Discover what Mayor Tom Potter heard when he listened to Woodstock residents during his inner SE Portland Saturday session

Talking with Mayor Tom Potter are Woodstock “observers” Ruthann Bedenkop of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association, and Jane Glanville, President of the Woodstock Community Business Association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Once a month, you can find Mayor Tom Potter somewhere in Portland, listening to all who want to share their concerns with him.

Potter didn’t have to travel far on February 24 ‚Äì he this “Ten Minutes with Tom” session was not far from his home, at Pappaccino’s Coffee Shop on S.E. Woodstock Blvd.

“This was pretty exciting,” said Ruthann Bedenkop, president of the local business association. “The conversations seemed very open. It made me feel like our government was accessible.”

Mayor’s observations
We caught up with Mayor Potter as he was concluding his session with citizens, and asked him what he learned.

“We talked about issues ranging from the war in Iraq to fluoridation, to urban growth boundaries, to public safety, mental health issues; and the federal homeland exercise ‘TOP OFF’ with the federal government, how we could respond to a major emergency,” Potter summarized.

“I just found out that one of the adult shops in the area is closed and they’re putting in a bakery. That is a good thing.”

Mayor Potter listens to concerns about poor street condition during his Woodstock visits.

Hears of potholed roads
“A woman told me about her street ‚Äì it really needs repair. In our discussion, I told her that Portland has 2,400 miles of paved streets; 600 miles of those need maintenance. Yet, our largest funding source for paving streets is the state gas tax. It hasn’t been raised in years. Vehicles are more gas efficient, and fewer people are driving cars. While driving less is better for our air quality, it is harder on the City’s pocket book.”

The mayor said he’ll pass on the concern to Commissioner Sam Adams, who oversees PDOT.

Speed bumps on his street?
Recalling the group of neighbors trying to get speed bumps placed on their ‚Äì and the mayor’s ‚Äì street, we asked Potter what he thought of the idea.

“People do speed. I know some of the neighbors have talked to Transportation. But, the Commissioner of Transportation, Sam Adams, said they may not be able to put them on SE 41st Avenue, because it is an alternate route for emergency vehicles.”

Not all topics brought up to him concern local issues, Mayor Potter says.

National issues discussed
Not all of the topics people bring up to him, he said, are local.

“Several people talked about the Iraq war. They say it detracts from things we should be doing here. For example HUD provides a lot of money to local communities for local housing. Their budget was cut over 1.5 billion. We took a hit of $6 Million into affordable housing. We had to make that up. If it hadn’t gone for war, we could have used it for housing.”

Regarding Woodstock
Having interviewed the Mayor following several of his East Portland sessions, we asked how people act to him, when they can speak freely.

“Almost to a person, those who come talk with me are kind. They usually have issues on their minds they want to talk about. They understand that government can’t do everything. We do as much as we can.

“People from other areas treat me as well as they do here. I love Woodstock. I love living here. It is great neighborhood with nice people. I’m 15 minutes from my office. From the comments I heard, people do like living in Inner Southeast Portland.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The once-forlorn stretch of SE Stark St, from I-205 west to Mt. Tabor, is coming back to life. Why? See what Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams learned, when he visited the area

Meeting at Why Not Wine, METBA businesspeople Tarah Schuler, Kay Kirkham, Greg Bunker, Kristin Schuchman, Jacose Bell, and Ariana Dixon enjoy the association’s first social event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It looks like downtown Montavilla is, once again, beginning to thrive — thanks to business people have chosen to open stores, restaurants‚Ķand yes, the Academy Theater.

Banding together under the banner “Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association” (METBA), these outer East Portland entrepreneurs say that supporting one another increases the likelihood this area will again flourish.

Mix and mingle
For their first networking and social event, they met on February 28 in Montavilla at Why Not Wine, a wine bar serving light appetizers.

“I, like many of our members, want to get our association to percolate. So, we started this network event to help businesses support and learn about each other,” says Kristin Schuchman, a member METBA.

“I’ve lived here for eight years, and work as a marketing consultant as owner of Mixed Media LLC,” continues Schuchman. “I’ve hoped for more retail and restaurant establishments to come in, to give it the ‘village’ feel you get on Hawthorne or Belmont. It looks like my wish is coming true.”

About 25 guests filled the wine bar at this inaugural networking event.

Planning Montavilla Farmer’s Market
At the event, we met Kay Kirkham, one of the forces behind a proposed Farmer’s Market.

“The market will be on SE Stark St.,” she said, “at SE 76th Ave., in the vacant lot next to the Veterinary Center. They’ll let us use if for a minimum cost. We plan to be open on Sundays starting late in May.”

Interested in being a vendor? Contact her at:

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams meets with METBA members to hear their concerns.

Commissioner Sam comes to town

The first business group visited by Sam Adams after he became a Portland City Commissioner was the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association. Adams vowed to return.

After a mid-afternoon get-together at several locations, Adams told us what he’s seen and learned at Flying Pie Pizzeria on SE Stark St.

“Businesspeople are feeling good; the district is definitely coming back. They’re getting more customers. New investment is coming into the district.”

Sam Adams votes Montavilla and East Tabor as the place you are most likely to find great pies – both kinds.

Adams: ‘Best pies in town’
“It is good to see the vitality,” Adams continued. “Since I last visited, it’s great to see the area really flourishing. And, in all of Portland, some of the best pizza ‚Äì at Flying Pie and Stark Street Pizza ‚Äì and fruit pies, especially the peach ‚Äì  homemade by Bipartisan Caf?© ‚Äì are here in Montavilla!”

Commissioner Adams tells us that business folks would like to see money dedicated to help with pedestrian safety; for things like bubble curbs and curb extensions. “I wish I had more money in the transportation budget for infrastructure improvements.”

Adams added that he felt a sense of “continuing frustration that ODOT raised the speed from 30 to 35 mph, right here in the middle of the district. While that is their prerogative, it makes no sense to me.”

Other concerns, says the commissioner, are regarding the up-tick of prostitution and drug dealing around SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, and on Stark St. to SE 78th Ave.

Takes a break during budgets
We asked Adams why he’s taking time away from the office during the budget process in City Hall.

“A commissioner who sits in City Hall all the time,” replied Adams, “and who doesn’t make outreach efforts, can’t stay in touch. It’s easy to think the world is one way, while the reality, on the street, is quite different. And, as Transportation Commissioner, I am concerned with traffic issues. I’ll do my best to help, given the budget constraints.”

President is pleased
While driving Alema McCrea, president of METBA, the short distance back to her car she left at Stark Street Pizza, where Sam Adams’ journey began, we used the opportunity to ask how she felt about Adams’ visit.

“I thought we got a lot of good information from him about how to proceed with our traffic issues. We also learned how we can deal with ‘green’ issues, like putting bio-swales in. Sam really listens, and tries his best to take care of things.”

Additionally, McCrea told us, “both this networking event, and the commissioner’s visit gives members the opportunity to talk together and share concerns.

“The association is growing,” she said. “We’re adding new members ‚Äì come join with us.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take one look, and you’ll see the fun these kids had making dimensional paper artwork in this class ‚Ķ

Instructor Jean Choy helps kids get started on their Sunday afternoon art project.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Not all events at the library involve books.

Not long ago, we stopped by Midland Library to see a paper crafts class that brightened up an otherwise dreary Sunday afternoon for kids and their parents

“This is paper art for children,” explained the instructor, Jean Choy, “and also for adults who like to make art!”

Choy said she’s taught Chinese-style brush painting for 25 years, and enjoys creating art in charcoal and pen and ink. “I’m also a Chinese language teacher.”

-Alisha Archer with a little help from mom Julia, doing arts and crafts at Midland Library by making birds.

The craft at this session was making fanciful birds from paper cutouts.

Check our Community Calendar and you may find a class or special interest program that tickles your fancy. The best part? They’re all free.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It might look like a vicious sport, played without rules, but read this, and learn why rugby is a lot more civilized than you may think …

Performing what looks like a cross between a ballet leap and an acrobatic cheerleader stunt, rugby players hoist a team member high into the air to catch the ball during a “line out”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Their game over, soccer players quickly cleared the field at Westmoreland Park when they saw the blue-uniformed Oregon Sports Union “Jesters” and the red-jersey clad “Portland Pigs” (a/k/a Portland Rugby Football Club) on February 17.

“We don’t want to be in the way of these guys,” said a soccer player, making a hasty exit to the sidelines.

About to take place was the semi-annual competition between Portland’s senior men’s rugby leagues.

Century old sport shows no age
While the game of rugby came into being in 1872, the first Portland club was organized only in 1961, we’re told by Shawn Waterman, assistant coach of the Portland Rugby Football Club, known as the Portland Pigs.

“Portland Pigs?” we ask.

“According to oral tradition,” Waterman said with a smile, “at a tournament in San Francisco, a pig wandered on the field. The club adopted it, brought it back to Portland, and later roasted it. It was said to have been delicious.”

Not for the faint of heart
Waterman enthused, “It’s a fantastic game. It gets in your blood. It is a very physical game. It isn’t for the weak at heart, nor unsound of body.”

As in American football, rugby players grab the ball and do their best to carry into the scoring end-zone.

Rugby differs from American Football, we learned, in that players don’t wear helmets or hard pads. They are permitted to use soft, foam shoulder pads.

Asked about the basics, Waterman does his best to simplify the game play.

“The playing field is 100 meters in length, goal posts on each end. There are 15 players on a team. The object is to tally more points than your opponent by scoring a “try”, a “penalty kick” or a “drop goal”. A “conversion” after a “try” scores points as well.”

In simple terms, each team alternately attacks the opposition goal or defends their own.

Unlike American football, a when the player running ball is tackled – and wow, are they tackled – they untangle themselves and the play continues.

An adult-level rugby match lasts 80 minutes, played in two halves of 40 minutes each. It is controlled by a single referee and two touch judges.

“One thing that makes the game so vigorous,” Waterman stated, “is that, unlike American football, play continues immediately after a tackle.”

Parent calls it a “clean” sport
On the sidelines, watching what looked like violent roughhousing, we met Richard Sorem, the parent of Taylor, a Portland Pigs player. We asked if he had concerns for his son’s safety.

“True, it is a very ‘physical’ game,” Sorem replied. “But, he’s been playing for three years. Even though they play hard, it’s a ‘clean’ sport in which sportsmanship is highly valued. Rugby doesn’t have rules ‚Äì instead, they call them ‘laws’ ‚Äì and they are meant to be obeyed.”

Overall, Sorem said, he didn’t think the chance for injury is any greater than in other contact sports. “There are risks in playing any sport.”

It looks like a coordinated shoving match, but this grapple with the ball is called a “scrum”.

The greatest game
During a break, we ask Waterman why he chose this sport. “Simply, we play it because it is the greatest game.”

Portland rugby is played in a split season, in the fall and spring. “Wet, sloppy fields don’t make for a good game, but we play it in the season,” Waterman commented.

You can see the Portland Pigs practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Montavilla Park, SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Glisan Street, at 7:00 p.m. Games are played on Saturdays.

You can learn more about this fascinating, traditional sport by going to

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Witnesses, including an off-duty police officer, say they were surprised the elderly driver who turned in front of a rolling MAX train wasn’t killed

Portland Police NRT Officer Michael Gallagher (center, writing on the pad on the car) witnessed what he said was a grinding mix-up between the wrecked car and a MAX train.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Witnesses say it did not look like the driver of blue Dodge Astra was racing, trying to beat the MAX train to the SE 108th Ave. intersection from E. Burnside St.

Nevertheless, the heedless driver lost the contest and was struck, broadside, on the clear, dry early afternoon of March 8.

Thought she was killed
“I happened to look out the window,” says neighbor Laura MacDonald, “and couldn’t believe I was seeing a car just turn in front of the MAX train. It slammed into the car so hard, it spun it around. I thought it must’ve killed the driver for sure.”

The MAX Train coupler struck the car broadside, first in the driver’s door; then in the rear quarter-panel, as it spun it off the tracks.

Driver appears oblivious
About to start his afternoon shift, off-duty Portland Police NRT Officer Michael Gallagher was on his way from the Gateway Area Business Association meeting to East Precinct.

“I was coming south on SE 108th Avenue, waiting for traffic to clear,” Gallagher tells us on scene. She [the driver of the Dodge] was westbound on E. Burnside St. I observed her pulling into the left hand turn lane to travel south on 108th. She appeared to be oblivious to the MAX train, bearing down upon the intersection.”

Gallagher says the train indicator lights and traffic signals were operating, and the MAX train sounded the horn, then hit its brakes.

“When I got out, checking on her after the accident, I thought she’d be seriously injured ‚Äì or worse,” says Gallagher.

TriMet officials check over the MAX train; it is released to continue its westward journey.

Instead of finding a mangled driver, the officer says the heedless driver refused medical attention – and, using her four-point cane, walked away from the accident.

“It was my fault, I think,” said the elderly woman. “I didn’t see it.”

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

Eighteen hours apart, these two residential fires kept crews from Portland Fire & Rescue busy. See why one of the fires sounded “two alarms” ‚Ķ

Firefighters knew they had to quickly knock this fire down to keep it from spreading to other units of this apartment building. (Dick Harris, PF&R photo)

Story and some photos by David F. Ashton
An apartment house fire on the evening of March 2 sent the crews of eleven fire engines and five ladder trucks to the 13000 block of SE Powell Boulevard.

“On arrival,” PF&R’s John Hill reports, “they had a large amount of fire in two of the first floor apartments.”

The flames, Hill says, were leaping to the second floor of the structure, extending up to the parapet area of the roof. When the roof was ablaze ten minutes after they arrived, the Battalion Chief called for a second alarm.

“A ‘second alarm’ immediately dispatches more resources to a fire,” explains the bureau spokesperson, Lt. Allen Oswalt. “Especially with an apartment fire, we want to make sure we contain the fire, and that it doesn’t spread to other units.”

Portland crews, assisted by Gresham firefighters, quickly knocked down the blaze.

“Damage to the apartment complex was limited,” Hill says, “so that we only had two adults and one child that are going to stay with another family member.”

This fire remains under investigation.

Neighbors’ quick calls save elderly woman’s burning home

Officials say calls by neighbors brought out firefighters to investigate reports of smoke coming from this Southeast Portland home.

“We look out for each other,” says a neighbor, standing in the intersection of SE Steele St. at 57th Avenue as firefighters swirl around us. “I was concerned when I saw smoke coming from this house because an elderly lady lives there.”

The concern led her, and other neighbors, to promptly call 9-1-1 when they saw smoke coming from more than the chimney of the modest blue home on March 3.

While firefighters check on her wellbeing, neighbors gather to comfort the woman whose home is damaged by a basement fire.

Quick investigation leads to fast action
Within minutes, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 25 rolls on scene.

“Firefighters arrived to find smoke-stained windows,” Battalion Chief Erin Janssens tells us on scene. “They immediately called for ‘residential house fire response’, thus dispatching more units.”

A jet of water sprays out of a basement window, as firefighters quickly extinguish the fire, said to be located above the home’s basement ceiling.

Concerned that the occupant might be in the building, Janssens tells us, some firefighters made a complete search of the building while others looked for the source of the potential blaze.

“In the basement, they found the source of the smoke, and extinguished it,” says Janssens. “Fortunately, the occupant was out of the building.”

Lt. Greg Holsinger, from Station 25, comforts the homeowner, and gives her information regarding resources available to her.

In all, 24 firefighters responded to the incident, hailing from PF&R Stations 25, 20, 9 and 11.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

NOW PLAYING: See how a British vicar’s home is turned upside down by four mistaken identities, two impostors, an escaped spy in this hilarious, fast-moving play ‚Ķ

As the story begins … Penelope Toop (Desira?© Stewart), the American wife of the local vicar is disappointed that her visiting ex-show biz pal, Corporal Clive Winton (Chris McVey) won’t take her to see a show in town. Winton relents, borrows the vicar’s suit, and is mistaken for the Reverend.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The opening night audience laughed out loud, hearing the snappy dialog, seeing the madcap action and reveling in the mash-up of confusion of the David Douglas High School production of See How They Run.

It’s a World War II era play by Philip King, considered by many to be the “King of Farces” because of the screwball situations and humor, heavily playing on problems arising from mistaken identities.

The maid, Ida (Emily Strickland) tries to explain to her boss, The Reverend Lionel Troop (Jonathan Quesenberry) why the town busybody, Miss Skilton (Katy Beckemeyer) is found inebriated, out of control, and in the most embarrassing of situations – on the floor!

The line, “See how they run”, originally drawn from the nursery rhyme about the “three blind mice” is best known in popular culture today from The Beatles’ use of it in two of their songs, “I am the Walrus” and “Lady Madonna”.

But perhaps Paul McCartney and John Lennon used this phrase in the songs not because of the children’s rhyme, but because they enjoyed the comedic confusion that reigns in this play.

The real Reverend Troop gets clocked by an escaped prisoner (Joey Russell) who needs a quick change of clothes. Thus, two vicar-imposters are now in the house.

Star-studded, experience cast
You’ll recognize many of the actors in this production. Most of them have played many staring roles in other David Douglas Theater products.

Some of the featured players in this show are Katy Beckemeyer played the lead role in Peter Pan; Chris McVey was “Big Jule” in Guys and Dolls; Jonathan Quesenberry was “Captain Hook” in Peter Pan; Desira?© Stewart played a knockout “Adelaide” in Guys and Dolls and “Wendy” in Peter Pan; and, Emily Strickland, a veteran of nine DDHS productions, and will be competing in the State drama competitions.

The Bishop of Lax (Rachel Lemons), shows up a day early, complicating matters for Penelope, to the delight of maid Ida.

Solid direction produces snappy scenes
Directed by Michael Givler, with the support of  Judy LeCoq and Kaila Murry, the actors deliver their lines crisply, with the “snap” necessary to make a fast-paced comedy pick up speed until the frenzied ending.

The more questions the Bishop of Lax asks of Penelope, the more confusing the situation becomes. Corporal Winton laughs hysterically, both because he’s been mistaken for Reverend Troop ‚Äì and because his military uniform has disappeared.

Sophisticated staging
The show’s Technical Director, Mark L. Taylor and his student staff built the realistic set ‚Äì complete with five doors, all well used ‚Äì out and away from the stage front, bringing the action up close to the audience.

The crew’s execution of Lighting Designer David Tangen’s superb illumination design highlights the screwball antics of the characters as they scurry about, trying desperately to right multiple situations that have gone awry.

As the situation continues to worsen, and the pace of the play quickens, Penelope is frenzied as Corporal Winton squares off with the (literally) defrocked Reverend Troop. The action continues to build from here – these scenes are from the FIRST half of the show!

Order tickets today
See How They Run continues its run on March 15, 16, and 17.

Showtimes for all performances are at 7:30 p.m. in the beautiful Howard Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Ave., Portland, OR 97233.

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults.

For ticket information, call the David Douglas Box Office at (503) 261-8270.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you’re sick and tired of crooks and drug addicts reducing the quality of life in outer East Portland, learn about this special meeting on March 20 ‚Ķ

Rosanne Lee, East Portland Crime Prevention Program Coordinator, encourages Powellhurst-Gilbert’s Glenn Taylor to attend the March 20 organizing meeting for the new Foot Patrol.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton

They don’t carry guns and bust crooks.

But citizen volunteer members of a “Foot Patrol” do wear identifying vests, and battle crime with notebooks and pens.

Rosanne Lee, East Portland Crime Prevention Program Coordinator, explains, “Their purpose is to record what they see ‚Äì but, more importantly, to be a visible presence in the community.”

Lee says she’s in the process of  developing a group of volunteers to assist Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct officers to provide a “community presence at ‘hot-spots’ in various neighborhoods. They also do outreach for the precinct for special projects, like car prowl education.”

After two hours of training, the volunteers decide how to organize, Lee tells us. “This is a new idea; we’ve never organized a Foot Patrol on a precinct-wide basis. And, East Precinct covers a lot of territory. We’re breaking new ground.”

Come check out the Foot Patrol on March 20
Learn more about this do-it-yourself crime reduction program. The few hours you volunteer each month can make a real, positive difference in your community and neighborhood.

The organizing meeting is Tuesday, March 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the East Precinct Community Room, 737 SE 106th Avenue.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

When a major disaster strikes, it could be days, even a week before “official” governmental aid reaches you. See how some neighbors learn to protect their families ‚Äì and perhaps help save YOUR life ‚Ķ

Carol Moseley and Peter Deyoe show-and-tell class members how to be better prepared to help themselves, their household, and their neighbors, after a disaster.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Perhaps you’ve seen the listing in our Community Calendar for C-NET training sessions, and were curious to learn more.

A couple of weeks ago, we stopped in on a training session at the East Portland Community Center to get a first-hand look at why citizens take this free, valuable series of classes.

“Today, we’re holding the first of a two-part workshop to prepare citizens to deal with a disaster,” says With Peter Deyoe, Team Leader of Hazel Park NET Team. “NET stands for ‘Neighborhood Emergency Team’.”

Deyoe tells us of the many kinds of disasters that could befall citizens in Portland — such as earthquakes, terrorist events, or a disease pandemic.

Don’t count on rapid outside help
There are ways people can be prepared for disaster, regardless of the specific threat, he continues. “The object is to reduce the impact of the disaster by being prepared.”

NET training, he explains, goes on the assumption that, for the first week, individuals should be prepared to “go it alone” in a severe disaster. So, families, households and individuals should be prepared.

Many of the survival supplies are not exotic; and packed in Mylar foil, they’ll stay ready-to-use for years.

“We encourage people to first take care of themselves, and then their households. After that, they can be of assistance to friends and family members.”

Camping at home
Deyoe outlines how people can be ready to “go camping” at home. In the class, the leaders outline several disaster scenarios. “The key is to develop a ‘new mind-set’ of being prepared, instead of being afraid.”

Helping with the class is NET volunteer Carol Moseley, an area resident and a “ham radio” operator. She shows the group practical ways to prepare their household. “People don’t have to spend a lot of money to prepare; just think about it,” she said.

Moseley illustrates her point by showing essential foods and supplies, pointing out what she calls “indispensable items” to have ready for a disaster. She also gave food, water, and waste disposal pointers.

Checklists east preparation
The presenters go over checklists of common medical scenarios and first aid supplies to have on hand. “Make sure you have the wrench or key to shut off your natural gas lines,” instructs Deyoe.

The second part of the two-part class is typically offered the following week. “We hold these classes on a regular basis. Join us, and be prepared,” Deyoe recommends.

Find out more
While it isn’t easy to find, follow this link to the City of Portland web site for more for more information:

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Why would volunteers work all day – in the rain – helping East Portlanders recycle their discarded plastic items? Read all about it right here!

Mary Leverette, one of the volunteer coordinators for the SE Portland Plastics Round-up, helps East Portlanders put discarded plastic in its place – a recycling center instead of the landfill.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Last month, volunteers were standing in the morning drizzle overseeing plastic recycling barrels in the parking lot of Floyd Light Middle School on SE 106th Avenue.

It isn’t glamorous, but volunteer Portland Master Recyclers say their regular “Plastics Round-up” events are important.

“Many plastics never break down in a landfill,” explains Master Recycler Mary Leverette. “And ‘never’ is a very long time. But, thanks to growing markets for recycled plastics, we can keep them out of the landfills, reduce the volume, and do a good thing for the community.”

At these scheduled events, Leverette tells us, neighbors are encouraged to bring plastic nursery pots, bags and film, kitty litter containers, and all types of hard-to recycle plastic.

Rachael Berkeley and Zora, here doing their part to help by recycling their plastic goods. “The best way to help our kids become more aware of environmental issues,” Rachael says, “is to demonstrate our beliefs by putting them into action.”

Where the used plastic goes
We learned from Leverette that an Oregon company, Agri-plas, specializes in recycling plastics used at farms, greenhouses, and plant nurseries. The company has developed ways to reuse hard-to-recycle plastics.

“Agri-plas makes chips or pellets out of the materials, and then sells them to other manufacturers who make a multitude of items. Plastic Pots are mostly made back into plastic pots. Plastic bags mostly become plastic lumber. Agri-plas is known for their exceptionally well-sorted and contaminant-free plastic, making it easier for manufacturers to use.”

Next Round-up is May 19
According to what we learned, the Portland Master Recycling program’s mission is “Bridging the gap between awareness and action, by motivating people to reduce waste in their home and workplaces.”

“It’s that simple,” Leverette says. “We volunteer because we’re passionate about taking action to help our environment.”

Check our May Community Calendar for the announcement of their next event.

Or, mark down Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. – and take your clean, recyclable plastics to at Floyd Light Middle School 10800 SE Washington St.

For more information, see their web site at

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how serious home blazes caused at least one fire crew to race from one East Portland residence to another …

It took firefighters 30 minutes to put out this fire on SE 153rd Avenue. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

When duty calls, crews from Portland Fire & Rescue respond – sometimes going from one fire directly to another. Such was the case on February 23.

Outer Southeast fire
Four minutes after the call came in at 6:22 p.m., the crews from Engines 9, 45, and 73 arrive on-scene, in the 400 block of SE 153rd Avenue.

“The garage is fully involved in fire,” reports PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt.

He says the blaze started in the attached garage of a residence. “Hot coals from a fireplace ‘cleanout’, inside the garage, ignited cardboard boxes stored too close to the fireplace chimney. Embers from the fire got up into the exposed attic of the home.”

We learn from the neighbors that the family had occupied the residence for less than two months. The dollar loss from this fire has been set at $60,000.

“The family got out OK, there were no injuries,” says Oswalt. “But, there is a lot of damage to the home.”

Firefighters use an infrared detector to seek hidden flames in the walls of a home on NE 74th Ave.

Northeast blaze injures resident
Later the same evening, the fact that his burning home was a block away from Fire Station 19 may have saved the resident’s life.

Neighbors across the street say they didn’t see flames. “There was a lot of thick, dark gray and black smoke coming out of the house,” she adds. “It seemed like the fire trucks were here, instantly.”

“We’ve got a fire in a one-story wood frame house,” Battalion Chief Chris Babcock tells us on scene. “Engine 19, just a block away, was first in. Immediately, they entered the building to attack the fire. Once inside, firefighters encountered heat and heavy smoke conditions.”

Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman, Lt Doug Jones continues the story: “At the same time firefighting efforts were taking place, members of Engine 19 began to search the inside of the house for any occupants that may have been inside.”

Had it not been for the fast-acting crew of Engine 19, the resident of the burning house probably would have died in the fire. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

Within moments, Jones adds, they found an unconscious 55-year-old man on a bed in a back corner bedroom of the house. “They quickly carried him outside, where firefighters & paramedics began resuscitation efforts. He’s [the resident] being transported to Emanuel Hospital; he’s reported to have a pulse and to be breathing.”

The fire victim is later reported to be in critical, but stable condition.

“We had help from Engine 9,” reports Babcock. “They had just come from the fire on 153rd.”

A small dog found outside the residence was rescued and sent to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital.

This fire was extinguished very soon after fire crews arrived, officials say.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and is still under investigation by Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigators.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Even after police used a ladder to help a woman escape from a Brentwood-Darlington home, the man involved didn’t give up. See why SE 52nd Avenue was shut down while cops lobbed canisters of tear gas into that house ‚Ķ

SE Rex Drive, west of 52nd Avenue, quickly fills with public safety workers and vehicles, when it becomes obvious that a domestic disturbance is about to escalate.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Neighbors around the house in the 4800 block of secluded SE Rex Drive say the man’s behavior wasn’t typical ‚Äì in fact he was definitely acting abnormally on March 1.

At 3:45 pm, Portland Police Bureau Southeast Precinct officers respond to a reported domestic disturbance at the home.

When we arrive on scene, we learn there is dispute between a man and a woman. The man is holding the woman against her will.

Dramatic second-story rescue
“When officers arrive,” police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, “they learn the man threatened a female in the house with a knife; and she’s hiding in an upstairs room of the house.”

Officers work quickly to bring the woman to safety by putting a ladder up to the window, and then rescue her by pulling her through a second-story window.

It doesn’t take long from SE 52nd Avenue to turn into a parking lot filled with all kinds of emergency-response vehicles.

Makes threats instead of giving up
We note two fire engines in the area. “The man made statements he was barricading himself in the home, or was going to burn the home,” explains Schmautz.

Officers attempted to contact the troubled man, Schmautz says, but after he made several threats, officers activate the bureau’s Special Emergency Response Team (SERT).

SE 52nd Avenue, between SE Flavel Drive and SE Harney Avenue is shut down. “Public safety is our primary concern,” says a sergeant, in passing.

SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth (left) takes charge of the unfolding situation, and briefs Public Information Officer Sgt. Brian Schmautz on the status of the operation.

From all over the city, members of SERT roll on-scene. Soon, SE 52nd Avenue is filled with patrol cars and off-duty SERT member vehicles.

Officers “suit up” as a temporary command center is set up. They dress in Kevlar vests and camouflage jackets; check their weapons; and get ready for deployment.

SERT moves in
Using restraint typical of SERT operations we’ve observed; they don’t rush in shooting.

The heavily-armored SERT vehicle snakes its way south on SE 52nd Ave., turns west on SE Rex Drive, and moves into position near the house in which a man refuses to surrender.

Instead, the heavily armed team members quickly remove neighbors from surrounding homes and seal off the area. Then, they take positions surrounding the house. SERT K-9 teams suit up and take positions.

At the same time, trained SERT negotiators establish communication and endeavor to talk the man into surrendering.

At the Mobile Command Center, a huge RV-looking vehicle, SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth and the command staff listen to the negotiators and the SERT team leaders.

“If the negotiators believe that talking is fruitful, they’ll continue to talk as long as it is reasonable,” Schmautz tells us. “But when the suspect starts becoming irrational, or starts making statements leading them to believe he will cause harm to himself to the community by his actions, the commander will direct SERT to deploy gas and enter.”

Negotiations break down
As night falls on this particular rainy evening, the negotiators talk with the man, seen pacing in the house for more than an hour. But, talking doesn’t lead him to come out.

At 6:16 p.m., the sound of shells being fired can be heard ‚Äì it’s the SERT team, shooting tear gas into the house.

A few minutes later, “Pop, pop, pop” ‚Äì more shells are lobbed into the residence. “They’ll use enough tear gas or other less-lethal means to gain compliance as necessary,” Schmautz comments.

As night falls, bystanders’ eyes began to sting, as wafts of tear gas came from the house where a man was holed up.

Still, the troubled man doesn’t exit. For 40 minutes, more and more tear gas floods the residence. The man breaks a window, trying to escape the tear gas.

Finally, surrender
Just before 7:00 p.m., the man, later identified as 50-year-old Gaylon Amen, gives up and comes out.

“Amen apparently sustained some non-life threatening injuries when he broke out a window to escape the gas,” Schmautz tells us. “Amen is being transported for medical attention, and will be charged with one count of Menacing and one count of Assault in the Fourth Degree.”

Schmautz says police has little information about Amen, other than that “we’ve had some prior criminal contact with him. For whatever reason, he was having a severe episode. It could be a medication or a mental health issue.”

The police representative adds that their Domestic Violence Unit will work with the rescued woman to assure her future safety.

The mission accomplished, SERT members disperse.

Many police officers called up for this SERT mission were off duty. They stripped off their gear, got in their vehicles and returned home.

“A good mission,” a SERT officer commented to us, in passing. “Everyone’s going home safely, and perhaps this individual will get the help he needs.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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