SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Salem in 1979

World Events
  • The Islamic fundamentalist government of Ayatollah Khomeini replaces the Shah of Iran.
  • Hurricanes struck Florida.
  • Two plane crashes kill over 500 Americans.

Cherriot buses in Salem, 1976
In Salem
This year, by a 3 to 1 ratio, the voters within the Salem Urban Growth Boundary approved a ballot measure on November 6, 1979, creating the Salem Area Mass Transit District encompassing the City of Salem and unincorporated areas of Marion and Polk Counties. At this same election, 5 of the 9-member Board of Directors were also elected. Subsequently, the Salem City Council appointed 2 Directors from its membership and the Marion and Polk Boards of Commissioners each appointed 1 Commissioner to the Board.
Our buses are "Cherriots". This had been the name and logo for local Salem buses as early as 1966. According to Clarence Pugh, writing for Salemhistory, the name "Cherriots" was chosen from an entry by Kenneth Yost in a contest and he was awarded a $50 gift certificate. New buses were purchased and upgraded service was begun with A. R. Hampton as first Transit Superintendent for the City of Salem. However, the use of private cars had multiplied after World War II, suburbs had spread beyond established bus lines and gas prices were uncertain. Growth of bus service was slow in the 1970s with 22 buses and 3500 riders during the weekdays: adult fare was thirty cents. In order to serve the public better, the bus system needed to be a separate entity with its own funding. This came about through the creation of a Transit District this year through an Oregon legislative act.
Oregon Legislature passes Senate Bill 462 providing a procedure through which the voters could create transit districts with an outer boundary no greater than the Urban Growth Boundary of a city.

When you visit
Courlette Hiscocks wrote the second half of the online history of the transit system with events after 1979 and leading up to the acquisition of the property of the former Senator Hotel and the building of Courthouse Square. "In November 1995, the District introduced a proposed project, Courthouse Square, on the Senator Hotel block, downtown, as a joint project with Marion County to provide the County with a centralized County Service Center and to replace the District's current transit transfer facility on High Street and move its administrative offices into downtown. The $30 million project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2000. The transit portion of the project is $9.844 million of which $7.675 million is from federal (FTA) grants."
Courthouse Square was completed in 2000 as planned, but suffered a number of other complaints. Construction for shops along the north side of the block did not occur as expected, the size and style of the structure seemed out-of-place to many citizens, and, most recently, the transit center closed because of unexplained faults in the foundation. Bus riders, who must make connections between various routes, were accommodated in a temporary on-street location. By 2014, Courthouse Square had been completely repaired and county offices were back in place as well as bus facilities.

Other Events
Gov. Atiyeh's Salem Home
  • Victor Atiyeh is elected governor of Oregon and moves in to the Stiff House on Winter Street where he and his wife will live until 1987.
  • Sue Miller is elected to the Salem Area Transit District Board at its formation this year. She found that not only did she appreciate the results of campaigning and setting public policy as an elected official, but she also enjoyed the campaign process.
  • Scott McIntire designs the first commissioned Art Fair poster; the fair begins with a parade and ends with a bagpipe procession, which becomes a tradition.

  • The site for the new shopping complex "anchor", the Nordstrom Mall building is being prepared for construction bounded by Center, Liberty and Chemeketa Streets. Later in the year, a photographer catches work on the interior of the second floor.
  • North Capitol Mall is extending beyond Center Street and further north on Summer Street with the construction of the Revenue Building designed by BOORA Architects from Portland. It was constructed in two phases. The first phase included the underground parking, the front plaza, and the main building, which would be completed in 1981. The second phase included the “tower,” which is the smaller section of the building in the NE corner of the block, completed in 1984. The building originally housed most of the state’s major computer centers, but those have now been moved to the State Data Center on Airport Road. Before the building was constructed, the property housed a retail complex and houses that were torn down or moved.
  • As Vietnamese refugees arrive in Salem in large numbers, the YWCA implements programs in cultural integration, employment, secondary wage-earner projects, case management, and other programs to help them assimilate into their new environment.
  • One of the more amusing incidents in State Fair history occurred on opening day this year when a steer named Rufus escaped from his handlers, swam the Willamette River, and found his way to a cornfield, where he stayed for six weeks. Rufus became the fair's mascot, and was displayed, behind reinforced fencing, from 1980 through 1987. Sadly, Rufus died in early 1988 after he injured his leg.

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