Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Memorial service set for Gerry Frank

March 22, 2022 at 4:03pm

Man charged with manslaughter, DUI in fatal crash Monday

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

A Waldport man was charged Monday with manslaughter and driving under the influence after a crash in south Salem that killed one person and seriously injured two others.

Jose de Jesus Briones, 39, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, two counts of third-degree assault, recklessly endangering another person and driving while under the influence of intoxicants in Marion County Circuit Court.

Around 9:45 a.m. Monday, Briones was driving a Subaru with three passengers west on Ewald Avenue when he hit a Jeep utility vehicle that was heading south on Liberty Road, the Salem Police Department said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.

Police said as the Jeep reached the intersection, the Subaru crossed its path and was hit on the passenger door.

The four occupants of the Subaru were transported to Salem Hospital, the news release said. Two passengers were treated for life-threatening injuries, one of whom later died.

Salem police said in the news release they would not identify the occupants.

The driver of the Jeep, 26-year-old Caleb Smith, was uninjured.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

March 22, 2022 at 3:24pm

AGENDA: Marion County commissioners consider funds for down payment assistance

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to consider adding funds to the county budget, and cutting an affordable housing development project to fund down payment assistance.


Commissioners will consider approving proclamations declaring March as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Marion County.

The board will consider redirecting funds in the county's Fiscal Year 2021-22 Annual Action Plan to dedicate around $466,000 to down payment assistance and $815,000 to helping homeowners rehabilitate their homes. The move would mean eliminating the following projects: $466,000 for affordable housing development, $415,000 for community infrastructure improvements, $250,000 for the Boys and Girls Club Northeast Lancaster Clubhouse, $50,000 for the AWARE Food Bank in Woodburn and $100,000 for Family Building Blocks.

Commissioners will also consider adding around $1.9 million to the county's budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, to be decided after a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. That would bring the new total to around $649.8 million.

They will consider adding around $47,000 to a contract with the Oregon Health Authority for services for women, infants and children, and removing around $113,000 intended for home visiting. Home visitors help pregnant women and families with young children have positive relationships and get connected with services, according to the state's website.

Meeting details: The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. Anyone can sign up to give public comment in-person at the meeting. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

March 22, 2022 at 10:53am

Salem City Council chooses Micki Varney to fill west Salem vacancy

Micki Varney was appointed to fill the Ward 8 vacancy on March 21.

West Salem has a new representative on the Salem City Council.  

On Monday, councilors unanimously chose Micki Varney to fill the Ward 8 vacancy left by Councilor Jim Lewis. Varney will serve the remainder of the term, which ends on Dec. 31.  

Varney, a salmon biologist, said she’s worked as a high school teacher and is a member of the West Salem Neighborhood Association and Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. 

“As a community educator, I know how to reach out to people and inform and engage them about issues. While my technical background is helpful in analyzing the problems that come before a city council, it’s also taught me how to use adaptive management approach to problems so I can be helpful and responsive to the needs of our community,” Varney told councilors during a Monday special session.

She was selected from among four finalists for the seat.

Varney is also running for the Ward 8 seat against Chris Cummings, CEO of Petra Technologies, in the May primary. That term will begin Jan. 1, 2023 and end in 2026.

-Saphara Harrell

March 22, 2022 at 9:49am

Public memorial for Gerry Frank set for May 19

Gerry Frank arrives at the dedication on Friday, July 23, of the Gerry Frank | Salem Rotary Amphitheater in Riverfront Park. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

A public memorial for Gerry Frank, considered "Mr. Oregon" for his life of dedication to his home state, will be held May 19 at the Salem Convention Center.

Frank died March 13 at age 98, leaving a legacy in business, politics and philanthropy. Born in 1923 in Portland, he served in World War II and followed his family into the department store business, opening the company's Salem store in 1955.

He then became an advisor to Mark Hatfield and served as the Republican Senator's chief of staff from 1973 to 1992. Frank was also active in Salem's civic life, raising millions for local charities and remaining involved in the Rotary Club of Salem until his death. The club's amphitheater, which opened in July in Riverfront Park, bears his name.

Frank's celebration of life begins at 10 a.m. at the Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial St. S.E., according to an obituary.

Guests are asked to RSVP to [email protected]

Donations in Frank's honor may be made to the Gerry Frank Center for Children's Care Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation, the Oregon State Police Foundation or the Oregon Historical Society.

-Rachel Alexander