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PLAYOFF-BOUND After losing to Westside Christian, Colton stays ahead of Valley Catholic for playoff seed

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Volume 96, Issue 12

75 Cents

“Thirty-nine people from Molalla, little Molalla, got the attention of an international company, and they listened to us, and we’re very happy with the outcome.” Lori Koos Acting president, Molalla First Student shop commenting on a tentative contract union agreement with the First Student company

Photo by Abby Sewell

Molalla First Student bus drivers, OSEA staff and supporters march to celebrate the tentative union contract agreement reached on Thursday.

Photo by Abby Sewell

Molalla Community Planning Organization chair Jim Gilbert speaks against the current proposals for liquefied natural gas terminals and new natural gas pipelines in Oregon at a rally in Salem Wednesday.

Both sides of the negotiations seem to now be satisfied

Molallans join pipeline protest at the Capitol Oregon Secretary of State calls LNG a ‘dirty fuel’ taking state the wrong way By Abby Sewell MOLALLA PIONEER

bout 200 Oregonians, including some from Molalla, rallied on the steps of the state capitol in Salem on Wednesday, in an attempt to sway Gov. Ted Kulongoski on the issue of the three liquefied natural gas terminals and more than 550 miles of natural gas pipeline currently proposed for construction in Oregon. The protesters were joined by a couple of high profile faces, most notably, Oregon


Area school districts hold the beef By Abby Sewell MOLALLA PIONEER

Beef is off the menu in the Molalla River and Colton School Districts for the immediate future, after an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States uncovered inhumane handling practices at the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company in late January. The company slaughters

animals to supply to the National School Lunch Program, which has supplied more than 100,000 schools and childcare facilities nationwide, according to a HSUS release. The investigation uncovered video of workers at Hallmark’s slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., kicking “downed” dairy cows — animals too sick or Turn to BEEF on Page 2

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Photo by Abby Sewell

Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury is the most prominent public official to come out in opposition to the LNG projects so far.

After more than six months of union contract negotiations, Molalla’s school bus drivers and their representatives at the Oregon School Employees Association reached a tentative agreement with the First Student company on Thursday. The parties could not discuss specific terms as the union has yet to ratify the contract, but both sides expressed satisfaction with the results. The bus drivers voted 25 to 11 in favor of unionizing with the OSEA in April of 2007. The shop currently includes 39 union bus drivers. Negotiations began in July

and, by request of the OSEA, a federal mediator joined the talks in November. OSEA representative Tom Motko and First Student regional vice president Cal Hull both said the negotiations were finished in a typical time frame for a first contract. “I think at the very beginning we agreed to negotiate in good faith and reach a positive outcome on both sides,” Hull said. Motko said, “It’s been a long, hard process we’ve been through and our team, as a union, we’re satisfied with the outcome.” KOOS Being a first contract, the issues on the table ranged from wages and health benefits to company disciplinary, grievance and dismissal procedures. Motko Turn to CONTRACT on Page 2

2008 Relay for Life kicks off with verve By Abby Sewell MOLALLA PIONEER

The Relay for Life is still more than four months away, but the volunteers who make it happen are already sprinting toward their goal of raising $71,000 for the American Cancer Society. Now in its eighth year, the Molalla Relay for Life held its annual kick off event Saturday afternoon at the Molalla United Methodist Church. By the end of the night, organizers reported a total of 32 teams had signed up to run or walk the circuit of Heckard Field for the cause on June 14 and 15. They’ll be walking for people like Krista Jeli. A Class of 1979 Molalla High School

graduate, Jeli was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 30 years old and the mother of three young sons. “’You have cancer in your breast’ are words that you can never possibly be prepared for,” she told the assembled crowd at the Relay kick off. “But when you’re 30 years old, the impact is indescribable.” With an aggressive course of chemotherapy, the cancer receded. Upon coming home from the hospital, Jeli had her introduction to the ACS Reach to Recovery program, which pairs cancer survivors with newly diagnosed patients. “A lovely volunteer came out and talked Turn to RELAY on Page 2

Photo by Abby Sewell

Molalla Relay for Life co-chair Nancy OlsenCrawford (right) hands over the raffle prize of a Wellspring Medical Center gift basket to Alyssa Steel.

Local Briefs



Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who first stated his opposition to LNG in Oregon last week, calling it a “dirty” fuel. “I believe at a time when we’re trying really hard, really desperately, to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, it just doesn’t make any sense to build a new facility that will increase our use of fossil fuels,” he said. “It’s the wrong direction.” Of the three proposed LNG facilities, two on the Columbia River and one near Coos Bay, two of them could have an effect on Molalla. The Oregon LNG pipeline would begin at a proposed LNG terminal near Warrenton and end at the Williams Northwest Pipeline gate station just west of Molalla; while the Palomar Turn to PROTEST on Page 2

School bus drivers, company reach a tentative agreement


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Feeling poetic? The Oregon State Poetry Association has announced its 2008 Spring Poetry Contest offering $775 in prizes for winners in seven categories and publication in the group's annual anthology, "Verseweavers." Winners will be announced and prize checks and certificates will be awarded at OSPA's Spring Conference,

April 25-26, 2008, in Salem, Ore. Entries must be postmarked on or before Feb. 29 to be eligible for the contest. Poets interested in entering poems in one or more of the categories can get a list of rules by writing to M. E. Hope, Contest Chair, 5183 Round Lake Road, Klamath Falls, OR 97601, or on the association's Web site,

Read local news, as it happens For breaking news and other useful information from the Molalla Pioneer news staff updated throughout the week, up to the minute, please visit our Web site at: and our news blog at: Leave us a comment on our blog and voice your opinion about the news.

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Woodburn Independent

Molalla Pioneer

Canby Herald

WEekend edition

February 9, 2008

Molalla kids raise money for students in Afghanistan Chimney Spare change adds up to being able to send $535 fire causes worth of art supplies $5,000 in damages By Abby Sewell MOLALLA PIONEER

ennies add up — and in the case of Mulino and Dickey Prairie Elementary School, they added up to $535 worth of art supplies for children in war-torn Afghanistan. Students at the two schools dropped their spare change in the jars for about a month, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 21, 2007, with encouragement from school counselor Michelle Nelson, who has a special stake in the project. Nelson spent two and a half months in Afghanistan beginning in November 2007, on a tour of duty with the Oregon Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Squadron. “Since I was there, it was kind of near and dear to my heart, so I thought it would be good to educate the kids here about what kids’ lives are like there,” she said. Nelson made presentations about the conditions in Afghanistan to the stu-


dents at the two schools where she works as a counselor. And when she saw an article in the Oregon National Guard’s Oregon Sentinel newsletter about a Portland-based nonprofit dedicated to educating kids in Afghanistan, it seemed like a perfect way to connect her Molalla-area students with the lives of Afghani children. Along with $535 in cash, the students and their parents also collected boxes of donated children’s books to help the Afghani students learn English. The money goes to the Green Village Schools project, which runs a school with about 1,000 students from age six to their early 20’s in the city of Shin Kalay. There, along with English, they learn a variety of subjects, from physics to hygeine and from art to Farsi. The school and the nonprofit organization were founded by Dr. Mohammed Khan Kharoti, 64, a native of Afghanistan who now works at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Portland. Kharoti, who grew up in a nomadic tribe, didn’t learn to read until the age of 12. Although the conventional wisdom says that children lose some of their quickness to learn as they grow older, Kharoti said getting a late start didn’t hamper him or his fellow stu-

dents. “The interest was great,” he said. “We did not know what was easy learning and what was hard learning. It might have been hard, but we were very stubborn.” Through sponsorship by an American physician, Kharoti was able to travel to Lebanon for his secondary education and then attend college in the United States. He returned to Afghanistan to receive his medical degree and stayed there until he and his wife and children were forced to flee the country by the Russian invasion of 1979. In March of 2001 Kharoti returned to Afghanistan and opened a school in his home village, with an initial roster of 10 boys and six girls. Despite the chaos that ensued after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Kharoti stayed focused on his goal of bringing education to the youth of his country. He founded Green Village Schools, which operates with an all-volunteer board of directors, in December of 2002. In 2006, the organization reported operating expenses of $13,735, including teachers’ salaries. Since it opened, the Shin Kalay

school has swelled to an enrollment of 800 to 1,000, Kharoti said, employing 35 teachers. Although initially both boys and girls attended the school, subsequent political developments, including a rise in insurgent attacks against schools with female students, have led parents to pull their daughters out of fear for their safety. Instead, the girls now take lessons at private homes in the village. “It’s absolutely up to the parents,” Kharoti said. “We do not interfere with their personal way of life.” In the future, he hopes to build a separate girls’ school. In the meantime, Kharoti says he sees education as a means to steer children away from extremism, violence and delinquency. And Kharoti believes that seeing a school in their village funded by donations from people in the United States shows the Afghanis that Americans care about their fate. “We think it’s very important to let them know that the people of the United States stand with them and support them,” he said. “Investing in someone’s life to be educated is a wonderful thing ... It gives freedom to the boys and girls to think and decide for themselves, and it brings respect to the community.”

A chimney full of creosote buildup led to a residential fire that caused about $5,000 in damages on Thursday evening. The fire started in the chimney above a wood stove in a house on the 32800 block of South Wright Road at about 4:30 p.m. The fire was reported by the homeowner, who attempted to douse it with a hose and refused to evacuate the building, according to Molalla Fire District firefighter Mike Penunuri. Firefighters were able to put the blaze out in about half an hour, limiting the damage to the walls and ceiling around the chimney. — Abby Sewell

Relay: Outlook for this year’s fundraising event is hopeful with roster growing Continued from Page 1 to me and shared her experiences,” Jeli said. Remembering how it had helped her, she later became a Reach to Recovery volunteer herself, which led to more involvement with ACS and cancer advocacy. Among other activities, she became a Celebration on the Hill ambassador, traveling to

Washington D.C. with thousands of other cancer survivors and supporters to raise cancer awareness on Capitol Hill. “Of all the things I’ve done, I really think that had the most impact,” she said. However, the story didn’t end there for Jeli. Six and a half years ago, she found that the cancer had recurred. This time it had spread beyond her breast to her bones, throughout her skele-

tal system. Metastatic breast cancer is incurable and eventually fatal, usually within two or three years. But with the aid of one treatment regime after another, she was able to outlive the statistics and watch her sons grow up into young men of 16, 18 and 21. Without the continuing stream of funds pouring into cancer treatment research, Jeli

said, she would likely not be alive today. “The nature of metastatic cancer is that something will work for a while but inevitably it eventually stops being effective and you move on to the next one,” she said. “And then the next one. So my hope is that research continues, treatments continue to be created and I never run out of ‘next ones.’”

The Molalla Relay raised $62,000 for the ACS with 39 teams participating last year. Organizers said this year’s goal is 40 teams and $71,000, with a special emphasis on colon cancer awareness. The Relay will span the weekend of June 14 and 15, starting at noon on Saturday and ending at 10 a.m. the next day. With a growing roster of

local sponsors and a theme of Lights! Camera! Cure!, organizers say the outlook for this year’s event is hopeful. “There’s a lot of positive energy going toward Relay this year,” Relay committee co-chair Nancy OlsenCrawford said. “It’s really nice to see.” Those interested in getting involved can visit

Contract: Drivers now hope to soon get shop back to feeling normal again Continued from Page 1 said the union members will vote on the contract within the next couple of weeks, at which point it will immediately take effect. While declining to talk about specifics, he said the OSEA negotiating team was satisfied with the outcome on wages. Motko previously said that the bus drivers hoped to move their wages from a starting rate of $11

an hour closer to the national average for school bus drivers, which was $14 per hour in 2005. The bus drivers and their OSEA representatives had planned a rally on Thursday afternoon to drum up community support in their negotiations. Instead, they found themselves holding a celebration rally. Barbara Bledsoe, a Molalla First Student school bus driver of eight years, said, “It feels really

good — we’re there. There’s a lot of relief.” With the negotiations over, Bledsoe said she hopes the workplace will go back to business as usual. “(I want) everything to turn back to normal and everyone to be friends again, not a divided depot,” she said. The OSEA was the second union to attempt to organize the Molalla First Student shop in

recent history. A previous union drive by the Amalgamated Transit Union failed by a narrow margin in a December 2005 election. “It feels awesome,” said Lori Koos, acting president of the Molalla First Student shop, of Thursday’s tentative contract agreement. “Thirty-nine people from Molalla, little Molalla, got the attention of an international company, and they listened to us,

and we’re very happy with the outcome.” First Student, which is contracted to provide school bus services to the Molalla River School District through the 200910 fiscal year, is a subsidiary of FirstGroup America, which contracts with more than 1,500 school districts throughout the

nation. Its parent company, FirstGroup LLC is a UnitedKingdom-based transportation company that reported total revenues of more than 3.7 billion British pounds, equivalent to about $7.2 billion, and profits of 144 million pounds, or $281 million, in 2007.

Protest: Governor has taken no position on issue Continued from Page 1 Gas transmissions pipeline would run from the proposed Bradwood Landing LNG near Wauna to the Gas Transmissions Nothwest pipeline in central Oregon, passing just south of Molalla along the way. As at many previous events centering around the LNG and pipeline proposals, the word “California” came up more than once during Wednesday’s rally. “Any one of those three LNG terminals would more than meet (Oregon’s) annual demand for natural gas,” Bradbury said. “Where do you think the rest of it is going — California. I do not think Oregon should become the pusher enabling California’s dependence on fossil fuels.” Jim Gilbert, a Molalla-area nursery owner and chair of the Molalla Community Planning Organization, said, “If California wants gas, let them build the pipeline.” Sarah Kagan, a spokesperson with Pacific Environment, a San Francisco-based environmental advocacy group, who traveled to Oregon for the rally, said many Californians don’t want the gas, either. “We don’t want it in California, because it will derail our clean energy efforts,” she said. “California, Washington and Oregon have made huge steps forward on renewable energy, and this would take us

backward.” Kulongoski has taken no position for or against LNG in Oregon, other than to say the projects must meet Oregon’s environmental and safety standards. “The governor’s been very clear in his position neither to oppose or support at this time any specific proposals,” Kulongoski spokesperson Anna Richter Taylor said. The governor did raise concerns about the Bradwood

Landing proposal in a Dec. 13 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, questioning the need for the project and calling the environmental analysis flawed. Even if Kulongoski were to take a stand opposing LNG in Oregon, FERC has has the ultimate authority in siting LNG terminals since the federal Energy Policy Act passed in 2005. “There is the (state) permitting process, but FERC has the

ultimate siting authority,” Richter Taylor said. Steve Sechrist, a spokesperson with Northwest Natural Gas, one of the partners in the Palomar pipeline project, was on hand scoping out the opposition at the protest Wednesday. Sechrist declined to comment on the protesters’ specific issues with the project but said, “I’m glad to see people exercising their rights. That’s what this whole process is about that we’re going through.”

Beef: All beef has been pulled from the school menus through at least February Continued from Page 1 injured to walk — ramming them with the blades of a forklift, jabbing them in their eyes, shooting water into their nostrils and applying electrical shocks to force the animals to walk to slaughter. Aside from being in violation of federal laws regulating humane slaughter, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service prohibits the use of downed cattle in human food for health reasons, since studies have linked “downer” cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as “mad cow disease.” As of Wednesday, a USDA release said there was no evidence that “downer” cows from Hallmark had entered the food supply. On Jan. 30, the USDA announced that it would indefinitely suspend Westland Meat as a supplier to federal nutrition programs pending an investi-

gation by the Office of the Inspector General, FSIS and the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. On Feb. 1, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company voluntarily ceased operations. “At this reason, there’s no reason at all to believe the meat is tainted,” said Teresa Susmilch-Miller, food services director for the Sodexho company in the Molalla River School district. “The reason (the beef) has been put on hold is because they’re so upset about the inhumane way the animals were treated.” Both the Molalla and Colton food services programs have pulled beef from their schools’ menu for at least the month of February. Susmilch-Miller said if USDA gives the go ahead to put beef back on the menu, hamburgers and cheeseburgers could appear again on the menus at the secondary level schools later this month.

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