Local News That Matters

State of the City address Wednesday at noon

March 10, 2021 at 5:32pm

State police looking for driver in fatal hit and run

Oregon State Police are looking for information about an SUV driver following a fatal hit and run in north Marion County Wednesday morning.

Police said the driver of a black SUV traveling northbound on Interstate 5 near Woodburn hit a motorcycle rider around 6:50 a.m. and sent the rider off the road into the center divider. The motorcycle rider sustained fatal injuries and died. Police didn’t release the name of motorcyclist.

The SUV didn’t stop and continued traveling north, police said.

People with information about the crash are asked to contact the Oregon State Police Northern Command Center at 1-800-442-0776 or *OSP and leave information for Trooper Michael Iacob.

-Saphara Harrell

March 10, 2021 at 3:39pm

Lawsuits seek $1 billion from power company following Beachie Creek Fire

Fire continued to smolder in the Santiam Canyon on Saturday, Sept. 19, despite a heavy rainstorm days earlier. The Beachie Creek Fire, which covered more than 190,000 acres, was expected to burn until heavy winter rains arrive. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Two lawsuits filed in Marion County Circuit Court Wednesday are seeking more than $1 billion in damages from Pacific Power over its actions leading up to last year's devastating Beachie Creek Fire.

The lawsuits, filed on behalf of 100 victims of the blaze, allege that parent company PacifiCorp failed to safely design, operate and maintain infrastructure that led to the fire that destroyed thousands of homes in the Santiam Canyon.

The lawsuits further allege that PacifiCorp failed to pay attention to warnings by the National Weather Service about the impending “historic” winds and dry conditions.

PacifiCorp didn't immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

Law firms Edelson PC and Johnson Johnson Lucas and Middleton filed the complaint. Edelson PC helped secure a $13.5 billion settlement in the PG&E bankruptcy in northern California following the 2018 wildfires.  

-Saphara Harrell

March 10, 2021 at 11:59am

Salem's former school resource officers will be permanently reassigned after district declines to renew contracts

A Salem police vehicle. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Eight Salem police officers who used to patrol local schools will be permanently reassigned to patrol and emergency call response, Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack said Wednesday.

The officers haven't been at local schools for nearly a year because of the shift to online classes last spring.

Now, they won't be coming back as schools reopen. Superintendent Christy Perry said Tuesday night that the Salem-Keizer School District would not renew its contracts with local law enforcement agencies to station officers in schools.

The district previously had contracts with the Salem Police Department, Keizer Police Department and Marion County Sheriff's Office to station 11 officers in middle and high schools across the district. Eight of those officers were Salem police.

Perry temporarily suspended the contracts for the 2020-21 school year to allow the district time to make a decision about the future of school safety programs. At the time, she said the switch to online school meant officers weren't needed on campus.

Since that decision, Womack said the department's school resource officers have been working in areas of immediate need. Those assignments will now be permanent, allowing officers to respond to "ever-increasing service demands."

"While we may be losing some ability and opportunity for youth engagement, we are also now able to redirect some of our valuable and limited personnel resources back to the core services that this community expects and deserves. Regardless of any contractual relationship, we will continue to work collaboratively with SKPS on school safety and emergency protocols," Womack said in a statement.

-Rachel Alexander

March 10, 2021 at 10:23am

Watch Salem's State of the City address Wednesday at noon

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett talks with city manager on Thursday, April 9. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The annual State of the City address, delivered by Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett, starts at noon on Wednesday.


The virtual event will premiere on YouTube and Capital Community Media Cable Television Channel 21 on March 10 at 12 p.m.

Bennett will touch on city efforts to address homelessness, water treatment plant upgrades, business developments and reflect on the city’s accomplishments during the Covid pandemic. 

-Saphara Harrell