Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Fireworks now for sale in Oregon

June 23, 2022 at 5:35pm

Willamette Valley saw highest job growth in Oregon regions over past year

May 2022 unemployment rates across Oregon (Oregon Employment Department)

The Willamette Valley has added jobs faster than any other region in Oregon over the past year, the Oregon Employment Department said Wednesday.

Jobs in the region are up 4.1% over the past year, compared to 3.7% in the Portland Metro area, 3.3% in central Oregon, 1.3% on the Oregon coast, 0.8% in eastern Oregon and 0.7% in southern Oregon.

The local unemployment rate continued to decline in May, hitting a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.6% in the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Marion and Polk counties, according to state data released Wednesday. Oregon overall also had a 3.6% unemployment rate in May.

Salem's unemployment rate has continued to decline from a high of 11.3% in April 2020. In January, local unemployment was 4.2%. It was 3.7% in April.

-Rachel Alexander

June 23, 2022 at 4:00pm

Child care providers will see higher state reimbursements

Children play at the Oregon Child Development Coalition's North Lancaster preschool. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Day care providers and preschools in Salem will see more money from the state to provide care for low-income families.

The Oregon Department of Human Services on June 1 raised reimbursement rates for child care centers and home-based programs. Rates vary based on the age of the child and the certification level of the provider or child care center.

In Salem, the new rates range from $611 monthly for a school-aged child receiving family care to $1,190 per month for an infant at a certified child center. The new amounts are posted online.

The changes are intended to make care more accessible to families who would otherwise struggle to afford it, the department said in a news release.

Rates were last increased on Jan. 1. The previous reimbursement rates in Salem ranged from $518 per month for a school-aged child at home to $973 per month for an infant in a certified child care center.

Oregonians who earn less than a specified amount each month can qualify for child care subsidies through two programs: Employment Related Day Care and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The state human services department pays up to the maximum reimbursement rate to the center directly. The family is then responsible for any additional cost, as well as a copay amount set by the state that varies based on income.

Families that earn below the federal poverty limit do not pay a copay, and the average copay is $16 per month, said Jake Sunderland, a department spokesman.

“As our child care system continues to struggle with staffing shortages and lack of child care supply, this is an important first step to ensure our child care providers are paid a fair wage,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee in a statement.

-Rachel Alexander

June 23, 2022 at 9:41am

Fire officials urge caution as Oregon fireworks sales start Thursday

Sparklers and fireworks on sale in Salem (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Salem residents can start prepping for Fourth of July when fireworks sales begin Thursday.

Retail fireworks can be sold through July 6 in Oregon, according to the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal.

The use or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground without a permit issued by the fire marshal's office is banned under state law.

Fireworks known as bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon without a permit.

"Officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damages. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children," the agency said in the news release.

The city of Salem does not allow firework use in city parks, but otherwise has no additional restrictions in place.

Kyle McMann, fire chief for Marion County Fire District No. 1., said his district has not set any fireworks restrictions beyond the state rules.

Polk County Fire District No. 1 also has not issued any additional fireworks restrictions, said Fire Chief Ben Stange.

Portland Fire and Rescue on Tuesday announced the city had banned the use of fireworks "due to drought conditions and the annual fires, injuries and deaths associated with the use of fireworks."

“Every year, we see fires started because of improper use or use of illegal fireworks. Our message is to keep it legal and keep it safe as people celebrate the holiday," said Mark Johnston, assistant chief deputy for the fire marshal's office, in a news release.

Fireworks can only be bought from permitted retailers and stands. The state fire marshal's office's website lists about 30 permitted fireworks retailers in Salem.

Anyone planning to visit public lands and parks should leave all fireworks at home, and possessing or using fireworks are banned in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management Lands, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service properties, state beaches, state parks and campgrounds, the agency said.

Using fireworks is also banned on many private lands protected by the state Department of Forestry.

Residents using fireworks should keep a garden hose or bucket of water available and keep children and pets away when lighting them, the agency said.

Fireworks should never be used near dry grass or vegetation. Duds should never be re-lit - wait 15 to 20 minutes before soaking them in a bucket of water and then disposing of them.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian