Local News That Matters

UPDATES: City wants skater input on Geer Park design

March 28, 2022 at 4:48pm

Hundreds in Salem area apply for rental assistance during 1-week extension, state says

Homes on Smokestack Lane Northeast on Jan. 12. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

State housing officials said Monday they received nearly 600 applications for rental assistance in Marion and Polk counties during the week the deadline to apply was extended.

The program, run by the state Housing and Community Services department, was intended to help Oregonians struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic.

State officials planned to stop accepting new applications for rental assistance on March 14 but announced a one-week extension after the federal Department of Treasury committed to giving the state an additional $16 million.

Between March 14 and 21, 482 people in Marion County applied for assistance through the program as well as 112 Polk County residents, said OHCS spokeswoman Beth Byrne in an email Monday.

Spokesman James Kwasnik said Friday afternoon that the agency was reviewing applications for eligibility and prioritizing assistance for household most in need.

"Depending on the number of eligible applications we may or may not have sufficient funds to pay every application in the system," he said in an email. "However, every application will receive a notification if there aren't sufficient funds to pay their application so the applicant can seek funds from other programs."

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

March 28, 2022 at 2:36pm

Police identify four killed in homeless encampment crash Sunday

A tree in a landscaped strip on Northeast Front Street bears the scar from where a car crashed through a homeless camp on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Four people died. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem police on Monday afternoon identified four people who were killed when a vehicle struck a downtown roadside encampment early Sunday.

The Salem Police Department in a news release identified those in the encampment who died as:

-Jowand Beck, 24

-Luke Kagey, 21

-Joe Posada III, 54

-Rochelle Zamacona, 29

Two more people in the camp, 43-year-old Derrick Hart and 18-year-old Savaanah Miller, remain hospitalized.

Police said in a statement Sunday that they suffered life-threatening injuries from the crash. As of Monday afternoon, both were in "fair" condition at Salem Hospital, said Lisa Wood, Salem Health spokeswoman, meaning that their vitals were stable and they were conscious and alert with some complications or pain.

Derrick Hart organizes his possessions as he prepares to move them out of Marion Square Park during the eviction of a homeless encampment at the park on Thursday, Mar. 3, 2022. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Hart was among dozens who was camping at Marion Square Park before a city sweep on March 3. City leaders acknowledged in a statement ahead of the sweep that there wasn't enough shelter space or available housing for those displaced.

Salem police said in the news release they have notified family members of all the victims except Jowand Beck, as investigators were unable to locate his family. Anyone who has a way to contact them can call the department's traffic team at 503-588-6293.

"Sunday’s crash was such a tragic incident," Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack said in the statement. "Our department will continue working with our social service partners and supporting them in any way possible as we move forward together with our community.”

Read more about the aftermath of the crash here.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

March 28, 2022 at 12:45pm

Weigh in on skate park design for Geer Park

Two proposed design options for the Geer Park Skate Park (City of Salem)

Skaters have a few more days to weigh in on two city proposals for a skate park at Geer Park.

Architects have proposed two designs, each about 20,000 square feet, as part of a redesign of the park at 241 Geer Drive N.E.

The first design, Option A, features more street features, while Option B features more transitional and flow features. The first option also includes a green space in the center of the park.

The city's design process is being led by Evergreen Skateparks. City officials are seeking feedback on the design proposals and desired features. Take a survey in English here or in Spanish here. The survey closes at midnight on March 30.

Construction on Geer Park improvements, including the skate park, is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2024. More information about the project is available on the city website.

-Rachel Alexander