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

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Salem in 1999

World events
  • Senate clears President Clinton in impeachment trial.
  • NATO forces bomb sovereign nation for first time in Kosovo war.
  • At Colorado's Columbine High School, 2 students murder 13.
  • John Kennedy, Jr., his wife and her sister, die in plane crash.
  • The New Clarissa goes aground near Coos Bay creating environmental damage to the shoreline.
  • The Euro is introduced as a common currency in Europe.
In Salem

In the fall of this year, more than a dozen local historians gather around a large table in the Salem Public Library to discuss what each could contribute to the Salem History Project, and the creation of a website, Salemhistory, devoted to local history. The objective of collecting information was to take an encyclopedia approach to providing access to Salem's history of culture, events, institutions and people.
The Library's Assistant Director, Bob Miller, had obtained a grant from the Oregon State Library for establishing this online network. Monica Mersinger became the director of the enterprise and served for five years until the grant opportunity ended. At that time, the website information was frozen in place on the Internet with the homepage established as you see it above. It remains the primary source for online information about Salem's historical events and personalities before 2000. In the Credits notation of SHINE (see column to the right) Salemhistory is given as a primary resource. Those who enjoy reading "SHINE on Salem 150" can thank the Oregon State Library, the staff of the Salem Public Library and the local historians who volunteered for the Salem History Project of 1999.

When you visit
There is a small room in Salem Public Library, adjacent to the Audio Visual area, that looks out on the Peace Plaza. When that section of the library was redesigned several years ago, this was Monica's new office. Unfortunately, when the grant ended, there was no effort by the city or the library to continue the project and the room was put to other uses. Writing for the project is no longer possible. We should be thankful that the Salem History Project did exist for five years and that many loyal volunteers submitted articles that are of such value to us today. Another such project, undertaken by the Salem business and heritage community, would be of great value to residents and researchers of the present and future years.

Other events
  • The estimated population of Salem is 128,595.
  • The Housing and Urban Development Advisory Committee is established. It serves in an advisory capacity on issues relating to allocation of Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds and on other matters related to HUD that may be requested by the City Council. The Committee will make policy recommendations to the Council on five-year strategic plans, on annual plans for specific project budgets, and on project modifications to the plans.
  • Frank Richard Gruber is elected as Municipal Judge and will serve until his retirement in 2006.
  • John and Pam Scott donate the former Chelsea Restaurant to the Family Building Blocks project that had formerly been housed in the First Methodist Church. The primary mission of this community effort is to keep Salem children safe and families together by empowering families to break the generational cycle of abuse. Sue Miller, who founded the organization in 1997, served as executive director until she resigned in June of 2012. She hopes to spend more time with her grandchildren and focus on her volunteer work serving on the board of the Oregon Community Foundation. The nonprofit relief nursery and child abuse prevention agency is a strong organization with healthy community support and a talented staff and board, Miller said.  In 2011, Family Building Blocks served more than 858 children through its therapeutic classes, outreach services, dependency treatment court and supervised visitation programs. Its services are focused on at-risk children 6 weeks to 5 years old.
Harritt House on Wallace Road in West Salem
  • The Harritt House on Wallace Road in West Salem is successfully nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. This oldest house in West Salem has been extensively remodeled. Originally an 1858 log cabin, it was built by Jessie and Julia Harritt. Jessie so profited by his California gold mining, that he was able to build his wife this Colonial style house reminiscent of the plantation homes in her native Kentucky. The original kitchen was added to the house for a recent business, Julia’s Tea Parlor.
  • Mary Eyre dies at age of 101. A former Social Studies teacher at North Salem High School and political activist, she was a member of many Salem civic organizations. She served as president of the Marion County Historical Society as well as president of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. She held a leadership position in the drive to preserve historic Deepwood Estate and was an active member of Knight Memorial United Church of Christ. She was a member of many professional and political organizations, running unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for the State Senate in 1962. "[I] wanted to try out some the things I had been teaching over the years," she commented. The 1893 Eyre family home in the historic SESNA neighborhood had been sold in 1996 when she moved to a retirement home. The 1926 home of her brother, David Eyre, was moved from Summer Street when the Capitol Mall was being constructed and is now on the northeast corner of Mission and High Streets.

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