Look at this and discover why energetic volunteers work hard to keep the Woodstock Community Center vital – and the doors open …

Joe Kaczyk brings Black Bean Fritters, courtesy of The Delta Caf?©, to the Woodstock Community Center Open House.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Times haven’t been easy for Friends of Woodstock Community Center recently. Time after time, the city has threatened to pull funding for the center, and shutter it forever.

Florence Dezeix plays a Celtic harp, filling the community center with the warm, lush sounds of merry melodies.

However, on February 10, the stately community center, once a city fire station, is full of life.

“There have been some “close shaves” for the center’s closing, acknowledges volunteer Terry Griffiths. “Indeed, some very, very ‘close shaves’,” Griffiths agrees.

“But today, we’re celebrating the fact that our community center is still open, thanks to the support and efforts of our neighbors. We’re here today saying ‘thank you’ to all of the neighbors who support us.”

Woodstock Community Center volunteers Randall Magahay and Terry Griffiths relax at the Open House.

Griffiths tells us this community center is important because it provides a place for the people of the Woodstock area to get together, take classes. “It’s a nice, intimate space, and close to home for a lot of people who walk here.”

Randall Magahay says he takes clock repair class on Mondays, and attends Wednesday yoga sessions. “It’s nice to do this right here where we live, instead of traveling far and wide.” As a volunteer, Magahay says he’s happy to give to the center. “I do landscape maintenance and plant growing, and donate to the plant sale.”

The kitchen counter is laden with treats. We see cupcakes brought in by Island Creamery, His Bakery scones, New Seasons’ offering of fruit and bread, Delta Caf?© fritters, and Papaccino’s coffee.

“We did this to help raise both awareness and funds for the community center,” comments one of the event’s organizers, Gary Bankston. “This is turning out to be a fun event for the whole neighborhood. We have an art show and raffle and silent auction here.”

Alison O’Donoghue exhibits her buttons and painting, sketches on her current work, and chats with passers-by.

Filled with arts and crafts
We moved into the Mirror Room, and found it filled with works of art. Proceeds from this art sale help support the community center, we’re told.

Artist George Heath offers his “sculptural cartoons” for sale at the Open House.

We meet George Heath. “I just create what comes to mind when I make my ceramics.” Asked what he calls his cheerful, colorful artworks, he first says, “Well, they’re called Earl, Bob, Ted ‚Äì and Bill! Hillary is yet to come.” He pauses, searching for a better answer to our question; then opts for the term, “sculptural cartoons”.

Making Valentine’s Day cards is Maile Baures (center), between her sons Adrian and Loic.

The basement has been turned into a children’s art workshop. Pink paper, hearts and other Valentine’s Day decorations abound, as kids make cards for family and friends.

Join the community
On the way out, Griffiths confided, “The Friends of Woodstock Community Center could use some help. We need a financial person to help us better our accounts.”

Another way one can participate is to can take classes at the center she said. “And, we always welcome volunteers. Of course, you can make a tax- deductible contribution to the Center via Southeast Uplift.”

Learn more by going to www.woodstockpdx.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

From the Lion Dance, to arts and crafts, to inexpensive Asian food ‚Äì to young Woodstock students who “stole the show” with their performances ‚Äì see what happened at this colorful celebration ‚Ķ

Hello, kitties! This kitty-cat dance, performed by Kindergarten students at Woodstock Elementary School, charmed the crowd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Welcoming the “Year of the Pig”, celebrants packed Portland Community College (PCC) Southeast Center on February 19.

This pan-Asian celebration included greetings, arts and entertainment from Thailand, Japan, Korea, and Viet Nam, as well as China.

Making introductory remarks opening the Chinese New Year celebration is Wing-Kit Chung, Associate VP, Finance, Portland Community College.

Everyone, including Americans, is having a good time here today,” PCC’s associate vice president of Wing-Kit Chung, told us. “At PCC, we value the different cultures in Portland. Being aware of different cultures adds to the educational experience.”

Rosalin C. Wang demonstrates Chinese decorative knot tying.

Cultural education abounds
Some of the cultural activities included a class by Rosalin C. Wang, in which she taught kids and adults the art of Chinese decorative knot tying.

Wang, a published author, teaches a variety of art classes at libraries throughout the area.

Writing names in Chinese, Ping Khaw shows his skill as calligraphist. He’s written the Chinese version of “David” on the card he holds.

And, Ping Khaw demonstrated Chinese brush calligraphy. Many American names don’t directly translate into Mandarin.

When there isn’t a direct translation, he said, he chooses syllables in Chinese that mirror those in English. Many times, the Chinese version of a name is a pun, relating to the name to the individual.

Lion Dancers from the Minh Quang Group, based in Portland, kick off the event as they work their way through the crowd at PCC’s Southeast Center.

Lions charge crowd; no one is eaten
The celebration got underway with the greetings from civic and school officials – and the traditional Lion Dance.

The acrobatic young performers from the Minh Quang Group worked their way through the throng and back to the front. As part of their performance, audience members “feed ‘lucky money'” to the lions by tossing dollar bills on the floor. The lions lap up the cash.

The lions “roar” as they tower high about the crowd, ending the celebratory dance that kicks off the festival.

At the conclusion of the dance, the lion’s “head” dancer leaps on the shoulders of the “tail” dancer ‚Äì making the fanciful character stand nearly 15 feet tall.

Woodstock kids steal the show
Young performers from Woodstock Elementary School’s Mandarin Immersion Program entertained the large crowd of nearly 400 in the Grand Atrium of the PCC Southeast Center with a variety of dances and singing numbers.

Wearing colorful costumes, students – from kindergarteners on up – performed traditional dances, sang songs, and played percussion instruments.

Woodstock teacher Shen Yin was very busy, staging the young performers and organizing their props. She beamed with pride. “The students performed well today.”

We asked Yin why learning new languages benefits students who live in inner Southeast Portland.

“When children learn a new language,” Yin explained, “it helps them learn about new cultures; it helps create mutual understanding. Also, it makes them better able to learn things, in general. It helps their academics because it expands their thinking process,” she said.

Can’t eat with chopsticks? Not a problem! PCC’s Anna Villines demonstrates the art (and skill) of using chopsticks as dining utensils.

Festivities continue throughout day
In addition to a full schedule of entertainment and arts demonstrations, folks who attended the Chinese New Year celebration were treated to a low cost luncheon.

Jain Lo, Chinese fine artist demonstrates the ancient art of brush painting at the celebration.

Before we left, Wing-Kit Chung, said, “I’m very pleased. This is a very happy, successful event.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why firefighters rushed “Code Three” to this outer East Portland home. And, learn how its 93-year-old occupant escaped ‚Ķ

Even though firefighters arrived on scene promptly, the fire that ripped through this home did substantial damage ‚Äì nearly taking the owner’s life. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Before dawn, on February 19, the home of an elderly outer East Portland man went up in flames.

At 5:19 a.m., crews from Portland Fire & Rescue and Gresham Fire raced, “Code 3” — with lights and sirens — to a fire in a residence reported in the 13700 block of SE Center Street.

“I was up, getting ready to go to work,” a neighbor told us, “and saw an orange, flickering light outside. Really heavy smoke was pouring out of the roof.”

Four minutes after they got the call, firefighters pulled up to the wood-frame house.

“There was heavy fire involvement on the rear of the residence,” reported PF&R spokesman John Hill. The fire was so intense, it took [a longer-than-usual] 20 minutes until the fire incident was recalled [put out].”

Neighbors told us the man’s son lives in a small cottage behind the home. “I’m pretty sure he saved his father’s life,” a neighbor told us. “I saw him and his dad coming out of the front door. They were both coughing; they didn’t look very good.”

Looking at the charred remains of the home and singed, personal property sitting out front, most would agree with the neighbors who said they were amazed the owner survived the blaze.

Officials told us that the elderly man was transported to Portland Adventist Medical Center with smoke inhalation; the son, apparently recovered from the rescue of his father, refused transport to a medical facility.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If he hadn’t been whipping in and out of traffic on SE 82nd Ave., this wanted probationer wouldn’t have been caught with bindles of pills ‚Äì enough to be a “walking pharmacy”. You’ll only see his story RIGHT HERE ‚Ķ

Officers search this black Acura they say was driven by a man who tried to ditch them in the neighborhood. When he finally stopped here, he tried to escape on foot. He didn’t get far ‚Ķ

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
What makes a man speed off from a traffic stop, careen through southeast Portland neighborhoods, screech his car to a stop in front of a “troubled” house, and run until cops took him down?

Perhaps he was taking a “dose of his own medicine” ‚Äì police say he was holding enough pills to stock a pain clinic pharmacy.

A not-so-merry chase
It all starts, Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, when a cop on patrol tries to talk with the driver of a black Acura at SE 82nd Ave. of Roses and SE Bush St. on February 22. No major infraction, we’re told–just an illegal lane change.

But, the Acura takes off, circles through the neighborhood, gets back on 82nd Ave., blows through a red light at SE Holgate Blvd., and weaves between cars, driving in the center lane, near SE Foster Rd., and then heads west. From there, the driver cuts through a parking lot, and zigzags until he ends up westbound on SE Woodstock Blvd.

“We were set up to spike-strip his tires at SE 52nd Ave.,” Sgt. Craig Mendenhall tells us on scene. “But, he cuts across the street, comes to a sudden stop, facing the traffic–here in the 6100 block of SE Woodstock Blvd.”

Ordering the suspect to stop running didn’t work. Neither did a dose of pepper spray. A Taser shot encouraged him to comply. Paramedics from Portland Fire and Rescue Truck 25 are called to check him over in the back seat of the police car.

Suspected crook won’t quit
Instead of giving up, Mendenhall says, the suspect ‚Äì clad  in a red-and-green plaid woolen jacket ‚Äì takes off on foot. A patrol car “pits” [a controlled crash, using the heavy bumper on police cars] the passenger side, to keep it closed.

“The driver got ‘Tazed’ and pepper-sprayed as he attempted to flee,” Mendenhall relates. “Bottom line is he really didn’t want to get caught.”

Officers put the items taken from the suspect on the roof of this police car. They believed some of what they found was illegal, “street” drugs.

A “walking pharmacy”
As officers pat down the uncooperative suspect, they find why he was running from them. “Officers recovered what looks like street drugs and a big wad of cash,” Mendenhall says.

“We don’t know what kind of drugs they are, without testing. It could be meth ‚Äì they’ve been putting meth into pill form. We now suspect he is a street-level dealer. He had multiple bindles of, what look like, different kinds of pills. It looks as if there are about 20 pills in a bindle.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 25 pulls up, and medic/firefighters hop out with their kits. Police policy requires that anyone who was shocked with a Tazer be medically checked out. The suspected drug-running driver is checked while in the back of a cop car.

Attention turns to “troubled house”
“We suspect the driver or passenger knows someone who lives at the house where we’re stopped,” says Mendenhall.

As officers searched the Acura, neighbors walk up and watch the unfolding situation.

A woman, who asks not to be identified, gestures to the house, in front if which the suspect stopped. “This house has a real history,” she says, raising her eyebrows.

She was joined by a neighbor who lives across the street, on the north side of Woodstock. “If I’m not mistaken, this car was parked in front of my house this morning,” he comments. “I’ve seen it here more than once, lately.”

Both neighbors agree that the house in question has had a sordid history. “Not long ago, someone died of a drug overdose in the garage,” the woman recalls.

The man said, “Lots of people come and go from this house. Sometimes, there will be several cars parked both in the driveway and up on the lawn.”  He shook his head as he walked off and remarked, “Maybe I’ve lived here too long.”

Cops say this suspect, Dylan Pardue, has three outstanding warrants, is on probation, and his driver’s license is suspended.

Shouldn’t even been driving
Sgt. Schmautz verifies the suspect is 27-year-old Dylan Pardue. “He’s a local resident.”

Pardue is known to local law enforcement and justice community; Schmautz says he has three outstanding warrants, is on probation for identity theft, and was driving on a suspended driver’s license.

Now, added to this list, Pardue is charged with Attempt to Elude; Attempt to Elude on foot; Reckless driving; Reckless Endangering; Resist Arrest; Possession of Methamphetamine; Possession of Methadone; Possession of OxyContin; Distribution of Methadone; and, Manufacture and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Pardue’s passenger is released, after being questioned by police. “We didn’t have probable cause to take him into custody,” Mendenhall says.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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See what happens when grade school kids focus on being respectful to one another, during “No Name-Calling Week: ‚Ķ

Winner of Lane Middle School’s “No Name-Calling Week” essay contest, 7th grader Natasha Calamarchuk, reads her entry before an all-school assembly.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“Do students at Lane Middle School respect one another?” is the rhetorical question principal Karl Logan poses to students at an all-school assembly on January 26.

“Yes,” Logan continues, “but I’d like to see the day when students can walk the halls and never hear unkind words. Some day, we’ll be at a place at which every student feels safe, every day. This assembly, the culmination of ‘No Name-calling Week’, is a step in the right direction.”

Karl Logan, Principal at Lane Middle School, tells how words can be hurtful before an all-school assembly.

The principal tells why this special emphasis week is important, saying “It is a time to focus on and magnify how we look at, and treat, each other. Words do hurt, as much as sticks and stones. Many of you have come to the principal’s office because you have been hurt by words. When you name-call, you can’t reach out and pull words back before they hit the person’s ears.”

At the assembly, winner of this year’s essay-writing contest, 7th grader Natasha Calamarchuk, read her composition before the student body. After the program, we ask her why she put these thoughts into words. Her essay is reprinted at the end of this article.

“It is important, because it isn’t good to be called names,” Calamarchuk says. “Maybe people will use more appropriate words. It will help the school if we all better get along with one another.”

The annual event’s organizer, and the school’s librarian, Linda Campillo, tells us that activities during No Name-Calling Week include “throwing bad names into a trash can” at the entrance of school; creating posters, essays, and poetry about No Name Calling; and voting for each grade’s “best citizen”.

Shelli Vang and Amethyst Davis created the award-winning poster on the left; student artist Jessica Penaloza holds her award winning poster.

“Then they dressed however they wanted to for one day,” illustrates Campillo, “and nobody could make fun of them.”

Campillo says the idea for the week-long experience came from the book “The Misfits” by James Howe. “Several eighth-grade classes have been reading the book, and a small group of students also presented some scenes from the book in a video.”

Lucia Medina is also recognized for her poem, “Poison words”.

On our way out, Principal Logan commented, “This is the second year Lane has celebrated No Name-Calling Week, and many students have said they really enjoy the events. But, what’s most important is that it gives our young people the opportunity to see how their community would be, if people treated one another respect.”

Natasha’s Essay
Everyone has been called a name more than once. Name-calling can be very hurtful to people. It’s very mean! I think that some people say bad words just because they are bored with their own minds. Or maybe some people don’t have any friends and they try to act all cool. You know, no one ever got a friend by name-calling.

Bullying is also like name-calling. People get beat up, and they feel very sad. Same with name-calling. But you don’t get hurt on the outside ‚Äì just on the inside. I think the best way to stop name-calling is to make friends with the bully or person who is calling you names. So, if you are bullied, or called a name, you have two options: Ignore, or be a friend.
Natasha Calamarchuk, 7th Grade, Lane Middle School

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Many of you took our advice, and attended the last City of Portland Fix-it Fair of the season ‚Äì it was packed! But, if you didn’t go, see what you missed–and why you should plan on going next fall ‚Ķ

Lisa Peters, of the Portland Water Bureau, shows Mayor Tom Potter some of the water-saving devices being given away at the Winter Fix-it Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We don’t take sole responsibility for the crowd that descended on Madison High School on NE 82nd Ave. of Roses for the last “Fix-it Fair” of the season on January 27.

But, we met many readers at the fair. They thanked us for alerting them to this unique, free event.

“At every table here,” commented Mayor Tom Potter, “they’ve told me this is the busiest of all Fix-It Fairs to date.”

Interest in the topics presented at the event, the Mayor said, is on the rise. “I think people are looking at what they can do around their house, and in their lives, to save money and help the environment. And, some of what they learn here can even save a life.”

East Portlanders pack the halls of Madison High, learning how to reuse, recycle, save energy – and money.

“I came here for the great classes, the information they provide,” said neighbor Robert Taylor. “I can’t think of any other city that sponsors a great event like this one!”

The “burger queens” from Burgerville USA make up hot-off-the-grill lunches, served free to the hundreds of participants attending the fair.

Yup, a free lunch
We talked with Gary Walen, who with his crew from Burgerville USA, were making lunch for those at the event. “Did you know we recycle our frying fat into bio-fuel? And, we use 100% “green” wind-generated electric power for our stores.”

Potter said of the restaurant chain, “These are the kind of Portland area companies who have taken a leadership role here.”

Participant Mary Borthwick, here talking with PGE’s John Karasaki about how to insulate her pipes and lower her power bill.

Insulating to save energy
Participants could be seen carrying long, black foam tubes throughout the fair. When we met John Karasaki at the Portland General Electric booth, we found out what they were.

“These tubes are really pipe insulation,” Karasaki said. “It is the correct size to go on the pipe that runs from the water heater to the fixtures which use it. They are easy to install, and save quite a bit of energy and heat loss to the air. We at PGE care about the wise and efficient use of energy.”

Sharing with area residents about the benefits of working with their neighborhood association are Ruth Hander, Madison South Neighborhood Association chair, along with board members Dawn Tryon and Tyler Whitmire.

Neighborhood association represented
“This is a great opportunity to network with neighbors and interact with citizens,” said Dawn Tryon of the “Save Madison South” neighborhood committee.

Neighborhood associations, Tryon said, are what give a “sense of community” to residents throughout Portland. “Here, we’re working with neighbors, and businesses — especially those along 82nd Avenue — encouraging a partnership to increase the quality of life in East Portland.”

Showing a sense of humor, Andrea Lewis of the “Re-Direct Guide” gives us her best “Vanna White” impression. “This guide is important because helps individuals make immediate changes in their lives that will help the environment.”

On the way out, we speak with the show’s producer, Jill Kolek, Office of Sustainable Development, City of Portland. “We’ve had a lot of people come out, perhaps 600 in all. Started out crowded right when we opened, and people have been coming through all day.”

The Fix-it Fairs, held three times a year, are “great because the more people we can empower to save energy, help the environment, be safe and live more efficiently, the better off we all are,” Kolek told us.

Look for Fix-it Fairs next fall
While the Fix-it Fairs are over for this season, Kolek said she hopes the city will continue to sponsor the events, starting again late next fall.

We asked Mayor Potter to comment on the future of the fairs. He told us, “We expect these fairs to continue. The whole idea is to get people to get involved. We’ll eventually get to a tipping point at which more people are interested in environmental issues than those are not.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Think nothing is happening, during the bleak “dead-of-winter” months, at our city’s only botanical garden? No! See what’s going on ‚Äì right now ‚Äì at this outer East Portland natural paradise ‚Ķ

Scotty Fairchild, Steward of Leach Botanical Garden, shows us a blooming Ribes Laurilfolium (evergreen currant) before he starts his monthly Saturday morning Gardener’s Tour.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
This time of year, most Saturday mornings are cold, gray, and damp. So, we wonder why Leach Botanical Garden holds tours – even in the winter.

To find out, we visit the garden’s steward, Scotty Fairchild, before he begins his “Gardener’s Tour” at the outer Southeast Portland property.

“We have more things in bloom during the winter months than we do during the peak summer months,” Fairchild tells us. “This is because of our site, plant materials and ecology here at the Gardens. There are probably 30 things in bloom today.”

Fairchild greets the guests who are about to take his winter-morning Gardener’s Tour at Leach.

The gardens are open to the public every day.

But, a good reason to take the Gardner’s Tour, Fairchild says, is he can point out things of interest that are “very subtle, this time of year. If you look carefully, you’ll see a lot of things in bloom. We look at twigs, buds and the other living systems including our large bird population. We’re seeing the rodents and small mammals getting more active.”

“We let plants go through their cycle. There is very little human manipulation of the plant materials at Leach Botanical Gardens,” says Fairchild.

Next tour is March 3
Fairchild conducts the Gardener’s Tour on the first Saturday of each month.

“During this tour, I am able to share–in a little more depth–information about the horticulture and botany processes you’ll see here.”

The 90-minute walking tour begins at 10:00 a.m. “I enjoy sharing my passion for this community resource, right here, in mid-southeast Portland,” Fairchild tells us.

Admission is free, though donations are requested. Group tours are given by appointment. For further information contact Nancy at (503) 823-1671. The garden is at 6704 SE 122nd Ave, Portland (just south of SE Foster Road).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Look at this article and you’ll learn why hundreds came out to enjoy a great breakfast ‚Äì and support the “Meals on Wheels” folks ‚Ķ

Carolyn Williams, and her youthful charges, Evelina and Diego, enjoy a great breakfast benefiting the Cherry Blossom Loaves and Fishes Meals on Wheels center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A steady stream of people, with a lean-and-hungry look in their eyes, poured into the East Portland Community Center all morning long on February 3.

It didn’t take long to turn these famished folks into sated patrons, as they consumed piles of pancakes and plates of biscuits and gravy ‚Äì along with a heaping serving of scrambled eggs and ham. They washed it all down with coffee and orange juice.

And, this massive breakfast only set them back $3.75 a person.

What was the event? It was the Cherry Blossom Loves & Fishes Center’s annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser.

Loaves & Fishes Center director Tamara Bailey works with volunteers Larry Jacobs, Susan Black, and Janis Crandell as they dish up breakfast for hundreds.

“Each center is responsible for raising part of their own funding,” explained Cherry Blossom Loaves and Fishes Center director, Tamara Bailey. “This is one of our biggest events, ever. We’ve had 200 come in to join us for breakfast today.”

Because almost all of the food, supplies and labor is donated, Bailey said, all of the funds brought in from the event will go to help feed elderly people in their homes, and at the center.

You can help
“We always need volunteer drivers and kitchen help,” Bailey told us.

If you’d like to help, stop by the Cherry Blossom Loaves and Fishes Center at 740 SE 106th Avenue, or call (503) 256-2381

© David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Wonder why they’re digging up the hillsides along Interstate 205 between Gateway and Clackamas? Read this, and find out how the construction will affect you ‚Ķ

I-205 MAX community affairs reprehensive Leslie Hildula discusses construction issues with Lents resident Larry Sullivan, at the Lents MAX open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Larry Sullivan lives in the Lents neighborhood on SE 92nd Avenue. He, and other neighbors, say they’re concerned about the MAX light rail train construction now underway.

“I’m anxiously waiting to see what will be happening,” Sullivan tells us at the TriMet’s open house they are holding in Lents in late January. “They’re closing up SE 94th Avenue, and moving out the houses. All the houses are boarded up. I was hoping there was a meeting instead of an open house.”

But, at the open house, Sullivan meets, and is able to ask questions of Leslie Hildula, community affairs representative for the MAX I-205 project.

“We started to move utilities, fiber optic and water unities in preparation for the project,” Hildula tells us. “I expect to see heavy construction starting in March. We’ll be working our way from the north, near Gateway, south to Clackamas.”

No parking in Lents
Looking at the map, we ask Hildula about parking at the Lents station.

“The Lents/Foster Road Station will primarily be for people walking or take busses to it. The park-and-ride stations are at Powell Blvd. and Holgate Ave.,” she tells us.

At the Mall 205 open house, residents check over a large, photographic map depicting the location and stations of the new I-205 MAX light rail line.

Asked about area disruptions, Hildula says, “One major change will be disruptions in the I-205 Multi-Use path. The construction of the light rail line will go between the freeway and the path. We created an alternative route, so they wouldn’t have to worry about what part is open or closed; they could use SE 92nd Avenue all the way down to Clackamas County.”

Meghan Oldfield, the TriMet’s lead I-205 MAX project engineer talks with George Till at their Mall 205 open house.

Mall 205 gets MAXed out
A few days later, TriMet held another open house, this time at Mall 205.

Neighbors lined up, all looking points of interest or reference, such as their homes, businesses or schools. “We’re showing how we’re bringing MAX to people in outer East Portland and Clackamas County,” says the project manager, Meghan Oldfield.

Former Lents Neighborhood Association chair Judy Welch examines the map, looking at how her area will be served.

Neighbor George Till doesn’t appear to be all that thrilled with the project. “I’m trying to figure out what it all is. It this really approved?”

Yes, George, like it or not, expect construction along the freeway for a year while Portland’s newest light rail line is constructed.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See which police dog was chosen for the “K-9 of the Year” award by members of SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council. And, you may be surprised to learn how many bad guys these four-legged cops take down ‚Ķ

Portland Police Bureau’s Dave Benson presents K-9 Unit Officer Shawn Gore with the “K-9 of the Year Award” for his work with his departed partner, Deny.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A group of citizens gathered to honor a fallen officer at Portland Police Bureau’s SE Precinct on February 1. In nine years on the force, this cop helped his partner capture 415 suspects, conduct 1,878 searches, and took down a criminal who was shooting at his partner.

By the way, this police officer wasn’t human. He was a K-9 Police dog named Deny [pronounced “Denny“].

Working with his human counterpart, Officer Shawn Gore, the pair received 26 separate commendations and two Police Bureau medals, trained with the Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team ‚Äì and gave 43 demonstrations to youth groups across the city.

Deny developed an inoperable brain tumor, was put to sleep in October of 2006.

Accepting the award, Gore said simply, “Thank you very much. There are a lot of good people doing good work. I’m honored to be here.”

K-9 Unit Officer Shawn Gore introduces his new K-9 partner, Eddie.

Gets new partner
Even though Deny is gone, Gore won’t be on patrol alone. At the awards ceremony–presented as part of the SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council meeting–the officer introduced his new partner, Eddie.

“He’s a pure-bred Belgian Malinois,” Gore told us. “We’ve been together for nine weeks; and, we’re in our fourth week of class. Eddie is going to be a great partner.”

Telling why the SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council has long supported the Portland Police K-9 Unit is Eric Bosler.

SE citizens “adopt” police dogs
Speaking for the Advisory Council, Eric Bosler told us, “our group has been the council to East Precinct originally, and now to SE Precinct, for almost 30 years. We adopted the K-9’s as one of our programs.”

It was decided early on, Bosler said, that the group felt they could “make a real difference” by directly supporting the police dog program. “Not only to the K-9 Unit officers work in our precinct, but they also travel to all parts of the city. In talking with officers over the years, they’ve told us, without exception, one of the best tools at their disposal is to be able to call in a dog. This is why our commitment to this program remains strong.”

Equipment costs have gone up, Bosler told the group. A full ballistic vest for a police dog costs about $1,600, he said, by way of example. Then, he held up a check ‚Äì a donation from a citizen ‚Äì to pay for a new K-9 vest. “Thank you, citizens, for all you do.”

Portland Police Bureau K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick relates the role of police dogs within the bureau.

K-9 Unit moves to SE Precinct
Partly because the SE Precinct Advisory Council supports the program, we learned the K-9 Unit will be moved back to SE Precinct on February 22.

The division has a staff of one sergeant, plus ten officers with canine partners.

“With staffing at this level,” K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick told us, “we’ll have officers and their dogs available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

We asked the sergeant why officers appreciate having police dogs available.

“The dogs’ unique ability to use their nose allows us to locate suspects more quickly, and safely, than any other method,” McCormick explained.

Without the dogs, he added, they would not find people who are a danger to our community. “Our job, as K-9 teams, is to find people who are highly-motivated to not get caught. They are hiding, running, and fighting. We locate, and help take into custody, those who are the most challenging to capture.”

McCormick said that the 10-week training that officer-handlers go through is the most challenging training program in law enforcement.

Eric Bosler presents Officer Bert Combs with a plaque recognizing his years of service in the K-9 Unit.

New K-9 officers train
At the meeting, Officer Bert Combs, a 22-year veteran of the K-9 Unit was honored as he retires. Combs worked with four canine partners during his career. He’s retiring with his present partner, Brutus.

Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Rod Beard, who oversees the K-9 Unit, also recognized the two newest dog handlers. “They have captures already. It tells me the K-9 Unit is in good hands. They are very motivated, and work very hard.”

K-9 Unit Officer Ryan Hilstenteger shows off his new four-legged partner, Justice.

Beard thanked the members of the Advisory Council, saying, “You all have been strong supporters of our K-9 Unit. We thank you.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

But, the suspected crook ends up collared by a dog!

Not often do you see an East Precinct patrol car ripped up like this one was, as an officer was pursuing a crook on February 13.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Westbound NE Glisan St. is shut down for hours on February 13. A police patrol car tangles with civilian cars, in the midst nabbing an individual suspected of being a prolific thief.

The commotion has eastbound early-evening traffic backed up to nearly NE 102nd Avenue, while cops investigate the incident, and search for the alleged perpetrator.

“They [police] were chasing a Range Rover or Bronco,” Melinda Jacobs tells us. She says she was coming out McDonald’s [on the NW corner of NE 122nd and Glisan St.]. “It was like he was trying to get away; this guy was driving crazy, going down Glisan really fast.”

While police and rescue units investigate, and secure the scene of the crash, other officers are chasing down a suspected thief.

Witness recounts the accident
Tim Lawrence, an off-duty TriMet driver, tells us what he saw.

“I just pulled into McDonald’s. I saw something out of the corner of my eye that was unusual. It was a cop car going sideways on Glisan,heading west. The cop car hit a minivan, but not very hard.”

Lawrence says the cops were chasing a vehicle going south on SE 122nd Ave. and turned west, around the clipped civilian car. “The cop car got clipped by a coupe, looked like it went out of control, and into the van.”

Police say this car “zigged when it should have zagged”; after the first patrol car passed, it clipped the second police car as it rounded the corner from NE 122nd Ave. on to Glisan St.

The official word
We get in touch with Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Brian Schmautz. He fills us in on the details.

“Officers were chasing an individual wanted in connection with a series of property crimes.

“The suspect made it through the intersection; as did the first patrol car. The second patrol car was hit by a citizen who was trying to get out of the way, but turned into the second police car.”

Police allege that this man, 35-year-old Tom Lepesh, is suspected of numerous property crimes – in addition to leading cops on the Tuesday evening pursuit.

Collared by a canine
The suspect, identified by police as 35-year-old Tom Lepesh, speeds west on NE Glisan Street. He bails out of his vehicle just east of SE 102nd Avenue, and heads east into the apartment complex near NE Marx Street. He’s then seen walking south on NE 102nd Avenue. Police fear he’ll hop on MAX and be gone.

But, a Portland Police K-9 officer arrives on scene and gets the scent. It doesn’t take long for the four-legged officer to sniff out Lepesh; he’s then taken into custody.

Back at the accident site, two ambulances are called to the scene. “The officer and one citizen received some medical attention, but there were no serious injuries,” reports Schmautz.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Try to guess what these actors are up to as they work on their parts for Arsenic & Old Lace – a play in which murder is, well, really funny …

Members of Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783, Blair Osborn, Tom Crawford, Molly Wirth, Derek Herman and Maria Rose, work out the staging for Arsenic & Old Lace opening on March 1.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Take a look at the scenery they’re building, and you’ll know the student actors at Parkrose High School are hard at work getting ready to present a witty show, Arsenic & Old Lace, running March 1, 2 and 3.

About play’s story line
While his other plays weren’t commercial successes, Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic & Old Lace had a very successful first run, a strong revival in the 1980s and was made into a motion picture.

The play is a farce (madcap comedy marked with many mix-ups) revolving around Mortimer Brewster, a theatre-hating drama critic who must deal with his crazy family ‚Äì and the local police. He’s debating whether to go through with a honeymoon with the woman he loves.

His family includes two spinster aunts who have taken to “helping out” lonely old men. It also includes a brother who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt and digs locks for the Panama Canal in their home’s cellar and a criminally murderous brother who has received plastic surgery from alcoholic accomplice to conceal his identity.

“Don’t forget Brewster’s poor nephew” reminds theater program Director, Ms. Zena, “he thinks he’s going crazy ‚Äì and with all this insanity going on, perhaps is!”

One weekend only
You’ll have a great time watching this story unfold. Plan now to attend the theater on March 1, 2, or 3. Showtime is at 7 p.m. at Parkrose High School Theater, 12003 NE Shaver Street, Portland, OR 97230.

For ticket information, call: (503) 408-2621.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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