Month: February 2014

Timing an issue for Big Toy site

  By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes A new wrinkle – and potentially large hurdle – was thrown into the plans for The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park project last week. As detailed in the Keizertimes last week, mayor Lore Christopher expressed concern at the Jan. 21 Keizer City Council meeting about the three potential sites proposed for the play structure, which is scheduled to be built by volunteers in Keizer Sept. 17 to 21. When Christopher mentioned wanting to use part of the 28 acres of Buchholz property along Chemawa Road that is in city limits but is not part of Keizer’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), a big concern was raised: could the land be useable in time without delaying the project? Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, was tasked with reporting back at next week’s council meeting what work would need to be done to make it happen. “That property needs to be master planned,” Brown said. “(The play structure) can’t just be plopped down. It’s just about two acres of the 28 acres that would be used.” Brown said the property is zoned for Exclusive Farm Use-Special Agriculture currently. Officials from the state, Marion County and Salem would all have to sign off on the property becoming a part of Keizer’s UGB. “If all the stars align, we’re looking at six months to...

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Keizer Health Center set to open on Monday

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes Dr. John Hayes is excited to finally be practicing in Keizer, the city he’s lived in since 2005. He’ll get the chance to do that when the 10,000 square foot Silverton Health Keizer Health Center opens Monday, Feb. 3. More than just about anyone, Hayes has been following the progress of the clinic, just around the corner from his house. He can recall general contractor Andy Medcalf doing the initial digging of dirt with his tractor. “I would go by every day and snap a picture, then take off,” Hayes recalled with a laugh Tuesday. “After 10 days in a row of me doing this, Andy jumped off the tractor and came up to my truck. He said, ‘Can I help you with something?’ He comes right up to my face. I told him this was my clinic. Once I told him who I was, every time after he waved from his tractor.” It’s been quite the transformation from the first dirt being turned last summer to now. “When I saw it go up, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a big building.’ But when I thought about our needs, I wonder if we underestimated what we need. It’s a beautiful building, but from the feel you get in town and what people are thirsty for, I have a weird feeling we will have to put...

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Coach receives education award

By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes Ron Hittner continued a legacy with his selection for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Service to Education Award. Hittner thanked and honored his father, Gene (and mother, Patty), who was selected for the same award in 1991 for his work in the community as principal of Parrish Middle School. “Basketball has always been a passion,” Hittner said. “And I learned it by tagging along with my dad when he was a coach. I couldn’t have had better role models or better parents.” Basketball ended up becoming Hittner’s avenue into working with youth and he’s only rarely taken a break in more than two decades. He started out coaching at Parrish, but took up the role again as a coach for Keizer Youth Basketball Association and served as president for several years. Since then, he’s held roles as assistant coach at Corban University, an organizer and coach of the Mid-Valley Monarchs, and now the head coach of the Blanchet Catholic School girls teams. In each role, Hittner has tried to stay true to the teachings of his dad. “It was my dad who taught me that coaching is teaching. He made sure his players were good students and good people first and then good basketball players,” Hittner said. Basketball provides opportunities for athletes to pick up skills in everything from listening to respect...

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