Salem / Keizer
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Salem is home to Willamette University, Corban University, and Chemeketa Community College. The State of Oregon is the largest public employer in the city, and Salem Health is the largest private employer. Transportation includes public transit from Salem-Keizer Transit, Amtrak service the bus service Cherriots, and non-commercial air travel at McNary Field. Major roads include Interstate 5, Oregon Route 99E, and Oregon Route 22, which connects West Salem across the Willamette River via the Marion Street and Center Street bridges.
Salem is governed using the council–manager government model. The city council consists of eight members who are elected from single member wards. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote.
The current mayor is Chuck Bennett, a Democrat first elected in 2016.
State government is Salem’s largest employer, but the city also serves as a hub for the area farming communities and is a major agricultural food processing center. It lies along the I-5 corridor and is within an hour’s drive of Oregon’s largest city, Portland.
Salem is the home of Kettle Foods, Inc., a maker of potato chips since 1982. Kettle employs 700 in Salem and at a plant in Bowthorpe, England. NORPAC Foods, Inc., is a large food processor in Salem and elsewhere in Marion County. Its brands include Flav-R-Pac and West-Pac frozen fruits and vegetables, and Santiam canned vegetables. Oregon Fruit Products, Inc., has been canning blackberries, marionberries and other fruits in Salem since 1935, with Oregon as its brand name.
In a bid to diversify its economic base, Salem attracted a number of computer-related manufacturing plants in the 1990s. In November 2003, the Sumitomo Mitsubishi Silicon Group (SUMCO), one of these arrivals, announced it would be closing its two silicon wafer plants at the end of 2004, eliminating 620 jobs, and moving production to other plants.
Salem is the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Corrections and home to four state correctional facilities, including the Oregon State Penitentiary, Oregon’s only maximum-security prison.
Numerous projects are underway to increase the supply of housing in the downtown core. These projects will provide upscale, low and high rise condominium and office space.
From May through October the Salem Saturday Market, located north of the Capitol, exhibits an emphasis on local products including crafts, baked goods, produce, meat, and other items. In addition to the Saturday Market, there is a Wednesday Farmers’ Market hosted downtown in Courthouse Square during the summer, as well a Holiday Gift Market in December. The 60+ year old, indoor Saturday Public Market is open all year round.
The annual World Beat Festival, held in June, is sponsored by the nonprofit Salem Multicultural Institute. The event lasts for two days and is held at the Riverfront Park. It features international crafts, music, dance, food, and folklore from every continent, and in recent years has held a Dragon Boat race similar to the ones held during the nearby Rose Festival in Portland.
The Salem Art Association sponsors the annual Salem Art Fair and Festival, which takes place at Bush’s Pasture Park during the summer. Its displays, interactive exhibits, food, and performances attract thousands of visitors each year.
The Bite of Salem, held in July at the Riverfront Park, is an event similar to others such as the Bite of Oregon in Portland. The event consists of a weekend of local restaurants in Salem offering samples of their menus to patrons in a festival atmosphere, with live entertainment and benefiting local charities. In the summer, Chef’s Nite Out is a wine and food benefit held for Marion-Polk Food Share. Oregon Wine & Food Festival takes place at that state’s fairgrounds in January.
The largest event in Salem is the Oregon State Fair at the end of August through Labor Day. Located in the Oregon State Fairgrounds in North Salem, the fair offers exhibits, competitions and carnival rides. Other events such as concerts, horse shows and rodeos take place at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center throughout the year.
The Mid-Valley Video Festival offers local, national and international independent films in theaters throughout the city.
The Salem Film Festival has included feature films that were Oregon premieres.
The Salem Repertory Theatre presents shows at the Reed Opera House. The Pentacle Theatre, which features plays and musicals, is located in West Salem. The Elsinore Theatre is a historic landmark featuring recitals, concerts, films, and plays. It has the largest working pipe organ on the west coast, a remnant of its days as a showcase for silent films, in the early days of cinema. Grand Theater is undergoing renovation and has hosted the Salem Progressive Film Series and other shows.
Capitol Pride (Salem’s yearly Gay Pride Event) is held in early August.
The personal house and garden of landscape architects Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, known as Gaiety Hollow, are on the National Register of Historic Places. Lord and Schryver had designed the gardens of Historic Deepwood Estate
In addition to the Oregon State Capitol and adjacent Willson Park, Salem’s downtown contains the Mission Mill Museum, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the Elsinore Theatre, Riverfront Park, the Willamette River, some of the oldest buildings in Oregon, as well as shopping and restaurants. The A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village interactive children’s museum and Prewitt-Allen Archaeological Museum are both also located in Salem.
The two leading candidates for the tallest building in Salem are Salem First United Methodist Church and the Capitol Center. A private survey commissioned by a local publication holds that the church is the tallest. The tall white spire of the 1878 church rises at the intersection of Church and State Streets across from the Capitol grounds. The Capitol Center (originally the First National Bank Building, then the Livesley Building) was built in 1927 by former Salem mayor Thomas A. Livesley, a prominent Salem-area businessman and civic leader. At that time of its completion, it was the tallest commercial building in the state.
In 1988, Livesley’s family home was purchased through private donations and was donated to the state. It now serves as the official residence of the Governor and family. Now known as Mahonia Hall, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1990.
The Oregon Symphony, based in Portland, presents approximately ten classical and pops concerts each year in Salem. The Salem Chamber Orchestra includes professional area musicians as well as students. The Salem Armory Auditorium has hosted touring bands including Korn and Phish.
The Salem Concert Band is a community band made up of professional and amateur musicians that performs several classical and pops concerts annually.
Because Salem is the state capital, it has a multitude of government agencies, departments, and boards housed in buildings with architectural designs ranging from the early 20th century to examples of state-of-the-art civil building design.
The historic Reed Opera House in downtown Salem has a number of local shops and dining establishments, as well as an art gallery.
Salem has been awarded “Tree City USA” status by the National Arbor Day Foundation for 30 consecutive years for its dedication to urban forestry. Salem was the first city in Oregon to receive the award. In keeping with the city’s “Cherry City” theme, flowering cherry trees have been planted along many Salem streets as well as on the Capitol Mall across from the Capitol.
The Salem Public Library’s main branch is located just south of downtown. A branch library is located in West Salem (Polk County). The Library participates in the Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service, so Salem Public Library cards are also valid in the member libraries in Yamhill, Polk, Marion, and parts of Linn County. In addition to the Salem Public Library the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University is open to the public as well, although the hours are limited.
The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed at the Oregon State Hospital. Salem and its environs have a multitude of wineries and vineyards that are open to the public, including Oregon’s oldest winery, Honeywood Winery.
Salem has one daily newspaper, the Gannett-owned Statesman Journal, and an independent bi-monthly alternative newspaper Salem Weekly. The Capital Press, a weekly agricultural newspaper, is published in the city and is distributed throughout the West Coast. The monthly Salem Business Journal covers business and government. The Salem Magazine, published quarterly, both in physical and digital (online) issues, focuses upon its people; its unique culture; and its downtown and surrounding neighborhood communities.
Northwest Television operates three television stations that have Salem transmitters: KWVT-LD, KSLM, and KPWC, which serve an area from Longview, Washington to Eugene, Oregon. Two stations are licensed to Salem but operate out of Portland: KPXG-TV and KRCW.
As of 2012, seven radio stations broadcast from Salem, including three commercial AM stations, three non-commercial FM stations, and a community radio station. KBZY was a popular Top 40 station from its sign-on in 1957 through the 1960s and 1970s. Today KBZY has an oldies format, and continues to use live and local personalities. KBZY is affiliated with the ABC Radio Network. KYKN carries syndicated conservative talk hosts. KWOD is a Spanish language sports talk station. KPJC features Christian talk programming. KWBX is a non-commercial station licensed to Corban University with a Contemporary Christian format. KMUZ, established in 2012, is a non-commercial community radio station carrying locally produced content in a variety format.
Salem is part of the Portland Arbitron survey area for radio stations, and most of the Portland stations can be received in Salem. Powerful AM news/talk stations include KEX, KXTG, and progressive talk KPOJ. Stations to the south in Corvallis and Albany are also easily heard in Salem.
NPR programming is carried by Oregon Public Broadcasting, which can be heard on KOPB-FM from Portland, and KOAC from Corvallis.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a minor league baseball team, play their home games in the city of Keizer, which adjoins Salem on the north. Three teams within the Eugene-based NNFL are from Salem; the Copperheads, Chargers, and three-time league champion, Pioneers. The Corban University Warriors are a private Christian university located in Salem. Corban has 13 athletic teams and competes within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Willamette University Bearcats are also based in Salem, they are a Division III athletics program. More recently there has been an addition of a women’s roller derby league known as the Cherry City Derby Girls. CCDG is home to four home teams, the Rydel Bells, Thrill Kill Kittens, Dolls of Anarchy, and Panty Raiders as well as a travel team the 8 Wheel Assassins. CCDG also has a “b” ranked travel team called the Bone Yard Brawlers. CCDG hosts a juniors derby league. The Star City Offense, a men’s roller derby team, is also based in Salem.
Salem’s Department of Community Services Parks Operations Division is responsible for a park system encompassing 1,874 acres (758 ha) with 29.53 miles (47.52 km) of trails, 46 parks, and another 55 open and undeveloped areas.
Minto-Brown Island Park is the largest at 1,200 acres (490 ha).
Bush’s Pasture Park, a 90.5-acre (36.6 ha) urban park a few blocks south of downtown Salem, features natural groves of native Oregon White Oak trees, the historic Bush House, a rose garden, and adjacent Deepwood Estates.
Other city parks include 101-acre (41 ha) Cascade Gateway Park and 23-acre (9.3 ha) Riverfront Park which is adjacent to downtown and the Willamette River and is home to the Salem Carousel. Marion Square Park is downtown next to Marion Street Bridge and has a skatepark and basketball court. The skatepark also allows bicycles. Marion Square Park was laid out by city founder William H. Willson, and is the next oldest municipal park in Salem after Willson Park at the Oregon State Capitol.
Across the Willamette River in West Salem is the 114-acre (46 ha) Wallace Marine Park, which includes a boat ramp and floating boat dock allowing easy access to the river for water sports. The NRHP-listed Union Street Railroad Bridge, repurposed as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, connects Wallace Marine Park and West Salem to Riverfront Park and downtown Salem.
Salem is also home to one of the smallest city parks in the world, Waldo Park, which consists of a single Sequoia tree. Mill Ends Park in Portland is the smallest in the world.
The capitol grounds, which is maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, cover three city blocks and include Willson and Capitol parks.
Other large parks located in the Salem area include the 1,680-acre (680 ha) Willamette Mission State Park north of the city, and Silver Falls State Park east of Salem. Both of these parks have extensive hiking, biking, and horse trails.
Salem’s central location provides access to a wide variety of recreational activities in a variety of climates and geographies year round. The Coast Range and the Pacific Ocean is to the west. The Santiam Canyon area, the Western Cascades and the High Cascades are to the east. Portland and its environs are to the north, while Eugene and its environs are to the south.
Salem also provides two great disc golf courses. A nine-hole course located in the woods of Woodmansee Park (located behind Judson Middle School), and a more open style 18-hole course located throughout Cascade Gateway Park. They are both free and open to the public.
Salem or Keizer Home
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Salem & Keizer
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