Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Covid cases down from last week

June 17, 2022 at 2:24pm

Driving in Salem to get more challenging as road construction starts

A traffic camera captures the Center Street Bridge in downtown Salem Friday, June 17.

Salemites may need to take detours on their commute starting Friday, June 24, as the city begins work on three construction projects.

Center Street will be closed to cars and pedestrians between Northeast Liberty Street and High Street June 24 through 27 for the demolition of the Center Street skybridge, a city news release said.

The work will last through that weekend and is scheduled to end Monday, June 27, at 5 a.m. Detours will be in place for traffic over the Center Street bridge from west Salem.

The intersection of Southeast Commercial Street and Baxter Road will also be closed for a paving project starting Sunday night, June 26.

The street will be limited to one lane of traffic going north and south. Southeast Baxter Road at Commercial Street will be periodically closed during the construction. Detours will be in place, and work is scheduled to be completed early Monday, June 27, at 6 a.m.

The intersections of Northeast Portland Road at Hyacinth Street and Bill Frey Drive will also be under construction for pavement projects from Monday night, June 27 to June 29.

The intersections will be limited to one traffic lane going north and south from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Northeast Hyacinth Street and Bill Frey Drive will be closed in the east and west directions throughout the project. Detours will be in place until Wednesday morning, June 29 at 5 a.m.

The city's Current Road Conditions Map is regularly updated with scheduled or emergency road closures in Salem. Those seeking more information should contact the city at 503-588-6211 or [email protected], the release said.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

June 17, 2022 at 1:19pm

Elsinore mural is aging and fund drive aims for restoration

Jim Mattingly works on the Elsinore Theatre in 1984, completing artwork that is roughly six stories tall and is an iconic feature in downtown Salem. Mattingly died in 1986. (Ron Cooper/Friends of the Mattingly Mural)

Theda Bara, who’s been hanging around downtown Salem for nearly 40 years, is about to get a makeover ­– with a little help from the people of Salem.

Bara is the sultry silent film actress who gazes down on the city as part of a mural on the back side of the Elsinore Theatre.

Bara has been ageless since she came to life on the wall in 1984, but the mural itself is showing its age.

Now, a Salem group that has tended to the mural all these years is seeking $12,500 from the community by early July to pay for a complete restoration of the artwork. The group is named after the late Jim Mattingly, the art professor who painted the mural. The group Friends of the Mattingly Mural is affiliated with the Elsinore.

The mural was restored in 2013 under the care of muralist Dan Cohen.

Now the mural group wants to repaint the entire mural, seal it, and repair parts of the wall.

Eileen Cotter Howell, one of the mural group volunteers, said an anonymous donor has already put in $10,000 and group so far has $24,500. The last $12,500 will get the entire job done.

“We don't want to wait another 20 years until it becomes an eyesore, instead of the attraction it is. Great community art needs maintenance,” Cotter Howell said.

She said the work is scheduled to start Aug. 1 and, depending on weather, would be finished about mid-August.

The mural, called Theatrical Heartscape, honors the origins of the Elsinore as a playhouse for silent movies.

And few were bigger in those movies than Bara.

According to silentfilms.com, Bara made 40 feature films between 1914 and 1926, developing a screen image as a vamp. A 1937 fire in a storage vault destroyed nearly all the films and only three remain intact, according to the website.

A more demure Marlene Dietrich sits atop a feature just in front of Bara, and Charlie Chaplin holds a dog in another element. The most quirky part of the mural is the presence of W.C. Fields – his head on the far right of the mural, his torso on the left and lower.

Donors can mail checks to FOMM c/o Elsinore Theatre, 170 High St. S.E., Salem 97301 or online.

“We are hoping that the community will once again step up to care for this Salem landmark,” Cotter Howell said.

The mural "Theatrical Heartscape" graces the back wall of the Elsinore Theatre in downtown Salem and a fund drive is underway to restore it. (Willamette University)

–Les Zaitz

June 17, 2022 at 10:25am

Salem weekly Covid report for June 17: Local hospitalizations, cases falling

Empty beds in the hallway of the emergency room at Salem Hospital (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

New Covid cases reported locally continued to fall this week and decreased statewide after spiking last week. Hospitalizations are also down locally and regionally.


The average number of Covid patients at Salem Hospital decreased from last week, and the hospital remains very full.

As of Friday, June 17, the hospital reported 17 patients with Covid, and were none in the ICU or on a ventilator. 

There were 498 patients, exceeding the 494 licensed hospital beds. The hospital is able to care for more patients than its license allows because of ongoing emergency declarations related to the pandemic.

Lisa Wood, Salem Health spokeswoman, said the number of hospitalized Covid patients over the past week has remained between 15 and 18. Last week, Wood said the daily number hospitalized with Covid was between 23 and 28.

Region 2, which is Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties, had 40 people hospitalized with Covid as of June 16, compared with 53 the week prior and 48 two weeks ago.


The number of new Covid cases reported fell in Marion County and statewide but climbed in Polk County. This data is for the week ending June 15. 

Marion County: 91 new Covid cases per day on average, a rate of 182 cases per 100,000 residents.

That’s down from 100 average daily cases for the week ending June 8 and 104 average daily cases the week ending June 2. 

And 12% of Covid tests this week were positive, down slightly from 12.1% last week.

Polk County: 32 new Covid cases per day on average, a rate of 265 cases per 100,000 residents. 

That’s up from an average of 29 daily cases the week ending June 8.

And 12.8% of Covid tests this week were positive, up from 10.4% last week.

Oregon: 1,391 new cases per day on average, down from 1,565 average daily cases the week prior; 12.6% of tests positive, compared with 11.5% the week prior.


The Oregon Health Authority switched to a monthly report on breakthrough cases and will release its next report in early July.


Oregon’s mask mandate lifted on March 11 at 11:59 p.m. 

-Ardeshir Tabrizian