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  P.O. Box 93
  Salem, OR 97308

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Urban Alley,
Opening Soon

Houston Hawley,
Gregory Gilbert
and John McGrath

    Get ready for some bold changes in the alley where McGraths’s Fish House has called home for over 35 years.
    “I have always really liked this location.” “When we opened our new McGrath’s some years ago near Lancaster, rather than close the downtown location, we stayed open, it has always been so very popular.”
    The restaurant business is always changing and being re-invented.
    John McGrath is a profound risk taker. He’s betting big on his new downtown Salem adventure, Urban Alley. “There’s just nothing like this in Salem.” Go to the Pearl District in Portland... and you get the feel and the vibe of Urban Alley. The big difference is price. Gregory Gilbert, Executive Chef and conceptual architect, is bound and determined to create an eating establishment that is a great value.
    His dream is that everyone can afford to experience all the special cuisine he has planned. Gregory crafted his skills in Las Vegas, where you are only as good as your last entree. The menu is inventive and built on variety.
    Urban Alley has a brand new kitchen designed by Gregory along with a state of the art gas and wood fired grill. Urban Alley General Manager, Houston Hawlely has worked with McGraths since he was 17 years old. John McGrath is proud of Houston and it shows. “Houston is a hard worker.” Hawley is busy hiring staff and preparing the newly designed dining room and bar.
    From the front of the house to the back, John McGrath has a plan. Rip up the carpet... polish the concrete floors, this is new kind of place.
    The menu promises to please and surprise you with some flavors and dishes that reflect the seasons. Always fresh..Always local. Urban Alley is a Salem creation, not a cookie cutter franchise operation.
    For some loyal customers it may be difficult to face change. We will miss McGrath’s downtown . Your favorite table just became a completely new eating experience . Who knew there were so many different recipes for Bangers and Mash. When Gregory starts talking about food.. everyone gets hungry.
    There’s a Willamette Valley Cheese Board on the menu with locally sourced cheese, served with marionberry pepper jam, mustard, and crostini.
    There’s even Peppermint Panna Cotta on top of a cranberry coulis. How about a Lamb Burger grilled on Gregory’s very cool gas and wood fired grill, the burger is topped with heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions, arugula and tzatziki. Gilbert is one of those chefs that can build the kitchen, build the menu and select the right purveyors to supply the changing trends in his casual dining - Urban Alley.
    Soft Opening is scheduled for the middle of November.


(top): Ruthie Rouse, Garth Rouse,
Greg Jones, Rene Jones
(bottom): Greg Jones,
Lauren Jones, Tory Jones

    How many people have great careers where they get to work with pretty much their entire family? Not many. Well, that’s just not the case with 34 year old Greg Jones and his family-run business, Professional Benefit Services, Inc. (PBS).
    Jones was born in 1981 and raised right here in Salem. Dad, Greg, worked at as a systems analyst for PACC (Physician’s Association of Clackamas County) and for the state of Oregon. and his mother, Rene, maiden name Rouse, was the restaurant manager at the old Meier and Frank.
    His mother and father met in the 7th grade at Cascade Junior High and were salutatorian and valedictorian at Cascade High School, respectively. Jones is thankful that they set an unbelievable example for him as parents and people and he truly appreciates that he is so blessed to have the family that he has.
    The family business was originally named Benefit Services. It was started in the early 80’s and was purchased by Greg’s father, grandfather and uncle in 1989. They changed the name to Professional Benefit Services, Inc. and his uncle, Garth B. Rouse, took over operations. Rene came on a year later in the hopes that she could control her own destiny as a female in the world of business.
    His father came on board part-time in the late 90’s to help with IT issues as computer technology became a need. In 2000 he became full time at PBS.
    Ruthie, Garth B’s wife, joined PBS in 2004 as an administrative assistant. PBS is a third party administrator that specializes in administration of 401k, HRA, HSA, FSA, COBRA, transportation, and selffunded plans. They ensure that the plans are compliant per the IRS regulations and that they are in compliance with the plan’s legal document.
    Their services for self-funded plans, added in 2015, are similar but they also do everything that an insurer does. Self-funded plans are a type of insurance where employers bear more risk by paying the claims directly rather than paying a premium to have the insurer cover all of the claims. This can reduce the cost of healthcare by 30% but can expose the employer to additional risk.
    In May of 2015 they started a new venture, self-funded health insurance administration. They had an advisor they had worked with for nearly 20 years who needed a company he could trust to administer his self-funded health plans and PBS was that company. Recently, the company began working with a new client in Cordova, Alaska, on a new project that involves a “self insured medical” business.
    PBS has 35 employees, over 1200 retirement plans and over 600 health and welfare plans. Looking ahead, PBS is currently undergoing family business transition counseling as Greg and the other younger family members will be taking over as owners in 2020.
    Greg has three siblings, all of whom graduated from Oregon State. Younger brother, Mitch, 26, worked in IT for the state, but just this month began doing IT for PBS. Sister, Lauren, 31, Is the director of human resources for PBS and sister, Tory, 29, is in a developing position with PBS.
    Greg attended Salem Heights Elementary School, Leslie Middle School and South Salem High School. Athletics has always been a big part of Greg’s life and he competed in just about every sport offered year round. Baseball, basketball, football and track were all a part of his high school life with baseball replaced by track when he was a junior at South. He ran the 400 meters and threw the javelin.
    But football is where he really stood out. As a 185 pound junior linebacker for the team, he was getting some serious looks from Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona State football. Then came his senior year.
    He put on 30 pounds for his senior year and was playing some of the best football of his life averaging 19 tackles a game. In his fourth game of the season, he blew out his ankle and missed the rest of the football year. In spite of that, he’d performed so well in those few games that year that he was still voted third team all-city at the end of the season. But that was of little consolation.
    The ankle injury was problematic even after graduation from South in 2000. After the injury, only a few smaller schools were interested in him for football. But Oregon State was where his heart was and that was also where an outstanding engineering program resided. And though football was important, his education was the top priority and engineering was something he was very, very interested in pursuing.
    Enter his uncle Garth B. Rouse, who played for Oregon State in the 80’s, and his grandfather, Garth T. Rouse who played for OSU in the 40’s. They got his highlight playing tape to OSU coach Greg Newhouse. Newhouse called Greg in June and asked him to come in and meet with him. He reviewed the tape with Jones and later asked if I would be interested in walking on as an invitee. “Yes”, was his answer! OSU, football and engineering it was!
    Jones had a great red shirt year in football and looked forward to the following season. But that summer a terrible accident happened at the Three Pools area on the Santiam River when, while trying to cliff jump into the water below, he lost his balance and fell about 25 feet to the rocks below. Lucky to be alive, he severely injured his ankle again, and only one day before fall camp was to begin. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
    Loaded up on drugs, he showed up for Beaver football. But from that day on, even as he soldiered through the pain for two additional years, his football career was an everyday very uncomfortable struggle. The ankle became so bad that he decided to give it up his senior year. Time to fully concentrate on academics.
    Greg Jones graduated from Oregon State in 2005 with a bachelors degree in engineering. Education obtained! Life goes on. He was immediately hired by Kyocera in Vancouver, Washington, as a process engineer.
    By the end of his first year he was managing three production lines producing ceramic aerospace components. It was an exciting job that he really enjoyed but it was very busy and he would typically work a minimum of 50 hours a week, many times going 60+ hours a week. But, being a single guy, that was no problem. Then he met Diana Vega from Aumsville.
    They met at a friend’s birthday party in May of 2008. It was “love at first sight” according to Greg. And judging from the subsequent turn of events, it must have been the same for both of them. Greg and Diana were married on November 28, 2009.
    When Diana became pregnant, working all those hours in Vancouver wasn’t very attractive anymore. That’s when he made the decision to do what was best for his family, drop the 50 and 60 hour weeks and come back to work at the family business in Salem in 2010.
    At PBS, he started working on every line of business they had with some time dedicated to process improvements and control. He was promoted to director of operations in 2014 and has been managing all aspects of the business ever since.
    Wife, Diana, is a teacher at Lollypop Preschool in Keizer. She plans to go back to school at Western Oregon possibly next fall to add to her education. Greg is also looking at going back to school next fall. He would like to get either his masters in engineering at OSU or a law degree at Willamette. Both would be useful for his work at PBS. That decision will be made in the coming year.
    Besides Jones’ engineering expertise he’s also fluent in Spanish. He had 5 years of Spanish in high school and one year in college. He did two separate 5 week studyabroad trips to Torredembarra, Spain, and credits those experiences for having a very positive effect on his life and how he sees the world. He maintains a very close relationship with that family in Spain to this day.
    The Jones’ have two girls, Kailyn is 5 and Kya is 3. Enjoying the family with bike riding, park outings and summer boating, are top priorities to them when they’re not working. Greg also loves exercising at PhysiQ Fitness (where I met him), racquetball and one on one basketball with his brother.
    Note to non-profits in the area, PBS is looking for a primary non-profit community partner. They have a strong commitment to take good care of their community and their employees and continually encourage them to involve themselves in community services in Salem and Keizer.
    PBS is located at 1193 Royvonne Ave SE, Suite 22 in Salem. Their phone number is: 503-371-7622. Their web site is: If you see services they provide listed in this column that your business could benefit from, contact them. I haven’t met other members of the family but I do know Greg Jones very, very well. And if Greg is any indicator, you won’t find a more capable business or nicer people on the planet. It really is, a family affair. Of that, I’m sure!

Bill Isabell is also chief meteorologist for KBZY Radio, Salem’s First Choice, 1490am

Rich Duncan, Project 807 EMHE
As a company we have learned an invaluable lesson in how to approach and complete a project with success.

Rich Duncan on the job site

    Today we are complete with the project called 807, eighth season seventh build. Some fun facts: from the day we said we would take on the project till breaking ground was 43 days. This included design, plans, civil and structural engineering, oh and even permits.
    The project was as some know two projects with a 12,000 SF renovation of the current haunted house, called the "The Nightmare Factory". This renovation included structural upgrades, fire life safety, electrical and controls to create a safe structure for the haunted house, and to continue and be the fund raising event the school & kids depend on.
    The Second project was to start from scratch and build a new boys dorm. We were able to build the commons area and one wing of the dorm for about 4000 SF of space, including all the infrastructure for the complete building of 48 beds, about 15,000 SF Total.
    From the beginning our team with the help of Architect Gene Bolante and the City of Salem's McRae Carmichael, set a goal of "LEED" GOLD, and with solar, an Eco roof and other energy and sustainable components we met it. This took us a record 131 hours to complete the two projects. We had over 5000 volunteers sign up online for just 850 six hour shifts.
    We had over 1200 trade volunteers. Our VIP tent had 10 functions with over 250 people attending each event. We served over 11,000 meals to the volunteers.
    We Reached our goal of 2 million dollar gift to the school and the kids. Talk about working together! Our lead team of 8 project managers worked 4 on 4 off working from 7 to 7 to make it happen. The trade leads for the project were top notch "Can Do" thinkers. Non-union and union workers worked side by side all doing a little, to gift a lot.
    I am the most proud that our community supported our company so strongly that even the Extreme Make Over staff had a good time and enjoyed their visit. No stress here.
    We just completed our photo compilation with over 1500 behind the scenes pictures. Call the office for a copy. The behind the scenes video including the show will be out early next month.
    As a company we have learned an invaluable lesson in how to approach and complete a project with success. I can't thank ABC enough for the opportunity. We have put the tools we have learned on this project in place already, saving time and money, as well as saving stress in our other projects. Thank you, to all who helped.