Author: Helen Caswell

North Campus historic buildings will come down

At a January 25 meeting, Chusal, LLC, the developers who bid last year to purchase the North Campus property in “as-is” condition, met with the State of Oregon to try to reach a purchase solution prior to the final demolition of five historic buildings. The meeting, described by an attending North Campus neighbor as “contentious,” did not result in an agreement. This outcome means that final demolition of the five buildings, all listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, will occur in the next few weeks. The Oregon State Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has owned the 47-acre...

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Past council’s rush to expanded growth boundaries for third bridge appealed

Two petitioners, including a local citizens group and a state agency, have appealed a December 5, 2016 Salem city council vote to allow an expansion of the city’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to support a new, third Bridge across the Willamette River. The notices of appeals were made to the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). A third group is protesting the same city council vote with a petition that seeks to get the matter placed on a public ballot. On December 5, Salem city council voted 5 – 2 to approve Ordinance 14-16. This ordinance modified the...

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Four candidates vie for vacant council seat

The city council seat for Ward 6, the ward located in the central eastern region of Salem, has been vacant since the November 2016 resignation of councilor Daniel Benjamin. That will soon change. At a December 5 meeting, city councilors voted to hold a special election this spring to determine who will fill Benjamin’s seat. The election will be held on March 14, 2017 and four candidates have declared they are running for a term that will end December 31, 2018. One is Jonathan Crow, who describes himself as “a married father of four sons who works full time, runs a small business and believes in service.” Crow’s top issue, he says, is to ensure that Ward 6 has a voice at City Hall. “Northeast Salem deserves the same focus as the rest of the wards in Salem,” he believes. He is also focused on transportation, believing the city should consider issues such as, “Uber, third bridge and 24/7 bus services.” Also running is business owner and chef Gregg Peterson. President of the Salem-Keizer NAACP for six  years and former member of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  Peterson has also served on the Board of Directors of the United Way and the Salem Leadership Foundation. He says a vote for him is a vote for improved public transportation, affordable housing, job creation and living wages....

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Neighbors angered by loss of potential at North Campus

There is not comparable property in all of Salem. The former “North Campus” of the Oregon State Hospital is a 47-acre parcel between D and State Streets, 23rd Street and Park Avenue. It is flat with no floodplain; it sits in a developed neighborhood within one mile of two full-service grocers and 1 ½ miles of major Salem employers. The land boasts seven historic buildings and is about ½ open ground, covered with numerous trees, many of them 130-150 years old. Neighbors and community observers view active plans by the state of Oregon to demolish five of seven historic...

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Permission to Hate

“After a very mean-spirited and toxic election, certain individuals have felt emboldened to verbally and physically target communities of color,” said Andrea Williams, Executive Director of Causa, an Oregon immigrants rights organization, at the November 28 City Council Meeting that censured former Councilor Daniel Benjamin for offensive online postings. “This is happening at our schools between students; we have the calls to prove it.” The increase in hate crimes since the election has been documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which on November 29 listed 867 post-election reported hate incidents nationwide, including 33 in Oregon. It’s also being...

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Many Nations, One Voice -Standing with Standing Rock

They came from as far as Florida, Alaska, and Hawaii, “from the four directions,” says Geronimo Warren, holy man elder from the Apache Nation. They were called to action by a Facebook post from organizer Leslie Bradley, a Lakota Sioux and great-great granddaughter of Chief American Horse. Bradley, an Oregonian, wanted Oregon to show solidarity with native people’s resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline. She had hoped 40 people might attend her rally on November 12 at the Capitol Mall. Ten times that number showed up. Young and old, Osage and Burns Paiute, Siletz and Apache. As Bradley posted,...

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International elections, American elections -An observer reflects

While many are still surprised  by the outcome of the United States’ General Election, and following suggestions by the Republican candidate that “rigging” might occur, Salem Weekly spoke with someone with considerable perspective on elections: Salem’s Les Margosian. Margosian has served as an international elections observer for 20 years. He has worked in more than 20 countries, largely with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) a treaty organization with 56 members—all European countries including former Eastern Bloc Countries. OSCE’s initial purpose was to monitor ceasefire agreements, particularly in former Yugoslavia, and prevent outbreaks of hostilities between...

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Oregon physicians oppose Marion County burning

Doctors and environmentalists oppose a proposal for Marion County to burn Portland garbage in local incinerators. They object to Metro, the regional government for people living in the Portland area, shipping 200,000 tons of waste each year to the Covanta Marion waste-to-energy facility in Brooks. 200,000 tons represents one-fifth of Metro’s yearly solid waste trash. Metro is considering a change because its contract to ship garbage to an eastern Oregon landfill expires at the end of 2019 and it is seeking new ways of addressing the problem. The Covinta facility says that if it took on the extra Metro...

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Pikas: Trapped at the Top

Described by scientists on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Oregon Field Guide as  “the cutest mammal,” the American Pika is a tiny, rabbit-like animal with round, Mickey Mouse like ears, a thick, a furry coat and no tail.  The small creature has evolved in a singular way, to carve a niche in rocky alpine terrain, often above the tree line. Pikas have adapted to survive in frigid climates where most mammals can’t – but they can perish in as few as six hours of 77-degree temperatures. Because of the animal’s vulnerability to heat, the National Park Service says that the charismatic...

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Poverty simulation builds empathy

A highly-rated exercise that allows participants to ‘walk in the shoes’ of those in poverty, promoting empathy and sparking more useful, authentic responses to those living in need, returns to Salem this November. “I remember feeling the stress in the room when the simulation was occurring,” says Kristen Aubert, who helped organize SAIF Corporation’s participation in 2014 and 2015. “People were scrambling, confused, frustrated and sad. It was a very moving experience to witness, and I heard many coworkers discussing it days and weeks later.” SAIF, an Oregon workers compensation insurance provider, participated in the program because it knows...

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Preservation of treasured garden sought at Sunnyslope Community

A South Salem neighborhood hopes that the City of Salem will make an administrative change so that a jewel to the community can be preserved. They say the possible redesignation of a small, key property is consistent with city goals. The issue was raised when the city accepted an offer on a similar, adjacent parcel. The land in question is Sunnyslope Community Garden, an .86-acre property that has existed since 2012 on city-owned land in the middle third of a strip just west of Liberty St. SE, between Lockwood Lane S and Cunningham Lane S. The garden sits on...

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Nice guy conditioned by the hate machine

“My dad really was radicalized,” says filmmaker Jen Senko, director of, The Brainwashing of My Dad, a documentary coming to the Salem Progressive Film Series. “I don’t mean he went around blowing stuff up, I just mean he was a fanatic. He became evangelical about his beliefs. He lived and breathed them. They were the most important thing to him.” For instance, after his “radicalization,” when her father sent emails, they were “always a forward of an extreme political email. They were never anything personal. When company would visit, he’d have to bring up his political point of view...

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Transit Board votes to oppose 3rd Bridge action

At the September 22 meeting of the Cherriots board, members voted to oppose the City of Salem’s land use action to expand Salem’s urban growth boundary (UGB) to accommodate a ‘3rd Bridge’ across the Willamette. Citing lack of funding, lack of planning and apparent lack of inclusive transit options, among other issues, the vote was unanimous. Cherriots is Salem-Keizer Transit, the agency dedicated to providing public transportation and enhancing the quality of life for the Salem and Keizer area. The board helps guide the agency in finding transportation solutions that best serve the community of Marion and Polk counties....

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Advocating for Peace in Salem

“Peace in the world would free up national resources – human as well as non-human – for investments in projects designed to improve the life of people,” says Pritam Rohila, Ph.D., founder of Oregonians For Peace. Rohila and other area peacemakers have organized a “34-Days for Peace” event again this year. A celebration and examination of peace, 34 Days for Peace began on September 21 – International Day of Peace – and ends on October 24, United Nations Day. Programs available to all, and usually at no charge, include peace vigils, a nonviolence book club, a meditation on Work...

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Poor, young Hispanic – and big winners

The true story of how four undocumented Mexican immigrant teenagers – given an opportunity and two amazing teachers – won First Place in a national robotics competition and bested teams from MIT and other major colleges – is not just a great tale, but one that many in Salem will soon know. Spare Parts, by Joshua Davis, is the first selection in an innovative community reading program sponsored by the Salem Public Library Foundation. In the short time since the Salem community was invited to read the book– readers have responded in droves. In the days following the title...

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Do new uniforms make Salem parking enforcement look more like police?

City of Salem’s parking enforcement officers have begun to sport a new uniform in recent months; navy blue shirts and tundra pants. When asked about it, a parking enforcer told Salem Weekly that the change was to make parking staff look less like police officers, to protect them against some possible hostility seen currently towards law enforcement in the country. But the reason was one of practicality, says Sheri Wahrgren, Downtown Revitalization Manager in the Urban Development Department for the City of Salem. “The company that the City contracts with for uniforms has a limited number of color choices,”...

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Reimagining Salem as a Strong Town

About the cover: A street that shows wealth from good planning in Detroit, MI When they were first conceived of, streets like Lancaster Boulevard in northeast Salem were projected to be a source of commerce and community wealth for all. Subdivisions in south Salem were designed to provide housing that would bring ongoing good to the city as healthy places to live and thrive. But because of the way they were designed, says Chuck Marohn, founder and President of Strong Towns, a non-profit organization working to support a better model of development, Salem’s decisions about downtown, its roads and neighborhoods,...

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360 degrees of love -Verona Studio

“At its heart, this is a story about deep love,” says Pamela Abernethy about The Year of Magical Thinking, the inaugural offering of Verona Studio’s fourth theater season. “It’s about the love between a husband and wife, and between a mother and her daughter. It’s a quintessentially human story.” The play is also, Abernethy says, “tender, joyful, funny and wry.” The Year of Magical Thinking was written by American novelist, screenwriter and literary journalist Joan Didion, based on her 2005 award-winning, best selling memoir of the same name. It is a work shaped by stories and revelations that were...

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Salem’s controversial $82 million police station: Is it too big? Or just right?

On September 23rd, two dynamic speakers – one in favor and one opposed to a ballot measure funding a controversial $82 Million police station – will present their cases at Salem City Club. The measure is ‘24-399,’ and will appear on the November 8 ballot. A “yes” vote means that the City should issue bonds for taxpayers to fund a 148,000 square foot police facility on the 700 Block of Commercial Street NE, in central Salem. A “no” vote means that the City of Salem should not do this. “The moment this police station opens, its doors will never...

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Surprise! Insecticides kill bees in Oregon

A study originating in Switzerland recently added to an abundance of data that suggests that two insecticides, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, are related to honey bee decline. Thiamethoxam and clothianidin are members of an insecticide group called neonicotinoids. Partially banned in Europe, they are currently used by agricultural, commercial and residential consumers in Oregon. Ongoing research, monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and independent decisions by localities will determine the future use of these chemicals in our state. A worldwide decline of honeybees was suggested as early as the winter of 2006,...

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