Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Oregon legislature delays work ahead of protests, new Council of Governments director

January 14, 2021 at 2:30pm

With possible demonstrations next week, Legislature will delay work

The Oregon State Capitol closed its doors until further notice on March 18. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

The 2021 Oregon legislative session is still set to officially begin on Tuesday, Jan. 19. But with concerns about Capitol building security, legislative work will be limited until later that week.

Salem, and capitals around the country, are bracing for possibly disruptive protests in the lead up to Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The FBI is working with local law enforcement to prepare for possible unrest.

A group of rioters attempted to breach the Oregon Capitol building during a special session last month. Out of an abundance of caution, neither chamber will convene until at least Thursday, Jan. 21, according to spokesmen for legislative leaders. Legislative committees also won’t meet until Thursday, Jan. 21, at the earliest.

January 14, 2021 at 1:32pm

Salem Public Library resumes curbside pickups

A library-goer checks out a book at Salem Public Library. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

Salem Public Library patrons can once again pick up and return books and other items through a curbside service starting next week.

The library is resuming appointments for patrons to pick up holds outside the main library branch at 1400 Broadway Street N.E. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Patrons can sign up here and get more information about the service here.

The library building has been closed to the public since March, but began a curbside offering in late May, then suspended it in November as local Covid case numbers rose steeply and Gov. Kate Brown ordered all businesses to allow working from home as much as possible.

Library staff are still available for virtual services including helping patrons check out audiobooks and ebooks. The library also has a Book Match service where readers can fill out a short survey and get custom book recommendations from librarians.

January 14, 2021 at 10:38am

FBI asks for tips ahead of planned protests

A right-wing protester faces off with Oregon State Troopers at the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, shortly before an unlawful assembly was declared. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Federal Bureau of Investigations Portland Field Office is working with Oregon State Police, the Salem Police Department and the Portland Police Bureau is preparing for potential violence next week as president-elect Joe Biden is slated to be sworn into office. The preparations follow an insurrection at the nation's Capitol last week.

“Given the unrest at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, we are maintaining a heightened posture to monitor for any emerging threats to our region. We are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals who were involved in the siege of the U.S. Capitol and/or those who may continue to incite violence and engage in criminal activity here locally,” a news release stated.

The announcement comes as an earlier FBI memo warned of armed protests the days leading up to inauguration day. The Oregon Army National Guard is on standby to assist with potential civil unrest and protests.

The FBI is running a command post to gather intelligence and coordinate with local law enforcement on threats to the state Capitol, federal buildings and “our shared community,” the release said.

The FBI is urging people with tips to call 503-224-4181 or go to tips.fbi.gov to submit information regarding any potential violence at any upcoming protest or event. 

January 14, 2021 at 9:36am

City reports sewage overflow in east Salem

Pringle Creek flows near the Minto Island Bridge before connecting with the Willamette River. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

An overflow of about 2,180 gallons of raw sewage went into Little Pudding River in east Salem on Wednesday around midnight because of recent heavy rains, the City of Salem announced Wednesday.

Salem’s Public Works Department was able to stop the overflow on Glendale Avenue around 7:48 a.m.

Environmental Services staff collected water samples at the Little Pudding River and will continue to monitor until the issue is resolved, the city announced in a news release.

“Any bacteria that entered the site should be flushed out of the water body in the next few days,” the release stated.

The city is advising people avoid contact with the Willamette River and Little Pudding River. 

January 14, 2021 at 8:41am

State reports Marion County teen dies with Covid

A sign at Salem Hospital in March 2020 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday that a 19-year-old teen from Marion County died in December with Covid.

The man, who had underlying conditions, tested positive on Nov. 19 and died on Dec. 6 at Oregon Health Science University in Portland, the agency said. The health authority reports deaths only after receiving a death certificate, which can sometimes take weeks.

“Every death from COVID-19 is a loss for friends and families,” said Dr. Bukhosi Dube, senior health advisor with the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. “Today's reported death of a 19-year-old, who had underlying conditions shows, again, that because a person may be younger than the most at-risk groups, they may still suffer life-threatening consequences from the virus.”

The state listed 97 new cases of Covid in Marion County, where the coronavirus is considered widespread. The county remains listed as at "extreme risk" of the virus. The Oregon Health Authority said the county recorded 1,989 cases over the two-week period ending Jan. 9. The state puts a county into high risk when cases over two weeks total 60 or more.

Marion County also posted a case rate of 572 per 100,000 population - more than double the rate to be put into extreme risk. The positive testing rate in the most recent two-week period was calculated at 12.7%.