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Volume 140, Issue 10
March 11, 2015
Johnstone hired to lead Dallas schools
By Jolene Guzman
DALLAS — The Dallas School District
found what it wanted in its next super-
intendent in Colorado.
Michelle Johnstone, currently the su-
perintendent of Brush School District
in Brush, Colo., was offered and has ac-
cepted the job as Dallas’ new superin-
tendent starting July 1.
Monday’s announcement ends a
nearly nine-month search to find a new
leader after former superintendent
Christy Perry left to become the super-
intendent of the Salem-Keizer School
District last summer.
“It’s an extremely good fit,” said Mike
Blanchard, Dallas School Board chair-
man. “A lot of the qualities we were
looking for, she had.”
Among those qualities was finding
“an instructional leader that would
work in collaboration with our staff and
community,” Blanchard said.
Dallas’ search involved community
members, parents, district staff and the
work of a 27-member panel that helped
evaluate the 18 candidates who applied
for the post. Ten candidates were inter-
viewed and three finalists emerged.
“I think in the end, we found a really
good leader who really wants to come
to Dallas for what we are about here,”
Blanchard said. “The conversations
with her were all about learning and
that spoke volumes.”
See SUPERINTENDENT, Page 5A
IN YOUR TOWN
Who killed Marvin Bluebird?
That is the question for the cast of “Burden of
Proof” to contemplate — and eventually reveal —
when the murder mystery musical takes the stage
at LaCreole Middle School on Friday and Saturday.
As for the possible suspects — all with “colorful”
names, think “Clue” — this show has more than
enough to keep the audience guessing as the collec-
tion of strange and shady characters gather for a
party at the victim’s home on a dark and stormy night.
Could it be the fortune-telling couple, the
Michelle Johnstone has accepted an
offer to become Dallas School Dis-
trict’s next superintendent.
POLK COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY LEVY DEBATE
FALLS CITY NEWS
Small group reading time for first- and second-
graders at Falls City Elementary School begins with,
not a book, but stretching, singing and dancing.
OK, so it’s not that unconventional — the phon-
ics “dance-chant” helps them memorize letter
sounds, and the movement is an energy outlet for
a naturally fidgety age group.
The best part? Seemingly, the students look for-
ward to literacy song and dance.
Second-grader Allyssa Hurst walked into the li-
brary where Falls City reading specialist Suzi
Spencer was waiting.
Steve Tillery steps out onto the playground at In-
dependence Elementary School and is bombarded
“Look what I can do!” says Kenya Greene, putting
a hoola hoop over her head and spinning it
She next challenges Tillery, 53, to jump rope
with her, which he does, even though the rope was
made for someone much shorter than himself.
This will be the last year Tillery will be principal
at IES, a post he’s held for the last seven years.
He has taken a job as Western Oregon Universi-
ty’s director of clinical practices and licensure.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY THE ITEMIZER-OBSERVER
Public safety units throughout Polk County have to work as a team to hold criminals accountable for their actions.
All roads lead to Dallas
When it comes to arrests, it is the county, not the cities,
that is responsible for housing, prosecuting criminals
Editor’s Note: This is the
second in a series of stories
looking at issues and topics
that surround the Polk Coun-
ty public safety levy that will
appear on the May 19 vote-
By Jolene Guzman
POLK COUNTY — The
night of Oct. 5, 2014, two
men broke into several cars,
including a truck, parked on
Northwest Denton Avenue in
Dallas and grabbed a safe
containing a 45 mm pistol.
With their action, the sus-
pects — we will call them
“Smash” and “Grab” — start-
ed a law enforcement investi-
gation that led to prosecution
involving two police agen-
cies, the Polk County Jail, the
Polk County District Attor-
ney’s Office, Polk County
Drug Court and Polk County
this was no
b l o c k -
— in fact
t o r n e y
Silbernagel scribed it
and butter” — it is an exam-
ple of how the public safety
departments in Polk County
have to work as a team to
hold criminals accountable.
“It’s very much a system.
People don’t quite fully get
that,” said Marty Silbernagel,
community corrections di-
rector. “If you have more
deputies on the road, that is
only one piece. We need
(deputy) DAs to prosecute
and PO (parole officers) to
supervise. If one of those is
not there, it’s out of whack.”
In an effort to keep that
system in balance, the Polk
County Board of Commis-
sioners has placed a five-
year, 45 cents per $1,000 of
assessed property value tax
levy on the May 19 ballot for
voters to consider.
Here’s a look at how that
Dallas police, who took
the victim’s report, was the
first member of that team to
work the case. Officers lifted
fingerprints off the victims’
cars and sent them to the
Salem Police Department
Crime Lab for analysis.
On Nov. 24, officers were
given their first lead when
the prints came back as
those of Smash. Officers
found and questioned him
about the gun theft and
other car break-ins. He ad-
mitted his involvement and
also told police about his
partner in crime, Grab.
Further interviews re-
vealed the two had taken the
pistol and sold it for
cash, with the help of a third
suspect we will call “Middle-
After taking the gun,
Smash and Grab hitchhiked
to Salem to find Middleman.
See ROADS, Page 5A
In a tie-breaking vote by Mayor John Oberst, Bar-
ney & Worth Inc. was chosen March 3 to lead Mon-
mouth’s community engagement process.
The council was split down the middle between
BDS Planning, a firm in Seattle, and Barney &
Worth, based in Portland.
Councilman Marshall Guthrie said he liked that BDS
representatives didn’t come with a lot of preconceived
perceptions about the community of Monmouth.
“I thought they had other things going, includ-
ing a distance from where we’ve been that would
prove vital,” Guthrie said.
POLK COUNTY NEWS
The first Polk County Folklife Festival was all sun-
shine and smiles on Saturday.
Folklife celebrated the Willamette Valley’s varying
cultures with music, food and art. It was such a suc-
cess that organizers are already planning for 2016.
“I think tally through the gate was about 650 at-
tendees,” said festival program director Kurt Dugan.
“That was about what we were hoping for, so we
were really happy with the attendance.”
Dugan said including vendors, musicians and
festival staff, there were about 1,000 people roam-
ing the Polk County Fairgrounds & Event Center.
lic Library hosts its
session for young
children and their
10:30 a.m. Free.
Ash Creek Arts Cen-
ter is hosting a re-
ception for its latest
exhibit at MaMere’s
Bed & Breakfast in
5 p.m. Free.
The music of Radio-
head will be featured
during a concert by
the Western Hemi-
sphere Orchestra at
7:30 p.m. $1-$3.
The 2015 Rickreall
Spring Gun Show is
taking place at the
Polk County Fair-
grounds & Event
8 a.m.-5 p.m. $6.
takes on Western
Washington in a
GNAC softball dou-
uled in Monmouth.
The annual member-
ship meeting for the
Dallas Area Chamber
of Commerce takes
place at the Dallas
11:30 a.m. Free.
Spring sports have
arrived for area high
schools, as Perry-
dale hosts Gaston in
and softball action.
4:30 p.m. Free.