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Bridging language – Mount Angel schools employees new software

By Melissa Wagoner On average, Mt. Angel School District enrolls three multilingual learners, whose first language is neither English nor Spanish, each year. But during the 2022-2023 school year, the district welcomed 25. “A lot of students in this group are somehow related to each other,” William Holman – the district’s English Language Development Program Teacher on special assignment – […]

Elise Trask and Clarissa Rapacz, owners of The Farm on Golden Hill. Submitted Photo

Up on Golden Hill – New tasting room opens in Silverton

By Melissa Wagoner In 2011, when Elise Trask decided to get married on the farm where she grew up, she not only gained a husband, she gained a career as well. “That got our wheels turning,” Trask’s sister and business partner, Clarissa Rapacz, said, recalling how that wedding – held amongst a field of flowers – became the first of many, thanks […]

Documentarian Michael Turner

Monument – New documentary explores family history, Holocaust

By Melissa Wagoner Growing up, Michael Turner knew that his Hungarian grandmother, Lici, was a Holocaust survivor and that both her parents and sister were killed in Auschwitz. But it wasn’t something Lici talked about – at least not with her grandson. “When I was in high school, some video producers came and interviewed my grandma about her experiences in […]

First Citizen, Laura Wanker Melissa Wagoner

First Citizen: Educator and SACA board member Laura Wanker lauded

By Melissa Wagoner It’s been 40 years, nearly to the day, since Laura Wanker became a part of the Silverton community, initially working as an educator and volunteer tutor, mentor and educational advocate for students at Silverton High School before joining the Silverton Area Community Aid’s (SACA) board. “Laura Wanker’s impact on the Silverton community is broad and substantial,” former superintendent […]

The board of the Silverton Sidewalk Shindig includes Elizabeth Hess, Emily Pawlak, Sarah Weitzman, Poppy Shell Wiegand and Alan Mickelson. Courtesy of Maddy Traver Photography

Service Group of the Year – Silverton Sidewalk Shindig honored

By Melissa  Wagoner When Alan Mickelson joined forces with Lawrence Stone, Greg Hart, Gregg Sheesley and Ron Nelson to put on the very first Silverton Sidewalk Shindig in 2012, he never could have predicted that 12 years later the event would still be going strong or that the organization would be the recipient of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce’s Service […]

Marion Polk Food Share

Bethany students pitch in at Marion Polk Food Share

By Melissa Wagoner Kim Merklin has taken her students on a lot of field trips during the 14 years she has taught at Bethany Charter School, but few have been as impactful as those she and her class of 30 seventh and eighth grade students have taken to the Marion Polk Food Share. “I was astonished the first time I […]

The cast of Captain Remote, performs an original musical written by SHS theater director Doug Ousterhout. Melissa Wagoner

Captain Remote – SHS play inspired by ‘superpowers’ and Queen’s music

By Melissa Wagoner “If you could have any superpower, what superpower would you choose?” That was the question students in Doug Ousterhout’s theater program asked a group of fourth graders in 2010. “One kid said, ‘to find the remote control,’” Ousterhout said, recalling how that answer went on to influence that year’s Children’s Theater Show titled, Captain Remote, which toured […]

A Keeton family photo from the 1990s with Joe Keeton (in hat) with his father and three of his daughters as children. Courtesy Autumn Keeton

Slipping through the cracks: Reflections on a life lost

By Melissa Wagoner When Jenna Keeton received a phone call from her mother alerting her that her father had died, she wasn’t surprised. “I had been preparing myself for his death for years,” Jenna admitted. “But I was expecting a heart attack or an overdose.” Instead, Jenna learned that her father, Joe Keeton – a man who had struggled with […]

Carlo Antinucci, Pietro Sangiorgi and Craig Bazzi, participate in the Italian Conversation Nights at the Silver Falls Library. Melissa Wagoner

La vita è Bella – Shared Italian heritage brings people together

By Melissa Wagoner Growing up, Craig Bazzi’s grandparents – immigrants from Northern Italy – spoke mostly Italian, as did their neighbors. “But it wasn’t spoken in our home,” Bazzi recalled. And so, the language wasn’t something he ever learned. Then, as an adult, he took a trip to Italy with his wife, to reconnect with distant relatives and to see […]

Chesterton Academy cast members rehearsing for Mary Poppins. Melissa Wagoner

In the most delightful way – Mary Poppins comes to Mount Angel

By Melissa Wagoner There is magic in the air at Chesterton Academy of the Willamette Valley – a private Catholic school located on South Main Street in Mount Angel – as the students prepare to present the school’s first musical performance, Mary Poppins. “I think most people who love the original Mary Poppins movie or books will find a lot […]

Attendees at the Winter Art Camp for Youth in December. Anne Pinkowski

Changes afoot – Arts association focuses on education for 2024

By Melissa Wagoner Award winning neon artist Anne Pinkowski is a fervent believer in the value of art education. When she and her husband, Dave Harris, moved from California to Silverton in 2022, she immediately joined the Silverton Arts Association (SAA), eventually taking on the role of programming director. “I have a degree in Fine Art,” Pinkowski – who also […]

One concert at a time – Songwriters perform to fund music scholarships

By Melissa Wagoner Since opening its doors in 2015, SoundStream Music – which offers a variety of music and theater instruction to students of all ages in Silverton – has helped fund student scholarships with the ticket sales from an annual performance. “We usually have three to five students throughout the year who end up needing financial help,” owner Corey Christensen said […]

Sofia Perez. Melissa Wagoner

Together – Silent reading book club

By Melissa Wagoner When Victoria Martusheff – a shift supervisor at Silverton Starbucks on North First Street – came across an advertisement for the Silent Book Club, “a global community of readers and introverts, with more than 500 chapters in 50 countries,” she just had to share it with fellow supervisor, Sofia Perez. “I’m a very big reader,” Perez, who […]

Grownup prom – Feb. 10 event

Mark Twain Elementary School’s newest fundraiser will have people dancing “Under the Stars” at the first adult prom taking place on Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Gallon House Farms. “We wanted Mark Twain to have a solid fundraiser, and this seems like a really fun event,” Parent Teacher Club member Briana Hupp said of the impetus for the event. […]

Winter at the Oregon Garden. The Oregon Garden Foundation has received a major grant form travel Oregon which will be used for several upkeep and accessibility projects. Chris Vardas

Oregon Garden receives $100,000 grant to increase accessibility

By Melissa Wagoner The Oregon Garden recently received a $100,000 grant from Travel Oregon as part of that organization’s $3.6 million Competitive Grants Program focused on improving accessibility and inclusivity through visitor industry improvements across the state. “In my time here, and certainly in the last five years, it’s the largest grant we’ve received,” Delen Kitchen, The Oregon Garden Director […]

The Marion-Polk County Employment Network’s Employer of the Year award to Guerra’s Restaurant. Submitted Photo

Empower by leading – Guerra’s recognized as Employer of the Year

By Melissa Wagoner When Christine Smith, general manager of Guerra’s Restaurant in Silverton, discovered the Empowerment and Leadership for Youth and Young Adults (ELY) program – a job skills training program for young adults in Marion County – she knew she wanted to incorporate it into the restaurant’s mission. So, one year ago, with the help of Job Coach Kate […]

Fentanyl – Cheap, available statewide, and deadly

By Melissa Wagoner In late September one Silverton father got a call he hoped he would never get. His 16-year-old daughter had just overdosed on fentanyl and was being rushed to the hospital. “I didn’t expect it to be her,” the father – who has asked to remain nameless – said.  His daughter, who has since recovered, had been sold the dangerous […]

Santa at Silverton’s Tree Lighting 2023. Jim Kinghorn

The inside story: Santa tells all

By Melissa Wagoner What if you could ask Santa Claus one question – what would it be? And what do you think he’d say? An Our Town reporter recently got that chance, sitting down with the man from up north to ask – who really is the man behind the myth? OT: What is your favorite cookie? SC: “Chocolate chip just out […]

Melissa Wagoner – A Slice of the Pie

A Slice of the Pie: Christmas mayhem – To a familiar tune

By Melissa Wagoner If you want to buy a Christmas tree from a tree lot they’re going to accept only cash or a check.  If you don’t have cash and haven’t carried checks since the turn of the century, you will decide to visit a nearby grocery store to buy eggnog (which the kids requested) and then you will get […]

Santa Cares set for Dec. 9

Karen Garst had one goal when she came up with the idea for Santa Cares in 2018 – to make sure everyone has a gift to give on Christmas. “[A]fter working with Sheltering Silverton and SACA I knew there were many in need,” Garst said. Inspired, Garst developed the Santa Cares event during which community members can donate gently used items – toys, children’s books, sports […]

Todd Ferrell, nominated as an Angel Among Us by neighbor and friend, Marianna Davis

Angels among us: Neighbor builds sense of community

By Melissa Wagoner In the eyes of Marianna Davis, Todd Ferrell is an absolute angel. “One definition of a person who is angelic is someone of exemplary conduct and virtue, someone with outstanding qualities and abilities,” Davis said, adding that, in her opinion, Ferrell fits the bill. Originally from Southern California, Ferrell moved to Silverton with his wife, Ann, in 2007 and […]

Molly, John, Kate and Julia Pattison with Milo, Elijah, Emily and Kelly Neves. Submitted Photo

One video at a time – Answering questions about co-living

By Melissa Wagoner Co-living in the same house for the past ten years, the Pattison and the Neves families have often found themselves joking about what it would be like to be “a TLC reality TV show”. “But we always said we weren’t dramatic enough,” Emily Neves said, referring to the everyday lifestyle the two families share. But when a […]

Ally Corthell, owner of Red Haus Pizza in Mount Angel. Melissa Wagoner

Pizza returns to Mount Angel

Ally and Mac Corthell love pizza. “Both of our favorite food is pizza,” Ally confirmed. “We even had pizza at our wedding.” Which is why, when the couple moved to Mount Angel three years ago and discovered there were no local pizza restaurants, they decided they would simply have to open their own – but where? Lucky for the Corthells, […]