March News: Commissioners present annual State of the County

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Marion County Oregon

March 21, 2019

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In this issue: 

Commissioners report on county programs at annual State of the County

Commissioner Cameron

By Dick Hughes

“If Marion County is going to do it, we’re going to do it right,” County Commissioner Sam Brentano said. “That’s my pledge.”

Brentano was talking about last year’s creation of the Marion County Veteran Service Office. But his words illustrated the county commissioners’ overall approach.

Commissioners Brentano, Colm Willis and Kevin Cameron gave the annual State of the County presentation at a March 13 public luncheon hosted by SEDCOR at Broadway Commons.

The commissioners thanked the county’s employees, highlighted accomplishments of the past year and assessed the challenges – many of them political – that lie ahead. They said they would go on the road this year, holding board sessions and town hall meetings in East Salem, the Santiam Canyon, and North Marion County.

Recounting 2018, Brentano said the county resurfaced more than 21 miles of roadway and will do 25 miles this year, along with applying chip seal last year to 63 miles. Revenue from state fuel taxes enabled the county to make a significant turnaround from some years, when the lack of federal timber revenue hampered such maintenance.

Meanwhile, building construction in the county continues at a strong pace. “That growth is important to us,” Brentano said. “We’re not big on raising taxes. We’re not big on raising fees. If there’s going to be more revenues to provide the services the county does, we want it to come from growth.”

Turning to political challenges, he took issue with the 2019 Legislature’s carbon tax-and-trade bill – House Bill 2020, known by proponents as Clean Energy Jobs but which he called “tax and swindle.” “The bill is about revenue generation, wealth redistribution, and control – with no measurable improvement to the environment. I absolutely believe that,” he said.

Brentano also regretted the “horrible, horrible” vote by the Salem City Council against proceeding with the third bridge across the Willamette River, a decision he said would harm the region’s economy and mobility for decades.

Commissioner Willis, who took office in January, talked about the crisis of homelessness. He was impressed by the empathy and effectiveness of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, which helps individuals receive treatment and support as alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system.

Willis announced that the county would launch an initiative to increase the housing supply and promote home ownership. That could include a strengthened county focus for the federal Continuum of Care approach for addressing homelessness.

“We have a lot of resources in our community, but one resource we don’t have a lot of is housing. We don’t have a lot of places for people to live if they do want to get off the streets,” he said.

“Housing isn’t just an issue for folks who are homeless; it’s an issue for the folks in the middle class as well. There are a lot of families that are having a hard time affording a place to live.”

Commissioner Cameron, who chairs the Board of Commissioners this year, told how the county works jointly with Polk and Yamhill counties on economic development.

Since 2007, he said, the county and its partners have brought more than $27 million in federal and state grants to the region.

The county’s efforts this year include working on broadband internet service in the Santiam Canyon; development of a sewer system in the canyon; expansion of the Aurora State Airport; a more realistic plan for the Detroit Dam fish passage; the Donald-Aurora interchange on Interstate 5; support for agricultural technology; and expanded law enforcement and street lighting in East Salem.

“Water, sewer, roads, broadband infrastructure – that’s the type of thing we need to help,” he said of Marion County’s role. “Because if we build it, they will come. If we make sure that it’s built, they will come.”

The county faces a number of challenges, he said, including Metro’s assertion of water rights on the North Santiam River and Clackamas County’s opposition to the Aurora Airport development.

Cameron concluded by saying he was honored to serve with Brentano, Willis and the 1,700 employees of Marion County.

Video: 2019 State of the County

Commissioners at State of the County

Earth Day at The Oregon Garden set for April 20

Earth Day poster

Looking for an fun way to celebrate the upcoming 50th annual Earth Day? Then head out to The Oregon Garden in Silverton for the "2019 Earth Day Fair." It will take place on April 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  This is the only day of the year that admission to The Oregon Garden is free to all.

The day will feature a number of earth-focused activities and presentations which include: how to master backyard composting, make your own reusable bag, create your own seed starter pot and many more.   Visitors are invited to enjoy The Oregon Garden’s 80-acre botanical garden, featuring more than 20 specialty gardens.

Educational exhibitors, along with several non-profit and student groups, will be located in the Garden’s Grand Hall. The celebration highlights music from the Early College High School Emaa Da drumming band, Ceili of the Valley Scottish dancing, and the Woodburn High School Mariachi Band.  A local food vendor will offer a variety of tasty items for purchase.

Free parking and shuttle service will be offered from the gravel lot north of Roth’s Fresh Market in Silverton, and free parking is offered at Robert Frost Elementary. On-site parking is available for $5.00.

Visit for additional details. The 2019 Earth Day Fair is presented by Marion County Public Works Environmental Services, Renewal by Anderson, Salem Sign Company, Leaf Filter, Budget Dumpster, K2 Creative, the Oregon Department of Energy, and The Oregon Garden.

Volunteer Opportunity

Marion County Fair seeks key volunteers 

Fair volunteers

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get dirty? Do you enjoy the smell of fresh air and the excitement of planning activities and events? This might be the perfect team for you!

The Marion County Fair Board is seeking a few Key Volunteers to join the leadership team of the Marion County Fair to help provide leadership and oversight to independently coordinated fair projects. This is an active board, not just a planning board, so you must be willing and able to attend monthly meetings as well as assist with the implementation of the four-day fair during the second week of July.

Key Volunteers for the Marion County Fair are appointed by the Marion County Board of Commissioners. Although Key Volunteers do not have a formal vote on Fair Board business, they will actively serve with the Fair Board to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the Marion County Fair. Key volunteers will be considered first when the Fair Board has an opening on the board.

Applicants must be residents of Marion County who are 18 or older. Applications are available online or by contacting the Marion County Volunteer Services Coordinator at 503-588-7990, e-mail

Dog Shelter seeks volunteer dog foster care homes

Marion County Dog Services is the last chance for many dogs. The Dog Shelter is the primary service provider for lost and stray dogs in our communities. Last year more than 1,300 dogs came through our doors. Through licenses, microchips, and the work or our dedicated staff, we returned more than 750 dogs to their owners.

For those dogs remaining unclaimed, we placed more than 400 in new homes and sent approximately 130 dogs to rescue partners for their chance to find a forever home. Another 160 dogs were placed in our dog foster care program prior to adoption.

The Dog Shelter is currently recruiting for additional volunteer dog foster care homes. Foster care home volunteers are taught to feed, groom, socialize, train, and medicate dogs – all from the comfort of their own homes. Some of the most common reasons dogs are sent to foster care are minor medical issues such as skin problems requiring daily medication, training needs, or nervous behavior in the shelter environment.

When the dog is ready for adoption, the shelter will post the dog's story and photographs on the shelter website and actively seek to find a loving home. Foster providers are also invited to participate in shelter outreach events.

To sign-up or learn more about the Marion County Dog Shelter foster care program, contact Foster Care Coordinator Ashleigh Young or (503) 316-6698 or email For more information about Marion County Dog Services visit The Marion County Dog Shelter is located at 3550 Aumsville Hwy SE, in Salem.


Collage of dogs

Community Partner News

Virtual Incubation Program for local entrepreneurs starts April 4

Launch Mid-Valley logo

The Strategic Economic Development Corp (SEDCOR) and LAUNCH Mid-Valley have partnered with OTBC, a startup incubator in Beaverton, to offer OTBC's Virtual Incubation Program (VIP) to startups in Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties. VIP is a popular six-week entrepreneurship course for startups that are building a growth company, meaning that they are developing a product that will be sold nationally or internationally, not just locally.

The course materials consist of online videos participants can view when convenient, but there are six interactive online sessions Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. where entrepreneurs can ask questions to explore how the VIP materials can be applied to specific businesses. Topics covered include: validating your business model; protecting your company and your intellectual property; and developing a go-to-market plan.

Entrepreneurs can learn more and register at

 "Bring Your Bag" starts April 1 in Salem

Bring your bag logo

Beginning Apr. 1, large retailers in Salem will no longer provide plastic carryout bags at checkout. Shoppers will need to bring their own reusable bag or purchase a paper bags for five cents. For stores that sell both retail items and prepared food, plastic carryout bags will be given at checkout for prepared food items. By Sept. 1, 2019, no retailers in Salem will provide plastic carryout bags.

Retailers may provide recyclable paper bags or reusable bags for customers to carry away purchases. To encourage reusable bags, and to offset the higher cost of paper bags, retailers will charge at least five cents per paper bag given at checkout.

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

For more information and resources for businesses and residents, please visit, email, or call 503-763-3459.

Events & Activities

Puppy Party banner

April 6
Dog Shelter "Puppy Paw-ty"
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Marion County Public Works

April 10
A Word of Choice and Possibility
Intellectual and developmental disabilities supports and services fair 
3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Keizer Civic Center 

April 11
Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age
6:00 p.m.
Chemeketa Community College, Building 6
The screening is free to attend and is open for adults and children 10 years and over who are accompanied by an adult.

April 18
Food Resource Cafe: Feeding Our Community
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Marion County Health & Human Services
Guests will learn about the programs working towards food availability, food access, and food utilization every day for our community.

April 24 
2020 Census Information Session
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Center 50+

Visit our website for a full listing of meetings and events.