Day: June 13, 2014

Building on the cow pasture

The first steps are being taken for a residential development on Verda Lane between Chemawa Road and Dearborn Avenue. Many people will recognize that land as the place where the cows lazily graze. Keizer’s hearings officer held a public hearing regarding plan map and zone map changes for that property on Thursday night. The city’s comprehensive code is loose and allows a lot of leeway in the design of structures. It is the result of a city that prides itself on minimal city intrusion on the private sector. Officials say there is little the city can do to compel developers to adhere to a specific look. There are a few stringent limitations such as color, height and use.  The intersection of Chemawa and Verda is busy throughout the day, no more so than during commute times. It is the gateway to downtown via Chemawa—it leads the way to the civic center, the Keizer Heritage Center and the city’s core. Developers’ designs should consider the import of that area. Multi-family housing can be designed like a bunker or it can have aesthtic value, such as two- and three-story townhouse-style units with garages and retail space on the ground floor. There are plenty of examples of such developments throughout the valley and in the Portland area. Any zone change there should be for mixed use as opposed to straight residential. But...

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Know something, say something

After the shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale this week,  media quoted many parents and students saying they never thought it could happen there. It’s safe to assume that people said that about a movie theater, a small college town on a balmy evening, a university campus. Everyone presumes they are safe from such mayhem until they’re not. People carrying a grudge and seeking revenge can be anywhere, small towns to big cities. People with mental illness can be anywhere. People who stop taking the drugs that help even out their troubled minds can be anywhere. If there were an analytic about where such acts occur, law enforcement could focus on those places and perhaps avert a tragedy. But there is no way to know what town, theater or school will be the next target. With 74 shootings at schools since Sandy Hook School in December 2012—three incidents in just the past few weeks—we have to ask if the public is getting immune to the news. “Another one?” seems to be the nation’s default response. Should the public rely solely on law enforcement to avert mass shootings? When police are stymied by privacy laws, society needs to step in, not to be a vigilante, but to inform. After 9/11 we were told ‘if you see something, say something.’ It shouldn’t be any different on the domestic side. As...

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Community colleges’ lost mission

By Gene McIntyre There are public education entities that have proven themselves tried and true over the years of Oregon’s statehood, getting underway well over a century ago in 1859.  First and foremost, it has been and remains fundamentally important that our children learn how to read, write and work numbers and the public elementary school, usually grades one through six, has fulfilled the teaching of those basics admirably well. Before there was a need for higher education at the college and university level, the state’s high schools served to meet society’s higher level education requirements.  However, their role has been seriously eroded in more modern times as they too often successfully serve a smaller percentage of their youth population, that is, in high schools, the gifted athlete and those ready for serous academic pursuits and achievements.  Nowadays they poorly serve that majority of youth who find little to nothing beyond rules and authoritarian conditions in too many high schools, encouraging thereby a huge and disgraceful number to drop out before graduating. Joliet Junior College of Illinois was established in1901.   The community college did not arrive on the public education scene in Oregon in more than a token appearance until the 1960s when Portland and Southwestern Oregon (Coos Bay) Community Colleges, both being founded in 1961, began to offer the technical-vocational courses of study that the Oregon high schools had generally shied away from but that provided high interest, providing job training skills to those youth who were not jocks or dean’s list candidates. Of course, as the...

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