Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Oregon April unemployment rate drops slightly

May 18, 2022 at 2:48pm

South honors thespian legend in black box theater dedication

The rebuilt Rose Auditorium in the new addition at South Salem High School on Oct. 21, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

South Salem High School's theater department will honor a local thespian legend Friday.

The school is dedicating its new black box theater to the late Phyllis Quanbeck, a longtime theater teacher who founded Children's Educational Theatre, a summer program that introduces students of all ages to theater performance and technical work.

"Quanbeck, or 'Q,' as she was affectionately known, was an outstanding educator and community pillar in Salem for over 40 years. As the theater teacher at South Salem High School, Phyllis had a robust and inspiring theater program," said Julianna Gibbons, South's theater teacher, in an email.

Gibbons said South is holding a dedication for the theater Friday at 5 p.m.

The black box theater was added to South as part of a $84 million renovation completed in the fall, which also included a rebuild of the Rose Auditorium.

"Though she passed in 2017, her presence in our lives will be sustained by this dedication," Gibbons said in an email.

The festivities will begin at 4:30 p.m. with refreshments available in the lobby. Following the dedication in the auditorium, guests can tour the new construction.

At 7 p.m., South students will begin their debut performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," the first show performed in the new black box theater.

Tickets and showtimes are available on the theater program website.

-Rachel Alexander

May 18, 2022 at 12:31pm

Marion County about halfway through ballots, with majority to be tallied by end of day Wednesday

Ryan Patraw processes ballots at the Marion County Clerk's Office in Salem on Monday, May 16. Each ballot goes through several steps before it is scanned to have the vote tabulated. (Ron Cooper/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Marion County elections workers have tabulated fewer than half of the ballots returned by voters, but expect to have the majority processed by the end of the day Wednesday.

Polk County too is still counting ballots, though elections clerks on Wednesday morning did not have an estimate of how many remained to be tallied.

That means there may not be a clear winner in some local races until Wednesday or later. Mayoral candidate Chris Hoy is up 1,861 votes over opponent Chane Griggs, and the ward 4 city council race, which covers south central Salem, has Dynee Medlock winning by just 28 votes over Deanna Gwyn.

County Clerk Bill Burgess told Salem Reporter that as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, his office had received 70,285 ballots for the May 17 primary election. Several thousand more arrived in the mail Wednesday morning and have not been processed, he said.

After two rounds of counting Tuesday night, Marion County had recorded votes for 32,014 people, or fewer than half of ballots returned in total.

Burgess said his office will post an updated count by 5 p.m. Wednesday which will include an additional 30,000 to 35,000 ballots - the majority of those received so far, but with several thousand still to be counted.

Ballots are likely to trickle in for days due to a change in Oregon law which for the first time allows ballots postmarked by Tuesday to be counted. Previously, Oregon law required ballots to be received at the elections office or a county dropbox by 8 p.m. on election day to be tabulated.

Burgess said the impact of that law on the election remains to be seen.

“We’re not sure how the mail is going to turn out," he told Salem Reporter Tuesday night.

In Polk County, initial results Tuesday night included 18,084 ballots. An elections worker reached by phone Wednesday said the office did not have an estimate of how many ballots remained to be counted because they were still being scanned in.

Polk County will also post updated results by the end of the day Wednesday.

-Rachel Alexander

May 18, 2022 at 11:23am

Oregon's April unemployment rate inches down to 3.7%, state data shows

The statewide unemployment rate inched down to 3.7 in April, dropping one-tenth of a percentage point from 3.8% in March, Oregon Employment Department data showed.

The rate is nearing the state's record low of 3.4%, which the department recorded each month from November 2019 to February 2020, according to a press release.

Throughout the past two years, Oregon and the nation have experienced similar trends as their economies and labor markets have recovered from the pandemic recession.

Both the statewide and U.S. unemployment rates spiked to more than 13% by April 2020 before dropping to below 7% six months later. Both also lost about 14% of payroll jobs between February and April 2020, before recovering about one-third of those jobs three months and continuing to gradually recover.

But Oregon is slightly lagging behind the U.S. in overall jobs recovered, the press release said. The U.S. added back 95% of jobs lost during the pandemic, while Oregon has recovered 88% of jobs lost.

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted employment, which doesn't include impacts from seasonal patterns, shows the state added 4,200 jobs in April after gaining 7,000 jobs in March. In April, the largest gains were 1,800 jobs added in health care and social assistance, 1,300 in manufacturing and 1,300 in professional and business services. The only major industry that cut at least 1,000 jobs was "other services," which lost 1,000, according to the release.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian