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.

Giving their time, giving their all: Bill and Sylvia Long receive Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award

February 2020 Posted in People | Comments Off on Giving their time, giving their all: Bill and Sylvia Long receive Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award
Sylvia and Bill Long, recipients of the Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Nancy Jennings

Sylvia and Bill Long, recipients of the Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Nancy Jennings

By Brenna Wiegand

Bill and Sylvia Long will be honored as recipients of the 2019  Judy Schmidt Lifetime Achievement Award at the First Citizen Banquet Feb. 8 at the Mt. Angel Festhalle.

“It’s very humbling to be given this award, especially that was established in Judy Schmidt’s name,” Sylvia Long said. “We’ve never gotten this kind of award, and to be nominated as a couple – all I can say is that it’s very, very humbling.”

Future First Citizen: Zahra DeShaw contributes on many fronts

February 2020 Posted in People | Comments Off on Future First Citizen: Zahra DeShaw contributes on many fronts
Silverton Future First Citizen Zahra DeShaw. Photo by Dixon Bledsoe.

Silverton Future First Citizen Zahra DeShaw. Photo by Dixon Bledsoe.

By Dixon Bledsoe

Awesome grades? No-brainer. Mad skills in everything from public speaking to leadership? Certainly. Lots of awards for speech and debate, academic excellence, and benevolent, community-centric volunteer? You bet.

Zahra DeShaw is a young woman who not only has taken loads of Advance Placement classes in Psychology, Anatomy, Physiology, Language and Composition, as well as Environmental Science, she not only knows how to spell S.T.E.M. and what it means, she understands what it means for high school students in general and young women in particular. And it doesn’t intimidate her since she has a great grasp on Precalculus and Trigonometry.

Personalized expertise: Silverton Pill Box named Business of the Year

February 2020 Posted in People | Comments Off on Personalized expertise: Silverton Pill Box named Business of the Year
Amber Grant of Silverton Pill Box Pharmacy, the 2019 Business of the Year. Photo by Jim Kinghorn

Amber Grant of Silverton Pill Box Pharmacy, the 2019 Business of the Year. Photo by Jim Kinghorn

By Brenna Wiegand

Silverton Pill Box Pharmacy will be celebrated as Silverton’s 2019 Business of the Year Feb. 8 at the First Citizens Banquet.

“I cried,” Pill Box owner Amber Grant said. “We are thrilled beyond words.

“When you’ve been here as long as we have, these people have become my family. We grew up together; our families interacted over sports and other community stuff.”

Nominators say Grant’s interactions go far beyond love of neighbor.

First Citizen: Becky Ludden honored for impressive contribution to community

February 2020 Posted in People | Comments Off on First Citizen: Becky Ludden honored for impressive contribution to community
Becky Ludden

Becky Ludden

By Melissa Wagoner

A list of organizations in which Becky Ludden does not volunteer might very well be shorter than the list in which she does. She is a member of the Silverton Garden Club, Zenith Women’s Club, Silverton Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary, the Silver Falls YMCA Advisory Council, the Elks, SABLE Quilt Group, the Silverton Home Garden Tour Committee, the Habitat for Humanity Selection Committee, Silver Falls Parks and Recreation District Committee, Homer Davenport Community Festival Committee and a self-proclaimed City Council groupie. With such an extensive list of community activities, it is no wonder Ludden was nominated to the Silverton Chamber of Commerce for First Citizen for 2019.

Journey to the Frozen Continent: A breathtaking look at Antarctica’s landscapes, inhabitants

January 2020 Posted in Travel | Comments Off on Journey to the Frozen Continent: A breathtaking look at Antarctica’s landscapes, inhabitants
Steve Ritchie in Antarctica. Photo by Steve Ritchie.

Steve Ritchie in Antarctica. Photo by Steve Ritchie.

By Steve Ritchie

When I arrived in Ushaia, Argentina last month, I found many Ushaia souvenirs printed with the slogan fin del mundo which can be roughly translated as “end of the world.”

A city of about 80,000 people at the southern tip of South America, Ushaia is definitely remote. It is the southernmost city in the world, in fact. But it is not the end of the world. That would be where I was going.

How much, too much?: SFSD investigation into board communications enters second phase

January 2020 Posted in News, School | Comments Off on How much, too much?: SFSD investigation into board communications enters second phase

By Brenna Wiegand

Silver Falls School District is conducting further investigation into allegations brought against school board member in a Nov. 25 complaint from 112 petitioners.

The complaint asserts that board members Shelly Nealon, Jennifer Traeger, Jonathan Edmonds, Janet Allanach and Lori McLaughlin violated board policies, the Board/Superintendent Working Agreement, prior Superintendent Andy Bellando’s employment contract, the Hiring Confidentiality Covenant and the Oregon Public Meetings Law regarding executive sessions.

The district hired Portland attorney Jollee Patterson for an initial review of the complaint and its accompanying evidence, largely emails. Out of the 17 allegations examined, Patterson singled out eight that “could support a violation” of the referenced policies or agreements and about which “the district may want to engage in additional steps.”