Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the City of Salem, OR for being recognized as a community proud of its heritage, proud of its history, and committed to preserving its historic resources so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come.
I was not surprised to learn that First Lady Laura Bush and the Preserve America Initiative had recognized Salem for its historic and cultural preservation efforts and had named the city a Preserve America Community. I grew up in Salem and know that it is exactly the type of community that we want to preserve.
Salem, Oregon's capital is one of Oregon's oldest communities. It grew as a pioneer settlement around the Oregon Institute that is now Willamette University, and Salem's location in the center of the fertile Willamette Valley has allowed it to play an important role in Oregon's agricultural economy since statehood.
Over the past few years, a 33-member citizens' taskforce created the Downtown Revitalization Toolbox which has sought to address vacancy and rehabilitation concerns in the Historic Downtown by providing matching grants for historic building improvement projects. Through public-private partnerships, thousands of volunteer hours have been logged and over $8.5 million invested in Salem's Historic Downtown District.
There is a saying that good citizens are the riches of a city. Knowing the effort that has been made by the citizens of Salem to preserve historic treasures and create economic opportunities for local businesses, I can safely say that Salem is a wealthy city indeed.
I invite all my colleagues to join me in congratulating the City of Salem and the other communities across the country that have been designated as Preserve America Communities. It is through their efforts that our collective history and culture will be secured for future generations.