Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Oregon State Penitentiary superintendent faces HR investigation

August 12, 2021 at 4:12pm

Census shows Polk County among Oregon's fastest-growing

A for sale sign in West Salem on Friday, May 22. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Polk County is a popular place to move.

New Census data released Thursday shows Polk is the third fastest-growing county in Oregon, adding about 12,030 residents over the past decade.

For the 2020 Census, Polk County recorded a population of 87,433, a 16% increase over 2010 Census numbers.

Commissioner Craig Pope attributed the growth to the county’s lower tax rate and said it’s one of the few in Oregon where it’s still possible to build homes under the state’s land use laws.

“We have a lot of state government folks that have decided that living closer to their offices in Salem is easier to do with a more affordable cost of housing,” he said.

Only Deschutes and Crook counties recorded steeper population increases over the decade, at 25.7% and 17.9% respectively.

Marion County grew 9.7% over the decade, adding 30,585 people. Its 2020 population was 345,920, the Census showed.

Every Oregon county but Grant recorded a population increase. The state’s overall population grew 10.6% over the decade, with 4,237,256 residents in 2020.

-Rachel Alexander

August 12, 2021 at 3:41pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Aug. 12, 2021

Oregon Health Authority's graph showing people hospitalized with Covid in Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties as of Aug. 12, 2021.

With Covid cases and hospitalizations climbing in Oregon, Salem Reporter is keeping you informed of the latest numbers. Here’s our report for Thursday, Aug. 12.

Bottom line: “Our hospitals are full. Patients are boarding and being cared for in emergency departments when they should be admitted to hospital beds,” said Dr. David Zonies, Associate Chief Medical Officer and Professor of Surgery at Oregon Health & Science University, in a statement released by the Oregon Health Authority. “Our ICUs are full. Our doctors and nurses are exhausted and rightfully frustrated because this crisis is avoidable. It is like watching a train wreck coming and knowing that there’s an opportunity to switch tracks, yet we feel helpless while we watch unnecessary loss of life. That is why it is essential that we all do our part to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors.”

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 148

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 42

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 77, an increase of 12 from Wednesday. Of those, 13 are in the intensive care unit, and eight are on ventilators. Sixty-seven are not vaccinated against Covid.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 467 of 494 licensed beds in use

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 107, an increase of nine from Wednesday. Of those, 21 are in the intensive care unit and 12 are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 90 of 99 staffed ICU beds and 710 of 756 non-ICU beds in use

New Covid deaths reported: 9 in Oregon, none in Marion County, two in Polk County: a 75-year old man and a 90-year old man. Both died at Salem Hospital. The presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

New Covid vaccines in Oregon: 3,661 new doses administered, including 2,610 first doses of vaccine.

Source: Oregon Health Authority, Salem Health.

-Caitlyn May

August 12, 2021 at 1:09pm

Oregon State Penitentiary superintendent placed on leave pending investigation

Oregon State Penitentiary (Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons)

The Oregon State Penitentiary’s superintendent has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the state Corrections Department's human resources department.

Brandon Kelly has been the prison’s superintendent since 2016. The Oregon State Penitentiary is the oldest and only maximum-security prison operated by the Corrections Department. As of Aug. 1, the prison held 1,559 people.

Jen Black, agency spokeswoman, said Thursday that she couldn’t provide details on what the investigation was regarding. She said human resources investigations concern conduct between department employees, not between employees and people in prison.

"We typically duty station at home to, in part, protect the employee and to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation," she said in an email. "Duty station at home" is the department's term for administrative leave.

Kelly declined to comment when reached by Salem Reporter.

He will continue to receive his $14,238 monthly salary.

Kelly started with the Corrections Department in 1997 as a correctional officer at the state prison.

On Monday, Corey Fhuere will start as the acting superintendent.

-Saphara Harrell