Santiam Hospital offers saliva test for Covid-19

March 2021 Posted in Your Health | Comments Off on Santiam Hospital offers saliva test for Covid-19

By Mary Owen

Santiam Hospital introduces SalivaDirect, a less expensive, less invasive and safer way to test for COVID-19.

“It’s kind of remarkable that our little lab in Stayton, Oregon, is using this test,” said Dr. Janine VanSant, infectious disease specialist. “We are one of the few labs in the Pacific Northwest using it.”

Dr. Sarah Comstock, a molecular biologist from Corban University in Salem, got the ball rolling last April. In the spring of 2020, Comstock found herself with excess time due to few on-campus students, so she began to use her research equipment to develop an FDA EUA (emergency use authorization) test for coronavirus.

Trial by ice: Neighbors, services unite in the face of shared adversity

March 2021 Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Trial by ice: Neighbors, services unite in the face of shared adversity
An old oak near St. Edward's Church in Silverton by the February ice storm. Photo courtesy Steve Canning.

An old oak near St. Edward’s Church in Silverton by the February ice storm. Photo courtesy Steve Canning.

By Melissa Wagoner

When residents of the mid-Willamette Valley awoke to a world covered in a beautiful blown glass tapestry of ice on the morning of Feb. 12, they would have been hard pressed to imagine the destruction that would be unleashed only a few hours later. A night of freeing rain replaced the morning quiet with the sound of snapping trees, exploding electrical transformers and arcing power lines that set the evening sky ablaze in a lightning of blue and green.

Making Silverton better: Encouraging diverse voices is one step

February 2021 Posted in Community | Comments Off on Making Silverton better: Encouraging diverse voices is one step

By Melissa Wagoner

It was a happy accident when John Pattison stumbled upon the town of Silverton on Christmas Eve 2009. But it wasn’t an accident he stayed.

“My wife Kate and I both grew up in smaller towns,” Pattison explained. “We were living in Portland and felt drawn back to rural life. But we also wanted to stay close to family in Portland and Salem. Over the course of about 18 months, we looked at seemingly every small town in the Willamette Valley – or so we thought, because somehow Silverton was never on our radar.”

Land stewardship: Mount Angel native plants white oaks on farm

February 2021 Posted in Community, People | Comments Off on Land stewardship: Mount Angel native plants white oaks on farm
Kurt Berning and Katie Doyle planting white oak seedlings on Bernging’s family farm in Mount Angel. Photo by Melissa Wagoner

Kurt Berning and Katie Doyle planting white oak seedlings on Bernging’s family farm in Mount Angel. Photo by Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

Welcoming the new year looked a lot different for Kurt Berning and his fiancé Katie Doyle this year. Instead of party hats and streamers, the couple awoke early, donned their rain gear and headed out into the drizzle to plant over 500 white oak tree seedlings.

Vaccinated: Health professionals discuss their decisions and experiences

February 2021 Posted in Community, Your Health | Comments Off on Vaccinated: Health professionals discuss their decisions and experiences

By Melissa Wagoner

When Brian Reif – a clinical nurse who works directly with COVID patients – was offered the COVID-19 vaccine as a member of the tier one medical community, he did not hesitate to roll up his sleeve, likening his participation to a patriotic duty.

“What we have achieved to create and now deliver, a novel vaccine in such a short period of time, is a testament to what we can do through collective will and when we work together,” he said.  For him it was an emotional experience. “Our efforts to fight COVID should be unifying and not divisive because we all want the same thing.”

Fun run for John: Mount Angel family raises funds for son’s kidney transplant

January 2021 Posted in People | Comments Off on Fun run for John: Mount Angel family raises funds for son’s kidney transplant
Patty, John and Mike Kloft on their farm, Lonely Lane Farms – courtesy of Evelyn Shoop.

Patty, John and Mike Kloft on their farm, Lonely Lane Farms – courtesy of Evelyn Shoop.

By Melissa Wagoner

When seven-year-old John Kloft told his parents he had pain in his side in May of 2020 they assumed he had appendicitis.

“We took him to his normal Physician’s Assistant, Brianna Brooks in Silverton,” John’s parents, Mike and Patty Kloft, wrote in a recent press release chronicling the family’s journey.

“She sent us for more tests because John’s symptoms seemed a little odd.”

It’s lucky she did. To everyone’s surprise, John’s appendix looked great. His kidneys, however, did not.

Making music: Soundstream studio produces album by Silverton teen

January 2021 Posted in Arts, Culture & History | Comments Off on Making music: Soundstream studio produces album by Silverton teen
Matt-Alex Raney – photo by Corey Christensen

Matt-Alex Raney – photo by Corey Christensen

By Melissa Wagoner

On Jan. 1, 2021 Matt-Alex Raney released his first album, If We’re Being Honest – 13 tracks inspired by classic country and written by Raney himself.

“I’ve never been much for talking and communicating,” 17-year-old Raney confessed, “Music really helps me put all those ideas and feelings into words and music. I can express everything I think and feel through that rather than talking.”

Produced with the help of Soundstream, a music studio located in downtown Silverton, If We’re Being Honest is the record that almost didn’t happen. In fact, Raney’s entire music career was very nearly extinguished before it even got off the ground.

Emergencies are inevitable: So, why don’t we prepare?

January 2021 Posted in Other | Comments Off on Emergencies are inevitable: So, why don’t we prepare?
Dale Kunce.   Melissa Wagoner

Dale Kunce. Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

The Red Cross mantras, “disaster can strike at any time” and “disaster preparedness starts with you” are by no means new messages, yet they still go largely ignored by a large segment of the population, even as devastating hurricanes and wildfires tear across the country.
The question is – why is that?

“It’s hard to think about,” Dale Kunce, the Chief Executive Officer for the Cascades Region of the Red Cross told Our Town in a recent interview. “And a lot of people – they don’t know what the first step to take is.”

Gift in creativity: Artisans offer unique gift options, easy way to support local small businesses

November 2020 Posted in Arts, Culture & History | Comments Off on Gift in creativity: Artisans offer unique gift options, easy way to support local small businesses
Employee Kaitlyn Maley at Apples to Oranges, Silverton's yarn shop. Photo by Melissa Wagoner

Employee Kaitlyn Maley at Apples to Oranges, Silverton’s yarn shop. Photo by Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

“Artists are really struggling with the restrictions due to COVID-19,” photographer Vivienne Frankel said. “Art shows and fairs have closed; galleries are open fewer hours and people have less disposable income. As the time has passed, artists are feeling the brunt. Most of us were not eligible for small business loans being sole proprietors and also did not receive unemployment as business owners.”

There is something the community can do: purchase gifts locally this holiday season.

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.