Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Nearman pleads guilty; sentenced to community service

July 27, 2021 at 5:11pm

OHA recommends masks indoors for everyone, including fully vaccinated people

The statue of former Governor Tom McCall in Salem’s Riverfront Park had a mask added during the early months of the Covid pandemic (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

All Oregonians, including those fully vaccinated against Covid, should wear masks while indoors in public, the Oregon Health Authority said Tuesday.

The reversal comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday morning made a similar recommendation for areas in the U.S. with "substantial or high transmission" of Covid.

Oregon has recorded several weeks of climbing Covid diagnoses across the state which health authorities said are mostly among unvaccinated people. Health authorities said the spread of the more contagious Delta variant drove their decision.

On Tuesday, OHA recorded 1,032 Oregonians newly diagnosed with Covid, including 112 in Marion and 24 in Polk counties.

Statewide, 259 Oregonians are hospitalized with Covid, 77 of them in intensive care units.

OHA reports monthly the number of people diagnosed with Covid who have been vaccinated against the virus, but does not break down daily numbers or hospitalizations by vaccination status.

“Today’s reported sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations in Oregon are sobering reminders that the pandemic is not over, especially for Oregonians who remain unvaccinated,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist and state health officer, in a prepared statement.

“The highly contagious Delta variant has increased tenfold in the past two weeks in Oregon, and it is now estimated to be associated with 80% of the new cases in Oregon. The use of face masks provides significant protection for individuals who are unvaccinated as well as an additional level protection from a small but known risk of infection by the virus for persons who have already been vaccinated," Sidelinger said.

On May 18, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Oregonians fully vaccinated against Covid no longer needed to wear face masks indoors. On July 1, the state dropped nearly all Covid restrictions, allowing everyone to go maskless in public.

-Rachel Alexander

July 27, 2021 at 1:54pm

Salem police search for driver who fled after woman fell off hood of van


Salem police are looking for a Salem man suspected of driving off after a woman fatally fell off the hood of a van he was driving.

Police said they believe the driver is 53-year-old Robert Dornbusch.

Officers initially responded to the 600 block of Northeast Church Street for a report of a traffic collision Friday and found a woman in the road with significant injuries. She ultimately died at the scene, Salem police said in a news release Tuesday.

Police said she was seen traveling on the hood of a van traveling south on Church Street when she fell off and landed in the street. The van didn’t stop and fled the area, police said.

Police are not releasing the woman's name until next of kin have been notified.

Officers found the van abandoned in a nearby neighborhood, the release said. Detectives shut down Church Street for several hours. A K9 team searched for the suspect but was unsuccessful.

Detectives ask the public for information regarding Dornbusch’s whereabouts. Anyone with information on his current location should call the Salem Police tips line at 503-588-8477.

-Saphara Harrell

July 27, 2021 at 10:46am

AGENDA: Marion County commissioners meet to discuss road sign, paving agreements in wildfire burned areas

Colm Willis, Marion County commissioner, sits in on a homeless alliance executive meeting video conference on May 5, 2020. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to consider an agreement to install traffic signs and repair asphalt in areas burned in the Beachie Creek Fire.


Commissioners will consider a $119,942 agreement with Baker Rock Crushing, Inc. to install traffic and other information signs on North Fork Road.

They will also consider a $181,257 agreement with RiverBend Construction, Inc. for asphalt repairs on North Fork and Gates Hill roads through September.

They will consider approving a $477,860 purchase order with Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, Inc. to provide urinalysis testing services for people participating in Marion County Specialty Court programs through June 30, 2023.

Commissioners will consider approving a memorandum of understanding with the Marion County District Attorney’s Office to provide risk assessment and case management for specified, non-violent, property and drug offenders until June 30, 2023 at a cost of $236,741.

They will consider approving a $408,876 agreement with Emery and Sons Construction Group, LLC. for Americans with Disabilities Act improvements through Feb. 25, 2023. The agreement would improve a stretch of concrete along Northeast Lancaster Drive and add ADA ramps along Southeast Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast Shawnee Drive and Southeast Shenandoah Drive.

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

July 27, 2021 at 10:36am

Nearman pleads guilty for role in allowing demonstrators into Capitol

Former Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, at his desk on March 30, 2021 (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Former Oregon State Representative Mike Nearman pleaded guilty on July 27 for his part in allowing protestors into the Oregon Capitol building on Dec. 21.

Nearman will complete 80 hours of community service and pay $2,700 as part of the plea deal, according to court documents. Prosecutors dismissed the charge of criminal trespass in the second degree, a Class C misdemeanor. Nearman was sentenced on a charge of official misconduct in the first degree, a class A misdemeanor.

He will serve 18 months of bench probation and is barred from the state Capitol during that time. 

“This plea and sentencing concludes an embarrassing and disgraceful event in our state’s history,” said Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson in a statement on Tuesday. “I am thankful that no members of law enforcement, or anyone else were seriously injured as a result of Mr. Nearman’s irresponsible actions. Additionally, I am grateful to the Oregon State Police for their complete and thorough investigation that led to this conviction.”

Nearman was caught on security footage allowing protestors, some of who were armed, into the Capitol building when the facility was closed. The former representative and his attorney, Jason Short, did not return calls from Salem Reporter seeking comment on Tuesday.

But Nearman appeared on the Lars Larson Show shortly after his guilty plea on Tuesday and said he would have preferred the matter go to trial.

“The legal bills were stacking up and part of that is because the state police just kept piling on the evidence, every possible thing they could paperclip and throw at me,” he said, attributing his decision to plead guilty to “dollars and cents.” 

He went on to say he did not believe he committed a crime and did not do anything wrong. 

Nearman was expelled from his seat in the Oregon House on June 10, making him the first Oregon legislator expelled from the body. Nearman cast the sole vote opposing his expulsion.

Last month, a panel of county commissioners from House District 23, appointed Nearman staffer Anna Scharf to his seat. 

-Caitlyn May