Three years ago, So Salem was in its first year, and I got a phone call I’ll probably never forget. It was from a reader who wanted a Chik-fil-A in Salem, and he sincerely demanded that I should do something about it. That’s just a small taste of the flack I’m sure the city planning department (in photo at left) has taken over the years for not landing a location for the popular chicken business to roost at in Salem. The location in front of the K-mart is scheduled to open in April 2012.
Here’s my top 5:
1) Chik-fil-A and many other businesses have opened in Salem this year, during a time when economic gloom and doom still lurk frequently around the doorsteps and chimneys of many communities. Billy’s Barn has been in the news for its appropriately-timed Father’s Day opening (an ode to grandfather Billy Miles) and then for the HVAC fire that sidelined them in November. They plan on re-opening around Jan. 10.
2) The quick (approx. 6 month) turnaround from beginning to end of fundraising and construction of the Salem Rotary Dog Park. Dogs are not allowed in most, if not all, of the city parks. Salem’s special projects manager Teri Atkins raised the funds needed: Salem Rotary donated a large amount, earning the park’s naming rights, but dog owners and other individuals contributed lots of funds, too. One contributor was Emma Bradley, a kid who set up a lemonade stand to raise money for the dog park. Since then, volunteers have continued to update the park – boy scout Cody Brown recently installed his Eagle Scout project of a shelter that covers the small and large sections of the park.
3) Technology gains for the city have been big in 2011:
-The Salem Police Department and Salem dispatch center got a new set of software to communicate with more efficiently and on the move (story to come)
-Shoppers at the Salem Farmers Market can withdraw funds from their EBT or debit cards (fee applies for debit cards) when the red umbrella is up… look for this program to begin again in spring 2012
-Roanoke College and Salem City partnered to bring public Wi-Fi service to the downtown area and to the Salem Civic Center’s campus
-The city recently purchased financial planning software for a bookkeeping upgrade. Here’s the link
-You can now sign up for the city’s Instant Alert system, too, for important updates via mobile phone and email.
4) State wins for athletic and academic teams:
-Salem High Forensics won its sixth-straight-State Championship, proving that Salem’s not all brawn, but has plenty of brains, too.
-Salem boys tennis: Not only did the whole team win the state title, but Patrick O’Keefe SHS grad ’11won an unprecedented fourth-straight-state title in singles. O’Keefe and Will Drougas advanced to the state title match, too, but placed second. Glenvar’s Tim Howard took second place in state singles tennis.
-Jake Semones won the state title in the 215 lb.weight category in State AA Wrestling
-If I left anybody out – apologies!!! So many teams in Glenvar and Salem had great seasons in 2011.
5) New schools and – a new library!
-Masons Cove Elementary began the school year with a brand-new school! The old one was heated by coal, and the new one has green technology all-around!
-South Salem Elementary, dubbed “the round school,” was built in the 1960s with a mind towards nuclear safety. Salem city schools will replace the entire building, and they are currently in the planning phase of the project. Here’s another link to Courtney Cutright’s story on the public’s reaction at the first hearing back in October. (Salem city council instituted a meals tax increase of 2%, from 4 to 6 percent, that will take effect 2/1/12 to help pay for the project)
-The Glenvar community bade farewell to its small box of a library in October. With construction underway now, Roanoke County hopes to open an updated library with 3x the space (15,000 sq ft!) sometime in fall 2012.
This year has been another great one for So Salem – thanks again a million times over to the communities of Salem and Glenvar for their support of this community newspaper.
When people ask me to describe what it is that we do here, one of my favorite ways to explain it is that “So Salem is a ‘for the people, by the people’ kind of publication.” We couldn’t do it without you!
So, if you have news or story tips, or if you want to send photos of family fun, sports, or anything else going on in Salem or about Salem/Glenvar people, contact us at email@example.com. Every Wednesday morning from 9 to 11 a.m., I am at the Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea on East Main St. in Salem for office hours – so stop on by then with your news or story ideas if you’d like!
PS. Here’s my contact info: 540-981-3342; firstname.lastname@example.org
And, if you haven’t already, “like” us on Facebook. We link up with our most interesting and important content on our So Salem Facebook page.