Read why the owner of this SE Portland railroad sees bright days ahead for rail transport – but a gloomy future for a transportation museum the City of Portland had promised to build 50 years ago …

Railroad historian and rail line owner, Dick Samuels, talks with his friend, retired engineer Jim Abney, before our “ride into history”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A few weeks ago, many people took note of the historic locomotives and rail cars running along the Oaks Bottom tracks.

According to railroad history buff Dick Samuels, these excursions were run for Lionel model train convention held in Portland, and a visiting group of “speeder” [a small, railroad four-person work car] enthusiasts.

Because it was built in 1952, rail buffs consider the Oregon Pacific Railroad Company’s 1202 “diesel electric” locomotive to be a relic. Bu, this fully-restored and rebuilt machine is its main engine to pull freight cars in and out of SE Portland every day.

“We also offered rides to the public to benefit the Pacific Railroad Preservation Assn., to publicize Portland’s trains, and remind people that we are here,” Samuels tells us at the association’s annual picnic held at Oaks Park. “To thank the volunteers, get to run the trains for themselves, today.”

Rail resurgence benefits inner SE Portland
The rails used in the demonstration rides between Oaks Park and East Portland Junction belongs to the Oregon Pacific Railroad Company – a real, working railroad company owned by Samuels. The “1202”, a diesel electric locomotive built in 1952, which powered some of the excursion rides, is the railroad’s “workday” engine.

“Inbound, we haul frozen food,” explains Samuels. “We handle about 90% of the frozen poultry that comes into Portland. We also carry coiled steel to a factory here. We ship out three to five carloads of frozen soup for institutions in the Midwest.”

Railroads are seeing a real resurgence, Samuels comments. “With fuel costs going up, and people more concerned about the environment, it makes sense. It isn’t the fastest form of freight transportation, but it is the most efficient.”

Samuels says his rail line, run with the help of his family members, keeps hundreds semi-trucks off SE Portland streets every month.

“As long as people keep eating, and needing goods, we’ll keep moving it by rail,” says Samuels with a smile.

Portland Transportation Museum 50 years overdue
While the future of his Milwaukie-based railroad looks bright, Samuels says he’s glum about the prospects for preserving the history of rail transportation in the Pacific Northwest.

“We’ve been looking at a home for Portland’s historic trolleys, railroad cars, and rail memorabilia south of Oaks Bottom. 50 years ago, Portland’s city leaders promised to build a transportation museum there. They haven’t kept their promise,”

Samuels points to the three cabooses and other older rail units on the tracks. “They need a place to live. We’ve been giving [Portland] the chance to fulfill this promise, at no cost to the public. We’re willing to do a straight trade – the right-of-way they need to complete the Springwater Trail, in exchange for access to site of the one-time Sellwood dump. We don’t even need to own the property; just the right to use it for its intended purpose.”

Changing the subject, Samuels asks if we’d like to ride in the 1202’s cab, while volunteer engineer Jim Abney (retired after 40 years of being full-time engineer) takes guests for a ride.

Jim Abney, a retired engineer, says he loves his volunteer engineer duties. “Go fishing? I’d rather drive a train any day.”

We readily agree, climb into the cab and step into living history. “You’re in good hands,” says Samuels with a smile, and hops off the train. The locomotive roars to life, and off, riding through history along Oaks Bottom, toward Portland.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover why this group was at a key site during the latest Johnson Creek Watershed-wide clean-up event …

Lisa Gunion-Rinker and Laurie Kendall volunteer to help clean up trash and clean out invasive plant species along Johnson Creek in inner SE Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For the Friends of Tideman-Johnson Park, the Johnson Creek Watershed-wide clean-up project on August 18 isn’t a one-time event.

“We will be doing projects like this every month,” says co-chair Lisa Gunion-Rinker, as she takes a break from pulling ivy off a tree. “We’ll also be doing native plantings in the park.”

Considerable work has been done to improve Tideman-Johnson Park, including covering a once-exposed major sewer line, adding a boardwalk, and restoring natural habitat. “But, I’m surprised how many people haven’t visited it.”

Gunion-Rinker tells us their group was awarded a stewardship grant from the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services as a part of the Greater Johnson Creek Watershed improvement program

Many volunteers pitch in
“For the area-wide event today,” says Gunion-Rinker, “We’ve partnered up with Portland Parks & Recreation, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and Precision Castparts. About 60 people came to our site, and we’re getting a whole bunch of work done.”

Sixty volunteers from several organizations, including PCC Structural, pitched in to preen the land near the creek.

We see workers pulling ivy off trees, chopping down blackberry bushes, and removing other non-native species. Other volunteers gather and haul out trash.

“Our monthly projects will keep our park a better one for people to enjoy, and to see the natural area as it should be,” says Gunion-Rinker. “We hope others will join us – usually on the last Saturday of the month.”

Serving themselves some great barbecue, prepared by Clay’s Smokehouse, are volunteers Wes and Wiley Wolfe, at the JCWS’s “Jammin’ for Salmon” event that followed the watershed-wide cleanup.

Where to access the park
This park runs along the Springwater Corridor. From Eastmoreland, you’ll find the entrance just south of SE Crystal Springs Blvd. at the end of SE 38th Ave. On the south side of the creek, enter from Springwater Corridor access parking lot on SE 45th Ave just off Johnson Creek Blvd.

“This park is in the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association area, but we also have volunteers from Woodstock, Eastmoreland, and Sellwood today,” adds Gunion-Rinker.

Check to find the group’s activity dates. And, learn more about the Johnson Creek Watershed Council by visiting

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Along with crafts and games, see how these campers are helping to beautify this portion of the Springwater Trail …

members of the YMCA “Eastside Breakaways” day-camp – Ian Pradham and Andy Tucker, Eric Thompson, and Audrey Ferguson – pitch in at Beggars Tick.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Along with their other camp activities, kids who go to the YMCA “Eastside Breakaways” day-camp learn community service.

We catch up with them as they are spreading mulch and cleaning paths at Beggars Tick, on SE 111th Avenue, just north of SE Foster Road, along the Springwater Trail.

“Part of our job is to help these kids as develop human beings,” says camp counselor Andy Tucker. “And part of growing into being a good citizen is learning to participate in community service. It is also about learning what is going on at this wildlife refuge – the plant life and other stuff they’re doing here.”

As the sixth through eight grade students toil away, Metro Park ranger Don Bee looks on and comments, “We take care of a lot of parklands. Whenever we can get volunteers to help us, it really makes a difference. These kids are doing a great job.”

Here, wheeling in mulch is camper Eric Thompson.

The mulching, Bee says, helps control weed growth, and retains moisture for the native plants, helping them do better against the invasive species of grasses.

What do the kids think?

“I’m used to doing yard work like this,” says volunteer Eric Thompson. “We’re helping out here; you can see that we’re doing helps. It’s fun to be of service.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Next time you visit the area, check out the history – and new renovations – along Hawthorne Boulevard …

Linda Nettekoven, vice chair, Hosford Abernathy Neighborhood Association; Jean Senechal Biggs, project manager, City of Portland; Karin Edwards, president, Hawthorne Blvd. Business Association; John Laursen, owner Press 22, and designer of the bronze plaques; and Portland Commissioner Sam Adams all take a peek at one of the monuments installed on Hawthorne Boulevard – one at the Multnomah County building, the other at SE 36th Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After almost a decade of planning, and a year of construction, the merchants along the street celebrated the completion of the Hawthorne Boulevard Project with proclamations and a street fair on August 18.

When we met at the unveiling their historical monument, Karin Edwards, president of the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association, told us why she’s pleased with the project’s outcome.

“Hawthorne is a very ‘green minded’ business community. Our customers prefer to bike, walk and bus when possible,” said Edwards. “And, everyone who drives to visit Hawthorne Boulevard parks their car – and becomes a pedestrian. So, pedestrian-oriented improvements really help the entire business and shopping community. We feel that increased safety is good for everyone, and it’s good for business.”

Edwards told us their association’s all-volunteer board helped guide the project. “Our goal was to maximize the positive benefits for customers and businesses. Our previous two presidents have provided excellent leadership.”

Lisa Naito and Sam Adams present their proclamations – one from the county, the other from the city – commending the improvements made to SE Hawthorne Blvd. and declaring August 18 as “Hawthorne Day”.

Two commissioners present proclamations
Both City of Portland Commissioner Sam Adams and Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito were on hand to celebrate the boulevard’s beatification project.

“This is a glorious day,” Adams told us, as he – and district leaders – took a sneak peek at the historical monument about to be dedicated. “Hawthorne Boulevard is one of our key neighborhood business districts. With this project, they got new sidewalks, safer street crossing areas, and new sewers. This helps make Hawthorne Boulevard a better place to live, work and play.”

Lisa Naito added, “The historical plaque is an artful addition to our County building. We’re very proud to be part of the Hawthorne Community.”

Hawthorne Boulevard historical medallion’s designer, John Laursen, talks about the project, while Commissioner Sam Adams shows off the handiwork.

Says medallions are opposite of graffiti
In addition to the historical monuments, artist John Laursen designed the medallions that are embedded in many of the sidewalk extensions.

“It was struggle at times, to make sure the funding would be there, and that the project would get built as designed by the citizen’s advisory committee,” Laursen told the group. “We had the idea of including aesthetic improvements, to give added value to government expenditures. These medallions are like the opposite of graffiti – by putting these in our sidewalks, it is our way of saying ‘we care about his place’.”

Officials from the City of Portland and Multnomah County, Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association, and the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association together cut the ceremonial ribbon dedicating a “bicycle oasis”, built with funds provided by the production company which shot the motion picture “The Hunted” here, two years ago.

Hawthorne Day Street Fair
Enjoy our photo journal of the day-long event …

Entertaining kids during Hawthorne Days are members of Circus Cascadia, including Paul Battram – who shows Zoe how to balance on a ball, with a little help from dad Andrew Mottaz.

This Hawthorne retailer serves the community by grilling up free hot dogs – both meat and vegetarian varieties – for those passing by.

Street sales along the boulevard attracted hundreds of shoppers.

Music – from sidewalk duos, like these guys, the “Slim Pickin’s Duo”, to full bands – provided a merry soundtrack for the event.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how a softball game, parade, festival and a music concert all provide good family fun for folks in the outer East Portland neighborhood …

Celebrating their 12 year of providing lemonade at Lents Founder’s Day in Lents Park – and six decades of serving the community with quality flooring – is the Lansing Linoleum family and crew.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Platted as the Town of Lent in 1899, it was annexed into the city in 1912 – making it one of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods.

Every August, area businesses and neighbors gather to celebrate Lents Founder’s Day. Here’s our photo album of the 2007 activities:

Annual softball game

The City of Portland City Stickers (left side) lead on the scoreboard from the first inning playing against the Lents Neighborhood Rebels. The City Stickers won the game, 24, to 9.

Parade and Festival

During the Founder’s Day Parade, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams greets people along the SE 92nd Avenue leg of the parade route.

In the Lents Lutheran Community tent, Jose Gomez and Erica Ferguson are slicing up lots of watermelon at Lents Founder’s Day.

Learning about old-time camp cooking skills are Kristine Keller and Kayden.

John and Judy Welch serve up some of the 300 free hot dogs, provided to the event by the New Copper Penny restaurant.

Rubi Gastelum climbs the Portland Parks & Recreation “rock wall” like a champ.

Larry Morrell leads the Providence Stage Band.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Smoke from the ‘controlled burn’ on Powell Butte could be seen all over outer East Portland. See amazing exclusive photos, from the air and ground, and learn why this was a “good” fire …

Ten of the 30+ acres burned on Powell Butte, as seen from the air, reduced burnable materials near homes surrounding the park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While usually firefighters put out fires, members of Portland Fire & Rescue, Gresham Fire Department, and other area agencies, were busy setting more than 30 acres of Powell Butte ablaze on August 25.

The three organizations involved with this incendiary exercise say it serves four purposes:

  • Reducing the possibility of uncontrolled wildfires,
  • Removing non-native plants,
  • Practicing wild land firefighting, and
  • Testing NET team communication systems.

Lt. Allen Oswalt, Portland Fire & Rescue, and Mart Hughes, PP&R Ecologist, keep an eye on the largest “burn area” of the day.

Wildfire abatement
In 2006, the city received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Oregon Emergency Management to reduce the potential for significant wildfires in several natural areas within Portland, according to Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) District 2 Battalion Chief Kevin Brosseau.

“We’re lighting smaller fires around the edges of five different sections, and letting them burn in until the fuel [weeds] is gone,” says Brosseau, the PF&R officer in charge of fighting wild land fires.

It may look like a wildfire, but this “prescribed burn” is carefully controlled by firefighters.

Improving Powell Butte’s ecology
“Another piece of this project,” says Mart Hughes, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Parks Ecologist, “is that this an ecological management program for the Butte.”

This burn acts as a “natural process” for Powell Butte’s grassland, Hughes tells us – as we watch the fire from atop a ridge on the butte.

“This prescriptive fire will reduce flammable non-native vegetation, including Himalayan Blackberry and other invasive, non-native species,” continues Hughes. “This burn helps prepare the site for seeding with native grasses and perennials. These will, in time, result in a grassland with higher wildlife habitat values.”

Wildfire fighting personnel and equipment from Boring to West Portland were participants in the burn project. Inset: the portable pool keeps water on hand for the tender trucks.

Visible from Vancouver
From the air, our pilot, Brent Grabinger, notes two plumes of smoke, as we climb to altitude from Pearson Airport in Vancouver, WA.

As we approach the burn zone, we can see many types of wilderness firefighting equipment deployed. Next to the pump trucks are what look like giant backyard play-pools. Brosseau later tells us these are actually temporary water reservoirs.

Looking down, we see that that Powell Butte is ringed by neighborhoods, homes, and retail stores.

Tommy Schroeder, a firefighter specializing in fighting fires where countryside meets the city, rides a specially-equipped ATV, while tending the fire-line on Powell Butte.

“Burn to Learn” exercise
On the ground, our escort on Powell Butte is Lt. Allen Oswalt, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Public Information Officer.

“If a fire here got out of hand, with all the dry brush on the butte, it could do a lot of damage,” Oswalt comments, as we creep up a trail toward the main staging area, riding in a fire department four-wheel-drive rig.

Specialized “brush units” from all over the greater Portland area – this one, from Boring – practice their wilderness firefighting skills at the controlled burn.

“We have a lot of areas in outer East Portland that have urban/wilderness interface areas,” Oswalt explains. “Our main goal is to help PP&R with their ecological project, and reduce the fuels. But also, we get the opportunity to keep our people’s wildfire-fighting skills sharp. Fighting wilderness fires is different than fighting structure fires.”

Using a “drip torch”, a firefighter lights a dry grassy area on fire.

Along the edge of a field, a firefighter is walking through dry grasses, dribbling a flaming mixture of kerosene and gasoline from what looks like a watering can.

Saying they usually put fires out, Oswalt adds, “Usually people don’t think of fire doing good, but this fire will be doing the ecosystem up here a real favor.”

David Fischer and Jason Campbell get information about the burning program from the NET Coordinator, Patty Hicks.

Emergency team training
In the public parking area on the north side of Powell Butte we meet Centennial Neighborhood volunteer Patty Hicks.

“I’m a team leader for the Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) here,” Hicks says as she cautions visitors about the burn. “They didn’t close the park – but I am kind of surprised people want to walk and bike here today.”

For their NET team members, this burn helps them develop their skills working with people. “And, we’re practicing communicating among one another. Because of the topography and trees, we are relaying communications. Also, we’re discovering which communication devices work best.”

Neighborhood Emergency Teams, Hicks says, are neighborhood volunteers, who are trained to help their neighbors in time of emergency. “We do this because we love our community, and our neighbors.”

You can help restore the natural ecology of Powell Butte by volunteering to help replant the burned areas with native plant species.

Participate in replanting
“We’re going to be doing a lot of restoration planting, including Oregon oak,” PP&R’s Hughes says.

“We’ll have volunteer plantings. If people here in outer East Portland want to help their community with land stewardship, this is a great place to do it. And, you can’t beat the view while you’re working,” Hughes adds.

Check East Portland News Service – we’ll publish dates and times for the upcoming restoration projects.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

As this high school grows to 3,000 students, learn how the staff is gearing up to meet the challenge of the coming school year …

We usually photograph people – not objects – but the new 18-classroom building and landscaping is too attractive not to show you.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Next week, 3,000 central outer East Portland students will stream onto the David Douglas High School campus.

The first thing they’ll notice is that the entire main building – larger than two city blocks – has been painted. As kids approach the main entrance, they’ll stroll across a spacious, newly constructed concrete walkway.

And, looking south from the main entrance, instead of seeing the old tennis courts, they’ll catch a glimpse of the new, two-story classroom building.

What won’t be immediately obvious is how diligently the school’s 174 teachers have been preparing for the new school year.

Principal Randy Hutchinson says the new building’s computer lab is equipped to provide state-or-the-art learning experiences.

Building to meet growing student body
David Douglas High’s principal, Randy Hutchinson points out architectural features new building on the new building as we walk toward it.

“Give or take 100 students, we’ll be teaching 3,000 pupils this year,” Hutchinson says. “As more and more large apartment complexes are built here, our student population continues to grow. The 18 classrooms, computer lab and teacher workroom in our new building will help us meet the needs of our students.”

The building was completed on schedule, and on budget, comments Hutchinson as we walk in the building’s south entrance.

Ramping up their ‘literacy movement’
While their new building is an important addition to the campus, Hutchinson says “I’m really excited about our literacy movement within the school.

“We’ve put together a three-year plan addressing the most pressing issues that have come about due our student community’s changing demographics. Together, our staff has chosen literacy as our primary focus. Without being literate, you’ll go nowhere in life. If you can’t read, you can’t write and you can’t learn.”

According to Hutchinson, the school’s district office supports their enhanced literacy program, both philosophically and financially.

Teaching the teachers is David Douglas High math instructor, Bill Berry – a member of the school’s “literacy team”. He’ll be teaching half-time; he’s been recruited to participate in the district-wide math literacy effort.

Teachers attend classes
“We’re starting with a solid core of superb instructors,” the principal continues. “Right now, the staff is taking training.

“Every teacher, of every subject, in every grade level is becoming a ‘literacy coach’. This is a paradigm shift for us. We’re helping our staff learn new teaching techniques by adding expert staff members and bringing in guest speakers.”

Focus on vocabulary and note-taking
“We have a huge immigrant population at our school; they come from families speaking 46 different languages. Kids pick up on ‘street English’ quickly; they can converse with you. But tests show they don’t have mastery of the English language,” informs Hutchinson. “Improving student’s vocabulary is a primary focus.”

50% of the kids who go to college drop out in the first year, he continues, because they don’t have good note-taking skills. More than telling kids to “write it down”, new programs the school developing helps students learn to recognize and record important concepts — instead merely writing down phrases.

Bill Blevins, personal finance teacher, holds a wireless responder – it’s part of a system that provides teachers with instant feedback regarding students’ knowledge level.

Building in learning technology
Personal finance instructor, Bill Blevins, is setting up his classroom in the new building. He says he’s keen on the layout, lighting and equipment in the room.

One of the high-tech tools he’ll be using is the Classroom Response System, he says, as he shows us a wireless device that looks like a TV remote control.

“During class, I can put multiple-choice questions on the Infocus video projector. They click in their answer,” Blevins says as he demonstrates the system. “I can immediately see how the class is doing, both collectively and individually – and know whether we need to spend more time on the topic or continue.

When we ask how the students like this technology, Blevins says, “It makes classes more engaging for students. In all my years of teaching, I’ve never had kids actually ask for more quizzes like they do when I use this system.”

Social studies teachers Tracy Lind and Heather Murdock-Wogmon say they’re really enthusiastic about starting school in their new classrooms.

A gift to students and teachers
As we conclude our tour, we meet social studies teachers Heather Murdock-Wogmon and Tracy Lind in the stairwell.

“It’s like a dream come true,” exclaims Murdock-Wogmon. “Everything about my new classroom gives me a feeling like the possibilities for education are endless.”

Lind nods in agreement. “This building is a great gift to the students, teachers and the community.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you’ve wondered why giant construction cranes are towering over the field next to Adventist Medical Center, just south of Mall 205 —  here’s the answer …

Adventist Medical Center’s Senior VP, Thomas Russell, sits with Judy Leach, Director of Marketing, upon the first steel column to be installed in the hospital’s new four-story 192,000 square foot structure.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Too often, worksites in outer East Portland are marred by gang graffiti.

But, at the construction site of Adventist Medical Center’s new wing and parking garage, the first steel beam to be erected on Monday bears inscriptions of hope, and dedication to serve and care.

“Our physicians and employees are really connected with our mission,” says the medical center’s senior vice president, Thomas Russell. “As we look at what they’ve written on this beam, we see that many people ask the Lord’s blessing on this project. When put in place, this beam will stand, literally, supporting our mission of providing excellent medical care.”

The new pavilion, Russell says, will increase the hospital’s emergency room capacity, add surgical suites, consolidate outpatient services and provide new center for cardiovascular care.

“We’re adding a parking garage with 403 spaces,” adds the medical center’s marketing director, Judy Leach, “making it easier for people using outpatient services to more easily access the clinics.”

The medical center’s $105 million building expansion is scheduled for completion in 2009.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you’ve never heard of a “Relay for Life”, see why all who participate – or even visit – will never forget what they experienced, at this very special event  …

All night long, and into the following day, at least one team member was walking to raise money for cancer research and patient aid during the “Relay for Life”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From telethons to footraces, many fundraising events have become media circuses – a spectacle that overshadows the mission of the organization.

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event called “Relay for Life”, which took place overnight from August 10 and 11 at Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Encampment supports participants
In the twilight, the park’s grassy lawn looked like a cross between a festival and a Scout’s campout. Tents were pitched; open-air encampments were set up. Food booths offered nourishment, ice cream – and rich, strong coffee. Live music played softly from a stage framed by the Willamette River.

Relay team members sat around a camplight, providing company and support for one another as they took turns walking the circular path around the park, fulfilling the donation pledges they’d solicited.

Candles light the way
The walkway was illuminated with candles in paper bags – they called them lumenaria. Many of the lumenaria were inscribed with names of individuals who have died of cancer.

Here, standing in the light of a camp lantern, are the American Cancer Society’s Mary James – and the volunteer Chair for Portland’s “Relay for Life”, Kathy Allworth.

“This event is held each year by groups around the world to support cancer research, advocacy, and patient aid,” the Portland event’s Chair, Kathy Allworth, told us.

Allworth says this is one of 4,800 Relays that celebrates survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer), remembers loved ones, and raises money for the fight against cancer.

“My personal connection is – well, my parents’ luminaria are right over here,” said Allworth, pointing to two flickering path side lanterns. “I lost my mom to cancer when she was 54; my dad to cancer when he was 75.”

First-time volunteer and food chair Gloria McAll says “This is an awesome event.” On the hill behind her, the word “HOPE” is spelled out with lumenaria.

Allworth said her employer, Fred Meyer, supports employees’ volunteer involvement. “The Relay for Life is something that – once you come here and see the event for yourself, once you walk the track, once you see all the lumenaria lit – you can’t help but pitch in.”

About 400 participated in the Portland event. “This is our third year. It’s gotten consistently bigger each year. Come join us!”

Throughout the night, Relay for Life participants walked the path to raise money for research that can lead to finding a cure for cancer.

Learn more about the American Cancer Society – and plan for your participation next year, by visiting

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Find out which outer East Portland park is next to get a “skatepark”, and how you can have a say in how it’s built, here …

After demonstrating some gnarly moves at the Glenhaven Skatepark on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses, Rocco Caravelli, says he never tires of skateboarding. “It’s great to have this skatepark close to my house in Montavilla. If it weren’t here, I’d probably be sitting at home watching TV.”

Story and photos by David “Grinder” Ashton
The high-flying skateboard and bike riders of “Dew Action Sports Tour” have now left town, but their sponsor, Vans – a maker of sneakers and sportswear – has again left a permanent mark on Portland.

No, it wasn’t graffiti or damaged benches they left behind.

For the third year in a row, Vans presented to Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) a big cash contribution for its skatepark project.

“We want to do more than just hold a commercial event and leave town,” Vans’ spokesman, Chris Oberholser told us on August 14. “We want to put our name on something that lasts. PP&R has put together a tremendous program to build skateparks, with the recognition that these parks are integral to the wellness of the community. It provides things for kids to do.”

Vans’ representative, Chris Oberholser, presents a check for $10,000 to Mayor Tom Potter, as Wade Martin, President of the Dew Tour, looks on. Check out the mayor’s cool, checked Vans shoes!

The event was held at outer East Portland’s first skatepark, Glenhaven, just north of Madison High School. “We’re proud to have had a part in building this skatepark by giving $10,000 donations for the last two years. And, we’re pleased to provide another $10,000 donation this year that will help build the Ed Benedict Park Skate Plaza, to be opened in the next year.”

More skateboarders than baseball players
At the event, Mayor Tom Potter greeted us and pointed to his checked sneakers. “They’re from Vans,” he chuckled. “It’s too beautiful a day not to be outside; it’s great to chill out and relax here.”

As we watched kids swoop and glide around the Glenhaven Skatepark, Potter remarked, “In Portland, there are far more kids who skateboard than play baseball; yet, we have many more baseball diamonds than we have skateboard parks. We’re starting to change that.”

The mayor said this year’s donation was going to expand the Ed Benedict Park Skate Plaza, located in outer East Portland on SE Powell Blvd. at SE 98th Ave. “I’d like to see skateboard parks in every neighborhood of our beautiful city.”

Watching local skateboarder Matt Gabriel do some of his tricks in the Glenhaven Skatepark “peanut bowl” – a deep, swimming-pool looking structure, he gets applause from the crowd. Donations by Van’s in ’05 and ’06 helped finance this feature at the park.

Says skateparks build community
Ben Wixon has worked with PP&R to help build their skateboarding program for the last five years. He’s currently an instructor.

“Kids need an outlet for their energy,” explained Wixon. “They need a place to practice their craft. More importantly, skateparks provide a space for them to hang out. It is a place of community. Kids are getting a sense of ownership out of it by taking care of it.”

Wixon says he doesn’t think skateparks will end the skateboard damage done to public and private property, but adds, “It sure helps cut down on it [damage by grinding], to have fun and challenging places to skate.”

Vans made two other donations supporting PP&R’s skateparks in both 2005 and 2006. The support of Vans allowed for additional amenities at the recently opened Glenhaven skatepark – the “peanut bowl”, and the path linking the facility to Madison High School. This year’s contribution will allow for the skatepark at Ed Benedict to increase in size by 250 square feet.

Youngsters arrive from far and wide – not to see the Vans check presentation – but to get everything from shirts to shoes autographed by stars of the Dew Action Sports Tour.

Portland system first in nation
According to PP&R’s Sarah Schlosser-Moon, the Portland’s skatepark system is the first of its kind in the nation. “In 2003, PP&R began an intensive process of planning for network of skateparks,” she related. “Our committee has developed a vision for a skatepark system encompassing 19 skateparks with a variety of features aimed at meeting the diversity of needs of Portland’s actions sports enthusiasts.”

Help plan outer East Portland’s new skatepark
PP&R is holding a Public Open House & Workshop regarding the soon-to-be-constructed Ed Benedict Skate Plaza project. Come review their design ideas and provide input into Portland’s first skate plaza.

The meeting will be held on September 13 in the Earl Boyles Elementary School cafeteria at 10822 SE Bush St.; 1 block south of SE Powell Blvd. from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Just in time for school, learn why these health care professionals help kids who can’t afford their shots – necessary to enter school …

Jean Taylor, MN, and Karen Oglesby, BSN, remind parents at Lents Founders Day that the monthly Lents Clinic can help make sure their children’s’ immunizations are up to date

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Seeing our friends from the Lents Childhood Immunization Clinic at Lents Founder’s Day reminded us that, once again, their clinic will be open the first Saturday of each month, starting in September.

“We help families who don’t have insurance and not on the Oregon Health Plan make sure their kids are immunized,” says Karen Oglesby, BSN. “This program is operated in cooperation with the Oregon Nursing Association, Multnomah County Health Department, and Wattles Boys & Girls Club.”

The service is for children ages 2 months to 18 years, Oglesby tells us; no appointment is needed. “All we ask is that parents bring all documentation of previous immunizations.”

The clinic runs from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. on September 1 (and the first Saturday of each month, through March of 2008) at the Wattles Boys & Girls Club, located at 9330 SE Harold Street (just east of SE 92nd Avenue).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how much fun kids had during
this “Magic of Reading” show …

Right before their eyes, magician Jay Frasier grows flowers on a bush, as part of his “Reading is Magic” show.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the great programs hosted at Midland Library, designed to keep kids interested in books during the summer months, was the “Magic of Reading” show.

Professional magician Jay Frasier performed simple magic tricks – in a very entertaining manner – to illustrate the benefits of reading.

“I do magical routines that relate to books that kids can check out in the library,” said Frasier after his show. “I try to draw them into books.”

Seven-year-old Sunny laughs so hard he can hardly stand up, while he helps magician Frasier at Midland Library.

Frasier, a professional entertainer of 20 years, told us he’s been interested in magic since he was four years old. His skills showed; kids were doubled over with laughter, and tears of joy streamed from the eyes of parents.

“I love to read. Encouraging kids to read is something I value,” Frasier said. You can learn more about the magician at

What’s happening at Midland Library this week? Be sure to check our Community Calendar.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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