Silver Creek Fellowship packs 5,000 relief kits

October 2020 Posted in Community | Comments Off on Silver Creek Fellowship packs 5,000 relief kits
Silver Creek Fellowship. Photo by Melissa Wagoner

Silver Creek Fellowship. Photo by Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

When the wildfires swept through Oregon on Labor Day, Kaiser Permanente immediately leapt into action, contacting the Red Cross and asking how the organization could help. But it wasn’t because it provides health care – though the company’s providers continued that important work throughout the days and weeks following the devastation, even while many of them were evacuated or had experienced loss themselves. Rather, it was because of Kaiser Permanente’s dedication to community care.

Silverton Lions and Silverton Elks run Gates field kitchen as part of wildfire relief effort

October 2020 Posted in Community | Comments Off on Silverton Lions and Silverton Elks run Gates field kitchen as part of wildfire relief effort
Lions Club Breakfast. Photo by Ward Frederick.

Lions Club Breakfast. Photo by Ward Frederick.

By Melissa Wagoner

When Ward Frederick decided to open a field kitchen in Gates in the days following the Beachie Creek fire, he knew he could fund the venture for right around one week, tops. But after that…he wasn’t so sure.

“It was kind of like, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” he laughed, quoting the movie, Field of Dreams.

And so, focused on that initial one-week goal, Frederick contacted the Silverton Lions Club and the Silverton Elks Lodge – both of which he is a member.

Banding together: Reflecting on community in wildfires’ wake

October 2020 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Banding together: Reflecting on community in wildfires’ wake
Mount Angel’s Magnolia Grill crew delivering food to frontline workers.

Mount Angel’s Magnolia Grill crew delivering food to frontline workers. Submitted Photo

By Melissa Wagoner

“Helping is easy. Being on the receiving end is difficult.”

Sheila Zervas Nielsen, a teacher at Silverton High School and resident of Gates, knows what she is talking about.

She, along with her husband Steve, also a Silver Falls School District employee, and their three sons, evacuated from their home on Sept. 7 escaping wildfires whipped up by a once-in-a-century windstorm that was racing through the Santiam Canyon. Then they began the process of volunteering wherever they could in order to save the homes of others.

Once in a century: Wind-whipped fires devastate some, threaten others

September 2020 Posted in News | Comments Off on Once in a century: Wind-whipped fires devastate some, threaten others
Sept. 9 in Silverton during the height of the smoke from the Beachie Creek Fire.  Photo by Jim Kinhorn

Sept. 9 in Silverton during the height of the smoke from the Beachie Creek Fire. Photo by Jim Kinhorn

By Melissa Wagoner

In the midst of a global pandemic, with civil unrest in the streets, a new catastrophe has come knocking. On Sept. 7 unusually high summer winds joined forces with three decades of drought to ignite fires across Oregon. “We are currently facing a statewide fire emergency,” Gov. Kate Brown, said during a press conference on Sept. 9. “Over the last 24 hours Oregon has experienced unprecedented fire damage.”

No fall sports: New activities calendar starts Dec. 28

August 2020 Posted in School, Sports | Comments Off on No fall sports: New activities calendar starts Dec. 28

James DayBy James Day

The Oregon School Activities Association has updated its plans for the 2020-21 school year. The upshot? The official calendar starts Dec. 28, with practices and features much shorter seasons. And football and other “fall” sports are moving to the spring.

The decision of the OSAA’s executive board, announced Aug. 5, supersedes a previous outline, released July 22, that called for a delayed fall opening with football still in the autumn mix.

Here is how the calendar looks at this point:

Living history: Silvertonians give first-hand accounts of Portland protests

August 2020 Posted in News, People | Comments Off on Living history: Silvertonians give first-hand accounts of Portland protests
A Black Lives Matter memorial on Tom McCall Waterfront Park near the protest blocks in Portland. Photo by Melissa Wagoner.

A Black Lives Matter memorial on Tom McCall Waterfront Park near the protest blocks in Portland. Photo by Melissa Wagoner.

“You watch what’s going on for years and it leads to this underlying angst and agitation,”45-year-old Jay Shenai said in response to the question of why he chose to attend the Portland Black Lives Matter (BLM) Protest on Saturday, July 25. “This one just felt like I needed to.”

Shenai, who admits to avoiding crowds as often as he can, doesn’t do a lot of protesting. Even attending the BLM protest in his hometown of Silverton brought on more than a little trepidation.

Virus victim: Silverton Arts Association reaches out to community for help

July 2020 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community | Comments Off on Virus victim: Silverton Arts Association reaches out to community for help

By Steve Ritchie

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 110,000 American lives, ravaged the US economy and plunged budgets of governmental entities into the deep red, all in just over three months.

It turns out that nonprofit organizations are not immune to the virus either.

Among the local organizations suffering from COVID-19’s impact is the Silverton Arts Association, which has had to cancel its popular Fine Arts Festival in August due to the State of Oregon’s safety guidelines. The loss of the festival puts the association’s programs in peril, along with its very survival in the worst case scenario.

Empty skies: Mount Angel July 4th fireworks canceled

July 2020 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Empty skies: Mount Angel July 4th fireworks canceled

By Melissa Wagoner

This year Mount Angel’s Fourth of July celebration was going to be different. Sarah Bauman, president of the Mt. Angel Chamber of Commerce, has known that since the pandemic began.

“We pretty much wrote the parade off right away,” she said of the difficult decision the Chamber of Commerce board made in early spring. “But… what can we do for the fireworks?”

Because those fireworks were already purchased, and after three stressful months, the Chamber was determined to find a way to help the citizens of Mount Angel enjoy a little bit of normalcy – even if it meant getting creative.

The decade ahead: Silverton officials discuss projects for city’s future

July 2020 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on The decade ahead: Silverton officials discuss projects for city’s future

By Melissa Wagoner

In February, Public Works Director Petra Schuetz, Community Development Director Jason Gottgetreu and Mayor Kyle Palmer were discussong the decade ahead for Silverton for an Our Town story.

What none knew then, of course, was that in a matter of weeks the majority of Silverton’s small downtown businesses would be shuttered, its community members sheltering in place and its economy rocked by a worldwide pandemic.

Fortunately, as Marion County enters Phase 2 of reopening, Mayor Palmer’s outlook is mostly positive.

Peaceful protest: Silvertonians inspired to take action against racism

June 2020 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Peaceful protest: Silvertonians inspired to take action against racism

By Melissa Wagoner

“I come to report — the kids are not alright,” Keith Amano gravely stated at the George Floyd Memorial Protest in Silverton on Friday, June 5.

As the Activities Director for the Immanuel Lutheran Church, Amano has spent years getting to know the youth in Silverton — all of them, every color, race, ethnicity and gender.

“I have had all kinds of kids, he asserted. “And all of them have to find their place in this town and in this world. And it is on their behalf that I am angry. I come to report, the kids are not alright… They can’t think, they can’t rest — they can’t breathe because of what is happening.”

Spring into action: Silver Falls district snaps into gear to address needs

April 2020 Posted in Community, School | Comments Off on Spring into action: Silver Falls district snaps into gear to address needs

By Brenna Wiegand

Help often comes from unexpected places, and there is plenty of evidence that this pandemic has brought the community together in novel ways.

Last week, Silver Falls School District Superintendent Paul Peterson was part of a virtual meeting with several other community leaders.

“I told the story of how we wanted to collect the students’ supplies from their desks and send them home but that we didn’t have enough bags,” Peterson said. “Within an hour after the meeting Mayor Kyle Palmer calls me back and says, ‘Roth’s has bags; how many do you need?’ By the end of the day I had 1,000 bags.”

Feeding the workers: An idea turns into an inspiring movement

April 2020 Posted in Community | Comments Off on Feeding the workers: An idea turns into an inspiring movement

By Melissa Wagoner

Sometimes all it takes is a single, great idea to start a movement – and on Friday, March 27 Andy Diacetis had a truly great idea.

“I was scrolling through Twitter and I saw a post from Shake Shack thanking Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan for buying lunch for a hospital in NYC,” Diacetis recalled. “I thought ‘that would be pretty great to be able to do that. I can’t afford it on my own but I’ll bet I could get a few people together to buy a couple of pizzas for workers at Silverton Hospital.’”

Adapting to closures: School superintendents discuss service strategies

April 2020 Posted in Community, News, School | Comments Off on Adapting to closures: School superintendents discuss service strategies

By Brenna Wiegand

Since Oregon closed its schools in mid-March due to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus, local superintendents have been on a wild ride, chasing after ways to maintain their responsibility to the students. Buildings may be closed, but teaching and learning needs to continue.

Mount Angel School District Superintendent Troy Stoops says it’s new territory for everybody. Silver Falls School District Superintendent Paul Peterson says they’re having to “reinvent how we go about our business of teaching and learning.

Policy change: Cities change access rules because of virus

April 2020 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Policy change: Cities change access rules because of virus

By James Day

Silverton and Mount Angel both have changed their policies on public access to municipal buildings in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the governor’s social-distancing orders.

City Hall offices in Silverton and Mount Angel were closed to the public through March, with Silverton officials indicating a reassessment will take place at the end of March. The Mount Angel closure is “until further notice,” according to the city website.

No public meetings are scheduled in either community.

Here is a look at new procedures and access issues in the communities, updated through Our Town’s presstime.

Surge protection: Legacy, Santiam hospitals prepare

April 2020 Posted in Community, News, Your Health | Comments Off on Surge protection: Legacy, Santiam hospitals prepare

By Steve Ritchie

As the number of COVID-19 cases quickly grows in Oregon and throughout the country, government leaders and public health authorities have focused their attention on the readiness of hospitals to deal with an influx of coronavirus patients.

With 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Marion County (as of March 25), Our Town contacted our two regional hospitals, Legacy Silverton Medical Center and Santiam Hospital in Stayton, to find out how prepared the facilities are for the ongoing pandemic.

Shockwaves: Silverton’s community aid suppliers plan for hard weeks

April 2020 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Shockwaves: Silverton’s community aid suppliers plan for hard weeks

By Melissa Wagoner

This time may very well be the calm before the storm for many community aid organizations, including both Sheltering Silverton and Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA), as more and more people lose their jobs or are laid off due to closures stemming from the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

SACA
“On Friday we ran a few reports and were trying to figure out what our numbers were like,” SACA’s Executive Director, Sarah DeSantis, said, noting that although overall numbers were currently down from those seen in January and February (historically two of SACA’s busiest months), the number of new families signing up increased significantly.

Saving Silverton’s murals: Society urgently needs members

March 2020 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, News | Comments Off on Saving Silverton’s murals: Society urgently needs members

By Brenna Wiegand

Silverton Mural Society is in desperate need of volunteers to help maintain its collection of historical, hand-painted murals that have become part of the charm of Silverton and a legitimate tourist attraction.

Silverton Mural Society finds itself without a president, vice president or treasurer and ten-year volunteer Norm English is the acting secretary.

“We cannot continue to exist in this manner,” English said. “There are a number of specific tasks that need doing on an ongoing basis, and if they are no longer done, the murals will soon be in a state of decline. Most everyone I’ve talked to does not want this to happen, but without people willing to help with what needs doing, it appears unavoidable – and that would be a real shame.”

Drift Creek dilemma: Farmers continue to debate dam project

March 2020 Posted in News | Comments Off on Drift Creek dilemma: Farmers continue to debate dam project

By Melissa Wagoner

It’s not about a dam – though one has become the face of the problem. It’s not even about the fish – though they feature prominently in the discussion. What the controversy around the proposal to add a dam on Drift Creek really comes down to is water – who has it, who wants it and where to get more of it – and both sides are feeling the burn.

“It’s not new and it’s not going away,” Dave Bielenberg said. He is chairman for the East Valley Water District (EVWD) – an irrigation district formed in 2002 for the purposes of supplying irrigation water to its members.

Civic Center: Silverton seeking proposals

February 2020 Posted in News | Comments Off on Civic Center: Silverton seeking proposals

By James Day

The plan to build a new Civic Center complex in Silverton has moved another step forward.

The city has issued a request for proposals from architectural design firms who want to participate in the project. Firms were required to attend a pre-submission meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11, with the final deadline for proposals set for Feb. 26.

Silverton is planning to build the new civic complex on 3.46 acres that once was occupied by Eugene Field School. The school closed in the spring of 2016 and was demolished last February.

Open Doors: Changing lives one cup, one project at a time

February 2020 Posted in People | Comments Off on Open Doors: Changing lives one cup, one project at a time

By Dixon Bledsoe

Imagine a young adult, just finishing high school and heading out into the world for college, work or travel. A challenging time for an 18-year-old, right? Both exciting and scary.

Now imagine an 18-year-old with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She had a support system in high school, from counselors to aides, from teachers to friends with similar challenges. He had activities and clubs and maybe a network of friends, too.

Many kids with special challenges may not be the best candidates for the college experience. Where do they go? Where do they live? Where do they fit?

Uncensured: School board opts for training

February 2020 Posted in News, School | Comments Off on Uncensured: School board opts for training

By Brenna Wiegand

Move forward with training, not censure, was the direction from the Silver Falls School District Board Feb. 10. On a 6-1 vote, additional training was endorsed as the appropriate response to the Nov. 25 citizen complaint lodged against five board members.

The complaint charges challenged the way board members followed – or did not follow  – district policy, particularly on confidentiality and communications. The complaint was investigated by two district-hired attorneys, each submitting an independent report. The initial conclusion found that Janet Allanach and Lori McLaughlin were not members of the board when they participated in the electronic chain of communications submitted as evidence, and therefore not bound by board policies.

Contracted: School district, teachers agree

February 2020 Posted in News, School | Comments Off on Contracted: School district, teachers agree

By Brenna Wiegand

It took eight months, but Silver Falls School District and Silver Falls Education Association have shaken hands on a contract.

The school board ratified a three-year contract Feb. 3. Silver Falls School District Assistant Superintendent Dan Busch said the administration made a special effort to get teachers their retroactive pay, providing educators the reimbursement along with their paychecks for February.

“That was something that the district really wanted to be able to do for our teachers,” Busch said. “As bargaining was winding down, we made a verbal commitment to provide that retroactive check within 30 days.”

Opening rush: Dodgeball coordinators receive Distinguished Service Award

February 2020 Posted in People | Comments Off on Opening rush: Dodgeball coordinators receive Distinguished Service Award
Mindy Duerst and Erica Rumca. Photo by Melissa Wagoner.

Mindy Duerst and Erica Rumca. Photo by Melissa Wagoner.

By Melissa Wagoner

Raising funds for Silverton’s Project Graduation – a parent organization which puts on an all-night, drug and alcohol-free post-graduation celebration – is no small feat. With an average of 225 kids attending the party each year, costs can range into the thousands. But it is well worth all the effort it takes to fund this annual fete, according to Erica Rumca, who, along with Mindy Duerst, heads up the primary fundraiser – the Silverton Dodgeball Tournament.

Starbucks proposed: Coffee outlet would be part of development

February 2020 Posted in News | Comments Off on Starbucks proposed: Coffee outlet would be part of development
The site at North First Street and D Street. Photo by James Day.

The site at North First Street and D Street. Photo by James Day.

By James Day

A Starbucks coffee outlet has been proposed for property adjacent to the Roth’s market on North First Street in Silverton.

The property is owned by the Roth family, with the site located south of the market parking lot and bounded by North First, North Second and D Street.

The proposal, if approved by the city, calls for development in two phases, with the Starbucks piece coming first. The Starbucks is planned for the section of the property fronting North First, directly across from the BrucePac plant. The coffee shop would have a drive-through lane, with vehicle access coming from the Roth’s lot and a new driveway on D Street.

Contract accord: SFSD negotiations get wide-ranging attention

February 2020 Posted in News, School | Comments Off on Contract accord: SFSD negotiations get wide-ranging attention

By Paula Mabry

After a final mediation session that lasted well into the evening Jan. 27, Silver Falls Education Association and the Silver Falls School District came to an accord on wages and contract language.

Now the proposed settlement must go to the school board and SFEA membership for ratification. The school board meets Feb. 3. As of Our Town press time details of the agreement had not been released and no date had been announced for the union vote.