After growing for 85 years in Southeast Portland, the removal of this Giant Sequoia was not easy task …

For longer than eight decades, this Giant Sequoia has been an Eastmoreland landmark.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dying trees having to be removed aren’t much of a story. But when building contractor Michael Harding alerted us that a Giant Sequoia was about to be removed, we took a look.

“Marian Bowman and her family moved here for over two decades ago,” Harding told us. But she wasn’t home today: “She couldn’t stay here and watch her favorite tree being cut down.”

Harding said the homeowner had spent thousands of dollars over the years in an attempt to save the tree. But, both the city and neighbors were concerned because branches kept falling off and showing other signs of disease.

Next door neighbor Candace Primack and her daughter Rachel say they’re sad to see the giant tree removed.

Concerned about the tree toppling
“We could see the base of the giant tree from our window,” said next-door-neighbor Candace Primack. “I remember how fun it was to look out and see the huge trunk, covered with snow in the winter, or surrounded with plants in the summer. It’s something you’d expect to see in a forest.”

But, more and more, the limbs were dying, Primack stated. And it’s started to lean ‚Äì toward their home ‚Äì markedly over the past two years. “Especially during a wind storm, it was a real concern. As large as it was, if it fell over, it would crush our house.”

Having lived there for 12 years, Primack said she and her family were sad to see the tree go. “It is a historical part of the neighborhood.”

“The owner told me many times that the bought the home mostly because of the tree. I know she loved it and is heartbroken that it has to come down. It makes me sad for her that it will be gone,” the neighbor commented to us, as she watched workers saw off the Giant Sequoia’s remaining branches.

Arborist Tim Beiswanger (standing) works out a strategy for removing the tree safely with the massive crane’s operator.

Huge crane removes Giant Sequoia – in sections
“This Giant Sequoia used to be 180 feet tall,” said Tim Beiswanger, a “high climber”, in charge of safely removing the tree.

About 85 years ago, Beiswanger said, a botanist came up from California and brought Sequoia starts with him. “He’s the reason there are Giant Sequoias around here.”

Beiswanger agreed it’s sad to see any old-growth tree removed. “But I do get a kick out of doing high climbing. It’s quite a view up there. I can see downtown Portland, Mt. Hood, and Mount St. Helens from the top.”

The arborist explained that the Sequoia has been dying slowly, from the top down. “Now that it has started to lean over, it’s time to remove it before it causes serious damage.”

A huge crane on a massive truck rumbled through the neighborhood. It took hours for the operators to set stabilizing jacks, put on the counterweights, and prepare for the lift.

After part of the trunk was hooked onto the crane’s lift line, the arborist cut off a section.

Beiswanger scampered up the tree’s towering trunk and set the choker — a loop that secured the tree to the crane’s lift line. He a chain-sawed portion off the tree, and the crane lifted it, then deposited it in the bed of a waiting truck.

The immensity of the tree came into focus, as portions were lowered into a truck.

Within a few hours, the Sequoia was standing there no more. We were told the last section lifted out weighed in excess of 14,000 pounds.

Rings on the section close to the base of the trunk indicate rapid growth for most of its life in Eastmoreland.

Looking at the rings, Beiswanger pointed out that the tree grew about an inch in diameter every year for decades. “It still was growing about a half-inch a year.”

The tree will live on, as art, the arborist said; the wood is destined for a decorative carver located just south of Oregon City on Highway 99E.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Many people haven’t heard of, much less celebrate, “Bill of Rights Day”. See why freedom activist Renee Kimball took it upon herself to organize a party to celebrate the signing of the amendments to the US Constitution ‚Ķ

Party organizer Renee Kimball reads the Bill of Rights to a crowd packed in the museum at “The Bomber” restaurant.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
American people live to celebrate all kinds of events. Sellwood resident Renee Kimball says she doesn’t understand why folks don’t observe Bill of Rights Day. But she’s determined to change that.

“This little-known holiday,” Kimball tells us, “commemorates the signing of the first Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution in 1791.”

We talk with Kimball at the Bill of Rights Day party she and her friends are throwing at The Bomber Restaurant’s “Wings of Freedom” aviation museum in Milwaukie on December 15. “It’s a fitting place, don’t you think?” she asks.

Most important to her, Kimball says, is that people understand that the Bill of Rights is the legal documentation that protects the freedoms and privileges enjoyed by United States citizens.

“There is big difference between a constitutional republic and a democracy,” Kimball explains. “Hitler and Mussolini were elected by democracies. The word ‘democracy’ isn’t in the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, nor Bill of Rights. It was not by accident our nation’s founders specifically created a constitutional republic.”

The year before, Kimball says, she celebrated the day by reading the Bill of Rights and handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution in a corner of Pioneer Memorial Square in downtown Portland.

“It occurred to me that people were more interested in enjoying their freedoms than learning how to protect them,” says Kimball. “So I decided to make a bigger deal out of it this year.”

Gordon Leitch tells the Bill of Rights Day celebrants the historical importance of the document.

Freedom fest at The Bomber
More than 50 people attended this year’s Bill of Rights Day party, the first event of its kind ever held in Oregon.

During the opening social hour, freedom revelers enjoyed a beautiful spread of finger food, talked, and explored the museum’s exhibits.

Then, the gathering sat to hear Gordon Leitch present a short history of the Bill of Rights. Kimball read the Bill of Rights to an attentive audience.

We rubbed our eyes to make sure we weren’t seeing ghosts, as Benjamin Franklin gets ready to step off the pages of history and into the celebration.

A special “mystery guest speaker” scheduled to close the ceremony was Ben Franklin himself, well portrayed by Steve Jordan, impersonator extraordinaire.

Plans are in place, Kimball tells us, to repeat and enlarge the celebration next year. For more information or to be invited next year, contact Kimball at 503-238-6973 or

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Read why so many of Robbie Pfeifer’s friends will be saying their final good-byes at a service this weekend to this manm slain by a stranger with a gun ‚Ķ

Friends say Robbie Pfeifer was a regular fixture here at the “Wetlands”, playing pool and listening to music, after he worked his evening shift at the Parkrose Shari’s Restaurant.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
A disagreement between two women, late on Christmas night, turns into a scuffle at a landmark pub on outer SE Stark St., “Wetlands Public House”.

The physical altercation soon includes several individuals, police detectives say, and then — a 21-year-old man pulls a gun and shoots.

Police roll on-scene shortly after 1:30 a.m. and find 28-year-old Robert Carl Pfeifer, “Robbie” to all who speak of him, lying dead on the establishment’s floor.

Detectives interview 15 of the 40 or so people on hand to celebrate the end of Christmas Day at the Wetlands. After the questioning, Lai Ngoc Thach is taken away in handcuffs, charged with one count of Murder.

Sorrow felt throughout outer East Portland

Everyone with whom we spoke says Robbie Pfeifer was a big, loveable guy who tried to soothe and calm situations wherever he went. (Contributed photo)

Tears well up in the large, dark brown eyes of Candy Woods, a fellow employee at Shari’s Restaurant in Parkrose, as she starts to talk about Pfeifer.

The two were within a year of being the same age she said. They’d been classmates a decade ago at Parkrose High.

“Robbie was a loveable goofy guy. He’d do anything to help people who needed his help.”

Woods shows us a photo she’d recently taken of Pfeifer. “I just got the film processed today. I’m afraid it might have maple syrup on it,” she says with a faint smile. “It’s been passed around a lot here.”

She learned what happened to Pfeifer when she came to work the following day. “Everything just paused. I don’t know how to explain the feelings I felt. I said to myself, ‘No, I don’t think so. Not Robby.’ I called his home and ‚Ķ” her words trailed off.

A “gentle giant”, the 6′ 3″, 230-pound Pfeifer often stood tall, trying to calm tense situations, Woods tells us. “To be honest with you, he’d break up fights and get people to calm down even when we were in high school.”

A coworker adds, “Last year about this time, he got a black eye from trying to break up a fight.”

This simple sign on the door of the San Rafael Shari’s Restaurant in Parkrose marks the passing of a beloved coworker and employee.

Shari’s customer Frank Ryan tells us he’d been waited on by Robbie for quite some time. “He’d goof around and say things like, ‘Oh, you’re back again!’ He had a big, warm smile that made you feel like you were special.”

Employees talk at the end of the counter. The grief they express to one another shows on their faces. Heartfelt phrases like “They say only the good die young,” and “I can’t believe he won’t be walking through that door” hang in the air. His coworkers struggle to make sense out of a senseless act of violence.

His boss, talking to customer Ryan, says, “Robbie was a peacemaker. In this case, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Alleged killer held without bail

Homicide detectives say customers at the “Wetlands” pointed out 21-year-old Lai Ngoc Thach as the man who shot Pfeifer.

Police arrested Lai Ngoc Thach, who lives in outer East Portland, at 6:30 a.m. on December 26, and is held without bail at the Justice Center Jail on one count of murder. He was arraigned the following day.

Detectives believe there may have been up to 40 potential witnesses inside at the time of the shooting; however, many fled the scene prior to police arriving. Anyone with information to contribute is asked to call Detective Brian Grose at (503) 823-0757 or Detective Bryan Steed at (503) 823-0395.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

We were shocked to learn that Multnomah County Sheriff Office Deputies were rounding up 80 children and checking them into the Inverness Jail just before Christmas. Read this story see what we learned about this incredible occurrence …

Some of the many Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office workers who put this unique party together stand by the piles of gifts they’ve wrapped for their guests.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Having covered so many events in outer East Portland over the past years, we thought we’d seen everything.

But when Lt. Jason Gates, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) spokesman, told us their organization was about to throw a party for kids at Inverness — the county jail — we changed our plans for the day and accepted his invitation to see this event for ourselves.

In the slammer
Clang, clack ‚Äì the door securely closes after we check in at the county jail. It gave this seasoned reporter a queasy feeling. Before this moment, we’d never been inside our metropolis’ working jail.

Those unsettled feelings evaporated when we entered a large training room at the facility. We were warmly greeted by Sandy Kaufman, Sheriff’s Operations Supervisor, a civilian staff member.

Sheriff’s office tradition continues
“Welcome to our 17th annual Holiday Party for Homeless Children,” she said. “Every year, all of the Sheriff’s staff members, uniformed officers, and civilian staff members all get together to we throw a big Christmas party for the Community Transitional School.”

Kaufman explained that this school provides an education for children of homeless families. “Most of these kids only experience public safety personnel in a highly emotional situation. It’s important to let them know we are here to keep them safe.”

“Our staff members pick out tags and we buy gifts for the kids,” Kaufman told us. “They each get two toys and two articles of clothing.”

It is a rare and unique moment as we experience Inverness Jail boss, (Left) Captain Ray Adgers, and (Center) Sheriff Bernie Giusto singing in harmony the holiday classic, “Jingle Bells”.

Mid-morning on December 15, the big jail bus pulls up to Inverness, and 80 bright-eyed kids pour out and into the training room, decorated in holiday colors. Student mentors from Wilson High School arrived with the youngsters, and helped out at the event.

MCSO Captain Ray Adgers, head of the Inverness Jail and the event’s Master of Ceremonies, got the festivities quickly underway by leading everyone in a round of Christmas carols.

Sheriff Bernie Giusto conducts a “Junior Sheriff’s Deputy swearing-in ceremony” that ends with the words “‚Ķ and to tell everyone my favorite color is ‚Ķ green!”

International comedy star rocks jailhouse

Showing off one his lesser skills, Rhys Thomas juggles six balls.

Then, Rhys Thomas, an internationally known comedy juggler, took center stage.

He may look like an ordinary juggler, but Thomas’ unique routines, comedic comments, and theatrical timing kept both adults and their guests in stitches.

Lunch and a visit from ‘The Big Guy’
After the show, the young guests were treated to a lunch featuring Izzy’s Pizza, and a visit by “The Big Guy” himself ‚Äì and we don’t mean the sheriff.

Santa Claus made his entrance, sat on his throne, and talked with each the kids. Then, the sheriff’s office volunteers bestowed upon the children their gifts.

Why do they do it?

“These children would not have a Christmas without us,” Kaufman explained. “And, it’s our special way of giving back to our community we serve.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The 25 mph speed limit doesn’t slow drivers in a hurry; neighbors hope speed bumps will do the trick ‚Ķ

Traffic really flies along S.E. 41st Avenue, even when volunteers are out there urging drivers to slow down.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When Joe Macca called saying there was a problem with speeders along his street, he wasn’t kidding.

So, Macca and his neighbors held a “Safety Dance” event to gain attention to the problem. When we visited them, they weren’t dressed as “Men Without Hats” devotees, but were clad in yellow as they held up signs that read “SLOW” and “25 MPH“.

Their efforts made little difference on this day. Vehicles whizzed past us at astonishing speeds, estimated as fast as 40 mph.

Suzann Taylor, Joe Macca, and (behind the sign) Ryan Paulsen do the “Safety Dance“, trying to get traffic to slow down ‚Äì and to raise funds for speed bumps.

“Along S.E. 41st Avenue, between S.E. Steele and Holgate,” Macca told us, “drivers go dangerously fast. They really pick up speed coming north, and when they hit the curves for Holgate, they’re all over the road.”

Neighbor Suzann Taylor added, “I’ve been here for 18 years. It has been getting worse every year. I see near-accidents along our street every day.”

Speed bumps require neighbor’s votes
“The city has already designed a speed bump program for us,” Macca explained. “It is a five-bump program. One of them is in front of the Mayor’s house.”

But, getting the speed bumps installed is a matter of getting their neighbors to sign on to the program. “We need a super-majority, 60% of the residents on the street signing onto the project, to get speed bumps. After that, it becomes a donation issue.”

At $2,000 per speed-bump, the project will cost $10,000. 60% of the cost, he said, is paid by the city. “This means we need to raise $4,000. But, if we save one life, won’t it be worth it?”

If you’re tired of people using S.E. 41st Ave. as a bypass for S.E. 39th Avenue, Macca asks you support thus grass-roots speed-bump initiative.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Hold an ice cream social in December? Why not? See how Gateway area business people celebrated the holidays at this event …

On the menu at this holiday party was ice cream: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream ‚Äì and everything needed to make delicious sundaes.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Guests and members of the Gateway Area Business Association held their holiday celebration on December 8 at St. Therese Parish’s social hall ‚Äì with an out-of-the-ordinary menu: Ice cream.

It was served up by crewmembers of the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream store in downtown Portland, operated by New Avenues for Youth.

Kim Cottrell, in the New Avenues for Youth program since July, says the he’s learned to be a stronger, more self-reliant individual from it.

Enterprise manager for New Avenues for Youth, Fred Krug, told the group, “For every $1,000 we raise, we can train another individual.” They’ve trained 80 people through their Ben & Jerry’s store so far, he said.

The social event attracted community members, neighborhood leaders, and business people.

The GABA Holiday Event in photos

GABA member Frank Ryan sings a medley of holiday carols and tunes.

Portland Police Bureau’s Gateway NRT Officer, Michael Gallagher, thanks the group for their support, and passes the hat for a needy family in the area. Gallagher also showed images from GABA events.

Parkrose Public Schools board chair Katie Larsell, and superintendent of David Douglas Schools Barbara Rommel, present a memento of appreciation to Parkrose Schools Superintendent, Michael Taylor, who says he plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Meet GABA members
On January 11, come to JJ North’s Buffet, 10520 NE Halsey St. starting at 11:30 a.m. and meet with these fine business folks. Reservations are NOT needed. For more information, go to

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See what a great time Parkrose Business Association members had at their annual Holiday Party while they raised money for their causes. And, meet their award winners and new board …

Introducing the 2007 PBA Board of Directors: Wayne Stoll, immediate past President, Argay Square; Kyle Zieglar, Director, Castle Gate Realty, Inc.; Amy Salvador, Director, Rossi Farms; (behind Amy) Michael Taylor, Director, Parkrose Public Schools; Jon Turino, VP/Director, Farmer’s Insurance; Mary Brown, Secretary, Bob Brown Tire Center; Mark Eves, 2007 President, Eves & Wade, LLP; Marsha Lee, Treasurer, Copy Express Printing & Graphic Design; David Ableidinger, Director, Parkrose Hardware; Gail Bash, Director, Jackpot; Candy Bafus, Director, West Coast Bank; and, Terry Brier, Director, Davey Organicare.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The business folks in Parkrose work hard to raise money for scholarships and other worthy causes during the year. But, come December, they LOVE to party!

The banquet room at Steamer’s Restaurant was packed, wall-to-wall, with merrymakers on December 7 for the annual Parkrose Business Association holiday event.

The evening started and ended with a silent auction to benefit the association’s work.

There was a skit loaded with inside jokes, as “The Official President” (aka Gail Bash) and several PBA members presented a hilarious parody.

Even St. Nick made a surprise appearance. He gifted many folks with “Fresh Reindeer Nuggets” that looked suspiciously like dried prunes; and, a little something to help out the next morning. “They’re Sani-licious,” said Santa.

What else happened? Well, see the fun and festivities yourself, depicted in these photos:

Members and guests of the Parkrose Business Association enjoyed a festal board of gourmet taste and proportion prepared by Chef Edgar and presented by Hostess Eileen Stocker at Steamer’s Restaurant and Lounge.

The Parkrose High Debutants entertained with traditional and unique Christmas carols and holiday songs at the event.

Incoming president Mark Eves presents the President’s Gavel to his predecessor, recognizing the service of outgoing PBA president Wayne Stoll.

The Carl Lind Award ‚Äì is given to recognize an individual who lives and works in the community and provides volunteer service, demonstrates integrity and honesty, and is known for professionalism in business. Gail Bash (left) was this year’s recipient, seen here being honored by past president Goron Boorse.

Artie Johnson Award – is bestowed on a PBA member who has demonstrated faith, generosity, integrity, and care for others. This year, the award went to Mary Brown; Gail Bash makes the presentation.

President’s Pinnacle Award — an award created by outgoing PBA President Wayne Stoll — was given to the group’s treasurer (and Cruise-In “spark plug“), Marsha Lee.

Additional President’s Awards went to Alison Stoll, Gordon Boorse and Amy Salvador.

Meet them on January 18
If you have a business, or would like to do business in the greater Parkrose area, come this great group of folks at the next PBA meeting, and hear outgoing President Wayne Stoll deliver “The State of the PBA” meeting. Networking starts at 11:30 a.m., at the place at which you’ll get the best business lunch at town ‚Äì Steamers Restaurant and Lounge, 8030 NE Sandy Blvd. (east of NE 82nd Ave.); NO reservations required. Info:

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

This year, our Police Cadets did more than load food boxes into volunteer drivers’ cars on Sunshine Delivery day ‚Ķ

Taking a moment to pose for a “team photo”, Portland Police East Precinct Cadets get ready to load Sunshine Division food packages into volunteer drivers’ vehicles.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The date – December 16th. And all across Portland, police precinct stations are abuzz with activity early on a cold Saturday morning. This is the day volunteers take food boxes, prepared by the Sunshine Division, to families in need.

East Precinct Police Cadets stand ready to load the volunteers’ vehicles as the garage doors open.

We take a look outside, expecting to see volunteer drivers lined up for blocks. But, only a handful of vehicles are in the cue. “This isn’t good,” says NRT Officer Michael Gallagher, the Cadet program leader. “Maybe the prediction for possible freezing rain is keeping the drivers at home,” he suggests.

Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs helps load up volunteer driver Howard Johns’ truck. “It’s my sixth year,” Johns says. “It’s just a good thing to do this time of year.”

As the stream of volunteer drivers turns into a trickle, Commander Crebs wheels his car into the loading bay, takes delivery sheets, and the Cadets pack every nook and cranny of his vehicle with deliveries.

Cadets form a box brigade line to load every vehicle, including their equipment trailer, with food boxes they’ll deliver.

Determined to make their East Portland deliveries, Cadets round up and load all available cars, trucks and vans. Their spirit of teamwork shows as they pack their vehicles high with food boxes.

Police Cadets Kenny Bossen and Daniel Abbott finish loading a van with food packages they’ll delver to East Portland’s needy.

As quickly as possible, the Cadets deliver these food boxes. They return, reload, and head out again. “We’ll keep going until we’ve made all the deliveries,” Gallagher said.

Because of the volunteer efforts of the Cadets, many people in East Portland had a brighter holiday, indeed.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

This outer East Portland company is known, world wide, for innovating the “multi-tool”. Look at this, and see the soft side of these hardware folks ‚Ķ

Leatherman Tool Group volunteer employees Sunnie Espinoza, Dorothy Brady, LaVerta Eblen, Ina Ward, Richard Ward (in back) Beth Sullivan and Mike Jones gather just before they distribute gifts to needy families.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
It seems that people who invented and make the world’s best “tool chest in your pocket” multi-tool, aren’t just about hardware.

We learned the employees of Leatherman Tool Group, located east of the airport, have a soft spot for people in need.

Helping for a dozen years
“For 12 years, we’ve helped families in need,” explained sales specialist LaVerta Eblen. “This year, we ‘adopted’ three families.”

Eblen said they work with the Salvation Army. “They gave us information about three families in need. Through them, we learn their needs and wishes.”

With this “shopping list” in hand, company volunteers break down the list into a series of tags. Then, many of the 380 Leatherman employees anonymously participate by taking a tag or two, buying gifts, wrapping them, and putting them under the company’s Christmas tree.

“We give each family two to three weeks of food. Each person in the household gets several gifts. And, we fill huge stockings with gifts and goodies for each child,” Eblen told us, as volunteers prepared to deliver the packages on December 16.

In addition, Eblen said Leatherman that shops for, and provides, a complete holiday dinner, with all the trimmings, for each of the families.

Why do they do it?

“It unites us as a company,” Eblen replied.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

By the way, East Portland News Service was the ONLY
medium to put out the correct information on this story!

When you see the photos of the wreckage,
you’ll wonder how no one was killed.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The woman finishes scribbling a note, and stands, looking anxious, by the yellow police-line tape which cordons off the accident scene at SE 12th Ave. and Division St. on Friday, December 22.

“They say the driver of the blue car ran a yellow light. They’re wrong. I just want to get the injured driver my name and phone number. I’m a witness,” Judy O’Neill tells us, as we prowl the scene to report on the accident. We call over a Portland Police Officer; he takes the note to the victim, as she’s being loaded into the ambulance.

This victim was heading north on SE 12th Ave. when a TriMet bus blew through a red light heading north on Divison St., an eyewitness says.

We see a line of crumpled vehicles which, moments before, were headed west on SE Division St. TriMet officials, Portland Police Bureau Accident Investigators, and medical personnel swarm the scene.

Eyewitness to bizarre smash-up
Asked if she saw it happen, O’Neill tells us she had a front-row seat to the terrifying collision.

“I was going west on SE Division St., the first in line when the light turned yellow, so I stopped, letting people turn left [from eastbound Division to northbound 12th Ave.]. I was waiting to turn right [north] on SE 12th Avenue. The light had just turned red.”

Just before O’Neill made her turn, she says she hesitated when she saw a blue car come north on SE 12th Ave., crossing Division St. on a green light.

“The bus just started going east on Division,” O’Neill states. “He’d been stopped picking people up. He went into the intersection, even though he had the red light. When the blue car entered the intersection and the bus hit the car.”

When the bus then lurched toward her car, O’Neill says she turned north on 12th Ave. to get out of the way.”

“I looked and saw the bus continue hitting car after car after car — not slowing down. Then it headed across the street, and took out the power pole, and came to a stop in the yard.”

The hot dog vendor at SE 12th Ave. and Division St. said he was surprised the bus didn’t slow down while smashing into vehicles ‚Äì until it was stopped by the utility pole. Look at the tire marks on the pavement!

Witness calls it a “surreal situation”
Matthew Breault owns and operates a vending cart, “Hot Dog Ernie’s”, at the intersection. Breault says he witnessed the smash-up looking eastward along SE Division St. from the NW corner of 12th Ave.

“The first thing I heard was a crash,” Breault tells us. “I looked up and saw the bike rack had fallen down on the front of the bus and was bouncing. In the intersection, the bus started drifting left [north] and hit a lot of [westbound] cars stopped, waiting at the red light.”

The TriMet bus hit the vehicles with such force, Breault added, it pushed and turned each of them several feet.

“What was odd was that the bus didn’t slow down,” continues Breault. You could hear the roar of the engine. It wasn’t speeding up. It sounded like something was wrong, like the bus driver’s foot was stuck, or had some kind of problem. The way it just kept going ‚Äì it was surreal, very surreal.”

Although at least drivers are left with heaps of twisted metal which moments before had been vehicles, only one person was sent to the hospital by ambulance.

Police and TriMet officials say “Under Investigation”
On scene, TriMet’s Peggy Hanson confirms a Route #4 TriMet bus was eastbound on Division St. and the twenty to thirty passengers on that bus weren’t seriously inured.

“Our [bus] driver is fine, and waiting to be interviewed,” Hanson says.

Some media outlets quoted TriMet’s spokesperson, Bruce Solberg, as saying the light was green for the bus, and that the blue car ran the red light and hit the bus.

We called Solberg to verify the reported statement, and he told us, “There are conflicting reports regarding who had the green light. We do have video on the bus, and a satellite system that will give us a lot of data. What would be most accurate to say now is that this incident is still under investigation.”

Police officials say it take some time to collect all the facts and that this accident is under investigation.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

He claims that music truly is the “universal language” ‚Äì see how Rich Glauber uses jokes and songs to tempt kids into the library ‚Ķ

Using the magic of music to make friends with kids, Rich Glauber brings his program to Sellwood Branch Library as part of its Fall Programs schedule.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Portland-area musician Rich Glauber travels the globe as a performer. Recently, he has appeared in Costa Rica, Israel, and Spain.

So, what was this classically-trained musician doing – first sitting on the floor, then dancing around the meeting room – at the Sellwood Branch Library on November 4?

“I’m doing my favorite thing,” Glauber told us, “sharing the wonder and delight of music with kids.”

Early in the program, some parents acted concerned when their little ones started sitting closer and closer to the musician. “It’s OK, we’re all having fun today,” Glauber said as he started into his next song.

It wasn’t long until both children and parents fell under Glauber’s spell.

Because he brought a large number of percussion instruments, soon listeners became performers as he played and sang original songs.

Glauber wasn’t sitting on the floor for very long. Soon, playing his Tango Accordion, he was more like the “Pied Piper”, leading both kids and adults around while they sang and did an eclectic dance.

Says libraries are ‘positive energy places’
As Glauber was getting ready for his show, we asked him why he liked performing in, of all places, libraries.

“The library is one of the last bastions of positive energy in the community. It is a place where the arts can live.” With funding problems, he added, it is difficult for schools to bring in special music programs.

“Look at these kids,” Glauber beamed. “From toddlers to young teenagers, parents and grandparents, they’re all here to enjoy the program. I look to put out positive energy into this positive place.”

At other locations, we’ve seen Glauber put on his energetic program. But, does he get anything back from his young audiences?

“Absolutely! I get energy from all these smiles I see here today. I totally get back more good energy than I give. People are moving and having fun. It is a small room, but we’ll all be moving and having fun. As you saw, we get the parents moving, too. The kids see the parents get involved, and it turns them on to participate, too!”

When he’s not trekking around the globe, Glauber shares his “Music in Action” around the Pacific Northwest area.

For more information about Glauber, see

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn why cops say meth addicts keep them busy busting crime; get an update on how cops are battling sex-on-the-street prostitution; and discover “common sense” ways you can protect yourself ‚Ķ

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs, SE Crime Prevention Specialist Katherine Anderson and SE Precinct Commander Derrick Foxworth lead off Public Safety Forum at Vestal School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
People interested in getting the real facts about crime in Southeast Portland got to learn the real truth at a Public Safety Forum held at Vestal School on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Commander Derrick Foxworth gives a statistical review of crime in SE Portland.

After introductions, SE Precinct Commander Derrick Foxworth started off by telling the audience of about 40 individuals that, overall, crime was declining slightly.

“But we still fight crime every day,” Fosworth said. “Property crime and identify theft are the most prevalent crimes. In terms of dollar losses, it’s a huge problem. We need to apply more resources to it. We have two officers working full time in SE Precinct on identity theft issues.”

NTR’s crime-fighting role
A specialized group of officers, called the Neighborhood Response Team (NRT), work to resolve chronic neighborhood problems, explained NRT Officer Brendan McGuire.

Officer Brendan McGuire explains how NRT members improve neighborhood quality of life.

“We partner with Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Crime Prevention Specialists and city agencies to work on problems,” McGuire said. “NRT officers have the time to work on issues like drug houses, problem liquor establishments, and dance clubs with noise issues, as well as work on relationships with the transient communities.”

Regarding property crime, McGuire told the group that, in the vast majority of violent crimes, the victim and the offender know each other. “Property crimes are more randomized. A whole community can be affected by offenders who don’t have any ties the neighborhood.”

An example of a recent success, McGuire went on, was solving a string of more than 30 burglaries in the Sellwood area. “NRT Officer Heidi Helwig, through the combined efforts of several agencies, found the perpetrators came from transient camps along Johnson Creek.”

Meth fuels SE Crime
Typically, when we find someone doing property crimes, they are also doing drugs,” began SE Precinct Detective Dan Andrew. “And that drug is usually methamphetamine.”

SE Precinct Detective Dan Andrew links crime in inners SE Portland to meth use.

Andrew said a meth addict has “more energy than three normal people. And, all that energy is directed toward finding ways to buy more meth.”

While some criminal gangs will rent a truck and clean out an entire house, the detective said most crimes are cat burglaries. “They’re very bold. They’ll sneak in a doggie door; find an unlocked door or window. Inside, they’ll take a wallet on the counter or grab a computer bag.” If they find credit cards, he added, they’ll run to the nearest store and buy merchandise or draw out cash.

Gambling tied to drug use
While the crook’s ‘main urge in life’ is to commit property crime to fuel their drug habit, Andrew continued, they’ll also commit burglary, fraud, theft and car prowls to support their gambling problems. “We’re seeing a growing number of drug users who are also avid gamblers.”

Crook’s shopping list
According to the detective, jewelry is the most popular stolen item.

“Next are laptop computers, I-Pods, Palm Pilots, and cell phones ‚Äì they’re small, popular, and easily sold for cash. They’re always on the lookout for checkbooks, wallets, or anything that might contain a credit card.”

Common sense protection
Andrew gave attendees several “common-sense” ways to protect themselves which he also asked us to share ‚Äì especially related to laptops and small electronics.

“Many people have their entire lives, including banking information, on their laptop or Palm Pilot. At home, take a moment to slide your laptop where it can’t be seen. Don’t leave your laptop or small electronic item, in your car. In fact, don’t leave anything that LOOKS like it could be of value in your vehicle.”

Far too often, Andrew reported, people at Reed College set down their laptop or other device to buy a cup of coffee. “Even though it may only take a moment, when they look back ‚Äì it’s gone!”

“Keep a list of serial numbers for your expensive portable gear,” advised Andrew. “We can’t prosecute a case, nor return items, without positive identification.”

The detective advised against giving out one’s Social Security number. “No one needs a child’s Social Security. Don’t give it doctors, dentists, or other service providers. Too often, when the information is discarded, a ‘tweeker’ is waiting to get it.”

Form a Neighborhood Watch group: “When you see individuals riding their bikes in the dark, or wandering slowly through the neighborhood wearing a backpack, they are probably up to no good. When citizens work with their police–crime, and the fear of crime goes down, and livability goes up.”

Prostitution not going down along 82nd Ave.
Because 82nd Ave. of Roses acts as a dividing line between Southeast and East Precincts, officers from both areas are continuing their ongoing battle against street prostitution there.

Reporting on prostitution trends is Officer Jeff Kaer.

According to information presented by Officer Jeff Kaer, a disturbing trend they’re seeing is younger females being prostituted. “We find girls as young as 14 years of age working the street.”

Drugs and gangs fueling street sex
Other troubling trends include finding more drugs and weapons during their missions. “More and more, we see prostitution being a gang enterprise,” Kaer revealed.

“We’re running into more gang members who use young girls to make them money. They are violent people, watching their girls work.” He added that the gang members don’t appear to be protecting the girls; instead, they’re protecting their illegal business.

Kaer made it clear that prostitution is not a victimless crime. “In addition to the drugs, gang involvement and violence, there are neighborhood livability issues. We continue to see used condoms and needles littering lawns and curbs on side streets within a couple of blocks of 82nd.”

Missions attempt to reduce street sex for sale
The officer told the group that police missions target customers, “johns”, as well as prostituted women.

“When we make arrests,” Kaer continued, “we make a Prostitution-free Zone exclusion. It takes time for the exclusion to go through the system to become activated.”

Their missions, he said, run for about two weeks. “A lot of the prostitution disappears. Then, we wait for the exclusions to take effect so that they are enforceable.”

In a recent mission, about 30 prostitutes were arrested. And, with female officers acting as decoys, they also arrested 54 “johns” in one week ‚Äì with 41 vehicles seized for forfeiture.

“When we can make an exclusion stick,” Kaer said, “out of 80 arrests, only seven were re-arrested.”

Help for prostitutes
Sadly, the officer commented, very few prostitutes will turn in their pimp, or try to escape the business. “We’ve taken some underage girls into protective custody, but their pimp’s hold is very strong.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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