Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem police swat down rumors, say man found in Willamette died of "water-related" causes

January 27, 2021 at 4:38pm

Oregon House Republicans push back on state party's stance on capitol violence

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

The Oregon House Republicans, including two legislators from the Salem area, distanced themselves from the state party after it adopted a resolution suggesting the violent ransacking of the nation’s capitol on Jan. 6 was a “false flag.”

The Oregon Republican Party issued a statement last week blasting the move to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting a deadly riot targeting the capitol in Washington D.C.

The party also adopted an accompanying resolution giving credence to the conspiracy theory that the violence was staged. The resolution stated that there is “growing evidence that the violence at the Capitol was a ‘false flag’ operation designed to discredit President Trump, his supporters.” To date, no law enforcement agency has found credible evidence the attack was staged.

On Wednesday, the Oregon House Republicans indicated that they were having none of it. The GOP legislators issued a statement blasting the resolution saying there “is no credible evidence to support false flag claims.” The statement indicated the legislators were more focused on the economic and public health crisis the state faces.

“Our focus must remain on urgently helping hurting Oregonians,” the statement said. “Far too many Oregonians have been impacted by lost wages or a lost family member—we are in a crisis and that crisis requires steady leadership and action, not partisan rhetoric. The election is over. It is time to govern.”

Among those signing, the statement includes state Reps. Bill Post, R-Keizer, and Mike Nearman, R-Independence.

-Jake Thomas

January 27, 2021 at 4:06pm

As Oregon faces pushback for Covid vaccine prioritization, advisory committee to meet Thursday

Salem Health began a Covid vaccine clinic at the state fairgrounds on Jan. 7 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Oregon's vaccine advisory committee will meet Thursday morning from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to discuss how the state should prioritize scarce Covid vaccine supplies.

The committee, which first met in early January, is tasked with ensuring the state's vaccine distribution is equitable and reaches communities hit hardest by Covid. But to date most decisions about vaccination order have been made directly by Gov. Kate Brown - including the highly criticized decision to prioritize K-12 teachers ahead of seniors in an effort to reopen schools.

The committee has received dozens of public comments, with many urging them to prioritize older Oregonians and people with chronic health conditions instead of educators.

Oregon began vaccinating teachers and child care workers this week and expects to begin people over 80 on Feb. 8, though some counties may start earlier.

The advisory committee meeting will be livestreamed in English and Spanish and is open to the public. More details and a link are available on the agenda.

-Rachel Alexander

January 27, 2021 at 11:43am

State launches website focused on jobs working with developmentally disabled people

The state Department of Human Services (Courtesy/State of Oregon)

Facing a shortage of workers who provide care and support for the more than 30,000 Oregonians with developmental disabilities, a state office has launched a new website focused on available positions in the field. 

Launched by the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services, ImpactOregon.careers has postings for hundreds of jobs in the field, including direct care, administrative and managerial positions. Also included is a section on career profiles with information on room for growth and opportunity. 

According to numbers cited by the office, there is a 9% vacancy rate nationally and a 43% turnover rate for workers who provide direct support to people with developmental disabilities. The need for these workers is anticipated to grow 50% by 2026. 

-Jake Thomas

January 27, 2021 at 10:16am

Salem police swat down rumors, say man found in Willamette River likely drowned

People gathered on the gravel bar below Wallace Marine Park to cool off in the Willamette River on Thursday, July 30. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Salem Police Department swatted down rumors that a Salem man found on the bank of Willamette River over the weekend died of foul play.

The Polk County Medical-Legal Death Examiner confirmed that Kristopher Allen Rice, 28, died of “likely drowning," said Lt. Treven Upkes, Salem police spokesman.

“Rumors circulating on social media related to the manner of Rice’s death are in direct contradiction to the medical examiner’s findings,” stated a Salem Police Department news release Tuesday.

A passerby noticed Rice’s body on Jan. 23 near Wallace Marine Park, police said. Officers arrived to find Rice’s body entangled in brush and partially submerged.

Rice was last seen by Salem police officers on Jan. 7 because there was a warrant for his arrest, police said. He ran from officers and was seen going into the river, the news release said.

Police said the Salem Fire Department searched for Rice on a rescue boat but couldn’t find him. 

-Saphara Harrell