Marion County
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News Releases
More than $1.4 Million Allocated to Help Houseless Women and Children (Photo) - 12/06/23

Salem, OR — “It’s no secret that we have a homelessness crisis on our hands, especially impacting women and children,” said Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell. “When we can shift funds to a project like Simonka Place, we are literally changing people’s lives and making generational impacts.”

On Wednesday, December 6, the Marion County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s Annual Action Plan to allocate more than $1.4 million to Union Gospel Mission’s (UGM) Simonka Place, a facility that cares for women and children experiencing homelessness. These funds were allocated through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships programs.

Opened in 1968, Simonka Place has served as a beacon of hope for women in need in Marion and Polk Counties. It was the first of its kind on the West Coast. Since its establishment, Simonka Place has remained dedicated to the care of women and children. 

“We really want to be able to serve the increased number of women and children without shelter, and that would not be possible without these resources.” said Dan Clem, UGM Executive Director. “We’re excited to be able to do more, because more is needed.”

Last month alone, Simonka Place had to turn away 11 women with 25 children due to lack of space and resources, according to Kathy Smith, UGM’s Director of Women's Ministries.

“Something like that is just heartbreaking for us,” said Smith. “We really want to be able to meet the whole needs of the community.” 

The funding from Marion County will accomplish two primary purposes. The first is to remodel the interior space to enable Simonka Place to meet the needs of an increasing population of women with children and address the needs of women experiencing a mental health crisis who need their own space for initial recovery.

Updated rooms will accommodate larger families of up to eight, with each room having its own private bathroom. Additional features will be added to the facility to address some of the physical challenges of older women, including handrails, modifications to better accommodate mobility devices, and ramps in place of stairs.

The second purpose for the funding is to address the overall condition of the Simonka Place building, which is over sixty years old. These updates will include the roof, HVAC, lighting, floor-coverings, siding, and windows. Improvements are needed to maintain the safe and efficient function of the facility and enable it to continue providing services to the community.

“These ladies deserve a place that looks like a home,” said Clem. 

Attached Media Files: Simonka_Place.jpg
Commissioner Danielle Bethell Elected President of the Association of Oregon Counties (Photo) - 11/30/23

SALEM, Ore. — On Thursday, November 16, Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell was elected president of the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) during the organization’s annual conference.

Commissioner Bethell recently served as second vice chair, first vice chair and now will serve a one-year term as president, leading the AOC’s board of directors and representing the interests of county governments across the state. 

“I am honored to be elected president of the Association of Oregon Counties,” said Commissioner Bethell. “I am committed to working with and learning from my fellow commissioners across Oregon to improve our counties and the communities we serve.”

The AOC is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of Oregon’s 36 counties. The AOC provides a variety of services to its members, including advocacy, training, and technical assistance, in addition to policy level education and advocacy to the Oregon State Legislature.

Commissioner Bethell’s term as AOC president began November 17, 2023. Areas of priority are centered around expanding collaboration, resources, and outcomes for behavioral health, housing, and public safety initiatives. Throughout 2024, she will work alongside other county commissioners to draft policies to take to the 2025 Oregon legislative session in hopes of creating a more service oriented system of care that is uniquely designed to meet the needs of each county across Oregon and the residents they support.

For questions or comments, email the Board at


Attached Media Files: 2023AC-Bethell-1.jpg
ALERT: Marion County Dog Shelter Opens Event to Public for First Time since COVID-19 (Photo) - 11/28/23

Salem, Ore. — The holidays will be a little brighter for the dogs at Marion County Dog Services (MCDS) in Salem. The shelter is hosting a holiday adoption event on Thursday, November 30 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. They hope to find homes for many of their canine residents. 

This is the first time since 2020 that the shelter’s adoption kennels will be open to the public. Guests are welcome to walk the kennels and meet adoptable dogs. The shelter closed its adoption kennels during the COVID-19 pandemic in favor of conducting adoptions by appointment. 

“Our shelter has been at critical capacity for a majority of the year,” said MCDS Shelter Director, Lauren Thielke. “With this many dogs, our staff and volunteers are spending most of their time cleaning kennels and making sure the dogs are healthy, socialized and exercised.”

MCDS accepts and cares for all lost and stray dogs within Marion County. Like many shelters across the country, MCDS has been dealing with an influx of homeless, lost and stray dogs.  Recently, adoptions have slowed. 

If the holiday adoption event is successful, the shelter plans to host similar adoption events in the future.

Adoption fees range from $100- $350. The adoption fee includes spay/neuter, microchip, current vaccinations, flea/tick treatment, deworming, and a goody bag of treats, toys and other basic supplies. Additionally, Marion County residents who adopt will receive a dog license for their new dog.

Share the word with your friends, and consider dropping by to see all the lovable and adorable pets in our care. 

About Marion County Dog Services:

Marion County Dog Services operates the county dog shelter whose mission is to provide shelter and care for stray dogs until they are reunited with their families or adopted; enforcing Marion County dog licensing and control ordinances; promoting humane treatment of dogs; and educating residents on quality dog care.

Attached Media Files: Willa , Oswald , Paisley
Celebrate Small Business Saturday with the EarthWISE Sustainable Business Network - 11/25/23

Explore the 2023 Holiday Guide to Support Local and Sustainable Businesses

SALEM, OR – As the holiday season approaches, EarthWISE Sustainable Business Network is proud to announce the highly anticipated release of its 2023 Holiday Guide. This guide spotlights local businesses that promote sustainable practices within our community.

Scheduled for launch on November 25th, Small Business Saturday, the 2023 Holiday Guide offers mini business profiles and gifting guides that showcase the innovation, craftsmanship, and sustainable efforts of local entrepreneurs. 

"We are thrilled to launch our 2023 Holiday Guide, showcasing the remarkable efforts of our local businesses dedicated to sustainability," said Rachel VanWoert, EarthWISE Sustainable Business Network Coordinator. "This initiative not only celebrates Small Business Saturday but also encourages our community to shop local and support businesses that prioritize environmental responsibility."

The 2023 EarthWISE Holiday Guide includes a collection of Marion County businesses that prioritize sustainable practices and a dedication to supporting the local community. Interspersed with the business profiles are gift guides for different audiences and tips to help reduce waste associated with the holiday season. 

Join the EarthWISE Sustainable Business Network in celebrating Small Business Saturday on November 25th by exploring the 2023 Holiday Guide, available at 2023 EarthWISE Holiday Guide


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