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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (June 23, 2021)
22 weddings scheduled
The sternwheeler operates year-
round and averages 10,000 visitors a
year during non-pandemic times, when
they oﬀer public lunch, dinner and
brunch cruises as well as reservation-
only private events.
The business had been growing be-
fore COVID-19. To resume operations in
the midst of restrictions, the Ches-
broughs purchased heaters and installed
plexiglass shields for outdoor deck seat-
Continued from Page 1A
Growing support for white national-
ism is a continuation of Oregon’s history
with racist movements and attitudes,
Western States Center executive direc-
tor Eric Ward said. The region is dispro-
portionately white compared to the rest
of the United States as a result of “exclu-
sion by design,” he said.
Ward described how Oregon became
a fertile recruiting ground for groups like
the Ku Klux Klan in the 20th century,
adopting ideals that would eventually
make the state and the region a target
for settlement under the Northwest Ter-
ritorial Imperative — an idea adopted by
white nationalists in the 70s and 80s
that encouraged members of Neo-Nazi
and white supremacist groups to relo-
cate to the Northwest.
Now, Ward said, growing sympathy
for white nationalist ideals has granted
an opportunity for the movement to
gain political power.
“Local headlines have shown brazen
activity by anti-Democratic hate groups
working to build their political power,”
Ward said. “The willingness of a state
elected oﬃcial, (former Rep. Mike)
Nearman, to open the doors to those
who were seeking violence, the tags on
the Oregon holocaust memorial, and the
distribution of antisemitic ﬂiers are
some examples of that.”
Ward was referencing ﬂiers targeting
Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-West Linn, that
were spread around Clackamas County
in late April. The ﬂiers used anti-Semitic
stereotypes, Holocaust imagery and
other hate symbols to attack Prusak and
her eﬀorts to pass gun safety legislation.
“We know Oregon’s history is
steeped in white supremacy and other
forms of bigotry and these acts show
this history is still relevant and alive in
the present,” Prusak said in a news re-
lease about the attacks.
In Salem, far-right groups have tar-
geted local businesses.
In December, messages from the
‘Part of our appeal’
Operating the boat is expensive. In
addition to fuel, Richard said it costs
$14,000 a year for insurance coverage,
including $2 million in liability.
A dry-dock inspection is required ev-
ery ﬁve years by the Coast Guard that
sometimes takes them out of commis-
sion for weeks.
The sternwheeler is certiﬁed by the
Coast Guard for a capacity of 106 passen-
gers, but COVID-19 restrictions currently
limit it to 25% capacity.
That hasn’t stopped people from
booking reservations for this summer.
“I don’t have a weekend oﬀ until Sep-
tember,” Barbara said. “I’ve got class re-
unions, family reunions or weddings ev-
ery single weekend.”
More than 350 weddings have been
held on the sternwheeler, and another 22
are on the books for the next three
Richard has married couples who
took excursions on the boat as children.
“They come back because it made
such an impression on them,” he said.
Wedding decorations, including table
linens and chair covers in a half-dozen
colors, candles and vases, plus decora-
tions for just about every holiday, are
part of the package.
A pair of potential buyers agree the
sales price is reasonable, and both are in-
terested in making near or full-price of-
fers. But neither has secured ﬁnancing.
Bruce Taylor of Salem has met with a
mortgage broker to discuss options. Tay-
lor is the publisher of Salem Business
Journal and the owner of Court Street
He doesn’t want the city to lose the
“Why would we want it to leave? It’s
part of our appeal,” he said.
Taylor is in the process of forming the
Court Street Foundation, which would
be dedicated to the preservation of the
92-year-old downtown diner and the de-
velopment of a student culinary pro-
gram. The prospect of adding a riverfront
restaurant to the program appeals to
He said the foundation would buy the
boat and oﬀer dockside dining experi-
ences while also doing excursions.
Ken LeVeille, owner of Capitol Mort-
gage Company, said maritime ﬁnancing
can be diﬃcult. He met with Taylor and
the Chesbroughs and shared how his
company does a lot of privately-funded
loans, which could be an option in this
If Taylor were to combine a brick-and-
mortar purchase with the Willamette
Queen, it might be more doable with tra-
ditional ﬁnancing. He’s expressed inter-
est in buying the building where the din-
er is located, although it isn’t for sale.
About 30 miles downriver, Bob Pease
and his ﬁancée Staci Kalet dream of
bringing riverboats to Rogers Landing in
Newberg, an area along the Willamette
poised for development.
Pease originally wanted to relocate
the Willamette Queen, but after seeing
what the Chesbroughs had established
at Riverfront Park, he said he would
leave it there if he bought it and just du-
plicate the business at Rogers Landing.
No oﬀer has been made by either par-
ty. No contracts have been drawn up.
To sweeten the deal, the Chesbroughs
are oﬀering hands-on training and sup-
port for at least a year. They believe their
lessons learned would be invaluable to
any new owner.
“We don’t really want to give it up, but
we realize we can’t do this forever,” Bar-
bara said. “It’s good we do this now while
we can train someone to take over.”
Mayor Bennett said the city remains
committed to working with a new owner.
The way he sees it, Salem can’t aﬀord to
lose an icon that celebrates its riverboat
“The one thing they will have is a real-
ly loud advocate in the city,” he said.
Capi Lynn is the Statesman Journal’s
news columnist. Her column taps into
the heart of this community — its people,
history and issues. Contact her at
clynn@StatesmanJournal.com or 503-
399-6710, or follow on Twitter @Capi
Lynn and Facebook @CapiLynnSJ.
and the economy.”
“So from one perspective, this may
give elected oﬃcials a fair amount of
leeway in public opinion, at least, to
take action against the danger that
armed paramilitary groups pose,” said
Some of that action was seen Thurs-
day when the Oregon House of Repre-
sentatives ousted Nearman from oﬃce
for his role in allowing rioters opposing
COVID-19 closures to enter the closed
Capitol building during a special legisla-
tive session on Dec. 21, 2020. The vote
was bipartisan and unanimous — aside
from Nearman’s no vote.
A new video that surfaced last week
showed Nearman suggesting to a crowd
days before the riot that if demonstra-
tors texted him he might let them into
the Capitol. Ultimately, at least 50 indi-
viduals accessed the Capitol’s vestibule,
and six law enforcement oﬃcers were
The survey research will also be used
in Western States Center’s work and
was released earlier to the organiza-
tion’s partners to guide organizing strat-
Dianne Lugo is a reporter at the
Statesman Journal covering equity and
social justice. You can reach her at
936-4811 or on Twitter @DianneLugo.
Capt. Richard Chesbrough
PHOTOS BY BRIAN HAYES/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Reviving a nostalgic past
The Willamette Queen is a scaled-
down likeness of Mississippi riverboats
from the 1800s. The double-decker has
ﬁligree trim and ﬂuted smokestacks with
It was built in 1990 for a failed New-
port tour business and had been operat-
ing in Columbia River Gorge when the
Chesbroughs purchased it from the city
of Cascade Locks.
They operated a short time out of Al-
bany before moving the sternwheeler to
Salem in early 1999. The city approved
the use of its dock at Riverfront Park af-
ter improvements were made to the
ramp and new handrails, lighting and a
security gate were added.
The Willamette Queen’s arrival re-
vived a nostalgic past. The last stern-
wheeler to operate regularly south of
Portland went out of service in 1908, ac-
cording to newspaper archives.
The history is part of Richard’s shtick.
He pilots the boat in a crisp white cap-
tain’s uniform and regales passengers
with historic details about this stretch of
river and Salem’s past as a riverboat
In 2003, when headed to Portland for
the sternwheeler’s mandatory Coast
Guard hull inspection, he invited 50 peo-
ple along for the journey. It was the ﬁrst
time since 1916 a sternwheeler had car-
ried passengers between the two cities.
All ages long for a chance to behind
the wheel and Richard lets them, from a
5-year-old boy in a sailor’s outﬁt cele-
brating his birthday to a 106-year man
checking an item oﬀ his bucket list.
Thousands have taken home Junior
Captain certiﬁcates over the years.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2021
The Chesbroughs are selling both the
boat and the business, which includes a
16-passenger shuttle bus and a stretch
limousine. The boat’s kitchen is fully
“It’s a turnkey system for anyone,”
Continued from Page 1A
Six months later, they exchanged
wedding vows on the bow, and it’s been a
love aﬀair ever since.
The Chesbroughs met while working
in real estate at Coldwell Banker in Cor-
vallis. The purchase and business ven-
ture fulﬁlled a dream for both. He had a
passion for boats and always wanted a
sternwheeler. She had a degree in res-
taurant management and always want-
ed a restaurant.
“This was a merger of us,” Barbara
He retired, she continued to work in
real estate to help pay the bills in the be-
ginning, and they launched a business
plan to bring ﬁne dining, leisurely tours
and live entertainment to parts of the
Willamette River previously known only
to water sports enthusiasts.
The Willamette Queen sternwheeler cruises along the Willamette River in Salem.
BRIAN HAYES / STATESMAN JOURNAL
The Willamette Queen is a scaled-
down likeness of Mississippi river-
boats from the 1800s. The double-
decker has ﬁligree trim and fluted
smokestacks with 16-foot paddle-
It was built in 1990 for a failed New-
port tour business and had been oper-
ating in Columbia River Gorge when
the Chesbroughs purchased it from
the city of Cascade Locks.
ing. The ﬁrst few cruises had less than a
dozen passengers, which didn’t cover the
cost of fuel.
They’ve since been able to limit seat-
ing in the dining room, and they’ve add-
ed public excursions to the schedule, in-
cluding a Juneteenth dinner cruise Sat-
urday and a Father’s Day brunch Sunday.
Dinner and brunch cruises cost $58
for adults, $28 for children age 4-11, and
are free for kids younger than 4. Reserva-
tions are required. Reserving the boat for
a birthday party or other event costs
about $30 per person if lunch is included
(minimum of 15 people), and $15 per per-
son for just an excursion (minimum 20).
white nationalist hate group Patriot
Front, which formed in the aftermath of
the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Char-
lottesville, Virginia, were placed in front
of and around Epilogue Kitchen &
Cocktails on High Street SE. Epilogue is
owned by Jonathan Jones, a Black resi-
dent and business owner who has been
involved in local Black Lives Matter ef-
Some hope seen in survey results
Despite revealing growing sympathy
for white nationalist arguments, Schu-
biner thinks the survey should also be a
source of hope.
About 86% of those surveyed indi-
cated they agreed America has to pro-
tect its multicultural heritage. And 70%
thought people of color in the country
A majority of Oregonians surveyed
also indicated paramilitary and militia
groups associated with the far-right
were dangerous and disruptive.
About 69% indicated laws should be
created to limit protestors from being
Several protests in Salem over the
past year have involved individuals car-
rying ﬁrearms. In March, armed indi-
viduals clashed with demonstrators at a
gathering near the Oregon State Capitol.
Four people were arrested and multiple
people were detained.
Along with weakening support for
multiculturalism, the survey revealed
increased alienation and dissatisfaction
with democracy in the United States.
That dissatisfaction was especially vis-
ible in younger Oregonians.
About 44% of Oregonians age 18 to 29
surveyed indicated they were satisﬁed
with democracy in the country. Satis-
faction was at 62% with people 65 and
The Western States Center hopes the
survey will show how “there’s wide-
spread recognition of the harm of politi-
cal violence and tactics signiﬁcantly re-
lied upon by white nationalists and far-
right and paramilitary groups to civic
participation, businesses, democracy
Caitlin Davis CFP® Chip Hutchings
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