Local News That Matters

Salem to celebrate its cherry blossoms on March 20

March 17, 2021 at 5:06pm

Salem man dies after being struck by car on Silverton Road

A Salem man died Wednesday afternoon after being struck by a car March 15, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

Police believe Christian Kennedy, 50, was crossing Silverton Road Northeast at Brown Road Northeast around 2 p.m. March 15. A 2005 Chevrolet Silverado turning west onto Silverton Road struck Kennedy, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Medics from the Marion County Fire District transported Kennedy to the hospital, where he was in critical condition following the collision. The driver of the Chevrolet remained at the scene and was not injured, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash.

-Rachel Alexander

March 17, 2021 at 3:18pm

City of Salem offers aid to residents behind on utilities

Situated on an island in the middle of the North Santiam River near Stayton, the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility faces unprecedented challenges in providing clean water to Salem users. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Help is available for those having a hard time paying city utility bills because of the pandemic or other circumstances. 

According to a news release, the city of Salem has options for residents who’ve fallen behind on bills for water or other city services. The city has options that include special payment arrangements, up to $500 to help cover past-due bills, discounts for qualifying seniors or disabled customers as well as grants for small businesses and nonprofits. 

To get help, residential customers can call 503-588-6099 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. Business customers can call 503-540-2480. More information can be found on the city’s website

-Jake Thomas

March 17, 2021 at 2:30pm

All Oregonians will be eligible for a Covid vaccine May 1, Oregon Health Authority says

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

Oregon will make all residents 16 and older eligible for a Covid vaccine on May 1, Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said Wednesday, speeding up by about two months the timeline the state had previously planned for inoculations.

Allen announced the change in an interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Think Out Loud" program. He cautioned not everyone eligible will be able to secure an appointment immediately.

"That does not mean they're going to get a vaccine on May 1," Allen said on Think Out Loud.

The announcement comes after the Biden administration last week directed states to make adults eligible for a shot by May 1. Following that directive, state health officials said they would wait to move up Oregon's timeline until it was clear the federal government had secured enough vaccines to make the more aggressive schedule feasible.

"We are following up with the administration for more specifics about when vaccine shipments to states will increase, but in a briefing with governors earlier this week, it was clear the White House has worked hard to secure additional vaccine supplies for states in the coming weeks," the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement.

The change means millions of Oregonians will be able to receive a shot sooner than expected. Currently, about 877,000 people statewide have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, including about 68,000 in Marion County and 20,000 in Polk County, according to data from OHA.

It's not yet clear whether Oregonians who were scheduled to become eligible for a shot before the general public will have earlier access to vaccines.

Currently, adults aged 45 to 64 with underlying health conditions, wildland firefighters, food processing and agricultural workers are scheduled to become eligible on March 29.

Younger adults with underlying health conditions and other essential workers, including grocery store employees, had been scheduled to become eligible May 1.

"We will continue to center equity in all of our vaccine distribution efforts, whether that means ensuring that seniors, people with underlying conditions, frontline workers and Oregonians most vulnerable to COVID-19 have the opportunity for vaccinations prior to May 1 - or after May 1, working with local health partners to ensure these priority groups continue to have access to appointments," the Oregon Health Authority said in its statement.

-Rachel Alexander

March 17, 2021 at 12:34pm

Salem to celebrate its cherry blossoms on March 20

People sat in Oregon State Capitol State Park while the cherry trees were blooming on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

After canceling its 2020 Cherry Blossom Day due to the pandemic, the Oregon Capitol Foundation is back with a virtual event on the first day of spring.

The annual event centers on the roughly 150 Akebono cherry trees that line State Capitol State Park in central Salem. It's meant to welcome spring and celebrate the influence of Japanese culture in Oregon and Salem, according to the foundation's website.

Some of the iconic trees were damaged in the February ice storm that knocked out power across the region. But those still standing are close to blooming, according to a post on the event page.

This year's virtual event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 20 and includes a new video by Capitol Community Media showcasing previous Cherry Blossom Day events, as well as Japanese music and activities from heritage organizations. More information is available on the foundation website and event Facebook page.

-Rachel Alexander