Keizer Public Square

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What to do. What to do.

Some people say there is nothing to do in Keizer. That’s the wrong sentiment. There is plenty to do in our little acre of the Willamette Valley.

There are many people who are unaware of the Keizer Cultural Center. Yes, there is culture in Keizer.

The Keizer Cultural Center,the big white building on Chemawa Road NE, next to Keizer’s Civic Center, is home to the city’s four major hubs of culture: the Keizer Community Library, the Keizer Heritage Museum, the Keizer Art Association and its Enid Joy Mount Gallery and Keizer Homegrown Theatre. Few cities of our size have a center like it.

Each of the center’s tenants hold special events. The library hosts a children’s storytime (including one aimed at our community’s Hispanic population.)

The art association holds monthly exhibits with specific themes. 

For anyone interested in the history of their home, the Keizer Heritage Museum is punching above its weight, with interactive kiosks and lots of historical displays. A visitor to the museum will leave with a better understanding of what Keizer was and how it came to be.

But the old schoolhouse next to the civic center is one place in Keizer that offers plenty of activities and information.

Located in the Willamette Valley, of course Keizer has plenty of spaces out of doors to quench a thirst for nature and fitness.

The crown jewel of Keizer’s outdoor spaces is Keizer Rapids Park at the west end of Chemawa Road. The regional park is in a constant state of development—currently turf fields are being constructed. Those fields will join other park amenities such as a dog park, the Richard Walsh Boat Ramp, a professional-grade disc golf course, all topped off with the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre, site of concerts and other events.

Keizer was originally an agricultural community; some of the richest soil is right here in our backyard. This time of year produce fresh from the farm is available at stands throughout the area, some available for U-picking.

Keizer may not have an aquatic center or a symphony hall, but it has plenty of options.

When it comes to free stuff, Keizer provides its biggest community event—KeizerFEST—in August and the Holiday Lights Parade in December. For those seeking inexpensive events, KeizerFEST and the holiday parade are good offerings for our suburban, bedroom community.

For art lovers, Keizer is becoming a haven for public art. From Rosalie’s Silly Cows to the story poles at the Civic Center, two murals to a variety of 3-D art along Keizer’s main thoroughfare.

Keizer is home to 19 city parks, from big (Keizer Rapids) to pocket parks in our neighborhoods. These greenspaces are a respite from a hectic day enhanced with a walks or bike rides.

There is plenty to do for people of every age in Keizer. Over the past four decades city leaders have been diligent in bringing about spaces and events in which to recreate.

What to do, indeed. Step outside your door and you are faced with lots of choices.

Thank you, Keizer.


Something for lawmakers to consider: state of Oregon local journalism

By RANDY STAPILUS Of Oregon Capital Chronicle

Two big slices of news about Oregon newspapers fell shortly after Memorial Day, sending shock waves across the state. 

One was the sale of one of the largest Oregon newspaper groups, Portland-based Pamplin Media, and the other was the announcement of major cutbacks in another, EO Media Group, which owns the Bend Bulletin and other newspapers. Both show the immediate urgency for finding a way to rescue community news in Oregon—sooner, not later. Among other things, the Oregon Legislature urgently needs to take up the subject in its next session.

Consider where Oregon newspapers were just 12 years ago, when Steve Bagwell of the McMinnville News-Register and I co-wrote a book, called New Editions, about the recent history and prospects for newspapers in the Northwest. We counted 82 paid-subscription, general circulation newspapers, 16 of them dailies, in Portland, Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford, Albany, Corvallis, Pendleton, Astoria, Ashland, Ontario, Coos Bay, The Dalles, La Grande, Roseburg and Baker City. 

Since then an economic hurricane, a perfect storm, swept through the ranks of those newspapers. Many of the dailies which published six or seven days a week now publish three or four days a week if they’re not gone completely. The large business office buildings they occupied nearly all have been sold, along with nearly all newspaper presses, and increasing numbers of newspapers now consist of one or two reporters working out of their homes, with no office support at all. Some Oregon newspapers have been sold to investor groups, and where the papers still are actual print papers, they’re far smaller.

That has largely been the case with Pamplin Media Group, which owned 22 newspapers from Prineville to Forest Grove and Madras to Portland, more than any other owner in the state. Their operations and staff have diminished, But they have continued to publish on regular weekly schedules with reports about their communities. 

On June 1, all of those papers were sold to Carpenter Media Group of Natchez, Mississippi, which, until recently, mainly had focused on southern-state newspapers. Pamplin is not its only major recent purchase, even in the Northwest, however. Last year, with backing from two Canadian investment companies, it bought 150 newspapers and other media from Black Press Media of Surrey in British Columbia, and included dozens of Washington state newspapers. Carpenter is now by far the largest newspaper owner in the Northwest. 

It appears to be operated by former executives of Boone Newsmedia, which owns dozens of papers in the southern U.S. But other than reports about Carpenter’s many purchases there’s little public information about it—or where the money for all these massive buys is coming from. Carpenter has been buying large papers as well as small, including the dailies in Honolulu, Hawaii and Everett, Washington. What that means for Oregon’s largest collection of newspapers is far from clear.

The development with EO Media Group didn’t involve change of ownership, but it did mark a drastic change of operations. 

EO Media Group, named for one of its papers, the East Oregonian of Pendleton, publishes a dozen newspapers in the state, most east of the Cascades. Operated by the Forrester family of Astoria, it has been a rescuer in recent years of community newspapers. In 2019, it bought The (Bend) Bulletin out of bankruptcy and kept it running. When the daily Mail Tribune of Medford shut down, EO started a new paper there, Rogue Valley Times.

EO said on June 3 that it will cut its 185 employees by 28, end print editions at the papers in La Grande, Hermiston, Baker City, John Day and Enterprise, and reduce the number of editions per week at Medford, Bend and Pendleton.

The areas in Oregon that are news deserts—or at least extremely arid regions—are expanding rapidly. And considering the scope of these recent large developments, the collapse of Oregon’s newspapers seems to be picking up speed rather than slowing. 

Oregonians need news reports to decide how to vote and participate in their communities and the businesses that have made that possible are dissolving rapidly. This amounts to a real, immediate crisis for the government and society in Oregon, as it does in many other places. 

The answers are far from clear. 

The Oregon Legislature did devote some attention to the problem last year with House Bill 2605. The proposal would have prompted a study of the situation but it never had a floor vote. Still, that was a good start. Next year, it ought to mark out serious time and attention to figuring out how to help Oregon citizens keep up with the news around them, so the system of self-governance we have had for generations can continue to function. 

(Randy Stapilus has researched and written about Northwest politics and issues since 1976 for a long list of newspapers and other publications. A former newspaper reporter and editor, and more recently an author and book publisher, he lives in Carlton.)

It is summertime


Lightning is one of nature’s most awesome displays. In the Pacific Northwest, lightning can occur with the typical wet and cold winter storms that sweep in from the west and northwest. These wintertime thunderstorms are generally scattered and short lived. There is a slight up-tick in frequency during the spring. While your typical household outlet involves 120 volts limited to about 15 amps, the average lightning flash at about 300 million volts conducts about 30,000 amps of electrical power as it resolves or discharges the immense charge separation that builds up between clouds and the earth’s ground surface. The narrow channel of ionized air that conducts the discharge is instantly heated to about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit which is about five times hotter than the surface of the sun, creating a shock wave that we hear as thunder.

A lightning bolt is a nearly instantaneous discharge of electricity. But not always. In June of 2020 satellites observed a lightning flash with a continuous electrical discharge lasting for 17 seconds over northern Uruguay. And while the length or path of an average flash is about two to three miles, in April, 2020, satellites caught a flash that extended for 477 miles from its cloud origin in southeast Texas to the ground discharge, or strike point, in Mississippi. (Both of these events are thought to be rare.)

Lightning is dangerous. On average, 27 people in the US are killed each year by lightning and about 250 more are injured. You might wonder why some people survive a lightning strike. It is thought that lightning travels mostly along the exterior of the body and less so internally. Also, the discharge is instantaneous and not prolonged or continuous as can be the case when someone grabs or comes into contact with live wires. Lightning also kills livestock and wildlife directly and also indirectly by traveling through the ground. Herds of elk and cattle have been killed by a single lightning strike. A lightning flash also creates temporary pockets of ozone in the atmosphere.

On the positive side, a lightning flash also converts atmospheric nitrogen into nitrites and nitrates which dissolve in rainfall providing fertilizer for the plants upon which the rain falls. Along with the migration of herds and other animal activities, lightning creates a natural source of nitrogen that fertilizes the grasslands and forests. And by causing frequent and scattered wildfires, lightning is nature’s way of “managing” the forests and the prairie grasslands.

Most lightning in the lower 48 states occurs east of the Rocky Mountains and is concentrated along the southeast Gulf Coast. Florida receives the highest annual number of lightning strikes. It is much less frequent in the far west (California, Oregon and Washington). And so, you might ask, is there a lightning season that impacts western Oregon including Keizer? As described above, lightning can occur with the winter storms that arrive from the west and northwest. These thunderstorms are scattered. move fast, and die out quickly upon arriving over land. But our best lightning shows occur during the warm weather season of July, August and September, when the southwest monsoon is active.

We all know about the summer-fall monsoon that affects the desert southwest, centered over the Four Corners and Great Basin regions. Occasionally the weather patterns evolve in a way that guides the monsoon weather northward into central and eastern Oregon and Washington. During these conditions, thunderstorms occur nearly every afternoon along and east of the Cascades. And sometimes, this particular monsoon weather pattern sets up just right and thunderstorms can develop in western Oregon including the Keizer area. In these conditions, the storms can develop and migrate into our area and last for several or more.hours. It sometimes happens during the overnight hours. These storms can bring downpours and hail and sometimes they are mostly dry. It is exciting when it happens but while the southwest monsoon is fairly reliable and predictable, the exacting weather pattern that extends thunderstorms into the Willamette Valley does not happen every summer.

But there are signs and clues: If during an early morning hour in July or August or September, the weather is warm and balmy with a light south, southeast or easterly breeze, look over to the cascade and the coast ranges where you might see some pop-up clouds over the crests. Watch these clouds through the morning hours. If they continue to grow taller and drift towards the valley the stage is set. Lightning and thunder may be on the way and it might last for hours.

Thunderstorms are spectacular and are impossible to ignore. But be careful! Don’t tempt fate. Lightning is dangerous and damaging to whatever it strikes and the the physics determining exactly where a strike will hit develops in just mere seconds. You cannot out-guess a strike point. And remember the National Weather Service warning, “if you can hear thunder, you should be indoors”. Enjoy but don’t push your luck!

(Jim Parr lives in Keizer.

Contact Keizertimes Staff:
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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