City of Silverton: Mayors Corner

July 2021 Posted in Business, Community, People, Your Health

By Kyle Palmer

It’s hard to believe, but as I write this, our state and our community are, for the most part, exiting the COVID-19 restrictions that we’ve all been under since March of last year.

It remains to be seen if this move is permanent.There are still many people hospitalized. We will undoubtedly still lose
some people with the illness and many people will continue to suffer from long term effects. It’s something none of us will soon forget, but it is something we are all ready to begin recovering from.

While we do so, however, please remember that some areas of life are still managed by federal guidelines (such as healthcare locations and mass transit), and most importantly, that some individuals will continue to feel most safe by choosing to wear a mask, remain a distance away from others, and only slowly integrate back into society. That’s OK, and I hope we can all allow them the room to do so without commentary.

All that said however, there is much to be excited about as we move into the summer. The triumphant return of the longest running Pet Parade west of the Mississippi gave us a reminder of what we’d been missing – outdoors, community, togetherness, joy. The Silverton Strawberry Festival, canceled in 2020 for the first time since it started in 1951, made a last-minute switch from a drive-up event to the real thing, and the community came out, nearly 1400 strong, to take another step toward a summer full of things we remember.

Organizers of Homer Davenport Days have been working hard to follow up the Strawberry Festival, adding a brewfest to the normal lineup of food, vendors, a parade, and the beloved Davenport Races. Shortly after Homer, the newly rebranded Silverton Art Festival (they dropped the word “Fine” to remind people that art comes in many forms) rejoins our summer lineup.

Additionally, all information points to schools being back to normal-ish in September, but we have plenty of family and together time before it does!

On the subject of outdoor fun, many questions have been raised about the debris in Silver Creek and why it’s taking so long to remove. It’s understandably frustrating, but for good reasons, there are extremely specific steps that have to be taken while using equipment in or near waterways, and direction had to be laid out by the state before our staff could begin. That was scheduled to have started after July 1 and will hopefully be done soon.

Unless you don’t drive, read much, or participate on social media, you know that McClaine Street is now open. Despite suggestions to the contrary, the project wasn’t behind schedule (until the last two weeks), and has been completed as planned. Some of the landscape plantings have not seemed as healthy as we’d hoped during some very hot days, but are under a one year warranty if any should need to be replaced.

On a less happy note, we have bid goodbye to some key members of the City staff, and despite my own personal sadness about some of these changes, I’m energized to see what the Ron Chandler era brings us as he finishes his first 90 days on the job as City Manager. I want to thank Angela Speier, Elizabeth Gray, and Chelsea Starner for the incredible support they’ve provided to me and wish them the best as they start the next chapters of their personal and professional lives!

Meanwhile, our new City Manager will be helping to lead us forward with many projects that are at various stages of the planning process, including the Civic Center construction, a new raw water line from Silver Creek to the Water Treatment Plant, long-awaited movement on changes to pedestrian safety along Jefferson and James Streets, and Western Avenue (a key walking route to two schools, and Council goals for improvements to N. Second Street and Jefferson Streets.

Procedurally, Mr. Chandler will help us take steps back to in-person meetings after 18 months of mostly seeing each other (and the public) on a computer screen. For those of you following our regular Council meetings, you know that I’ve been running those meetings at the Silverton High School Library since May. The move was made to eliminate some public broadcasting quality challenges for our SCAN-TV signal and the space is set up for the Council and the public to participate fully once we return to in-person meetings (the public is welcome now).

The Council was scheduled to discuss the process for returning to in-person meetings during the July 12 regular meeting. It is anticipated that we will continue to offer the Zoom platform as an alternative way to participate for those who prefer to do so.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. New models for city processes, the hope for economic recovery, kids back to school safely, and the ability to do this all while continuing to see COVID numbers trending downward.

I’m asking you to be patient as everyone finds what works best for them. Labor shortages are impacting many industries, but perhaps none more than our local restaurants that are struggling to maintain adequate staffing. On three occasions recently, different restaurants have been forced to shut down for the day due to this.

Above all, I’m asking you all to be kind. We’ve been through a lot with the pandemic, wildfires, an ice storm, and a three day heat wave not seen here before. Looming over all of those things has been division over almost every topic and a social media-driven habit of thinking decency, kindness, and respect are no longer necessary all of the time. They are.

On that note, a recent issue of Our Town included a re-print of a statement I made on my Facebook page regarding an incident at the Reservoir. In this particular case, the issue was race-related hate language directed at two of our citizens. I encourage you to read it. It is vital that Silverton becomes a community that is welcoming and safe for all people and I won’t rest until we’ve done so. More to come.

Please remember that I am available to each of you by email at kpalmer@silverton.or.us, by phone/text at 503-932-8550, and on Facebook, Linkdin, Twitter, Instagram, and NextDoor. Your voices matter to all of us and we want to hear from you.

Mayor Kyle Palmer

503-932-8550

kpalmer@silverton.or.us

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