You’ll never guess who the surprise carol-leader was at the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn. Holiday get-together! And, you’ll see why many folks along the avenue say they have much to celebrate …

Entertaining guests at the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn. Holiday Party is Frank Ryan, NW Senior & Boomer News. Frank’s singing a holiday song he composed, “A Valley Christmas”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The table filled with deli roll-ups, fresh fruits, and baked treats, made the classroom at Portland Community College Southeast Center seem festive as members and guests of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn. met for a Holiday Party on December 18.

The association’s president, Ken Turner of Eastport Plaza, recounts the year’s successes along the avenue.

With plates filled and beverage cups brimming with coffee or fruit juice, folks sat down as association’s president, Ken Turner, spoke of the year’s highlights along the “Avenue of Roses.”

“Our first parade was a success,” began Turner. “There were doubters; and I was one of them, who doubted for a while as we went through the process of getting all the permits for the parade. But, on parade day, it didn’t rain, and we had a great turnout from participants and neighbors.”

Turner said some of the comments he heard from neighbors was revealing. “A man smiled and told me, ‘We’re watching history being made on 82nd Avenue’, This is something we can all be proud of.”

The upcoming 2008 edition of the parade already has secured one title sponsor, Eastport Plaza. “But, we need additional funds to cover the costs of putting on the parade. We’d welcome another title sponsor, and other support.”

It was also revealed that 2008’s parade will feature a major band, thanks to Richard and Gail Kiely of Homerun Graphics. Gail, we learned, is a founding member unauthorized rebel offshoot of the “One More Time Around Band” – the “Get a Life Marching Band”.

Nancy Chapin of The Support Group expressively reads the timeless holiday tale “The Night before Christmas”.

Nan Poppie, director of Portland Community College SE Center, tells the group about the school’s expansion plans.

SE Center celebrates fourth year
Nan Poppe, Ed.D., president of Portland Community College’s Southeast Center, at SE 82nd Avenue of Roses at SE Division, told the group, “This is a special time for us – it will be the four-year anniversary since we moved into our new educational center. I hope that you agree with us that this $25 million investment was worth it.”

Poppe informed the group that the campus serves 10,000 students per year, and launched into pitch for passing a proposed bond to benefit the Southeast Center.

“The bond would respond to two primary needs,” Poppe explained. “A library and science labs.”

She also said the campus needs a “flexible building to bring more technical programs out here. In fact, we’re looking to lease a facility to teach welding until we can build a building. There is a tremendous need for welders in Portland.”

Additionally, Poppe told the group the college hopes to gain funding to build a small auditorium. “We love being a community partner, and want to have community events. A 150-seat auditorium would facilitate working with community groups.”

East Portland Chamber of Commerce’s incoming president, Rich Sorem, of Stewart and Tunno Insurance, announces the 2008 Avenue parade plans.

Chamber floats parade plan
Rich Sorem, the 2008 president of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce told the group, “Look for us; we’ll have float in the Avenue of Roses Parade next year. I’m looking forward to that.”

Overall, Sorem stated, a goal for the chamber’s board and membership is to “reach out to all organizations and find common goals to build a consensus and have a large voice at city hall regarding issues we all find important.”

Both of them feigning surprise at the encounter, Ken Turner welcomes Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams to the holiday gathering.

Commissioner Sam greets gathering
Walking into the gathering, almost on cue, was Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams.

Portland is a city of small neighborhood businesses, Adams reminded the group. “84% of businesses that exist in our city employ 10 or fewer employees. We are a city of entrepreneurs.”

Adams pointed out how, by business groups working with City Hall, 2007 featured three milestones: A grant to support the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations, the city’s first ever; a reduction in business taxes for small businesses; and changing the city’s tax structure to encourage venture capital firms to move into the Portland area.

“No doubt about it,” Adams added, “we have a lot of work to do to continue to make Portland a place where entrepreneurs and small business folks can thrive. We’ve shown ourselves what is possible. As we look to a new year, we recommit ourselves to the mission of the success neighborhood businesses in the City of Portland.

Before leading the group in song Commissioner Sam Adams thanked members of the association for their efforts to enhance the image of 82nd Avenue.

“I’m thankful to have great business associations, such as yours, working at making this city a better place each and every day. On behalf of Mayor Tom Potter, and the City Council, thank you for the work you do, and your volunteerism. Next year will be even better.”

At the meeting’s conclusion, Nancy Chapin and Sam Adams led the group in singing the timeless holiday song, “White Christmas”. All this, and the commissioner sings well, too …

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Because folks showed up in record numbers, see how many food boxes were delivered for the “Sunshine Division” this year …

With open hearts, empty vehicles, and willing hands, volunteer drivers from all over East County line up to help the Sunshine Division deliver each-and-every food box to its recipient.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
How many volunteer drivers does it take to deliver more than 450 food boxes to needy residents throughout East Portland?

We’re still not sure exactly how many vehicles showed up during the early morning hours of December 15; we’re guessing over 100 – enough to speed boxes containing a complete Christmas dinner (and then some) to East Portland residents.

Former precinct commander Cliff Jensen (in the center, facing us) comes to load his truck with Sunshine Division food boxes.

“I’m glad to help deliver boxes to the great folks in East Portland,” was the sentiment expressed by retired Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Cliff Jensen. “We’re doing this to give back to the community. I grew up in Southeast Portland; this is our home.”

Another driver, Alden Lewis told us, “We thought it was a good cause. We read about it, and decided to let the kids participate. Young people need to know there are people less fortunate that we are, and we need to give them a hand.”

Again this year, Portland Police East Precinct Cadets help speed the loading process as cars pass through the precinct garage.

David Ward told us that he drove in from Troutdale to help make deliveries. “This is our 6th year making deliveries. We do a service project every year with our family. Seeing how grateful people who are in need and deserve a hand are, gives us a great feeling, because we helped.”

New police cadet recruits Trever Ethridge and Luke Guthridge put their backs into loading up cars on December 15.

“I saw there was a need for drivers and thought this was something I could do,” said Joe Stroud, a Parkrose resident. “I’m glad to help out during the holiday season.”

The current commander of East Precinct, Michael Crebs, said he was concerned there might be a shortage of drivers this year and was among the first drivers to start making deliveries. “When we returned for more boxes to deliver, we found that the community really responded to our request for drivers – and all of the boxes were already on their way. We thank you so much.”

Leading by example, cadet post advisor Sgt. Michael Gallagher works hard and helps keep the flow of food boxes coming to waiting drivers.

465 boxes delivered
In 2006, the lack of volunteer drivers made it difficult for all of the food boxes to be delivered in a timely fashion.

“But this year,” reported Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Sgt. Michael Gallagher, and Post Advisor of the East Precinct Cadets, “we had the perfect amount of drivers for the number of boxes that needed to be delivered. Our last driver took the last three boxes.”

Gallagher added that this charitable event depends on good-hearted volunteers willing to give up a couple of hours to help. “The Sunshine Division Holiday Box program is successful – but only because of the community’s help. We really appreciate the support of drivers who came out to help from all over East County.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why you should make sure your home’s chimney is free of creosote build-up – even if you don’t have a fireplace …

The crew of Engine 23 attacks the fire started near the home’s furnace.

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
Homeowners are cautioned to make sure that creosote – a thick, oily liquid that gradually coats the interior lining of flue pipes and chimneys – doesn’t build up in their fireplaces.

But, as occupants of a home just east of Cleveland High School, at 2920 SE Franklin Street, found out on Dec. 21 – this admonition also applies to furnace chimneys.

This fire could have been prevented, officials say, by keeping the chimney and furnace flue free of creosote buildup.

Fire smolders for hours
Officials say that one of the home’s occupants, Thomas Smith, told them he put about six gallons of #2 diesel fuel in the basement furnace tank about 10 o’clock that morning. Smith turned up the thermostat upstairs, and left about 20 minutes later.

When he returned home about eight hours later, he was confronted with a wall of thick, gray smoke when he opened the front door.

Neighbors told us they smelled smoke, and noticed thick, gray smoke coming out of the chimney, but didn’t investigate further.

Then, Smith reported, he went around the house to a door leading to the home’s basement, and said he noticed that the walls were scorched and smoke filled the basement. Minutes later, the fire “flashed over”, and fire erupted throughout the basement and came up the stairwell.

Had the fire call come in earlier, this house would have suffered much less extensive damage.

Firefighters navigate through thick smoke
“When Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 23 pulled up, at 7:20 p.m., the crew found thick, black smoke billowing out the front door of the two-story home,” Battalion Chief C1 Scott Beyers told us at the scene.

“That crew headed for the basement to attack the fire. The Truck 25 crew went to check for fire in the attic,” continued Beyers. “Then we had crews check for fire extension from the basement. There was an interior stairwell they opened at the top, to check the top part of the staircase.”

Firefighters reported that the blaze extended through the house by traveling up through a laundry chute. “The basement was divided up with shelving; it made it difficult for the firefighters to maneuver to the base of the fire.”

Ignition factor: Lack of maintenance
The fire inspector ascertained that the fire started in the flue of the home’s oil-fired boiler/heater unit. The inspector noted reported that the chimney and the flue were heavily caked with creosote buildup; the chimney clean-out was also full.

The loss was set at $90,000.00. While there weren’t any human injuries, a cat perished in the fire. The occupants were referred to the Red Cross for shelter.

Firefighters exit the house after putting out the fire that extended upward through the home by way of a laundry chute.

An ounce of prevention …
“A very hot fire in a well-working fireplace,” explained the fire bureau’s spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt, “can prevent creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire, because the continued heat output from the fire eventually warms up the lining of the chimney sufficiently to revaporize the deposited creosote.

“But many people don’t think about having their furnace’s flue and chimney cleaned. That maintenance could save your life.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why you should make sure your home’s chimney is free of creosote build-up – even if you don’t have a fireplace …

The crew of Engine 23 attacks the fire started near the home’s furnace.

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
Homeowners are cautioned to make sure that creosote – a thick, oily liquid that gradually coats the interior lining of flue pipes and chimneys – doesn’t build up in their fireplaces.

But, as occupants of a home just east of Cleveland High School, at 2920 SE Franklin Street, found out on Dec. 21 – this admonition also applies to furnace chimneys.

This fire could have been prevented, officials say, by keeping the chimney and furnace flue free of creosote buildup.

Fire smolders for hours
Officials say that one of the home’s occupants, Thomas Smith, told them he put about six gallons of #2 diesel fuel in the basement furnace tank about 10 o’clock that morning. Smith turned up the thermostat upstairs, and left about 20 minutes later.

When he returned home about eight hours later, he was confronted with a wall of thick, gray smoke when he opened the front door.

Neighbors told us they smelled smoke, and noticed thick, gray smoke coming out of the chimney, but didn’t investigate further.

Then, Smith reported, he went around the house to a door leading to the home’s basement, and said he noticed that the walls were scorched and smoke filled the basement. Minutes later, the fire “flashed over”, and fire erupted throughout the basement and came up the stairwell.

Had the fire call come in earlier, this house would have suffered much less extensive damage.

Firefighters navigate through thick smoke
“When Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 23 pulled up, at 7:20 p.m., the crew found thick, black smoke billowing out the front door of the two-story home,” Battalion Chief C1 Scott Beyers told us at the scene.

“That crew headed for the basement to attack the fire. The Truck 25 crew went to check for fire in the attic,” continued Beyers. “Then we had crews check for fire extension from the basement. There was an interior stairwell they opened at the top, to check the top part of the staircase.”

Firefighters reported that the blaze extended through the house by traveling up through a laundry chute. “The basement was divided up with shelving; it made it difficult for the firefighters to maneuver to the base of the fire.”

Ignition factor: Lack of maintenance
The fire inspector ascertained that the fire started in the flue of the home’s oil-fired boiler/heater unit. The inspector noted reported that the chimney and the flue were heavily caked with creosote buildup; the chimney clean-out was also full.

The loss was set at $90,000.00. While there weren’t any human injuries, a cat perished in the fire. The occupants were referred to the Red Cross for shelter.

Firefighters exit the house after putting out the fire that extended upward through the home by way of a laundry chute.

An ounce of prevention …
“A very hot fire in a well-working fireplace,” explained the fire bureau’s spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt, “can prevent creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire, because the continued heat output from the fire eventually warms up the lining of the chimney sufficiently to revaporize the deposited creosote.

“But many people don’t think about having their furnace’s flue and chimney cleaned. That maintenance could save your life.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You’ll be amazed to see the breadth and depth of artistic talent we found on display at this annual event …

Under the direction of Mike Tolan (trombonist), the Parkrose High Jazz Band serenades attendees with well-played selection of holiday tunes.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The art center at Parkrose High School was abuzz with activity as their art festival got underway on Dec. 14. A hundred family and community members came by the Parkrose High School art studio to enjoy the fine art created by the school’s students and staff members.

“This is our tenth annual Art Festival here,” Bev Cordova, one of school’s three fine art teachers told us.

“This is celebration of both fine and performing arts,” Cordova went on. “We’ve invited the community here to see some of the great artwork done by students, see art demonstrations, and to hear some great music by our jazz band and choir.”

Each year, participation has grown, Cordova reported. “We’ve made an effort to include the whole community.”

Sierra Butler, a senior at Parkrose High, is wet-packing ground glass before it is fused to a copper disk.

Unique art demonstrations
One of the artisans with whom we spoke was Parkrose High senior Sierra Butler.

“We’re making art on copper disks,” she said as she painted. “The powder is ground-up, pigmented glass. We’ve learned three methods to apply the powder. It can be sifted on, stenciled on, and wet-packed. I’m doing wet-packing. We mix the glass with gum, making it the consistency of wet sand. After we paint on the design, it’s fired in the kiln for less than two minutes.”

Ashley Nichols, a senior, fires the glass-on-copper art piece.

Carefully placing disks in the kiln is senior Ashley Nichols. “I love art in general. Although I’m more into ceramics, it’s interesting to see the different ways you can manipulate glass to make art.”

Cesar Pina, a senior, shows his artwork, which he called “Wii London Bridge”.

As we looked at completed works of art, we talked with senior Cesar Pina, and asked him to tell us how a video game came to be incorporated into a famous image.

“The assignment was to take an ordinary object,” Pina said, “enlarge it and fit it into a landscape. I substituted a Nintendo Wii for one of the bridge towers. I had drawing of the Wii in my sketchbook and my teacher mentioned that it looked like a building. It fit perfectly into the landscape.”

Bryana Meier, a sophomore, shows her dad, Dennis, the finer points of forming a ceramic bowl on a turntable.

Hands-on art demonstrations
Over in the ceramics studio, potter’s clay was set out, and the students became teachers as they showed parents and siblings how to cast objects on the spinning turntables.

Dennis Meier got a lesson making a bowl while seated at a turntable. His daughter, Bryana, patiently and skillfully guided his efforts. “This is fun; it really is!” exclaimed dad Dennis.

Choral arts were well-represented by the Parkrose High Debonaires.

Musical performing arts well represented
While patrons watched demonstrations, munched on popcorn, and drank apple cider, the Parkrose High Jazz Band played several holiday-themed numbers.

Instrumental duos and trios also performed for the group.

After their set, the Parkrose High Debonaires – fresh off holiday performances around town – took their places, and gave a lively performance of well-known holiday songs.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The East Portland Chamber of Commerce members keep coming up with great networking ideas – take a look at this one …

More than twenty tables were set up for vendors at the East Portland Chamber of Commerce Holiday Morning Bazaar.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It may be hard to believe that a group can have so much fun, so early in the morning!

But the members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce keep finding new ways to enliven their weekly Wednesday “Good Morning East Portland” events.

Carolers from Warner Pacific College serenaded members as they shopped the tables at the bazaar.

“It just seemed to be a good idea,” said the Chamber Ambassador in charge of planning morning events,

Chamber Ambassador Jo Lynn Walker welcomes “shoppers” to this unique, holiday networking meeting.

“Second Life” bazaar
While many of the vendors at the event were showing wares related to their primary business – others displayed goods and services they market as a sideline at the December 12 event held at Warner Pacific College.

Frank Ryan, NW Senior & Boomer News, shows his “Second Life” vocation: developing merchandise for his new www.gallopinggeezer.com web site.

“We realize so many of our members have enterprises in their ‘second life’ away from work,” Walker commented, “so it was fun to see their other interests.”

Each of the vendors gave away samples – and gifts – to those who attended the meeting. A table was laden with holiday food treats.

The program featured internationally-famous stage, screen, and television actor Tobias Anderson entertaining the crowd with a humorous Holiday reading.

As the event wound down, Walker mentioned, “With the great turnout of both members and vendors, I’m sure we’ll do it again next year.”

Here’s your eastPDXnews.com editor pitching his chocolate – with the proceeds to be donated to charity. Thanks to brisk sales, we wrote a check for $180 to The Salvation Army. Thanks to Chamber Ambassador, Norm Rice, 1st Class Properties for snapping this photo!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The Gateway Business Association celebrated
the Holidays with a grand dinner on the town …

Pastor Brian Heron, Eastminster Presbyterian Church, is welcomed to the GABA Holiday Dinner by Ann Sanchez, Realty Brokers and event chair, Kris McVicar, Washington Mutual Bank.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In a departure from years past, members of the Gateway Business Association (GABA) chose to celebrate the Holidays by dining at The Refectory restaurant on December 13.

Other than self-introductions, there were few formalities during the evening. A surprise guest, Jeff Merkley, speaker, Oregon House of Representatives, and candidate for the Democratic nomination to run for Oregon State Senator, came by the party to talk about his campaign.

Enjoy our photo album of the event

East Precinct’s Sgt. Michael Gallagher sets up a video slide show of GABA’s activities throughout the year.

GABA past president and secretary, Fred Sanchez of Realty Brokers, welcomes Barbara Yerke, and Kevin Minkoff, CPA (not your ordinary bean counter), to the event.

Ed Dahm (past GABA president) and his wife Norma welcome Mary James, American Red Cross, to their table.

Darl and Susan Stuvick, Minuteman Press, greet Karen Montez of Elliott, Powell, Baden & Baker, Inc., and her guest.

GABA president, Alan Sanchez, greets the group gathered to dine, mix and mingle at The Refectory.

“The Gordon Neal Herman Trio” provides the gift of live, jazz music at the GABA holiday celebration. Gordon is a pianist, composer and GABA member.

With a selection of salads and hot dishes, guests enjoyed a complete dinner.

Jeff Merkley, speaker, Oregon House of Representatives and candidate for the Democratic nomination to run for Oregon State Senator, thanks guests for their past support, and asks for their vote in the Primary election.

Keeping up the “down-on-the-farm” rivalry, Lee Powell of Farmer’s Insurance surprises Fred Sanchez with this pointed gift. No bull!

Meet the 2008 officers and board members of the Gateway Area Business Association!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You’ll see why these folks are celebrating, when you read about the accomplishments of the Lents Homeownership Initiative …

Shaunna Sutcliffe of the Portland Water Bureau, Itzel Spehar from Portland Housing Center, and Joseph Portillo, a loan officer with Umpqua Bank, check out the buffet lunch.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Government and law enforcement officials agree that homeowners have more pride in their neighborhood than do renters, and so help increase the livability of a community.

The Lents Homeownership Initiative (LHI), part of ROSE Community Development, has successfully been turning renters into homeowners since 2005.

“Welcome to our quarterly LNI meeting,” the organization’s director, Amie Diffenauer, greeted us a few weeks ago. We’re celebrating the successes of the last three years of our program.”

LHI’s director, Amie Diffenauer, thanks the organization’s community, banking, city, and county partners for helping them achieve success.

Diffenauer explained that LHI is an association of more than 40 partners who are working toward increasing homeownership, and thus increasing the livability of the Lents neighborhood.

Sees results of the program
One of the 40 guests at the luncheon was Christine Rhoney, Portland Impact SUN site manager for Kelly Elementary School. She said she’s seen the beneficial results of renters becoming homeowners first-hand.

“At the Lents Homeownership Fair, held at our school this year,” Rhoney told us, “participants entered a drawing giving them the chance to win help with their down-payment. The family who won is a Kelly School family. The mother worked with us in the SUN program; her children go to SUN classes.”

This good fortune, Rhoney said, helped the family move into a home. “The result is stability for the families. Now that they have a place in which they can live, have pride in, and know they have been successful. The stability helps the kids thrive and be successful.”

Rosanne Lee, East Portland Crime Prevention Program Coordinator, agreed with Rhoney, saying “I’m a partner because homeownership creates a more stable community. People who own their homes are more invested in what goes in their communities. When people care, they work to help prevent – or report – crime.”

Nick Sauvie, director of ROSE Community Development shares some of the organization’s successes.

Luncheon banquet followed by awards
The formal meeting got underway after representatives helped themselves to a bountiful buffet supplied by Arleta Library Bakery Café on SE 72nd and by Russian Elegant Food European Bakery on SE Foster – with décor by flowers by Fleur de Lis on SE Division Street.

“We’re holding a celebration to cap off the third year of the Lents Homeownership Initiative,” explained Nick Sauvie, director of ROSE Community Development. “When one looks at the people who are coming together to support our mission of revitalizing outer Southeast Portland one home at a time – and when one sees the results of the program – it is impressive.”

LHI’s three-year goal was to create 175 homeowners; before the third year has ended, it has helped 181 families move into homes.

Diffenauer credits all of these housing professionals, gathered here for a special luncheon, for helping LHI exceed its goals.

Crime prevention accomplishments included closing six drug houses, sponsoring seven neighborhood watch trainings and holding seven problem-solving meetings.

Diffenauer and Sauvie stated that helping increase home values in Lents by 10% per year was also a goal. While they don’t take credit for market conditions, they do report a gain of nearly 16% in 2005, 12% in 2006 and a 10.5% lift in 2007 – compared to a 2.6% gain citywide.

A final measure of LNI’s success is neighborhood satisfaction. “Our goal was for a 10% increase in satisfaction,” Diffenauer said, “but by 2007, more than 60% of residents rated their neighborhood as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in overall livability.”

Want to learn more? See www.rosecdc.org online, or contact Diffenauer at amie@rosecdc.org or by calling (503) 788-8052 ext 105.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Can yet another City-sponsored committee improve livability in outer East Portland? You’ll see what some of the participants think … right here …

The David Douglas School District boardroom is nearly filled with delegates and observers, as the East Portland Action Plan Committee holds its first meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The East Portland Action Plan Committee, a project co-sponsored by Multnomah County and the City of Portland, has held its first meeting earlier this month.

“This effort is designed to look strategically at near-term opportunities to improve livability, as well as long-term strategies to address issues in East Portland, generally east of I-205,” said the organizer, also East Portland Liaison for the Portland Planning Bureau, Barry Manning. “The committee includes a mix of elected officials, agency representatives, and eighteen community members working together on problem-solving and improvement strategies in East Portland.”

Governmental officials on hand who participated included Portland Mayor Tom Potter, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, and State Representative Jeff Merkley, Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten; METRO Counselor Robert Liberty audited the meeting.

In addition to elected officials and governmental staff members, eighteen members from the business, faith, education and neighborhood communities also been appointed to participate in the forum.

Looks to identify livability solutions
Manning stated that some of the anticipated outcomes of the East Portland Action Plan include:

  • Validation of high priority livability issues in East Portland;
  • Direction to initiate near-term actions that can be accomplished within one to two years;
  • Identification of longer-term actions to be implemented through respective agency work plans; and,
  • Commitment to follow through.

Struggling to deal with increased density
As once run-down parts of the city have gentrified, the City’s less affluent have been forced to migrate to outlying areas in outer East Portland.

As neighborhoods continue to change due to ever-increasing density, many citizens have expressed concern about reduced quality of life in their outer East Portland neighborhoods. Along with higher-density housing crowding once semi-rural areas has come increased crime and the lack of services, infrastructure, and amenities, to serve the burgeoning population.

Issues identified and potential actions
After two hours of roundtable discussions, the panel members had developed a list of concerns that include:

  • Schools, Families, Housing: Develop a partnership and specific strategies with school districts serving East Portland to address school facilities issues.
  • Community Safety: Develop partnerships to intensify the city’s public safety and social services responses.
  • Community Organizing: Develop and fund methods to improve public participation, and broaden the base of community involvement in East Portland.
  • Transportation Needs: Refine transportation priorities for East Portland, and explore budget proposals necessary to fund them.
  • Land Use Planning: Explore and implement land use code changes to address infill development issues and lay the groundwork for longer range planning.
  • Business Enhancement: Identify strategies for improving the business climate in East Portland, focusing on specific strategies for different areas.

Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler and Portland city Commissioner Erik Sten say they’re in agreement with the goals of the project.

Officials pledge help
Portland Commissioner Erik Sten said he’s pleased with the project, and very pleased with the large turnout of committee members and the public in general to the December 1 meeting. Sten pledged to find City funding to help out with the project.

Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler also commended the committee, the meeting, and the progress; but said he couldn’t offer financial support, citing the County’s tight budget.

“We want to see something immediate happen like you folks do,” summarized Portland Mayor Tom Potter. “We’re going to work to make sure some of these needs are met. All the assets of the cities, like our bureaus, will provide technical support, so you aren’t left stranded. We believe in this process. Rather than just take our word for it, wait and see what happens.”

Eighteen community members, along with governmental officials, say they’re working to solve some of outer East Portland’s most pressing issues.

Cautious optimism noted among participants
Judith Huck, owner of Classique Floors, told us, “I think the City and area agencies are looking to East Portland to see what we really need. They’re listening to us to see what really needs to be done out here. We’re struggling out here.”

Asked if she thinks this will provide concrete results, Huck smiled and said sincerely, “I have great hope.”

Opportunity to make a difference
Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Superintendent, Parkrose Public Schools, commented, “The meeting was an excellent way for all of the super-stakeholder groups to get together and focus on East County planning. Everybody, to an extent, is on the same page about economic development, overdevelopment of housing, educational needs. This is a real opportunity for people to make a difference.”

Expresses concerns about housing
Hazelwood Neighborhood Chair Arlene Kimura said, about the meeting, “This is a very good first step. If we can do at least a portion of the things we set out to do – those are going to be big, giant steps. I do hope we can come up some critically-needed first-action items. That will demonstrate the sincerity of this effort. It will show it isn’t just a bunch of people sitting around the table.”

Asked for what she most hopes will come from this program, Kimura replied, “To really look at where they’re clustering the housing in relation to where the services are located. Changing our land use patterns and popping into housing in the middle of neighborhoods is not helpful. We’ve got to look at neighborhoods as a whole, and not just as housing developments.

I know people need housing, but we have to temper that with the fact that people have to be able to live and get around their neighborhood.”

Interested in transportation and education
Speaking for himself, James Chasse a board member of Board of Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood Association and land use chair, summarized his feelings: “It’s about time. It is a great opportunity for people in East Portland to be involved and hopefully see some action taken in the community to address some of the issues that have come up in the last ten years.”

Chasse added that his greatest concerns for outer East Portland are transportation-related issues and overcrowded schools.

Endorses new process
Brian Heron, Pastor, Eastminster Presbyterian Church, and with the Foster Family Care Network, said it is good for the community to envision a new process for dealing with issues in outer East Portland.

“The best part of the meeting,” stated Heron, “is the fact that so many people, from so many walks of life, are here representing the community. It’s not so much what has come out if it today, but the fact that we we’re all together in the same room. We’re ready to talk. The concept that stood out for me was building community. The community is so diverse; and at the same time, we’re dealing with diverse issues like poverty, and broken families, and lack of stability.”

Ethnic diversity a concern
Mike Vander Veen, Ministries Coordinator at Parklane Christian Reformed Church, agreed with Heron, but added, “And yet, there is a certain lack of diversity here today. There are a lot of white faces at the table. Even though we’re all coming from different perspectives, I saw limited participation of people of color. I’d like to see more ethnic inclusion. It was great we had a member of the Slavic community here. Diversity in the community was a value many people shared.”

Vander Veen added that he’s most concerned about finding was to protect our outer East Portland educational system. “In eastside schools, we still have music, arts, and PE, in addition to good quality academics. But it looks like education may be at risk. Its important! Children are the future of our community.”

East Portland Liaison in the Portland Planning Bureau Barry Manning, and METRO Counselor Robert Liberty, listen and respond to comments made at the meeting.

METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty told us after the meeting, “The most important thing was that this meeting was held. Next important thing was to see who came from the community and government. It is great.”

While Liberty characterized some of the data as being “a little daunting and disturbing”, he added that, from METRO’s perspective, this is perfect timing. “We’re talking about how to implement Plan 2040, we’re looking at investments. I think we need to look for answers to questions about where people of modest means can find a place to live in the region. It isn’t just an eastside phenomenon.”

More meetings to come
The committee is scheduled to meet monthly through June 2008.

The next meeting of the East Portland Action Plan Committee is scheduled for January 10, 2008, 6:00 to 8:00 PM, location to be announced.  Contact the Bureau of Planning at 503-823-7965 for more information.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Come underground and see exclusive photos of your sewer-bill dollars at work …

How far is 160 feet down? Yes, those are people standing at the bottom of this shaft!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland’s “Big Pipe Project” to divert sewage out of the Willamette River isn’t news – the West Side project has been completed, and is currently in operation. But the opportunity to travel 160 feet underground to see this giant tunnel dug on Portland’s east side caught our interest.

Our tour began at the contractor’s East Portland offices in the Portland Opera building, located just south of OMSI.

“We are at the Opera Shaft location,” Steve Marriott, director of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services said as he began our orientation.

“This shaft is where we inserted ‘Rosie’, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). It is driving north toward Swan Island.”

Our tour guide, Shane Yanagisawa, explains the equipment used in the massive project.

Brief history of sewers
Marriott stated that about 1,000 cities across the nation were built with a “combined” sewer system. The raw sewage and stormwater were collected in the same system, and sent into the river for disposal.

“When the sewage treatment plant was built in the 1950s,” Marriott went on, “they also constructed interceptor pipes to convey a lot of that flow to the treatment in North Portland. They didn’t size these pipes big enough to handle the runoff from every single rainstorm. At the time, they considered that having a clean river in the summer was good enough; it provided a huge improvement in water quality.”

But in the 1990s the city agreed to a 20-year program to address the chronic wintertime problem of combined sewer overflows.

Portland is ahead of most cities in solving this problem Marriott said. “Many other cities have yet to address the problem.”

This machine – the separator – divides mining spoils into piles of gravel, pebbles, sand, and the mining slurry that is returned to the tunneling machine.

This conveyor belt system takes the excess sand and gravel from the tunnel to barges which remove it and dump it in Ross Island lagoon.

Tunneling support system
Our first stop on the tour was seeing the technology that supports excavating tons of sand, dirt, and gravel, and sealing a pipe – all 160 feet underground.

Our tour guide, Shane Yanagisawa, lead planning engineer with Kiewit Bilfinger-Berger, walked our group over to a three-story tall building on the project site, just east of the Opera Shaft.

“This is the separator,” Yanagisawa explained. “Everything that is cut by the mining machine is mixed with slurry made up of water and bentonite clay. It is pumped to the surface where it is separated in into big chunks, small rocks, sand, and slurry. The slurry is pumped back down to the TMB.”

The rocks and sand are barged from a conveyor belt south of OMSI to fill in the lagoons once mined at Ross Island.

The most visible portion of the project to folks in Inner SE Portland is the Opera Shaft crane. It lifts and lowers all parts and supplies for the project.

These pre-cast concrete segments form rings that stabilize the tunnel section just dug by the TBM. The disks to the left of the ring segments are some of the TMB’s cutting heads.

Paving the pipe
After the TBM pushes forward, cutting a section of tunnel, it is lined with a series of 25 identical, pre-cast concrete ring segments, and finished with one key segment that locks the ring in place. A special grout is injected into the soil around the rings to help seal the pipe.

These ring segments are made on site, using some of the spoils from the tunneling operation. They – and all other equipment and supplies – are lowered down the Opera Shaft by a huge construction crane, perhaps the most visible evidence of the construction project in East Portland.

Yanagisawa continues, “This operation is a continuous process. Everything has to be working at all times – the TBM, slurry plant, separator, grout plant, ventilation system and ring manufacturing.”

Even Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams is required to wear safety gear, including the snappy yellow toe protectors we all slipped on our boots.

Commissioner Adams endorses progress
Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, joking that he is “The Sewer Commissioner”, exited the elevator, coming up from his tour of the project,  as we were preparing to descend.

“Hopefully the calisthenics portion of the safety orientation wasn’t too strenuous for you,” he kidded.

“This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to tour the east side project. This is an effort to reduce, by 94%, the sewer overflows into the Willamette River. We will have spent $1.4 Billion, when all of the tunnels have been dug and pumping stations have been installed. We’re about 66% complete on the overall project.”

The Loki train hauls personnel and equipment from the central shaft to the trailing end of the TBM.

When the Eastside Big Pipe goes into operation, this pipe will be carrying pressurized, raw sewerage. We prefer to tour the pipe in its pristine state!

As we speed toward the trailing end of the TBM, we pass endless sections of Big Pipe rings.

Going down
Our group gets into a construction elevator affixed to the side of the shaft for our ride to the bottom. Along the walls of the 67′ diameter shaft are the electrical conduit that powers the TMB, incoming and outgoing slurry pipes, and a large air ventilation duct.

On the bottom are train tracks, on which runs a “Loki” – a squat but powerful diesel engine and passenger cars.

Once aboard, we rumble northbound, heading toward the end of the line: the TBM rig. The tunnel is temperate and dry; we see segments of the concrete liner rings along the way.

Members of this press junket marvel at the size of a machine that cuts a 26-foot-diameter tube far underground.

This is a view of the “trailing gear” that feeds supplies and power to the TBM in the distance.

Tunnel manager Greg Colzani says today is just another day at “the office” – but much quieter, since today the machine isn’t running.

The TBM at rest
Because this was a system maintenance day, the TBM was silent when we exited the train, about a mile north of the Opera Shaft.

Greg Colzani, tunnel manager tells the group that the TBM is about 30 feet long; but the equipment behind it, including the devices used to set the ring segments in place, is about 70 feet long. As it inches forward, the 100′ long assembly is pulled along with it.

“The TBM has entered the Alder Street Shaft, where the old ‘Corno’ building once stood” Colzani comments. “Standing here behind the machine, we’re right below the Montage Restaurant.”

This is the back of the TBM. Ahead of it lies more soil and rock to bore through, 160 feet below SE Alder Street.

Southbound trip begins in 2010
From this point, the crew will keep mining north to the Swan Island pumping station. “When we reach that point,” Colzani said, “We’ll take the machine apart. We’ll haul it back to the Opera Shaft, and reassemble it for its trip south. It will tunnel about 8,000 feet to our [southernmost] shaft at SE McLaughlin Boulevard and SE 17th Avenue.”

And, when it arrives there in 2011, Colzani said, another giant crane will be built there to lift out the TBM, including the 160-ton main bearing.

A large, but smaller, tunnel will be bored south a short distance to the intersection of S.E. 18th and Insley, and the “Insley Collector” which collects sewage from Inner Southeast Portland will be connected to the “Big Pipe” with this new, final tunnel.

That will complete the project that Commissioner Adams said he considers to be a “100-year project that will prevent all but the worst overflows into the Willamette River. And keep the sewer system functioning for the next century.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

She’s not saving just a lighting fixture or faucet – read how Shannon Quimby plans to save every piece of a dilapidated house to build a brand new home on the same lot …

“This is the first step toward the ‘rebirth’ of this house,” says Shannon Quimby as she starts dismantling the home on SE Rex Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Sellwood’s “queen of recycling and reusing”, Shannon Quimby, is famous for sharing her “Q-Renew” projects with a nationwide audience in books, articles, and on TV’s Home & Gardens Network. She’s also a former Board member of the SMILE neighborhood association in Sellwood and Westmoreland.

“My whole purpose, what I’m all about, is being a responsible homeowner by recycling and reusing,” says Quimby.

Shannon Quimby, flanked with the architects for the project, Peter Brevic and chief architect, Laura Migliori, have created the plan for a new house that will incorporate every piece of the original home they’re dismantling on the site.

As she stands, crowbar in hand, at the site of her latest and perhaps most ambitions project on Nov. 28, Quimby quips, “Well, I’ve really done it this time! I’ve found the greatest challenge of my career – to take a dilapidated house and attempt to reuse 100% of it in my new home construction project.”

Recycling an entire house
She says it all started as a remodeling project of a modest 660 sq. ft. house in Westmoreland, at 2022 SE Rex Street. “From the foundation on up, we found out the house couldn’t be saved. I didn’t want to bulldoze it and put it in the dump. More than half the content of landfills is construction waste.”

Quimby says she speculated, “What if we recycled the entire house into a new one at the same location?”

Thus was created the “REX Project“, Quimby tells us, at the project’s groundbreaking – or we should say “housebreaking” – gets underway.

“It’s on SE Rex Street so we’re calling this our ‘Reuse Everything eXperiment’,” notes Quimby.

A new construction concept
As far as she knows, Quimby says, never before has each and every part of a building been recycled into a new structure at the same location. “Even the landscaping will be reused. The camellias, laurel wood – everything will be reused in the same form, or different.”

Everything, even the foundation, siding, and lumber will be used in the new house, assures Quimby. “We’ve even had an idea of what we’ll do with the lath and plaster. We haven’t figured out everything – we’re asking for help from the community to help us meet our goal of 100% recycling. I’d like to see all the dumpsters at remodeling and building sites in our neighborhood disappear. My goal is to see all homeowners and contractors take this approach.”

At the REX Project kick-off, Shane Enicott, Rebuilding Center Deconstruction Services, says he’s fascinated by Quimby’s 100% material reuse concept.

Regional educational project
Shane Enicott’s crew from Rebuilding Center Deconstruction Services has the job of dismantling, sorting, and storing – on site – the REX house.

“METRO says 75% of a structure can be recycled,” reports Endicott. “We can normally save 85% of a house. But when Shannon said she wanted to save the entire home, from the roof into the basement, it opened our eyes to more possibilities to what could be done. This project can be an education for the whole region, perhaps the world.”

Even though the home will be larger, Quimby says they plan to reuse and recycle all landscaping on the site. Two weeks after this photo was taken, the house was completely dismantled.

Open for idea exchange
Although you might see this project highlighted on HGTV, the project isn’t a closed movie set. “We’re inviting the community in to suggest ways we can reuse everything – even the “Hot Wheels” race track mounted on the living room ceiling.”

Additionally, the site will be open for what she calls Saturday Seminars, as the house is being rebuilt. She plans to hold “Kids’ Classroom” sessions so young students can watch – and participate in – this unique project.

Ambitious schedule set
Quimby says the project must be completed by June, 2008. “And, we’re already on board to be featured in the Oregon Builder’s Association ‘Ultimate Open House Tour’ in April. We hope to be 80% completed by then, but still be able to show how materials are being reused.”

Check back; we’ll keep you updated on the progress of Shannon Quimby and her REX team.

As the work gets underway, dry rotted wood is uncovered. It doesn’t phase Quimby. “It can be composted into the soil. There are some things we already know how we’re going to reuse; other things, right now, we don’t have a clue. But we’re going to do it.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how the East Multnomah County office of this oft-criticized state agency has put together an event – sponsored by donors – which provided recovering parents the chance to reunite with their kids …

At the DHS Christmas Party, Joel successfully fishes for a teddy bear, with the help of his dad Joey Sue and DHS worker Sarah Lee.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Beneath the fairy-tale image of a toys-and-tinsel Christmas depicted in the advertisements, there lies a dark and often-confusing world in which live kids who’ve been taken into protective custody.

“There has to be severe risk involved, for children to be taken into protective custody,” says Mary Boehme, DHS Child welfare Case Worker at the East Multnomah County Branch Office which serves outer East Portland and Rockwood. “It happens, if there is a genuine concern about the child’s safety.”

Many methamphetamine addicts are also parents, law enforcement officials remind us. “But there are many different drug addictions which cause parents to neglect their children and not give them the care they need. Domestic violence and mental health issues are also things that hinder a family from staying together,” explains Boehme.

The parent or parents are given up to a year, Boehme tells us, in which to remedy their situation and get their lives in order.

“Often times, these parents are thankful for the DHS process that helps them turn their lives around. This process includes parenting classes, drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, and maintaining a stable residence and job so the can support their child. If one or both of the parents have been involved in the criminal justice system, they also need to abide by the conditions of their release,” adds Boehme.

Elf Kathie Nicholas and Santa Claus encourage Anthony Dominquez to share his Christmas wishes with them.

Party brings delight, and anticipation
On December 18, both kids and adults streamed into an office building with no sign, set back in a large strip mall on SE 122nd Avenue – there to attend a Christmas Party put on by DHS case workers.

The children, if they have not in the care of a family member, have been staying with a foster care family. The adults invited to the party are parents who have dedicated themselves to changing their lives and getting their families back together.

“For parents who are working through the DHS process,” Boehme says, “it gives them a glimpse of ‘what could be’ when they complete their program and are reunited with their children. If they are engaged in the process, they welcome the opportunity to have some kind of engagement with their child.”

And, by the looks on their faces, the kids love the event from the moment they enter.

Meeting and counseling rooms offer host of crafts and games in which all the kids are winners. And, in a special room, the youngsters get to have a one-on-one meeting with jolly Santa Claus himself.

“A lot of these kids don’t have any good Christmas memories – like making cookies, playing games, getting new gifts, and seeing Santa,” observes Boehme.

Delivering hot pizza for the party, flanking Santa and the Elves, are Pizza Baron’s Jeff and Bill Dayton.

Pizza feast caps event
We meet case worker Stacey Mahler in a large room, deep in the office complex, that has been turned into a holiday luncheon café.

Looking at the smiling, giggling kids pouring in, Mahler comments, “These kinds have a lot of disruptions in their lives. Events like this provide the setting for a positive visit with their mother, father or siblings – sometimes kids are sent to different foster homes.

“We have fun activities to do. It gives back to them when most it is unpleasant and negative stuff. When they get here they have a good time together.”

Community pitches in
Kids make a beeline to the hot, bubbling pizza provided by Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron, just up the street. Their eyes light up as they see the “Dot Cakes” provided by Saint Cupcake.

And, both parents and kids take home more than memories.

Caricature artist Sam Arneson draws ‘toon pictures of kids for 5 hours; elves take instant photos of kids visiting Santa. For the youngsters, Christmas comes early, in the form of all kinds of toys – ranging from plush animals to bicycles.

“What makes this possible is the generosity of businesses and organizations in our community,” Mahler confides.

She asks us to acknowledge the major sponsors: Pizza Baron, Safeway on SE 122nd Avenue at Powell Boulevard; N.W. Priority Credit Union; Ace Hardware on SE 122nd Avenue. at Division; Saint Cupcake; On Line Credit Union; The Vance Foundation; Portland Winter Hawks; FGG Inc.; and Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290, which made a grant of $1,000.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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