Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Construction to kick off at Sprague, West Salem high schools

May 25, 2021 at 4:42pm

Marion, Polk counties remain thousands of vaccines shy of state targets to loosen restrictions

Moderna vaccine doses at a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Centennial Park in Woodburn, Ore. on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

About 28,000 adults living in Marion County still need to get a first dose of Covid vaccine to hit a state target for loosening business and venue restrictions, according to Oregon Health Authority data from Tuesday.

Polk County is closer to the target set by Gov. Kate Brown for 65% of residents 16 and older to take the vaccine. Once a county reaches that target, it can apply to move to the state's "low risk" category, which allows restaurants, gyms and theaters to host guests indoors at 50% capacity and faith gatherings at 75% of building capacity.

Polk County still needs about 3,100 adults to get a first shot to hit that target. It currently has a first dose vaccination rate of 60.3% for adults.

Marion County now sits at 54.8% of eligible adults with at least one dose of vaccine, up from 52.5% one week ago.

The updated numbers released Tuesday come as Brown announced Multnomah County is the latest in Oregon to move to lower restrictions based on vaccination rates. Oregon as a whole will drop business, event and venue capacity restrictions once 70% of Oregonians 16 or older have had at least one dose of Covid vaccine.

As of Tuesday, 64.3% of Oregonians 16 and older had gotten at least one dose of vaccine, up from 62.3% one week ago. Brown on Friday announced a lottery drawing for Oregonians who have gotten their Covid vaccine as part of a state effort to boost vaccination rates.

-Rachel Alexander

May 25, 2021 at 1:00pm

Salem area unemployment rate remains essentially unchanged

Construction workers with Mike Riddle Construction build a home in Salem. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The unemployment rate for the Salem area was 5.9% for April remaining essentially unchanged from the 5.8% rate from March. 

The local unemployment rate again hovered just below the statewide rate of 6% for April, unchanged from the previous month. 

According to Oregon Employment Department numbers, the Salem area added 1,200 jobs in April. Unlike previous employment reports, the area's leisure and hospitality industry, which has been steadily recovering from the pandemic, did not see the largest increases in employment. 

Private-sector industries that saw the largest jobs gains were professional and business services, as well as construction. Each industry saw gains of more than 400 jobs. State government added 100 jobs and local government 200 jobs. Manufacturing shed 200 jobs. 

There are still 7,500 fewer jobs in the Salem area than in February of 2020.

-Jake Thomas

May 25, 2021 at 11:11am

Construction to kick off at Sprague, West Salem high schools

A graduation ceremony at Sprague High School on Thursday, August 6, 2020. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Two Salem high schools will get more classrooms and other improvements as construction projects begin this summer.

West Salem and Sprague are the final high schools in the Salem-Keizer School District to be renovated as part of a $620 million school construction package local voters approved in 2018. Improvements at Sprague are budgeted for $42 million, and at West for $34 million.

Groundbreaking ceremonies at both schools will outline the work planned. Sprague's groundbreaking is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 27 outside the school's main entrance. West's will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, May 28 outside the main entrance.

Both events will be live-streamed on the district's YouTube channel.

Expansions at North Salem and McNary high schools were completed at the start of the school year. McKay and South Salem high schools are currently under construction, with renovations scheduled to finish this fall.

High school construction projects were intended to relieve overcrowding across the district through more classroom space, as well as improve career and technical education and arts facilities.

-Rachel Alexander