NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Holiday parties, help at Center 50+ and more from around Salem

Neighborhood News is a monthly Salem Reporter feature intended to highlight news or issues of concern to each neighborhood association. Read our last installment from November here.

Salem is divided into 17 neighborhood associations that meet monthly. They serve as a conduit to city officials for things like park improvements, road projects and planning and building. Learn more and find your association here.

Neighborhood association leaders are invited to submit an item monthly about what’s happening in their neighborhood, including upcoming events or issues of concern. Submissions are lightly edited for style.

Highland Neighborhood Association

Join us in spreading holiday cheer to our senior residents!

The Highland Neighborhood Association and Salem Center 50+ are teaming up for a festive Decorate & Donate Event on Saturday, Dec. 16th, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Center 50+. Gather your family and head to Center 50+ at 2615 Portland Rd. N.E. for a day filled with fun holiday activities. Activities for the day include cookie decorating (thanks to Center 50+ and Highland Neighborhood Association for supplying cookies and materials), gift wrapping (bring your own supplies, including boxes and bags for cookies), and creating holiday greeting cards (bring your creativity, card-making supplies appreciated!).

We welcome volunteers to help facilitate the event and appreciate donations of supplies. We’ll be putting together gift bags for seniors. Consider contributing to the joy with thoughtful gifts from our Amazon Wishlist or bring items such as hand/body lotion, reading glasses, adult activity books, toiletries, towels, pens, stationary, stamps, prepaid gift cards, playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, nightlights, flashlights, soft blankets, gift baskets, slippers, socks, hats, scarves, gloves, t-shirts, sweaters, or robes. Let’s make this holiday season memorable for our seniors! Please reach out via email to [email protected] if you’re interested in volunteering.

Northeast Neighbors

MURAL: A public hearing with be held on Dec. 13 at 3:30 pm by the Salem Public Art Commission to determine whether a partially-finished mural in the alley at 1380/1390 Madison N.E. will be allowed to remain and be completed or will be required to be removed by the city. NEN is supporting the graffiti mural by multiple artists in a commercial alley. 

ENGLEWOOD PARK POLLINATOR GARDEN: Hundreds of native plants are being added at historic Englewood Park’s Pollinator Garden this month with youth from the IKE Box. A Community Volunteer event on MLK Day, Monday, January 15, is being held from 9 a.m. to noon to care for the park, a beautiful respite in our community.

Red flowering current at Englewood Park (Courtesy/Lynn Takata)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: The City of Salem has purchased the property at the site of the former Salem Hospital, for a proposed two-stage affordable family housing development of about 200 one- to four-bedroom units. The land will be sold to the developer, Green Light, once they receive funding. 

UPDATE: We are delighted that a problem property for many years at Market and 16th Streets has been purchased and is being cleaned up and will be renovated thanks to advocacy from neighbors, help from the city’s Code Compliance Dept. and the Salem Police Department. This was a complex situation but we are grateful it is being addressed for the safety  and livability of the community.

A problem property on Northeast Market Street is cleaned up after months of advocacy from the neighborhood (Courtesy/Lynn Takata)

Northgate Neighborhood Association

Note: Neighborhood association leaders reflected on the recent city report on gun violence in Salem, which showed an uptick in shootings and violence involving teenagers over the past five years in Salem.

When taxes were lower in the 1950s, the sole breadwinner was the father in a household. Some of you may recall watching “Lassie Come Home,” “I Love Lucy,” “Leave it to Beaver, “Ozzie and Harriet TV Show,” to name a few of the 1950s TV series.

You might have noticed the trend was wives or mothers stayed at home to tend to house matters and when their children returned home from school, the mothers would be there to greet them. Now, with the governmental taxes being so high, the mothers were compelled to go to work as well to keep up. This might have helped to disengage the families’ security. Additionally, fatherless children are a major problem now. Single mothers work hard during the day and by the time they return home, they are often too tired to discipline their kids. So, the kids get off easy for bad deeds.

Children still played with neighborhood kids but became more independent yet more disorderly. The teens became easy targets for recruiting gang members. In gangs, they are treated like family members and groomed to become one of them. Once they are in, they are rewarded for their loyalty and even given initiation tests to see what they can do. The more impressive, the more chances to climb up in their hierarchy.  

Another thought. Since there was inadequate housing and few jobs available, the unemployed turned to crime to survive. Then, individuals found safety in numbers. So, they began to band together, thus forming gangs. Early gangs were made up of the poorest people. In Salem, the kids from the working class usually consisted of Latino families. Now we have gangs of Latinos fighting amongst each other.

Since crime is rising dramatically in some areas of Salem, judges and prosecutors should start arresting the criminals. After all, it must be discouraging to a police officer who did all he could to arrest the criminal and just because of a judge who is sympathetic to the criminal or thinking there aren’t enough jail beds, to return the criminal back to the streets. Also, it seems the judges release people without investigating the records from the police department. They need to be properly assessed based on the level of crime and make them stay in prison or get treatment rather than letting them go free which sends a message to others, like teenagers, that crime is allowed here. 

Look what happened to the criminals released during covid times by then Governor Kate Brown many of whom have committed serious offenses such as murder. They are a big burden to society.

According to the result of the research shown at the Nov. 20 council meeting, gun violence with gang members doubled after 2018 to 2023. In 2021 Trevor Womack was appointed new Salem police chief. . One of the things he did was dismantling the Gang Task Force Unit of law enforcement officers. At the same time, he was trying to recruit more law enforcement. Police in general were made unpopular after the George Floyd incident and were looked down upon, so many officers quit. 

One positive factor recently was the collaboration of Salem police with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to improve law enforcement. 

However, we do sincerely hope that because of the increase in gang violence, the chief will listen to the community requesting to reenact the Gang Task Force Unit of Salem Police. We do hope that will happen since Chief Womack has emphasized establishing legitimacy and trust with the police and community. During his first six months as chief, he said, he prioritized meeting with different community members to understand the city’s needs. We at Northgate Neighborhood Association are pleased to say the chief accepted our invitation to attend our January meeting.

We would like to conclude by saying we are very grateful to organizations such as Boys and Girls’ Club, YMCA, YWCA, churches who take on children after school so that they, whose parents are working, have a safe place to be. Further, children should be taught about the problems with drugs in schools and addiction and their consequences. They should also be taught about depression and anxiety. They need to have time away from violent video games and other social media on phones and play like children to have a healthier mind and body as well as forming friendship. They need to be taught the basics like reading, writing, and learning about history, geography, and basic math so that academically they would do better and regain self confidence in themselves.

So if the students acquire self-confidence and knowledge as defense to keep away the recruiters, dealers or others like that, there is a better chance for our community to feel safe again. 

South Central Neighborhood Association

SCAN’s holiday potluck flyer

Please join us at our December meeting for a snacks and sweets potluck! Wednesday, December 13, 5:30 PM at Pringle Community Hall in Pringle Park at 606 Church St. S.E. We will have introductions from some local business and nonprofit leaders, as well as a rousing discussion on the prevention of vandalism, graffiti, and other crimes in our community. All are invited to find out what your neighborhood association does for you, and how you can be involved!

SCAN’s holiday lighting contest flyer

SCAN is sponsoring a holiday decoration contest. Anyone within the SCAN neighborhood is invited to enter by taking a photo of their exterior decorations, then following and tagging @scansalemofficial on Instagram. The contest is open through December 18. Three winners announced on December 23 will win prizes from local Salem businesses. 

One last item – Preserve Oregon is running a coat donation drive through the end of December. Visit for details.

West Salem Neighborhood Association

Our final meeting of 2023 began with an update from Salem Police Sergeant Alex Asey. After his report and fielding questions from membership, Sergeant Asey finished with a reminder about the department’s Annual Toy Drive, concluding Dec. 13. Sergeant Asey applauded fellow officer Mark Jantz as the one-man team behind the city’s Crime Prevention Unit. Jantz is responsible for overseeing a majority of the programs we’re all familiar with including the Annual Toy Drive, the National Night Out program, Neighborhood Watch, and Paws on Patrol, a new program coming to neighborhoods soon. With all the goodness he’s responsible for, we think he deserves a seat in Santa’s sleigh next year! 

Salem City Councilor Micki Varney provided an update on topics ranging from the city budget to homeless concerns in Wallace Marine Park, land use decisions in West Salem, and a Revenue Task Force facing first cuts due to the failed Salem payroll tax. The councilor weathered some tough questions during her update, but as one of our strongest supporters in West Salem, she did so with grace and dignity. We are fortunate to have her in our corner.

Membership was provided a heartwarming account by Capital Manor resident Ellen Stevens on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Dolly started the nonprofit organization in 1995 as a tribute to her father. The donated books inspire the gift of reading in children, which then enables them to better fulfill their future dreams. You can learn more about this amazing organization and how to donate locally by contacting the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub.

WSNA’s  Homeless Chair reminded members of the need for volunteers to help staff our local warming shelters. Contact if you can help. All other WSNA Committee reports can be found online at

Our next meeting is Feb. 1 at 6:30 pm at Roth’s upstairs Community room, accessible by stairs and elevator. 

May your days be merry and bright! Happy holidays from all of us at WSNA!

Our next edition of Neighborhood News will run in mid-January Submissions must be received by 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 8.

Contact Managing Editor Rachel Alexander with submissions or questions: [email protected].

STORY TIP OR IDEA? Send an email to Salem Reporter’s news team: [email protected].

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