County News

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  • Coyote tests positive for rabies after biting man

    Coyote tests positive for rabies after biting man

    Date: 10/11/2017 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Health

    ​Marion County Environmental Health has confirmed that a coyote tested positive for rabies after biting a man at a Gervais area farm earlier this week.

    The man reported that the coyote walked up, sniffed him, and then bit him on the leg. The man and an acquaintance shot the coyote then sought medical treatment following the bite. Marion County Environmental Health staff members responded to the site of the incident and collected the coyote for testing at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. Test results received late Tuesday confirmed rabies.

    The man was treated with a rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, which consists of a series of injections, and was released.

    Coyotes are rarely found with rabies. Only three coyotes have tested positive for the disease in the past 10 years in Oregon. Marion County Environmental Health officials remind people that they should avoid feeding or approaching wild animals.

    For more information, contact the Marion County Public Health at (503) 588-5346 or visit http://www.co.marion.or.us/HLT/PH/EHS/vector/Pages/rabies.aspx. The Oregon Health Authority has additional information regarding rabies on their on-line diseases guide at https://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/Pages/disease.aspx?did=41. ​

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  • County to conduct economic assessment of East Marion Rail line

    County to conduct economic assessment of East Marion Rail line

    Date: 9/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Board of Commissioners Office

    ​Since early 2012 the Silverton to Stayton portion of the East Marion Rail line has been inactive. The full line, owned by Union Pacific and operated by Willamette Valley Railway, runs from Woodburn to Stayton and historically provided short line shipping service between these Marion County communities. Since the line was closed, several groups have stepped forward with suggestions to reactivate the rail line.

    To assist with the conversation and develop a common picture for all interested parties, Marion County has contracted with Anzur Logistics, a rail transportation consulting company based in Salem, to conduct a study of the rail line including an infrastructure assessment, market analysis, and cost benefit analysis.

    Marion County Economic Development Coordinator Tom Hogue said, "Marion County's goal is to provide the underlying research and economic evaluation necessary as potential redevelopment opportunities are explored. We are not advocating for a particular outcome or project. The county's role is to provide factual, neutral information beneficial to all parties as the future of the East Marion Rail line is discussed."

    Anzur Logistics will assess current track conditions and provide cost estimates to return the line to service, as well as provide a cost benefit analysis and potential funding sources. The final study will include an economic assessment for cities along the rail line. Commissioner Kevin Cameron said, "Short line railroads are an important asset. It's important for the county to assess the economic impacts of rail service and ensure potential renewed service is utilized for the benefit of Marion County communities."

    Data collection and evaluation will begin immediately with a draft analysis expected in late 2017. The final report will be available for stakeholder review in January 2018. For more information, contact Economic Development Coordinator Tom Hogue at (503) 589-3277 or thogue@co.marion.or.us. ​

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  • County efforts bring reduced flood insurance premiums for property owners

    County efforts bring reduced flood insurance premiums for property owners

    Date: 9/28/2017 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Public Works

    ​The Board of Commissioners has approved recertification of Marion County's continued participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Rating System for the upcoming year. The Class 6 rating will continue lower flood insurance premiums for property owners in unincorporated areas of Marion County and is part of the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Through the program, residents receive 20 percent premium discounts within flood hazard areas and 10 percent discounts in non-flood hazard areas. Commissioner Sam Brentano, board chair, said, "I've seen the effects of flooding on homes and families. I'm pleased we're doing all we can to minimize the impacts of flooding, as well as provide a cost savings for county residents."   

    There are many reasons homeowners should consider flood insurance. Many people are not aware that standard homeowners' policies don't cover flood damage. Federal grants and loan programs are not available after every flood event and just a few inches of floodwater in a home can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

    Last year, county residents saved more than $50,000 in premiums on $70 million in insured structures and contents. Discounts are automatic and policy holders need not do anything other than purchase insurance to receive reduced premiums. The average savings per policy is $160.

    Marion County achieved a Class 6 rating by accomplishing a number of tasks from a menu of FEMA-endorsed practices to prevent or mitigate flooding. These include construction standards like not allowing basements for new construction in flood zones, improving outreach efforts to help residents understand how to better prepare for floods, and keeping streams free of debris and pollution. Outreach efforts and management practices place Marion County among the top jurisdictions nationwide for flood insurance savings.

    For more information contact Brandon Reich at (503) 566-4175 or breich@co.marion.or.us. ​

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  • 2017-2018 Property Taxes

    2017-2018 Property Taxes

    Date: 10/13/2017 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Assessor's Office

    ​Marion County tax statements were mailed this week and should arrive in property owner mailboxes within a few days. Tom Rohlfing, Marion County Assessor, certified the 2016-2017 Tax Roll on October 5, 2016.

    As of the January 1, 2017, valuation date, the aggregate Real Market Value of all property countywide increased by 8.2% from last year, to $42.2 billion.  This is almost twice the 4.25% average rate of increase since 2000.  This rapid increase in market value stems from such factors as the healthy economy, high employment rates, national interest in moving to the region, and low interest rates on mortgages.   

    Escalating values of residences and residential land located in cities and towns largely fueled the increase, jumping by $2.1 billion or 13.1%.  An increase of 12.2% in the total Real Market Value of existing, unchanged residences and land is largely responsible, with new construction and remodeling activity also as factors.

    The total value of rural property, including acreage homes, farms, and forest lands, showed more modest growth, increasing by 6.8%.  Although a more modest increase than for urban properties, this is still very strong growth in historical terms.

    Due to Measure 50 benefits, most homeowners will experience much smaller tax increases than the preceding figures suggest.  The typical unchanged home will experience only a 3% increase in assessed value no matter where located in the county.  However, changes in tax rates due to new or expiring bonds will significantly affect owners in selected communities.  The largest is a 14.4% tax increase for the average Jefferson homeowner due to a $14.35 million school bond.

    Salem homeowners will incur an increased rate on an existing Salem-Keizer School District bond, plus the tab on the new $61.8 million public safety bond approved in May, for a 5% overall increase.  Most Keizer homeowners will pay 4.2% more due to the same school bond.   Donald homeowners will find a 4% increase on their bills, due to higher rates on a City of Donald bond. Homeowners in both Silverton and Aurora will see a typical increase of approximately 1.8%.

    Commercial and industrial properties show a modest 2.8% growth in total value as compared to urban homes or rural property.  Trends vary by property type.  New industrial facilities, including fertilizer production and cold storage facilities, added significant market value. Warehouses and prime retail and office properties experienced value increases on an individual basis as cannabis production and economic growth increased demand for this type of facility.  Also contributing is a multi-year lack of new warehouse construction, although this is expected to change over the next couple of years. 

    Apartment construction added significant new value; however, existing apartments slowed their increase after several years of investment popularity.  Non-prime commercial properties continue to show weakness, especially in smaller cities and towns.

    Assessed Value countywide grew by 3.63% to $24.2 billion, standing at just 57% of total Real Market Value.  A big factor in the gap between market and assessed values is the Measure 50 limit of 3% annual growth in the Maximum Assessed Value of unchanged property.  However, over 13,400 properties receive sharply reduced assessed values and taxes due to farm or forest special assessment and more than 14,800 properties receive full or partial tax exemptions.   

    The value of Marion County property exempt from taxation increased by $180 million to just below $6.7 billion. Much of the new industrial construction qualified for exemption under Enterprise Zone provisions intended to promote job growth. Furthermore, exemptions continue to expand due to new legislation and tax court interpretations of existing statutes. For example, the offices of independent associations representing the interests of governmental entities were recently ruled by the Tax Court judge as eligible for the same exemption as most government owned property. 

    Primary beneficiaries of Marion County property taxes are public schools, Chemeketa Community College, and educational service districts receiving 43.7% of the total. Other major recipients include cities (23.8%), Marion County government (18.2%), and fire districts (6.8%).  Urban renewal districts receive about 3.1%. These percentages are similar to last year. 

    Marion County Assessor Tom Rohlfing encourages property owners to promptly review their tax statement for accuracy. This includes checking for correct ownership, mailing, and location addresses. To aid with this, the Assessor's Office provides a wide array of information on its website, including information about how each property is assessed. A new map search tool also helps to locate properties.

    Taxes are due by November 15, 2017, to receive the 3% discount and avoid interest charges.  Owners with questions, or who feel changes are needed, may contact the Assessor's Office at (503) 588-5144. Those who disagree with the Real Market Value placed on their property are encouraged to request a review prior to filing an appeal.  If the property owner still does not agree with the value once the review is completed, instructions on the back of the tax statement describe how to appeal to the local Board of Property Tax Appeals, made up of volunteers with training, experience, and knowledge of property valuation.

    For more information visit the Marion County Assessor website at www.co.marion.or.us or contact the office at (503) 588-5144 or email assessor@co.marion.or.us. ​

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  • Marion County Parks Closing For The Season

    Marion County Parks Closing For The Season

    Date: 10/17/2017 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​MARION COUNTY, OR – Several seasonal Marion County parks will close to the public on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Parks that are closing include:

    • Aumsville Ponds on Bates Road SE near Aumsville;
    • Bonesteele Park on Aumsville Hwy SE;
    • Spong's Landing on the Willamette River north of Keizer; and,
    • Minto, Niagara, North Fork, and Salmon Falls parks, which are all in the North Santiam River Basin.

    Two other county parks have already closed for the season: St. Louis Fish Ponds west of Gervais, and Bear Creek Park and Campground on North Fork Road near Mehama.

    The Marion County parks that remain open year-round are:

    • Auburn, Denny, Eola Bend, Joryville, Labish Village, and Parkdale in the Salem area;
    • Rogers Wayside near Silverton; and,
    • Packsaddle along the North Santiam River.

    For more information these county parks, including descriptions and locations, visit the Marion County Parks web site at http://www.co.marion.or.us/PW/Parks/ or call (503) 588-5036.

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  • Oct
    17

    Marion County Parks Closing For The Season

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​MARION COUNTY, OR – Several seasonal Marion County parks will close to the public on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Parks that are closing include:

    • Aumsville Ponds on Bates Road SE near Aumsville;
    • Bonesteele Park on Aumsville Hwy SE;
    • Spong's Landing on the Willamette River north of Keizer; and,
    • Minto, Niagara, North Fork, and Salmon Falls parks, which are all in the North Santiam River Basin.

    Two other county parks have already closed for the season: St. Louis Fish Ponds west of Gervais, and Bear Creek Park and Campground on North Fork Road near Mehama.

    The Marion County parks that remain open year-round are:

    • Auburn, Denny, Eola Bend, Joryville, Labish Village, and Parkdale in the Salem area;
    • Rogers Wayside near Silverton; and,
    • Packsaddle along the North Santiam River.

    For more information these county parks, including descriptions and locations, visit the Marion County Parks web site at http://www.co.marion.or.us/PW/Parks/ or call (503) 588-5036.

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    Marion County Parks Closing For The Season
  • Oct
    13

    2017-2018 Property Taxes

    Posted by: Assessor's Office

    ​Marion County tax statements were mailed this week and should arrive in property owner mailboxes within a few days. Tom Rohlfing, Marion County Assessor, certified the 2016-2017 Tax Roll on October 5, 2016.

    As of the January 1, 2017, valuation date, the aggregate Real Market Value of all property countywide increased by 8.2% from last year, to $42.2 billion.  This is almost twice the 4.25% average rate of increase since 2000.  This rapid increase in market value stems from such factors as the healthy economy, high employment rates, national interest in moving to the region, and low interest rates on mortgages.   

    Escalating values of residences and residential land located in cities and towns largely fueled the increase, jumping by $2.1 billion or 13.1%.  An increase of 12.2% in the total Real Market Value of existing, unchanged residences and land is largely responsible, with new construction and remodeling activity also as factors.

    The total value of rural property, including acreage homes, farms, and forest lands, showed more modest growth, increasing by 6.8%.  Although a more modest increase than for urban properties, this is still very strong growth in historical terms.

    Due to Measure 50 benefits, most homeowners will experience much smaller tax increases than the preceding figures suggest.  The typical unchanged home will experience only a 3% increase in assessed value no matter where located in the county.  However, changes in tax rates due to new or expiring bonds will significantly affect owners in selected communities.  The largest is a 14.4% tax increase for the average Jefferson homeowner due to a $14.35 million school bond.

    Salem homeowners will incur an increased rate on an existing Salem-Keizer School District bond, plus the tab on the new $61.8 million public safety bond approved in May, for a 5% overall increase.  Most Keizer homeowners will pay 4.2% more due to the same school bond.   Donald homeowners will find a 4% increase on their bills, due to higher rates on a City of Donald bond. Homeowners in both Silverton and Aurora will see a typical increase of approximately 1.8%.

    Commercial and industrial properties show a modest 2.8% growth in total value as compared to urban homes or rural property.  Trends vary by property type.  New industrial facilities, including fertilizer production and cold storage facilities, added significant market value. Warehouses and prime retail and office properties experienced value increases on an individual basis as cannabis production and economic growth increased demand for this type of facility.  Also contributing is a multi-year lack of new warehouse construction, although this is expected to change over the next couple of years. 

    Apartment construction added significant new value; however, existing apartments slowed their increase after several years of investment popularity.  Non-prime commercial properties continue to show weakness, especially in smaller cities and towns.

    Assessed Value countywide grew by 3.63% to $24.2 billion, standing at just 57% of total Real Market Value.  A big factor in the gap between market and assessed values is the Measure 50 limit of 3% annual growth in the Maximum Assessed Value of unchanged property.  However, over 13,400 properties receive sharply reduced assessed values and taxes due to farm or forest special assessment and more than 14,800 properties receive full or partial tax exemptions.   

    The value of Marion County property exempt from taxation increased by $180 million to just below $6.7 billion. Much of the new industrial construction qualified for exemption under Enterprise Zone provisions intended to promote job growth. Furthermore, exemptions continue to expand due to new legislation and tax court interpretations of existing statutes. For example, the offices of independent associations representing the interests of governmental entities were recently ruled by the Tax Court judge as eligible for the same exemption as most government owned property. 

    Primary beneficiaries of Marion County property taxes are public schools, Chemeketa Community College, and educational service districts receiving 43.7% of the total. Other major recipients include cities (23.8%), Marion County government (18.2%), and fire districts (6.8%).  Urban renewal districts receive about 3.1%. These percentages are similar to last year. 

    Marion County Assessor Tom Rohlfing encourages property owners to promptly review their tax statement for accuracy. This includes checking for correct ownership, mailing, and location addresses. To aid with this, the Assessor's Office provides a wide array of information on its website, including information about how each property is assessed. A new map search tool also helps to locate properties.

    Taxes are due by November 15, 2017, to receive the 3% discount and avoid interest charges.  Owners with questions, or who feel changes are needed, may contact the Assessor's Office at (503) 588-5144. Those who disagree with the Real Market Value placed on their property are encouraged to request a review prior to filing an appeal.  If the property owner still does not agree with the value once the review is completed, instructions on the back of the tax statement describe how to appeal to the local Board of Property Tax Appeals, made up of volunteers with training, experience, and knowledge of property valuation.

    For more information visit the Marion County Assessor website at www.co.marion.or.us or contact the office at (503) 588-5144 or email assessor@co.marion.or.us. ​

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    2017-2018 Property Taxes
  • Oct
    11

    Bear Creek Park and Campground Closes Early for the Season

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​MEHAMA, OR – Marion County Parks announces that because of maintenance issues Bear Creek Park and Campground, which typically closes each year on November 1, has closed for the season. The seasonal park will reopen on May 1, 2018.    

    For more information about this and other Marion County Parks, visit the website at http://www.co.marion.or.us/PW/Parks/, email parks@co.marion.or.us, or call 503-588-5036.

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    Bear Creek Park and Campground Closes Early for the Season
  • Oct
    11

    Coyote tests positive for rabies after biting man

    Posted by: Health

    ​Marion County Environmental Health has confirmed that a coyote tested positive for rabies after biting a man at a Gervais area farm earlier this week.

    The man reported that the coyote walked up, sniffed him, and then bit him on the leg. The man and an acquaintance shot the coyote then sought medical treatment following the bite. Marion County Environmental Health staff members responded to the site of the incident and collected the coyote for testing at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. Test results received late Tuesday confirmed rabies.

    The man was treated with a rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, which consists of a series of injections, and was released.

    Coyotes are rarely found with rabies. Only three coyotes have tested positive for the disease in the past 10 years in Oregon. Marion County Environmental Health officials remind people that they should avoid feeding or approaching wild animals.

    For more information, contact the Marion County Public Health at (503) 588-5346 or visit http://www.co.marion.or.us/HLT/PH/EHS/vector/Pages/rabies.aspx. The Oregon Health Authority has additional information regarding rabies on their on-line diseases guide at https://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/Pages/disease.aspx?did=41. ​

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    Coyote tests positive for rabies after biting man
  • Oct
    3

    River Road South to Close for Culvert Replacement

    Posted by: Public Works

    Marion County Public Works and Portland and Western Railroad (PNWR) are working cooperatively to replace a failed stormwater culvert that crosses River Road South and the adjacent PNWR tracks. River Road South is located between Salem and the Independence (Willamette River) Bridge. The culvert is located at milepost 3.3, immediately south of the north railroad undercrossing, which is located between Sawmill Road S. and Vitae Springs Road S.

    PNWR completed the installation of the new culvert beneath the tracks on Friday, September 29. Marion County Public Works will close River Road South at milepost 3.3 on Monday, October 9, 2017, to install the new culvert beneath the roadway. The closure is scheduled to last one day and River Road is expected to reopen on Monday evening.

    During the road closure, River Road traffic will be detoured onto Riverdale Road S. using Sawmill Road and Orville Road. This is the same detour route used for several weeks during the recent River Road South landslide repair project. Drivers will observe the same detour signs and traffic control features that were used during landslide repairs. Commuters are encouraged to use alternate routes and avoid River Road on October 9, if possible. The detour route is narrow and winding, so trucks and trailers are especially encouraged to use alternate routes during the closure. Please, drive cautiously and obey all posted traffic signs.

    This has been a big construction season for River Road South. We appreciate your patience and understanding. If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming road closure, or would like to provide input to the project team, please contact Brian Nicholas, Marion County Capital Projects Manager, at (503) 588-5036 or bnicholas@co.marion.or.us.

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    River Road South to Close for Culvert Replacement
  • Sep
    28

    St. Louis Fish Ponds to close for the season

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    Marion County Parks announces that the St. Louis Fish Ponds near Gervais will close for the season on October 1, 2017.

    Hunters and fishermen are still allowed to fish, hunt, and train dogs at the park during the off-season but should be aware that they must walk in after parking their vehicles at the gate and that no restroom facilities are available.

    For more information, please call 503-588-5036, email parks@co.marion.or.us, or visit the Marion County Parks web site at http://publicworks.co.marion.or.us/parks/.

    For more information about fishing and gun use at the park, please contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 503-947-6100.

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    St. Louis Fish Ponds to close for the season
  • Sep
    28

    County efforts bring reduced flood insurance premiums for property owners

    Posted by: Public Works

    ​The Board of Commissioners has approved recertification of Marion County's continued participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Rating System for the upcoming year. The Class 6 rating will continue lower flood insurance premiums for property owners in unincorporated areas of Marion County and is part of the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Through the program, residents receive 20 percent premium discounts within flood hazard areas and 10 percent discounts in non-flood hazard areas. Commissioner Sam Brentano, board chair, said, "I've seen the effects of flooding on homes and families. I'm pleased we're doing all we can to minimize the impacts of flooding, as well as provide a cost savings for county residents."   

    There are many reasons homeowners should consider flood insurance. Many people are not aware that standard homeowners' policies don't cover flood damage. Federal grants and loan programs are not available after every flood event and just a few inches of floodwater in a home can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

    Last year, county residents saved more than $50,000 in premiums on $70 million in insured structures and contents. Discounts are automatic and policy holders need not do anything other than purchase insurance to receive reduced premiums. The average savings per policy is $160.

    Marion County achieved a Class 6 rating by accomplishing a number of tasks from a menu of FEMA-endorsed practices to prevent or mitigate flooding. These include construction standards like not allowing basements for new construction in flood zones, improving outreach efforts to help residents understand how to better prepare for floods, and keeping streams free of debris and pollution. Outreach efforts and management practices place Marion County among the top jurisdictions nationwide for flood insurance savings.

    For more information contact Brandon Reich at (503) 566-4175 or breich@co.marion.or.us. ​

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    County efforts bring reduced flood insurance premiums for property owners
  • Sep
    27

    River Road South Will Be Restricted to One Lane for Railroad Repairs

    Posted by: Public Works

    ​Portland and Western Railroad will perform work adjacent to River Road South to replace a failed railroad culvert on Thursday, September 28 and Friday, September 29. Due to the close proximity of the work to the road, the southbound lane of River Road South will be closed during daytime work hours. Flaggers will be stationed to guide drivers through the work area.

    The lane closure will be located at Milepost 3.3, approximately 1 mile south of Sawmill Road S., immediately south of the existing railroad undercrossing. The southbound lane of River Road South will be closed from 8:00 a.m. until approximately 5:00 p.m. each day. Flaggers will direct traffic at all times while work is underway and both lanes will reopen at the end of the work day.

    Drivers are reminded to use caution when approaching and driving through work zones. Please obey all posted traffic signs and follow the flaggers' directions. No vehicle restrictions will be imposed during the work but drivers should expect a short delay.

    For more information, contact Brian Nicholas, Capital Projects Manager, at 503-588-5036 or bnicholas@co.marion.or.us.

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    River Road South Will Be Restricted to One Lane for Railroad Repairs
  • Sep
    21

    County to conduct economic assessment of East Marion Rail line

    Posted by: Board of Commissioners Office

    ​Since early 2012 the Silverton to Stayton portion of the East Marion Rail line has been inactive. The full line, owned by Union Pacific and operated by Willamette Valley Railway, runs from Woodburn to Stayton and historically provided short line shipping service between these Marion County communities. Since the line was closed, several groups have stepped forward with suggestions to reactivate the rail line.

    To assist with the conversation and develop a common picture for all interested parties, Marion County has contracted with Anzur Logistics, a rail transportation consulting company based in Salem, to conduct a study of the rail line including an infrastructure assessment, market analysis, and cost benefit analysis.

    Marion County Economic Development Coordinator Tom Hogue said, "Marion County's goal is to provide the underlying research and economic evaluation necessary as potential redevelopment opportunities are explored. We are not advocating for a particular outcome or project. The county's role is to provide factual, neutral information beneficial to all parties as the future of the East Marion Rail line is discussed."

    Anzur Logistics will assess current track conditions and provide cost estimates to return the line to service, as well as provide a cost benefit analysis and potential funding sources. The final study will include an economic assessment for cities along the rail line. Commissioner Kevin Cameron said, "Short line railroads are an important asset. It's important for the county to assess the economic impacts of rail service and ensure potential renewed service is utilized for the benefit of Marion County communities."

    Data collection and evaluation will begin immediately with a draft analysis expected in late 2017. The final report will be available for stakeholder review in January 2018. For more information, contact Economic Development Coordinator Tom Hogue at (503) 589-3277 or thogue@co.marion.or.us. ​

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    County to conduct economic assessment of East Marion Rail line
  • Sep
    19

    Disasters don't plan ahead - you can!

    Posted by: Board of Commissioners Office

    This article appears in the September 2017 Marion County TODAY Community Newsletter​

    Each year Marion County recognizes September as national Emergency Preparedness Month and practices earthquake preparedness in October during the Great Oregon Shakeout. In the Mid-Willamette Valley we've had the opportunity in the last few months to see emergency planning in action. From preparations for the historic total solar eclipse to devastating wildfires, emergency management staff and others have worked to ensure that our area is ready when/if disaster strikes.

    Following a hot, dry summer with several wildfires impacting the state and our region, we've already seen a dramatic change in weather with an early fall rainstorm. While the rain is providing needed relief for fires, it also brings its own set of potential problems. Increased rain and badly burned forested areas bring the increased possibility of flash floods.

    Whether it's an unexpected fall storm, earthquake, or preparing for a large influx of visitors, there are some simple things you can do to prepare yourself, your family, and your home.

    Make a plan: Plan on how you're going to evacuate your house if necessary; drop, cover and hold if there is an earthquake; gather supplies in case of evacuation; and plan on how you will communicate with your family.

    Get a kit: Families are encouraged to have enough emergency supplies for a minimum of two weeks. In fact, emergency preparedness professionals recommend having three emergency kits – a 72-hour go bag, a 7-day work kit, and a home kit with the suggested two weeks of supplies for each household member. Recommended kit items include water, food, medicine, first aid supplies, flashlight, radio and more.

    Stay informed: Be mindful of the hazards that could affect our area. Stay tuned to news, radio, and social media for emergency notifications from local officials. Marion County posts active alerts on our website at www.co.marion.or.us/Alerts.

    The most important thing you can do is be aware of the possibilities and don't take any unnecessary risks. Emergency preparedness doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require some thought and action on your part. For many, a 72-hour go kit is a good place to start.

    Luckily, there are a lot of resources to help you prepare. Oregon Emergency Management has information on disaster risks, an emergency kit checklist, the popular "Living on Shaky Ground" booklet, and numerous other publications you can download for free. Remember, disasters don't plan ahead – you can! ​

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    Disasters don't plan ahead - you can!
  • Sep
    15

    Dog Shelter Schedule Change

    Posted by: Community Services - Dog Services

    ​Notice:  Marion County Dog Shelter Schedule Change

    Effective Saturday, September 16, 2017, the Marion County Dog Shelter will be closed on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. until further notice.

    For more information about the shelter, visit the shelter website ​or call (503) 566-6966. ​

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    Dog Shelter Schedule Change
  • Aug
    9

    Legislation helps reentry clients owing child support

    Posted by: Marion County Reentry Initiative (MCRI)

    This article appears in the Summer 2017 "Giving People a Second Chance" newsletter. 

    By Jeannine Wiesner, Deputy District Attorney, Marion County Family Support Division, Concetta Schwesinger, Trial Team Leader, Marion County Family Support Division, and Janet Carlson, Marion County Commissioner

    Senate Bill 682 was passed by the legislature and becomes effective on January 1, 2018. The legislation establishes a process to suspend child support obligations while an individual is in prison and upon reentry to the community. 

    When people are released from prison back to their home communities, they often have significant debt. While we all agree that parents need to support their children and be accountable, the situation often has the opposite effect – the large amount of debt appears insurmountable, the individual starts taking cash jobs, avoiding legitimate employment. Eventually this can lead to the individual getting involved in the same activities that put them in prison in the first place. The outcome is that the person goes back to prison and the child support obligation is on paper, but is never actually paid to the family. Everyone loses.

    Senate Bill 682 creates a process where child care is suspended upon entry to prison under a rebuttable presumption of inability to pay. Under current law, if an incarcerated parent asks for a modification through the Oregon Child Support Program, they often qualify for a reduction or elimination of their child support order for the time they are incarcerated. However, for a variety of reasons, many individuals who are incarcerated do nothing or delay in making a request to modify their child support orders. The child care order that was in effect prior to incarceration continues to add up month after month. Senate Bill 682 modifies the child support order to $0, based on inability to pay, upon entry to prison.

    When a person is released from prison, current law suspends child support payments for 60 days. However, on the 61st day, even if the individual had filed a modification in prison, the obligation in the child support order that was in effect prior to incarceration is restored at the same pre-prison payment level. For example, if a parent owed $300 per month prior to incarceration, on the 61st day, he or she would again owe $300 per month, even though we know significant criminal history can negatively impact finding a job at all, let alone with the same earning capacity that the parent had prior to incarceration. In fact, the Oregon Department of Corrections research found that people released from prison generally make only 40-50% of their prior income. Senate Bill 682 changes the current law to automatically reinstate child support to 50% of the court ordered amount on the 121st day after release, and provides a timeline for the child support program to review the calculations to ensure it reflects the parent's current earning capacity. This provides a more realistic timeframe for the reentering parent to find employment and also a more realistic obligation, in case the calculations review is not completed by the 121st day. This also puts Oregon's child support program in alignment with new federal regulations.

    The process will involve a data match between the Oregon Department of Corrections and the Oregon Department of Justice. Within 30 days after the entity providing child support enforcement services is notified of an obligor's incarceration, a notice will be sent to the parties, advising that support will be suspended during incarceration unless a party objects. The objection must describe the resources of the obligor or other evidence that rebuts the presumption of inability to pay. A hearing will be set in front of an administrative law judge to determine the issue. If no objection is received, or if the administrative law judge finds that the presumption has not been rebutted, the Department of Justice will file the notice of suspension with the circuit court and discontinue billing on the case until 121 days after the parent has been released. At that time, support will be reinstated at 50% of the original amount. The entity responsible for child support enforcement services will then review the support order for purposes of further modification.

    Senate Bill 682 came out of discussions in the Joint Interim Task Force on Reentry, Employment and Housing and was introduced by Senator Michael Dembrow, task force co-chair. It was endorsed by the task force and also by the Association of Oregon Counties. The bill's final language was developed by a workgroup involving the Oregon Department of Justice, the Oregon Department of Corrections, and county child support staff from local district attorneys' offices.

    This legislation will assure that parents who are incarcerated will not reenter society owing child support debt that accrued while they were unable to pay it, which has been found to increase recidivism and reduce the chance that future support will be paid. We express appreciation to Senator Dembrow, Senator Jackie Winters who carried the bill on the Senate floor, and Kate Richardson from the Oregon Department of Justice, for their invaluable support in moving this important legislation forward.

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    Legislation helps reentry clients owing child support
  • Jun
    13

    Safe Sleep Coalition promotes safe sleep spaces for infants

    Posted by: Health

    ​The Marion and Polk Infant Safe Sleep Coalition received a $50,000 Salem Health Partner Grant to fund evidence-based practices that are proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. Each year, the Marion-Polk region experiences preventable sleep related infant deaths. Although numbers are small, this is one of the greatest tragedies that parents and caregivers experience.

    The Oregon Health Authority's 2014 report Child Fatalities in Oregon, notes that 34 of 36 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths were sleep related. Education is a crucial foundation for this project as families either have safe sleep spaces but don't know how to use them properly, or do not have them at all.

    Infant safe sleep practices include:

    • Always place your baby "Back to Sleep."  Tell all caregivers that your baby sleeps on his/her back only.

    • Share the same bedroom during the infant's first year of life (but not the same bed).

    • Only baby goes in the crib; no toys, blankets or other items.

    • Provide tummy time while supervised.

    • A pacifier can be used once breastfeeding is established or after one month of age.

    • Keep room temperature between 65-71 degrees. Do not over-bundle your baby when sleeping.

    • Do not smoke in your house.

    • Do not leave children sleeping in a car seat or other infant seat. 

    • Do not cover car seats with a blanket or other materials.

    Grant funding has provided the coalition with the services of a part-time health educator, Hayden Barnes, who began supporting the coalition work in May. Hayden is a Salem native who graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Community Health Education. She is completing grant objectives that will ensure that the coalition has the necessary infrastructure to embed infant safe sleep messaging and support in Marion and Polk counties so the work continues regardless of future funding.   

    Ms. Barnes will be working with hospitals and agencies serving families expecting babies and parenting infants to develop a process to teach and model infant safe sleep. She will also be working to ensure that all families with infants have access to a safe sleeping environment which may include providing pack and play cribs or baby boxes to eligible families.

    Infant safe sleep will be folded in to the Marion and Polk Community Health Improvement Partnership and will be an ongoing part of the region's public health focus. The partnership is developing robust education materials so that early childhood professionals, medical professionals, parents and other caregivers have access to up-to-date evidence-based safe sleep information.

    Safe Sleep Coalition members include Marion County Health Department, Polk County Health Department, Salem Hospital, Santiam Hospital, Silverton Hospital, WVP Health Authority MOMS Program, Oregon Child Development Coalition, Marion & Polk County Early Learning Hub, Childcare Resource and Referral, Marion County Community Services, Community Action Head Start, Family Building Blocks and the Salem-Keizer Schools District Teen Parent Program.

    For more information about safe sleep practices or the Marion and Polk Infant Safe Sleep Coalition, contact the Marion County Health Department at (503) 588-5357 or email health@co.marion.or.us. ​

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    Safe Sleep Coalition promotes safe sleep spaces for infants
  • May
    3

    Women's Accelerated Reentry Program helps women's transition needs

    Posted by: Marion County Reentry Initiative (MCRI)

    This article appears in the Spring 2017 MCRI newsletter 

    ​Women's Accelerated Reentry Program helps women's transition needs – and reduces census at Coffee Creek

    By Jenna Moller, Bridgeway Recovery Services

    By the end of 2016, Oregon was running out of options. Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville had been running at capacity for more than a year, causing behavioral issues between inmates and putting more stress on the facility than it could bear. To combat this, the Oregon Department of Corrections planned to open another prison.  The Oregon legislature encouraged the Corrections Department to find another alternative. "Incarceration on its own hasn't proven to be super successful in reducing recidivism," said Tina Bialas, Behavioral Health Director at Bridgeway Recovery Services. So the department got to work.

    On January 30, 2017, the Women's Accelerated Reentry Program was launched by the Marion County Sheriff's Office and Oregon Department of Corrections. Women at Coffee Creek serve up to the last six months of their prison sentence at Marion County Transition Center in Salem. Criteria for selection include being nonviolent offenders; having a history of substance abuse, mental health problems or co-occurring disorders; being within 180 days of their original release date; and releasing to Marion County. Once individuals are identified, they are transferred from Coffee Creek to the Transition Center. This is where the real work starts.

    At the Transition Center, each woman is assigned a parole officer that is well-versed in the program's rigorous curriculum. Bridgeway Recovery Services staff conducts a thorough assessment of each woman and provides ongoing individual counseling support. Participants also attend weekly meetings with their parole officers; two classes a week facilitated by the De Muniz Resource Center; weekly employment classes run by Sheriff's Office staff; and five treatment groups a week facilitated by Bridgeway—all at the Transition Center. These women have experienced a high prevalence of trauma, such as childhood abuse and domestic violence. Such difficult experiences make the counseling support they receive that much more important. 

    Participants find many benefits from counseling support and classes. "I think the classes, [parole officer] interactions, and community reintegration have helped me tremendously," said one client. "I feel ready to get back out into life and that I'll be successful in reaching my goals."

    Participants also get the chance to attend healthy leisure and recreational outings each week to help them feel connected to their community, including bowling or volunteering at the Marion-Polk Food Share. Outings are led by their parole officers as well as their Bridgeway Recovery Mentor, Morgan Nelson. "It gives the clients real life opportunities to practice pro-social behaviors," Bialas said.

    Even more importantly, these trips have opened the women's eyes to new outlooks on life. "[These outings] showed me that you don't have to be high to have fun," said another participant.

    The women also get an extra family visit. Bridgeway mentors facilitate these meetings and give women feedback after observing the visit, such as how they might communicate with their children more effectively or how they did a great job explaining how they felt about a certain situation. Mentors being involved with the participants' families help build relationships between the clients and mentor, which aids in treatment.

    "I can't say enough how much good work [the Bridgeway mentors and counselors] have done," Bialas said, adding that because of them, program participants actively engage in treatment, even if they originally had no interest.

    At the end 90 days, if participants complete the program without any behavioral issues, they receive a certificate and the opportunity to continue their substance abuse or mental health treatment with Bridgeway Recovery Services.  "We're hoping this program will be personally impactful and hope [the women] will continue in treatment," Bialas noted.

    Many women plan on doing just that. "I have found who my real self is, but I still have more exploring to do," said a participant. "Once I'm done, I'll be a brand new woman."​

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    Women's Accelerated Reentry Program helps women's transition needs
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