STATE GOVERNMENT January 26
Here are Salem-area legislators' top priorities for the 2021 session
Lawmakers need to pass a two-year budget, and Democrats, who are in the majority, have set an ambitious agenda including health care and racial equity. Local lawmakers have an eye on issues ranging from civics education to property tax relief for people affected by wildfires.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT January 26
AROUND OREGON: Riley Hill, mayor of Ontario, sues his own city over $500
Ontario mayor and developer Riley Hill is appealing a civil penalty levied on his company, Eldorado Investments Inc, for a nuisance ordinance involving weeds and an abandoned car left on one of the company's lots. His company recently took the city to court to overturn the penalty.
STATE GOVERNMENT January 25
PHOTOS: With elbow bumps and lots of masks, the Oregon State Senate gets down to business
The state Capitol is closed because of pandemic restrictions. But a photographer with Salem Reporter was able to snap some shots as the Senate began its work for the session that's scheduled to last until June.
FreeCOVID IN SALEM January 25
Covid cases, hospitalizations falling in Salem area after winter surge
A steep climb in Covid-related hospitalizations in November and December led to record deaths tied to the virus locally. Now, pandemic numbers in the Salem area and in Oregon are looking better, though still far above numbers needed for the state to loosen business restrictions.
WATCHDOG January 25
WATCHDOG: Salem board set up to review police complaints hasn’t seen one in 5 years
Salem’s Community Police Review Board was created more than 20 years ago when citizens wanted to answer community concerns about unequal treatment of minorities by police officers. An examination by Salem Reporter discovered the board isn’t working as intended.
STATE POLITICS January 22
New poll finds a majority of Oregonians say they'll get the Covid vaccine and also don't want more taxes
Oregon Business and Industry released the results of a poll on Friday. It found that splits among groups willing to get the vaccine. It also found that Oregonians want the Legislature to take a light touch on policy proposals during the session currently underway. Democrats signaled they have other ideas.
FreeCOVID VACCINATION January 22
Most Oregon seniors will be eligible for Covid vaccine in February, but hospitals raise concerns about supply
Gov. Kate Brown and state health officials laid out a more detailed timeline for vaccinating Oregon's seniors, but spent much of a press conference defending their decision to prioritize Covid vaccines for teachers and educators.
OREGON LEGISLATURE January 22
PHOTOS: With increased security and doors closed to the public, Oregon Legislature resumes its work
The Oregon Legislature resumed its 2021 session on Thursday, which is scheduled to run through June. With concerns about repeats of unrest Salem has seen over the last month, lawmakers delayed work after the session officially began on Tuesday. Committee work will remain virtual and the building will remain closed to the public because of the pandemic.
HOMELESSNESS January 22
With space for 100, temporary homeless camp to open at state fairgrounds
After nearly a year of no business, the Oregon State Fairgrounds is allowing a managed camp on its property. City leaders say it’s a step toward ending emergency camping in city parks.
PUBLIC SAFETY January 21
Inauguration Day protests fizzled. But in downtown Salem, anxiety lingers
Only a handful of protesters showed after Oregon's capital city fretted for a week over armed demonstrations and the possibility of more political violence. While downtown business owners breathed a sigh of relief, they remain on edge.
SALEM AREA EVENTS January 21
Salem Reads returns, encouraging residents to pick up a book and a take a walk with a shelter dog
A month of events are scheduled virtually for this year’s Salem Reads pick, “Walking with Peety,” a memoir from a man whose life was changed after adopting a shelter dog.
LOCAL SCHOOLS January 21
With fewer requirements and a disrupted senior year, Class of 2020 posts graduation records in Oregon, Salem
Because of the pandemic, Oregon waived some graduation requirements and ended senior year in April for students already passing classes needed to graduate. State and local officials said years of sustained work, rather than those changes, accounts for higher graduation rates.
COMMUNITY January 21
AROUND OREGON: Newspaper carrier helps elderly man stuck in tub for days
An elderly Klamath Falls man had been stuck in his tub for days until a newspaper carrier noticed papers piling up at his doorstep and alerted management.
LOCAL SCHOOLS January 21
By the numbers: Salem-Keizer hits 81% graduation rate for 2020
A pandemic interrupted senior year for the Class of 2020, with many seniors earning a diploma in April. Amid the chaos, most local high schools improved graduation rates.
CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK January 20
AROUND OREGON: Mollala Fire Department makes Covid-killing disinfectant
The fire department is making its own hypochlorous acid using a generator, salt and water after buying it proved costly. The acid sanitizes surfaces and kills Covid within 10-15 seconds.
LOCAL SCHOOLS January 20
New state guidelines mean Salem schools need Covid testing on-site to bring kids back
Covid case rates in Marion and Polk counties are still higher than a new state recommended threshold for resuming school, though reopening decisions are now up to local districts. Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry said the district is still committed to bringing elementary school kids back into classrooms in late February or early March.
STATE GOVERNMENT January 20
City of Salem is again asking the Legislature to help fund housing and homeless projects
Funding for a homeless shelter and affordable housing are the top priorities for Salem as the Legislature convenes. While the Legislature is just beginning its work, legislative leaders have signaled they're interested.
PUBLIC SAFETY January 19
After a week of bracing for disruptive Inauguration Day demonstrations, local law enforcement is still uncertain what to expect
The Salem Police Department is preparing for whatever may unfold at Oregon’s Capitol Wednesday, with little information on how many people will come or when an event might start. Salem’s police chief said officers will continue to prevent acts of violence and property damage.
FreeCOVID VACCINATION January 19
Teachers, school workers and child care providers in Marion County can now get Covid vaccines
Vaccinations for Oregon educators were supposed to begin next week, but Marion County received state permission to start early. Salem Health’s fairgrounds clinic is now open to school bus drivers, teachers, classroom aides and child care workers employed in Marion County, as well as Salem-Keizer district employees who work in Polk County.
SALEM BUSINESS January 19
BUSINESS ROUNDUP: $1 billion worth of weed, more jobs last fall, pandemic paycheck program returns
Oregon saw record cannabis sales in 2020. Employers had more job openings last fall. Paycheck Protection Program opens back up.
OREGON GOVERNMENT January 19
Clarno tries again to retire after stint as Oregon secretary of state
Bev Clarno is the last Republican to hold statewide office in Oregon, but she retired from service at the start of the year. She worries that partisanship is hindering good public policy work in the state.
SALEM COMMUNITY January 18
PHOTOS: Salem celebrates MLK Day with community meal, signs and speeches
Dozens of people lined up at Epilogue Kitchen & Cocktails for a sandwich, then listened to Martin Luther King Jr.'s words broadcast on local radio. Some waved signs in support of racial justice at the capitol and Riverfront Park.
SALEM COMMUNITY January 18
Gates family to get new home after property burned in Santiam Canyon wildfires
The Smith family had been living in a trailer after wildfires burned their home in September. They knew it wasn’t a permanent home. Luckily, they walked into the Santiam Hospital’s Service Integration Team at just the right moment.
SALEM COMMUNITY January 18
With "car choir," Chemeketa singers use wireless mics, transmitters to sing safely in person
Music director Kerry Burtis said virtual choir classes in 2020 were challenging, and many students dropped out because they were self-conscious recording videos of themselves singing. This quarter, he's hoping to rebuild the program through "car choir," a twice-weekly in-person class held in the college parking lot.
PUBLIC SAFETY January 17
PHOTOS: Capitol in Salem remains buttoned up as Legislature postpones
Concerned about possibly violent protests, state authorities have added extraordinary security to the Capitol.
OUTDOORS January 17
AROUND OREGON: New campgrounds, higher fees proposed for BLM sites in northwest Oregon
The proposal would include a new campground at Pine Creek along the Molalla River Corridor and higher fees at some sites that have grown in popularity in recent years.
PUBLIC SAFETY January 15
Salem braces for protests. How big? How many? No one is sure
As of Friday afternoon, law enforcement was expecting protests that could begin over the weekend and last until next week. But it’s not clear how many protesters will show up. Precautions are being taken regardless.
FreeCOVID VACCINATION January 15
With fewer Covid vaccines coming from feds, seniors now behind teachers in Oregon’s inoculation line
Oregonians 80 and older will now have to wait until Feb. 8 to get a Covid vaccine after Gov. Kate Brown prioritized school employees. The change comes after state leaders learned an expected influx of vaccines from a federal reserve wouldn’t arrive as promised.
COVID IN OREGON January 15
Facing a pandemic, record workload and armed protesters, Oregon's workplace watchdog sticks to its playbook
As the state has rolled out new Covid regulations, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration has become the state's top cop in enforcing many of them. At the center has been Michael Wood, administrator of the agency. Even though he's become a target, he remains undeterred.
COVID VACCINATION January 15
Confusion over Covid vaccine eligibility as some in Salem report getting shots outside state guidelines
Salem Health's Covid vaccine clinic has given over 15,000 people shots in the past week. The hospital says it's requiring people to say they're eligible under state guidelines, but multiple people reported they were never asked - or explicitly told they could receive a vaccine despite not meeting the criteria.