Singer fights through illness to help jailed buddys family

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Kurt Van Meter (right) jams with band members Dave Morse (center) and lead guitarist Stewart Marsh during Fridays benefit dance for the Cannon family at the Hillsboro Elks Lodge. Hillsboro police officer Kurt Van Meter might have been “sick as a dog” all week, but he said he was not about to let a bad bout with the flu keep him from showing up to support the family of a fellow officer.

On Friday evening, Van Meter — who in addition to serving with the Hillsboro Police Department is a country singer with a growing following — was on a stage in the ballroom at the Hillsboro Elks Lodge, belting out country tunes. He opened with Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast as You,” and if he hadn’t mentioned it, no one would have guessed he had been flat on his back most of the previous week.

“I’ve been sick like a dog; literally been on the couch all week,” he informed the crowd of about 100 who turned out for a fundraiser on behalf of Tim Cannon’s family.

Cannon, a former Hillsboro police officer, is currently lodged in the Washington County Jail, awaiting trial in the aftermath of a shootout with other law enforcement officers at Cannon’s home on Jan. 20. Cannon, who resigned from the Hillsboro Police Department in the wake of the incident, has been indicted on 24 felony counts in the case, including 11 counts of attempted aggravated murder.

His trial is currently scheduled to start in Washington County Circuit Court on July 16.

The bizarre incident started when Cannon’s wife, Lisa, called 9-1-1 to report her husband had been drinking and had “gotten physical” with her in their house on 37th Avenue in Forest Grove. When police officers arrived, Cannon challenged them. The situation escalated, and multiple shots were fired by Cannon and by responding police officers.

Van Meter, who said Cannon has been supportive of him over the years, wanted to do what he could to help in a difficult situation.

“We’ve been through a lot of stuff together,” Van Meter explained.

So although he was still feeling ill, Van Meter took the stage with six band members and channeled Steve Earle, a country performer who has a stage persona similar to Van Meter’s.

Van Meter’s singing appeared to make a good impression.

“The event was great, and we really enjoyed the band. Kurt is very good,” said Elks’ member Lynn Reilly.

Alana Ambrose — the wife of Vin Ambrose, Cannon’s partner in the Hillsboro Police Department — took to the stage before Van Meter’s performance. She praised the community-wide effort to help the Cannon family.

“Every night on the evening news and every week in the newspaper, bad things occur around our world,” said Ambrose, who helped organize Saturday’s benefit at the Elks Lodge. “But out of heartbreaking situations I have seen something wonderful: volunteers stepping up to make a bad situation better.”

Because her husband was Cannon’s partner, Ambrose has been active in helping the Cannon family. Recently, a group of volunteers brought in new furniture, replaced damaged sheetrock and gave the house a deep cleaning to make the house again habitable for Lisa and her two children.

“We have 164 volunteers caring for Lisa and her kids, and we have repaired the house,” Ambrose said.

Jeff Williamson, Lisa Cannon’s brother, also stepped to the microphone Friday night to thank people for their support and assistance.

“Lisa wanted me to share with you her deep appreciation for each and every one of you,” Williamson said. “She feels blessed to be surrounded by so many loving family members and friends.”

Ticket sales for the Van Meter concert raised about $1,400, and Elks Lodge members stepped in as well, generously offering a number of gift baskets for sale to help the Cannon family. In all, the benefit brought in about $2,700.

Ambrose pointed out there was a financial reality involved with Cannon’s arrest, and that was one of the reasons she wanted to step up to lend a hand.

“The Cannons went from two incomes down to one,” she explained. “This is the first event to help.”

Ambrose added that she was gratified by the outpouring of support.

“Overall, the event was very well received and went very smoothly,” she said. “We had really good support from law enforcement and firefighters and from community members. We appreciate that the Elks allowed us to have the event there.”

Taking the stage, Van Meter said he was determined to get through the evening, although he pointed out he might have to pare his set list from about 25 songs to 18 or so.

“We’ll see how long my voice holds out,” he told the crowd. “I’ll do only what my voice will allow me to do.”

As it turned out, Van Meter was up to the challenge, although he joked he would take any edge he could get.

“Keep drinking,” he told the crowd. “The more you drink, the better we sound.”

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