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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (June 9, 2021)
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 2021
Address: P.O. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309
Web site: www.SilvertonAppeal.com
The Capital Pioneers warm up during halftime in a game against the Portland
Fighting Shockwaves on May 15 in Portland. The Pioneers won the game with a
score of 6-0. PHOTOS BY ABIGAIL DOLLINS/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Continued from Page 1A
h “Football? What do you know
about football,” the store clerk
asked. h While they assumed Ri-
vera, a mother of three, was shop-
ping for her son, she knows a thing
or two about the sport. Rivera is
one of 20 players on Salem’s newly
formed semi-pro women’s tackle
football team: the Capital Pio-
The Pioneers compete in the Wom-
en’s Football Alliance, a national tackle
football league for women.
The team already was hurdling set-
backs long before they stepped onto the
ﬁeld for their ﬁrst game. In 2020, the
Pioneers were preparing for their pre-
miere season but it was canceled due to
“We started oﬀ with, ‘Can we do this?
Can we make this happen,’” Rivera said.
“As long as we get to play that’s all that
matters right now.”
The Capital Pioneers have a range of
varying experiences but anyone is wel-
come to play. The team originated when
10 players who formerly played for a
tackle football team based in Eugene
wanted to start a player-owned team
based in Salem.
The Pioneers are a nonproﬁt and re-
ceive funding through sponsors, fund-
raisers and team fees. A board made up
of six players and one family member
help make decisions for the team.
Each woman on the Pioneers pays
$400 to play for the season, which cov-
ers the cost of their uniforms, referees
and other expenses. The players also
additionally pay for their own equip-
ment, like cleats and gloves, and any
other travel expenses when on the
road for games.
From girls who are still in high
school to women who have teenagers
of their own, each player has their own
reason for wanting to play the game of
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A football family
Renee Gonzales, 31, has been sur-
rounded by football her entire life and
joined the Capital Pioneers four
months ago. Gonzales remembers
cheering on both of her brothers who
played youth football in Canby and
watching her dad coach on the side-
lines. The name of her four-year-old
daughter, Oaklyn, was inspired by the
“It’s just always kind of been the
center of my family,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales has carried on the family
tradition, and one of her brothers has
joined her. She is a starting oﬀensive
lineman for the Pioneers, and her
brother is the line coach.
This time around, though, it’s her
time to shine.
One of Gonzales’ favorite things
about playing football is seeing her
daughter fall in love with it, too.
“To see the happiness and joy that it
Marion County commissioners Colm Willis and Danielle Bethell speak to
community members about a proposal to remove the Scotts Mills dam on
Thursday. ABIGAIL DOLLINS / STATESMAN JOURNAL
See PIONEERS, Page 4A
Continued from Page 1A
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The dam and the accompanying ﬁsh
passage have been poorly maintained
and further damaged by disasters like
earthquakes, ﬂoods and storms. The
dam has slowly crumbled, depositing
concrete and rebar in the pool below
the falls where people swim.
It’s been eyed for removal for dec-
ades by organizations including the
Oregon Department of Fish and Wild-
life as it is viewed as an obstruction for
passage of native species of ﬁsh.
The debate over the fate of the dam
has dragged on for decades.
Scotts Mills’ city council has dis-
cussed the issue multiple times over
the years and has gone back and forth
But city manager Robin Fournier
said the current position of the council
is that the dam should be removed,
saying there is no money for it to be re-
paired and it has become a danger.
“For us, it’s more about the safety
factor,” Fournier said.
Proposal to remove the dam
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The Pudding River Watershed
Council proposed removing the dam
ﬁrst in 2020 and was able to obtain
about $100,000 in funds and in-kind
work from the state’s departments of
ﬁsh and wildlife and the watershed en-
But over the past years, community
gatherings like Thursdays were largely
prohibited – and Scotts Mills was im-
pacted by wildﬁres and the ice storm –
so it was impossible to bring the inter-
ested parties together.
The project, as proposed, would re-
move about 400 cubic yards of materi-
al, including the dam and much of the
sediment that has gathered behind it
for the past century. The work would
occur during a two-week period after
Labor Day when the water level is at its
“Everything out in the channel
would be removed,” Marion County
Public Works Director Brian Nicholas
Locals questioned the scope of the
project and how it would change the
popular swimming area into a slightly
“It’s been there over 100 years, why
should we take it out?” Scotts Mills res-
ident Andrew Isaksen said.
Some neighbors questioned wheth-
er the removal would result in native
ﬁsh species returning to the body of
water, what noise and disruption
would occur while it is being removed
and how it would impact the property
of those who live downstream.
“I would say nobody wants to see
the dam removed, we want to see the
dam ﬁxed,” said Scotts Mills resident
Ireland and Coraline Peters sit near the
Scotts Mills dam on Thursday, May 27,
2021 in Scotts Mills, Oregon. ABIGAIL
DOLLINS / STATESMAN JOURNAL
Dick Bielenberg. “There is no money,
there is no funding to ﬁx the dam.
“What’s going to happen is it’s going
to continue to crumble. If we don’t tear
down the dam in the next few years,
we’re going to have a swimming hole full
of concrete and rebar.”
Funding for removal, not repair
Kate Smith, who lives nearby on the
Clackamas County side of Butte Creek,
brings her children to the park often. She
said she’s seen the ﬁsh passage run dry
and ﬁll with trash, making it unusable for
its intended purpose.
The dam has become such an impedi-
ment that many of the native ﬁsh species
no longer exist there.
“Let’s just take it out,” Smith said.
Locals pointed out that native ﬁsh
species that formerly migrated up the
creek are no longer present.
“Years ago, we used to have Chinook
salmon up here, a lot of them,” said Mike
Wolﬀ, who has lived in Scotts Mills since
Anna Rankin, the executive director
of the Pudding River Watershed Council,
said if Marion County approves the pro-
ject later this year, it would be too late to
complete the removal this year. The
soonest it could be done is 2022, but the
watershed council will have to apply to
the state for money again.
“We can get funding to do site en-
hancement, but not ﬁx the dam,” Rankin
Willis said he doesn’t want the coun-
ty, and especially the residents of Scotts
Mills, to feel pressured to tear down the
dam because of the $100,000 that has
been earmarked for the removal project.
He said the county will host another
work session about the fate of the dam,
where interested parties like those who
attended the town hall could come to a
resolution about the future of the dam.
“It sounds like not everybody had the
same information and so I’m kind of
hopeful that as people get together and
talk, they’ll come together and ﬁnd
something out,” Willis said. “Maybe not,
but that’s my hope.”
Bill Poehler covers Marion County for
the Statesman Journal. Contact him at
bpoehler @statesmanjournal.com or