Big Stories: December, 2018   
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    (SALEM, Ore.) - Thousands of twinkling lights and holiday cheer will brighten the winter nights of December 19th -23rd, 5:30-8pm at the Willamette Heritage Center during our annual winter festival Magic at the Mill.
    Magic at the Mill is a long-time cherished seasonal festival that celebrates connecting generations and interpreting
    Mid-Willamette Valley history. Located on the beautiful 5- acre WHC campus, Magic at the Mill provides stunning sights, a holiday market for shopping, and family-friendly fun. Guests of all ages are invited to explore our scenery and historic buildings decorated with exciting holiday lights.
    Activities for kids will include: making Victorian-era silhouettes, "reindeer food", textile weaving, storytelling with Gordon Munro-Firelight Stories, pictures with Santa, and more.
    Entertainment will include: Ballet Arts NW, Pentacle Theater, Classic Tap, Madrigal Singers, City Dance, Cheers, Figs & Thistles, Starr Studio, Luis Hubbard, Old Time Fiddlers, Young Salem Singers Club, Orchard Mountain String Band , and more. Food & Drinks will be provided by Krewe du Soul.
    Vendors will include: Fordyce Farms, Suoplushie, Wildcraft Herbarium, Snuggly Toes, The Peru Sale, SilverTide Jewelry, Phyllis Dickey, Paul Hirt, Spirit in the Clay, This Is Salem, Stargazer's Gourmet, Raison Ethique, Karabombs, Jackie Miles Photography, Daryle Ryder, Rags & Bon es, Pilgrim's Roasted Nutz, and Santiam Soap Co.
    Warm up to winter with Salem's premiere holiday event: Magic at the Mill!

    The rebirth of the Reed Opera House has begun. The once neglected and underutilized property is finally getting a facelift. Since 1870, the Reed Opera House has been one of Salem's most important historical buildings. It has been a significant part of Salem's downtown social scene playing host to numerous events, performances and fundraisers. The Reed houses several popular businesses including Chira's Restaurant, Big Derrick's Barber Shop and Hattawear, among others.
    Due to the age of the Reed, it was important to protect the building's economic and physical longevity by substantially upgrading and remodeling it. The new building owner, Scott Chernoff of Cumberland Holdings, has embraced the challenge of remolding Salem's Historic Reed Opera House.
    Chernoff, an Oregon native, bought the property along with the former Spaghetti Warehouse (120 Commercial) in early 2018. "When I first toured the Reed," said Chernoff. "I was captivated by the architecture and unique tenants. I saw it's potential to be a community hub for dining, shopping and more."
    The process of renovating and improving the property has already begun. Brick repointing and masonry restoration was performed to ensure that the building would be stable in case of seismic activity. The interior has seen many cosmetic upgrades including new paint and a kitchen remodel. However, arguably the most stunning upgrade has been to the Reed Opera House ballroom.
    The once dull and drab event space has been magnificently restored. New carpets, lighting and paint have rejuvenated the historic ballroom. It has become a hot location for weddings, birthdays, quinceaneras and other special events. In fact, it is so popular that it is booked for months into 2019.
    "Even I couldn't have predicted how in-demand the ballroom would be," said Reed Opera House On-Site Manager, Jodie Vaughn.
    "I get new calls every day from people looking to host events or special occasions." Cumberland Holdings is continuing a historic building remodel trend that has become increasingly popular in downtown Salem.
    Instead of demolishing or abandoning older buildings, developers are choosing to utilize the frame and renovate the interior. Cumberland Holdings is committed to preserving the historical elements of the Reed while introducing modern elements.
    "The Reed Opera House is an important part of Salem's history and cultural identity," said Chernoff. "I want to ensure that Reed remains just as popular and relevant today, as it was when Cyrus Reed built it in 1870."

"She Got Things Done"
County Thanks Commissioner Janet Carlson for 16 Years of Service

Retiring Marion County
Commissioner Janet Carlson

    A few years ago, Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson was asked what she would want the newspaper headline to read when she retired.
    Her answer: "She got things done." After 16 years as a county commissioner, longtime colleagues say, that would be an understatement.
    Carlson has a well-deserved reputation for her work in helping incarcerated individuals make a successful transition back into the community. In the same interview where she talked about her potential retirement headline, Carlson mused that of all her projects, the Marion County Reentry Initiative came closest to fulfilling the dictionary definition of "collaborative."
    But as Carlson prepares to retire at the end of this year, it is worth remembering that she improved county government and touched lives in countless other ways as well.
    Kevin Cameron, now a fellow county commissioner and previously a state legislator, recalls sitting with her in the basement of the Oregon Capitol to discuss the Marion County Reentry Initiative. Yet her influence went much further. He estimates that 60 percent of the legislation he passed out of the House Judiciary Committee was legislation he worked on with Carlson.
    "She's just such a force of leadership, and when she gets ahold of something, she just doesn't let go - and in a positive way," he said.
    That work ranges from the Marion County Fair to developing resources for children and families to understanding the intricacies of solid-waste management.
    Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark has been inspired to join Carlson's efforts to overcome homelessness. Clark also worked with Carlson on developing Keizer Rapids Park, the Keizer Big Toy and other projects. She credits Carlson with helping her become a better mayor.
    "I adore working with Janet Carlson. She is so dedicated," Clark said. "Her values are so deeply embedded in everything she's done."
    She describes Carlson's leadership style as striving collaboratively for long-term, meaningful successes - not personal grandstanding. When working with Carlson, Clark said, "You better come prepared. She's ready to get it moving."
    Commissioner Sam Brentano remembers one of their early interactions in which Carlson arrived at a meeting carrying "a stack of papers two-and-a-half feet high." When he said she was incorrect on one point, she quickly thumbed to the right page in the stack and handed him the data countering his argument.
    "She's always very sure of the facts and she knows the facts," Brentano said. "But she always listens."
    He and Carlson share a bond. Both have grandchildren with disabilities. "She knows the ins and outs of how people get the services they need and it's important to her that services work well and are responsive to individual needs," he said.
    Her colleagues credit Carlson with a brilliant mind and she is known for a tenacious attention to detail while not losing sight of the overall goal . But they also note her compassionate heart. "It's a caring about people - the heart to help people help themselves and become better people," Cameron said.
    This is demonstrated in her work on children and families issues and the reentry initiative.
    Jan Fritz, the deputy county administrative officer, recalls how Carlson was a steadying force when county and Salem-Keizer Transit officials confronted faulty construction in Courthouse Square and had to move out.
    The remediation, guided with valuable input from elected officials and the community, tested Carlson during the prolonged crisis.
    "Janet was able to analyze and evaluate all the options and considered not only the impact to the county as an organization, but the long term impact to the community," said Fritz. "She's made county government better by challenging all of us to think broadly and consider all the possibilities," Fritz said.
    "She has a heart, and she truly has a commitment to doing the right thing."
    So yes, Janet, you were a commissioner who truly got things done.