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May 18 2020 thru May 24 2020

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FreeCORONAVIRUS: LIFE IN SALEM, OREGON May 23
With caution and care, Salem takes a step back towards normal
On Friday, Salem emerged from a sort of long sleep as businesses that had been shuttered or restricted for two months could serve customers more fully. But new rules were in place and adaptations were evident across the city.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 22
As they reopen, Marion, Polk counties short on some state benchmarks for COVID-19
Oregon Health Authority this week released five indicators they're tracking for each county as restaurants and gyms reopen. None of Oregon's largest counties are yet meeting all of them.
FreeSCENES FROM THE AREA May 22
And now a break from Salem's pandemic
Shoppers can still look for fresh produce or flowers at the Thursday West Salem Farmer's Market and on Saturday's at the Salem Saturday Market but expect booths to be limited to two people.
FreeHIGHER EDUCATION May 22
Willamette University lays off 37 employees, furloughs 80
The university is cutting costs to make up for revenue lost from events and dorm fees, and to increase the financial aid budget for the fall.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 21
Struggling to pay rent? New state funds expected to help 600 families
The Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency received millions in funding to help those who have been impacted by the coronavirus and are struggling to pay electric bills or rent.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 21
Fewer people in Marion and Polk counties seeking unemployment benefits
Local unemployment claims followed the state's downward trajectory. While the numbers may signal that the economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic is waning, they came during a week of gloomy economic news. More is likely on the horizon.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 21
Oregon inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 dies
The death is the first of its kind to be reported by the Oregon Department of Corrections. While the department has taken steps to reduce the spread of the virus in the state’s prison system, a civil rights group said more needs to be done.
LOCAL SCHOOLS May 21
In effort to help students with trauma, Houck Middle School will have new administration
Three Salem-Keizer middle schools are getting new principals in the fall of 2020, and Houck will see an entirely new administration to usher in changes.
FreeCOUNTY GOVERNMENT May 20
At last, people in Marion and Polk counties can start dining in and head to churches
Under Marion County and Polk County’s phased opening plans, businesses must space out seating, maintain distancing and rigorously clean. Gov. Kate Brown approved the plan on Wednesday – a week after most counties got their green lights.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT May 20
Oregon advocacy group condemns city’s emergency loitering prohibition, saying it had the practical effect of “sit lie”
Disability Rights Oregon wrote letters to the Salem City Council and Mayor Chuck Bennett Tuesday condemning the council’s actions to prohibit gatherings on sidewalks during the health crisis. Bennett said they have it wrong and are relying on hearsay.
Free May 20
The coronavirus has blown a hole in the state's budget and economy, new forecast shows
A much-anticipated report shows that state revenues will drop by billions in coming years. While the recovery from the coronavirus-induced economic downturn won't take as long as that from the Great Recession, the report found that economic life will be different in Oregon.
ELECTIONS May 20
Tuesday’s election brings newcomers to Salem City Council, but city politics could stay the same
City council will have new councilors for districts representing downtown, southeast and north Salem. Even though 3 out of 5 seats will be represented by fresh faces, the council’s political balance and interests will remain largely unchanged, according to the mayor.
FreeELECTIONS May 20
PHOTOS: Election goes on, even in a pandemic
Marion County elections workers showed up to process tens of thousands of ballots, ensuring your vote got counted.
LOCAL SCHOOLS May 20
McKay English teacher wins Willamette region's Teacher of the Year award
Larkin Foley, who's spent her decade-long teaching career at Salem's largest high school, was recognized for her efforts in and outside the classroom to help students develop confidence, graduate and attend college.
ELECTIONS May 19
Many Salem City Council races appear settled, but county commissioner winners are months away, early results show
Progressive candidates for the Salem City Council mostly have commanding leads, preliminary results show. However, county commission races will be settled in November along with legislative races. A levy that would have helped pay for staff at Marion County Fire District No. 1 appears to have failed.
FreeCORONAVIRUS: LIFE IN SALEM OREGON May 19
As businesses go bust, a Salem donut shop finds a sweet spot
Dude Donut City, located at 3997 Carson Dr. S.E., opened its doors last week during an unprecedented economic downturn. But Talwinder Dhaliwal, the store’s owner, said that it’s been a struggle to keep shelves stocked as customers file in at all hours.
LOCAL SCHOOLS May 19
Thousands of Salem-Keizer educators will be furloughed to help balance budget
Everyone from Superintendent Christy Perry to classroom teachers will see a temporary 20% pay cut and work four days per week, with a state unemployment program making up for lost wages. The move is estimated to spare the district up to $10 million by July 31.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 19
Oregon's unemployment rate rises to 14.2%
Numbers released by the Oregon Employment Department present another unsettling indicator of the damage the COVID-19 outbreak has inflicted on the economy. The steep increase in unemployment is the highest on record with the department.
SALEM LIFE May 19
Salem Reporter wins top honors in regional journalism competition
In results announced Monday night, Salem Reporter was cited for in-depth reporting on local schools. The Salem news organization competed against other newsrooms from across the West.
FreeLEADERSHIP IN CRISIS: BEHIND THE SCENES May 19
PHOTOS: Life as a leader during the pandemic - Jimmy Jones
With stay home orders, social distancing requirements and many public agencies closed, government leaders are adapting to a new way to staying in touch and making crucial decisions. Salem Reporter is following key leaders - at a safe distance - to document this historic change in how these leaders are performing. In this installment, we follow Jimmy Jones of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency.
FreeCORONAVIRUS: LIFE IN SALEM, OREGON May 19
Governor's limits to stay in force for now as legal action lands in Oregon Supreme Court
In a fast-moving legal drama Monday, a Baker County judge declared as void Gov. Kate Brown's orders related to the pandemic and said they were no longer in effect. But Monday night, the Oregon Supreme Court put that decision on hold, leaving the governor's orders in place as the legal wrangling continues.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 18
Judge undoes order to stay home and out of church. But governor hopes an appeal will revive it
The ruling suggests Oregon is now open for business with no restrictions on business conduct or citizen behavior. But that may not last long after Brown promptly appealed the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court and asked that it leave her sweeping orders in place.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 18
Marion, Polk counties optimistic governor will allow reopening Friday
Last week the state didn’t like data indicating Marion and Polk counties had a significant increase in COVID-19 infections and a spike in hospitalizations, leading it to reject their opening plans. Commissioners are hopeful this week things will change, and the area will be allowed to join most of the state in opening places like salons and bars.
FreeELECTIONS May 18
Only 27% of Marion and Polk county voters have turned in ballots. There's still time to get your vote counted.
Many regular ballot drop sites are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we've assembled a local list for voters who like to take their time deliberating.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 18
Judge rules that Gov. Kate Brown's coronavirus orders are invalid
A state judge in Baker County ruled Monday that the governor's orders, which have upended life for many Oregonians, are unlawful. But the orders could remain in place after the governor appeals the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
FreeCORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK May 18
Flickers of life in downtown Salem emerge as state orders are relaxed
With restrictions on retailers lifted, businesses in the city center are reopening. Others are preparing for further loosening of mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But things won’t snap back to how they were and not all businesses are expected to reopen.
IN SALEM, NATURALLY May 18
PHOTOS: The flower gardens at Adelman are open - a free escape from the pandemic
Carefully groomed paths allow an easy self-tour of Adelman Peony Gardens on Northeast Brooklake Road. That makes getting out of the house and social distancing a snap.
FreeCORONAVIRUS: LIFE IN SALEM, OREGON May 18
PHOTOS: Sunday service at the Capitol presses for right to gather, worship
The front steps of the Capitol became a pulpit on Sunday, May 17, in what was listed as an "Christian All-Church Worship Service" featuring a series of speakers. State restrictions limit gatherings to 25 people or fewer unless social distancing standards are followed, which has left many churches across Oregon suspending in-person services.

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