Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Vitae Springs Fire evacuations reduced to Level 1

September 14, 2021 at 5:45pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Sept. 14, 2021

Salem Hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

With Covid cases and hospitalizations climbing in Oregon, Salem Reporter is keeping you informed of the latest numbers. Here’s our report for Tuesday, Sept. 14. 

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 205

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 44

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 97 as of Tuesday morning, the same as Monday. Of those, 22 are in the intensive care unit, and 22 are on ventilators. Eighty-three of those in the hospital are not vaccinated against Covid.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 464 of 494 licensed beds in use

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 166, the same as Monday. Of those, 40 are in the intensive care unit and 18 are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 94 of 98 staffed ICU beds and 685 of 710 non-ICU beds in use. 

New Covid deaths reported: 44

OHA has been reporting the demographic information on Covid deaths two days later. None of the weekend’s reported deaths included Marion or Polk county residents. 

New Covid vaccines in Oregon: 3,754 new Covid vaccine doses administered on Sept. 13, including at least 2,307 first doses. 

Source: Oregon Health Authority, Salem Health

-Saphara Harrell

September 14, 2021 at 4:21pm

70-year-old Salem man arrested, charged in armed deli robbery

A Salem man faces charges related to an armed robbery at Cooper’s Deli in northeast Salem on Thursday.

Danny Kay Alston, 70, was charged Tuesday with first-degree robbery with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm in Marion County Circuit Court, according to court documents.

The Salem Police Department received a “hold-up” alarm from Cooper’s Deli around 1 a.m., where they saw Alston exit the deli and walk In the officers’ directions, a Tuesday news release said. He quickly turned when he saw the officers and went in the opposite directions.

Following a brief chase, Alston complied with commands and police arrested him, finding a loaded .22 caliber pistol in his possession.

“Officers reviewed store video surveillance and confirmed Alston had robbed the deli,” the news release said. Police recovered the stolen property and returned it to its owners.

Alston was lodged at the Marion County Correctional Facility. His arraignment was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Marion County Circuit Court Annex.

Alston previously pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in Josephine County in 2001 and was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison, according to court records.

Correction: This article was updated to correct a reference to Alston's last name. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

September 14, 2021 at 4:13pm

Salem police investigating three drive-by shootings

Salem police are investigating three drive-by shootings in northeast Salem Monday which detectives believe are linked.

Nobody was shot or injured in the shootings, according to a department press release.

The first shooting struck a house in the 4500 block of Sunnyview Road Northeast around 3:15 p.m.

Around 11 p.m., a second shooting took place in the 1500 block of Evergreen Avenue Northeast. Seven minutes later, police received reports of a third shooting in the 3400 block of 30th Avenue Northeast.

Vehicles and apartments were hit with multiple bullets in those shootings, police said.

Witnesses reported a current-model white sedan in the area for all three shootings.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Salem Police Tips Line at 503-588-8477. 

-Rachel Alexander

September 14, 2021 at 12:30pm

Oregon's unemployment rate falls below 5% for first time since pandemic began

Oregon Employment Department. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

For the first time since the Covid pandemic began, Oregon's unemployment rate is below 5%.

That's according to the latest statewide job numbers released Tuesday by the Oregon Employment Department, which recorded a 4.9% unemployment rate for August. In July, Oregon had a 5.2% unemployment rate.

The number of employed Oregonians grew by 7,900 in August. Industries adding the most jobs included government (3,500), wholesale trade (1,400), leisure and hospitality (1,200) and professional and business services (1,000). Retail trade jobs fell by 1,900.

Oregon has recovered 204,700 jobs since April 2020, the employment department said. That's 72% of the jobs lost during the recession. 

Despite the jobs added in recent months in leisure and hospitality, that sector remains the hardest-hit by the pandemic. The industry remains 44,300 jobs below its peak employment in February 2020 and has regained just 60% of jobs lost during the early months of the pandemic.

County and city unemployment data for August will be released Sept. 19, the department said.

-Rachel Alexander

September 14, 2021 at 11:21am

UPDATED: Firefighters contain scrap metal fire in northeast Salem

Salem firefighters conducts aerial attack on scrap metal pile. (City of Salem)

The Salem Fire Department put out a scrap metal fire reported Tuesday morning at Cherry City Metals on Kanz Court Northeast in Salem.

The department responded to the fire around 9:25 a.m. and found a metal pile on fire and "emitting a large dark plume of smoke," according to a Tuesday morning news release.

Crews used aerial resources to control the fire and were still fighting it as of 10:05 a.m.

The cause of the fire remains unknown and no injuries have been reported.

Salem fire controls scrap metal fire (City of Salem)

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

September 14, 2021 at 11:01am

AGENDA: Marion County commissioners meet Wednesday to consider mental health support contract, appointments

The view from Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis' office in downtown Salem on May 5, 2020. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meet Wednesday to consider mental health contracts and appointments.


Commissioners will consider a $238,080 contract with Bridgeway Recovery Services to provide dedicated counselors for drug and alcohol treatment and mental health support for people in Marion County Circuit Court Specialty Court Programs through June 30, 2023.

They will consider a $141,440 contract with Partnerships in Community Living, Inc. to pass-through state general funds for room, board and medical services for one client with a developmental disability through June 30, 2023.

Commissioners will consider appointing Stephen Staten and Kaitlyn Waid to the Marion County Parks Commission with terms ending September 15, 2025.

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

September 14, 2021 at 10:28am

Vitae Springs Fire evacuations reduced to Level 1; 50 acres burned

The car that started the grass fire along Vitae Springs Road South on Monday, Sept. 13 (Salem Fire Department photo)

Update: As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, all evacuations for the fire have been lifted. Original story below.

Evacuations for the Vitae Springs Fire south of Salem were reduced to a Level 1 status, meaning residents should be ready for potential evacuation.

The advisory covers the south side of the 4000 – 43000 block of Vitae Springs Road South, including side roads River Springs Drive South and River Heights Lane South, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Tuesday morning.

Around 12:45 p.m. on Monday, a car struck a telephone power pole on Vitae Road South around the 4,000 block, where it started a grass fire and brush fire, Salem Fire Chief Mike Niblock said at a Salem City Council meeting Monday evening.

“With the breeze that we had today, that quickly turned into a pretty large event,” Niblock said at the meeting.

The fire quickly spread to around 50 acres across the hillside and put three to four homes in “immediate jeopardy,” he said.

Crews contained the fire around 4 p.m. on Monday before it reached the uphill side in a forested area, where 35 residents had been contacted — mostly door-to-door — and asked to leave immediately. Niblock said no structures were lost and nobody was injured.

Crews at one point requested a helicopter water drop but canceled the request before deploying it.

Niblock said nearly all Salem fire personnel responded to the fire, with assistance from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office and Marion and Polk county agencies.

“I’d encourage people to really be careful with fire outside,” he said. “It’s super, super dry still, even though were in September, and the fires can really get away really quickly

-Ardeshir Tabrizian