Local News That Matters

UPDATES: 'Dangerously hot' weather could hit Salem in coming days

July 28, 2021 at 4:47pm

Ike Box to host block party to thank community for saving historic building

Angel Wilson, center, a barista at IKE Box, works on a drink order alongside co-workers Alex Simmons, left, and Brandon Sanders, right, on May 12, 2020. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Ike Box wants to put on a party for you.

The central Salem coffee shop and community hub is hosting a block party, Rockin’ the Box, on Wednesday, Aug. 4 from 4-9 p.m.

The event will include live music, games and food trucks on Chemeketa Street Northeast outside Ike Box, located at 299 Cottage Street Northeast. The coffee shop is operated by Isaac's Room, a Salem nonprofit organization serving young people with job training and apprenticeships.

The celebration is intended to thank donors and supporters who raised money allowing Isaac's Room to buy the land the shop sits on from the Family YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties. Supporters cited the many community benefits of Ike Box, which for years has operated as a performance venue for local bands, meeting area for book clubs and 12 step programs and more.

The land deal, finalized in June 2020, allowed Ike Box to remain in place as the YMCA tore down its old building and began construction on a new center. The coffee shop operates in what was once a funeral home, and the large central parlor with angel motifs on the wall reminds guests of the building's origins.

The block party will include musical performances by Rich Swanger & The Little Known Band from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and The FlexTones from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., according to a news release.

Salem teens enrolled in the city's summer service program, CAREcorps, have landscaped around the Ike Box and helped spread word about the party to neighboring businesses in preparation, said Andrew Kalmen, who's working with the CAREcorps program this summer.

Kalmen said the event will include a children's entertainment area with a variety of games including giant Jenga, cornhole, tetherball, musical chairs, bingo, duck-duck goose, a rock-paper-scissors tournament, red-light green light, balloon-foot stomping, and limbo.

Food trucks including Uncle Troy’s Barbecue, Azul’s Taco House and Kona Ice will offer food for purchase, the release said. The IKE Box will also be open during the event serving drinks.

-Rachel Alexander

July 28, 2021 at 4:03pm

Eligible Oregon businesses will see break in unemployment insurance

A closed sign in Engelberg Antiks in downtown Salem on Thursday, March 19. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Businesses in Oregon may get some additional pandemic relief thanks to a new law allowing a deferral of 2021 unemployment insurance payroll taxes. 

Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 3389 on July 27. The legislation will automatically enroll qualifying businesses for a financial break that will provide three benefits: one-third of of unemployment insurance can be deferred until June 30, 2022, up to 100% of those deferrable taxes may be forgiven dependent on the tax increase from 2020-2021 and the employer’s tax experience rating from 2022 to 2023 will be rolled back to pre-pandemic levels. 

The level of the 2021 unemployment insurance that businesses are eligible to defer, according to the Oregon Employment Department, depends on how much their unemployment insurance rate increased from 2020-2021.

A 0.5% to 1% increase will be eligible for deferral only. Businesses that saw an increase of more than 1% will be eligible for 50% of their deferred payments to be forgiven. An increase of more than 1.5% means 75% of their deferred payments can be forgiven. If a business saw more than a 2% increase, it is eligible for 100% of its deferrable unemployment insurance tax payments to be forgiven. 

“There is no question that Oregon’s economic backbone, our small businesses—as well as the hardworking Oregonians employed at those businesses—were deeply impacted by the pandemic,” said Governor Brown in a prepared statement regarding the legislation. “But through these challenging times, we’ve seen Oregonians respond with creativity and resilience. As we’ve entered the next chapter of the pandemic and look to economic recovery, HB 3389 should provide some relief for businesses, while at the same time ensuring we can continue to provide unemployment insurance benefits to all Oregonians who need them.” 

To qualify, businesses must meet three conditions: all outstanding unemployment insurance tax contributions must be paid, all payroll reports for 2021 must be filed and employers must pay all tax liabilities on time for 2021 that are not deferred or forgiven. 

At a press conference held on Tuesday, Oregon Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld said of the bill, “This legislation is another tool to help our economy through the recovery.”

-Caitlyn May

July 28, 2021 at 5:03am

'Excessive heat' watch issued for Salem area

People cool off in the Willamette River at Wallace Marine Park on Saturday, June 26. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The National Weather Service warned Wednesday that “dangerously hot conditions” are possible in Salem from Thursday through Saturday – but not the extremes experienced in June.

The agency issued an “excessive heat watch” and forecast the high temperature in Salem to hit 99 on Thursday and reach 100 on Friday.

Salem and the Willamette Valley will be feeling the effects of a weather system that is parking a high pressure system over the Midwest.

“Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the forecast said.

“This event is NOT expected to produce anything near the extreme temperatures which happened in late June of this year. However, even though the current heat event is not likely to reach the caliber of the June event, precautions should still be taken,” the weather service said.

Salem hit a record high 117 on Monday, June 28.

“Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the weather service said.