As the federally-run emergency exercise was winding down, see how these volunteers tested their readiness to deal with a wide-spread disaster …

NET volunteers Mary Owings and Carol Moseley check in with team members in the field during the exercise.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In a disaster that affects the greater Portland metropolitan area, police, fire and other professional emergency responders will be taxed to the utmost.

If bridges are down, roads are torn up and communications are interrupted, it might take days – not hours – for them to arrive in some parts of Portland.

Who will be there to help?

Most likely, the first emergency help you’ll see will be an orange-vested volunteer from your local Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET).

Testing readiness
“This is our first involvement with the city-wide exercise of a disaster,” reports Mary Owings, NET volunteer. “We serve a northeast section of outer East Portland. We have NET volunteers with us from Parkrose; and we’re working with Portland Fire & Rescue’s Station 7.”

Owings tells us that duties are divided up among volunteers, just as they are in the professional emergency service bureaus. One person checks in volunteers, others check out equipment, provide radio contact, and supervise the activity of the exercise – or, activity during a real emergency.

Peter Deyoe, team leader of Net 7 talks with Johanna Juhnke and Ryan Sprague after they return from their mission.

Mission: Information
We talk with one of East Precinct’s two Crime Prevention Specialists, Teri Poppino, at the exercise held at the East Portland Community Center on October 20.

“Today, I am the operations chief,” explains Poppino. “When volunteers come in, I make the assignments. Today, our mission is disseminating information into the neighborhood. We are handing out leaflets that tell how to ‘shelter in place’ during a chemical or radioactive emergency; and another providing crime prevention resources.”

Poppino says team members are also taking a survey among neighbors to learn if they have been trained by NET, have CPR or emergency skills, or speak another language and would be willing to translate during an emergency.

Loves helping; finds areas for improvement
NET volunteer Johanna Juhnke shakes off the rain as she comes back into the “command center”.

“Several of the neighbors we contacted said they were surprised that we came by,” Juhnke tells us. “They told us they were glad to get the information and to learn that neighbors were looking after them.

Why does she do this?”

“I love helping other people,” replies Jhunke. “I like to give back to the community. And, from helping with this exercise today, I see that we can improve our communications if there is a city-wide emergency. It’s good to get the kinks out before a real emergency hits us.”

You, too, can be a local hero! Your first step in getting involved is to visit

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You don’t have to travel down to the convention center or Jantzen Beach for great spooky attractions … check out these fun, family events …

Parkrose Haunted Ghost Town

The The Haunted Ghost Town is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, October 26, 27 and 28.

This production features scary, realistic sets and scores of costumed and made-up actors. The Haunted Ghost Town will again feature ghosts of the Wild West, dancing ghouls, the cornstalk maze, haunted mine and lots of other surprises.

Their motto is, “Don’t touch anything, and usually, nothing will touch you!” While there are hair-raising scares around every corner, the cast and crew run a toned-down version of the event during the first half-hour, starting at 6:00 p.m.

To help families make an evening of it, refreshments are plentiful, and inexpensively priced. Just $9 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. Proceeds go to the Parkrose High School Senior All-night Party.

It runs from 6:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at Rossi Farms, 3839 NE 122nd Ave., just south of NE Shaver St. “David Recommended”

The Scary Magic Show

The Scary Magic Show presents two performances on Sunday, October 28 at 1 and 5 p.m.

Really scary? No, not at all!

Actually, this is a fun, family magic show with a Halloween theme.

Before the stage shows, be amazed as magicians surprise and delight you with magic close up, under your nose!

Then, sit back, and see award-winning magicians from the Society of American Magicians Assembly #59 – live on stage – present spooky, fun and crazy magic!

In addition to yours truly you’ll see Tom Cramer, Eartha  the Ecological Clown, Tom Waldrop, 2007 Desmond Competition award winner Bob Eaton, and illusions by international entertainer, Mark Bentheimer and Company.

Refreshment will be available for purchase. It’s all to benefit the Rose City Park Neighborhood Association and SAM #59.

Tickets will be available at the door; they are just $20 for the WHOLE FAMILY; $7 for adults and $5 for kids. It is at the Friendship Masonic Lodge, NE 57th & Sandy Blvd. For pre-event tickets, or more information, call (503) 493-8319. “David Recommended”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

With balls, beanbags and clubs in hand, discover why hundreds of jugglers – some of them trekking half way around the globe – say they gather just to throw things around …

Juggling like a pro is 9-year-old Duncan Silversides.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“You think you’ve had problems in an airport?” asks Ben, owner of the world-famous juggling store, Serious Juggling, as he sets up his booth in the gym at Reed College.

“Try getting past security, packing a set of these,” Ben says with a mock-serious wicked grin, as he holds a set of deadly-looking, but finely-balanced, juggling scimitars.

A non-competitive gathering
We’re welcomed to the event on September 29 by Albyn Jones, one of the organizers of the Portland Juggling Festival.

“Although we took last year off, otherwise we’ve been holding it annually for the last fifteen years,” he tells us.

This is a non-competitive festival, Jones says. “Some professional jugglers worry someone stealing their tricks and routines. But, perhaps only 30 of our 300 folks are professionals.”

Demonstrating his skill with the clubs is Woodinville, Washington’s Brien McCrea.

World-class event
Portland Juggling Festival, we learn, is the largest such regional festival in the world.

“Jugglers from across the United States, and performers from Europe, Japan, and Canada come to hang out and, well – juggle,” says Jones. “We get together for the camaraderie. And, we offer a lot of workshops, showing how to do new tricks.”

As Jones explains it, the “tricks” are unique patterns and sequences which jugglers perfect, to catch and re-launch multiple items.

Jugglers of all ages
Not all jugglers are men; Chao-Ching Wu and Carol Harvey say they came down to the three-day festival from Bothell, WA.

“I admired others who juggled, and wanted to admire myself – so here I am!” Wu says.

These girls just want to have fun: Chao-Ching Wu and Carol Harvey say they “love their juggling toys”.

“It’s about everyone having fun with their toys. People, of every age, come together with because of their toys,” explains Harvey, as she and Wu continue “passing clubs” between them. “I’ve been doing it for five years.”

We watch in amazement as 9-year-old Duncan Silversides, from Victoria, BC, juggles three – then four – balls, like a pro.

Says juggling is a social activity
Most jugglers with whom we speak say they enjoy the “social aspects” of their juggling avocation.

Leader of a large Bothell, WA juggling club, Tom Gaines, is “passing clubs” with his juggling buddy, Don Reinhardt.

“For me, the attraction is social,” confirms Jones. “I do like juggling as an activity for myself; I’ll stand alone in my living room and juggle. But it is really fun to juggle with other people.”

Tom Gaines, leader of the Bothell, WA, “Juggle for Fun” club says their 25 member group (many of them at the festival) is sponsored by their city’s parks and recreation department. “We get together every week to enjoy juggling, and teach the art to folks in our community.”

Eight-year old Maya Leshikar practices riding the unicycle.

We ask Gaines to reveal the secret of juggling. “Being willing to pick up the balls after you drop them, and try again,” he advises with a knowing smile.

By the time we leave, airspace in the Reed College gym is cluttered with balls, beanbags, rings, clubs, and knives – almost any item one can catch, then throw.

Although early in the morning, the Reed College gym is a juggling jungle.

Most of practitioners demonstrate professional proficiency and perform with great dexterity. But we see – even the best of them – occasionally stoop over, pick ’em up, and try again.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at this little story and you’ll find another reason to thank a Portland firefighter next time you see one …

Although the grease fire was raging, firefighters were able to knock down the blaze quickly and limit the fire damage to the kitchen area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s a cook’s worst nightmare – a grease fire out of control. On October 21, a resident at the home on the corner of SE Division Street and SE 130th Avenue found this out when he stepped away from the stove for a couple of minutes.

“I was cooking, and the fire started,” the gentleman told us. “I left French fries cooking on the stove; the oil started burning.”

The homeowner escaped without injury; he was alone in the house at the time. He said he’d like to leave the cooking to his wife, but she’s temporarily out of town attending school.

This fire was estimated to cause $75,000 worth of damage to the home.

Rapid response saves home
“Firefighters from Station 7 were dispatched at 4:43 p.m. and arrived at 4:47 p.m.,” Portland Fire & Rescue’s spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt told us. “Other units also came to make sure we had enough equipment and personnel on hand to knock down this fire.”

We asked how and why the fire started.

“Your stove is capable of bringing cooking oil to auto-ignition temperature,” explained Oswalt. “This means the oil will burst into flame with a spark or ignition source. If the oil boils over onto the flame, the temperature can be even lower.”

What lesson can be learned?

“Never put pots or pans on the stove – especially ones that contain cooking oil – and walk away. Your life, and the lives of your family, depends on it.”

Oswalt said investigators estimated the total loss at $75,000.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Last season, the Parkrose High thespians showed us how entertaining Shakespeare could be with their production of “Romeo & Juliet”. See why you and your family will enjoy seeing this show …

In the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” Jason Mc Ghee plays Angeo; Paris Mayhew is Luciana; and Bret Atwood plays Aegeon.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Many folks have avoided plays by 16th century playwright William Shakespeare, fearing they won’t understand “old English” and can’t understand the story, or they believe that stories written so long ago just can’t be relevant.

But, with their production of “Romeo & Juliet” last spring, Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783 showed audiences how compelling and pertinent Shakespeare’s works can be.

“We like Shakespeare!” exclaims the school’s theater instructor, Ms. Zena. “His works are really accessible, especially to teenagers.” She explains that it’s easy for both the actors and the audience to “get the drift” of his stories.

The works of Shakespeare are actually written in early modern English, Zena tells us. “Many people don’t realize this, because he wrote in a poetic form.”

Picks up the pace
Although the actors speak the words written by Shakespeare in 1594, Zena does significantly edit the plays. “In the style of the day, characters typically said the same thing three times, to three different levels of audience members. We only say it once. It picks up the pace of the play.”

Slapstick Shakespeare? Yes, indeed!
“The Comedy of Errors” tells the story of two sets of identical twins who meet up in a distant city. The play’s main characters encounter the friends and families of the second set of twins.

Having two sets of identical twins in the same place, at the same time, leads to a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities, wrongful accusations, and odd romantic situations.

“This play is loaded with comedy, puns, and even slapstick humor,” says Zena.

Their goal, she adds, is for their audiences to have as much fun watching Shakespeare as they have presenting it. From what we’ve seen in a sneak-peek at a rehearsal, both the Parkrose High staging and costuming are as colorful as is the story.

Bringing this full-stage production to life are 35 actors in colorful costuming – including a two-person donkey. “This is definitely a family event. Come, and you’ll discover how entertaining works of Shakespeare truly are,” Zena urges, as the cast plans their movements for a portion for the play.

The show runs two weekends
The Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783 presents “The Comedy of Errors” on November 1 and 2, and on Nov. 7, 8 and 9. The curtain goes up at 7:00 p.m. Or, see a special 2:00 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday, November 3.

If you haven’t attended an event at the Parkrose High School Theater, (12003 NE Shaver Street, at NE 122nd Avenue), you’ll be impressed when you walk in this modern facility. Theatre operations manager Terry Franceschi, and his crew of 20 student theatrical technicians provide professional lighting, sound, and staging.

Tickets are only $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Call (503) 408-2718 for tickets or more information.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Learn why this retired Realtor decided to start a business group with a spiritual premise …

Charly Kenyon, founder and executive director of “Christian Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest” is dipping into the chocolate fountain provided by Blue Mango Catering. The evening’s MC, Lorna Dobberstein, is in the background.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Earlier this month, we were intrigued when Arlene McClean, of Work Smarter, invited us to the first meeting of a Christian chamber of commerce being established in the area.

When we arrived, we found a sizable group gathered. Business people gave their self-introduction, and told a little about their businesses.

The gathered folks then dined on snacks and perused information provided by area business people in the great hall at the Rivercrest Community Church, 3201 NE 148th Ave.

As at most neighborhood business association and chamber meetings, self-introductions help attendees get to know one another.

Inspired by a ‘download from God’
Charly Kenyon, founder and executive director of “Christian Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest”, took a moment to tell us about this new organization and how it started.

“I’m a brand new Christian,” Kenyon began. “I was praying for my calling and got a ‘download from God’ one night. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of a Christian Chamber of Commerce.”

In the morning, Kenyon says she searched online for the term “Christian chamber of commerce” and found a few around the country. She said she located an international organization; also two groups in Florida.

“I called the representatives from the groups in Ft. Meyers and Orlando. They both have hundreds of members,” continued Kenyon. “They both encouraged me to keep going and make it happen.”

With a background in sales and marketing – and being a Realtor for 30 years – Kenyon said she’d attended many chamber groups. “I just felt there should be a Christian chamber, where we don’t have to suppress our faith.”

TJ Reilly and Bill Nelson talk with Jon Turino of Farmer’s Insurance at the chamber’s inaugural event.

First event draws large turnout
The large meeting room was comfortably full; we were told about 70 people came to the first event. “I was hoping that ten tables would be sponsored,” Kenyon commented, “but we sold 29 tables. I think there is a lot of good networking going on tonight. My daughter is the caterer; she booked a dinner for 35 people for January. People are doing business with each other.”

When we asked Kenyon why this is important to her, she replied, “My slogan is, ‘If all else is equal, wouldn’t you rather do business with a Christian business owner or individual?'”

Next event is November 1
Their next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 1 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at Acapulco Restaurant, 10566 SE Washington St. $12.00 includes buffet, non-alcoholic beverage and tip. They ask you bring cash or check made out to Christian Chamber. Seating is limited, so please RSVP to (503) 320-9373.

For more information, see them online at

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard came by personally to pick up their “rent check” for the next year …

Chairs of East Portland Neighborhoods applaud Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard when he arrives at the first annual celebration of the group’s new coalition office.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For years, the East Portland Neighborhood Office (EPNO) was hidden away in offices located behind the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct. Space was tight, and there was no room to expand.

And, it looked as if EPNO was about to get a rent hike – sapping funds that could be used to aid direct neighborhood programs.

The solution for their office problem came from an unexpected source: A Portland City Commissioner, Randy Leonard. A year ago, Leonard arranged for EPNO to move into the former offices of the Hazelwood Water District, nearly rent-free.

East Portland Neighbors executive Ray Hites, presents the “rent check” for the EPNO offices to Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard.

Rent comes due
When the EPNO neighborhood chairs met for their monthly session in October, the atmosphere was festive. They were celebrating their first year in their new location – a building that they say has worked out well for them.

Because the coalition’s office is owned by the Portland Water Bureau, their new “landlord” – Commissioner Leonard – came by to pick up the rent check.

Judging from the expression on his face, the warm greeting Leonard received from the group surprised him.

After being presented with the official rent check – in the amount of $24.00, a dollar per month for two years – Leonard recounted how this successful relocation took place.

“One of the first things I did when Portland Water Bureau was put in my portfolio,” Leonard said, “was to ask for a listing of all bureau-owned properties, such as where the EPNO office now resides. They didn’t have one.”

The commissioner described how they created a property manager position filled by professional property manager Tom Klutz. “He organized and identified unused properties that could be put to good use.”

EPNO chairs presented Leonard with a Thank You card. “This is so sweet,” Leonard responded.

Turns fenced field into neighborhood park
“What we’ve done here proves that you don’t have to lock up public spaces,” Leonard said, referring to the once-fenced grounds that became Portland’s first “HydroPark”. “Responsible community members taking care of this building – and responsible neighbors looking after the park – are every bit as good as tall fences and security guards. It is a great deal for everybody.”

Hazelwood Chair Arlene Kimura told the commissioner, “The neighbors across the street say they’re so pleased that this property has turned into a place for positive activities. They don’t have to worry about bums using the open space for illegal purposes.”

Glenn Taylor, Powellhurst-Gilbert’s Chair, added, “And folks don’t have to use a 4-wheel drive to get down the road, since the city improved NE 117th Avenue.”

Ross Monn, Wilkes, gives Commissioner Leonard a list of the dozens of organizations that have used the new EPNO offices for meetings and trainings.

More than a coalition office
“I feel ecstatic about this evening,” Leonard told us, as he enjoyed a delicious light meal catered by Wilkes chair Ross Monn. “I remember walking through this building when it was a boarded-up vacant storage facility. Now it is a center of community activity in East Portland.”

Asked what the evening’s celebration meant to him, Leonard replied, “I’m a nuts-and-bolts, on-the-ground kind of project person. This is the kind of thing I love to see done. It is such a common-sense thing to do. Honestly, this is one of the high points of my career.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Why are there so many serious vehicle accidents along this avenue? See how this team of PDOT experts and neighbors are develop an action plan to make driving and walking safer …

Project manager Rich Newlands of PDOT’s Project Management Division shows a map indicating the “danger zones” along 82nd Avenue of Roses to the working committee.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A group of concerned citizens gathers in a classroom at Portland Community College SE Center every couple of weeks to discuss just one topic: Making 82nd Avenue of Roses a safer place to walk and drive.

Before the formal discussion, we have the opportunity to speak with our friend from PDOT, project manager Rich Newlands, with the bureau’s Project Management Division.

“We’re here to continue discussion with the community about this new tool we’re developing,” Newlands begins.

The “tool” to which Newlands refers is the “82nd Avenue of Roses Safety Corridor Action Plan”.

He says they’re borrowing a concept developed by ODOT to more quickly respond to safety issues on state highways; but it’s never before been used in the City of Portland.

“Typically, people are familiar with transportation projects where we’re looking at a lot of issues,” Newlands continues. “It takes a lot of time to identify the things we might want to accomplish through the planning process. Then, we need to find the money to implement them.”

Streamlining the process
This is different, the project manager explains. “We’re focusing on safety issues using the tools we know we can use, and which are readily available – and for which we have readily-identified funding. The idea is to make sure there is good consensus on the issues and identify the tools, so we can start implementing the programs in a relatively short period of time.”

James Chasse, representing Powellhurst Gilbert, and Kathryn Notson from South Tabor neighborhoods, together look over the issues and programs their PDOT representatives are proposing.

Pedestrian crossing example
“Surveys we’ve done in the last few months indicate public concern about pedestrian crossing safety. In response to this, we’d like to start constructing pedestrian refuge islands.”

Another rapid-response tactic is enhanced law enforcement, Newlands adds. “We can ask the Portland Police Bureau to reallocate their traffic enforcement in certain areas, for certain issues we deem to be important, which come out of this planning process.”

Gaining community consensus
While traffic planners believe they’ve identified important issues, “We want to make sure we have it right, as far as the community is concerned. We have data – like intersections with the highest incidents of crashes.

“But, we want to make sure the community feels we’re focusing our resources correctly, and using the correct tools,” says Newlands.

Next steps in the process
After stakeholders sign off on the issues and proposed solutions, their next step is to coordinate with all the agencies with whom they’ll work to implement the plan.

“We need to make sure they’re on-board,” concludes Newlands. “Then, when we take it for approval to the Portland City Council, we’ll be ready to go, upon approval. Early next year, we’ll go to city council. Shortly after, in the spring, you’ll start seeing the programs getting underway and being implemented.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

From the “Control Cell” at PDX, to a suburban hospital, to Portland’s 911 Center – and even to David Douglas High School – you’ll see exclusive photos and stories about the “TOPOFF 4” drill carried on across the greater Portland area, right here …

Getting a “peek behind the magic curtain”, we’re allowed to take a look at the “Venue Control Cell”, located in the main ballrooms at Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For all of the publicity thrust upon the local media, most folks in the greater Portland area saw only brief snippets about the Department of Homeland Security’s largest disaster simulation exercise to date — “TOPOFF 4” — held in the metro area, during the week of October 15.

We went to a press briefing as the full-scale exercise began on Monday, and learned that three locations are involved in a single, overarching scenario taking place in Arizona, Guam, and Oregon.

We were issued an official TOPOFF 4 press credential, and learn that our ability to visit any of the events will be strictly controlled.

Jeremy Greenberg, the program manager with Department of Homeland Security, briefs the press on the day before the “bomb” explodes.

“The reason for doing this,” explained Jeremy Greenberg, the program manager with Department of Homeland Security, “is that it helps governments, at all levels, to prepare to respond to a single type of event.”

The “event” described by Greenberg was the explosion of a “dirty bomb” on the Steel Bridge in downtown Portland. Such a device, if detonated by terrorists, isn’t intended to do great physical damage – but instead, to spew a deadly cloud of radioactive material into the air. The actual “ground zero” for this exercise was moved to Portland International Raceway, where officials built a simulated Steel Bridge from scaffolding.

The three key concepts, said Greenberg, were “prevention, protection, and response recovery”. “During the day, we expect 4,500 participants playing, controlling and evaluating the exercise here in Portland. It runs 24-hours a day through Friday.”

From their hidden location, drill controllers purposely add in unexpected contingencies, to test the ability of agencies to respond to changing conditions.

Connections to East Portland
First, the “Venue Control Cell” – the hidden-away controllers who actually run TOPOFF 4 – was located in the grand ballroom at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel.

The room was lined with rows of conference tables, at which sat “event play controllers”, calling the shots during the exercise.

“These exercises are as realistic as we can possibility get,” said Greenberg, “whether manmade or natural. Having the opportunity to learn and evaluate our capabilities in peacetime is a phenomenal chance to see what works, what doesn’t and where we can correct ourselves.”

On October 16, all across Portland, in the scenario, the city reeled from the effects of a nuclear radiation-laced high explosive device detonation. City, county and federal agencies worked with frantic precision to deal with the physical damage – and more importantly – with the thousands of civilian causalities.

To those participating in the 2007 TopOff exercises, designed to test the area’s disaster response system, the simulated event was played out as if Portland were under attack by terrorist villains.

Wearing radiation-resistant protective garb are registered nurse Kate Arendt, James Sobocinski of Hospital Security, and emergency room technician Josh Spano. Their role is to evaluate “patients” as they come into Providence Milwaukie Hospital. The close-up shows Sobocinski holding his functional, 1950s era radiation detector.

Disaster radiates to SE Portland
Even though the bomb went off downtown, Milwaukie Providence hospital in Southeast was activated as a disaster medical response site.

“Any time there is a regional disaster, patients are disbursed so they can get prompt care,” explained Steven Fletcher, Community Relations manager with Providence Health and Services.

“The larger hospitals will get really busy and quickly fill up. They’ll triage patents, and disburse them to locations elsewhere, such as Providence Milwaukie, where they can receive immediate care.”

In the case of a widespread release of radioactive material, Fletcher added, citizens suffering ill effects from the blast site would be routed directly to the hospital. “We’re not a trauma center, but our fully-equipped emergency center can accept critically injured patents.”

This “patient” says she was in her house when the “bomb” went off. “I’m concerned about my dog. Can you help my dog?” They did.

Full emergency gear stored on site
The decontamination unit, medical ward tents, protective gear, and special emergency equipment used in this drill weren’t shipped in for this exercise, says Environmental Services Manager, Tina Seely a member of the hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Committee.

“All of it was purchased through grants, and belongs to the hospital. The equipment is stored on-site. When a disaster with mass causalities happens, it is all right here – we’re ready to respond within hours.”

The temporary emergency ward fills with “patients” – some are considered acutely ill or injured; others are considered to be suffering from emotional distress, in the emergency scenario.

Lents emergency communication center activated
The following day, we’re permitted to visit the now-heavily-fortified Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), located just east of the Tri-Met bus yard off SE Powell Boulevard, in the Lents Neighborhood.

We’re met at the door by BOEC’s public information officer, Todd DeWeese.

“It is business as usual on the 9-1-1 side,” DeWeese tells us, as a group of reporters crowd around. “We have real-world dispatching going and, at the same time, a smaller center dispatching for the TOPOFF 4 disaster simulation.”

Looking unruffled, DeWeese says BOEC “actually has the easiest part of the drill. We do this every day. Whether simulated or real – we’re trained to accurately take in information, then, dispatch the required services.

“TopOff is good practice. This helps locate the communication problem spots that might crop up during a real emergency situation. This brings all of the agencies involved – hundreds of them – together in this drill. We have different levels of decision-makers here, in this building,” DeWeese says.

Mayor Tom Potter sits in the BOEC Disaster Policy Council room, our first stop on the tour.

At different times during the exercise, the mayor, transportation director, fire chief, police chief, city attorney, and city auditor direct the handling of the disaster occupy the room.

The Emergency Communications Center is the information exchange center that POEM sets up to deal with large-scale, city-wide disasters.

Next, we tour the Emergency Communications Center.

Ordinarily, this large room is used as the training center for BOEC staffmembers. But, for the purposes of the TopOff exercise this week, it was the disaster drill’s main coordination center.

Portland Police Bureau’s spokesperson, Sgt. Brian Schmautz, confers with his counterparts in the Emergency Communications Center during the training exercise.

“This room is activated by POEM,” explained the bureau’s spokesman, Kerry Dugan. “All of the equipment used here is stored on-site, so it is ready to go. It takes about an hour to get it operational; it’s refined over time, based on the type of disaster or situation we face.”

Here in the Liaison Office, information officers for agencies help disseminate important information to the public.

Next, we walk downstairs to the Emergency Communications Liaison Office. It serves as an “information switchboard” during disasters.

“We have public information officers down in this room – it supports the upstairs communications room,” says Dugan. “We have liaisons here from transportation, the Oregon National Guard, Red Cross, NET teams – and amateur (“ham”) radio operator volunteers. If we need to reach someone at any agency or bureau, these people can get in touch with them quickly.

Having a blast at David Douglas High

Agencies involved in the David Douglas High event evaluate the mass-causality screening exercise held at the school.

On September 18, a mass-screening event takes place at David Douglas High School.

“It looked like a thousand people standing in line in a room – followed by a photo-opportunity featuring the Governor, Mayor, Defense Secretary Chertoff and other officials,” the school’s Principal, Randy Hutchinson, tells us when we arrived on scene.

“Here, we are set up to take care of 1,000 people who were exposed to a cloud of radioactive people who were exposed to a ‘dirty bomb’ explosion near downtown Portland,” said Hutchinson.

David Douglas High School principal Randy Hutchinson, here with some of the school’s 1,100 students who participated in the TOPOFF 4 mass-causality screening exercise.

These “patients” would have been indirectly contaminated – or thought they might be contaminated – and were directed to be checked at a processing center, that was set up in the school’s south cafeteria, he added.

The Principal says 1,100 students – about a third of the David Douglas High student body – participated in the drill. “All this, and we managed to educate the other two-thirds of our students.”

Many of David Douglas High’s Health Sciences Career Path students helped triage the participants. “Some of our kids also served as interpreters for a variety of languages that are spoken in this area,” added Hutchinson.

Says drill is worth the effort
Will the time, money and effort expended on this massive disaster drill pay off? The Portland-area officials with whom we spoke say it probably will.

Providence Milwaukie Hospital’s Fletcher reflected the sentiments we heard across East Portland: “This exercise is as good for us as it is for the federal, state, and local responding agencies.

“It helps us better prepare ourselves in case the unthinkable happens. We’re going to be reviewing this drill during the next few days. We’ll be finding out what we did right, and what we can do better at – so, if it happens in real life, we’ll be able to take care of our citizens.”

Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler had to “face the press” and report on how the “dirty bomb” was affecting county services – and his agencies’ response. He did very well, by the way …

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Working to build citizen consensus for highway road improvements, street safety additions and increased bicycle – and a taxation system to pay for it – find out plan Sam Adams and Ted Wheeler are presenting …

Judith Huck, owner of Classique Floors, takes a look at the exhibits on display at an outer East Portland Safe & Sound Green Streets meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The tempo for promoting the new street repair and safety improvement plan is quickening. In the three weeks between the end of their second and the beginning of their third wave of transportation town hall meetings, PDOT’s boss, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, is adding a new presenting partner, Multnomah County Chair, Ted Wheeler.

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams talks with Patty Freeman about safety issues along her SE Portland street.

Says open houses used to gain local input
“We’ve invited people to put sticky notes on the project boards and maps, commenting on the projects and funding alternatives we’re considering,” Adams says. “Nobody knows safety issues of their neighborhoods better than the folks who live there.”

Jeff Cropp writes a comment at the SE Transportation Open House.

Outer East Portland folks say …
We find a wide variety of comments are written at the outer East Portland open house. They are listed, in their entirety, at the end of this article.

City/County program preview
We previewed the “Safe, Sound and Green Streets” program being put on Adams and Wheeler during their first co-presentation at Madison High School, on 82nd Avenue of Roses, on October 16.

Starting the third round of transportation open houses, Portland Commissioner Sam Adams confers with Multnomah County Commissioner Ted Wheeler before their joint presentation.

At this, the third series of transportation town hall meetings has on display maps, charts and graphs representing the program’s benefits.

With the aid of a 90-slide presentation, Adams and Wheeler throw the spotlight on Portland’s worst transportation problems – crumbling bridges, poor street condition, high-accident intersections and car vs. bicyclist conflicts.

Speaking about the county’s responsibility for bridge repair and maintenance, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler tells the group, “Ahead of all other county transportation issues is dealing with the Sellwood Bridge. It is at a crisis point. That bridge has a rating of ‘2’ on a federal sufficiency scale of 100. We need to completely rehabilitate or replace that span.”

They also pitch a plan that makes for what they call the $12.6 Million yearly “funding gap” to remedy the city’s transportation ills.

The plan they’re trying out on folks is a tax package that includes:

  • City street safety and maintenance fee of $4.50 per month;
  • Gas tax at $0.03 per gallon; and,
  • County vehicle registration fee and/or general obligation bond.

Mark Lear PDOT, director of Safe, Sound and Green Streets Project talks with Nancy Conwell at the outer East Portland meeting.

To verify the specifics, we spoke with Portland Office of Transportation’s Mark Lear, the director of the Safe, Sound and Green Streets (SS&GS) Project.

Lear confirmed that the city and county needs to generate a total revenue of 48.5 Million per year, for ten years, to meet its SS&GS goals.

Stakeholder group guides SS&GS
While the project’s literature and Adams frequently refer to the SS&GS “Stakeholder Group”, nowhere could we find information regarding this group.

“The group has grown to include 89 members,” explains Lear. “We’ve included everyone whom we think may have an interest.”

About half the members, Lear says, have a connection to business or commerce; and includes neighborhood business associations, trade groups, and those with an interest in retail traffic (like grocery stores) and freight movement.

About a quarter of the stakeholders is made up from of neighborhood association representatives. The final quarter, Lear describes as representatives of “transit users, bicycle groups, Elders in Action and pedestrian advocates.”

Greening of the project
Lear says PDOT has done significant citywide polling. “When we asked respondents about raising revenue, we found we’d have between five and nine percent greater support if the measures included ‘green elements, rewards or incentives’.”

One “green” element suggested is enhanced traffic-light timing systems designed to promote the smooth flow of traffic; thus reducing pollution and greenhouse gases. Another is increased promotion and construction of bicycle-designed routes.

Businesses located near a transit routes could get tax-reducing incentives by promote bicycle and public transit use for employees. Homeowners would save if only one car was registered to their household. “We would only move forward with incentives that have public support, and that can be easily and efficiently implemented,” Lear states.

Mark Lear PDOT, director of Safe, Sound and Green Streets Project talks with Naomi Tsurumi at the inner SE East Portland meeting.

Million$ for bike lanes?
Bicycle transportation advocates provide nearly half of the feedback noted in the second round of transportation town halls – including those in inner SE Portland – yet PDOT statistics show bike trips account for about five percent of total trips taken citywide

We ask Lear the question so many motorized-vehicle driving folks have asked us: “How are the SS&GS funds actually dedicated?

Lear breaks it down:

  • 58% is dedicated to arterial street rehabilitation and traffic signal synchronization.
  • 29% goes for Willamette River bridges including the local match to the Sellwood Bridge.
  • 5% is for pedestrian and bike safety corridors. “On wet, dark and cold days, these corridors will run on streets with less traffic. We’ll have signalized intersections where bike riders would cross busy streets. We’re developing a network for bike riders to ride more safely.”
  • 3% is earmarked for pedestrian safety improvements.
  • 2% will be spent to reduce incidents at high-crash intersections.
  • 1% is dedicated for the “Safe Routes to Schools” Program.

“The other two-percent is for tax collection fees,” Lear adds.

Hear and be heard
Officials haven’t said whether they’ll put the program – and the new taxes – up to a vote. But, you’re invited to see the presentation by Adams and Wheeler, ask questions of PDOT and county staff members, and sound off at transportation town hall meeting.

Come to Menlo Park Elementary School at 12900 NE Glisan St. on October 22 – or Sellwood Middle School on October 30 – from 7 to 9 p.m. to get your voice heard.

Or, for more information, see their web site at

Outer East Portland residents “sound off” about “Safe and Sound Streets:

  • You need to look at pedestrian and bike traffic, increasing on outer Foster Rd.
  • At the 136th & Ramona school crossing, cars speed during school hours and when children are present. The street needs sidewalks to keep kids out of the street.
  • NE Halsey & 126th needs help!

High-crash Intersections

  • It is interesting that there are 22 [locations] east of 82nd, only 10 west of 82nd and just two west of the river.
  • How to buses stopping in travel lanes contribute to or not contribute to high-crash intersections?
  • Please paint tagging on bridge on NE 148th Ave. off Halsey, past Sumner Pl.
  • Add stop signs to intersections that do not have any for N/S or E/W traffic.
  • Cut back foliage so street signs and stop signs can easily be seen.

Family-friendly Pedestrian & Bicycle Routes

  • Bicycle boulevards should be kept low-cost and simple—signs and paint—and paid for by bicyclists with a bicycle path.
  • Please be more careful about where you put bike paths. When you have a path on I-205 do you really need one on narrow, high-traffic paths like 92nd?
  • NE Glisan between 102nd and 122nd has heavy traffic and a speeding problem with no motorized transit for support.
  • No more curb cuts for personal driveways.
  • I’m concerned about bicycle safety at Holgate & 72nd/79th.
  • Add grade separated bike lanes on busy streets that are traveled by bikes to access commercial and retail in the areas where street access is needed. An example is Foster & 92nd, 82nd & Powell, portions of 82nd near shopping and 122nd.
  • Rafael and Halsey traffic is too fast.
  • Please add pedestrian and bike crossing at 82nd & Raymond with clearly marked right of way lanes and activated signs.
  • Pedestrian islands should not be coupled with bus stops if the buses stop in vehicle travel lanes to board passengers.
  • Quit overcrowding our neighborhoods and our traffic problems will not be so bad.
  • I love the idea of moving bicycles off the main streets. Let’s make it safe for bikes and pedestrians and keep traffic moving.
  • Move bike and pedestrian crossing at 122nd & Foster. It impedes traffic.
  • Safe bike routes would be awesome (on alternate side streets or corridors).
  • I will never vote for even 1/10 of a cent tax to pay for anything Portland proposed. Quit wasting all our dollars and you will have plenty to take care of roads.
  • Family-friendly streets need public restrooms.
  • No bikes on any sidewalks.
  • Make and enforce a $292-$500 fine for bikes on sidewalks.
  • License and register all bikes and bicyclists, then use the money for bike boulevards and bike infrastructure.
  • If we are to be a truly “green” city, then cars, not pedestrians & bicyclists should be limited to certain streets.

Many people, from all over the East Portland area, came to the inner Safe and Sound Streets meetings

Bike Improvements

  • Need police enforcement for pedestrian crossings (SE Belmont east of 26th and SE Stark).
  • Motorists don’t look for pedestrians and only stop to be kind, not because it is required.
  • Involve the media—video of motorists ignoring pedestrians and bicyclists.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

hen the parking lot at SE 122nd Avenue and Division Street fills up with classic, show, and specialty vehicles, on a crisp Sunday afternoon – people come from miles around to check out this great, low-key car show …

Bill Dayton takes a look at Ken Krolikoski’s classic 1932 Packard.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Lots of folks come to the “End of Summer Cruise-in” in the parking lot of Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron on SE 122nd Avenue at SE Division Street to gawk at the cool classics, hot rods, and other specialty vehicles. We like hearing the owners talk about their rides!

10th annual event
“It’s put on every year by the Chrysler RT Club,” says organizer Dr. David Lee. “The best part is looking to see what everybody has done with their cars. These people put a lot of the time, talent, and money into their cars.”

Lee tells us that this event, now in its tenth year, draws auto enthusiasts from as far away as Hillsboro and Longview, WA. “It’s all about nice cars and good pizza.”

Classic cars; classy owners
We find Pizza Baron owner Bill Dayton talking with Ken Krolikoski about his slick-looking 1932 Packard.

“There are probably about ten of these left,” comments Krolikoski. “I wanted to find a classic, open car. But, I found all the ‘good’ ones are taken. I finally paid the price. It wasn’t perfect. Because they’re scarce, you can expect to put in some work to bring it back [into showroom condition]. It’s got 44,000 miles on it.”

“How does it drive?” we ask.

“Like a 1932 car!” Krolikoski says.

The Aragons show off their 1935 Dodge.

The car’s paint job attracts us to a beautifully modified ’35 Dodge belonging to Anthony and Leona Aragon.

“It’s been chopped, and has late model suspension.” Anthony reports. “It’s got a 350 Chevy engine. The project has taken a couple of years.”

He tells us that the best part about this car is that it is very drivable. “It is fun to drive. We like it when people smile, wave, and give you a thumbs-up. We can cruise down the road in it. But no, we don’t go shopping with it – it’s never left unattended in a parking lot.”

Rows of cars, modern to classics, attract car buffs, and people who enjoy looking at cool cars.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You can “take a bite of out crime” – and remain anonymous while you collect a $1,000 reward by turning in James Sean Carlson …

Police have issued a no-bail warrant for this guy, 41-year-old James Sean Carlson. He’s wanted for busting into homes in both inner and outer East Portland.


The Portland Police Bureau, in cooperation with Crime Stoppers, is trying to find a wanted burglary suspect – and can help.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has issued a no bail warrant for 41-year-old James Sean Carlson on one count of Burglary in the first degree.

Carlson was the subject of a January 2007 Crime Stopper case after fingerprints linked Carlson to several Alameda neighborhood residential burglaries that occurred in October 2006.

Carlson was eventually arrested, charged, and convicted of the Burglaries.   He was sentenced to probation and has recently failed to report to his probation officer and has violated the conditions of his probation.

Additionally, East Precinct Detectives have probable cause to arrest Carlson on at least five new burglaries committed in the east county area.

Carlson is described as a white male, 5″11 tall, 175-180 pounds, with short red hair and mustache, and blue eyes.  Carlson is listed as a Potential Armed Career Criminal, and is considered a heavy methamphetamine user.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357) or 9-1-1 if the suspect’s you know where Carlson is hiding out.

Fore more information, call Portland Police Bureau Detective Dave Anderson at (503) 823-4822.

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

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