Day: November 28, 2014

Utility box = art canvas?

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes Utility boxes aren’t usually known for their design. Mayor Lore Christopher wants to change that in Keizer. The outgoing mayor serves as chair of the new Keizer Arts Commission and has been putting together a plan for students to paint artwork on utility boxes along River Road. For the time being, Christopher is referring to the project as the Student Utility Box Project, though she emphasized at a recent Arts Commission meeting she is open to a more creative name. Christopher is hoping to work with Erik Jespersen, the new McNary High School principal, on setting up the project. “I want to have McNary students adopt a utility box,” Christopher said. “I want to introduce the idea to students next September. If PGE (Portland General Electric) comes along, all the other utilities will come online as well.” As envisioned by Christopher, interested students would choose a utility box from a list, check out paint supply kits put together by Arts Commission member Jill Hagen and apply their art to a utility box under the mentoring eye of an Arts Commission member. “We would furnish the paint,” the mayor said. “We would have contracts for September. I want the budget committee to put money in for supplies. I might just say give us $1,000. I would be asking any McNary High School art student....

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Wrong-way drunk driver arrested after hitting car, killing passenger Tuesday

A driver going the wrong way on Interstate 5 struck a car near Brooks early Tuesday morning, killing a passenger. At approximately 2:50 a.m. Nov. 25, the Oregon State Police (OSP) received a call reporting a wrong-way driver on I-5 near Brooks. About one minute later, OSP received a second call of a head-on crash on I-5 near milepost 266.5. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Keizer Police Department responded to the scene to assist until OSP troopers arrived to conduct the investigation. While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary information indicates a white 2003 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Audrey Bliven, 49, of Salem, was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of travel. Near milepost 266.5 on I-5, the Jetta crashed head-on into a black BMW 320 which was southbound in the left lane of travel. The female right front passenger in the BMW, identified as Deana DeLeon, 49, of Nyssa, was pronounced deceased at the scene. The adult male driver, identified as 37-year-old Juan Ledesma of Renton, Wash., and a juvenile female passenger whose name will be withheld, were injured and transported to the Salem Hospital. The juvenile female was transferred from Salem Hospital to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Bliven was transported to Salem Hospital for treatment. Upon her release from the hospital, Bliven was arrested by OSP for the crimes of manslaughter in the second degree, criminally...

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Young at Art forced to look for a new home

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes Like any first-year business owner, Mahssa Hashemi has come across obstacles. The phone call she got on Oct. 10 was the biggest yet. On that Friday, landlord Mike Smith informed Hashemi — the owner of Young at Art, which opened in January at 3924 River Road North — a smoke shop would be moving in next door. Having a smoke shop move in next to Hashemi’s studio for young artists was tough enough; learning the smoke shop would be allowed to take over her space at the end of the year was crushing. “It was kind of a shock,” Hashemi said. “My mouth just dropped. I told my landlord that is big news.” Hashemi had suspected something might be going on, based on a conversation she had with her landlord, who did not return calls from the Keizertimes seeking comment. “I had talked with them in September about renewing my lease,” Hashemi said. “He said let’s hold off. I thought that was kind of weird.” Hashemi plans for her last day at the current location to be Dec. 23 and hopes to find a new place as soon as possible. Due to a lack of funds, she is turning to GoFundMe to raise $15,000 to go towards initial rent in a new building. When the page went active Nov. 20, $880 was raised...

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Cases highlight drug issues

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes Twice in recent weeks, high-profile arrests in Keizer have involved drugs. Early on Oct. 25, Keizer Police Department detectives arrested 23-year-old Niya Breann Sosa-Martinez on charges of second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, endangering the welfare of a minor and second degree child neglect after her 4-year-old son died in an apartment fire the previous day. It was revealed in court Sosa-Martinez had been doing drugs the day of the fire. Last week, police arrested Erin Marie Wells at her Saundra Lee Way residence on several drug charges. Her husband, Jarrod Thomas Wells, also 37, was arrested on more charges a short time later as well as former beauty pageant winner Jamie Lynn France, 23 (see related story, pg. 12). Two young boys, ages 4 and 7, were at home at the time of their mom’s arrest (See previous article for more information). “Heroin and methamphetamine were strewn throughout the home and were within easy reach of the two children,” Sgt. Bob Trump with the KPD said. Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the KPD, acknowledged the incidents are alarming – and also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drugs. “The sad thing is we know there are several more cases just like them,” Kuhns said. “We can’t always get into all of the homes. It’s a sad reflection on...

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Moving past Ferguson

The aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last August has included riots, protests, punditry that spans the political spectrum and a grand jury that decided this week no criminal charges are warranted against police officer Darren Wilson. The announcement of the grand jury’s decision by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch Monday night set off riots in Ferguson and protests across the nation. According to McCulloch the grand jury read thousands of pages of documents and listened to 60 witnesses over 70 hours from August to mid-November. It was an exhaustive amount of evidence for the 12-person body. In the end the grand jury said no crime was committed. That was not what many in Ferguson wanted to hear. As Mr. McCulloch said, there were conflicting eyewitness account, witnesses who changed their story once faced with evidence. The only people who had access to all of the evidence were the people on the grand jury. After several days of deliberation they made their decision, but we don’t know what the final vote was—a grand jury’s decision does not have to be unanimous. People can disagree with the jury’s decision, be angry and protest. Due to the prosector’s release of all the evidence everyone (who bothers to read it) can decide for themselves if the right decison was made. It was the grand jury’s decision to...

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