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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A dying man’s wish, unfulfilled

Written June 8th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Three months ago, I looked at this mess of barbed wire on the Albany-Santiam Canal along with Jim Ketter, who had asked the city to remove it. Now Jim is gone, but the wire is still there.

Ketter, a former high school science teacher and then a physics instructor at Oregon State, died on Wednesday at the age of 60. He had been suffering from a brain tumor.

When I went to see him on March 7, it’s because he had written to Mayor Sharon Konopa and Councilman Dick Olsen with a request. What he wanted was for the city to get rid of the ugly barbed wire atop the chain link fencing that lines the canal through the Monteith Historic District. The barbed wire serves no purpose and it mars the looks of what could be a nice walk along this historic waterway.

Taking down the barbed wire could be done at little or no cost. No consultants would be needed for design. No studies would have to be conducted. Ketter, even though suffering from the debilitating effects of his cancer, even offered to help with the physical work.

When I met him after reading his letter to the city officials, we walked to the 12th Avenue bridge across the canal, two blocks from the Ketters’ home on Washington Street. He told me he and his wife, Ann, used to go for long walks along the canal and elsewhere in Albany. The barbed wire really bugged him.

Sprucing up the canal as a walking route is among the downtown improvement projects listed in the Central Albany Revitalization Area plan. But nothing has been done to bring it about since the plan was adopted in 2001.

Jim Ketter’s idea of removing the barbed wire struck me as an inexpensive way of realizing at least part of this long-ignored city goal. Or, the 6-foot chain-link fencing could be exchanged for something  less prison-like but just as effective in keeping people from falling in.

After talking with Jim, I waited for something to happen. Nothing did. And when I eventually asked city officials about it, getting the barbed wire removed or the fencing improved did not appear likely to happen any time soon.

But it should. Not just because a concerned citizen and taxpayer made a case for doing so. But because it’s a good idea. (hh)

 



25 responses to “A dying man’s wish, unfulfilled”

  1. Janel says:

    I wonder if the City of Albany would let volunteers take down the barbed wire? It would be a way for his family and friends to pay tribute to Jim.

    • Cheryl P says:

      I can tell you right now that the answer would be no because of liability issues. In other words, if someone got hurt they could sue the city for big bucks. Then there is the issue of making sure that’s it taken down correctly and safely, and the disposal of the wire.

    • Brittany Ketter says:

      That’s a great idea!

    • Ann Ketter says:

      It should not be a liability issue. Albany is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Calapooia and the Willamette. There are NO barbed wire fences around either of those.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    I would assume the city had a reason for installing the wire. (transients etc.)
    What would be different now?

  3. annette says:

    this reminds me of the mobile home park behind us by timber linn park. they have numerous goats living on a skinny edge of pond surrounded by blackbarry bushes. they all congregate on a approx 2 × 2 spot. i know goats eat much foliage but blackbarry thorns hurt.

  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    Maybe someone should just go ahead and remove it…

  5. Lundy says:

    Hasso, hadn’t the city claimed its insurance carrier had blocked the wire’s removal? If so, the city was wrong to have even mentioned the barbed wire to the carrier instead of just taking it out. Incidentally, having done miles of fence work, I can attest that removing barbed wire is not that tough or dangerous a job.

    • Rodger Asai says:

      I thought the City had opted to self-insure on many things.

      It sounds a lot like a canned response from a lazy public servant.

      Has anyone sought verification of the denial based on a phantom insurance carrier?

      The last thing a politician cares about is a dying person’s wish. The only part they hear clearly is that the person will probably not be around to vote in the next election. And we know this group doesn’t really care about Remembrances.

  6. Peg says:

    Long ago I and a group of other moms wanted to paint a kindergarten classroom, which sorely needed it. The teacher said she didn’t know anything about it, but if her classroom happened to get painted over a weekend, she would report it had been “vandalized.” We did the job, and no one ever mentioned it again. Sometimes it’s best not to ask for permission. This was not in Oregon.

  7. Avid Reader says:

    There is an old saying, and it is true: Don’t ask for permission, you will get a “no,” as the type of people who are in charge (egomaniacs) love to say no. Go ahead and do something and then tell them about it.

    The “CARA” plan would not include the chain-link fence and the barbed wire, so it should come down as step one of “CARA” plan. Konopa and Crew are “CARA,” actually, so let them think you are complying with a CARA plan, and they will be all for it.

    Konopa and Olsen should be voted out of office for not fulfilling an uncomplicated wish of a dying man. Shame on them.

  8. centrist says:

    First, thanks to Jim Ketter for having a well-engaged give-a-dang. RIP
    Second, it’s often easier to seek forgiveness than permission, though the risk is higher.
    Let’s consider the purpose of this barrier. The cyclone fence will keep kids, dogs, and meandering wastrels from wandering in. The barbed wire won’t keep a determined trespasser out. If someone is intent on trashing the water supply, only a closed conduit will suffice. Frankly it serves no purpose beyond allowing an insurer to set a rate.

  9. Sue says:

    So sad this wish was not granted! Not a hard job to complete and the barbed wire looks terrible!

  10. Leroy says:

    Why not enclose the canal with a buried pipe cover the thing up to reduce water supply tampering.

  11. Robert Chandler says:

    I grew up in Lebanon. The canal flows all through Lebanon. As kids we swam, fished, and made the canal a play ground. There is really, to my knowledge no where, the canal is fenced. So, what is the problem here? Why just this section of the canal in Albany fenced? Have people witnessed dogs, cats, humans in this section of Albany throwing them selves into the canal? The Willamette River runs through Albany. Is it fenced? This is really stupid and makes our town a laughing stock. Take it down.

  12. Dick Olsen says:

    I have to respond to Avid Reader’s anonymous ignorance. I’ve urged City staff and PP&L dignitaries before them to take down those ugly fences for over 40 years. Maybe with enough vocal support we can now make it happen. Making the canals an attraction, rather than eye sores, is after all, part of the CARA plan. I’ve enjoyed taking care of the canal that flows by my house at 732 Broadalbin for 49years. Kids, ducks, beavers, nutria, mink and even adults have fun and enjoy the water.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      The 8th Avenue canal is one of the many attractive and quirky bits of downtown-ish Albany that has lured me and my bicycle over the years. This part of Albany has more going for it than similar areas in my Corvallis. If only you had hills with trails (and less Pacific Blvd/9th/Santiam Hwy), I’d be tempted to move.

  13. Dala Rouse says:

    According to Development Code 9.370 it says,
    Materials. Fences and walls shall not be constructed of or contain any material that will do bodily harm, such as electric or barbed wire, broken glass, spikes, or any other hazardous or dangerous materials, except as follows.
    1. Barbed wire is allowed on top of a six-foot-tall fence in commercial, industrial and mixed-use zones except HD,DWU, MUC, MUR. The total height of the fence and barbed wire is limited to 8 ft.
    I wonder if city is in violation of the code.

  14. Leta says:

    This is ridiculous! I am sorry that the man died feeling his request was ignored. However, it is a safety issue and the barbwire is required to keep people from falling into our drinking water! Let me say that again, our drinking water. IF someone falls in they would not be able to get out because there isn’t any leverage so they would be stuck. Then they could be swept down to the gate and if it wasn’t open you would get sucked down and drown. If they are lucky and the gate opens (which it does unpredictably) the person would have a 50 foot drop, which in all scenarios the person would likely die….in our DRINKING WATER! I bet they would have wished the barbwire was there. Who cares what it looks like, it is practical and safe!

  15. PJG says:

    What a bunch of hooey!‍♀️ Someone get the wire cutters and leave a nice pile of barbed wire infront of city hall. Then perhaps someone important will respect Jim Ketter and his simple wish.
    Do the right thing Albany officials. I lived in Albany for years and next door to Jim. He deserves and earned his wish.

    • Lj says:

      This is ridiculous! I am sorry that the man died feeling his request was ignored. However, it is a safety issue and the barbwire is required to keep people from falling into our drinking water! Let me say that again, our drinking water. IF someone falls in they would not be able to get out because there isn’t any leverage so they would be stuck. Then they could be swept down to the gate and if it wasn’t open you would get sucked down and drown. If they are lucky and the gate opens (which it does unpredictably) the person would have a 50 foot drop, which in all scenarios the person would likely die….in our DRINKING WATER! I bet they would have wished the barbwire was there. Who cares what it looks like, it is practical and safe!

  16. Dave says:

    Jim Ketter was my friend though we had lost touch. We shared a passion for teaching. He taught physics at LBCC and OSU. He was a kind, easy going, and gracious man. He loved to tease and humor his students; they did well in his classes because he treated them with grace and respect.
    I’m not surprised that Jim would (informally) involve himself in trying to beautify his town. Sorry that it sounds like the city wants no part in it.

    Thank you, Hasso, for writing an article that would have otherwise gone unpublished. But, then again, you do that everyday – and it’s appreciated.

 

 
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