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News Releases
Recognize Your Neighbors, Call for Nominations to Mayor Volunteer Awards - 09/15/20


September 15, 2020

503-763-3459 |

Recognize Your Neighbors, Call for Nominations to Mayor Volunteer Awards

Salem, Ore. — The City relies heavily on the skills, time, talent, and energy of Salem residents who work with appointed officials paid staff and elected representatives on issues of importance to the community.

Now, more than ever, the City wants to celebrate our more than 9,000 volunteers. Please consider nominating an outstanding resident for one of our nine award categories.

This year, the City plans to showcase award recipients on our public website and introduce the winners at our City Council Meeting on Oct. 26, 2020. Salem residents should act fast. The deadline to nominate a deserving volunteer is Sept. 25, 2020.

Recognize your neighbors and nominate them for a volunteerism award. Online nominations are available here:

For more information about the award categories visit the City of Salem’s public website.

Salem Awards Grant Funding to Local Non-Profits Impacted by COVID-19 - 09/14/20

Salem, Ore. — The City of Salem recently awarded seven cultural and heritage focused non-profit organizations a combined $25,000 in assistance for operational hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. These awards were funded by the City Council and were distributed in grants of up to $5,000 per organization.  

Grant funding was awarded to Theatre 33, Straub Outdoors, Salem Art Association, Gilbert House Children’s Museum, Verona Studio, Pentacle Theatre, and Enlightened Theatrics. To be eligible the organizations were required to have a physical presence within Salem city limits, be open to the public and have experienced a mandatory change-in-service, or closure, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City continues to support local businesses who have been affected by COVID-19 and expects to launch two additional grant programs to benefit Salem small businesses and eligible non-profit organizations in early fall.

For more information, visit the City of Salem website or call 503-540-2480.

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Protect Yourself and Others During Ash Cleanup - 09/14/20

Note: This is a compilation of information from various health and environmental organizations. Links to these resources are included at the bottom of the story.

If you have wildfire ash to clean up, be sure to take special precautions.

Cleanup work can expose you to ash and other fire products that may irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Ash is made up of larger and smaller particles (dust, dirt, and soot). When deposited on surfaces indoors and outdoors, it can be inhaled if it becomes airborne when you clean up. Ash from burned structures is generally more hazardous than forest ash.

Clean-up of structures burned in the fire requires more precautions.

Clean-up precautions:

  • People with heart or lung disease, including asthma, older adults, children and pregnant women should use special caution around ash.
  • Children and pets should not be nearby. Don’t allow children to play in ash. Clean ash off pets and other animals. Clean ash off children’s toys before use.
  • Avoid direct contact with ash. Wear protective clothing including a tight-fitting N95 masks, goggles, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks to protect yourself. If you do get ash on skin, in eyes, or in your mouth, wash it off as soon as you can. Change clothing and shoes on site to avoid tracking ash into your car or other places.
  • Avoid stirring up or sifting through ash as much as possible, such as dry sweeping. Before sweeping indoor and outdoor hard surfaces, mist them with water to keep dust down. Follow with wet mopping. Use a damp mop or wet cloth, with as little water as possible, on lightly dusted surfaces.
  • Don’t use typical vacuums or leaf blowers. Instead, use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)-type vacuum to clean dusty surfaces. Don’t use anything that will send collected ash out into the air.
  • Wash any home-grown fruits or vegetables where ash has fallen.
  • Disposal: Collected ash may be disposed of in the regular trash. Store it in plastic bags or other containers to prevent it from being stirred up.


EPA – Protect Yourself from Ash:

OSU Extention - Yard and Garden cleanup:

Oregon DEQ - Wildfire debris removal:

Red Cross – Cleaning Up After a Fire:

Downtown Salem Expanded Outdoor Dining and Retail Program Postponed Due to Poor Air Quality - 09/11/20

Salem, Ore. – Downtown Salem’s successful outdoor dining and retail program is being put on hold due to poor air quality from area wildfires. There will be no downtown State Street closures (between Commercial and Liberty) on Sept. 12 or 13, 2020. The program and street closures will resume when air quality improves.

The Downtown Salem expanded outdoor dining and retail pilot program was initiated by Salem’s City Council to assist businesses as they reopened with pandemic restrictions. It began on State Street (between Commercial and Liberty) on Jun. 20, 2020.

For more information on the expanded retail and outdoor seating pilot program, please email">

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Salem Fire Department Deploys Wildland Task Force to the Santiam Fire - 09/10/20

The Salem Fire Department has deployed 18-firefighters to the Beachie Fire, following a request from the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The firefighters are part of “Task Force 44” which is comprised of a command vehicle, two (2) engines, two (2) grass units, a water tender and a deployment support trailer. 

“The Santiam Fire has devastated and continues to affect our neighboring communities. Our hearts and prayers go to those impacted.  Our firefighters are well-trained and prepared to help protect families and businesses in the path of the fires. The Salem team, Task Force 44, will join other firefighting crews as they work to combat this fire. I commend our firefighters, and look forward to their safe return,” said Fire Chief Mike Niblock.

While Salem is surrounded by wildfires, at the present time, there is no wildfire threat to the City and no evacuation orders have been issued. The Task Force deployment does not disrupt Salem Fire Department’s ability to continue providing fire and emergency medical services to our community.

What's Happening Downtown? - 09/08/20

Salem, Ore. — The Salem Downtown Streetscape project is about to begin! The Streetscape project includes an update to the look and feel of our downtown, including the replacement of concrete sidewalks, regrading of curbs and parking areas to accommodate drainage, installation of pedestrian level lighting, installation of larger tree wells to promote tree health with additional plantings at the base of trees, and landscaping enhancements of alley entrances for improved visibility. The selected contractor, Gelco Construction Company, will begin site work this week.

The Streetscape project area includes State ST (from Front ST to Commercial ST), the north side of Court ST NE (from Front ST NE to Commercial ST NE), and the west side of Commercial ST SE (from Ferry ST SE to State ST).

All work within the project will be constructed in phases to allow public access while maintaining safety. Motorists should use caution as work may require travel lane closures, temporary reductions in parking, and sidewalk closures within the construction zone. Work is expected to last through Nov. 2020, barring any unexpected delays to materials or site conditions. Future streetscape phases will be completed as funding is available.

Streetscape improvements were identified as one of the top urban renewal funding priorities within the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area during a series of 12 focus group meetings in 2016. A community work group worked with the Urban Development, Public Works, and Community Development Departments to develop a scope of work for consulting efforts. The Downtown Streetscape Plan was unanimously approved by the Urban Renewal Agency on Apr. 22, 2019.

If you have questions regarding the Downtown Streetscape project, call 503-588-6211 or email

Despite Wildfires Salem's Drinking Water Remains Safe - 09/08/20

Salem, Ore. -- Salem’s drinking water remains safe to drink.  We remain concerned for our neighbors who are evacuating their homes and businesses.  The North Santiam River water is Salem’s drinking water source, before treatment at Salem’s Geren Island Water Treatment Facility.  Despite fires in the area, there is no impact on Salem’s drinking water.  The City of Salem continues to monitor fire status closely and is actively preparing for changing conditions.  Should there be a concern with Salem’s drinking water an Emergency alert will be disseminated. You can sign up for Community Alerts at  For additional wildfire related information please see the following:

Evacuations and Shelters

The city of Salem is not being evacuated.  The Marion County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page for the most up to date information on Marion County evacuations and emergencies. The Red Cross

has set-up an evacuation shelter at the Oregon State Fairgrounds for people and livestock. 

Air Quality

An air quality advisory has been issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for the Willamette Valley and much of Central and Western Oregon due to wildfire activity. Smoke in the central and southern Willamette Valley is coming from the Lionshead and Beachie Creek fires. The advisory remains in effect through at least Tuesday afternoon. Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions, affecting:

- persons with asthma or chronic respiratory disease

- persons with cardiovascular disease

- persons over 65 years of age

- infants and children

- pregnant women

- smokers, especially those who have smoked for several years.

Learn more about wildfire smoke and health at:

Locally, for those needing shelter from smoke, Community Action ARCHES day room is open today. Learn more about wildfire smoke and health at:

Please visit City of Salem’s web page for the most up to date information at    

City of Salem Issues Burn Ban - 09/02/20

SALEM — Effective Friday September 4, 2020 both the Marion and Polk County Fire Defense Boards have established a burn ban declaration which remains in effect until further notice. Weather conditions have been extremely hot and dry and are predicted to remain hot and dry for the foreseeable future. Atmospheric conditions within the City of Salem are such that open burning and recreational fires pose a hazard to persons and property throughout the entire City of Salem area.

Pursuant to Salem Revised Code (SRC) 58.001 – 58.004 and the Oregon Fire Code 307.1.1, the City of Salem is imposing a total ban on recreational fires and open burning, effective immediately and continuing until terminated by the Fire Code Official. By way of illustration and not limitation the following types of fires are prohibited within the entire City of Salem:

  • Any open burning taking place in an unenclosed space such as the burning of leaves and grass, burning construction debris, burn barrels, fires built on the ground, and bonfires.
  • Campfires, bonfires, and all fires in fire pits.

Pursuant to the Salem Revised Code and the Oregon Fire, cooking outdoors on approved grills is allowed during this total burning ban; however, all such fires must be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished.  

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