Learn why these adults volunteer to help high school kids discover their career and higher education goals. When you read this, you, too, may choose to give an hour a week to help out …

New ASPIRE counselor Bethe Mack helps Parkrose High senior Christian Harrison sort out educational options.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Christian Harrison is a bright-eyed, ambitious senior at Parkrose High School who sees a future for herself in fashion merchandising.

“I’d like to learn the fashion business,” Harrison tells us. “I want to go to college and get an education.”

Harrison says preparing for life after high school would be a more difficult without the help of her ASPIRE counselor. “It’s good to have someone there to give opinions, and help you sort through the forms and decide on options.”

Helping Harrison fulfill her aspirations is Parkrose ASPIRE counselor Bethe Mack.

“I remember how overwhelming it can be,” Mack tells us, “when you are young, and thinking about what to do after high school. It would have been nice to have an ASPIRE counselor when I was thinking about college and trying to deciding what to do.”

Although Mack only volunteers one hour per week, she says “It’s really fun. It feels good to hang out with, and help, young people.”

Jim Lipscomb, seen here helping Adrian Altanirano, has assisted many students to better prepare for their future after they leave Parkrose High.

Loves working with kids
Another ASPIRE volunteer, Jim Lipscomb, has been with the program for three years. “I’m helping eleven students now,” he says, “and I take on two more next week.”

We ask Lipscomb why he is an ASPIRE counselor.

“The ASPIRE program is set up to make it easy for adult volunteers to help kids find more success in life. I get as much out of the program as do my students,” Lipscomb says.

No experience needed
What is ASPIRE? It’s an acronym, standing for “ASsistance Programs In Reach of Everyone”.

We ask the program coordinator, Teena Ainslie, how an individual would know if they’d like being involved in the ASPIRE program.

“Ask yourself these questions,” Ainslie replies:

  • “Are concerned about the future workforce of our country?
  • “Will you give a little yourself to help improve a young person’s entire life by helping them get a great career?
  • “Can you spend as little as an hour per week with students?”

If you answer “yes“, Ainslie wants to hear from you.

“First of all,” she tells us, “no experience is necessary. We provide all training and coaching materials. Your training time is adapted to fit around your schedule.”

The more ASPIRE “College Coaches” they have, Ainslie continues, the more students will be helped to the next phase of their lives. “Whether planning for college, a trade or technical school, or other higher learning, we help young people move into the life-long learning program of their choice.”

Learn more
Ainslie asks you not to wait. “There is still time to help this year’s high school seniors ‚Äì we have more students than counselors.”

Call Ainslie today at (503) 408-2642, or Meg Kilmer at (503) 408-2681, to learn more about this great volunteer opportunity.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If an influenza pandemic hits East Portland, 40% of its business will be forced to close for as long as six weeks. Everyday life, as we know it, will be suspended. Read this, and find out what business people learned from the “flu guru” of Multnomah County ‚Ķ

Pulling no punches, Jessica Guernsey Camargo, Program Supervisor with Multnomah County Health Department, describes the impact a flu pandemic will have on businesses and residents

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Last summer, we brought you the hard facts about what would happen if the “Bird Flu” turns into a worldwide pandemic. Portland is along the “Pacific Flyway” along which infected birds from Asia may travel.

The bottom line: People will die, life in the city will be disrupted ‚Äì and don’t expect the government to take care of you.

Enlisting business people’s help
In late January, the Multnomah County Health Department’s (MCHD) program supervisor in charge of pandemic planning, Jessica Guernsey Camargo, MPH, spoke to business people from the East Portland area.

Speaking in an assured, matter-of-fact voice, Camargo presented an “Avian and Pandemic influenza Update” containing some disturbing information.

“First, seasonal influenza is typically spread with a sneeze,” she began. “It affects up to 20% of population; the figure is higher among children.”

Getting flu shot helps, she said. “And, good hygiene is basic, for prevention. This means wash your hands; cover your cough, and stay home when you’re ill.”

Pandemic influenza defined
“A ‘Pandemic’ is a worldwide outbreak of flu that occurs nearly simultaneously around the world,” explained Camargo.

She said it’s well-known that a lot of people died during the pandemics of 1918 and 1957-58. But, in 1968-69, most people didn’t know there was another pandemic outbreak underway.

Current pandemic assumptions
Camargo warned, “We do not know what the next strain of pandemic will be, so we can’t produce a vaccine. When we do, it will take 6 months to make a vaccine.” Anti-viral drugs will have a limited effect, she added, and will take some time to produce. “There are concerns regarding viral resistance to current virus medications like ‘Tamaflu’.”

The Avian Influenza, she continued, called “HP-H5N1”, is primarily a disease among birds–mainly in Asia. The “HP” stands for “Highly Pathogenic”. “It is passed from birds to humans ‚Äì not humans to humans, at this time. While few people get infected, over half of those who catch it die from it. We’re testing birds here in Oregon, but we haven’t seen it, yet.”

A role of MCHD, Camargo explained, is disease surveillance–identifying and containing a disease outbreak.

Another role of the county agency is planning for emergency response, should a human-to-human pandemic flu virus arrive in the Pacific Northwest. In November, MCHD coordinated a statewide preparedness exercise called “PANDORA”.

Information gained from this exercise, Camargo related, includes revising the MCHD emergency response plan to include:

  • Increasing public information community education and engagement;
  • Increasing hospital capacity; and,
  • Increasing ability to deliver medications and vaccinations.

The county health department’s Jessica Camargo describes the responses to a pandemic their bureau is permitted, by law, to take.

Community-level intervention
Asked if a quarantine would stop the pandemic, Camargo replied, “We do have the ability to do that. If it is early-on in the pandemic, and we have an isolated situation, quarantine may be effective. But it is not practical to quarantine a neighborhood.”

While the MHDC has the legal authority to impose a quarantine, Camargo told the group, “we don’t want to completely disrupt the community. When the situation is past, we want something left to come back to.”

She urged businesspeople to think about the effect that different steps to limit the impact of a pandemic could have on their businesses.

Increasing from moderate to severe responses, as needed, the MHDC proposes:

  1. Routine patient isolation;
  2. Focused contact notification/management;
  3. Quarantine of small groups;
  4. Closure of specific facilities and events;
  5. Community-wide activity slow downs (stay home days) including
  6. Cancellation of school and public events;
  7. Broad closures of businesses, schools and events; and,
  8. Strict communitywide quarantine.

Camargo listens to the concern that a pandemic might shutter many small businesses, voiced by 82nd Ave. of Roses Business Association president Ken Turner.

Effect of measures on businesses
“People still have to buy groceries when they’re sick, don’t they?” asks participant Jean Baker, president of the Division/Clinton Business Association.

If a pandemic worsens to the level of requiring community-level intervention, Camargo said the officials will begin to “enforce ‘social distancing'”. “In a pandemic scenario, it is possible that more than half of a company’s workforce may be too ill to work. This is why both citizens and businesspeople need to be prepared and make a plan.”

Ken Turner added, “This could destroy many small and micro-businesses here in East Portland.”

“So, ‘the government’ can’t help?” we asked.

“There is no magic wand,” Camargo responds. “There is no ‘cavalry’ coming. We’ll all be dealing with this at the same time. It will require every single person to make this a livable situation.”

Be aware and prepare
How will businesses – and citizens – be able to survive the Avian Flu?

“Multnomah County is doing all we can to prepare for it from the governmental side,” answered Camargo. But people put too much reliance on vaccines and medication. The fact is, the only real way of managing a pandemic is through citizens taking personal responsibility.”

For more information, see www.mchealth.org, or call (503) 988-4454 for a recorded message.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See youngsters meet the composer of a new orchestral work, moments before it’s played at its world premiere ‚Ķ

Duncan Neilson, composer of “Heart of the Wild” takes a moment to talk with young music lovers, moments before his latest work is rehearsed for the evening world premiere concert.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The Portland Chamber Orchestra typically performs in the Kaul Auditorium at Reed College. But their afternoon rehearsal and evening concert were special events on January 27.

“We have two world premieres tonight,” Rosalie Neilson, vice president of the orchestra told us. “This is a special day for us. Portland Chamber Orchestra plays the classics. But, we also are bringing arts together with a multimedia presentation.”

The free afternoon dress rehearsal was special for kids. Many of the dozens of kids who came were treated to snacks and face painting.

Before the rehearsal began, the composer of “Heart of the Wild” ‚Äì a work about to have its world premiere ‚Äì Duncan Neilson talked with the youngsters about his work.

“I’d been studying bear imagery in folklore around the world,” Neilson told them, “and found the bear is frequently associated with rejuvenation. The bear sleeps in the winter, and wakes up in the spring — much like springtime awakens plants and animals.”

Neilson’s orchestral piece was accompanied by visuals projected on a screen above the orchestra, and narration.

Maestro Vaacov Bergman, Portland Chamber Orchestra music director, leads the musicians at their free afternoon rehearsal.

The other world premiere was composer Forrest Pierce’s “Great River of the West”, another composition highlighting the importance of Nature.

The youngsters were also inspired by Andy Liang, a 15-year violin student. He’s the concertmaster of the Portland Youth Philharmonic. Liang was the featured soloist performing Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, opus 14.

We learned that this 38-member orchestra has been a part of Portland for 60 years. Their season will continue through the spring. For more information, see www.portlandchamberorchestra.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Read how “good, old-fashioned detective work” led East Precinct detectives to a band of I-5 cruising crooks who stole a $100,000 stamp collection ‚Äì and how they recovered the rare and valuable goods ‚Ķ

After his mishap in Portland, the victim of the stamp collection theft was glad to show us his recovered collection, but didn’t want to appear on camera.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“I didn’t ever think I’d see them again,” exclaims Charles. “Not only for my own benefit, but also for that of the Sioux tribe in central South Dakota, to which this stamp collection belongs. I am surprised and delighted that the police were able to recover this collection.”

An older gentleman, Charles declines to give his last name, and won’t say where he is from, other than he lives in Washington State.

Starts with a “smash-and-grab”
Charles’ story started on February 5, in the parking lot of the CompUSA store in the 11500 Block of N.E. Glenn Widing Drive, near Airport Way.

“We were en route,” Charles tells us, “heading north. The stamps were in the car. I went into the store to buy a new computer. During the time we were in the store, someone smashed the window and grabbed the stamps. They also grabbed other bags, and a brief case.”

Charles says he still feels sick when he remembers returning to the car and seeing the driver’s side rear window of his SUV smashed in, and the bags gone.

“These stamps are not postage stamps”, Charles elucidates. “These are ‘revenue stamps’ that validate a license to hunt waterfowl on a reservation. When you buy a hunting license, the stamp validates it.”

While Charles’ says his “best guess, low end” value for the stamp collection was in the neighborhood of $100,000, he adds that there is a very limited market for the valuables. “Very few people collect these stamps. They are rare, but not widely collected. They couldn’t be immediately dumped on the market.”

The victim says these are only 6 of the revenue stamps he holds; their value has yet to be established.

Detectives on the case
Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Detective Sgt. David Anderson picks up the story.

“This crime fit the profile of several others we’ve had in the area,” Anderson tell us. “We pounded the pavement and burned the midnight oil. We did some good, old-fashioned detective work.”

East Precinct Detective Sgt. David Anderson tells how a little extra investigation helped them build a strong case against the alleged crooks – and recover the stolen stamp collection.

While the put together information for arrest warrants, the detectives didn’t immediately move in for the collar.

“We followed the suspects to Clackamas Town Center,” Anderson says. “We watched them break into a car at the Old Spaghetti Factory. That victim was an off-duty, out of town police officer ‚Äì using an unmarked police car ‚Äì attending a conference. After scouting out the area, it took less than five seconds for them to smash the window and grab his police bag. Fortunately, he had his gun with him.”

The two suspects, arrested, gave up the third suspect – the man accused of actually harboring the allegedly swiped stamps at his house.

“We did a knock-and-talk,” Anderson relates. “He coughed up the stamps.”

By investing a little extra investment in time and legwork, the detective says, they were able to build a rock-solid case against the alleged thieves – and recover the stamps.

The thieves said they knew they’d found something unusual. They moved the stamps to another location. They tried to figure out how much they worth. It isn’t that easy.

They ended up at a house on N.E. Halsey Street, where the police found them on Monday night.

Cops say Tuan Ho, Rong Li and Quan Vo, accused of smash-and-grab car prowl hits, told them they plied their trade in Tigard and Portland, and as far north as Kirkland and Bellevue in the Seattle area.

Busted!
On February 6, East Precinct Detectives arrested 44-year-old Tuan Ho, 29-year-old Rong Li and 28-year-old Quan Vo each on One Count of Aggravated Theft in the First Degree.

Anderson describes their operation, saying “they specialized in SUVs and vehicles that look like corporate fleet or rental cars. They target cars they think might contain a laptop computer. It takes about five seconds to grab a computer and they’re gone. They sell them for about $300 bucks.”

Don’t be a victim
We asked Charles if he learned anything from his ordeal.

“No, nothing I didn’t know,” he replied. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Anderson turns to us and says privately, “Sometimes it’s unavoidable; sometimes you must leave valuables in plain view in your vehicle. But, this is the second set of suspects in a year that are doing this. They prowl restaurant lots during lunch hour or happy hour, and parking lots in malls. Save yourself a lot of trouble: Take your computer bag with you into the restaurant, or put it in the trunk.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If the alleged dope dealer thought he’d hide behind his wife and 2-year-old baby, he was wrong. Look at this, and you’ll see what Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputies saw ‚Ķ

These bags of dope won’t be on the street tonight, thanks to a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office bust.

Story by David F. Ashton
While some neighbors might have wondered why Apt. #22 at 17440 E Burnside St. had so many short-staying visitors, others suspected the occupant was selling drugs.

But, law enforcement doesn’t take action based on opinions.

“Before we get a search warrant,” explains Lt. Jason Gates, Public Information Officer, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO), “undercover agents or confidential informants make at least three buys from a location, to demonstrate probable cause for drug distribution.”

7:00 a.m. wake-up call
Early on February 9, the occupants of this apartment are awakened by MSCO Special Investigations Unit Detectives – search warrant in hand.

The occupants also get to meet Nikki, the drug-detecting dog. It doesn’t take long for the team to locate several pre-packaged amounts methamphetamine and cocaine ‚Äì ready for sale. They also find a stash of $20,500 in cash.

This is what $20-grand in drug-tainted cash looks like, Sheriff’s Deputies say.

Baby in the home
Even worse, this alleged dope dealer didn’t live alone. He was found with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, when taken into custody

Sheriff’s Deputies allege that Alejandro Cruz-Hernandez was a low-level drug dealer in East County.

“Alejandro Cruz-Hernandez was taken into custody without incident,” reports Gates. “It is believed the narcotics attributed to Cruz-Hernandez very likely originated from Mexican drug cartels. Cruz-Hernandez is acting as the end-distributor of these narcotics after they were trafficked into the US and Oregon.”
Dealer demographic shift

Gates says that, in the past, Caucasian males were typically the dealers of home-grown meth. “And, we used to make seizures by the ounce; and now we’re seeing seizures by the pound. The flow of drugs into the country is accelerating; we’re now seeing more Hispanic males becoming dealers.”

We asked Lt. Gates why we’re finding that many of the dealers now apprehended have families.

“I’m not attributing it necessarily to this case,” Gates replies, “but some families brought into the United States have a debt to pay by to the coyotes [smugglers] who got them in. They agree to distribute drugs in exchange for coming to the United States.”

Cruz-Hernandez has been charged with PCS II-Methamphetamine, PCS II-Cocaine, DCS II-Methamphetamine, DCS II-Cocaine, DCS II within 1000 feet of a school, and endangering the welfare of a minor. He is being held on $100,000.00 bail and an INS hold at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

All photos provided by MSCO
© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why an inner Southeast Portland winery and brewery got together to host a seafood and sausage fest, raising funds for a school’s educational foundation ‚Ķ

Serving up the crabs are students Hannah Giger, Elizabeth Van Brocklin, and Sarah Menashe, at the CHS “Claws and Dogs” fest.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two unique Southeast Portland adult-beverage businesses, Hip Chicks Do Wine and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company aren’t easy to find. They’re tucked back in an industrial park on S.E. 23rd Ave., east of the train yard, and just south of the SE Holgate Boulevard viaduct.

But their secret location didn’t stop more than 250 supporters of the Cleveland High School Foundation from finding their way recently to a new event called “Claws and Dogs for Cleveland”.

Ready to raise a glass celebrating the new event are Lisa Dandrea and Laurie Lewis, “wine goddesses” of Hip Chicks Do Wine, with Traci Wall, VP of the CHS Foundation.

“We wanted to create a fun, original event,” explained Traci Wall, VP of the CHS Foundation. “So, we came up with the idea of holding a crab and bratwurst feed. With the help of these two wonderful businesses, it looks like a real success.”

Wall said fundraising was the primary reason for the festive food event. “But secondarily, this event is giving our four-year-old foundation good exposure.”

For those who wanted a brew to go with their brats, folks checked in with Alan Sprints at his Hair of the Dog Brewing Company sampling room.

Specifically, Wall added, the foundation does fundraising — strictly for Cleveland High School academics. “The funds we raise here tonight will help purchase additional teaching or counselor time.”

Event nearly sells out
Wall said they couldn’t guess just how the turnout would be on this cold, rain-swept Saturday night, January 20. But it soon became clear that the event was close to a sell-out.

Nearly 200 people turned out for the Claws and Dogs fest to help provide more in-classroom teaching hours at CHS.

Soon diners were elbow-to-elbow, cracking freshly steamed crabs and downing brat dogs – complete with all the trimmings. Two very accomplished CHS student musicians, Charlie Stanford and Grant Richards, serenaded the crowd as they feasted.

According to the foundation’s treasurer, Jim Giger, the event took in $6,400.

On the way out, the foundation’s Randy Carlson asked us to let folks know that Ted Gamble of “Good Dog Bad Dog” supplied the savory sausages for the event. “They have locations at Portland Airport and Washington Square.”

Enjoy these additional photos from the event

Entertaining the crowd are student musical artists Charlie Stanford on guitar and keyboardist Grant Richards.

Diners Kim Nickelby and Susan Mendelson say they’re having a great time digging into their crab-and-brat dinner.

Brat-meister” Randy Carlson spent the evening grilling up the “Good Dog Bad Dog” brats at the CHS Foundation benefit event.

Get involved
If you want to help the CHS Foundation, call (503) 916-5120 during school hours, and ask for extension 449.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Without funding available to build and expand schools, read this and learn how DDS administrators are scrambling educate outer East Portland’s growing number of students with what they have ‚Ķ

Rob Buckner, 5th Grade teacher at West Powellhurst Elementary School, can’t fit even one more student into his already-packed classroom.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Voters in the David Douglas School District (DDS) made it clear, last November: “No new taxes”. The bond measure requested by the schools garnered only a 44% “Yes” vote.

But homeowner’s reluctance to increase funding hasn’t stopped their flood of new students into the already over-crowded schools.

Back to school
“Honestly, we’re having challenges finding space to educate our students, given our growing population,” is how Allen Browning, principal of West Powellhurst Elementary School put it to us.

“We’ve had combine programs and offices through the school,” Browning continued. “Our reading coach and Title 1 program are all housed in one small area. Our school counselor’s office was moved into a closet-like space. Every classroom is full. If we have any more children come here, we will have no place to put them.”

As we tour the school, Browning didn’t grumble or whine. The teachers with whom we speak appear to be cheerful and conscientious educators. Instead, they seem to have taken on their crowded situation as a challenge. The principal shows us how the gym’s former locker room was turned into first-rate classrooms to accommodate the increase in students. “We use the stage for after-school programs, the closets for book rooms. We’re making the most efficient use of the space we have.”

And, we learn, some of the other schools in the district are even more crowded, especially in the south end of the district.

Once-rural district faces explosive growth
In 1959, three small, rural districts – Russellville, Powellhurst and Gilbert – joined with the David Douglas Union High School District to form a 1st through 12th grade school district.

Over the decades, enrollment has increased, peaking in 1970. It slightly decreased during the 1980s, but has resumed growing as unincorporated East Multnomah County continues to grow.

Superintendent Barbara Rommel, David Douglas Schools.

“By 1993,” explained the district’s superintendent Barbara Rommel, “we needed additional classrooms.” Voters approved a $20 Million bond measure that funded building classrooms on existing schools, and paid to renovate others.

But the kids kept on coming. In 2000, voters approved a $40 Million bond to refurbish a once-shuttered building, and build a new middle school. It funded new classroom space at many buildings, including the high school.

But, enrollment continued to increase.

2006 adds a ‘school’s worth’ of students
“Last year, we had a 4% increase,” Rommel continued. This translates into 400 new students, she said. “In many districts, this number represents the population of an entire school.”

Because families with older students have been moving into the district, David Douglas High teaches 2,900 students. “To accommodate the increase,” Rommel explained, the school board used some ‘reserve funds’ to build an additional wing of classrooms at the high school.”

Challenges of changing demographics
Over the last five years, the superintendent told us, they’ve seen a dramatic increase in kids eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. “David Douglas has the highest level of poverty represented by that factor of any of the fifteen largest school districts in Oregon.”

Another challenge to DDS educators is the influx of newcomers to the district. “Currently, about 25% of our student population needs ‘English as a Second Language’ assistance. Those students represent over 46 different languages or dialects spoken in the home,” Rommel said.

“B” grade doesn’t translate into votes
Asked for her analysis of the fall election results, Rommel told us, “Our polls said residents give us a “B” ‚Äì a pretty good grade. So, residents feel we’re dong a pretty good job. My personal feeling is it [that ‘no’ vote] was an economic statement. I think residents were saying, ‘We just can’t afford it’.”

The FFD board was disappointed, Rommel said, “but they are pragmatists. They both understand ‚Äì and share ‚Äì the concerns of the community.”

The school board, she continued, has a dual responsibility: To be fiscally responsible with the public’s dollar; and to make sure students get a full range of educational opportunities. “An example is our music program. Students begin their instrumental music in grade school; we have full time, certified music specialists in every elementary school. As students move up the grades, the performance level of these students allows them to go into music as a career. But, our main mission is still ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’.”

Kindergarten a key to success
What helps their students do well is the kindergarten program, Rommel said. “We have full-day kindergarten for every student in our district. Since the state only funds a half-day program, the board makes up the rest the support from general funds.”

Kindergarten students in Mrs. Leah Robinson classroom get a full school day of literacy-based education.

The result: 70% of the students meet educational objectives. “The increases in learning are strongest among students who come in with some kind of learning risk factor. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunches, ESL assistance, or special education students ‚Äì all of these at-risk groups showed remarkable gains, from being in this program.”

Condemns consolidation concepts
Last fall, Mayor Tom Potter briefly floated an area-wide school consolidation plan.

“A consideration is looking for efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Rommel responded to the notion. “Bigger isn’t necessarily better. I don’t believe most parents want their children being bussed across the metropolitan area to fill an empty school.”

Looking at the efficiency aspect, she said DDS has a fewer-than-average number of administrators; business-level and support level services are run very lean. “Look at the Chalkboard Projects’ Open Book; it shows that we manage the district in a very thrifty way.”

Rommel added that the district is almost the perfect size. “We’re small enough to retain contact with our community; yet large enough to offer a wide range of elective subjects and extracurricular activities.”

Funding the district’s future
We asked bluntly, “OK, so what’s the plan?”

“This is a dilemma,” Rommel candidly responded. “One of the options is to look at increasing class size.”

Another option, she explained, is to shuffle classrooms. “For example, a number of high school classes are being held in the Children’s Service Center. When the new high school wing is finished, we can relive pressure on crowded elementary schools by using that building for classes, even to the point of making a small primary school in that building.”

Others suggest using “modular classrooms” at existing schools. “These trailers are an expensive fix, and don’t make a good educational environment. And, with the increased school populations we’re seeing, we need every square foot of playground space we have.”

Other possibilities are to eliminate the full-day kindergarten program ‚Äì a step that would free up 10 classrooms. “It would break my heart. We’ve documented the tremendous good that the full-day program does for students. It makes them successful learners from the start, reducing resources spent on remediation.”

ABC’s of school funding
Puzzled why districts, other than Portland Public Schools, successfully raise funding, we asked why it is so difficult in outer East Portland.

“There are no industries, and little business, in the district,” Rommel explained. “The entire burden for education falls upon the homeowner and residential property owner. If you have a good industrial base, those businesses shoulder part of the responsibility ‚Äì it reduces the amount homeowners must pay.

“In Beaverton, for example, a 47 cents-per-thousand levy raises $195 Million. In DDS, a $1.12 -per-thousand levy raises only $45 Million.”

State funding possibilities
To find out if state aid might be available, we talked with a man who was educated in the DDS school system from 3rd grade through the high school level, Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley.

“The schools are bustin’ at the seams with more children poised to come in. The district has a substantial challenge to find classroom space,” agreed Merkley. “Our families [in the school district] are working incredibly hard. They are squeezed too tightly to afford a property tax increase.”

Merkley said the state legislature recognizes that this is significant problem for fast-growing school districts that have a low prosperity basis. “One of the ideas we’re exploring is to see if ‘system development charges’ can be used to help build new schools.”

Another concept, the “Kansas Plan”, is up for discussion, said the state legislator. “It is a brand new idea. It allows districts with lower tax base to get a matching grant from the state government. The match would be 2-to-1 in David Douglas. But I don’t know if that will have the support of educational organizations.”

You can help: volunteer
We asked if parents and interested citizens might directly help DDS schools. From the schools themselves, we learned they can.

Rommel answered, “Just go to any neighborhood school to the office, say ‘I’d like to volunteer’.”

Principal Browning added, “We get many supportive comments from parents. Parents, you are welcome to help out in our school! We’d love for you to become part of your child’s education.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how this unique David Douglas Schools program is helping kids gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be young ‚Äì and disabled ‚Ķ

Fifth-grader Max Sklyaruk is wearing vision impairment goggles. He says, “It was hard to see and concentrate. If I couldn’t see well, it would be really difficult to do good in class. I’d feel left out.”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Menlo Park Elementary School is the home for four self-contained classrooms, providing Structured Learning Program for Academics (SLPA) to 41 students with various eligibilities.

To help students at this school gain a better understanding of their less able counterparts at the school, the staff developed a special program they offered in late January called “Come Walk in My Shoes”.

We’re invited to observe the students experience this learning session, and are greeted by Menlo Park principal Brooke O’ Neill.

Walking to the gym area, O’ Neill fills us in. “Because we house SLPA, we feel it is important that all of our kids ‚Äì both students in the SLPA program, and general education classes ‚Äì learn empathy. To see what it feels like to go through life with certain challenges. And, they learn how they can respond to those challenges, and lend a helping hand and be a friend.”

Demonstrating how students with autism can learn better through the use of instructional picture cards is teacher Jennifer Schloth.

Challenging learning situations
In the gym, we meet Suzi Zehsazian, the school’s music instructor and chair of the program.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of students with autism,” explains Zehsazian. “This year, we added autism stations.” At the first station, we find students trying to complete educational tasks after viewing instructional picture cards.

Menlo Park teacher Sarah Magnano helps students understand the “sensory overload” many autistic students must overcome.

“At another section of this station, Zehsazian continues, “we simulate the sensory overload many autistic students experience. All of their senses are overloaded, and then, we give them an academic task to do.” Most students couldn’t complete simple math problems while being exposed to static-like noise, flashing lights, and surprise sounds.

Student K D Henley tries to make it through the “motor skills course” in a wheelchair without dropping her pretend lunch tray. “It’s not easy,” she says, “I dropped it.”

Life in a wheelchair
Principal O’ Neill adds, “We also changed the ‘gross motor station’. This year, we incorporated the task of going through a door and over different textures and surfaces while holding a lunch tray.”

To many of the fifth-graders who took the course, it seems like fun at first, trying to maneuver in a wheelchair. “I learned that it is hard to be in a wheelchair,” student K. D. Henley tells us. “I was able to open a door in the wheelchair; I pushed it open, but dropped the tray.”

A unique, “home-grown” educational program
The kindergarten-through-fifth-grade program doesn’t come out of a box, Zehsazian says.

“This program is unlike any other in the Portland area. This truly came out of teachers’ experience with their kids. It’s going on all around the David Douglas School District schools.”

The event is important, Zehsazian continues, because it gives students the chance to experience something outside of their normal world-view. “They experience what it’s like to have a different ability for a while. This helps them to develop empathy and respect ‚Äì not only here, at their school, but also among people in the real world. In the future, instead of staring at a challenged individual, they can remember what it was like ‚Äì and help them in some way.”

Suzi Zehsazian, the school’s music instructor and chair of the program, making sure the one-hour class ran on time.

Both the teachers and students told us they agree that “Come Walk in My Shoes” is a great event. “It is about becoming a better, more responsible person in the community,” concludes Zehsazian. “Isn’t this part of the purpose of education?”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

This business association isn’t basking in its past achievements! See how these Parkrose business people are finding new ways to serve their community ‚Ķ

Incoming Parkrose Business Association president Mark Eves, of the Eves & Wade LLP Law firm, is welcomed to the podium by outgoing president Wayne Stoll, of Argay Square.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not long after the turn of the year, Mark Eves, incoming president of the Parkrose Business Association, took over the leadership role of the organization. “Our focus this year,” Eves told the group, “is three ‘M’s’. They are membership, meetings, and mission.”

Membership chair Jon Turino said their committee will be dedicated to showing more Parkrose business people the benefit of joining the association. “Together, our voices are better heard downtown. When you meet someone in Parkrose, ask them to come have lunch with us at Steamers on the third Thursday of the month.”

Kyle Ziegler, program chair, told about the lineup of speakers planned. Also, she said their committee actively seeking ways of “tuning up” their already successful meetings.

Eves spoke directly to his third “M”, saying, “We’ve created a ‘dream team’, chaired Gail Bash. We are setting goals, both short and long term.”

Bash commented, “Mark said to set our goals high. As a pilot, I want to rise above 5,000 feet — we’re set on the 10,000 level. With the help and support of this group, we can so many things.”

“We celebrate the successes of all of our members,” Eves concluded.

Anita Tabayoyon of A.R. Moss Florists uses a colorful chart to document the kinds of gifts people like most to receive.

One feature at the noontime meetings is the “Member Moment”, in which one person highlights their own business. At this meeting, it was Parkrose florist A.R. Moss, who told of “floral design and event embellishment”. Anita Tabayoyon said that, in addition to the flowers, their shop stocks many other kinds of gifts. See her online at www.armoss.com.

State of the PBA
Outgoing president Wayne Stoll is famous (or infamous) for always starting off with a joke. “Leaving my post as president reminds me of the man who was fired from the M&M¬Æ factory for throwing out all the ‘Ws’,” he quipped.

“It all hasn’t been ‘guns ‘n’ roses’,” Stoll continued. “Our [PBA] board is great. In addition to getting stuff done, we got it done with a lot of fun and humor. My job was to not screw things up. Gordon Boorse and other presidents before me, and their boards, put us on a track to success. Get involved in our organization. Join in. Help us get new, fresh ideas from your input.”

Stoll reported that the association’s coffers contain $19,600.

Current projects include renovating the traffic island at the divide of NE Sandy Blvd and Portland Road. “If there is one thing the city can improve on us how they treat businesses in the city. PDOT has made it difficult, to complete the project: a beautifully landscaped in an Italian garden motif,” he said.

Stoll also pointed to the success of the association’s scholarship program for graduating Parkrose High School seniors. “Thanks to the support of our community at the Rose Festival Parkrose Cruise-in ‚Äì and the hard work of all our volunteers ‚Äì we’ve gone from giving one scholarship, to providing four of them ‚Äì fully funded for this year.”

Stoll admonished the group, “I hope people join PBA not only for the business we gain from members. Joining the PBA makes you a part of the area, as a whole. Being involved will help your business. People who do business here don’t necessarily have their business located here. Invite them to join.”

Meet the PBA
Come on February 15 at 11:30 a.m. and meet this group of fun, energized business people. This month: Rick Harris, CPA, gives timely tax tips! The Member Moment will be Daniel Woods of SPOTMASTER. You’ll get the best business lunch at town at Steamers Restaurant, 8230 NE Sandy Blvd. (east of NE 82nd Ave.); NO reservations required. For more information, see www.parkrosebusiness.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See the East Portland Chamber of Commerce continues to grow, as members take part in formal and casual events …

East Portland Chamber of Commerce members welcome a new business to the area – Zuffrea & Associates – with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on January 23.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The East Portland Chamber of Commerce has, over a few short years, become a strong voice for Portland businesses east of the Willamette River.

They’re perhaps best known for their “Good Morning East Portland” networking meetings held at different locations every Wednesday morning.

But, other chamber activities include public affairs programs, educational seminars, annual golf and bowling tournaments, and social activities.

The Chamber Ambassadors will help any East Portland business’s grand opening by performing their official ribbon-cutting ceremony ‚Äì whether or not the business is a chamber member.

For example, there was a good turnout a couple of weeks ago as the East Portland Chamber of Commerce welcomed Zuffrea & Associates. This firm helps other businesses market more effectively through advertising specialties and special promotions.

Group socializes after work
Some activities provide members and guests with activities to just have fun.

“Chamber After Hours” gets underway at Micky Finn’s Restaurant and Pub in the Woodstock area. The host of this event was (near left) Richard Kiely, the owner of Home Run Graphics.

In late January, members poured into Micky Finn’s Restaurant and Pub in Woodstock for a fun social evening. The host of the event, Richard Kiely, the owner of Home Run Graphics, made it clear that this event was indeed to be purely social.

Over chicken wings, onion rings, and other pub snacks, members and guests mixed and mingled in the casual surroundings.

Meet the members
Come to a “Good Morning East Portland!” next Wednesday, February 14, from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. Meetings are free and guests are welcome. The host will be Brian Newsom, at DeWhitt Appliance Center, 12518 NE Airport Way.

The East Portland Chamber of Commerce is an independent organization dedicated to serving the interests of businesses on Portland’s Eastside ‚Äì from the Willamette River to Gresham. The chamber keeps members updated through a weekly newsletter and an interactive website: www.EastPortlandChamberofCommerce.com. For more information, check it out, or call (503) 788-8589.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See a posse of volunteers, including Mayor Tom Potter, get ready for a massive tree-planting event in Southeast Portland …

Even though Friends of Trees volunteer Evelyn Spear lives in North Portland, she’s helping plant trees in Woodstock. “I like planting trees. It is ‘my thing’ I guess.”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The many Woodstock neighbors about to receive a new tree – and 150 volunteers with Friends of Trees – gathered early on February 3, a misty Saturday morning, with work gloves on their hands, and tree planting on their minds.

Because ice and snow froze out their previously-planned January 20 event, These Southeast Portlanders appeared more than eager and ready to start the planting.

Karin Hansen, Mayor Tom Potter, Kelli Clark (Woodstock coordinator), and Friends of Trees executive director Scott Fogarty pause for a photo, before heading out to seat saplings.

We caught up with Scott Fogarty, executive director of Friends of Trees at the Holy Family Parish Celebration Hall, S.E. 39th Avenue at Henderson Street.

“Events like these are important, because they help build community by bringing citizens together to do something important — restoring our planet and environment. It’s great to see neighbors united in a common goal: Beautifying Woodstock.”

Potter the planter
Portland’s mayor, Tom Potter, came by to lend a hand. “I am a Woodstockite, you know! We started with Friends of Trees by planting seven trees in our own yard. We’ve got five Hawthorns and two Maples in our yard now.”

Potter commended Friends of Trees for their effort to replenish the canopy over Portland. “When one flies into Portland, a unique feature one sees below is all our trees. These volunteers replace trees that have died, or have been removed during development. Not only do the trees beautify Portland, they absorb carbon dioxide, they take a lot of pollution out of the air and give us fresh oxygen back.”

Kylie Nero, Neighborhood Trees manager with Friends of Trees coordinates the volunteer effort in Woodstock.

Ready to plant
A coordinator with Friends of Trees — Kylie Nero — was outside the hall, organizing a gaggle of volunteers, piles of soil amenities, trucks, and of course, the sapling trees.

“These people have this locked down,” Nero told us. “They are very organized, and we get a lot of support here in Woodstock. It’s very exciting to be here, working with these energized people.”

As she strode over to help lift a tree onto a hand truck, she turned and reminded, “We do this every weekend through March. Come join us!”

Claudine Rose helps Donna Acord, one of 150 volunteers, sign in at the Friends of Trees Woodstock planting day.

Planting a tree in his yard
Bert Berney said he was volunteering because he was having a tree planted in his front yard. “A tree there died there, so I’m getting a new one.”

Adding that this was his first such event, Berney explained, “I saw a flyer in the neighborhood, so I decided it would be a great opportunity. This is a good way to help my neighborhood, and make it look more beautiful.”

Want to get involved? See www.friendsoftrees.org for more information.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Folks living on the eastern edge of Portland worried whether the water main break on NE 162nd Avenue would cause a sinkhole …

We saw water gushing — not seeping — between cracks in the street and curb along NE 162nd Avenue for nearly a city block.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
So far this winter, the water supply system in East County hasn’t experienced the ruptured water mains and massive sinkholes we’ve seen in other parts of the metro area.

But, some residents along NE 162nd Avenue, just north of NE Glisan Street, wondered if it was their turn to see the pavement in front of their homes crumple and sag into the ground, on January 28.

Patrick Healy and his son Daniel Owen Healy first noticed the wet pavement – on a very cold, windy dry evening in East County.

Patrick Healy says he, and his son, were working on a car when they noticed something odd. “About 8:30, my son said, ‘Dad, there’s water out in the center of the street’. It’s not raining, so I didn’t think anything about it. Then, I noticed the other side of the street was wet. Since then, it’s been progressing and getting bigger.”

Looking back a little later, Healy says he saw water coming up between the curb and the street. “The area where the water came up kept growing. We couldn’t find the number for the water company, so we called 9-1-1. They said calling this in was a good thing to do.”

Water streams up from the pavement
We arrive at 10:45 p.m. and find that water is not only coming up through the center of the street, but also burbling up where the roadway meets the curb for the length of a city block.

Officials and firefighters say they can’t do anything other than keep calling Rockwood Water District ‚Äì and keep people off the street in case it caves in.

A Gresham firefighter said when they drove into the parking lot off the street; they saw the water coming up turn from clear to murky brown. “We called the Rockwood Water District office,” said a firefighter, “but so far, we’ve only reached an answering machine.”

By 11:00 p.m., Gresham police officers had cordoned off the block, fearing the water might erode the soil under the roadway and create a sinkhole.

When we returned on January 30, crews had filled in the hole and were repaving NE 162nd Avenue.

Rockwood Water crews dug up the street the following day and repaired a water main line. “The main cracked all around a joint,” explained a worker at the site. “It happens this time of year.” But, no comment on why all the emergency responders got, when they called, was voice mail.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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