Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Oregon Ag Fest returns to Salem

April 21, 2022 at 4:14pm

City will revise skate park design plans after early feedback

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

Designers are reworking a proposal for a skate park at Geer Park after gathering public feedback on two early designs.

Salem's Parks Department is planning to construct a skate park in the spring and summer of 2024. The design team includes Evergreen Skateparks, a Portland-based company which designs and builds skate parks.

The 240 people who responded to a city survey slightly preferred Option B, a design which included more transition and flow features, over Option A, which had more street features like railings, according to a Thursday email from the city's parks department.

But respondents also liked the green space included in the center of the park in Option A.

The city's only current skate park is in Marion Square Park.

"Overall, people are most excited about having a new skate park at Geer Park. Although they do have opinions about specific design features, first and foremost, they want to have a new place to skate in Salem," the email said.

Designers will now develop a preferred plan for the skate park based on the survey feedback, the email said. The revised design will be available for public comment in June.

-Rachel Alexander

April 21, 2022 at 3:10pm

Salem leaders celebrate groundbreaking for domestic violence housing complex Hope Plaza

Jayne Downing, executive director of the Center for Hope and Safety, celebrates the groundbreaking for Hope Plaza Thursday in downtown Salem (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Soon after Sara Brennan began working at Salem's domestic violence nonprofit in 2006, she tried to apply for a credit card.

The Center for Hope and Safety was rejected for a $500 line of credit, she said, because the shoestring organization had no credit history and just six employees.

On Thursday, over a dozen employees clad in purple construction hats celebrated the groundbreaking for Hope Plaza - a $14 million, three-story apartment complex that will provide affordable long-term housing to domestic violence survivors and retail space in downtown Salem.

"To think that we would be now moving into a project with so many zeros behind it is pretty spectacular," Brennan said at the ceremony.

Dozens of local elected officials and civic leaders gathered to celebrate the project, which has received millions in funding from federal, state and local government and private foundations, allowing construction to begin with no debt.

Among its supporters were state Rep. Raquel Moore-Green and Sen. Deb Patterson, who spoke Thursday about a Christmas Eve 40 years ago when a young mother showed up on her doorstep with her infant wearing only a diaper because her partner had locked her out of the house following a violent outburst.

"When it's Christmas Eve and someone shows up saying there's no room in the inn ... you find room," Patterson said. Gesturing to the Center's employees, she continued, "You have been finding room at the inn for years and what you're building here will be finding room so that no woman and no child in an icy wind, cold night ... can ever be turned away."

Construction was expected to begin this month, but Jayne Downing, the Center's executive director, said it's still likely a few months out because of some remaining requirements they need to meet before moving forward.

Downing teared up as she spoke to supporters and her employees.

"Thank you to an incredible staff that works so hard every day," she said. Though the project will mean more work for the Center, Downing said, "All I ever hear from them is 'I'm so glad we're doing more for survivors.'"

Staff from Salem's Center for Hope and Safety at the Hope Plaza groundbreaking on Thursday (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

-Rachel Alexander

April 21, 2022 at 11:19am

Oregon Ag Fest returns Saturday and Sunday in Salem

(Facebook/Oregon Ag Fest)

Oregon families this weekend can watch chicks hatch, ride ponies and take an old-fashioned wagon ride when the annual Oregon Ag Fest returns to Salem.

The festival is slated for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Oregon State Fairgrounds at 2330 17th St N.E.

The event is intended to help fill the gap between urban and rural life and "help families better understand where their food, fiber and flora come from," according to its website.

This weekend's Ag Fest will be the 33rd.

Activities for kids include planting seedlings, watching sheep get sheared and petting farm animals.

Attendees can also "touch, taste and buy" natural and processed ag products, watch demonstrations of old and new machinery and see the technology that brings products from farms to markets and then to homes, the event's website said.

Children 12 and under get without a fee, and nearly all activities at the festival are free.

Entry is $9 for for ages 13 and up. There is free parking in blue, orange and gravel lots.

Those looking to attend can avoid lines by buying advance tickets online or discounted tickets at their local Wilco.

Pets are not allowed at the event except for service animals.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian