YOUR GOVERNMENT: Marion County Commissioners consider creating emergency plans for rural areas

The Marion County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday will consider paying the state to set emergency plans for underserved and rural areas in Marion County. 

The Oregon Department of Emergency Management identified gaps in existing plans after wildfires in 2020 devastated the Santiam Canyon, according to the agenda item.

Commissioners will consider providing the state agency $216,000 for the hazard planning, which would include preparing for sheltering in place and evacuations.

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 at the meeting. People who want to comment must sign the speaker list at least ten minutes before the meeting. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube.

Santiam Canyon development

Commissioners will consider accepting $1 million from the Oregon Business Development Department to split among six planning projects in areas of the north Santiam Canyon that were impacted by wildfire in 2020. 

The work will be focused on the cities of Detroit, Gates, Mill City, and Idanha, as well as the Opal Creek and North Fork Corridor areas. It will include creating plans for economic and infrastructure development.

The board will consider awarding a $157,000 contract with AKS Engineering and Forestry to provide services such as environmental permitting that are needed to design and rebuild fire-damaged parks in the north Santiam Canyon.

They will also consider awarding $347,000 of federal funding to Pacific Excavation Inc. for street improvements in the city of Gates.

Commissioners will also consider paying $1.6 million to the state Department of Transportation for engineering for three entryways for recreational users of the North Fork Road Corridor. Federal funding would cover around $1.44 million and the county would pay the rest. Construction is planned for 2026 but is not included in this contract. 

Health and safety

Commissioners will consider accepting $1.26 million from the state Department of Justice for the Marion County District Attorney’s Office to provide services to crime victims through September 2025.  

The board will consider adding $39,000 to a contract with Soaring Heights Recovery Homes to continue providing substance abuse treatment for Marion County residents “regardless of ongoing use,” according to the agenda item. The new contract would total $117,000 and span through June.

The Keizer nonprofit operates three homes where 13 adults with or without children can stay for up to 18 months to help them reunite with their families. Residents are required to find employment, participate in recovery-based activities and random drug testing, according to the organization’s website.

Commissioners will consider adding nearly $84,000 to a contract with the Marion County District Attorney’s Office to provide substance abuse treatment and individual services for nonviolent “property and drug offenders,” according to the agenda item. The services would be a joint effort with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the new contract would total $215,000.

The board will consider adding $40,000 from the state Criminal Justice Commission to each of the following contracts with Bridgeway Recovery Services:

Substance abuse treatment for people on probation and post-prison supervision (new contract total: $345,000)

Treatment for people who commit nonviolent property and drug crimes (new contract total: $416,000)

Recovery mentors to provide individual services, such as help finding housing or a job, before people are released from jail (new contract total: $145,000)

Commissioners will consider adding $56,000 of state funding to two contracts with the Center for Hope and Safety and Liberty House, a child advocacy center, to provide services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking. The new contracts would each total around $289,000.

The board will consider a second reading and adoption of an ordinance to update boundaries in the county’s ambulance service area plan. 

Commissioners will also consider providing $259,000 to nonprofit HIV Alliance to connect people diagnosed with HIV to treatment providers.

They will also consider accepting $140,000 from the Oregon Health Authority to provide services for people who have been adjudicated for driving under the influence of intoxicants minor in possession.

Also on the agenda

Commissioners will consider providing $235,000 to Travel Salem. The money is intended to help the tourism nonprofit pay for two years of marketing and promotion intended to bring tourists to the Salem area and grow its reputation as a travel destination.

The board will consider appointing Keizer Police Chief Andrew Copeland, and reappointing Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack and Oregon State Police Lt. Chris Zohner to the Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council.

The 32-member council advises the board of commissioners and includes leaders in public safety, education, social services and business, as well as representatives from law enforcement, prosecution, community corrections, public defense, judiciary, domestic violence services, public health and juvenile justice. They would be appointed to three-year terms.

Commissioners will also consider appointing Victor Sanchez to the Marion County Fair Board.

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.