Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Covid wave looks to be peaking in Salem area

June 3, 2022 at 4:00pm

A second year of expanded summer programs ahead for Salem schools

Salvador Luna, 13, scrapes batter off of a mixer as Stella Pedersen, 12, washes her hands while the two work on a cast-iron dessert during the Farm to Fork enrichment camp at McNary High School in July 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem students will once again see beefed-up summer programs at local schools thanks to a second year of significant state money.

State legislators appropriated $150 million toward summer programs earlier this year following a large expansion in funding in 2021 thanks to Covid relief payments.

That’s allowed the Salem-Keizer School District to offer over a dozen two-week summer camps for students in kindergarten through eighth grade focused on topics including stop-motion animation, gardening and soil science, Lego robotics and printmaking.

This year, the district received about $5 million for K-8 programs, and $2.4 million to serve high school students over the summer, said Nichole Spearman-Eskelsen, summer programs coordinator. 

With matching district funds, they’re spending about $9.3 million on camps, summer school and other summer programs for students in all grades. About 16,000 of the district’s roughly 40,000 students are enrolled.

“Since Covid, we’ve not been able to fully get back to where we were pre-Covid in our offerings,” Spearman-Eskelson said of summer school. That’s changing this year, with every elementary school in the district hosting “Jump Start Kindergarten,” a program at the end of summer for incoming kindergarten students to visit their neighborhood school, make friends, see their classroom and get familiar with the school environment before classes start.

Programs are also offered for incoming sixth and ninth graders to get familiar with new schools.

“We’re really trying to ensure students have a successful beginning at each of those transfers or changes in their academic career,” Spearman-Eskelsen said.

High schools will have credit recovery programs available. Elementary schools are also offering programs focused on reading and math skills targeted for third and fourth graders, who were the most behind grade level following online school according to district data, Speakman-Eskelsen said.

The school year ends June 16. Credit recovery programs begin soon after, while most other camps and activities start in July.

-Rachel Alexander

June 3, 2022 at 3:30pm

Salem's Epilogue graffitied with swastikas, anti-Black Lives Matter messaging

"Mostly peaceful" spray painted on a window at Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails (Facebook/Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails)

Editor's note: This story contains images of graffitied swastikas.

Jonathan Jones was having lunch on Memorial Day when he got a message from a customer telling him his restaurant, Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails, had been vandalized again.

Jones said someone graffitied swastikas and anti-Black Lives Matter messaging all over the business's windows and lampposts and sidewalk. They graffitied "all lives matter" on the sidewalk in front of the front door as well as "mostly peaceful."

He said the latter is about the coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests. "The racists have created this world that they believe in where Black people are violent," he said. "They've now started using that phrase as sort of a retort to any sort of social justice."

Their transgender inclusion flag and every "community-minded" sticker on the restaurant and nearby light pole were also spray painted.

Jones said restaurant's surveillance camera caught the perpetrator on video trying to shatter the front door.

He reported the incident to the state Department of Justice's bias crime unit.

A swastika graffitied near Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails (Facebook/Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails)

A trans inclusion flag spray painted over at Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails (Facebook/Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails)

Jones has been a vocal member of Salem’s Black Lives Matter movement. His restaurant was the scene of a New Years’ Day clash in 2021 between a group protecting the storefront and members of far-right groups like the Proud Boys and others, with nearly 50 officers intervening to separate the two groups.

Jones said the restaurant has been vandalized a couple of other times with grease paint, and they have received death threats and racist threats through voicemails and online.

He said it's important to him that his staff are safe, and that everyone feels welcome and protected at Epilogue.

"The restaurant is a really important space for a lot of people. There's not a lot of places where certain marginalized communities actually feel comfortable and welcome, and it means a lot to us to to make sure that that stays comfortable and safe for them," he said. "As far as me personally, this isn't my first rodeo and I think these these cowards are pretty used to people rolling over and just sort of letting things happen to them, and that's not me. So every time they try and make us quiet, we get louder and we get bigger."

He said people from the community turned out quickly and completely cleaned the building, sidewalk and light pole of any graffiti in around six hours.

"The only way to fight this, the only way to make the community safer is to actively push back against it," he said. "If your neighbor is flying a Confederate flag, saying something about that, making that person know that it's not welcome in your neighborhood. It takes a village to make sure that that actually gets driven out."

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

June 3, 2022 at 12:50pm

Salem weekly Covid report for June 3: Local hospitalizations flat, cases falling

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

New Covid cases reported locally and statewide fell this week after climbing for the past several. Hospitalizations are holding about flat locally and are down regionally.


The average number of Covid patients at Salem Hospital is about the same as last week, and the hospital remains very full.

As of Friday, June 3, the hospital had 27 inpatients with Covid, none in the ICU or on a ventilator. 

There were 523 of 494 licensed hospital beds in use. The hospital is able to care for more patients than it’s licensed for because of ongoing emergency declarations related to the pandemic.

Lisa Wood, Salem Health spokeswoman, said the number of hospitalized Covid patients over the past week has remained between 24 and 32. Last week, Wood said the daily number was between 23 and 41 Covid inpatients.

Region 2, which is Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties, had 48 people hospitalized with Covid as of June 2, compared with 58 the week prior and 36 two weeks ago.


The number of new Covid cases reported climbed statewide and in Marion and Polk Counties. This data is for the week ending June 2. 

Marion County: 103.7 new Covid cases per day on average, a rate of 208 cases per 100,000 residents.

That’s down from 108.7 average daily cases for the week ending May 25, but above 80.6 average daily cases the week ending May 18. 

12% of Covid tests this week were positive, up from 11.8% last week.

Polk County: 28.6 new Covid cases per day on average, a rate of 238.6 cases per 100,000 residents. 

That’s down from an average of 31.3 daily cases the week ending May 25 and above 27.7 daily cases the week ending May 18.

16.1% of Covid tests this week were positive, up from 11.9% last week.

Oregon: 1,462.6 new cases per day on average, down from 1,656.1 average daily cases the week prior; 10.6% of tests positive, compared with 10.7% the week prior.


The Oregon Health Authority switched to a monthly report on breakthrough cases and will release its next report June 7.


Oregon’s mask mandate lifted on March 11 at 11:59 p.m. 

-Rachel Alexander