Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem golf course honored for habitat work

March 30, 2022 at 3:18pm

Benches in Englewood Park defaced with racist, homophobic graffiti

(Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Several benches in Englewood Park were defaced with racist and homophobic graffiti, neighborhood residents reported Wednesday.

Lynn Takata, co-chair of Northeast Neighbors, said she discovered the graffiti Wednesday morning while walking in the park. She and other residents reported it to city staff.

Photos taken by Takata showed two park benches spray painted with a swastika, "KKK," a homophobic slur and "we kill" followed by a racist slur referring to Black people.

“It’s just outrageous," Takata said. “I was just walking through the park and it’s very peaceful here."

The park is adjacent to Englewood Elementary School.

City spokesman Trevor Smith said park maintenance workers were cleaning up the graffiti Wednesday afternoon.

"Unfortunately, graffiti is an almost daily occurrence throughout Salem’s Park system but we are unaware of any other locations that have been defaced with this type of language," Smith said in an email. "The City of Salem is committed to creating a respectful, accountable, proactive, and inclusive community where all are welcome and condemns messages of racism and white supremacy."

The Salem Police Department as of Wednesday afternoon hadn't receive a report from a resident about the graffiti.

"We definitely investigate these incidents, but it is very important for residents to call in and make a report," spokeswoman Angie Hedrick said in an email. "If someone saw the hate speech graffiti or knows something about the incident, we ask them to please call in."

Regarding whether Salem police have seen similar incidents recently, Hedrick said there have been no reports of hate crime graffiti in the last month.

Any graffiti containing hate speech or symbols should be immediately reported to the Salem police non-emergency line at 503-588-6123. "Doing so allows us to do an investigation, develop any investigative leads, and have it removed," she said.

Other types of graffiti in the city can be reported by phone at 503-371-4264 or email at [email protected]

This story was updated with a response from the Salem Police Department.

-Rachel Alexander

March 30, 2022 at 2:26pm

Salem homeowners can get wildfire advice during Thursday webinar

An aerial view of a grass fire burning near the 4100 block of Vitae Springs Road South near Salem on Monday, Sept. 13. (Courtesy/Reader photo)

Salem homeowners, including those who live near wooded or open fields, can learn how to protect their property against wildfires in a free webinar hosted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The online event is scheduled for one hour, starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 31. Those interested need to register online.

The presentation in “What is the Home Ignition Zone?” will “focus on the home and the first 100 feet around it,” according to the state announcement. “The team will highlight simple, easy solutions that could make a difference in the event of a wildfire.”

A Salem neighborhood experienced the threat of urban wildfires last September, when brush caught fire following a car accident in the Vitae Springs area. About three dozen homes had to be evacuated until firefighters could stop the fire.

“We want to remind folks that wildfire can impact all Oregonians. Unfortunately, we have seen examples in Oregon over the past couple of years where fires occur close to cities and towns,” said Alison Green, public affairs director for the state fire marshal. “The most recent example was in Boulder, Colorado, where a grass fire impacted the city and commercial buildings over the holiday season.”

March 30, 2022 at 1:38pm

Man who walked away from corrections laundry sorting building arrested in Vancouver

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

Police on Tuesday night arrested a man state corrections officials said walked away from an Oregon Corrections Enterprises laundry sorting building in Salem last month while in custody, according to an Oregon Department of Corrections news release.

The Clark County Sheriff's Office arrested Bohanna McQuiston in Vancouver, the news release said.

The Clark County Jail's roster showed he remained in custody as of Wednesday afternoon.

State corrections officials said McQuiston walked away the morning of Feb. 16 from the building on the grounds of the Oregon State Penitentiary at 2605 State Street.

McQuiston entered state Department of Corrections custody on Jan. 11, 2021, on two counts of burglary in Clackamas County and one count of burglary in Washington County. His earliest release date is Feb. 6, 2024, an original news release said.

He was in custody at Santiam Correctional Institution, a minimum-security prison in Salem that houses around 440 adults in custody within four years of being released, and was working as a laundry worker for Oregon Corrections Enterprises.

The prison "concentrates on work opportunities, most of which are in the form of work crews contracting with state agencies, local organizations, and private industries within a 60-mile radius of Salem," the news release said.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

March 30, 2022 at 11:19am

Illahe Hills earns national environmental designation

Workers at Illahe Hills Country Club have worked to improve wildlife habitat and conditions, earning a national citation from Audubon International. (Kassi Roosth)

A special focus on improving wildlife habitat and teaching about nature has earned Illahe Hills Country Club a national designation from Audubon International.

Audubon recently recognized the Salem golf club as a “certified Audubon cooperative sanctuary." Only 19 other golf courses in Oregon have such certification.

"Illahe Hills Country Club has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program,” according to a statement from Christine Kane, Audubon International CEO. “They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property.”

Through the Audubon Program, Illahe added more nesting boxes, added native plants, removed invasive weeds and improved pond aeration. Golf course employees also updated sprinkler heads and changed how they handle chemicals.

The club also hosted nature education events for children and adults, according to an Audubon press release.

“Clubs often overlook their outreach and education programs, however, this does not appear to be the case at Illahe Hills Country Club,” an Audubon reviewer wrote. “We are so pleased to see you involve staff, membership, and the community in so many initiatives.”

Earlier this week, children gathered at the wildlife garden, certified through the National Wildlife Federation, to add plants and mulch made from chips of trees damaged during last winter’s ice storm. Next month, a state wildlife biologist will help them conduct fish surveys to determine what kind of fish are in the golf course ponds.

And from May through November, club residents and members of the Salem Aubudon Society conduct monthly bird surveys. At last count, 92 species were on the grounds.

Audobon International credited Kassi Roosth, Illahe’s education and outreach coordinator, for leading the work to get the national certification.

The private club was founded in 1959 by Reynolds Allen, Erwin Batterman, Chandler Brown, Carl Gerlinger, Vern McMullen, Owen Miller, Vern Miller, Merritt Truax and Bruce Williams. The course, about five miles southwest of downtown Salem, opened for play in 1961.

–Les Zaitz