Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem City Council meets Monday

April 11, 2022 at 4:02pm

Get your spring garden on with plants from FFA students

The greenhouse at McKay High School in spring 2021 as students prepared for the annual plant sale. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

If you're looking to grow tomatoes, peppers, herbs or just have some spring color in your garden, Salem high school students want to help.

The Salem-Keizer Future Farmers of America chapter, located at McKay High School, has opened orders for its annual spring plant sale. Proceeds benefit the chapter, allowing students to participate in conferences and programs.

Starts available include basil, cilantro, melons, cucumbers, squash and more, and generally cost between $1 and $3.

Order will be available for pickup at McKay High School on May 3 and 4 from 4-7 p.m.

-Rachel Alexander

April 11, 2022 at 12:50pm

Man indicted on additional charges in crash that killed four in Salem homeless camp

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

A Salem man police say drove through a downtown homeless encampment, killing four, now faces three additional charges for reckless endangerment.

A Marion County grand jury on April 4 indicted Enrique Rodriguez, Jr., 24, on four counts of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, driving under the influence, reckless driving and three counts of recklessly endangering another person in Marion County Circuit Court.

The manslaughter charges allege Rodriguez caused the deaths recklessly and "under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life," according to the indictment.

Witnesses reported seeing Rodriguez on March 27 driving his 2003 Nissan 300ZX with a California license plate at 60-70 miles per hour in a 35 zone, headed north on Northeast Front Street approaching Union Street, a Salem Police Department probable cause affidavit said.

He failed to follow a slight curve in the road, crossed the raised center median, left the road and crashed into the encampment along Front Street, the affidavit said.

The crash killed four people living at the camp and injured two more.

Salem police identified those killed in the crash as Jowand Beck, 24, Luke Kagey, 21, Joe Posada III, 54, and Rochelle Zamacona, 29.

Two more people in the camp were hospitalized. Derrick Hart suffered broken ribs, a possible fractured back and an open fracture to his ankle. Savannah Miller suffered broken ribs and four life-threatening lacerations to her liver. The car "narrowly missed" five others, according to the affidavit.

As of April 7, Miller had been released from the hospital and Hart was in good condition, Salem Health spokeswoman Lisa Wood said.

A blood draw showed Rodriguez's blood-alcohol level was 0.26, the affidavit said, over three times the legal limit of 0.08.

Jimmy Jones, executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, said following the crash that the deaths mark a turning point for how state and local leaders regulate homeless camps.

Jones told Salem Reporter said expects state legislators during the 2023 session will consider requiring cities and counties to set aside property for managed or unmanaged camping.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

April 11, 2022 at 12:00pm

AGENDA: Salem City Council meets Monday to consider motion on request for proposal of mobile crisis unit

Brenton Gicker, left, prepares to pull CAHOOTS van toward a 911 call at Eugene Public Library.

The Salem City Council meets Monday evening to consider a motion from Councilor Vanessa Nordyke directing city officials to request a proposal for a mobile crisis response unit in Salem.


Councilors will consider transferring $200,000 from the general fund to cover "unforeseen expenses" for implementing the Salem Climate Action Plan.

The council will consider approving a one-year contract extension of the 2019-2022 collective bargaining agreement between the city and the fire fighter union. They will also consider a one-year extension of the city's 2019-2022 collective bargaining agreement with 911 Professional Communication Employees' Association. Both agreements would span from July 2022 through June 2023.

They will consider adopting the National Fire Protection Association’s response time standard of 5 minutes and 20 seconds between an emergency call and the first unit's arrival 90% of the time for all "emergency fire and special operations," the action item said. The standard is 5 minutes from the report to arrival for all other emergency calls.

Councilors will consider adding Juneteenth, a federal and state holiday traditionally celebrated as the end of slavery in the U.S., as a paid holiday for eligible city employees.

The council will also consider a motion from Nordyke to direct staff to explore creating a request for proposals to operate a mobile crisis unit.

Nordyke said in a Facebook post Thursday that every city needs mental health first responders, and that Salem is overdue to contract with a community organization to respond to people experiencing mental health crises.

"Mobile crisis units save lives and save money, by diverting folks from costly trips to our city’s only emergency room, freeing up our police officers and firefighters for higher acuity calls, and more," she wrote.

Despite widespread public support for a crisis response program separate from police, the city last fall paused plans to start one through United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley after learning the state money they hoped to use had to first go through Marion County. Meanwhile, county officials said they didn’t want to pursue a program that overlapped with crisis response services already in place.

The plans for a non-police crisis response program drew broad support from Salem residents who testified as the city was planning its budget for the coming year. Nearly 100 people wrote to the budget committee asking members to recommend funding for a program and more than a thousand signed a petition.

A similar program in Eugene, CAHOOTS, has received national attention in recent years as more U.S. cities look for alternatives to law enforcement responding to mental health concerns.

Nordyke said people can show support for the idea by emailing [email protected] and citycou[email protected] with the subject line: “Vote yes on Agenda Item 5.b: Motion from Councilor Vanessa Nordyke regarding directing staff to explore the creation of a request for proposals to operate a mobile crisis unit," and explain why they believe Salem needs a mobile crisis unit. They can also pre-register before 2 p.m. to testify at the meeting.

How to participate: View the meeting on YouTube or watch on CC:Media Channel 21. Submit comments on agenda items by 5 p.m. on 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

-Ardeshir Tabrizian