 11.

Ryan Ripp plays role in funeral protests law

A McNary High School student’s efforts led to a state law approved early this year. Senate Bill 1575 makes it a crime to fight, make threats or create unreasonable noise or obstruct traffic within 200 feet of a funeral.

Ryan Ripp came up with the idea in the spring of 2011, while he was a sophomore at MHS.

A year later, the bill was approved by the state legislature.