Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem-Keizer schools start 2 hours late Tuesday

December 14, 2021 at 4:37pm

Icy Salem-area roads lead to multiple crashes

Salem-area law enforcement responded to multiple crashes Tuesday after roads turned icy overnight.

Lt. Treven Upkes, spokesman for the Salem Police Department, said the agency responded to nine crashes between 5 a.m. and noon Tuesday.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office responded to at least 13 crashes in the past 24 hours, spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Landers said Tuesday afternoon.

"Given the icy roads this morning, we saw a significant spike in crashes being reported to us," Landers said.

He said the sheriff's office doesn't respond to every crash that's called in due to limited resources. The agency prioritizes crashes that cause additional traffic issues or where someone is injured.

The city of Salem wrote in a Tuesday afternoon news release that Public Works snow and ice response staff "will be on stand-by" as weather forecasts show Salem and the Willamette Valley could continue having subfreezing temperatures with potential snow in the hills and the valley floor during the week.

"City snow plows and sanding equipment have been tested and are ready for use," the news release said.

A vehicle went off the road on Southeast Delaney Road on Tuesday, Dec. 14. (Courtesy/Marion Polk Traffic, Crime and Severe Weather Alerts)

Information about Salem snow routes is available on the city's Current Road Conditions Map

"Long-range forecasts indicate we may be in this weather pattern for a couple of weeks," the news release said.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

December 14, 2021 at 1:45pm

AGENDA: Marion County commissioners consider new public health medical director, grant for substance abuse services

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to consider a contract for a new public health medical director, a grant application for substance abuse services and a study of traffic and safety in the Cordon Road, Kuebler Avenue corridor.

AGENDA

Commissioners will consider a Behavioral Health Resource Network grant application to the Oregon Health Authority for screening, assessment, treatment, and recovery services for substance use disorders.

The board will consider a $200,000 contract with Caroline Grady Castillo to serve as public health medical director for Marion County's Public Health Program from Jan. 3, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022.

Commissioners will also consider a $241,000 contract with Salem-based engineering consulting firm DKS Associates, Inc. for a "study and management plan" to evaluate traffic congestion and safety in the Cordon Road, Kuebler Avenue corridor through March 31, 2024.

They will also consider a $229,090 agreement with Strider Construction Company, of which $190,370 will be paid with federal funds and $38,700 by the county, for traffic control and rock scaling to remove unstable rocks and boulders above North Fork Road through Dec. 31, 2022.

The commissioners will consider reappointing Mike Adams, Shannon Gubbels and Ken Outfleet to the Marion County Fair Board.

The board will consider appointing Josh Lair and Carlos Obed Texidor Maldonado to the Marion County Local Alcohol and Drug Planning Committee

Commissioners will also consider appointing Earlene Camarillo, Satyanarayana Chandragiri, Valeri Geer, Leon O. Harrington, Kristin Kuenz-Barber, Michael Mann and Nichole Miller to the Marion County Mental Health Advisory Committee.

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

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

December 14, 2021 at 10:17am

Help name a character for an upcoming Cherriots video

Gary Weaver, a transit operator with Cherriots, steps off of a freshly cleaned bus on May 22. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Cherriots wants your help naming a character that will be featured in an upcoming video from the transit service.

In a YouTube video posted Tuesday, an orange hand puppet said it snuck into Cherriots to visit its friends, which look like characters from Monsters Inc.

“I’ll be starring in an upcoming Cherriots video, but I’m so blue I don’t have a name. Can you pick a name for me and leave it in the comments below?” the creature asks.

There were no comments leaving name suggestions as of 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The puppet looks a bit like Gritty, the official mascot for the National Hockey League Team the Philadelphia Flyers.  

-Saphara Harrell

December 14, 2021 at 8:27am

UPDATED: Late decision to delay school frustrates Salem parents

Bus routes. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

A late decision by Salem-Keizer School District officials to delay the start of school two hours on Tuesday morning prompted frustration and confusion from parents and school employees.

District leaders notified parents at 7:13 a.m. after making a late decision because of worsening ice on the roads, district spokesman Aaron Harada said. That’s less than an hour before most district elementary schools begin classes at 7:50 a.m.

Parents took to the district’s Facebook page, saying they received word of the closure after they’d already dropped children at their bus stops or taken them to before school programs.

“I have defended the district’s decisions over the past two years but this one is a disaster: kids waiting at bus stops, some kids on the school bus when the call was made entirely too late because someone was not doing their job and paying attention to weather conditions,” wrote parent Rob Owen on Facebook.

Owen told Salem Reporter he was five minutes from heading out the door with his elementary school aged son when the call came. Other parents on the district’s Facebook page reported they had already taken kids to school or saw elementary schoolers waiting for delayed buses outside.

District policy is to make a decision about whether to close or delay schools due to weather by 5:15 a.m., according to the district website. Typically, that’s done by checking road conditions in the early morning hours before buses set out on their routes.

Tuesday’s decision came after the transportation department checked road conditions from 3 to 4:30 a.m. and found they were driveable, according to a post on the district website. Road conditions worsened after buses headed out on routes, leading to the late decision.

The post didn’t specify where conditions were checked prior to the call, and Harada did not provide further details by 4 p.m. Tuesday in response to questions from Salem Reporter.

Students already on buses when the decision was made were taken to school and supervised by staff, the district said.

-Rachel Alexander