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News Releases
City of Salem Reports Sanitary Sewer Overflow - 01/13/21

The City of Salem announced that an overflow of raw sewage occurred into Little Pudding River on January 13, 2021 at approximately 12:32 a.m. near 4740 Glendale Ave NE due to the recent heavy rains and saturated ground conditions. Approximately 2,180 gallons of raw sewage were spilled at the site. Salem Public Works Department crews were dispatched to the site and stopped the overflow at approximately 7:48 a.m. City of Salem Environmental Services staff collected surface water samples from the Little Pudding River and will continue to monitor until the issue is cleared. Any bacteria that entered the site should be flushed out of the water body in the next few days. Salem Public Works Department encourages people to stay out of the water.


If you see an overflowing manhole or wish to report a spill, please call the Public Works Department Dispatch Center at 503-588-6333.

Update to Salem Fire Department - 01/12/21


Tue, January 12, 2021

Salem, Ore.- Salem Fire Department was provided a bystander video of the boat capsizing incident that occurred Monday around 3:30 pm.

This incident is currently under investigation. Salvage and recovery efforts are scheduled to begin later this week. The three firefighters involved in the incident are doing well with no reported injuries.

Salem Fire Department still has the capability of responding to 9-1-1 water-based rescues or river emergencies using a reserve boat.

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Mon, January 11, 2021

Salem, Ore. — At approximately 3:30 PM The Salem Fire Department experienced an incident during boat operator training that resulted in the sinking of the Salem Fire Response Boat in the Willamette River. The event is still under investigation. All 3 crew members were wearing life jackets and were able to make it to shore on their own and no injuries have been reported.

More information will be provided as the investigation proceeds.

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All Salem City Councilors Denounce White Supremacy and Acts of Racism - 01/12/21


Institutional Racism Resolution

Salem, Ore. -- Salem City Council resolved at their meeting Monday night, January 11, to ensure that all members of the community are free from acts that are rooted in racism, discrimination, intolerance, bigotry, and hostility.

The resolution, brought forward by Mayor Chuck Bennett and substantially amended by Councilor Tom Andersen, was approved unanimously by the City Council. The resolution commits Salem to welcome every person regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, source of income, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Mayor Bennett said he expected the City’s Human Rights Commission to play a major role in moving forward under this resolution.

“They have in their charter, the ability to recommend to council actions, policies and legislation that allows us to move forward in changing some of the policies we may have that are really contrary to the spirit where I think all of us are, which is a deep concern about white supremacy, a deep concern about systemic racism,” Bennett said.

The resolution further condemns and rejects “the belief system of white supremacy and racism, and [remains] committed to the elimination of all forms of racism everywhere it exists, including institutional racism.”

The resolution followed a lengthy discussion in council comments about the issue of racism. Councilors Jackie Leung and Jose Gonzalez shared some of their personal experiences with racism.

Leung, who was born in the United States, described being spit at, sworn at, and receiving comments such as "Go back to your country" and "Do you speak English?"

She proposed a resolution declaring racism as a health crisis.

“We, as a council, need to take a stand addressing racism at its core,” Leung said.

Her proposal will be discussed at the Council work session on January 19 on the City’s strategic plan and is expected to be under consideration at the January 25 Council meeting.

“[This kind of hate] is based on something I can’t control,” Gonzalez said. “It’s based on my name, based on assumptions about my family or my beliefs.” He added that he wants to work toward de-escalation of hate.

The language and intent of the resolution reflect earlier statements made by City Council President Chris Hoy and Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett.  Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack and City Manager Steve Powers have also published statements on the City’s website and social media pages condemning white supremacy and racial innuendos made on City streets during recent protests.

The resolution will give the City a basis upon which to build a sustainable effort starting with recommendations for actions, policies, and legislation from the Human Rights Commission.

More information:

City Manager Reaffirms Commitment to Equity and Social Justice

City Condemns Monday Morning Protesters Actions at State Capitol

A Statement from Salem Police Chief Regarding Protests

January 11, 2021, Salem City Council Meeting (Discussion of resolution starts at 1 hour, 42 minutes)


Sign-ups are under way for the ILEAD Youth Leadership Summit
Sign-ups are under way for the ILEAD Youth Leadership Summit
Local Youth Committee Want Peers to be Better Prepared as They "Start the Next Chapter" (Photo) - 01/11/21

SALEM, ORE. – Teens can get help preparing for life during and after high school through the ILEAD Youth Leadership Summit, set for Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. This free, one-day event is online this year and open to any high school-aged teen living in the Mid-Willamette Valley.

The summit will feature highly interactive workshops presented by guest speakers and teen panels. Participants choose from workshop topics covering personal and leadership development, mental health and self-care, workforce readiness and other “adulting” topics such as finances, credit, student loans, and insurance coverage.

“2020 was just a rough year for all of us, especially teens,” said Evyn Baker, a senior at West Salem High School and summit youth committee member.

His fellow committee member, Angel Franco, a junior at South Salem High School agreed. “As teens, we’re so used to going out and interacting with friends and teachers. Having school daily on a screen sounded like a dream until it happened. Now we’re left wondering what life after COVID and high school will look like.”

The youth committee decided to do something about it by bringing “sunshine vibes to the Mid-Willamette Valley.” Members representing Salem-Keizer, Central, and Woodburn school districts wanted to offer an online event experience where high schoolers could laugh, feel safe, improve their well-being, and reconnect with peers from the safety of their homes.

“I feel like the older I become, the more anxiety and stress I get from both school and knowing that I’m getting closer to becoming an adult,” said Jennifer Valdivia an 11th grader at McKay High School. “It’s just a very scary thought, especially when you have no idea how to do taxes, rent a house, or just don’t know what you want do after high school.” Youth Committee members hope the summit will begin to help their classmates who feel the same way.

Registration closes February 4, 2021. Registration link is found on the event website including a video tutorial on how to sign up for workshops. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and includes games, challenges, raffle prizes, breaks, a LIVE lounge, an event T-shirt and other swag for all teen participants.

Coordinated by the City of Salem Youth Development Services, ILEAD is produced each year by a youth committee, college student event staff, and a planning committee made up of local youth development, prevention, and workforce readiness professionals. Marion County Health and Human Services and City of Salem are the 2021 sponsors.



Greenhouse Gas Inventories Guide Salem's Climate Action Plan - 01/08/21

Salem, Ore. -- As part of its ongoing Climate Action Plan effort, Salem recently completed a consumption-based greenhouse gas inventory.  Inventories provide a  baseline of our greenhouse gas emissions and offer important details about the sources of Salem’s greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding our baseline and consumption habits can help us meet our goals to reduce our carbon footprint.  

The new Salem consumption-based greenhouse gas inventory is complementary to the 2019 sector-based inventory. This new report will help us understand how our personal choices and community contribute to global climate change.

Consumption-Based Inventory Results

Approximately 4.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are produced through consumption-based emissions while sector-based emissions produce approximately 1.6 million metric tons.

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This assumes the average gasoline vehicle on the road today has a fuel economy of about 22.0 miles per gallon and drives around 11,500 miles per year. So 4.2 million metric tons is the equivalent of 913,043 cars driving for a year, and 1.6 million metric tons is the equivalent of 347,842 driving for a year. Learn more

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Snapshot

  • Transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions for our community.
  • Vehicles, including production, supply chain, use, and disposal are the number one  source of consumption–based emissions for Salem.
  • The purchase, consumption, production, transport, and disposal of food and beverages is the second-largest source of consumption-based emissions.
  • Salem’s trees absorb and store enough emissions annually to account for a roughly 1 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Understanding Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories.  Greenhouse gas emissions are produced as we go about our everyday activities such as driving a vehicle, heating a home, or cooking with natural gas.  We also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions indirectly when we purchase goods or food manufactured in other places and transported to Salem.  All these emissions come from human activities that contribute to climate change.  The City has completed two types of inventories to gives us different views of the greenhouse gas emission picture.

  • Sector-based inventory: Emissions produced in Salem from areas, such as transportation, and residential, commercial, and industrial building and energy sources, including electricity produced elsewhere but used in the community.  The sector-based inventory is the traditional method for setting a goal and tracking emissions within a geographical area, such as Salem City limits, and is similar to the methods many other cities and countries use.  The sector-based methods provide a better representation of locally produced emissions that can be influenced by direct action from the local government. 

Results: In 2016, the City of Salem’s residents, businesses, employees, and visitors produced over 1.5 million metric tons. This equates to roughly 9.59 metric tons of CO2e per capita. Of the six emissions source categories surveyed, mobile emissions made up over half (53 percent) of the CO2e produced. Electricity generation comprised more than one quarter of all emissions, while residential and commercial fuel combustion was the third largest contributor at 16 percent.

  • Consumption-based inventory: Emissions produced around the world due to Salem residents’ consumption of goods and services, including emissions associated with production, transportation, supply chain, use, and disposal of those products.  The consumption-based inventory is a less common method and is increasingly being used by local governments to better understand how the choices and behaviors of individuals can impact climate change. 

Results: In 2016, approximately 4.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are produced through consumption-based emissions while sector-based emissions produce approximately 1.6 million metric tons.

What Happens Next?

  • Share your ideas for change.  Starting today, you can share your ideas for how we can work together to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change.  Meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals will require a broad range of actions to be carried out by the City, residents, businesses, and other organizations.  This could include strategies like increasing renewable energy, reducing emissions from transportation, increasing energy efficiency, reducing food waste. 
  • Follow the Climate Action Plan process.  You can register to get notices of upcoming events and watch the next Task Force workshop on January 13, 2021.  At their next meeting, the Task Force will consider the consumption-based inventory findings and begin discussing strategies.

What is the Climate Action Plan?
The City is developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.  The Climate Action Plan will outline strategies and actions Salem can take to reduce emissions and create a thriving, resilient community for decades to come. The sector- and consumption-based greenhouse gas inventories will help us understand the cost/benefit and the emissions reduction potential of select strategies and will help create a dashboard that can be used to track progress on goals.

For more on what’s been accomplished so far, including a comprehensive Climate Actions Audit to identify completed actions, ongoing practices, and adopted plans that address climate change, check out our website.

Note: Emissions from Salem’s consumption-based inventory cannot be directly added to the sector-based inventory because some consumption occurs within the Salem city limits.  This would create a double-counting error.



Flooding Concerns for Park Visitors and Overnight Campers in Salem - 12/30/20

Use caution in City of Salem parks during this rainy season as flooding can occur along creek beds and lowland areas.

Salem, Ore., The City of Salem warns park visitors and campers of possible flooding along creek banks and lower elevations. Due to ongoing concerns of flooding this time of year, camping near low-level areas is not allowed and park visitors are encouraged to watch for signs and stay away from known wetlands.

Currently, the City has approved two locations within their public park system for overnight camping. Both parks, Wallace Marine and Cascade Gateway have designated locations for tents away from flood danger. Restrictions about camping in low elevations or near waterways have been shared with campers.

The City continues to work with homeless advocate groups, volunteers, and local non-profit organizations to connect campers with local resources to indoor shelter and additional supplies such as tents, tarps, and sleeping bags. 

Higher elevation camping locations
Cascades Gateway Park: northeast corner of the park in the meadow east of Blue Gill Lake, north of the Blue Gill Reservation area, eastern side and the east entrance of the dog park

Wallace Marine Park: select locations inside the berm along field sides.

Reminders for park visitors and overnight campers
No excavation, digging, trenching, fires, or other land alterations are allowed in City of Salem parks. Tent camping is only allowed in designated camping areas as part of the City’s Emergency Housing Declaration. Visitors who believe users are in violation of these orders are encouraged to report their concerns through the City’s website.

How the community can help
The City encourages anyone who may want to get involved to consider volunteering with one of Salem’s homeless service providers or non-profit organizations. We thank the many non-profit, private, and government organizations that have joined us in seeking proactive solutions for our unsheltered populations. Information about getting involved is posted on the City’s website.


Salem Civic Center to Feature Northwest Native Trees - 12/29/20

Thirty new native and hardy ornamental trees will soon replace unhealthy trees at the Salem Civic Center grounds. 

Unhealthy trees at the planting site will first be removed from Peace Plaza (between City Hall and the Salem Library) and along the Liberty Street traffic pull-through. They will be replaced with a mix of northwest native species including Oregon white oak, bigleaf maple, Pacific madrone, deodar cedar, Japanese maple, red horse-chestnut, giant sequoia, American yellowwood, river birch, and black tupelo.  These trees have been selected for their seasonal beauty and minimal maintenance needs. 

Planting of the new trees is expected to begin by January and continue into the new year.  

“This is the best time of year for planting,” said Patricia Farrell, Parks and Natural Resources Planning Manager.  “I’m really excited to see these new trees at the Civic Center.  Many of these are native species that will, in time, provide much larger canopy cover and greater ecological benefits to the site.”

According to Milan Davis, the City’s Urban Forester, "The trees being replaced have been in very poor condition for some time and unfortunately could not be saved. The new trees have been purposely selected to thrive in this location.”

The City’s Urban Forestry staff will be coordinating with the Library construction work already underway at the Civic Center.  To learn more about this or other tree planting projects in Salem, contact Milan Davis, Urban Forester, at"> or 503-588-6211.

Salem Public Library Looking Forward to Green Future - 12/23/20


Salem Public Library Looking Forward to Green Future

Salem, Ore. — Construction work is underway to make the Salem Public Library safer in an earthquake, improve accessibility within and around the exterior of the building, and make other critical improvements including replacement of Library shelving.  These upgrades are being paid for by a bond approved by voters in November 2017, and with the additional support of the Salem Public Library Foundation. The building will re-open in the summer of 2021.

The Library is striving for LEED Silver level for sustainability and energy efficiency as we give another 50 years of life to an existing 50-year-old building.  The seismic improvements we’re making now will help the building survive a seismic event.  In 2070, this building will still be standing. 

Plans include incorporating green energy technology throughout the building systems.  On an annual basis, the solar photovoltaic array alone will produce approximately 58,700kWh or the equivalent of power for four average-sized homes.  In addition, all building systems will be modernized including heating ventilation and air conditioning. These investments will result in energy and cost savings for the life of the building.  Other energy efficiency improvements include:

  • Installed new R-30 roofing insulation on the 1970’s era building;
  • Upgraded curtainwall window systems with sealed and seismically resilient from the 1970’s era aluminum storefront system;
  • Added continuous insulation at new exterior shear walls;
  • Replaced all exterior and interior lighting to high efficiency LED luminaires;
  • Specified natural materials (wood) and low VOC paints and finishes;
  • Replaced all carpets and ceilings with materials certified not to include hazardous products (or ‘red list free”) to ensure safe indoor air quality: and
  • Replaced all plumbing fixtures with ‘low flow” to minimize water use.


City Condemns Monday Morning Protesters' Actions at State Capitol - 12/22/20

Salem, Ore. — On Monday morning, armed individuals attempted to disrupt the Oregon Legislature’s special session by taking over the State Capitol building.  The Oregon State Police and Salem Police removed the individuals.  Salem Police maintained order outside the building.

“Our City is home to the State Capitol, the seat of government for Oregon.  This makes us a host for many groups and activities in which people exercise their rights of free speech to be heard by those elected to serve, the Legislature, and the Governor.  We take that responsibility – and public safety – seriously, regardless of the content of the speech or the ideology of the groups.  When free speech crosses over to physical threats to elected officials, law enforcement, and residents, the City will act to protect public safety,” said Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett.

“Today’s use of force by individuals to stop the Legislature’s special session is appalling. I thank the Oregon State Police and Salem Police Department for their swift action.  Our democratic process must be protected,” continued Mayor Bennett.

Mayor Bennett and Salem City Council President Chris Hoy added, “During recent protests, speech has occurred that is racist and offensive.  We condemn and reject racist speech that spews hatred and vile. There is no place for hate in Salem, and the City will act to protect residents from actions that threaten their safety.”

The City is prepared for announced upcoming marches and demonstrations.  The Salem Police Department will act to protect public safety and uphold the laws necessary to maintain order.

For additional information, see