Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Silver Falls, Champoeg state parks to see improvements

16 days ago

Oregon State Penitentiary superintendent still on paid leave 3 months after HR investigation opened

The Oregon State Penitentiary on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

State corrections officials are still investigating the Oregon State Penitentiary's superintendent three months after he was placed on administrative leave.

Brandon Kelly served as superintendent at the Salem prison from 2016 until he was placed on administrative leave in August pending an investigation by the Oregon Department of Corrections' human resources department.

The corrections department hasn't provided details on what the investigation was regarding. Jen Black, spokesperson for the department, said in August that human resources investigations concern conduct between department employees, not between employees and people in prison.

Black said Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing, but she expects it will be completed "soon."

"All of our employee services employees were so busy with the vaccine mandate requirements. I think a lot of other things got behind schedule," she said.

The Oregon State Penitentiary is the oldest and only maximum-security prison that the corrections department operates. The prison holds about 1,500 people.

The agency said in August that Kelly would continue receiving his $14,238 monthly salary while on leave.

He started working at the corrections department in 1997 as a correctional officer at the state prison.

Corey Fhuere has been the prison's acting superintendent since Kelly has been on leave.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

17 days ago

Salem Health now offering appointments for kids' Covid vaccines

Tom McLeod, an EMT with Metro West Ambulance, readies a second dose of the Moderna vaccine at a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Centennial Park in Woodburn, Ore. on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem Health is now making online appointments for kids ages five to 11 to get a Covid vaccine.

The region's largest health provider opened online appointment scheduling this week after giving a handful of pediatric vaccine doses at an event last week, Salem Health spokesperson Lisa Wood said. Kids don't need to have a primary care doctor or have previous been seen in a Salem Health clinic to make an appointment.

The pediatric vaccine is made by Pfizer and is about half the dose of the adult vaccine. Kids require two shots to be fully vaccinated.

Wood said in an email it took several weeks from Oregon's Nov. 3 approval of pediatric vaccines to get online appointments up and running because of "some complexities in building the electronic health record system for this patient population." She said Salem Health, which is the region's vaccine distribution hub, also prioritized getting vaccine doses for kids to other pediatric clinics in the area.

Pediatric vaccine appointments can now be scheduled at most Salem Health clinics, with limited walk-in appointments available at urgent care centers. Children can also get a shot at the Salem Health Edgewater clinic during a scheduled pediatric appointment.

Pediatric vaccines will also be available at mobile vaccine clinics in November, Wood said. Those include an event running through 6 p.m. Thursday at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, as well as in Independence, Woodburn and Dallas in the coming days. A full schedule is on the Salem Health website.

Wood said Salem Health expects to be able to administer about 1,500 vaccine doses to kids for the rest of November, and about 700 weekly in December.

To date, 1,955 kids in Marion County and 611 kids in Polk County have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

-Rachel Alexander

17 days ago

Silver Falls, Champoeg state parks to get new campsites

Silver Falls in October 2021. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Two state parks in Marion County will get upgrades in the spring, including new camping spots and a trailhead.

The projects at Silver Falls State Park and Champoeg State Heritage Area are due to $50 million form the state Legislature in general obligation bonds to fund state park facility improvements, according to a news release from Oregon State Parks.

Silver Falls State Park will get a new campground with restrooms and shower facilities. There will also be North Gateway Visitor Center and a new North Canyon trailhead and parking lot. The current RV dump station will also be moved.

That project is estimated to cost $8-10 million and will include improvements such as water, electrical, and sewer systems, the release said.

Champoeg State Heritage Area will get a new camping loop, riverside cabins, and a restroom and shower building.

There could be upgrades to the current drain field or develop an additional drain field and possible electrical and water systems upgrades. That project is expected to cost $3-5 million.

Those improvements are expected to begin in May. 

-Saphara Harrell