Oregonians won't have to pay taxes on first $10,200 in 2020 unemployment benefits
FreeCOVID IN OREGON Mar. 12
Oregon health officials expect Covid vaccinations to accelerate, but more contagious Covid variants and looser restrictions could challenge progress
Oregon health officials said a push from the Biden administration to open Covid vaccination to all adults by May 1 is welcome. But they cautioned Oregon can’t commit to that timeline without an increase in federal supply.
Governor seeks judge applicants for Marion County Justice Court vacancy
STATE GOVERNMENT Mar. 12
Marion DA challenges release of prisoners who fought last year’s wildfires
As a reward for fighting last year’s devastating blazes, Gov. Kate Brown is considering reducing the sentences of prisoners who served on fire crews, including 18 from Marion County. District Attorney Paige Clarkson said the move is unfair to victims and could jeopardize public safety.
Free Mar. 12
Hear the latest on Covid in Oregon Friday with Gov. Kate Brown, OHA, OHSU
PUBLIC SAFETY Mar. 12
Independent audit finds Salem police need to better use data, create a community policing plan
A monthslong audit that looked into the Salem Police Department’s policies, practices and procedures found that the department needs to create a formal plan on how it will police in the community, collaborate with nonprofits and social services agencies more and doesn’t use its calls for service data to direct its resources.
OREGON GOVERNMENT Mar. 12
Oregon sees cyber ID theft rise along with unemployment claims
Oregon officials say cyber thieves have capitalized on the big boom in unemployment claims, but they fear releasing details will trigger a tsunami of fraudulent claims.
After technical glitch Tuesday, Salem-Keizer board will take up zoned elections proposal March 15
SALEM ECONOMY Mar. 11
Salem Cinema reopens again. But other movie theaters remain dark
With pandemic restrictions relaxed, Salem’s arthouse theater is reopening for a second time since having to close in November. Loretta Miles, the theater’s owner, said she’s optimistic she’ll be able to stay open this time. But there are factors outside of her control.
LOCAL SCHOOLS Mar. 11
Salem-Keizer ended its school resource officer program, but police will still have a scaled-back role in the district
District leaders said they're committed to law enforcement not having a "regular presence" inside schools. A Keizer police officer formerly stationed at McNary High School will continue to serve on a school district safety and threat assessment team under a contract signed in February. Discussions about the handling of child abuse investigations will be ongoing this spring.
As rebuilding from wildfires continues, Marion County restricts access to roads and parks
Adult softball and kickball leagues return this spring
LOCAL NONPROFITS Mar. 11
Salem Friends of Felines has new Keizer home
After 10 years on South Commercial Street, the no-kill shelter's new location will make adoption appointments easier and provides more space for quarantining cats.
State police looking for driver in fatal hit and run
COVID IN SALEM Mar. 10
Salem area on track to see pandemic restrictions further loosened if Covid case counts keep falling
Marion County’s public health director said Wednesday the county is on track to move to a lower risk level in a few weeks if current trends continue. That would allow more people to eat inside restaurants or go to the gym or a museum.
SALEM ECONOMY Mar. 10
With the clock ticking on an eviction timebomb, the Oregon Legislature considers additional protections for renters
A bill currently being considered by the Oregon Senate would extend the state’s eviction moratorium to February 28, 2022 while offering tenants other protections. Salem renters and tenants rights groups say it's needed to prevent tenants from losing their homes before relief money takes hold. Landlords say it’ll be another burden after losing rent for months and will enable bad behavior by tenants.
Lawsuits seek $1 billion from power company following Beachie Creek Fire
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Mar. 10
Mayor points to city efforts to reduce homelessness in annual address
This year’s State of the City address was held virtually, and while Mayor Chuck Bennett touched on the litany of natural disasters the area has overcome, he also highlighted the city’s efforts to increase affordable housing during the homelessness crisis and millions in upgrades to the city’s water treatment plant.
Salem's former school resource officers will be permanently reassigned after district declines to renew contracts
Watch Salem's State of the City address Wednesday at noon
LOCAL SCHOOLS Mar. 9
Salem-Keizer won't renew contracts for police in local schools
Superintendent Christy Perry told school board members Tuesday the district has decided not to renew its contracts to station 11 police officers in local schools, nearly a year after local activists began pushing for a change.
Oregon's employment rate barely budged in January
COVID VACCINATION Mar. 9
Hoping to improve vaccine equity, Oregon allows some Salem-area health centers to vaccinate all patients
Oregon Latinos make up one-quarter of the state’s Covid cases, but just 4% of that population has been vaccinated to date. Marion County has fared better, launching a significant outreach campaign in Spanish and directing vaccine doses to the north county. Community groups say access still remains challenging. Now, Salud Medical Center and Lancaster Family Health Center have a green light to vaccinate all their patients starting this week.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT Mar. 9
Woodburn hotel used for Covid isolation could continue until June
Last summer, Marion County booked all the rooms in the Super 8 hotel in Woodburn to offer people with relatively minor Covid cases whose living situations prevented them from being able to isolate. While there are signs the pandemic is waning, the hotel could be in use for a few more months.
PUBLIC SAFETY Mar. 9
Polk County Mental Health Court ends next month as the county looks to a new model
The Mental Health Court has been in place since 2016 and has helped dozens of people with mental illness that had contact with the criminal justice system by providing case management, appointments with a judge and therapy. Now, the county is looking toward a new model that can better help those with more severe mental illness.
United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley gives largest ever grant to rebuild Detroit community center
AGENDA: Marion County commissioners to consider adding funding for motel stays, board appointments
Salem-Keizer School District wants your input on how it communicates
ENVIRONMENT Mar. 9
AROUND OREGON: Oregon’s new carbon cap program takes shape, but much debate remains
Regulated businesses are already raising concerns about the costs of complying with the program. Environmental groups, meanwhile, are concerned that electric utilities and some transportation fuel providers will escape any regulation.
Chemeketa, state motor pool win PGE funding for solar projects in Salem
Community groups launch fund for Oregon's small, immigrant-owned businesses
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Mar. 8
City survey finds residents support sustainable parks maintenance, efforts to address affordable housing gaps
The February survey is meant to gauge how helpful city efforts would be in addressing key issues in Salem like homelessness, community resilience and delivering city services equitably.
LOCAL SCHOOLS Mar. 8
Proposed overhaul of Salem-Keizer school board elections could mean more local campaigns
The board will vote Tuesday on a proposal that would elect its members by zones rather than across the district. Proponents say it would reduce election costs and lead to a more diverse school board. Most board members say they're supportive of the idea, but the timing is likely to be a sticking point.
Free wood chips at Bush's Pasture Park; Geer Park debris drop off until March 14
AGENDA: Salem City Council to consider adopting planning vision, strategic plan
SALEM PEOPLE AND PLACES Mar. 8
PHOTOS: Salem Saturday Market kicks off a month early
The early start meant less fresh produce than usual, but locals flocked to the market for canned goods, bread, meat and crafts.
SALEM ECONOMY Mar. 8
Salem’s economic development agency plants seeds to make the region a hub for agriculture-centered tech
The Strategic Economic Development Corp. has launched a project that aims to create a network of farmers and tech entrepreneurs. While the project is still being developed, proponents say it could make local farms more competitive and profitable.