Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Death investigation ensues after Friday morning fire

November 19, 2021 at 4:46pm

Free turkey giveaway Monday for families in need

Families in need who want a Thanksgiving bird are in luck.

On Monday starting at 9 a.m., Salem law firm Olsen Daines is giving away 400 free turkeys, according to the firm's website.

The turkeys are first come, first served, with a limit of one per family. The business is located at 3995 Hagers Grove Rd. S.E. 

-Saphara Harrell

November 19, 2021 at 3:59pm

Police looking for man who walked away from corrections warehouse Friday

The Oregon State Penitentiary on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

State corrections officials and police are looking for a man in custody who they say walked away from an Oregon Corrections Enterprises warehouse Friday morning.

Benjamin Dean Woods walked away from the warehouse on Oregon State Penitentiary grounds in Salem around 10:15 a.m., according to a corrections department news release.

People in custody can be paid to do varying jobs at the warehouse including making furniture, metal work and laundry, said corrections department spokesperson Jennifer Black.

Black said there are Oregon Corrections Enterprises employees and a corrections department security officer onsite at the warehouse. The Oregon Corrections Enterprises employees are responsible for counting the adults in custody and go through the same training as corrections department security except for firearms and use of force training. "OCE participates in general self-defense," she said.

Woods, 38, of Keizer, is a white male who is 5-foot-10, weighs 190 pounds and has blue eyes and brown hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue T-shirt and a sweatshirt, the news release said.

Woods entered the correction's department's custody on March 24. He pleaded guilty in February 2019 to attempted first-degree burglary and in March 2020 to first-degree burglary, both in Marion County Circuit Court, according to court records.

He was housed at the Santiam Correctional Institution and was working as a clerk at the corrections enterprise warehouse. His earliest release date is Aug. 29, 2024.

The corrections department's Fugitive Apprehension Unit and the Oregon State Police are investigating the walkaway.  The department asked anyone with information to contact the state police at 1-800-452-7888, their local police department's non emergency number or the Fugitive Apprehension Unit at 503-569-0734.

"Do not approach Woods," the news release said.

State officials are also still looking for Brandy Woodward and Shelly Radan, two women who walked away from the corrections department's commissary facility on Oct. 11.

Both were incarcerated at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. They left the facility with a boxcutter and a "heavy lock that could be used as a weapon," Black said. The department said in a news release that the women should be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached.

Benjamin Dean Woods (Courtesy/Oregon Department of Corrections)

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

November 19, 2021 at 1:44pm

Oregon unemployment fell in October as private sector gains outpaced public sector losses

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell again in October, largely thanks to jobs added in leisure and hospitality, business services, construction and manufacturing.

But the state also saw an unusual loss in local government jobs, according to a news release from the Oregon Employment Department, largely driven by trends in school hiring.

The state’s October unemployment rate was 4.4%, down from 4.7% in September.

“In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4,700 in October, following a revised gain of 700 jobs in September. In October, the private sector grew rapidly by adding 10,300 jobs, but that gain was diminished by a loss of 5,600 jobs in government. October’s total nonfarm employment gain was less than the average of 6,800 jobs added per month during the prior six months,” the department said in a news release.

Gail Krumenauer, Oregon’s employment economist, said Oregon saw job losses in local government in both September and October after large gains in the summer.

That’s an unusual pattern, she said, because jobs in both K-12 and higher education are typically “highly seasonal,” with many workers going off payroll in the summer and then ramping up in the fall.

This year, Krumenauer said that didn’t happen for several reasons. Many school districts already laid off workers during the 2020-21 school year who weren’t needed as classes moved online. An expansion of summer programs intended to help kids catch up after a year of online classes also meant fewer education job losses in the summer.

School districts and community colleges also saw declining enrollment, meaning in some cases fewer employees were needed. And Krumenauer said the numbers also reflect the difficulty of filling open local government jobs in education.

“They can’t hire as much as they want to hire, and that’s not unique to education,” she said.

Though Oregon’s vaccination mandate for educators went into effect in October, Krumenauer said she didn’t believe that played a significant role in the numbers. That’s because the department’s data was collected over a period ending Oct. 12, before the Oct. 18 mandate deadline. Also, she said the rest of the U.S., including states without vaccination mandates, are seeing similar trends.

“We’re also at a time when we’re seeing record quits nationwide,” she said. “All of those things together, it creates a painful situation for employers to lose workers.”

-Rachel Alexander

November 19, 2021 at 12:18pm

Two people found dead during fire investigation Friday morning

Salem’s police and fire departments are investigating after finding two people and a dog dead in a west Salem home following a fire Friday morning.

Around 7:55 a.m., a fire was reported in the 1100 block of 8th Street Northwest, where witnesses said they saw smoke coming from a single-story home, the Salem Police Department said in a news release.

The Salem Fire Department responded with four fire engines, one ladder truck and a medic unit, and Salem police officers helped control traffic.

Firefighters quickly contained and extinguished a “small fire” inside the home.

During the fire investigation, two people were found inside the home and pronounced dead at the scene, the release said.

Lt. Debbie Aguilar, a Salem police spokesperson, declined to say the ages or genders of the victims, or whether they died in the fire.

Three dogs were also found - one inside the home that died, and two outside the home that survived and are being cared for by neighbors.

The news release said the Salem police and fire departments are investigating the incident and would not release any additional information.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian