INDEPENDENCE -- Life jackets will be made available for free use by the public at Riverview Park as a response to the drowning deaths of two local brothers last year.
The "life jacket loaner station" was donated to the city by Safe Kids Willamette Valley -- an organization that aims to prevent fatal accidents among children -- and Salem Hospital. The gift was paid for with a $1,700 grant from the Oregon Marine Board.
Ten life jackets of varying sizes will be placed in a small, unstaffed kiosk near the dock at the park. Swimmers or boaters may check a jacket out and use it for the day. Return of the jackets will be on the "honor system," said Kelly Owen of Safe Kids.
Independence was chosen in memory to brothers Alvin Troub and Michael Runyon, who drowned while on a fishing trip last November, Owen said.
Jackets have been stolen at other loaner stations at Detroit Lake and Wallace Marine Park in Salem. Owen said if the same problem occurs in Independence, the program will probably have to be discontinued.
"We want to stress that these are life-saving devices," she said. "Hopefully, people will use them as intended."
A dedication ceremony for the life jacket loaner station is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 4, at Riverview Park.