See why tots were tittering at this Midland Library event …

Young kids (and their parents) got a real treat as Penny’s Puppet Productions presented an original program at Midland Library.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not all programs at Midland Library are strictly educational.

“As a former teacher,” says puppeteer Penny Walter, “I call my programs ‘edutainment’ ‚Äì a combination of education and entertainment. In this program we’ll have some fun, inspire the youngsters to use their imaginations, and develop early literacy.”

In the program, the main character, Tommy, wishes to become a pirate. His wish comes true when he happens upon a treasure map, Captain Long Johns, and Crackers the Bird.

During the adventure, Tommy discovers that being a pirate isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and discovers something even more important.

Puppeteer Penny presenting her original story, “My life as a Pirate”.

After the show, we learn that Walter’s one-woman puppet company specializes in presenting puppet shows, storytelling, and consulting.

To earn her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education, Walter’s Thesis was entitled “Teaching with Puppets”. She taught primary grades in Portland-area schools for three years, before following her dream of becoming a full time puppeteer and storyteller.

Want to learn more? Check her website:

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Read why SamTrak owner Dick Samuels persistently pursues building the transportation museum – a facility promised to citizens by the city fathers more than fifty years ago …

Jim Abney, engineer of the 440-ton Portland & Seattle #700 steam locomotive, walks near the drive wheels which spread the tracks apart, causing the “Holiday Express” excursions, after many successful trips, to be derailed for the season.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For neighbors along the ridge above Oaks Bottom, the holiday season had an old-time touch ‚Äì the sound of a giant steam engine chugging along, as it pulled the “Holiday Express” excursion train from Oaks Park to OMSI.

Brett Engel holds Madeleine as they travel through Oaks Bottom ‚Äì and “back in time” ‚Äì aboard the steam excursion train. “We wanted to ride on this train from Oregon’s history,” Brett said, “so we came here from Portland’s west side to enjoy the journey.”

All Aboard Portland’s Holiday Express
When we boarded the “Holiday Express” at Oaks Amusement Park on December 23, the journey was sold out, with only standing room available.

The conductor’s call, “All aboard!” cut through the stillness of the morning, enshrouded in soft, “Oregon rain” mist.

Steam hissed from the valves of the mighty 17-foot tall, nearly 1 million pound locomotive, which was festooned with a holiday wreath and decorative electrical lighting.

Releasing the brakes, pulling the “Johnson Bar”, and advancing the throttle, Jim Abney, engineer of Portland & Seattle’s #700 steam locomotive, caused its pistons to turn the massive steel drive wheels ‚Äì first slowly, then more rapidly. Soon, a platoon of passengers were whizzing northward through Oaks Bottom.

Dick Samuels, owner of the “SamTrak” railroad on which the Holiday Express runs, shares with riders his vision of creating a rail museum ‚Äì fulfilling a promise made to Portland citizens more than five decades ago.

Weighty engine spreads tracks
The holiday revelers, plied with sparkling cider, home-made chocolates, and apricot delights, didn’t know that this particular ride was about to come to an abrupt end.

A little more than two miles from the departure point; the train lurched and came to a sudden stop. The railroad ties, softened by heavy rains, had allowed the steel tracks to spread just enough to allow the mighty locomotive to drop between them.

Crew members check the track under the #700. They discover that the 440-ton weight of the locomotive, over the course of some fifty excursion trips, had weakened the rain-softened railroad ties, and the rails to spread. The behemoth engine simply sank down between the tracks.

“We made about fifty trips this year,” engineer Abney told us. “It looks like we’re done for the season.”

The man behind the track
Richard “Dick” Samuels owns the railroad along which the Holiday Express runs. His Oregon Pacific Railroad Company ‚Äì often referred to as “SamTrak” ‚Äì transports freight between Inner Southeast Portland and Milwaukie.

A few days after our abbreviated journey, Samuels told us about his business – and his passion: A Portland railroad museum.

“We allow Oregon Rail Heritage Association (ORHA) to use our tracks as a fundraiser,” began Samuels. “Once we brought in our heavy equipment, it took about a half-hour to re-rail the train.”

He said the rail line was originally built to handle lightweight trolley cars, not freight. “We put in 400 new hardwood ties last year. We maintain the lines for our freight business.”

Rail Transportation Museum derailed
Samuels told us he’s a native (Milwaukie High School, class of ’62), and has always loved trains.

“Did you know that, in the 1950’s, railroads serving our area donated steam locomotives to the City of Portland, to be placed in a transportation museum to be built in Oaks Park?” He asked.

“We have two of only six large, operating steam locomotives in the world today ‚Äì and, fifty years later, they still don’t have a home.”

Samuels explained that ORHA volunteers have lovingly restored and maintained these engines, but they have been left subject to the elements, vandals, and thieves. “The tweekers [methamphetamine addicts] break in and steal whatever brass and aluminum they can sell for scrap.”

Importance of rail history to Portland
Railroads, powered by steam locomotives, provided the transportation necessary to help the Pacific Northwest, and the greater Portland area, grow and mature.

“A rail transportation museum,” Samuels continued, “will allow future generations to see how people traveled. They’ll be able to touch the actual equipment that built our great country. It would be a terrible loss for Portland if we don’t fulfill our promise to build this museum.”

A Milwaukie native, Samuels says he’s doing everything he can to make sure the citizens of Portland get the railroad museum promised to them at Oaks Bottom over 50 years ago.

Samuels takes action
“We’ve offered METRO to swap some of our Sellwood right of way ‚Äì in exchange for land owned by the City of Portland. The Oaks Pioneer Transportation Museum will be built, through private donations, on this land.”

Samuels said he thought METRO was receptive to the idea, by which he would exchange land he owns at the south end of Sellwood, wanted by METRO to complete the “Sellwood Gap” of the Springwater Trail, for a lease on the unused, former dump site south of Oaks Bottom and across from Oaks Amusement Park.

“It is a ‘win-win’ kind of deal.”

Liberty weighs in
Although he said he couldn’t comment directly on the land-swap negotiations underway, District 6 Metro Counselor Robert Liberty told us, “This will make the Springwater Corridor trail a lot more usable and important.”

Liberty emphasized that every added transportation option takes some pressure off the crowded highways. “And, as we complete segments of the trails, we find trail use increases throughout all of the trail’s segments. The easier we make it for people to bike or walk, whether for transportation or pleasure, the better it is for our entire community.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office busts another meth trafficker and surprises his customers, when they come around his Centennial neighborhood apartment to buy some dope¶

Tucked away in a back unit of this apartment complex was a dope dealer, ready to peddle 4,500 “hits” of methamphetamine.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Around the clock, deputies of Multnomah County Sheriff Office Special Investigations Unit (SIU) are sniffing out drug importers and retailers. And, they’re not looking for guys selling ibuprofen!

When the SIU gets a tip that a meth peddler had set up shop in a low-slung apartment complex in the Centennial Community Association in the 16100 block of SE Main Street a few days ago, they dropped by to pay a visit.

“It’s called a ‘knock-and-talk’,” Lt. Jason Gates, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s office, tells us. “Deputies just show up, and talk with whomever is at the suspected location.”

This suspect, Jorge Hijar-Taizan, alleged to be a meth distributor, has a new home address: the Multnomah County Detention Center. (MCSO photo)

About 8:00 p.m. on January 18, a “knock-and-talk” at 16115 SE Main St, Apt #5, puts them face-to-face with 29-year-old Jorge Hijar-Taizan, who is allegedly babysitting over a pound ‚Äì not ounce! ‚Äì of “ice”, another name for methamphetamine.

“During the course of investigation, our personnel discovered and seized 1.25 lbs of meth. Additionally, they discovered a digital gram scale, typically used to measure out quantities of methamphetamine for sale,” says Gates.

Drug buddies surprised
While at the residence, other potential suspects came to the location, not knowing the police were there, Gates adds. “They were detained during the investigation, but ultimately weren’t charged.”

To put the bust into prospective, Gates says 1.25 pounds of meth has an “uncut” street value of $35,840, which equates to approximately 4,500 “hits” or dosage units. “The dollar amount and number of dosage units can double or triple when the product is cut [diluted].”

The interesting aspect of this case, Gates informs us, is that with the decline of meth manufacturing labs in Oregon “we have seen a marked increase in the amount of meth coming from large drug cartels in Mexico. With the reduction in labs, over the past two years, SIU investigators are now seizing meth, originating from Mexico, by the pound.”

Hijar-Taizan is being held on charges of Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine), and Felony delivery of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamine), at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why eyewitnesses said they couldn’t believe their eyes, seeing the trailer’s singed resident still standing outside, after the explosion that rocked this Powellhurst-Gilbert trailer park ‚Ķ

Although officials still say this fire is officially under investigation, witnesses claim the lone occupant smelled natural gas just before he lit up a cigarette – apparently sparking a fireball that destroyed his mobile home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Folks who live in and near Ranchette Manor say this mobile home park is typically quiet and peaceful. But on January 24, an explosion, followed by a fireball, in this Powellhurst-Gilbert park on SE Powell Blvd. at SE 109th Avenue, stunned residents.

“I was emptying my recyclables,” Dave LaFollette, owner of the Back to the Grind coffee shop at the park’s entrance, tells us. “I hear a ‘pop’ and look over my shoulder. Then, there is an explosion. I see the top of Jerry’s single-wide trailer blow about three feet off the walls before it falls back into the trailer.”

LaFollette says he and others raced to the mobile home, now completely engulfed in flames. Many had cell phones in hand, calling 9-1-1 Emergency.

“Jerry, the guy who lives there, was standing outside. He looked dazed; and like he was badly burned,” LaFollette continues. “It seemed like the fire department was there immediately.”

The lone occupant of the mobile home is rushed to Emanuel Hospital, with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 30% of his body, in this ambulance.

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, shook her head looking at the twisted, burning metal shell that once was a home. “I’m surprised he’s alive and was standing outside. He said he went to light up a smoke, and the next thing he knew, he was on fire.”

Three-minute response
According to Portland Fire & Rescue’s official records, trucks started rolling at 1:07 p.m. and arrived on-scene 1:10 p.m. In all, four engines and two ladder companies from Portland Fire & Rescue stations 7, 11, 45 and 29 responded to the fiery explosion.

Firefighters keep the flames from spreading to nearby mobile homes in the park. The trailer where the fire started, however, is declared a total loss.

Fire medics treated and stabilized the patient while other firefighters began fighting the fire.

On scene, we speak with Battalion 3 Chief Chris Babcock. He confirms our witnesses’ stories: “We had a lone occupant in the trailer. He reported a smell of natural gas. Shortly thereafter, there was an explosion. He was transported to Emanuel Hospital with burn injuries.”

“Our firefighters face challenges fighting this fire,” says Lt. Allen Oswalt, the bureau’s spokesperson, as we stand together, viewing the smoldering debris at the scene. “There is limited, cramped access to the site; and, we are concerned that electric power lines might fall on personnel and equipment.”

The older mobile home park has narrow streets, making access more difficult, firefighters say.

Fire Investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue are treating the area as a crime scene, to keep any evidence in the debris field intact for recovery.

Although there are indications of a gas leak contributing to the explosion, fire investigators will only say the fire is still under investigation. The official word: “It is not known at this time what caused the explosion.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The police aren’t sure whether or not to charge the poor driver with “hit & run” since he walked away from the scene ‚Äì after giving his cell phone to the driver of the SUV he hit ‚Ķ

Cops try to sort out what happed in this violent smash-up on SE Woodstock Blvd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
During the mid-January snowstorm, we saw a number of accidents caused by drivers traveling faster than was safe for the slick conditions. Other wrecks were caused by speeding, running traffic signals or inattention.

The cause of this wreck left the police – and victim – scratching their heads. And, what happened afterward puzzled them even more.

On January 23, the driver of a Ford Bronco told us, “I was driving east on Woodstock, going the speed limit. Near the corner of SE 62nd Ave., I noticed a white car was going west. He turned south [on SE 62nd Ave.], right in front of me. Just like that ‚Äì just like I wasn’t even there.”

We’d noticed that the collision air bags had deployed in the small white car, which was now missing most of its front end, parked on the tree lawn across the street.

The headlight is still shining, on the vehicle whose driver was said to have caused the accident – and then walked away from the scene.

“What happened to him?” we asked the victim as she examined her vehicle’s flattened tire and crumpled fender.

“It was the strangest thing,” she replied. “A guy got out of the car. It looked like he had some kind of [colostomy] bag that had ruptured or was leaking.” The man told her he’d be right back, and needed to find a gas station. He headed west on Woodstock Blvd. “But, he left his cell phone with me,” she added.

Both vehicles were too damaged to drive and were towed from the scene.  The victim said she wasn’t injured, but did wonder about the condition of the man, last seen dribbling westward on foot.

Police on scene said they couldn’t comment on whether or not charges would be filed until they’d made contact with the absent driver.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Read what Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams had to say, before grant checks were given to the Gateway Area, Midway, Division/Clinton, 82nd Ave. of Roses, and Woodstock business associations …

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams meets and greets leaders of neighborhood business associations, at the grant awards celebration held on January 22.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Leaders of many East Portland business associations celebrated and dined for good reason on January 22 – they were picking up a grant checks totaling $82,125.

The event was the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Association’s (APNBA) grant awards, at the Ambridge Conference Center.

Patrick Donaldson, APNBA president, the event’s master of ceremonies, greets the assembled business leaders from across the city.

After a buffet dinner, the program began. Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams was on hand to greet the grant recipients.

Adams addresses APNBA
Addressing the group, Adams told the attendees, “Not taking anything away from neighborhood associations, it seemed to me that we also need to support our business districts. In addition to these grants, we have secured a grant, from the City of $250,000 to help support the operations of the APNBA.”

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams commends neighborhood business association leaders for helping small enterprises to grow and thrive in Portland.

Adams said that, for 14 years, citizens and politicians have tried to change the City’s business tax structure. “We were told businesses do not need tax relief. But, thanks to members of the APNBA and other members of the business community, nearly 14,000 businesses will pay lower fees, starting in about a year an a half.”

Concluding his remarks, Adams commended the business people saying, “You have stood with one another. You have shown what happens when you work with one another.”

Then, as he distributed the grant checks, APNBA president Patrick Donaldson called representatives of each group up, and recognized their projects.

82nd Ave. of Roses collects $9,500
First up, from East Portland associations, was Ken Turner, representing 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association.

Two grants were received on behalf of their organization by Ken Turner, president of 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association.

Turner told us, “One grant, for $5,000, will help us continue to install sign caps along 82nd Avenue to distinguish it as ‘The Avenue of Roses’. We’ve installed 66 sign caps so far ‚Äì this grant will go a long way to helping us cap all the signs.”

Their other grant, for $4,500, was “seed money”, Turner said, to help them organize an Avenue of Roses Parade on April 28, in conjunction with the Portland Rose Festival’s 100th anniversary. “In all, these grants help us gain positive recognition for our area as neighbors and business people work to improve the quality of life along the avenue.”

Division/Clinton Street Fair scores $3,500
Jane Baker was called up to receive a check on behalf of the Division/Clinton Business Association, over which she presides.

The check Jean Baker is accepting will help their association continue to produce their mid-summer event.

“Every year, our Division/Clinton Street Fair continues to grow,” Baker said. “This grant will help us do even more to help our business district promote our community.”

GABA gets $4,000 Fun-O-Rama map bucks
Allen Sanchez was invited up as the grant to the Gateway Area Business Association was announced.

GABA president Allen Sanchez collects their organization’s grant check for their business map project.

“In addition to our annual May Fun-O-Rama,” Sanchez told us, “we have a new project this year. We’ll be using these funds specifically to help businesses in our area put ‘their names on the map’, literally ‚Äì with a new area-wide promotional map we’re developing. We at GABA are all very happy about this. We’ll be more connected with the community ‚Äì and our customers ‚Äì thanks to this grant.”

Midway sign project awarded $1,250
Donna Dionne, president of the Midway Business Association, was next up, accepting their group’s award check.

Accepting the money for her group is Donna Dionne, president of the Midway Business Association.

“It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our association,” Dionne told us. “Our sign project also lets us work with our neighborhood associations, Centennial and Powellhurst-Gilbert, so we can better solidify the identity of our area. So, this grant means a lot to us.”

Woodstock gets online with $2,500
As Jane Glanville, president, and Barry Evans, VP, of the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA) came forward, Donaldson described how the funds would help the association better communicate among its members and the public.

Jane Glanville, president, and Barry Evans, VP, of Woodstock Community Business Association, pick up their grant award from APNBA president Pat Donaldson.

After the program, Jane Glanville told us, “This is a fantastic opportunity. These funds will allow us to start a Woodstock Business Association website. This project will connect everybody. It will help promote our parade and Woodstock Festival this summer. We hope it will allow everyone to participate in building a better Woodstock area.”

This association also serves the western half of the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood as well.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

There are more than books at your local branch library. See what others heard during this cultural – and entertaining – presentation …

Accomplished guitarist Alfredo Muro, accompanied by percussionist Dave Fischer, filled Midland Library with rich musical passages in December.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As part of a continuing series featuring cultural presentations of arts from around the world, Midland Library hosted an innovative program for its patrons a few weeks ago.

Although some said his commentary was slightly over-amplified, Lynn Darroch wove tales highlighting Latin culture artistry.

Entitled “Beyond the Border: Musical Stories of Latin America”, writer Lynn Darroch presented a series of narratives about musicians, authors, and others in the Latin world.

Those stories were set to music, performed live by guitarist Alfredo Muro, and accompanied by percussionist Dave Fischer.

Check our Community Calendar listings for other free, culturally-enriching events to be found at your Midland Library.

¬© 2007 ~ David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See part of the “pot” haul deputies have garnered
– so far – as this wide-ranging investigation continues …

Sheriff Deputies are tight-lipped about their ongoing investigation of a multi-location “pot-farming” network raising hundreds of plants, like these. (MSCO Photo)

Reported by David F. Ashton
We haven’t yet been allowed to see the operations for ourselves, but Lt. Jason Gates has confirmed to us that the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) Special Investigations Unit has busted three indoor marijuana farms.

According to Gates, “Two days last week, our personnel served search warrants at three locations in Multnomah County. [This action] resulted in the seizure and dismantling of large growing operations at each location.”

While deputies wouldn’t comment on this ongoing case, Sheriff’s Deputies indicate this pot-growing set-up is highly sophisticated. (MCSO photo)

Seized during the three “pot farm” busts, Gates says, were 920 plants, worth approximately $6 million in street value, and 8 pounds of harvested marijuana buds with a $102,000 approximate street value.

In addition to the pot, deputies are also cataloging a large assortment of sophisticated grow appliances, such as lights, airflow ducting, and industrial fans.

Outer East Portland connection
“This is an on-going investigation,” Gates tells us, “we can’t jeopardize the safety of our personnel, nor compromise the case. I can say some activity has been in your [East Portland] coverage area.”

Sheriff’s Deputies say these bags contain about 8 lbs. of harvested marijuana buds worth about $102,000 on the street. (MCSO Photo)

Gates indicates to us that there is more to this story. As it unfolds, you’ll see it here at East Portland News.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

While the residents will have some cleaning up to do, fast response by Portland Fire & Rescue companies kept damage to their house to a minimum – and no one was injured. Read a first-person account of the fire by the man who helped build the home, more than 50 years ago …

Homeowner Walt Allen showed us where he thinks the fire started, here, outside his house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The “Residential Fire” call came in just after 4:30 a.m. on January 19.

Within minutes, the flashing lights and sirens of trucks from two Portland Fire & Rescue companies cut through the cold, damp early morning fog, in this quiet Powellhurst Gilbert neighborhood.

The residents of this ranch-style house in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood already knew their home was ablaze.

“I heard the fire alarm, and thought I smelled smoke,” homeowner Walt Allen told us outside his house in the 13700 block of SE Bush St.

Confronts fire in living room
“When I came running out into the living room, I could see flame right where we have our television. I grabbed a fire extinguisher. It slowed the fire down.”

What he didn’t know, Allen says, is that the fire had actually started outside his home, and was burning through both the exterior and interior walls. “It must have created a lot of heat; it melted a lot of stuff.”

“My wife, Marion, and I got out OK,” reports Allen, “so did our dog. So far, the worst thing was my Golden Retriever ran off. We’re looking for him right now.”

Showing us around his house, Allen said he and his father-in-law built the home in 1955. “When they passed way, they wanted us to live here; we have for the last 20 years. We have a lot of history tied up here.”

Firefighters quickly doused the flames and kept the blaze from spreading through their 50-year-old home. This pile, in the driveway, is the “overhaul” (burnt materials) from the fire.

Behind his home, Allen shows us a fish pond. “We have an electrical system around it to keep the raccoons out. Its power system is what caused the fire.” He says most of the damage inside their home is from smoke.

Commends firefighters
“They did a good job. [The firefighters] showed up right away and got the fire out,” Allen says as we walk back to the front of their home.

Looking at the pile of burned debris (called “overhaul”), he said he was afraid some valuables were burned. “I’m not sure what’s there; maybe our cellular phones. I sure hope the new camera my daughter gave me isn’t there.”

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams dedicates the latest improvement to the avenue, and says why he’s championed the “Avenue of Roses” project. Discover why this effort is more than simply a name change‚

In this photo illustration, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, and president of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association Ken Turner, take a moment to admire the newly dedicated “sign cap”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
November 23, Portland City Council passed a resolution, “whereas, 82nd Avenue would be referred to as the Avenue of Roses”.

Is changing a highway’s name a meaningless gesture, as some naysayers would scoff?

Judging by the number of neighborhood leaders who have joined with businesspeople working to enhance the quality of life along the storied avenue, the benefits are just beginning to show.

A window on 82nd Avenue
Paul Ellison has had a “window on the world” of this avenue for over a decade. He’s the manager of Bank of the West’s SE 82nd Avenue at Division Street branch.

“Since we started the ‘Avenue of Roses’ project,” Ellison told us, “I’ve seen a lot more interest in creating a livable neighborhood by the community. It’s great to see new construction and new businesses coming here. Crime and street prostitution are declining. And, there’s a lot more ownership and pride in the community.”

Ellison, a board member of the “82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association”, added, “We’re seeing the rebirth of the avenue as we rename it ‘Avenue of Roses’.”

Capping the signs

Representatives from business and neighborhood associations gather, as Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams steps up to make the dedication.

As part of the avenue’s makeover, the business association started work on the sign cap project last year.  It has been funded, in part, by an Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Association (APNBA) grant from the City of Portland.

On January 11, neighbors and business people gathered in front of Eastport Plaza at SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Holgate Boulevard for the official unveiling of the sign caps.

APNBA president Pat Donaldson tells onlookers he was pleased to see this grant being used to post sign-top symbols of the avenue’s improvement.

“This is more than a ‘re-branding’ of this avenue,” Ken Turner, president of the street’s business association told us; “in addition to enhancing the image of 82nd Avenue, we’re creating an atmosphere in which the quality of life‚ represented by roses‚ will grow. With the unveiling of the sign cap here this morning, it indicates 82nd Avenue is undergoing a new beginning as well.”

Greg Zuffrea, president of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce was on hand. He told us, “This is a symbol of the avenue’s revitalization. The continued efforts of these dedicated citizens will bring a new perception‚ and prosperity‚ to this area of East Portland.”

Adams presides over the official un-veiling
Before making his remarks, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams told us, “I’ve supported this project early on. So much of the vitality of the city has shifted out here to 82nd Avenue and beyond.”

During his remarks to the crowd, Adams said Ken Turner deserved the credit for spearheading this effort. “I’m a big believer in the 82nd Avenue of Roses Project. And in the next few months, the Portland Office of Transportation will be investing $750,000 in improving transportation infrastructure on 82nd Avenue. We’re putting our money where our passion is‚ improving 82nd Avenue of Roses.

“Right now, we’ll unveil the sign cap. Within the next two months, I’ll introduce an ordinance before Portland City Council that will officially rename 82nd Avenue as ’82nd Avenue of Roses’.”

With a few gentle tugs, the sign cap was unveiled.

Within minutes, the ceremony was over.

A TV reporter stepped to Adams, and asked why the commissioner seemed to be so enthused about the project.

Adams responded, “To the people on Portland’s west side, 82nd Avenue is an unknown treasure. Getting people to see [this area] differently is why we’re doing this. This isn’t an empty gesture; it is a symbol of pride for folks in East Portland. I’m really happy to see businesspeople and neighbors working together to improve the quality of life in their area.”

Gathered together along the Avenue of Roses are Pat Donaldson, APNBA; Greg Zuffrea, East Portland Chamber of Commerce; Ken Turner, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn.; Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams; and, Paul Ellison, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See the fun we had at the last Fix-it Fair in Powellhurst-Gilbert a few weeks ago. If you missed it, mark January 27th on your calendar now. Read this, and you’ll learn how to save big bucks, and enjoy a free Burgerville USA lunch while you’re there ‚Ķ

Welcoming outer East Portland neighbors to the 20th Annual Fix-it Fair are hostesses Joellen Carothers, Genevieve Joplin, and Jill Kolek.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Is it too good to be true? A free event put on the City of Portland, that helps residents be safer and save money? And, that it’s primarily funded by businesses, instead of tax dollars?

Nope. Not it’s not a scam, when we’re talking about the 20th Annual Fix-it Fairs.

The last place this roving fair took place was a few weeks ago at the Alice Ott Middle School in Powellhurst-Gilbert. It attracted hundreds of folks who attended free classes, got free merchandise – and a free lunch.

Information free, for all
Jill Kolek, City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development, welcomed us to the fair, explaining, “This is a place where folks can meet with forty vendors to learn all kinds of money-saving ideas.”

The vendors don’t sell stuff, Kilek said — but instead, give information. Residents get community resource information like water conservation, gardening, posting, electric safety, and insulation, for example.

“The beautiful thing about this is that our partners contribute to putting on these fairs. Not only are Fix-It Fairs free to the public, they use city resources. And, they do people a world of good.”

Keith Berkery, with a little help from hard-hatted Felisha Mills, encouraged Rita Cook to attend their class. “The most important thing I leaned,” Cook recalled, “was that everyone should have a three-day emergency kit ready.”

Safety first
At one of the exhibits, we met up with our friend Kerry Dugan, the information officer with the Portland Office of Emergency Management.

“We give a class to help people learn the basic things they should do to prepare for emergencies,” Dugan explained. “One is to build a 72-hour emergency kit for each person in your household. Another thing is to make an emergency plan for both your home and business.”

The emergency class teacher, Keith Berkery, added, “The important thing is that neighbors should know how to first take care of themselves, then their family, and be willing to then reach out and care for their neighbors.”

Always promoting safety, Dugan reminded as we left, “Be sure to tell folks to come see us at Madison High School on January 27th if they missed this event.”

Multnomah County Weatherization Program’s Jessica Bowen and Tom Brodbeck team up with Rex Hollingsworth of Rex Heating, to help people learn how to stay warm while slashing their heating bills.

Keeping homes cozy
Has the cold snap left you shivering, while your energy bills shot up through the roof? Then you really need to meet Rex Hollingsworth, East Portland’s furnace expert, with 30 years experience in heating and cooling. “I’ve worked on a lot of homes across our area, as many as 500 a year.”

“I’m here teaching a furnace basic class,” Hollingsworth explained. “I volunteer to teach this class because when people learn how to maintain their furnace, it saves them so much money.”

Asked for his most important tip, he stated, “Change your furnace filters! If air can’t easily pass through them, your home can’t be efficiently heated. Remember, changing filters costs so little, but help you save so much money during the winter.”

Lunch, hot off the grill

Not only do you get free money-saving advice and hand outs, the Fix-it Fair also features lunch. Here, hot-off-the-grill burgers are being served by Kenneth Moody.

The smell of Burgerville USA lunches wafted through the building.

Before sampling the noontime repast, we asked Jerry Otto, manager of the store at SE 122nd and Stark Street, why they participate by giving away free lunches.

“We believe in fresh, local and sustainable products and services,” Otto told us, our mouth already beginning to salivate. “This includes renewable energy. That is our commitment as a company. We started partnering with the Fix-it Fairs last year by providing fresh, hot lunches to help bring people in.”

Last fair is January 27

Dozens of companies and agencies are on hand to give you money-saving tips, health, and safety information, or provide governmental resource information at the Annual Fix-it Fair, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Madison High School at 2735 NE 82nd Ave. of Roses on January 27.

This year’s last Fix-it Fair in East Portland is coming right up on January 27.

Exhibitors and hourly workshops offer practical, expert information on such topics as gardening, home health and safety and energy conservation.

If that isn’t enough, you’ll also find:

  • Prize drawings for compact fluorescent light bulbs, gift certificates to local stores, carbon monoxide detectors, etc.;
  • Assorted giveaways, including recycled plastic tote bags; and,
  • All-day on-site professional childcare.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Madison High School at 2735 NE 82nd Ave. of Roses on January 27.

For more information, call 503-823-4309, e-mail or visit

¬© 2007 ~ David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See who was roasted and who was toasted, at the 3rd Annual “Taxpayer Academy Awards” program held in outer East Portland

Comedian Mike Jenkins was the sidekick this year for KPAM’s Victoria Taft as they presented the 3rd Annual “Taxpayer Academy Awards” program at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Members and guests of the politically conservative, “less-government-is-better”, Oregon Executive Club are anything by stodgy.

On January 11, the club convened at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel for an evening of raucous fun, as they hosted their third annual “Taxpayer Academy Awards” program.

Don McIntire, president of the Oregon Executive Club, or “Chowder and Marching Society” as he calls it, introduces the evening’s program and presenters.

‘Awards’ based on research
The event’s sponsors, Oregon Executive Club and Taxpayer Association of Oregon, sent ballots out to 6,000 people. Respondents were asked to nominate candidates for awards such as Wiener Politician, Pork Barrel Project, and Bureaucratic Bungler.

Victoria Taft was on hand to MC the show, which was also broadcast, live, during her KPAM talk program. “We give out awards to those most deserving ‚Äì the biggest bungling politicians and decisions of the year,” Taft began.

“Look around,” Taft quipped, “Core members of the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ are here. There is a reason that Don McIntire’s phone number starts with ‘666’, people say.”

The onion-skin envelope please
Wiener Politician Award Winner went to [Oregon’s school] Superintendent Susan Castillo.
“With two days before school started, Castillo threatened to yank the funds for the approved charter school, the Oregon Connections Academy. This sent over 500 students and parents into chaos. Thanks to huge public support for the school and public pressure Castillo changed her mind.

Pork Barrel Project Winner was–hands down, we were told–Portland’s Ariel Tram.
“Lack of oversight caused costs to triple from $15 million to an astonishing $55 million.”

During a commercial break, 2006 Portland City Council candidate Dave Lister talked about his election try. He took jabs at Portland’s politicos and decisions. Judging by the response of his receptive audience, Lister landed several sound, comedic blows.

Bureaucratic Bungler Winner was the “Learn Less, Score High” Test.
“The federal government has faulted Oregon’s Dept. of Education for setting 3rd, 4th & 5th grade tests too low, which artificially raises Oregon’s test scores. Thousands of kids who passed [these tests] may not have passed after all.”

Golden Schnoz Award Winner was bestowed on Portland Why-Fi?
“Portland is getting into the private Wi-Fi broadband business by using as much as $16 million of taxpayers’ dollars to make a deal with a private company to provide free Wi-Fi service to the entire city.”

Victoria Taft gives a big build up to the next award winner.

Bouquet presentations
Not all of the group’s awards were sarcastic. The group also gave out these honors:

Government Innovation Award Winner: Oregon Connections Academy
“This on-line virtual public charter school doubled enrollment in a single year, has successful test scores, and accomplished it at only 50% the cost of a standard Oregon public school.”

Finally, their Thomas Jefferson Award winners were Oregonians In Action activists Ross Day, Dave Hunnicutt, and Bill Moshofsky. “In a year when 80% of the state ballot measures failed, these guys successfully passed Measure 39 which protects landowners from unjust condemnations.”

Presidential Straw Poll Results
Among those surveyed, whom was the candidate of choice? The group’s Straw Poll picked former Speaker Newt Gingrich; he got  28% of the vote.

Former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani pulled 22%; Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in third place with 14%.

Who was at the bottom? Tied for last place were Illinois Senator Barack Obama and New York State Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, each pulling just 3% of the straw vote.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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