Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
April 25, 2012     The New Era Paper
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April 25, 2012

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Hometown Newspaper of Tony and Barbara Swan Serving the Sweet Home community since 1929 Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Vol, 83, No. 17 75 Cents Lifesaver Custodian credited with aiding choking third-grader By Sean C. Morgan Of The New Era When 8-year-old Mary Maschke started choking during lunch on April 17 at Oak Heights Elementary, custo- dian Dennis Hooper didn't have time to wonder what to do. He hasn't had formal training, but he had to act immediately. He did and saved her life. "I was laughing really hard be- cause one of my friends said something really funny at lunch," Mary said. She had a grape in her mouth, and when she laughed, she choked on it. "I was really scared." "Mr. Hooper saved my life, and Mrs. (Debbie) Danielson got me all fixed up," Mary said. Danielson cleaned Mary up, got her a drink of water and tended to her. "I said, thank you," Mary said. Hooper, who has been custodian at Oak Heights for 12 years, was stand- ing about 10 feet away during lunch in the school's gym, he said. The gym is filled with some 200 students at lunch- time. "You couldn't really hear anything but jabbering, things clattering togeth- er," Hooper said. He heard someone slap the table. "I look up and she's standing fight there in front of me." He isn't part of the monitoring system there, he said. No one is any more. Monitors have been cut. There See Choking, page 3 L Photo by Sean C. Morgan Oak Heights custodian Dennis Hooper appears with Mary Maschke, 8, who choked on a grape during lunch last week. He was near her, and despite no formal training, responded immediately to help Maschke. City budget for 2012-13 14% leaner By Sean C. Morgan Of The New Era The city of Sweet Home's proposed 2012- 13 budget is 14 percent smaller than the 2011- 12 fiscal year. Proposed expenditures are 15 percent lower. The total budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, is $22 million, down from $25.7 million. Excluding transfers, contingencies and unappropriated fund bal- ances - leaving only expenditures - the budget decreases from $20.2 million to $17 million. "During these past few years, the city has been confronted with significant reductions in property tax revenues, experienced declines in various revenue sources, all while continuing to experience increases in operating expenses," said City Manager Craig Martin Thursday eve- ning, as he introduced the budget proposal. "To address these issues, proactive steps are being taken by staff to limit funding requests and re- duce expenditures whenever possible across all city operations." The budget reduces capital outlays by $2.5 million, materials and services by $600,000 and personnel by $83,000 based on eliminated po- sitions in the General Fund, Library Fund and Police Services Fund. Debt service increases by $67,000. Contingencies and ending fund balances increase by $49,500. Personnel cuts include one position in the Building Division, a police officer, a dispatcher and a half-time library assistant. General employees may receive a 3-per- cent step increase if eligible, based on work performance, while police employees will re- ceive a 3-percent general wage increase. City positions have a maximum of five steps Hansurance coverage is expected to in- crease by 10.6 percent, and dental insurance is estimated to increase by 9.1 percent. Overall, the general fund would decrease by $259,000. The Police Department is de- creasing spending by $142,000. The water utility budget decreases by See Budget, page 7 Linn Shuttle rapidlyreaching capacity, thanks to growing ridership By Scott Swanson Of The New Era The recent sharp increase in fuel prices has increased ridership of Linn Shuttle buses to the point that many are jammed, Manager Ken Bronson said last week. "We're just packing them in," he said. "Especially in the morning. I'm a little concerned about the last route (of the day). We're filling that bus." Linn-Benton Community College students traveling to Al- bany and Lebanon account for about 180 of the approximately 300 people who ride the bus ev- ery day. Student fees at the college include transit costs, so students ride for free instead of paying the $1 fare per trip. Bronson said ridership, which increased 50 percent be- tween the falls of 2010 and 2011, has increased another 21 percent since last fall, He said he's running three Express buses on routes 1,3 and 4 - two in the morning and one in the afternoon - in addition to the regular six routes the service operates: three shuttle buses, two buses specifically for the devel- opmentally disabled, and one Dial-a-Bus. The Express bus is making trips from the stop at Wal-mart in Lebanon to the Albany LBCC campus, then comes back to Leb- anon and reloads. Meanwhile, the regular shuttle bus makes its stops in Sweet Home, where it is nearly full before it leaves for Lebanon. "That's why we have an Ex- press bus, to take the overload," Bronson said. He said he hasn't come up with a plan to handle any more increases in demand. "We're out of funds to ex- pand any more," he said. The service's approximately $500,000 annual budget is funded primarily See Shuttle, page 2 Photo by Scott Swanson Linn Shuttle manager Ken Bronson stands next to one of his buses, which on some routes are nearly exceeding capacity thanks to increased riders.