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Salem's 23rd Annual Riverfront Park Holiday Tree Lighting Nov. 30 - 11/16/18

Celebrate the holiday season by joining family, friends, and neighbors for the holiday tree lighting at Riverfront Park on Fri., Nov. 30. This free community event is one of Salem's most loved community traditions. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.

  • Enjoy musical performances by a local handbell group and the Grant Community School Grizzly Youth Choir.
  • Participate in seasonal craft activities hosted by Gilbert House Children’s Museum and the City of Salem’s Clean Streams Team.
  • Sip hot chocolate and nib cookies provided by Roth's Fresh Market.
  • See Santa and live reindeer, and take photos in the newly created winter wonderland

At 6:30 p.m., Mayor Chuck Bennett will lead the tree-lighting ceremony with one lucky child in attendance selected to help “flip the switch” and light the holiday tree.

Riverfront Park is located at 200 Water Street NE in downtown Salem. This annual holiday event is sponsored by City of Salem Parks and Recreation and Comcast.

Salem to Revise Proposed Plastic Carryout Bag Ordinance: Second Reading Nov. 26 - 11/14/18

On Tues., Nov. 13, 2018, a proposed ordinance to reduce the use of plastic carryout bags was presented to Salem City Council. The City Council is considering an exemption from the 5 cent fee for paper bags for businesses who currently restrict use of plastic carry out bags at check out. Staff will return with a revised ordinance for a second reading on Nov. 26.

If approved Nov. 26, the ordinance Salem City Council is considering would do the following:

Beginning Apr. 1, 2019, large retailers will no longer be distributing plastic carryout bags at checkout in order to help protect the environment, animal and human health, and to reduce litter. All retail businesses, including grocery and convenience stores, apparel and department stores, and local markets will be impacted. Retailers can provide recyclable paper bags, charging a fee of not less than five cents per bag, or reusable bags for customers to carry away purchases.

Restaurants and prepared food providers can still distribute plastic carryout bags. For stores that sell both retail items and prepared food, plastic carryout bags can only be given at checkout for prepared food items.

For further details, view the proposed plastic carryout bag ordinance:

Small charge for paper bags

To encourage reusable bags and to offset the higher cost of paper bags, retailers will charge at least five cents per paper bag given at checkout. This charge is called a pass-through cost and will be shown on a customer's itemized receipt.

Retailers must provide a free carryout option to low-income customers who request a bag and show an Oregon Trail Card or food assistance voucher.

Some plastic bags still allowed

Any plastic bag without handles provided to a customer for use within a retail establishment to get products to the point of sale is still allowed. Examples include bags to:

  • Transport produce, meat, baked goods, and bulk items to the point of sale
  • Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness is a concern
  • Segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other items

Until September 1, 2019, small retailer businesses can still distribute plastic carryout bags to customers.


On May 14, 2018, City Council passed a motion directing staff to research and prepare an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags in the City of Salem, and schedule a public hearing before City Council.

The public hearing for the proposed ordinance was opened on Sept. 10, 2018 and was continued until Oct. 22, 2018.  Second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018.  Typically, ordinances become effective 30 days after approval.

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Salem Homeless Rental Assistance Program Reaches Major Milestone: 100 Homeless Housed - 11/06/18

Launched in July 2017, Salem’s Homeless Rental Assistance Program links “hardest to house” homeless individuals to housing, food, furnishings, and social services. With a goal to house 100 in its first year, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program is the largest “Housing First” first-year initiative in Oregon.  Last week, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program reached its goal to house 100 of Salem’s ‘hardest to house” chronically homeless individuals.

The “hardest to house” homeless population often deals with untreated mental illness, addiction, and chronic health conditions worsened by long periods of homelessness. In addition, some face barriers to housing, such as criminal history, evictions, and poor rental history. The Homeless Rental Assistance Program combines rental assistance, intensive case management, and funding to reduce these and other barriers to success.

The City of Salem, through the Salem Housing Authority, committed $1.4 million dollars to the Homeless Rental Assistance Program in 2017. Combined with a $150,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust Foundation and $50,000 from Salem Health, and in-kind support from social service agencies, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program helps individuals find appropriate permanent housing for up to one year. Upon graduation, each Homeless Rental Assistance Program client receives a housing voucher from Salem Housing Authority to ensure long-term housing stability. Read the 2017-18 Homeless Rental Assistance Program report to learn more and see how you can contribute to its continued success.

Individuals, businesses, and organizations wishing to support the Homeless Rental Assistance Program should go to the Salem Housing Authority website for more information. The first donation to the program was received in July 2018 from 8-year old Abel Najera-Banuelos. Abel presented the Salem Housing Commission with $100 earned through his lemonade stand. Learn more about, or donate to, the Homeless Rental Assistance Program

“We have built a strong foundation to address homelessness,” said Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett, “But we need more individuals in the community to step-up and join the effort. We are thankful to everyone who is already chipping in.”

The Homeless Rental Assistance Program needs the help of rental owners. Measures are in place to reduce financial risk to landlords. If you have housing available to rent, and would like to learn more about the program, please call 503??'588??'6368 to speak with the Salem Housing Authority. You can also donate to non-profit organizations, provide space for services, serve on volunteer boards, volunteer, invest in affordable housing, or rent an apartment to an at-risk tenant. Your help is vital and greatly appreciated.

Homelessness in Salem is a complex problem that requires long-term, committed partnerships with public, non-profit, and private organizations across the City, Marion County, and Polk County. Salem is taking a collaborative approach and adapting best practices to fit our community. Working with its partners, the City of Salem is increasing access to affordable housing for our community’s homeless and those at-risk of becoming homeless.

The City is actively helping the homeless and working to reduce homelessness in Salem. Learn more about the Downtown Homelessness Task Force, affordable housing, plans for a sobering center, and available assistance for low-income people in our community

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Salem Considers New Solid Waste Collection Rate and Charges at Nov. 13 Public Hearing - 11/06/18

The Salem City Council will host a public hearing Tues., Nov. 13, 2018 at 6 p.m., to receive testimony regarding Resolution No. 2018-81 Establishing New Solid Waste Collection Rates and Charges and Rescinding Resolution No. 2017-45. Salem City Council meetings are held in Council Chambers, 555 Liberty Street SE, Room 240. Community members can testify at the public hearing or provide feedback via email at"> by Nov. 13 at 3:30 p.m.

The City does not operate garbage and recycling services in Salem, but it does manage the franchise contract with Salem’s six haulers. Utilizing the private market for garbage and recycling services provides an efficient and quality service for Salem customers.

Due to a reduction in the amount and types of recycled material global buyers will accept, local conditions in the recycling market have changed so significantly that haulers now must pay to have materials recycled and are requesting an adjustment to the 2019 adopted solid waste rates. Data provided by the haulers, and confirmed through an independent, third party analysis, show increases in the cost of service correspond to the proposed rate increase. For additional information regarding the recycling market and recent changes, go to:

If approved, adjusted rates would become effective January 1, 2019. Most customers subscribe to 35 gallon cart service. The monthly rate for 35 gallon cart service in the Marion County portion of Salem is proposed to increase by $2.85 per month. The monthly rate for a 35 gallon cart service in the Polk County portion of Salem is proposed to increase by $3.20 per month. The full list of proposed rates will be available in the staff report. The staff report will be available online by 5 p.m., Thurs., Nov. 8, 2018, at, and will also be available at the City of Salem Recorder, Civic Center, 555 Liberty Street SE, Room 205, Salem, Oregon 97301, 503-588-6097; copies will be provided at reasonable cost.

The Salem City Council Rules, which include the procedures for conduct of hearings before the City Council, are available at the City of Salem Recorder, Civic Center, 555 Liberty Street SE, Room 205, Salem Oregon 97301, 503-588-6097 and online at: Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations shall be provided on request upon 24 hours advance notice.

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Intersection of 12th Street NE and Court Street NE - 11/05/18

The traffic signal at intersection of 12th Street NE and Court Street NE has been damaged. The lights are flashing red in all directions. During the repairs, the signal may be turned off and stop signs placed at the intersection. Traffic through this intersection is proceeding slowly. Please use extra caution and treat this intersection as 4-way stop.  If possible, please choose an alternate route until the repairs can be completed.


UPDATE (Date Change For Repairs):

A temporary repair has allowed the traffic signal at intersection of 12th Street NE and Court Street NE to become operational through the evening hours. Beginning again at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 7, crews will continue to work on final repairs.  During this time, the lights will again flash red or will be turned off with stop signs placed at the intersection. Please continue to use caution and treat this intersection as 4-way stop.  Thank you for your patience, and for choosing alternate routes, where feasible.

Nov. 14 Open House: Salem's Downtown Streetscape Design Update - 11/01/18

Salem residents are invited to attend an open house on the refined Downtown Salem Streetscape Design Plan concepts Wed., Nov. 14, 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Senator Hearing Room/Courthouse Square, 555 Court St. NE. The concepts that will be presented were developed from community input. More than 1000 people have provided input on how to make our downtown sidewalks more safe, inviting, and beautiful.

At our April open house, participants reviewed draft concepts. Over the summer, stakeholders helped refine concepts to reflect existing conditions at specific locations. On Nov. 14, we will present these updates before the Urban Renewal Agency discusses the plan.

Streetscape improvements were identified as one of the top project priorities within the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area during a series of 12 focus group meetings in 2016. Walker Macy was selected to lead community visioning and design efforts. Their experience in streetscape projects have been shown to enhance downtowns and their project team consists of experienced professionals in the fields of landscape architecture/planning, civil engineering, transportation, public involvement, and economics.

For more information on the Downtown Streetscape Plan, visit or contact Sheri Wahrgren, Downtown Revitalization Manager, at 503-540-2495 or"> Si necesita ayuda para comprender esta información, por favor llame 503-588-6178.

City of Salem Cogeneration Facility Receives $3 Million in Renewable Energy Incentives From Energy Trust of Oregon - 11/01/18

Salem, Ore. — The City of Salem (City) is very pleased to announce the receipt of $3 million in renewable energy incentives from the nonprofit Energy Trust of Oregon (Energy Trust).  This is in addition to $200,000 in project development incentives previously received from Energy Trust, and $3 million in grant funds awarded by Portland General Electric’s Renewable Development Fund in 2017.  In all, these contributions cover over half of the total costs the City needs to upgrade the Willow Lake Cogeneration Facility at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Remaining project costs will be paid for through existing water and wastewater utility rates.

The existing cogeneration facility at Willow Lake has been producing clean, renewable energy from the byproducts of the wastewater treatment for more than 50 years.  As wastewater moves through the treatment process microorganisms break down or digest the organic matter.  As this digestion occurs, methane and other gases (biogas) are produced.  At many treatment plants, these gases are simply flared to the atmosphere.  Through the cogeneration process, however, this biogas is captured and put to use, producing renewable energy. Willow Lake is one of only 11 facilities in the state of Oregon that is presently using biogas to produce renewable energy. 

According to Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett, “This really is a very exciting project, and one that I’m quite proud of.  It is this kind of effort and ingenuity that demonstrates Salem’s commitment to environmental action.” The energy incentives the City has received from both Energy Trust and PGE will finally allow aging infrastructure at the cogeneration system to be replaced and upgraded with a more efficient, larger operating system, an improved gas treatment system allowing for cleaner emissions, and a new cogeneration building with capacity to expand with a second engine in the future to take advantage of future biogas production growth.   

Once complete, the upgraded cogeneration facility will supply nearly one half of the total power needs at the wastewater treatment plant.  This significant upgrade is expected to save the City of Salem $300,000 each year, and keep 5,000 metric tons of pollution causing gases from being released into our atmosphere. Waste heat from the facility will also be used to heat the treatment plants administrative building.  This leads to an additional estimate of $30,000 per year in natural gas savings. In all, the amount of renewable electricity produced from the cogeneration facility will equal the amount that is needed to power nearly 900 homes.  “With this investment, the City of Salem is transforming unwanted waste into valuable clean energy to be used on site,” said Dave Moldal, renewable energy program manager, Energy Trust. “This innovative cogeneration facility will help the city reduce energy costs and deliver more value to residents of Salem, Turner and Keizer.”

Energy Trust’s incentive of $3 million will be paid in installments to the City with $500,000 paid when the project reaches commercial operation and the remaining funds will be distributed as the City’s new cogeneration system meets renewable energy generation milestones. Facility upgrades will begin this winter, with an anticipated completion in late 2019 or early 2020.

This project has been made possible by the generous support of Energy Trust of Oregon and customers participating in Portland General Electric's Green Future Program through the Renewable Development Fund.

Drop off Your Leaves at the Free Fall Leaf Haul - 10/26/18

Salem, Ore. — Salem residents can dispose of leaves piling up in their yard at the City of Salem’s Fall Leaf Haul Events. The free events will be held Sat., Nov. 17 and Sat., Dec. 8, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Brown’s Island Demolition Landfill (2895 Faragate Street S). Seniors and people with disabilities who need assistance getting bagged leaves and grass to the collection site may call 503-588-6303 by Nov. 16, 2018 to make arrangements.

Brown’s Island Demolition Landfill only accepts leaves or yard debris from the public during the Fall Leaf Haul, which is made possible by the City of Salem, Marion County, and local garbage haulers.

Keep Leaves out of Streets and Storm Drains

The combination of falling leaves and increased rain can lead to clogged storm drains and cause local street flooding. The accumulation of leaves in streets and streams also adds excess nutrients that can degrade the water quality of local streams. The Fall Leaf Haul is one of many best management practices addressed in the City’s stormwater permit that helps reduce the amount of pollutants from entering local streams.  

Compost with a Purpose

The Fall Leaf Haul is an opportunity to dispose of leaves that turn into compost with a local purpose! The compost is used in Marion County parks and restoration projects and donated to schools and non-profits, such as the Marion-Polk Food Share for use in their community gardens. Residents can purchase the compost at the Marion County Juvenile Department's Fresh Start Market (3020 Center St. NE, Salem 97301).

Learn more about the Fall Leaf Haul by visiting:

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