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  Oregon Business Journal
  P.O. Box 93
  Salem, OR 97308
  (503) 365-9544

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Yost Selling Downtown Real Estate
to Concentrate on Art

Roger Yost settles in
to his art and the next adventure

    At a time when most men of his age would be retiring to a life of leisure, Roger Yost quietly arrived in Downtown Salem in 2003 and became one of its largest investors and an agent of change.
    He bought and began restoring landmark buildings, became active in economic improvement efforts, served on many boards and committees, and began contributing to the quality of Salem's life in many, many ways.
    And just as quietly, 15 years later, at age 82, he is downsizing his considerable Salem holdings to devote more time to the arts.
    In the last three months, Yost has sold his Capitol Center "skyscraper," the Reed Opera House, and the Alessandro's restaurant building and parking lot. His Vick Building, although currently for sale, could become the new home of the Roger Yost Gallery that was closed when the Capitol Center was sold to a Eugene investment firm.
    Yost became an innovator of award-winning advertising art during a 33-year career with Portland-based Jantzen, the world's No. 1 swimwear maker, while serving as vice president of advertising and marketing.
    While still with Jantzen, Yost began investing in Oregon real estate in areas before they became "trendy:" Northwest Portland, Lake Oswego, and Newberg, part of an area that would soon be known as "wine country."
    He developed a 42-acre nursery in Newberg ("The Wine Country Nursery"), which became one of the state's fastest growing garden centers. Its eventual sale to the Sisters of Providence for a hospital site brought Yost to Salem.
    He could have lived anywhere in the world, but fell in love with the Reed, moved to Salem, and immediately began to restore it to the vision Cyrus Reed may have had in 1869: Create a place that would become the center of Salem's social and cultural life.
    Within six months he had restored the Reed's ballroom, which had once been the balcony of the original Opera House. Within a year, he would redesign and bring the elevators up to code - an investment in safety that would cost $100,000.
    Within 18 months, with a financial grant, Yost restored the pediment that went missing in 1900, thirty years after the building was completed in 1870. It made the Reed look like its "original self."
    In the course of the next 14 years Yost and his staff would touch and refinish or restore every one of the building's 66,000 square feet.
    He would bring in live theaters and new restaurants into old spaces that nourished the vision. In all, Yost would invest more than $2,000,000 in the improvements without taking a salary "or a penny" for his time in managing and restoring the building. "All rents and revenue were reinvested in the building to pay expenses or fund renewal," Yost says.
    Yost was by no means alone in shaping the character of Liberty Street in Downtown Salem.
    About a year into his restoration of the iconic Reed Opera House, he was joined by Rebecca Maitland, who shared his vision and brought some creative ideas of her own to help make the dark and decaying Liberty Street storefronts safer and more inviting.
    She teamed with the Salem Photo League to display their works in vacant store windows, and arranged to have lighting illuminate their art.
    Rebecca produced a video for the Salem Downtown Association that emphasized the positive qualities of downtown businesses and architecture.
    She also assembled a "posse" of cultural creatives to wear costumes illustrating the history of the Reed and neighboring buildings, and staged alley events dedicated to art.
    In the Reed, Rebecca encouraged tenants to participate in fashion and art oriented events promoted as "Bohemian Bashes."
    With collaboration her byword, she would later tackle a health issue created by the city's burgeoning homeless population by getting a group of women representing churches, human services and professional organizations to join her in developing an "ArtaPotties" program in alleys and parking lots throughout the Downtown.
    She began the drive by installing an ArtaPotty in her own parking lot space in the alley behind the Reed, featuring art from the Roger Yost Gallery, which she served a curator.
    Although her attempts to get the City of Salem to provide spaces for public toilets sponsored by private parties never materialized, Oregon City officials believed it was a dramatic solution to their city problems, seized the opportunity, and asked Rebecca to introduce the program to their community. It is now being adopted in cities throughout the world.
    Rebecca did this while helping bring new creative tenants to the building, and in recent years, therapists who would find the welcoming nature of the Reed's remodeled second and third floor suites a perfect environment for their work.
    Along with newcomers, which included the World Beat Festival headquarters of the Salem Multicultural Institute, the Salem Business Journal found the Reed an ideal base for its editorial headquarters. Marketing companies, bakeries, hair dressers, beauty consultants and real estate organizations would soon keep the Reed fully occupied, with prospective tenants on a waiting list.The Reed had become what Roger Yost envisioned in 2003.
    A year after Yost purchased the Alessandro Fasani Building and parking lot on Commercial Street, Jane Fasani, the widow of Alessandro's founder, approached Yost about closing the restaurant. She was losing money. Yost remembered saying: "This is the best restaurant in Salem. I will forgive your lease, under one condition, I take over the restaurant (debts and all)."
    He kept most of the staff and kept the restaurant open.
    Yost revitalized the restaurant, made it a nonsmoking establishment, brought in weekly entertainment, and was among the first to establish a "seniors" discounted menu, feature Oregon wines, and open on traditional holidays when residents were choosing to dine out.
    In 2006 he began adding fine art to its walls - the beginning of the Roger Yost Gallery - to enhance the dining experience.
    Briefly, he worked with other Oregonians to bring dinner theater to Alessandro's second floor banquet room and "Monday Night Music" with musicians anxious to display their talents. In 2009 the restaurant won almost every major award for food and dining during the Statesman Journal's "Best of the Mid-Valley" readers' poll. (As did the Reed for categories like Best Historical Building, Best Wedding Venue, and Best Place to take Out of Town Guests.) He did this while also restoring many improvements to the Reed and his Capitol Center Building, taking inspiration from its builder, Thomas Livesley, one of the world's greatest hops growers and merchants, and a former Portland mayor.
    Yost would be invited to serve on Downtown "improvement committees" where he energized downtown business partners to tax themselves to make the Central Business District a better place, even though only Macy's would pay a greater tax than Roger would pay for his properties.
    With his committee associates, they would form an Economic Improvement District (EID), in which building owners would fund a downtown organization (eventually called "Go Downtown Salem") to promote growth and advocacy of the City Center.
    Yost served as president of Go Downtown from 2008-2010. It thrived under the leadership of executive director Suzie Bicknell, with First Wednesday themed retail events that included music, Gifts and excitement that brought throngs downtown. A revival of "Summer in the City," events called "The Rain Festival" featuring artistically painted umbrellas, and winter blues concerts in the Reed Opera House Trinity Ballroom.
    Eventually, in the absence of Roger Yost, Suzi Bicknell, Rebecca's targeted promotions, and other departed key board members, the City of Salem took over the EID, and its members found it losing its original mission and voted against further funding.

Sustainability Forum Charts Past Successes,
Looks To The Future

Garten GA Non-profit of the year 2018

    By Beth Casper
    Special to the Salem Business Journal

    The Mid-Willamette Valley is a hub of sustainability activity, as evidenced by a packed sustainability forum Feb. 20 that showcased eco-friendly successes and charted the path for the future.
    More than a hundred people showed up to the Broadway Commons for the event, hosted by Salem Environmental Education, a nonprofit offering free nature-based experiences to students and an informative lecture series to adults as well as a host of other activities run by volunteers.
    Central to the valley's sustainability hub are nonprofits such as the Energy Trust of Oregon, which serves the 1.6 million customers of NW Natural, Pacific Power, PGE and other utilities by offering incentives for energy efficient projects and helping to evaluate energy usage.
    "The cheapest energy you can buy is the kind you don't use," Jay Ward, a senior community relations manager for Energy Trust of Oregon, said at the sustainability event. Ward presented a symbolic check for $170,276.50 to the Department of Administrative Services to represent the money the department will save due to the upgrades in the state archives building. An upgraded dehumidifying process helped the state meet its historical preservation goals and its energy- efficiency goals.
    "I won't tell you to spend it wisely because you already have," Ward said, laughing, as he presented the check to Dave Wortman, the Department of Administrative Services statewide sustainability officer.
    Three organizations took home coveted Green Awards for their exceptional commitment to earth-friendly practices and sustainability. Each of the winners is EarthWISE certified. The EarthWISE program is a free business environmental assistance program of Marion County. EarthWISE staff helps businesses recycle, save energy, reduce waste and much more. There are about 170 Earth- WISE businesses, agencies and nonprofits in Marion County.
    Garten Services won the Nonprofit of the Year Green Award for its operation of seven sustainable businesses that provide jobs for more than 500 people with disabilities. In 2017 alone, Garten kept 5.4 million pounds of electronics from being disposed of and its recycling center processed about 80 million pounds of recyclable material. Recycling this material instead of using virgin material saved 635,602 trees, enough water for 9.3 million baths and the energy equivalent to 8.2 million gallons of gasoline.
    "Garten Services epitomizes what it means to be a sustainable business because they take so seriously the three 'Es' of sustainability: environmental stewardship, social equity and economic vitality," said Marion County waste reduction coordinator Bailey Payne as he presented the award.
    The Large EarthWISE Business of the Year Green Award honored Spring Valley Dairy, which supplies local restaurants and coffee shops with fresh dairy products in as green a manner as possible. Last year, the business recycled 129,000 pounds of cardboard, pallets and wrap and reused more than one million crates. The business has also adapted 30 percent of its truck fleet with plug-ins to run on electricity when not being driven. This prevents idling and saves 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel a year.
    "Spring Valley Dairy has also done a lot to reduce paper waste," Payne said. "By going digital, they now save 8,400 reams of paper a year... We feel lucky to have a business like Spring Valley Dairy here in Marion County."
    Wildwood/Mahonia took home the Small EarthWISE Business of the Year Green Award for its family of businesses whose holdings include a plant nursery and sustainable vineyard, innovative green buildings rented to local environmentally minded businesses, and community efforts such as an annual literary and arts publication that honors watershed restoration. In each endeavor, the company incorporates community service.
    President and founder John Miller has always put sustainability at the forefront, said Marion County waste reduction coordinator Alan Pennington.
    "Wildwood/Mahonia was one of the first early adopters of electric vehicle chargers," Pennington said while presenting the Green Award.
    By adopting electric vehicle chargers early, Wildwood/Mahonia may have helped paved the way for the surge in the electric vehicle industry.
    "Electric cars are coming out twice as fast as hybrids now," said Zach Henkin, the deputy director of Forth, a company that is transforming the way people get around. Forth's mission is to advance electric, smart and shared transportation in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
    "Our current mobility system is broken," Henkin said during the sustainability luncheon. "When our car is parked, it is one of the most underutilized assets - and our cars are parked 95 percent of the time."
    Henkin spoke about a future where autonomous, connected and efficient cars abound and more people share cars through services such as Uber and Lyft than own their own.
    Sustainability luncheon attendees left with a renewed commitment to sustainability and a shared vision for a sustainable future.
    To learn more about Salem Environmental Education go to: For more information about the EarthWISE program, visit or call Alan Pennington at 503-365-3188.

Cherry Blossom Day at the Capitol
Free Event on Saturday, March 17
Is Sure to Get You Ready for Spring!

Our Shared Heritage

    Gentle green buds pop open in spring to reveal precious pink petals of cherry blossoms on the Capitol Mall. It is this time of year when visitors descend on Salem to photograph State Capitol State Park. This year the Oregon State Capitol Foundation will host the fourth annual Cherry Blossom Day at the Capitol on Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. showcasing the return of spring's splendor to Oregon.
    This event is free and open to the public. Parking is free as meters are not enforced on weekends. Attendees are encouraged to pack a lunch and sit under the blossoming cherry trees to partake in a Japanese cultural experience known as hanami.
    Children and families can: taste cherry products from meduri farms, enter the kimono contest, calligraphy characters with japanese studies student leaders, fly a kite on the capitol mall (while supplies last), watch a roller derby demonstration by the cherry city roller derby league, enter a coloring contest hosted by cherry city comic con, learn about and create your own ikebana, fold paper and make your own origami, ink up a fish and print it (gyotaku), witness a traditional japanese tea ceremony , listen to koto music , beat a taiko drum, and take a photo among the blossoming cherry trees.
    The Japanese Cultural Society is furnishing many traditional performances and exhibits, including Taiko drumming, Japanese chorus music and dance.
    Tower tours to the Oregon Pioneer will be available for the first time in 2018 with tour times at 11 a.m., NOON and 1 p.m. weather permitting. Senate Bill 146 was passed last year designating the third Saturday in March as Cherry Blossom Day.
    The public can learn more about Cherry Blossom Day by calling Visitor Services at 503-986-1388 or visiting events at