Local News That Matters

UPDATES: AARP Oregon honors Salem mayor

May 25, 2022 at 4:28pm

Help city, county plan Cordon Road development through online "open house"

Map of the Cordon Road corridor (Courtesy/City of Salem)

The city of Salem and Marion County are seeking community input to help plan future work on Cordon Road between Kuebler Boulevard and Hazelgreen Road.

An online "open house" went live Monday as the city, county and Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments work on a plan for future growth and development along the Cordon Road corridor, according to the county's website.

The project goals include adding a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists, roundabouts to improve mobility and safe crossings, a draft vision plan said.

The open house is available through June 6.

It provides an interactive map and allows people to leave comments identifying "key mobility and safety issues" for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and drivers along the corridor, the website said.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

May 25, 2022 at 3:16pm

Oregon scientists want your help gathering data on turtles

A Western pond turtle, one of Oregon's native turtle species (Courtesy/Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife)

Oregon scientists want your help keeping track of the state's native turtles.

Western Oregon University in partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and several other agencies have launched "Oregon Turtles," a website and app for citizen scientists to track their turtle sightings and help inform state conservation practices.

Biologists are hoping to hear from you about turtles spotted while out and about. That will help the state wildlife agency better assess turtle distribution, habitats and population trends, and make conservation plans, according to a news release from WOU.

GET INVOLVED: Download the Oregon Turtles app for Android or iPhone, or report a sighting online.

The city of Salem is a partner on the project and is hoping to gather data to better understand turtle habitat around the city, said Trevor Smith, spokesman for the parks department.

Researchers are seeking data on both species of freshwater turtles native to Oregon - the Western pond turtle and Western painted turtle - as well as the non-native red-eared slider and the invasive common snapping turtle. Information about identifying all four species is available on the website.

Gareth Hopkins, assistant professor of biology at WOU, has led field work studying turtles at Minto Brown Island Park for about three years and said the city has partnered in supporting that research.

The city is helping develop educational signs around the park to inform the public about turtles and how to report their sightings, Hopkins said.

"While we are hoping that the Oregon Turtles app is used broadly throughout the state, it really had its 'genesis' at Minto Brown, which has acted as a critical 'testing ground' for its use!" Hopkins said in an email.

Smith said the city is hoping to get a better sense of where else in Salem turtles are found.

"Most of the research on native turtles in Salem has been conducted in Minto Brown Island Park, but we know there is suitable turtle habitat dispersed throughout the city. Residents can help us learn more about the distribution of turtles in Salem by downloading the WOU’s free app and reporting observations wherever they see turtles in nature. Look for our native freshwater turtles anywhere you see a pond, lake, stream, or marsh adjacent to an upland area with natural vegetation," Smith said in an email.

-Rachel Alexander

May 25, 2022 at 12:17pm

Salem mayor honored for age-friendly city work

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett won AARP Oregon's inaugural age-friendly community champion award in May 2022(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon's chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons on Monday honored Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett with its inaugural Age-Friendly Champion award.

Bandana Shrestha, AARP state director for Oregon, presented the award at Monday's city council meeting, citing Bennett's leadership as the city undertook a comprehensive analysis of services and needs for older residents in 2018.

Salem, under Bennett's leadership, has prioritized thinking about the needs of older residents in planning for transportation, housing and other major city projects, she said.

Shrestha also mentioned the work of Center 50+, a city-run community center, during the pandemic to keep older Salemites engaged and stave off social isolation.

The award is intended to “recognize individuals and organizations who’ve made significant contributions in making Oregon communities great places to live, work and play for older Oregonians and their families," Shrestha said during the meeting.

She called the projects she described "amazing, timely, very impactful work that would not have been possible without the support and championing from leadership.”

Bennett said he was honored to receive the award, but that credit should also go to city staff, particularly Marilyn Daily, Center 50+ director.

Bennett is leaving office at the end of 2022 after three terms as mayor. He said Monday his work on making Salem friendlier to seniors is among his proudest accomplishments, and urged city councilors to continue to consider older Salemites in their planning and decisionmaking.

“When you think of equity, think of your elders. They are often, often left out of the mix. They’re our parents, they’re our grandparents," he said. “Keep them in mind when you make decisions."

-Rachel Alexander