Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem City Council meets Monday to continue hearing on code changes

December 10, 2021 at 6:14pm

Salem-Keizer says uptick in hoax threats, false information disrupting local schools

Salem-Keizer School District officials along with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies say a recent uptick in hoax threats have disrupted local schools and caused unnecessary fear.

"Recently, we have experienced an increase in school threats, rumors of threats, and the spread of false information, which has been disrupting our learning environments and creating fear in the community," said a joint statement issued Friday afternoon by the district, FBI, Marion County Sheriff's Office, Salem and Keizer police departments, Safe Oregon and Liberty House.

The statement did not detail any specific hoaxes or provide data about how many the district has seen recently. District spokeswoman Emily Hicks said she did not immediately have numbers available.

The statement comes several weeks after a lockdown at McKay High School triggered by a student reporting they saw a classmate with a gun. Police responded and never located a weapon, but school administrators told Salem Reporter they didn't believe the report was false.

During the lockdown, senior Grace Caldwell, who serves as the student advisor to the school board, said misinformation shared on social media led her and many of her classmates to believe there was a shooting at the school, with some people sharing video from inside the building that had been edited to add sounds of gunshots.

Hicks said during that lockdown, false rumors also spread online about a possible connection or student with a weapon at South Salem High School. That prompted the district to email parents to let them know the information was false "to help dispel some of the panic/misinformation impacting them," Hicks said in an email.

"These threats—often issued via text message or posted on social media—are taken very seriously. Our law enforcement partners investigate every tip to ensure the safety of our students, staff and community. Hoax threats can result in both arrest by law enforcement and/or suspension or expulsion by the school district. Hoax threats are not a joke, and they can have devastating consequences—both for the public and for those who post them," the statement said.

"In addition to the individual consequences a person may face, these threats have a serious impact on our community. They divert district resources from providing support for students and disrupt the learning environment for hundreds of students. Law enforcement resources are diverted from investigating other crimes, and they cost taxpayers a lot of money. The threats can also cause severe emotional distress to students, school staff and families," the statement said.

The district and other agencies urged people to report threats to local law enforcement or to SafeOregon by calling or sending a text to 844-472-3367, or using the SafeOregon app.

-Rachel Alexander

December 10, 2021 at 4:36pm

Holiday market offers handmade gifts all weekend

Canned vegetables on display at the Salem Saturday Market (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Candles, fresh baked goods and salvaged wood decor will be among the items on offer at Salem's annual Holiday Market, which opens Friday evening at the state fairgrounds.

Over 250 vendors with handmade or homegrown products will be on display at the Jackman Long Building, which is accessible from the west side of the fairgrounds off 17th Street Northeast.

Other features include animals available for adoption, tree decorating and gingerbread house contests and an interactive robotics exhibit from the Chemeketa Community College robotics program.

The market is open Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The annual event is organized by Salem Community Markets, the organization which has put on the city's weekly Saturday farmers market for over 20 years during the spring and summer.

More information is available on the market's website.

-Rachel Alexander

December 10, 2021 at 3:18pm

Jared Miller, Marion County Sheriff's Office sergeant, dies at 41 from Covid complications

Sgt. Jared Miller (Courtesy/Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Jared Miller, a sergeant with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, died Thursday from Covid-related complications.

Miller, 41, was employed at the sheriff's office since 2005, where he worked as a corrections deputy, field training officer, survival skills instructor and negotiator on the SWAT team, according to a Friday news release.

Miller was promoted to sergeant in 2019 and, at the time of his death, was a supervisor at the Marion County Jail.

He is survived by his wife Jolene.

The sheriff's office said in the news release that it will announce a memorial service for Miller at a later date. "We appreciate the support from our community during this difficult time and respect for the privacy of the family as they grieve the loss of their loved one," the news release said.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

December 10, 2021 at 11:35am

City ceremony will light up Riverfront Park Friday night

(Facebook/City of Salem)

Riverfront Park will be beaming with thousands of lights starting Friday night.

Salem’s 26th annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony will have music and a tree with 4,000 LED lights put on by city parks operations staff, the city’s website said.

The event starts 5:30 p.m. at the Riverfront Park Rotary Pavilion at 200 Water Street N.E.

 Mayor Chuck Bennett and a “special guest” will switch on the lights, which will be up through December, the website said.

The event will also be broadcast live If you are unable to make it to the park in person, this year's event will also air live on Cable Channel 23 and be streamed on YouTube

“Family and friends are welcome to attend this joyous occasion but please plan for the weather for this outdoor event. Remember to have an umbrella in case of rain and bundle up for colder temperatures for one of Salem's most cherished traditions,” the website said.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

December 10, 2021 at 10:57am

AGENDA: Salem City Council meets Monday to continue public hearing on code changes

Salem City Council Chambers. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Salem City Council meets Monday to continue a hearing on proposed changes to its unified development code, consider garbage rate increases and vote to appoint members to boards.


During the council’s Dec. 6 meeting, councilors heard more than an hour and a half of testimony on the proposed changes which include updates to comply with a state law that requires cities make it easier to build housing like duplexes and cottage clusters, reduces the size of Oregon white oaks that can be cut, and expands the types of poultry residents can keep to include birds like pheasants, pigeons and quail.

The council will also consider proposed increases to garbage rates starting in 2023.

Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association, the body comprised of the six solid waste haulers serving Salem, are proposing a 4.2% increase for roll cart services and a 2% increase for container services provided in Marion County. No rate increase is proposed for Polk County.

A Salem resident on the Marion County side of the Willamette River with a typical, 35-gallon cart can expect to pay more than $1 more each month in 2023, with rates rising from $32.05 to $33.40.

Mid-Valley is also requesting 95-gallon residential service be added as a new service in Salem starting in the new year as more people working from home wanted larger garbage cans.

The council will vote to recommend appointments and reappointments to the Citizen Budget Committee, Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission, Downtown Advisory Board, Salem Cultural and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board, Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Salem Public Art Commission. 

How to participate: Watch meeting online on YouTube or CC:Media Channel 21. Submit comments on agenda items by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting at [email protected] Public comment and testimony may also be provided during the meeting via Zoom. Pre-register between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting at the following link: https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/Public-Comment-at-Salem-City-CouncilMeeting.aspx.

-Saphara Harrell