UPDATE: Marion County commissioners approve funding for Santiam Hospital expansion

Update, June 15

The Marion County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved using federal pandemic relief money to upgrade Santiam Hospital’s emergency power system. 

County officials said at the meeting that the initial $1.2 million investment was necessary to later expand the Stayton hospital’s emergency room. That project is expected to cost $6.2 million in total.

The expansion is intended to mitigate future demands similar to the rise in patients that strained the hospital during the pandemic, said Camber Schlag, the county’s contracts and procurement manager, at the Wednesday board meeting.

Commissioners also approved a $477,000 agreement with the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments to run a homeowner rehabilitation program for low-to-moderate-income Marion County residents.

The program would help homeowners who need a new roof, ventilation system or other such improvements and are in jeopardy of either not being able to pay for them or potentially losing their home, said Steve Dickey, the county’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME program manager, at the meeting.

“New houses are starting off at $400,000. But you can buy a house that isn’t in great shape for less than that, and you can put a new roof and a heating system in it. Then all of the sudden, it can become a place that kids can live in, you can raise a family,” board Chair Colm Willis said at the meeting. “It takes houses that aren’t really part of the housing stock and makes them part of the housing stock.”

The board unanimously approved or advanced other agenda items, including a Public Works Department cell tower, improvements to State Street, and two emergency declarations for two county roads.

Original story below:

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to consider spending federal pandemic relief funding to expand the emergency room at Santiam Hospital.


The project is expected to cost $6.2 million in total. Commissioners will consider an initial $1.2 million investment to upgrade the hospital’s emergency power system

The expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, according to the agenda item. 

To participate

The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. Anyone can attend or sign up to give public comment in-person at the meeting. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube

Housing program and contracts

The board will also consider a $477,000 agreement with the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments to run a homeowner rehabilitation program for low-to-moderate-income Marion County residents.

Such programs help people pay for repairing, rehabilitating or rebuilding their home, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website. The new program would be paid for by a Community Development Block Grant, given to local and state governments for programs that provide social services such as housing assistance.

Commissioners will also consider adding a total of nearly $1.4 million to five existing agreements with the Oregon Health Authority. That includes funding for infectious disease testing and mobile crisis intervention services. 

Commissioners will consider adding $98,000 to a lease agreement with Verizon Wireless for use of a cell tower and equipment space on the Marion County Public Works campus, 5115 Silverton Rd. N.E., through November 2030. The new contract would total $453,000.

The board will consider spending $400,000 on parts, supplies, and repair services for the county’s heavy equipment fleet from John Deere Financial.

They will also consider a $614,000 agreement with HDR Engineering to design improvements to State Street. 

Marion County applied for and was granted federal funding to expand state street from two lanes to three and add pedestrian facilities on the south side of the road. Construction for the project is expected to begin in 2027, according to the agenda. About $551,000 would be paid for by federal funding, with the county covering the rest. 

Commissioners will consider approving a resolution declaring an emergency for Northeast Abiqua Road due to an active landslide impacting access and travel on the road, as well as for Northeast Nusom Road due to erosion. The emergency declarations would have no financial impact on the county but would allow staff to contract for construction services using the county’s emergency procurement services.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.