Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Arts organizations get operating help

February 5, 2021 at 2:19pm

Salem asking for donations for managed camp at the state fairgrounds

Khalil Jansen stands outside her tent at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Feb. 1. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Less than a day after opening a temporary homeless camp at the Oregon State Fairgrounds Pavilion, all 100 slots filled up. Now, the city of Salem is asking for donations for the guests.

Donations needed include socks, blankets, towels, winter gear, adult-sized unused underwear, African-American hair care products, pet food and pet supplies, backpacks, totes, and reusable bags. All donations should be delivered to the Church at the Park Donation Center located at 3104 Turner Rd. S.E. Donation drop off hours are from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

“Filling up this fast really speaks to the need for more shelter beds and housing options in Salem,” said Josh Erickson, a Church at the Park assistant pastor who is serving as the operational director for the temporary shelter, in a statement.

Church at the Park is running the managed camp, which has tents filling gridded spots on the concrete floor of the pavilion.

Local food vendors and restaurants who would like to get involved in meal preparation or donations can complete a contact form on the Church @ the Park website.

The camp is the city’s latest effort to address the homelessness crisis in Salem. The Oregon State Fairgrounds is allowing it on a temporary basis.

“Our fairgrounds have been used by Oregonians for a multitude of uses over the 156 years. During this unprecedented closure, we are happy to allow the use of the Pavilion for this important need,” said Kim Grewe-Powell, interim CEO of the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center, in a statement. 

Related coverage: Salem fairgrounds welcomes unsheltered to temporary campground

-Saphara Harrell

February 5, 2021 at 1:19pm

Wildfires, vaccines, cybersecurity and more is on state's auditing agenda

Secretary of State's office. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter) 

Unemployment insurance, response to wildfires, vaccine distribution, domestic terrorism and how cannabis regulations could correct racial injustice are among the topics that will be scrutinized by state auditors this year.

Newly elected Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan rolled out the annual work plan for her office’s Audits Division. Auditing is one of the more notable functions of the secretary of state’s office. It can shine a light on government waste and dysfunction leading to changes in state laws. 

The audit plan also includes how local public safety authorities are responding to 911 calls, the coordination of homeless services as well as the cybersecurity of local and state agencies. 

“Unprecedented wildfires, COVID-19, and the resulting economic downturn only intensified the existing inequities burdening Oregonians in under-resourced regions and historically marginalized communities,” said Fagan in a statement. “This year’s audit plan is directed at many of those most pressing issues with an eye toward building a better Oregon for everyone.”

-Jake Thomas

February 5, 2021 at 12:27pm

Oregon now says most seniors, educators can be vaccinated by early April

Syringes of the Pfizer vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Jan. 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon is on track to finish vaccinating seniors, health care workers and educators by early April, about a month earlier than initially expected, health officials said Friday.

Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said an increase in the state's vaccine allocation from the federal government will allow the state to speed up the timeline and move on to the next group of eligible vaccine recipients earlier in the spring.

Oregonians 80 and older become eligible for shots on Monday, adding about 168,000 people to a pool of more than 500,000 who are already eligible to get a shot.

Allen said the Biden administration has promised Oregon about 75,000 vaccine first doses weekly, up from 52,000. The increase comes from a higher allocation of the Moderna vaccine directly to the state, as well as about 12,000 doses weekly being shipped to retail pharmacies.

Allen said Oregon now expects to vaccinate three-quarters of seniors, health care workers and educators by early April and then open vaccines to other groups. Those next eligible will include frontline essential workers like grocery store employees, adults 65 and under with underlying health conditions that place them at higher risk for serious cases of Covid and people living in low-income and congregate senior housing.

-Rachel Alexander

Correction: This article incorrectly listed the number of Oregonians 80 and older. It is about 168,000, not about 178,000.

February 5, 2021 at 12:03pm

Salem galleries, theaters get nearly $40,000 in state operating support

Jonathan Bucci, curator of collections and exhibits at Hallie Ford Museum of Art, pulls out a print by artist Rick Bartow. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Eight Salem arts organizations have received tens of thousands of dollars in state grants to help cover operating costs in 2021.

The Oregon Arts Commission announced the recipients Friday. They include 150 arts and culture organizations around Oregon, receiving a total of $910,000 in support.

The program is intended to support arts programming and predates the Covid pandemic, though the commission noted such grants are particularly helpful after a year where many organizations have seen declining revenue because of canceled events and reduced donations.

“We often hear that operating support is the most important type of award,” said Arts Commission Chair Anne Taylor in a statement. “Especially now, as arts organizations continue to suffer great losses due to the pandemic, these awards can help relieve a bit of the economic pressure.”

Award recipients in Marion and Polk counties received $38,865. They are:

Children's Educational Theatre, Salem: $3,057

Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem : $5,656

Historic Elsinore Theatre Inc., Salem: $4,072

Oregon Symphony Association in Salem, Salem: $3,728

Pentacle Theatre Inc., Salem: $4,121

Salem Art Association, Salem: $9,539

Salem Multicultural Institute, Salem: $5,278

Willamette Art Center, Salem: $3,414

-Rachel Alexander

February 5, 2021 at 12:01pm

Vision for Salem's future growth available online

Richard Riffle and David G. walk through the closed spray park at Riverfront Park on Thursday, April 9. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem’s vision for future planning in the city is now available online.

This year the city is updating its comprehensive plan, titled the “Our Salem” project, to plan for the next 20 years of growth.

The vision document focuses on housing, neighborhood hubs, mixed use, and employment.


The vision statement reads, “Salem is a livable, equitable, carbon neutral city where everyone has access to affordable housing and safe mobility choices, families and local businesses are thriving, diversity and culture is celebrated, and open spaces and the environment are valued and protected.”

Inside the document, there’s a map that shows proposed changes to zoning which reflect ideas that came about during the city’s more than yearlong visioning process.

One change seeks to create more flexibility in what can be built and where. For example, Northeast Lancaster Drive and Southeast Commercial Street are largely zoned commercial. Under the draft plan, those areas would become mixed use, which is defined as a pedestrian-friendly development that blends two or more residential, commercial, cultural, institutional or industrial uses.

The proposed Comprehensive Plan Map, if adopted by Salem City Council, will be implemented through changes in Salem’s zoning map and zoning code.

Previous coverage: Salem sets goals for walkable neighborhoods, zoning changes in long-range planning document

-Saphara Harrell