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  • Helping youth make a Fresh Start

    Helping youth make a Fresh Start

    Date: 12/2/2019 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Juvenile

    This article appears in the December 2019 edition of the Salem Business Journal. ​

    By Commissioner Kevin Cameron

    On Center Street in Salem surrounded by county and state government buildings is a local gem, the Fresh Start Market and Espresso. As the name implies, you can get a variety of baked goods, coffee drinks, and soups, salads and sandwiches – a local favorite is the Marionberry smoothie. The market also features seasonal fruits and vegetables, firewood and kindling, hand crafted items and holiday gifts. But, there is much more to the Fresh Start Market.  

    The Fresh Start Market is one of the most innovative programs offered by the Marion County Juvenile Department. It is one of several Alternative Programs aimed at providing work opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The job training and skills the youth receive helps enhance their future employment opportunities and more importantly ensures timely payment of restitution to crime victims.

    While the circumstances that bring youth into our care are often unfortunate, our goal is to not only ensure accountability, but give youth a more complete toolbox and increased skills to become participating and contributing members of our community.

    We're pleased to report that 72% of youth referred to the Juvenile Department in 2018 did not have a new criminal referral during the following 12 month period. Additionally, almost $55,000 in restitution was paid to crime victims in 2018. Of the cases closed in 2018, restitution was paid in full by 92% of our youth. We're always working to increase these numbers and opportunities at the Fresh Start Market is one way we do that.

    While employed at the market, youth learn skills in all aspects of the market's operation including customer service, cash handling, food service, merchandising, stocking, and more. Almost all of the products offered at the Fresh Start Market are made or cultivated by program youth. We have three greenhouses where annuals are started from seed for beautiful hanging baskets and our youth work to grow a variety of produce that is sold in the market throughout the year. We also feature handmade art and garden gifts made from recycled materials, also made by youth. Youth are taught woodworking and metal welding to create these one of kind items. 

    Throughout the year the market hosts special events including the popular Spring Plant Sale which will be held May 1, 2, & 3, 2020, and our Holiday Season sale. The market will be open on Saturday, December 7, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in addition to the regular Monday-Friday schedule. Our youth have been working hard to have extra handmade gifts on hand.

    I encourage you to check out the market. Have lunch or a snack and meet the youth and see first-hand what our youth have built and the business they now operate. The Fresh Start Market is located at 3020 Center Street NE in Salem. For more information visit: www.co.marion.or.us/JUV/freshstartmarket/ or call (503) 585-4956. 

    Read More
  • Student Recycle Art Calendar Awardees Announced

    Student Recycle Art Calendar Awardees Announced

    Date: 12/5/2019 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​Fourteen students from Marion County received awards for their artwork in the Student Recycle Art Calendar Contest. Awardees were honored at the Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, and were chosen from student submissions received from throughout Marion County.

    In an effort to promote waste reduction and resource conservation in local schools, Marion County Public Works - Environmental Services and Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling Association partner to create the annual Student Recycle Art Calendar contest.

    The committee selected the winners based not only on their artistic ability, but also on the content of their message. Fourteen students in several grade categories were awarded a gift card, certificate, and art set. The 2020 art calendar award winners are:

    • Ashley Vargas Galeno, Washington Elementary School (Salem-Keizer)
    • McKenna Morales, Waldo Middle School
    • Makayla Meleason, Sprague High School
    • Arvin Singh, Abiqua Academy
    • Bradlee Mounts, Wright Elementary School 
    • Dani Colby, Abiqua Academy
    • Dharaa Mungra, Abiqua Academy
    • Jax Marshall, Aumsville Elementary School
    • Helena Navarro, Hallman Elementary School
    • James Dolan, Abiqua Academy
    • Isabel Blackburn, Abiqua Academy
    • Sandra Montanez, Woodburn High School
    • Chloe Elmore, Sprague High School
    • Kate Swenson, Sprague High School 

    This year we also recognize Sprague High School's art teacher, Connie Toland. Kate Swenson, one of Ms. Toland's students, was chosen as the grand prize winner. We realize that teachers play a critical role in making this contest a big success and we recognize their hard work. 

    Calendars are free and available by visiting Marion County Public Works at 5155 Silverton Road NE, Salem, Oregon or by calling Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling Association at 503-390-4000.

    Read More
  • Fair Board seeks members

    Fair Board seeks members

    Date: 11/21/2019 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Community Services - County Fair

    ​Are you an innovative and skilled project manager who wants to share your talents with the community? If so, please consider applying to be a board member or key volunteer on the Marion County Fair Board. Board members and key volunteers assume responsibilities crucial to producing a top-notch fair, including regularly attending monthly fair board meetings, actively contributing to the planning of the fair, and being present during the week of the fair, which will be held July 9-12, 2020.

    The fair board volunteer will oversee the public competitions program which highlights community members who display their handiwork at the fair. Key volunteers take on various areas of responsibility for the fair; however, are not voting members of the board. 

    The Marion County Board of Commissioners appoints fair board and key volunteers to serve three-year terms. When making appointments, commissioners consider applicants who will provide broad geographic representation and have expertise in areas such as marketing, event planning, business, youth-oriented activities, agriculture, and program coordination. Fair board members must be bondable.

    Preference is given to Marion County residents and applicants must be 18 years or older. Questions should be directed to Denise Clark, Marion County Fair Coordinator, at (503) 585-9998 or e-mail declark@co.marion.or.us. Advisory board application forms are available on the Marion County volunteer website www.co.marion.or.us/bs/vol.

    Completed applications should be submitted to the Marion County Fair, PO Box 14500, Salem, OR 97309. Positions are open until filled.

    Read More
  • Marion County Hosts Free Toy Swap

    Marion County Hosts Free Toy Swap

    Date: 11/12/2019 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​Save a little cash and reduce your environmental impact this holiday season

    We've all been there. We buy our children toys that they outgrow or lose interest in before the toy has hardly any wear or tear. What do you do? Well, if you're interested in trading them for a something your child does enjoy, we've got the perfect event for you!

    Marion County Environmental Services and the Marion County Master Recyclers are hosting a FREE Toy Swap!

    On December 6, bring any gently used, clean toys to Faith Lutheran Church, 4505 River Road N. in Keizer, on Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You can also visit our webpage at www.mcrecycles.net for various drop off locations in Salem and Keizer. Then on Saturday, December 7, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., attend the Toy Swap at Faith Lutheran Church where you can shop for free to find toys and gadgets for your loved ones.

    This is a great time of year to share toys your children aren't using and pick up items for holiday gift giving. "Swaps are a great way to share materials and connect with the community. Swaps enable us to avoid throwing usable items away and helps showcase how fun reuse can be," said Jessica Ramey, a Waste Reduction Coordinator with Marion County.

    To learn more about this event, contact Jessica Ramey at Marion County Public Works, 503-365-3180 or email jsramey@co.marion.or.us.

    Read More
  • County employees committed to serving the community

    County employees committed to serving the community

    Date: 11/1/2019 12:00:00 AM
    Posted by: Board of Commissioners Office

    This article appears in the November 2019 issue of the Salem Business Journal. ​

    By Dick Hughes, special to Salem Business Journal

    If you want to be known as one of the best employers in the area – recruiting and retaining the best employees – you need to understand where you're starting from.

    This is one reason why Marion County initiated an independent, outside assessment of the county's workplace culture this year.

    Now complete, the multi-part analysis by Clarity Scientific, LLC found that most employees like working for the county, they work hard, they believe in the county's mission, and they feel supported by their colleagues. Yet employees feel there is room for improvement, especially in regard to internal communications and supervisory skills.

    The consultant conducted 18 focus groups, reaching approximately 3% of the workforce. In addition, almost 60% of employees responded to a questionnaire covering Job Attitudes and Experiences, Workplace Support, and Health and Well-being.

    Lisa Trauernicht, a senior policy analyst for the Board of Commissioners Office, worked with Clarity Scientific on the project. She said the workplace culture assessment goes hand-in-hand with the county's regular management and department reviews, such as the recent customer service study.

    "It is a really good additional piece of the puzzle to help us move forward," she said. "We want to foster a great culture where we can all be fulfilled – employees can all be proud to say they work for Marion County, and prospective employees want to come and work for Marion County – all while meeting our community's needs."

    Going forward, communication and training are likely to be key, Trauernicht said.

    As a first step, all employees received both a copy of the consultant's full report and a summary of the key findings. Employees then were invited to help plan the next steps, forming the new Marion County Culture Committee that began meeting at the end of October.

    When you're immersed in the day-to-day workplace, it's hard to step back and take an objective look at what employees appreciate and what frustrates them and interferes with their job performance. That is why Beaverton-based Clarity Scientific was brought in.

    "We appreciate the in-depth report and analysis by Dr. MacKenna Perry from Clarity Scientific. The findings are encouraging, and we've already begun to discuss next steps and how to use the results to support our employees," said Chief Administrative Officer Jan Fritz.

    Clarity Scientific stressed confidentiality and privacy. The data collection and reporting were designed so individual participants could not be identified or linked to a response.

    The consultant's final report noted that the participation rate was quite high, "indicating high engagement with the topic of organizational culture and a sense of trust in the culture assessment process."

    Key findings include:

    • "Most employees are satisfied with their jobs and think Marion County is a 'great place to work.'"

    • "Top qualities employees enjoy about Marion County culture include commitment to serving the community, working together with others, and enjoyment of the work itself."

    • "Employees work hard to deliver excellence and share values around customer service, professionalism, integrity, and stewardship."

    • "Employees reported mixed experiences with leaders, managers, and supervisors."

    • "Employee perceptions of organization and leader support varied, but most employees reported positive experiences."

    • "Results of the culture assessment represent most Marion County employees, but experiences vary across departments, teams, job types, job levels, individuals, and other factors."

    For more information, contact the Marion County Board of Commissioners Office at (503) 588-5212 or email commissioners@co.marion.or.us

    Read More
 

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  • Dec
    6

    Salmon Falls Park has closed for the season

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​MEHAMA, OR – Marion County Parks announces that Salmon Falls Park has closed for the season. The park, which is located on North Fork Road in the Santiam Canyon, will reopen in spring 2020.  

    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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    Salmon Falls Park has closed for the season
  • Dec
    5

    Student Recycle Art Calendar Awardees Announced

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​Fourteen students from Marion County received awards for their artwork in the Student Recycle Art Calendar Contest. Awardees were honored at the Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, and were chosen from student submissions received from throughout Marion County.

    In an effort to promote waste reduction and resource conservation in local schools, Marion County Public Works - Environmental Services and Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling Association partner to create the annual Student Recycle Art Calendar contest.

    The committee selected the winners based not only on their artistic ability, but also on the content of their message. Fourteen students in several grade categories were awarded a gift card, certificate, and art set. The 2020 art calendar award winners are:

    • Ashley Vargas Galeno, Washington Elementary School (Salem-Keizer)
    • McKenna Morales, Waldo Middle School
    • Makayla Meleason, Sprague High School
    • Arvin Singh, Abiqua Academy
    • Bradlee Mounts, Wright Elementary School 
    • Dani Colby, Abiqua Academy
    • Dharaa Mungra, Abiqua Academy
    • Jax Marshall, Aumsville Elementary School
    • Helena Navarro, Hallman Elementary School
    • James Dolan, Abiqua Academy
    • Isabel Blackburn, Abiqua Academy
    • Sandra Montanez, Woodburn High School
    • Chloe Elmore, Sprague High School
    • Kate Swenson, Sprague High School 

    This year we also recognize Sprague High School's art teacher, Connie Toland. Kate Swenson, one of Ms. Toland's students, was chosen as the grand prize winner. We realize that teachers play a critical role in making this contest a big success and we recognize their hard work. 

    Calendars are free and available by visiting Marion County Public Works at 5155 Silverton Road NE, Salem, Oregon or by calling Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling Association at 503-390-4000.

    Read More
    Student Recycle Art Calendar Awardees Announced
  • Dec
    2

    Helping youth make a Fresh Start

    Posted by: Juvenile

    This article appears in the December 2019 edition of the Salem Business Journal. ​

    By Commissioner Kevin Cameron

    On Center Street in Salem surrounded by county and state government buildings is a local gem, the Fresh Start Market and Espresso. As the name implies, you can get a variety of baked goods, coffee drinks, and soups, salads and sandwiches – a local favorite is the Marionberry smoothie. The market also features seasonal fruits and vegetables, firewood and kindling, hand crafted items and holiday gifts. But, there is much more to the Fresh Start Market.  

    The Fresh Start Market is one of the most innovative programs offered by the Marion County Juvenile Department. It is one of several Alternative Programs aimed at providing work opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The job training and skills the youth receive helps enhance their future employment opportunities and more importantly ensures timely payment of restitution to crime victims.

    While the circumstances that bring youth into our care are often unfortunate, our goal is to not only ensure accountability, but give youth a more complete toolbox and increased skills to become participating and contributing members of our community.

    We're pleased to report that 72% of youth referred to the Juvenile Department in 2018 did not have a new criminal referral during the following 12 month period. Additionally, almost $55,000 in restitution was paid to crime victims in 2018. Of the cases closed in 2018, restitution was paid in full by 92% of our youth. We're always working to increase these numbers and opportunities at the Fresh Start Market is one way we do that.

    While employed at the market, youth learn skills in all aspects of the market's operation including customer service, cash handling, food service, merchandising, stocking, and more. Almost all of the products offered at the Fresh Start Market are made or cultivated by program youth. We have three greenhouses where annuals are started from seed for beautiful hanging baskets and our youth work to grow a variety of produce that is sold in the market throughout the year. We also feature handmade art and garden gifts made from recycled materials, also made by youth. Youth are taught woodworking and metal welding to create these one of kind items. 

    Throughout the year the market hosts special events including the popular Spring Plant Sale which will be held May 1, 2, & 3, 2020, and our Holiday Season sale. The market will be open on Saturday, December 7, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in addition to the regular Monday-Friday schedule. Our youth have been working hard to have extra handmade gifts on hand.

    I encourage you to check out the market. Have lunch or a snack and meet the youth and see first-hand what our youth have built and the business they now operate. The Fresh Start Market is located at 3020 Center Street NE in Salem. For more information visit: www.co.marion.or.us/JUV/freshstartmarket/ or call (503) 585-4956. 

    Read More
    Helping youth make a Fresh Start
  • Nov
    21

    Fair Board seeks members

    Posted by: Community Services - County Fair

    ​Are you an innovative and skilled project manager who wants to share your talents with the community? If so, please consider applying to be a board member or key volunteer on the Marion County Fair Board. Board members and key volunteers assume responsibilities crucial to producing a top-notch fair, including regularly attending monthly fair board meetings, actively contributing to the planning of the fair, and being present during the week of the fair, which will be held July 9-12, 2020.

    The fair board volunteer will oversee the public competitions program which highlights community members who display their handiwork at the fair. Key volunteers take on various areas of responsibility for the fair; however, are not voting members of the board. 

    The Marion County Board of Commissioners appoints fair board and key volunteers to serve three-year terms. When making appointments, commissioners consider applicants who will provide broad geographic representation and have expertise in areas such as marketing, event planning, business, youth-oriented activities, agriculture, and program coordination. Fair board members must be bondable.

    Preference is given to Marion County residents and applicants must be 18 years or older. Questions should be directed to Denise Clark, Marion County Fair Coordinator, at (503) 585-9998 or e-mail declark@co.marion.or.us. Advisory board application forms are available on the Marion County volunteer website www.co.marion.or.us/bs/vol.

    Completed applications should be submitted to the Marion County Fair, PO Box 14500, Salem, OR 97309. Positions are open until filled.

    Read More
    Fair Board seeks members
  • Nov
    12

    Marion County Hosts Free Toy Swap

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​Save a little cash and reduce your environmental impact this holiday season

    We've all been there. We buy our children toys that they outgrow or lose interest in before the toy has hardly any wear or tear. What do you do? Well, if you're interested in trading them for a something your child does enjoy, we've got the perfect event for you!

    Marion County Environmental Services and the Marion County Master Recyclers are hosting a FREE Toy Swap!

    On December 6, bring any gently used, clean toys to Faith Lutheran Church, 4505 River Road N. in Keizer, on Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You can also visit our webpage at www.mcrecycles.net for various drop off locations in Salem and Keizer. Then on Saturday, December 7, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., attend the Toy Swap at Faith Lutheran Church where you can shop for free to find toys and gadgets for your loved ones.

    This is a great time of year to share toys your children aren't using and pick up items for holiday gift giving. "Swaps are a great way to share materials and connect with the community. Swaps enable us to avoid throwing usable items away and helps showcase how fun reuse can be," said Jessica Ramey, a Waste Reduction Coordinator with Marion County.

    To learn more about this event, contact Jessica Ramey at Marion County Public Works, 503-365-3180 or email jsramey@co.marion.or.us.

    Read More
    Marion County Hosts Free Toy Swap
  • Nov
    1

    County employees committed to serving the community

    Posted by: Board of Commissioners Office

    This article appears in the November 2019 issue of the Salem Business Journal. ​

    By Dick Hughes, special to Salem Business Journal

    If you want to be known as one of the best employers in the area – recruiting and retaining the best employees – you need to understand where you're starting from.

    This is one reason why Marion County initiated an independent, outside assessment of the county's workplace culture this year.

    Now complete, the multi-part analysis by Clarity Scientific, LLC found that most employees like working for the county, they work hard, they believe in the county's mission, and they feel supported by their colleagues. Yet employees feel there is room for improvement, especially in regard to internal communications and supervisory skills.

    The consultant conducted 18 focus groups, reaching approximately 3% of the workforce. In addition, almost 60% of employees responded to a questionnaire covering Job Attitudes and Experiences, Workplace Support, and Health and Well-being.

    Lisa Trauernicht, a senior policy analyst for the Board of Commissioners Office, worked with Clarity Scientific on the project. She said the workplace culture assessment goes hand-in-hand with the county's regular management and department reviews, such as the recent customer service study.

    "It is a really good additional piece of the puzzle to help us move forward," she said. "We want to foster a great culture where we can all be fulfilled – employees can all be proud to say they work for Marion County, and prospective employees want to come and work for Marion County – all while meeting our community's needs."

    Going forward, communication and training are likely to be key, Trauernicht said.

    As a first step, all employees received both a copy of the consultant's full report and a summary of the key findings. Employees then were invited to help plan the next steps, forming the new Marion County Culture Committee that began meeting at the end of October.

    When you're immersed in the day-to-day workplace, it's hard to step back and take an objective look at what employees appreciate and what frustrates them and interferes with their job performance. That is why Beaverton-based Clarity Scientific was brought in.

    "We appreciate the in-depth report and analysis by Dr. MacKenna Perry from Clarity Scientific. The findings are encouraging, and we've already begun to discuss next steps and how to use the results to support our employees," said Chief Administrative Officer Jan Fritz.

    Clarity Scientific stressed confidentiality and privacy. The data collection and reporting were designed so individual participants could not be identified or linked to a response.

    The consultant's final report noted that the participation rate was quite high, "indicating high engagement with the topic of organizational culture and a sense of trust in the culture assessment process."

    Key findings include:

    • "Most employees are satisfied with their jobs and think Marion County is a 'great place to work.'"

    • "Top qualities employees enjoy about Marion County culture include commitment to serving the community, working together with others, and enjoyment of the work itself."

    • "Employees work hard to deliver excellence and share values around customer service, professionalism, integrity, and stewardship."

    • "Employees reported mixed experiences with leaders, managers, and supervisors."

    • "Employee perceptions of organization and leader support varied, but most employees reported positive experiences."

    • "Results of the culture assessment represent most Marion County employees, but experiences vary across departments, teams, job types, job levels, individuals, and other factors."

    For more information, contact the Marion County Board of Commissioners Office at (503) 588-5212 or email commissioners@co.marion.or.us

    Read More
    County employees committed to serving the community
  • Oct
    14

    Reentry initiative honors late Sen. Jackie Winters at annual Second Chance breakfast

    Posted by: Board of Commissioners Office

    ​By Dick Hughes, special to Marion County

    Who among us has not fallen short? Who among us has not needed a second chance, or more?

    That theme underlay the 11th annual "Giving People a Second Chance" community breakfast. This year's event honored the life and legacy of the late Sen. Jackie Winters. She was a devoted supporter of the Marion County Reentry Initiative.

    The initiative helps individuals make positive transitions from the criminal justice system – particularly incarceration – back into the community. "What it means is this: People are getting jobs. People are reuniting with families. People are contributing to our community," county Undersheriff Jeff Wood told the audience.

    The breakfast, held Oct. 1 at the Keizer Community Center, raised more than $20,000 for the De Muniz Resource Center to help program clients obtain identification, education, and employment.

    In opening the gathering, Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark set the tone of honoring Winters through carrying her work forward.

    "It is because of the strength of our communities – Salem, Keizer, Marion and Polk counties together – that we can come together as families and make sure that every person has the chance to be treated with dignity and respect," Clark said.

    Congressman Kurt Schrader talked about how Winters was emblematic of second chances, of compassion and of collaboration. He and Winters served together in the Oregon Legislature. Despite coming from different backgrounds and different political parties, they found common ground on children and family issues.

    When Winters was in the Republican majority, she didn't send Democrat Schrader to the sidelines. Instead, she expected him to pull his weight. When he later led the budget committee, Winters would not let him overlook the importance of funding dental care. She taught him that people need a good smile to get a good job.

    "A Legacy of Giving People a Second Chance," a video shown at the breakfast, featured clips of Winters' remarks at the Second Chance breakfast in 2010. She spoke of an ex-inmate who became a giver instead of a taker, a taxpayer instead of a drain on the tax system, and a father to four stepsons.

    What was it, she asked, that caused Gov. Tom McCall to take a risk and courageously add someone to his staff who probably was deemed beyond redemption? Whatever his reasons, she applauded McCall for hiring Ted Winters, who became her husband.

    For people exiting prison, Winters said, the barriers to obtaining housing, finding employment and erasing societal stigma probably are far greater now than in 1968. "We have placed a lot more obstacles and laws in the way of people making that transition back, and I think that's a tragedy."

    A second video presented the story of Ali, a successful participant in Marion County's Family Sentencing Alternative Program (FSAP). Life's difficulties caused her to relapse into drug use. But because of her commitment to her children, she was motivated to engage in the intensive supervision, treatment, and parenting programs offered through FSAP. The program allows continued parenting by diverting non-violent offenders from prison to Community Corrections.

    Ali attended the breakfast and received a standing ovation after the video concluded. "There are 300 people here that love you and appreciate all you've done," County Commissioner Kevin Cameron, who emceed the program, told her.

    Community Corrections staff members emphasized that their clients, like Ali, are more than a criminal history. They are someone's son or daughter, mom or dad, brother or sister. Families and the community are better off when they are held accountable but also supported in making positive changes.

    Cameron urged participants to follow Winters' example and look outward to serve others in their leadership, mentoring, and funding.

    Marion County's second chance programs are more time-intensive for Community Corrections staff but less expensive for Oregon taxpayers than housing someone in prison. The irony is that Marion County then gets less funding, despite its higher workload, because of its success in reducing recidivism.

    Salem-Keizer Schools Superintendent Christy Perry closed the program by emphasizing that students and adults respond to having a caring adult who is invested in them.

    "The Marion County Reentry Program actually invests in people," she said. "It invests in people in real ways to mentor people and to help them reach their goals and dreams."

    Read More
    Reentry initiative honors late Sen. Jackie Winters at annual Second Chance breakfast
  • Oct
    10

    County recognizes World Mental Health Day

    Posted by: Health and Human Services

    ​Do for. Do with. Cheer On.
    Peer support partners support individuals with mental health challenges

     By Dick Hughes, special to Marion County

    "Everyone goes through some sort of mental health challenges throughout their life. It's really important to make sure that everyone knows it's not something abnormal."

    Those are the words of Alexia Sosa. She and her peer support colleagues in Marion County's behavioral health services program know those challenges first-hand, having dealt with them themselves or through family members.

    That experience gives them credibility with the individuals they serve – and empathy.

    "People with mental health challenges are just people. They're just experiencing life with these challenges, but they're still able to go out there and have healthy, productive lives," said Tammy Brister, a clinical supervisor with peer-delivered services in the Marion County Health and Human Services Department.

    "A lot of times the stigma that follows us is that we're not able to make our own choices and have healthy lives, when that's absolutely not accurate. And it's why we have peers in the county."

    Peer support partners are visible confirmation for consumers that, "You can do this. You are resilient." For example, Elizabeth Perkins, now a peer support partner with the county's young adult rental assistance program, said she now realizes that her mental health conditions had contributed to her past homelessness.

    "I've experienced mental health barriers for probably as long as I can remember, but I didn't know what they were until I was an adult," she said.

    Although the practice is spreading throughout Oregon, Marion County has been a leader in recognizing the value of peer partners in treating people with mental health and substance abuse conditions.

    "Even in the roles we're in, we're still dealing with our diagnoses; and for the folks in alcohol and drug program, they're still dealing with their recovery. It doesn't have to be debilitating," Perkins said. "It doesn't define us."

    Earlier this spring, the county Board of Commissioners publicly reaffirmed its commitment to effective behavioral health programs by declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month. The commissioners stressed that county services are "person-centered, person-directed, flexible, trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and community inclusive."

    Today, Oct. 10, 2019, as the county recognizes World Mental Health Day, we want individuals with mental health needs to know that they are not alone, that hope exists, and the possibility of healing and thriving is real.

    Maridee Tudela participated in a county program for young adults with psychoses. Now employed by the county as a peer partner, she describes her role as using her own experience to walk alongside individuals, recognize their frustrations and validate who they are.

    Peer partners follow the steps of "Do for. Do with. Cheer on."

    For example, youth with mental health challenges are not used to having a voice. "It's very damaging growing up and having to feel like you have to hide it. And you feel like no one will understand," Sosa said.

    Sosa helps youth learn the confidence to open up in group meetings, where they will not be judged. With the peer partners, youth have someone to count on – someone who will be there no matter what. "We're not here to pick sides. We're not there to tell them what to do," Sosa said.

    Partners help individuals connect with their support systems and drive their own, unique treatment plan. Knowing you have people around you who care is key, said Monica Weber, a family support partner.

    Yet family and society can put up barriers, often inadvertently. They may not fully understand a person's diagnosis and thus make such unhelpful, unrealistic comments as, "Just snap out of it" or "If only you'd make better choices." When someone experiences a mental health crisis in public, unknowing bystanders sometimes make fun of the person instead of reacting with empathy and grace.

    "There are so many people out there who are judgmental and shaming, and they put down people with mental health challenges," said Brister, the clinical supervisor. "But if they would change their focus, they would see these people build their resiliency – build their recovery."

    Brister and her colleagues know that first-hand through their work and through their own experiences.

    Read More
    County recognizes World Mental Health Day
  • Oct
    9

    Marion County 2019-2020 Property Taxes

    Posted by: Assessor's Office

    ​Marion County tax statements will be mailed October 10, 2019, and should begin arriving in property owner mailboxes soon. Tom Rohlfing, Marion County Assessor, certified the 2019-2020 Tax Roll on October 8, 2019.

    As of the January 1, 2019, valuation date, the aggregate Real Market Value of all property countywide increased by 9.23% from last year, to $50.68 billion. Overall, residential, rural, and commercial properties increased by more than 10% each. Real Market Value is the estimated amount in cash that could reasonably be expected to be paid for a property by an informed buyer to an informed seller. This rapid increase in market value stems from such factors as the healthy economy, high employment rates, and national interest in moving to the region.

    Escalating values of residences and residential land located in cities and towns largely fueled the increase, jumping over $22.97 billion or 10.43%. The total value of rural property, including acreage homes, farms, and forest lands, also showed continued growth, increasing by 10.03%.

    Due to Measure 50 benefits, some 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 they are located in the county. However, changes in tax rates due to new or expiring bonds will significantly affect owners in selected communities.

    Properties within the Santiam Canyon School District saw the largest tax increase this year. There will be about a 20% increase in taxes for the average homeowner due to a new Santiam Canyon School Bond that was passed by voters. Last year, the East Salem Service District’s governing body created one lighting district which includes the entire service area. This also eliminated approximately 130 smaller lighting districts.

    The cities of Woodburn and Jefferson will see tax increases of about 5% due to new Fire District Local Option Levies. The cities of Aurora and Donald will see a tax increase of about 6% due to the Aurora Fire District Local Option Levy. Average homeowners within the Salem-Keizer School District will only see about a 1% increase to their taxes. This was the result of a decrease in both school district and City of Salem bonds.

    Commercial and industrial properties show a 13.54% growth in total value, which is slightly higher than residential, urban homes, or rural properties. Trends vary by property type. Industrial facilities, warehouses, and prime retail and office properties continue to experience value increases on an individual basis. This includes the addition of one warehouse that is slightly over one million square feet. Apartment and mini-storage construction added significant new value, while existing apartments continued to show moderate growth.

    Assessed Value countywide grew by 4.57% to $26.50 billion, standing at just 52.29% of total Real Market Value. A big factor in the gap between market and assessed values, of course, is the Measure 50 limit of 3% annual growth in the Maximum Assessed Value of unchanged property. However, 13,320 properties receive sharply reduced assessed values and taxes due to farm or forest special assessment, and 16,748 properties receive full or partial tax exemptions.

    Primary beneficiaries of Marion County property taxes are schools, the community college, and educational service districts receiving (45.72%) of the total. Other major recipients include cities (22.48%), Marion County government (17.24%), and fire districts (6.66%). Urban renewal districts receive about (3.35%). These percentages are similar to last year.

    Mr. 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 more detailed information about how each property is assessed. The property records portion of the Assessor’s Office website allows you to search multiple ways, including a map search tool to help locate properties.

    Taxes are due by November 15, 2019, to receive the 3% discount and avoid interest charges. Owners with questions, or who feel changes are needed, should 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, comprised of community volunteers.

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    Marion County 2019-2020 Property Taxes
  • Sep
    16

    St. Louis Fish Ponds Park to close for the season

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    GERVAIS, OR – Marion County Parks announces that the St. Louis Fish Ponds Park near Gervais will close for the season on October 1, 2019.

    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 park's web page at http://www.co.marion.or.us/PW/Parks/descriptions/Pages/stlouisponds.aspx.

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

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    St. Louis Fish Ponds Park to close for the season
  • Sep
    12

    Bear Creek Park and Campground closes early for the season

    Posted by: Public Works - Environmental Services

    ​MEHAMA, OR – Marion County Parks announces that Bear Creek Park and Campground will close on Monday, September 16, 2019.  The park is typically open until October 31 but this year the camp host departed ahead of schedule and county staff opted to close the park because of safety and security concerns. The park will reopen on May 1, 2020.  

    The county also wants to remind the public that parking fee collection on North Fork Road will end on September 16. The seasonal parking fees are enforced May 15 through September 15, and collection will resume in May 2020.

    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
  • Jun
    14

    Safety enhancements installed on Marion County roads

    Posted by: Public Works

    ​Motorists traveling throughout Marion County will benefit from enhancements to several county roads as part of a safety enhancement project. The project was funded almost entirely by the Oregon Department of Transportation's All Roads Transportation Safety (ARTS) Program, which is a state safety program to address needs on public roads throughout Oregon.

    The ARTS-funded project installed a combination of centerline rumble strips, profiled lane striping and other durable pavement markings on the following county roads: McKay Road NE, Yergen Road NE, Ehlen Road NE, Howell Prairie Road, Silverton Road NE, Butteville Road NE, Cascade Highway, Vitae Springs Road South, Orville Road South, Abiqua Road NE, and Cordon Road NE. The county was awarded over $1,000,000 from the state program, which funded 100% of the costs for all roadway enhancements except Cordon Road, which was funded at 92.22%.

    Brian Nicholas, Marion County Public Works Director, said he appreciated the funding opportunity for this important project and the swift installation by the county's contractor, Apply-A-Line. "Lane departure accidents, accidents resulting from vehicles crossing the centerline or running off the road, have increased nation-wide due to a number of factors, including distracted driving from cell phones and other devices. The enhancements installed by this project have been shown to reduce the frequency of lane departure accidents. ODOT has been a great partner in making these funds available to cities and counties." He added, "Marion County also appreciates the efficient, high quality work done by Apply-A-Line for making sure these enhancements were completed before the height of the summer driving season."

    To learn more about Marion County's current and upcoming road construction projects, visit our website at http://www.co.marion.or.us/PW/Engineering/Projects/Pages/default.aspx.

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    Safety enhancements installed on Marion County roads
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