See why the commute into Portland — from Gresham, and points east — became a nightmare during the March 1st morning drive. The good moos: No cows were injured …

Hours after the mishap, big-rig tow trucks were still trying to right the toppled milk-carrying tanker trailer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Eastbound traffic on Interstate 84 was slow mooo-ving on March 1 because of a trucking accident.

At 5:55 am, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers, and investigators from the Traffic Division, were called to the scene of a non-injury collision on I-84 westbound near NE 122nd Avenue, involving an overturned milk truck.

Investigators contacted the driver of the truck, 36-year-old Francisco Macias. He told them he had been forced to swerve to avoid a car after it cut in front of him in traffic.

As he swerved, he struck an abandoned vehicle on the side of the roadway.  The jolt from the impact caused the load of milk to shift in the big tanker truck, with the milk’s momentum carrying the second tanker over onto its side, where it ruptured open.

The concrete Jersey Barriers on either side of the lanes contained the milk, making it easier to clean up.

Police allowed one lane of traffic to slowly make its way past the scene of udder desolation – backing up drivers past Troutdale.

On this morning, the “Milky Way” wasn’t in the heavens nor within a tanker truck ‚Äì the bovine product covered the freeway. Cats across east Portland were said to be near tears.

The milk was the property of the Milky Way Corporation of Sunnyside, Washington, but after the washdown and cleanup, they won’t be getting it back.  No one was hurt, and no citations have been issued.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland Mooos Service

Discover why the Parkrose School Board spent months researching and creating a “strategic plan”, before they went shopping for a new education boss ‚Äì and learn how you can meet the final two candidates ‚Ķ

Parkrose School District superintendent, Michael Taylor, says he’ll be leaving in June; but he’s excited about the process the Board’s used to find his replacement.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The unassuming single-story brick building on NE Prescott St. ‚Äì the location from which the Parkrose School District is managed ‚Äì won’t look any different after June 30.

But, on July 1, this $30 Million educational enterprise will be under the leadership of a new superintendent. That’s when Michael Taylor retires from that position.

Six-month process concludes
Just because the Parkrose School Board has taken six months to hire a new superintendent doesn’t mean they’ve been lollygagging or dragging their feet.

Instead, with help from certified facilitators, board members conducted 37 focus group meetings with representative groups from all segments of their community. They recorded 1,700 comments from among 260 Parkrose people.

The participants volunteered their time; no one was paid for their input. “Every cultural group was heard from,” Taylor said. “We listened to what they wanted for their kids’ education.”

The purpose of this process was to develop clear, concise “Mission and Belief” statements.

“I’m excited about this process,” Taylor told us. “This is one of the few districts that have taken the time and resources to develop a ‘strategic plan’ before they conducted the search for their new superintendent.”

This means, Taylor continued, that “we’ve focused on who we are [as a school district], and what we want from our educational system. Only then, did the board focus on finding the person to lead the effort.”

Taylor said it took the board’s design committee 18 hours to consider, rank, and then boil down the community’s comments. “From this input, we developed a mission or vision statement for the district.”

Mission Statement revealed
Taylor said their Mission Statement is in two segments: “What we believe education should be, and how we’ll know we’re successful.”

*Full text of this Mission Statement is at the end of this article.

The document begins, Taylor said, with this statement: “‘The Parkrose School Community provides a premiere education that unlocks the potential in each student.’ This speaks to the quality of education our community expects, and to our bringing out the potential in each student.”

The thing that came that came through, he elaborated, “was the emphasis on maximizing the potential for each individual student. It recognizes that there are many ways to achieve success. Our Board recognized that we need to recognize that our students come from diverse cultures, educational level backgrounds, and have varying levels of family support. Our students come from all kinds of families ‚Äì from the well-established, to the homeless.”

Risks required to achieve goals
To offer more, and varied, educational opportunities for students, Taylor went on, “the school district will need to incorporate new ways of teaching students. There is an inherent risk in introducing new programs and teaching methods.”

Right now, Taylor said, the School Board is sharing their Mission Statement with the community. “We’re asking, ‘If this is what we believe, and if this is how we measure success, what will this look like in our schools? What would that outcome mean to you?'”

Having Parkrose students pass state tests is only the first part of educational measurement, Taylor continued. “That is a given. From there, this is about the activities that help students grow into being successful, productive citizens.”

Taylor won’t pick successor
While he’s been deeply involved in designing the mission statement process, Taylor said he won’t be the one to choose the next superintendent.

“I’m staying a little more distant from the selection. I’m making sure we have good community and staff involvement and communication regarding this decision process.”

A superintendent search can often be difficult for a school board, we learned. “In some cases, while the Board gives policy direction, they’re not clear about specific targets and goals they’re after,” Taylor explained. “But, by clearly defining the goals for our schools before starting the superintendent search, they are able to succinctly communicate their desires to a candidate ‚Äì on a single sheet of paper.”

While interviewing candidates for the job, Board members used their Mission Statement to help them formulate their questions.

“During interviews, Board members asked the candidates not only how the district can better accommodate diversity, but also develop educational systems and programs that allow [students] different paths to success,” said Taylor. “The new superintendent will have the ‘Mission and Belief’ statements, as a yardstick. It becomes our measurement.”

Come meet the finalists March 8
Taylor said that the Board has chosen two final candidates, both of them from Oregon school districts: Dr. Karen Gray, Superintendent of the Coos Bay Schools; and Dr. Ivan Hernandez, Superintendent of the Fern Ridge Schools.

“Our Board has done background and site checks; they’ve completed their visitations,” Taylor told us. “We’ve asked the candidates to meet our community on March 8. By March 12, the Board will have made their decision.”

Two meetings will held on Thursday, March 8.

  • Morning meeting:
    Parkrose School District Office
    10636 NE Prescott
    Dr. Gray will speak from 8:00 to 8:45, followed by Dr. Hernandez speaking from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m.
  • Evening meeting:
    Parkrose High School community rooms (L 12-14)
    From 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., Dr. Hernandez will speak; from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m., Dr. Gray will talk.

Each candidate will present a short talk and then answer questions. The School Board wants to hear what you think, and will have feedback forms at both programs. We’re told coffee and other refreshments will be served.

Superintendent Taylor says that, other than taking a fly-fishing class, he hasn’t seriously considered what he’ll do after he leaves the district in June.

Taylor’s next move
“What’s next for Michael Taylor?” we ask. “A fishing trip?”

“It’s funny you’d say that,” he replied. “I have my first fly-fishing class tomorrow night. I’ve put it off for a year-and-a-half because of conflicts with school meetings.

“I want to make sure I finish what I’m doing here. So, I’m fully here until June 30. I’ve heard some proposals for part time work. My family is all here, so I’m staying here in the community.”

“If you have some spare time,” we playfully suggest, “Teena Ainsley, in the Parkrose ASPIRE program, could use your help‚Ķif you have an hour-a-week.”


Parkrose School District
Draft Logo Statement, Mission and Belief Statements
January 18, 2007

The Parkrose School Community provides a premiere education that unlocks the potential in each student.

We believe that …

  • The health of our community, our state, and our nation is fundamentally dependent upon the success of each individual student.
  • A student’s success is the responsibility of all members of the community.
  • Respect for the individual and for strong relationships are essential.
  • All students are capable of achieving high expectations.
  • We must meet students’ diverse individual needs, and provide a variety of pathways to success.
  • Taking measured risks is an essential part of our growth as a learning community.
  • Accountability in all aspects of education is crucial.

We will be successful when …

  • Each student will graduate, having completed a K-12 education, with the knowledge and skills they need to adapt to their future: “Knowing how to learn.”
  • Each student’s education is driven by an individual education plan that assures high expectations, and is based on student needs and aspirations.
  • Each student is provided with a wide range of learning opportunities, in and out of the classroom.
  • Each student’s educational experience is integrated with the community and its resources; and the school, the families, and the community work collaboratively for each student’s success.


© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Board members thought holding a special event might attract a few more residents to their organization. See how many people their shindig attracted …

Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association board member Bert Sperling (center) listens to concerns of homeowners at their open house social hour.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The expansive, clubhouse room looked rather empty a few minutes before 7:00 p.m., the appointed hour marking the start of Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s first open house event, on Thursday evening, February 15th.

The association’s president, Gretchen Sperling, told us they’d mailed invitations to every home in their area, for their event at Eastmoreland Golf Course Bar and Grill, hoping to attract new faces to their organization.

They didn’t all arrive at once, but over the next ten minutes, the room was well populated. By the time Sperling began her formal introduction, more than 45 people had arrived and taken a seat.

The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s president, Gretchen Sperling, gets their first open house event underway.

Speaks to a growing audience
“Our vision is to encourage more participation in our neighborhood,” Sperling began. “We’re inviting more people into the conversation.”

Around the country, she said, when people talk about livability, Portland usually comes to the top of the list. “One of the reasons this happens is because of our incredible neighborhoods. We have so many different ways to live together.”

She explained that the reason for holding this open house was that the neighborhood association’s board members wanted more input from the neighbors they serve. “Issues are getting so complicated, we aren’t comfortable making critical decisions ‚Äì without inviting more people into the conversation.”

Sharing Eastmoreland issues
Asked to inventory issues with which the association was currently dealing, Sperling discussed:

  • Maintenance of the garden ‚Äì the group is working to establish an endowment for the continuing care of the Eastmoreland Garden which welcomes people to the neighborhood right across from where the meeting was being held, at the Eastmoreland Golf Course Grill.
  • Concern and care for the tree canopy ‚Äì how a committee cares for the health of the lush canopy of trees, including tree inoculation and Dutch elm disease.
  • Railroad noise issues ‚Äì other neighborhoods are starting to participate in this issue. The 1955 injunction was upheld by a federal judge several years ago and now the Union Pacific is to comply with the terms of that agreement;
  • Reed College’s use of Parker House ‚Äì how the capacity of use was greater than the neighborhood would like to see. A hearing officer found in favor of the neighborhood; but the college is reapplying for conditional use permit.
  • Off-leash dog use at Duniway School ‚Äì dealing with the concerns of dogs running free, and the owners who don’t pick their pets’ waste.
  • Crime issues ‚Äì how it has increased in the neighborhood; police say it is coming from “fearless” meth addicts who come down Springwater Trail. “They have no fear, and break into homes even with people home. They’ll climb up trees and over flat roofs to gain entry in second stories.” Several second-story break-ins had recently been reported near S.E. Knapp Street and 35th.

Mike Fisher, VP; Bert Sperling, board member; former president John Reiersgaard, and Gretchen Sperling, association president, were four of many board members on hand to meet and greet their neighbors.

Although Sperling told us the event was to be an informal meeting, neighbors new to the association asked questions on a wide variety of topics, including why the promised Inner Southeast MAX line has not yet been built.

Ending the meeting, Sperling invited the crowd, now numbering more than sixty, to address their specific concerns individually with the committee chairs and board members present at the meeting.

“Come to our regular meetings each month, on the third Thursday, at the Duniway School library. But, you don’t even have to come to the meetings to be involved! There are many subcommittees that would like to have your participation.”

Diane Rynerson buys a tree walk map from Dan Dettmer, a volunteer on the Eastmoreland Tree Committee.

After the meeting, Sperling said, “I’m thrilled to see so many people show up, and show interest in our community. I’m tickled. I’m hopeful this will translate into better attendance at our monthly meetings. I’m cautiously optimistic.”

When March 22nd comes around, perhaps David Perkinson, whom we met as he looked over an exhibit showing the diversity of Eastmoreland trees, will be back. He told us, “My first meeting, although I’ve lived here for 16 years. Maybe I’ll come to another one.”

The large turnout surprised — and pleased — the neighborhood association’s board.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

What you don’t know about correctly using “Child Safety Seats” could actually kill your child. See what dozens of East Portlanders learned from a traffic cop ‚Äìalso a father ‚Äì about these life-saving devices ‚Ķ

Heather Hunt learns how to properly use Parker’s child safety seat from Portland Police Officer, and father, Brett Barnum.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As a cop assigned to the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division, Bret R. Barnum sees the result of vehicle crashes nearly every day.

“We’re the officers assigned to investigate wrecks,” Barnum tells us, “so we see, first hand, the difference well-used car safety seats make.”

Walking away versus carried away
Barnum illustrates his point by telling stories of two very similar crashes.

“A car was hit in a grinding T-bone [side impact] collision by an SUV going at least 30 MPH. The truck struck right where the child was sitting. When I arrived on scene, I found the child properly secured in with a seatbelt in a ‘booster’ seat. The result: The child walked away, without a scratch, completely safe and unharmed ‚Äì not even a bruise.”

Barnum looks down, speaks in a lower voice and says the outcome was tragically different in a very similar crash, also involving a young child in a booster seat.

“In this accident, the child in the booster seat was only secured by the lap belt, not the shoulder strap. She had severe internal abdominal injuries; we thought she wouldn’t live. Fortunately OHSU’s Dornbecher hospital was able to save her.”

Putting the ‘safe’ into safety seats
We caught up with Barnum at a Child Safety Seat Clinic in Oak Grove on February 10. “Over half the folks we’ve seen here have been from Inner Southeast Portland,” he says.

The purpose of the event, held in partnership with Alliance for Community Traffic Safety, is helping parents learn how to correctly use their safety seats.

Barnum is helping Heather Hunt, a Sellwood resident. “Parker’s grown into a new car seat. We wanted to get it installed correctly.”

Officer Barnum goes over the child safety seat checklist, making sure Heather’s baby, Parker Hunt, will be safe in his new seat.

The officer makes sure the checklist is complete, as he completes his visit with Hunt: “The seat is new; the owner’s manual is with it; it conforms to safety standards; it passed the ‘pinch’ test; and the safety belt can easily be secured to the seat.”

“Things I learned today,” Hunt tells us, “are the importance making sure your child’s safety seat is secure, so it can’t slide from side to side. And, I now understand the importance of having the baby’s restraints positioned correctly around his shoulder blades.”

As she drove off, Hunt thanked Barnum, saying “This was very, very valuable for me ‚Äì and Parker.”

Barnum takes one last look to make sure this young passenger will be safe in his new seat.

83% improperly installed
We learned from Barnum that Child Safety Seat Clinic technicians report finding that 83% of all seats are not installed properly.

“Had these people not come in,” Barnum says, “they’d still be out on the road, unintentionally risking the lives of their kids. These parents have the best intentions for protecting their children. But, with car seat technology rapidly changing, properly using them can be confusing.”

Most common problem seen
The most common problem, Barnum explains, is that the harness system, in the car safety seat, tends to be too-loosely secured. “There shouldn’t be slack in the straps.”

When the straps are too loose, he shows us, the child can be ejected out of the car safety seat into the car itself, at high velocity. “The crash force dynamics take a real toll on the children who are ejected.”

A parent’s prospective
“It is up to the parents to protect their little kids who can’t protect themselves,” Barnum says.

“I have two boys myself. When I go to a crash and see a child walk away from a severe accident because they are protected ‚Äì it can bring a tear to my eye. You look at them and think, ‘Thank goodness someone cared enough to do it right’.”

Learn more
Discover vital information about using child safety seats, and future clinic locations and dates at, or call toll-free: 1-800-772-1315.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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