Local News That Matters

Salem receives award for tree care, community engagement

March 23, 2021 at 4:16pm

Worker dies in Silverton seed facility fire Tuesday


A worker died in a fire at a seed cleaning facility near Silverton Tuesday morning. (Courtesy/Silverton Fire District)

A worker died in a fire at a seed cleaning facility near Silverton Tuesday morning.

The Silverton Fire District believes a dust explosion spread the fire through the second floor of the building in the 13000 block of Riches Rd. N.E.

Assistant Chief Ed Grambusch requested an immediate upgrade to a 3rd alarm fire and requested additional firefighters from nearby communities, a news release said.

Heavy dark smoke and fire could be seen from several miles away from the facility around 9 a.m., the release said. When firefighters arrived on scene, the second story was engulfed in flames. Managers at the facility reported a worker was still inside on the second story.

The district said an “aggressive fire attack” was made, but the missing person was found dead inside the building.  

Police aren’t releasing the name of the person who died until their family has been notified.   

One worker was taken to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries, the district said in a news release. 

-Saphara Harrell

March 23, 2021 at 3:54pm

Pandemic relief brings more college aid for Oregon teens, young adults in foster care

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

Oregon teens and young adults who are or have been in foster care could be eligible for a grant of up to $12,000 to cover college or career training.

The state Department of Human Services received federal funding to expand existing educational aid programs for current and former foster children as part of the pandemic relief package Congress passed in December, according to a news release. To be eligible, students must have been in foster care at age 14 or older, pursuing postsecondary education or training and have not yet turned 27.

The federal money allows Oregon to expand two existing programs.

Oregon's Chafee Educational Training Vouchers provide grants of up to $5,000 as part of eligible students' financial aid package. With the expansion, students can receive the grant up to age 27, rather than 26, and can receive funds if they're currently in school or had to pause studies because of the pandemic.

Eligible students have been identified and will be notified by email from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Office on Student Access and Completion.

Another grant of up to $7,000 per student is available through the Child Welfare Division's Youth Transitions Program. That grant can help eligible students cover housing, transportation and technology costs during the pandemic. Money will be distributed until exhausted, and can be requested by contacting Youth Transition Programs at [email protected]

More information is available on the DHS website.

 -Rachel Alexander

March 23, 2021 at 1:13pm

AGENDA: Commissioners to consider excessive force policy, ODOT funds for school routes

Marion County Courthouse. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Marion County Board of Commissioners will meet on Wednesday to consider a policy on excessive police force against protesters, appoint members to a committee and consider approving funds from the state Department of Transportation for safe school routes.  


After Congress passed an “excessive force” amendment, which prohibits the use of excessive force against non-violent civil rights demonstrators, commissioners must adopt a policy to continue receiving federal Community Development Block Grants.

The board will also consider appointing three members of a Health Insurance Study Committee.

Commissioners will consider approving incoming funds from ODOT for the Safe Routes to Schools Program for four schools: Mary Eyre Elementary, Auburn Elementary, Stayton Middle School and Four Corners Elementary. The project total $1.8 million with the bulk of funding coming from ODOT and the rest from Marion County funding and staff time donations.  

Commissioners will also consider approving $1.6 million in ODOT funds for the French Prairie Road Champoeg Creek Bridge project. The project total is estimated at $1.8 million.

The board will also consider a $500,000 contract with Iris Telehealth to provide online psychiatric treatment for patients identified by county Health and Human Services.

Meeting details: The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube

-Saphara Harrell

March 23, 2021 at 10:20am

Salem receives award for tree care, community engagement

Victoria Canchola pats soil down around a tree she just planted. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Salem received an award from the Arbor Day Foundation for the 15th time for showing higher levels of tree care and community engagement with their urban forestry programs, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, which distributes the award.

Salem was the first city in Oregon to receive the Tree City USA distinction, but La Grande has received the growth award the most times – 29.

Cities can receive the award by revamping a tree ordinance, conducting a tree inventory, holding a tree fair and improving social equity outreach.

“Even though in 2020 the pandemic was very disruptive, forcing the cancellation of many in-person events, many Oregon cities and towns were still able to get a lot done in terms of improving tree care. And cities became very creative in engaging with the public while keeping social distance,” said Kristin Ramstad, Oregon Department of Forestry Urban and Community Forestry Assistance program manager, in a statement.

-Saphara Harrell