Top entranceway designs selected

SALEM – A team from Butech-Bliss submitted the winning entry for the Salem Entranceway Design Contest. But submissions by Kirk Poffenberger and Jennifer Brown came close.

So close that parts of all three may end up in what the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce plans to build to welcome visitors to Salem.

Chamber Executive Director Audrey Null reported that first, second and third place were all within 20 votes of each other, out of nearly 600 votes cast, when the totals were tallied after the March 14 voting deadline.

“Taking that into consideration, the committee has decided to take design elements and concepts from all three and take those common themes to design the final sign,” she said.

Butech-Bliss came in first, followed by Poffenberger and then Brown.

The winning design artist was supposed to receive a $100 honorarium and a signature plaque on each of the signs, but Null said Butech-Bliss has declined the prize to instead donate a lot of time to the project and work on the final design. She said they’re hoping to have the final design for the entranceway signs later this month.

“Our goal is to have one , if not two, built this year,” she said.

Members of the chamber’s Entranceway Committee, Salem Chamber Board of Directors and city administration, including Mayor John Berlin and Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst, reviewed 44 entries received and narrowed them down to the final eight, which were then published in the Salem News and on the newspaper’s website at under Extras.

Null said the voting was split evenly between online votes and paper ballots. The entrants in the contest included Salem High School art students of Lisa Fredericks. Null also said the SHS industrial technology class taught by Ken Peters studied the eight final entries for a class project.

Some of their impressions were shared with Null, noting that maintenance was going to be an important element, especially with the designs that incorporated lights or flowers. The students observed that those designs will only work if the bulbs are kept lit and the flowers are kept groomed.

“Otherwise they become a poor first impression, especially for someone looking to relocate here. Maintenance would need to be current and well done,” they said in an evaluation sent to Null by Peters.

The idea of new entranceway signs came out of the Salem Area Sustainable Comprehensive Plan released in 2008 with assistance from OSU Extension. Null said the chamber has $18,000 set aside, with city council agreeing last fall to provide a match from council contingency money of up to $21,000 to help with the cost of the project. The contingency money that council set aside came from the check the city received for signing an oil and gas lease for city-owned property.

Null said a couple of businesses have also stepped forward to offer in-kind donations of labor and materials for the project. The goal is to build at least four entranceways to the city. Currently there are City of Salem signs along South Lincoln Avenue, North Lincoln Avenue and West State Street, with no signs at the east end.

She said the committee will be deciding what to do with the old signs, which also includes medallion signs for various organizations in the city. She said they hope to reuse those signs elsewhere, possibly in other locations. No decision has been made on where to place the new entranceway signs, but they’ll obviously be at points where visitors enter the city.

“The Beautification Committee of the chamber gave a wonderful presentation last week to emphasize the positive economic development projects that are happening in Salem. The Entranceway Project will also be a positive step in creating a favorable first impression for visitors to Salem,” Null said.

“We appreciate the outstanding response we received from the citizens of Salem and we again thank the Salem News for their assistance with this endeavor,” she said.