Why would crew members from Portland Fire & Rescue volunteer don their full gear, and prepare to race to the top of a 69-story building that is NOT on fire? Take a look, and find out …

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Marc Ham takes his turn on the stepping exerciser, as firefighter Tim Spring “passes the boot”, asking shoppers for a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Even though the firefighters of Portland Fire & Rescue stay in shape by working out and training – and responding to emergencies – several of them spent February 23 on a stair-stepping exercise machine at Costco’s Airport location.

When we arrived, we found a resident of the Sellwood neighborhood for fifteen years, firefighter Mark Ham, working up a sweat. In full gear – 70 pounds of it, including his breathing apparatus, he was vigorously working out. “I’m getting ready for the ‘Scott Firefighter Stairclimb for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’,” said the firefighter, who works at the bureau’s Training Academy on NE 122nd Avenue.

The stairclimb event, held on March 2 at Seattle’s Columbia Center, is the largest individual firefighter competition in the world, we learned. More than 1,300 firefighters from across the Pacific Northwest – including 25 Portland-area firefighters – will compete in this timed race to the top of the building.

Firefighter Tim Spring, a crew member of Station 25, on SE 52nd Avenue, said he was encouraging people to help “fill the boot” he carried with donations.

“The proceeds go to help find a cure for cancer,” Spring explained. “We’ve had several people in the department that have had cancer in the last five or six years. We’re trying to get out in the community and show our support for cancer research.”

Ham agreed, “We’re volunteering our time because cancer has affected quite a few of our firefighters; this fundraiser is close to our hearts.”

You can still help: Drop off cash or a check for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at any PF&R station.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you like locally-grown and newly-picked produce, you won’t find it fresher than what comes from this fellow’s organically-grown ‘mini-farms’, scattered throughout SE Portland …

Kollibri Sonnenblume, the bike farmer, is weeding a garlic patch in one of his 18 SE Portland vegetable garden plots.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume is a proficient organic farmer. Throughout the growing season, dozens of families come to Sonnenblume every week, selecting newly-picked produce.

But, unlike traditional growers, Sonnenblume doesn’t own a tractor, nor does he raise his crops on the outskirts of town.

“I’m what you’d call an urban farmer,” said the soft-spoken Sonnenblume as he wiped soil from his hands after weeding a patch of winter crop. “And I like to get around by bicycle. I’m a bike-based urban farmer.”

He didn’t create the concept, Sonnenblume said. “Look at cities all over the world, and you’ll see the urban gardening is typical, rather than being the exception. And you’ll find they get around by bicycle. It may be odd here in the United States – but as oil prices keep going up, it seems very practical.”

Finds local ‘acreage’
Instead of farming acres of land out in the country, Sonnenblume’s “farm” is distributed throughout inner SE Portland. Homeowners allow him plant and care for a crop in a portion of their property in exchange for produce during the season.

“Right now I have 18 plots of different sizes going. The largest one is just under one third of an acre. The smallest one is, maybe, 5′ xk 10′. I tend my crops by going from plot to plot on my bicycle. I use a trailer attached to my bike to carry tools and supplies, and to carry harvested crops,” he said.

With the cost of fuel rising, Sonnenblume says bike-based farming makes more sense now than ever.

Community-Supported Agriculture proponent
He’s been a “bike farmer” in Portland since 2005; and this season is second year as a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) producer.

“CSA started in Japan in the 1980s,” comments Sonnenblume, “and moved to Europe and the United States in the 1990s. With CSA, people in the community give resources – usually money – to a farmer in the spring, when most of the expenses are incurred for seeds and equipment, in exchange for a share of crops that are produced throughout the season.”

Instead of driving to a farm, or farmer’s market, “people come to my house right here in inner SE Portland. For many folks who purchased winter crop CSA shares that live close by, I make deliveries by bike.”

Web developer to farmer
Sonnenblume told us he’s always enjoyed gardening. “Even when I was in an apartment, I had a small garden on my porch.”

In his 20s, Sonnenblume recalled, he owned 75 neckties and “worked in tall glass buildings in the Bay Area. I made more money in Internet web design than I ever thought possible. But after the big Internet bust, I started looking around. I thought to myself ‘agriculture is a growth industry’. It is recession proof.”

Inspired by Katrina
What inspired him to become a full-time urban farmer, he stated, was watching events unfold after Hurricane Katrina.

“It occurred to me that we all need to be taking care of each other. We can’t count on help coming from the outside. There are lots of needs: Housing, clothing, medicine, and food. I’m doing food.”

Speaking before a packed house at People’s Co-op, Sonnenblume shares his experiences with a very receptive audience.

Shares his ‘secrets’
When we first met him, Sonnenblume was giving an illustrated talk about his vocation at Peoples’ Co-op, north of the Brooklyn neighborhood, on January 30. The store’s meeting room was packed with 58 people who peppered him with detailed questions. He looked happy to answer them all.

“There aren’t any trade secrets,” Sonnenblume said about the meeting. “I enjoy sharing this experience I’m having with everyone.”

Asked why he thought so many people showed up on a windy and rainy night – mostly on bicycle – he counted off three reasons. “Portlanders support local and organic agriculture. Secondly, people learning about the CSA model think it’s cool to have a personal relationship with their farmer. The third aspect is that people in Portland are fairly well-read and well-informed, and want to see different ways that we can do things.”

Pollinating SE Portland
After getting to know this “bike farmer”, we noted that he is doing more than growing crops – he’s also spreading a sustainable idea.

“In fact,” he replied, “my first name, Kollibri, is ‘hummingbird’ in Norwegian. Like they pollinate flowers, I definitely feel that part of my work is being an example, inspiring others. There’s room for a lot of other people in town to do and I’m doing.”

Season shares available
If you want fresh organically-grown produce all summer, grown just down the block from you, now is the time to buy a share and participate. Learn more by visiting his web site at www.trashfactory.net/sunrootgardens, e-mail him at Kollibri@riseup.net, or call him at (503) 686-5557.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Their first parade was a success. See what these volunteers are planning for the second one on April 19 – and how you can play an important role in this new, exciting outer East Portland event …

Looking at photos taken of last year’s successful parade, members of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade committee are Ken Turner, Paul Ellison, Nancy Chapin, Kevin Williams, Richard Kiley,  Judy Welch, Kathryn Notson, Johnni Jones and Arlene Kimura.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Last April, most of the spectators watching the first annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade simply enjoyed the event.

But one long-time resident along the parade route looked amazed and said what others thought: “I never thought I’d see the day. Things really are changing for the better along 82nd Avenue.”

Plans are underway for an even successful, colorful, exciting, stupendous, and colossal event this year, according to its organizer, and long-time East Portland booster, Ken Turner.

“We’re looking forward to a great event,” Turner predicted when we caught up with him at a meeting of the organizing volunteers. “It looks like we’ll have 40 entries, including floats, and walking entries from neighborhood and business associations, service organizations, car clubs, and farmers markets.”

Turner reminded us that the parade will be one of the first public appearances of the newly-selected 2008 Portland Rose Festival Court and the Royal Rosarians. “And there’s a good chance you’ll see some of Portland’s and Multnomah County’s leading politicians in the parade.”

This year, the parade is scheduled to feature the music and marching band antics of the “Get a Life Marching Band”.

The April 19 parade steps out onto SE 82nd Avenue of Roses from Eastport Plaza at 9:00 a.m. sharp. The parade will proceed north to the Montavilla East Tabor Business district.

Who will be this year’s Grand Marshal? Turner said they’d release that information in a couple of weeks.

Volunteers are needed

Many volunteers are needed the day of the parade.

“There isn’t heavy lifting involved,” said volunteer coordinator, Johnni Beth Jones. “And, the time commitment is small. We need adults willing to be ‘street closure guards’ the morning of the parade.”

Contact Jones at johnni.jones@gmail.com; she asks that you list “Parade Volunteer” in the subject of your e-mail so she’ll spot it right away.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover what Kyle Ziegler hopes to share with the world if she wins this pageant and goes to represent Oregon in the International competition …

Lauren Bishop, of “Your Vocal Advantage” talks with Kyle L. Ziegler, CastleGate Realty, and “Mrs. Portland International 2008”, at the Parkrose Business Association meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It seems like nearly all Parkrose area residents and business people who have been involved in their community know Kyle L. Ziegler because of her involvement in her community.

Now that Ziegler has been named “Mrs. Portland International 2008”, and will compete for the “Mrs. Oregon International 2008” crown, she hopes to share her zeal for community volunteerism nationwide.

If she wins the state title on March 15 in Portland, she’ll go on to present her message at the July “Mrs. International Pageant” in Chicago, Illinois.

Actively involved in neighborhood improvement

“It started in 1987,” Ziegler says, “I got involved in my neighborhood association’s board because of a traffic issue. I’m still on board today – the Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association.”

In 1989, Ziegler became a Crime Prevention Coordinator for the City of Portland, helping residents set up a Neighborhood Watch programs. “Then, in 1991, I became the executive director of the Parkrose Business Association for four years, while I started my real estate business.”

While her real estate brokerage, CastleGate Realty, Inc., keeps her occupied during the day, Ziegler still finds time to be involved in projects that increase the safety and beauty of her neighborhood – and helping to build the Parkrose Business Association by being a board member and chair of the Programs committee.

While talking with us in her office at CastleGate Realty, Kyle Ziegler says hopes to spread her message of community participation nationwide if she is selected to go on to the national finals.

Mission: Stimulating volunteerism
“I’ve found that many people want to be of service to their community, but don’t know how to get involved,” states Ziegler. “People get so tied up in their own lives, but they don’t see that there are opportunities for participation out there. One person can’t change the world, but they can make their neighborhood a better place.”

If one projects a “bubbly enthusiasm” for a project, she goes on, people can be enticed entice to tackle one small part of a project. “Then, they feel good about themselves because they participated. That’s the basis of my success. I’m able to bring people around to do one task by sharing my enthusiasm with them.”

Ziegler readies her platform
Saying she’s been working on her platform for the upcoming pageant, Ziegler tries it out on us: “Going beyond grassroots participation by stimulating others to participate in local issues.”

If she wins the crown in at the upcoming pageant, “It will give me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned about helping to stimulate community participation in other parts of the country. It’s what I’ve done for 25 years.”

Oregon pageant held in NE Portland
According to the pageant’s state director, Lesley Nardini, “Kyle will represent our city and county at the 2008 Mrs. Oregon International Pageant. She’ll be competing for $5,000 in cash and prizes, and the opportunity to proceed to next level.”

The Mrs. International Pageant system, Nardini explains, recognizes women for their professional accomplishments, community service, and commitment to marriage and family. “Throughout her year, the new Mrs. Portland International will not only compete for the state crown, but she will also be available to make appearances, attend special presentations, and assist with civic events and non-profit projects.”

Come on East Portland! Let’s support Kyle Ziegler by cheering her on at the Mrs. Oregon International Pageant on Saturday, March 15, at the Sheraton-Airport Hotel. Tickets are $20 per person, and include a post-pageant reception. And, you can vote for her online before the competition. For more information CLICK HERE:

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

These parishioners demonstrate their belief that, sometimes, helping their community means volunteering for hard work with a rake and shovel …

Pastor Vance Hays of Parklane Christian Reformed Church and Dave Koetje of Koetje Tree Service take a moment to rest from their work on the Harold Oliver Elementary School Global Garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
More and more, civic groups and businesses are “adopting” programs and outer East Portland schools. Churches are usually focused on loftier pursuits.

But members of Parklane Christian Reformed Church say they were looking for a tangible way to help the community – and they didn’t have to look far. They found their opportunity for service right next door to the church.

A couple of weeks ago, we caught up with volunteers from the church as they toiled in the soil at Harold Oliver Elementary School’s Global Garden.

Andrea Covey is sprucing up the heather patch.

“We decided to clean up and maintain the garden,” explained Parklane member – and owner of Koetje Tree Service – Dave Koetje.

“We decided to do this because – well, it needs it,” Koetje elaborated. “The opportunity is right here, next to our church. We decided to ‘adopt’ this garden so the school doesn’t have to worry about it.”

Justin Koch, Nathan Koetje, Paul Covey, and Fred Lawer say thinning and moving a stand of bamboo is a big task, but they’re up to the challenge.

Plants from around the world
After being established several years ago, the school’s Global Garden, located between its primary and intermediate education buildings had fallen into disrepair.

“This garden is a great idea,” commented Vance Hays, Parklane’s pastor. “As you wander up and down here, you’ll see different plans from different parts of the world. It’s like a living plant encyclopedia. We wanted to make it attractive again.”

Hays credited Koetje with idea for the church to adopt the school’s garden. “During Christmas break, he and my son came over here and raked fallen leaves. We saw the garden needed more work, and decided to pitch in. We’ve decided, as a church, to actively help improve our neighborhood – and here we are.”

Dave Koch and Mike Vander Veen leveling out outdoor tables in the Harold Oliver Global Garden.

Long term commitment
We watched as associate pastor Mike Vander Veen and parishioner Dave Koch leveled tilting picnic tables by terracing the ground on which they sit.

“This is a continuing effort for us,” said Vander Veen as he paused from his labors. “We’re not going to just clean and run. Although the Global Garden has been adopted by the church, we do invite folks from our community join us in the work. You don’t have to be a member of the church to come help out.”

Keep an eye out; Vander Veen said he’ll let us know when they’ll be holding their next work party. Bring your gloves and pitch in!

If you live in outer East Portland, and want to help the school’s Global Garden thrive, watch for this group’s next work party date.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See this moving story about families – hiding from the Nazis for two years, during World War II – up close in this special presentation in the DDHS Small Box Theater …

Sitting in the moonlight, Anne Frank (Marissa Hanson) and Peter Van Daan (Zeke Fetrow) ponder how life would be if they were “normal” teenagers, not living in hiding.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Audiences have come to associate the David Douglas High School Theater Department with great productions of larger-than-life musicals and broad comedies. But their winter show this year, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, is thought-provoking, presented in their intimate theater.

“This is the first major show we’ve done in our Small Box Theatre downstairs for ten years,” says director Judy LeCoq. “In this theater, the 74 audience members sit up-close to the actors. It’s almost like you’re right there, with the Frank family, as they hide from the Nazis in an attic during the Holocaust.”

For a few moments, the families hiding out in the attic from the Nazis are joyful when they learn of the successful Normandy invasion.  Their joy is short-lived.

About the story
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is drawn from a thirteen-year-old girl’s diary she started writing in 1942. She, her family, and four other people went into hiding in sealed-off upper rooms of her father’s office building in Amsterdam. Her father’s trusted colleagues helped them remain hidden for two years and one month – until their betrayal.

“It’s about Anne’s desire to live, beyond her situation, as a normal teenager,” says LeCoq about the story. “Anne has been recognized as a tremendous writer. And, this newly-adapted version of an award-winning play reveals the stress of confinement, awkward teenage relationships, and the tension and fear of betrayal.”

Working on a scene from the play, Judy LeCoq directs the David Douglas High School thespians.

Members of Mark Taylor’s Theater Arts class built a realistic set that focuses attention on the 12 cast members. A student crew runs the lighting and sound system and provides stage management.

“It’s not intended for a very young audience because it’s dark material,” cautions LeCoq. “It’s appropriate for young people aged nine and above; the book is required reading for most middle-school students.”

Two weeks only
David Douglas High School Thespians production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” debuts on March 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Evening shows follow on March 7 and 8, and again on March 13, 14 and 15. On March 9, the offer a 2:30 p.m. matinee performance.

The DDHS Small Box Theater is located on the lower level of the Howard Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Ave., Portland, OR 97233. This theater is handicapped accessible.

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults. For ticket information, call the David Douglas Box Office at (503) 261-8270.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Some call them “City of Portland ATMs”, set up to withdraw $245 from your wallet. But see why officials say these automatic camera systems now being installed in outer East Portland might just save your life …

No, it won’t be technician Tony May looking at you through the center window in this box at SE Washington St. at 103rd Avenue on March 3 – it will be a high-resolution film camera, snapping photos of red light running scofflaws.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When it comes to mangled vehicles being towed away from an intersection, this outer East Portland crossroads in the Gateway area didn’t win top prize – it’s in third place.

The intersection of SE Washington St at 103rd Avenue racked up 35 traffic smash-ups in the past four years – every one of them caused by a driver running a red light.

However, this outer East Portland intersection does have the honor of being the first to receive a brand new red light camera system that automatically snaps photos of vehicles running a red signal.

“Portland uses red light cameras because they are an important tool for improving traffic safety,” says Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division. “Angle crashes are more than two times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes.”

Traffic specialists say that when red light violations occur, they most often result in an angle or turning collision. These broadside – or T-bone – collisions are especially dangerous, because the sides of vehicles offer the least protection to their occupants.

It takes a large crane to lift and position the pole that will hold the new Gateway red light camera.

Caught on film
On February 27, we watch as foreman Jeff Yost of Electrical Construction Company, and his apprentice Jason Rickford, hoist the new camera-bearing pole and secure it to the sidewalk in front of the Old Chicago restaurant.

Soon, Tony May, an installation specialist from Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS), the company contracted to install and operate Portland’s red light cameras, arrives to oversee the final installation of the box and hardware.

“This won’t be a video camera; we’ll be installing what we call a ‘wet film’ camera,” explains May. “A magazine holding enough high-resolution Fuji film to take at least 200 shots is attached to the camera. A technician comes and physically changes out the film magazines.”

How often the technician will have to change them depends on traffic, May adds. “Looking at the traffic right here, I think it’ll get quite a bit of business.”

The heavy steel box Jason Rickford and Tony May are mounting will contain a high-resolution film camera, and an industrial-strength photo flash that’s synchronized with the traffic control signal circuitry at the intersection.

A computerized, impartial witness
While Yost and Rickford wrestle the heavy camera pole – made from steel and aircraft-quality parts – into place, May points out parts of the system, including detection loops buried in the pavement, and photo flash units mounted on poles near the intersection.

We learn that the system activates based on the timing of the traffic light. When a vehicle runs a red light, the system takes two pictures.

Loops of wire, buried in these pavement cuts, determine a vehicle’s speed as it zips through a red light – and helps capture the moment on film.

The first photo snaps only if the traffic light is red and a vehicle crosses the detection loops located behind the wide, white “stop line”. Using a time-distance calculation, system’s computer determines when to take the second photo – one that shows the vehicle traveling through the middle of the intersection.

“The photo flash units [synchronized with the system] are powerful; they’ll light up the area at night,” May says. “And you’d be surprised at how clear the photos are. You can see drivers doing all kinds of things, like drinking a beer, while they are running the red light.”

Warnings issued through March 16
According to Cheryl E. Kuck at the Portland Office of Transportation, they’ll fire up the new camera on Monday, March 3. “During a test period that continues for two weeks, Portland Police will be checking the violation photos and mailing warning letters to vehicles and drivers that would have been issued a citation,” advises Kuck.

“Beginning Monday, March 17,” cautions Kuck, “motorists who run a red light at this intersection may receive a $245 fine. Each photograph is reviewed by a Police officer to ensure there is evidence of a violation before a citation is issued.”

Now that the construction crew is gone, you probably won’t notice the red light camera – unless you run the red light and see a brilliant flash as it takes your portrait.

Three more red light cameras to come
Outer East Portland’s #1 crash spot, SE Foster Road at 96th Avenue – with 53 red light crashes in four years – isn’t likely to see a red light camera soon; the project is “beginning the design phase”.

However, the second-place intersection at SE Stark Street at 102nd Avenue, with 44 red-light crashes logged – located  just a block north of the first installation – will have the unblinking eye of the law snapping scofflaw’s photos in just two months.

Also in the neighborhood, at SE Stark Street at 99th Avenue, because of 19 red light crashes, another system will be installed before summer.

“No matter how pressed you are for time, please stop for a red light,” says Portland’s traffic Commissioner, Sam Adams. “Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you or someone else. Red light running has very serious consequences.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Some call them “City of Portland ATMs”, set up to withdraw $245 from your wallet. But see why officials say these automatic camera systems now being installed in outer East Portland might just save your life …

No, it won’t be technician Tony May looking at you through the center window in this box at SE Washington St. at 103rd Avenue on March 3 – it will be a high-resolution film camera, snapping photos of red light running scofflaws.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When it comes to mangled vehicles being towed away from an intersection, this outer East Portland crossroads in the Gateway area didn’t win top prize – it’s in third place.

The intersection of SE Washington St at 103rd Avenue racked up 35 traffic smash-ups in the past four years – every one of them caused by a driver running a red light.

However, this outer East Portland intersection does have the honor of being the first to receive a brand new red light camera system that automatically snaps photos of vehicles running a red signal.

“Portland uses red light cameras because they are an important tool for improving traffic safety,” says Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division. “Angle crashes are more than two times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes.”

Traffic specialists say that when red light violations occur, they most often result in an angle or turning collision. These broadside – or T-bone – collisions are especially dangerous, because the sides of vehicles offer the least protection to their occupants.

It takes a large crane to lift and position the pole that will hold the new Gateway red light camera.

Caught on film
On February 27, we watch as foreman Jeff Yost of Electrical Construction Company, and his apprentice Jason Rickford, hoist the new camera-bearing pole and secure it to the sidewalk in front of the Old Chicago restaurant.

Soon, Tony May, an installation specialist from Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS), the company contracted to install and operate Portland’s red light cameras, arrives to oversee the final installation of the box and hardware.

“This won’t be a video camera; we’ll be installing what we call a ‘wet film’ camera,” explains May. “A magazine holding enough high-resolution Fuji film to take at least 200 shots is attached to the camera. A technician comes and physically changes out the film magazines.”

How often the technician will have to change them depends on traffic, May adds. “Looking at the traffic right here, I think it’ll get quite a bit of business.”

The heavy steel box Jason Rickford and Tony May are mounting will contain a high-resolution film camera, and an industrial-strength photo flash that’s synchronized with the traffic control signal circuitry at the intersection.

A computerized, impartial witness
While Yost and Rickford wrestle the heavy camera pole – made from steel and aircraft-quality parts – into place, May points out parts of the system, including detection loops buried in the pavement, and photo flash units mounted on poles near the intersection.

We learn that the system activates based on the timing of the traffic light. When a vehicle runs a red light, the system takes two pictures.

Loops of wire, buried in these pavement cuts, determine a vehicle’s speed as it zips through a red light – and helps capture the moment on film.

The first photo snaps only if the traffic light is red and a vehicle crosses the detection loops located behind the wide, white “stop line”. Using a time-distance calculation, system’s computer determines when to take the second photo – one that shows the vehicle traveling through the middle of the intersection.

“The photo flash units [synchronized with the system] are powerful; they’ll light up the area at night,” May says. “And you’d be surprised at how clear the photos are. You can see drivers doing all kinds of things, like drinking a beer, while they are running the red light.”

Warnings issued through March 16
According to Cheryl E. Kuck at the Portland Office of Transportation, they’ll fire up the new camera on Monday, March 3. “During a test period that continues for two weeks, Portland Police will be checking the violation photos and mailing warning letters to vehicles and drivers that would have been issued a citation,” advises Kuck.

“Beginning Monday, March 17,” cautions Kuck, “motorists who run a red light at this intersection may receive a $245 fine. Each photograph is reviewed by a Police officer to ensure there is evidence of a violation before a citation is issued.”

Now that the construction crew is gone, you probably won’t notice the red light camera – unless you run the red light and see a brilliant flash as it takes your portrait.

Three more red light cameras to come
Outer East Portland’s #1 crash spot, SE Foster Road at 96th Avenue – with 53 red light crashes in four years – isn’t likely to see a red light camera soon; the project is “beginning the design phase”.

However, the second-place intersection at SE Stark Street at 102nd Avenue, with 44 red-light crashes logged – located  just a block north of the first installation – will have the unblinking eye of the law snapping scofflaw’s photos in just two months.

Also in the neighborhood, at SE Stark Street at 99th Avenue, because of 19 red light crashes, another system will be installed before summer.

“No matter how pressed you are for time, please stop for a red light,” says Portland’s traffic Commissioner, Sam Adams. “Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you or someone else. Red light running has very serious consequences.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service


Outer East Portland citizens have been given two more opportunities to have their photo taken – for only $245 per picture. See where these handy “outdoor photo booths” are now working …

Drivers who speed through this intersection on a yellow light had better take heed! By late August, police will issue tickets to those who blow the read light!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Lead-footed, red-light-running drivers in the Gateway shopping area: beware! The City of Portland has installed two new “red-light cameras” along SE Stark Street. And, they’re up and running.

The new red-light cameras are on SE Stark at 99th Avenue, and on SE Stark at 102nd Avenue.

The system camera systems were put into operation on August 7, according to Portland Office of Transportation’s Greg Raisman.

SNAP! This car didn’t heed the traffic control signal – and will be sent warning ticket while the red-light photo system is being tested.

“During a two-week test period,” Raisman told us, “Portland Police will be checking the violation photos and mailing warning letters to vehicles and drivers that would have been issued a citation.”

But, don’t press your luck. Beginning August 21, scofflaws will receive a $245 fine when the newly-installed cameras flash drivers’ photographs as they run red lights. The photos will generate a citation.

“Basically, the camera cannot take a picture unless a vehicle enters the intersection after the light is red,” assured Raisman. “Each photograph is reviewed by a Police officer to ensure there is evidence of a violation before a citation is issued.”

The red-light camera program is administered jointly by the Portland Police Bureau and the Portland Office of Transportation.

For all the details about how the system works – and why the City of Portland believes these devices will increase safety – CLICK HERE to read our February, 2008 article about outer East Portland’s first red-light camera.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why this young lady gave a special virtuoso performance at SE Portland music education center; and how you see if old instruments are valuable  …

On her way to play a benefit recital, Violin virtuoso Becky Anderson pauses for a moment with the Community Music Center’s director Gregory Dubay.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Located in a historic firehouse, nestled in inner SE Portland, is a unique performing arts educational facility called the Community Music Center.

“We’re a Portland Parks & Recreation resource,” explained their director, Gregory Dubay. “We work in partnership with nonprofit organizations to ensure that no student will be turned away for lack of ability to pay for music lessons.”

The reason we visited the Community Music Center on January 21 was to meet a young violinist named Becky Anderson.

17-year-old violinist Becky Anderson plays confidently for good reason: she has already won numerous competitions and has performed internationally.

Alumnae gives benefit recital
As we walked up the winding stairs to meet her as she warmed up while waiting in a practice room, Dubay told us, “Becky is doing this benefit recital for us. She’s one of our distinguished alumnae; she’s studied music with us for many years.”

Anderson looked poised when she greeted us. With an air of confidence, the charming 17-year-old said, “The Music Center was very instrumental in starting me in music. I started when I was three years old, taking music lessons here. I began private violin lessons here when I was five years old. I probably wouldn’t be playing this concert if it weren’t for Community Music Center.”

The music center is an important asset to the community, Anderson stated, because “Now, there is a lack of music education in many of our public schools right now. The center helps many young people gain a valuable musical education they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

Although Anderson is an accomplished musician, she says she may choose neuroscience and biochemistry as a career.

May choose science over music
Anderson said she’s been applying to colleges and music conservatories. “I’ve had some interest from conservatories back east. But, I’m also interested in neuroscience and biochemistry; I’m hoping to continue studies in that, as well as music.”

Before her recital started, we learned from Dubay that Anderson is a senior and National Honor Society student at Lincoln High School. She’s won numerous awards, and has performed internationally. “She’ll be performing on the national radio show ‘From the Top’ in May,” he added.

In performance, Anderson confidently and artistically played a program that included works by Bach, Mozart, Paganini, and Prokovief, with verve.

The event raised $800 for the Community Music Center, Dubay reported.

An “Instrument Roadshow” event at CMC on March 9 helps support the musical program that allows young musicians, such as Becky Anderson, to excel.

Instrument appraisal “roadshow” on March 9
Find out if your old violin in the closet, trumpet in the attic, or guitar in the garage is a clunker or a keeper.

On Sunday, March 9, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Community Music Center, you can bring violins, violas, cellos, woodwinds, brass and guitars to this “Antiques Roadshow” style event to obtain a verbal appraisal of market value and suggestions of needed repairs from some of Portland’s top instrument experts.

There will be food and live music by special guest performers including Tom Grant, the Portland Cello Project, the Oregon Renaissance Band, Klezmer and Duo Hora Tziganye.

Admission is $5 for an entry fee and $25 for each verbal appraisal. Tickets are on sale at Brown Paper Tickets (BrownPaperTickets.com or 1.800.838.3006). There is no extra ticket charge by ordering online or over the phone. Appraisal times are non-reserved. For written appraisals participants may make further contact with the professionals directly.

Music Center Auditorium is located at 3350 SE Francis Street. For more information, call them at (503) 823-3177, or visit their web site at www.communitymusiccenter.org.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Although you could see it anywhere in East Portland, find out why this astronomical event drew such a large crowd in the river-side museum’s darkened parking lot …

Getting a close-up view of the eclipsed Moon and of Saturn, visitors use telescopes set up by the Rose City Astronomers Club.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although the full lunar eclipse in the early evening hours of February 20 could be seen anywhere in the greater Portland area, a crowd – mostly families – poured into the parking lot east of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to join in the “moon party”.

“It’s great to see everyone here enjoying themselves,” beamed OMSI’s planetarium manager, Jim Todd, as he looked out over the sea of sky watchers. “It’s remarkable that we have a perfectly clear sky for viewing tonight, in Oregon, in February.”

More than 600 people gathered to watch the lunar eclipse in OMSI’s parking lot. Looking closely just to the right of the enlarged inset box, you can see the planet Saturn in the night sky!

During a total eclipse, Todd told us, the moon and the sun and the Earth line up perfectly. “The Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow. If you’re standing on the Moon, looking back at the Earth, the sun move behind the Earth, and you would see a red ring around the Earth.”

By the time the Moon was completely shadowed, about 7 p.m., the group watching the eclipse had grown to over 600. “This is so cool,” said 4-year-old Sellwood resident Jason Lee. “I’ve never seen anything like this before in my whole life!”

OMSI’s planetarium manager, Jim Todd, gives a live, play-by-play description of the unfolding celestial event.

Rose City Astronomers Club set up telescopes at the event, giving people a close-up look at the moon as it fell into darkness. Because the sky was clear, and the moon was dark, one powerful ‘scope gave visitors a clear look at Saturn and its rings.

“We hope that some of the people who are visiting us tonight,” Todd commented, “next come to a planetarium show, and see what else they can learn about the night sky. Who knows, it may spark a lifelong interest in astronomy in one of these kids, who might grow up to be the astronaut who takes a photo of the earth – from the moon – during a future lunar eclipse.”

“Moon over McLoughlin”, as a bus passes by.

OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue. For general information, call (503) 797-4000 or visit www.omsi.edu.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you wondered why the street was closed to northbound traffic – creating a massive traffic jam through the parallel neighborhood streets – here’s why …

Portland Police Bureau shut down 92nd Avenue of Roses from SE Foster Road north to SE Raymond Street to protect citizens from sparking wires

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although the problem affected only one business, according to Portland General Electric spokesman Steve Corson, the sparks flying off the glowing electrical wires did cause considerable concern on the evening of February 17.

Sizzle, zap! Power kept flowing through the line, but it shorted out intermittently, causing these sparks to fly.

“The problem was reported at 5:52 p.m.,” Corson told us. “It was windy. The wind was pushing a power wire into a steel pole. It caused sparking. It didn’t cause the wires to fault totally, so power was able to flow.”

By 7:40 p.m., crews insulated the wire, and a message was put into PGE’s maintenance system to address a long-term solution. And at that point, S.E. 82nd was reopened to traffic, and the traffic jam in nearby neighborhoods dissipated.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

From the Benson Hotel, to the Hilton Hotel, and other top-drawer establishments in downtown Portland, see these David Douglas High School juniors getting a taste of working in the hospitality trade …

David Douglas High School students Jannette Young and Natalie Sutantodinata flank Rachel Huestis, Desk Manager at the Benson Hotel, as they learn to check guests into one of the city’s top lodging spots. The students look so professional, it’s hard to tell them from the manager!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Moving from the theoretical to the realm of the practical, 62 Hospitality & Tourism section students from David Douglas High School fan out across Portland for their annual “job shadow” day.

Thanks to the efforts of the program’s coordinator, Debbie Page, these junior-class students aren’t sweeping floors at a burger joint or changing sheets at a the No-Tell Motel. Instead, they are getting a first-class introduction to the business at businesses named Benson, Hilton, Monaco, and Greek Cusina.

They feel the heat, but they’re staying in the Benson Hotel kitchen, as students Jamison Miller and Marie Thompson help Executive Chef Scott Krushner get plates ready for a 150-seat upscale luncheon banquet.

Full-day experience
As we walk among several downtown locations, instructor Debbie Page fills us in on the students’ day.

First, she tells us, the students aren’t bussed in – they’re each responsible for getting to their jobs at their assigned starting times. “It is an eye-opening day for students to see what it’s like to get up, dress according to their hosts’ requirements, and find their way their job, and be on time.”

Each student will spend four to eight hours on the job today, explains Page. “In addition to learning a specific job to which they’ve been assigned, they’ve asked specific hospitality-industry questions that they’ve researched, and write a report based on what they learned.”

Additionally, Page continues, their hosts will complete an evaluation form and give the students feedback at the end of the four- to six-hour workday.

Preparing for international service
By providing specialized training in high school, Page reveals, their students have can often enter the workforce at above entry level

“And, this is growing industry segment,” Page elaborates. “Hospitality and tourism is the fourth largest industry Oregon – and the second largest job market worldwide. Once these kids learn certain skills, they can go anywhere in the world, and get a good job.”

Thomas Feseha learns from Hilton’s assistant director of front office operations, Brad Noah. “He’ll be checking guests in and out, referring guests to meetings at various locations, and learning about what I think is the greatest department in this hotel,” says Noah.

Tucked away in the Hilton Hotel offices, James Tiet works with junior accountant, Julian Xiong, learning “how the revenues flow in and out of our business.”

Good start in the industry
Todd Schaeffer, Director of Human Resources at the Portland Hilton, says they look forward to “job shadow day” at their business.

We’ve developed a close relationship with the David Douglas Hospitality and Tourism Program,” Schaeffer says. “Five students will work in five departments here today.”

This work/school connection helps them, because some of the students in the program learn they can work at entry-level positions where they can work while they’re going to school, he adds.

Bill Tritt, Hilton’s assistant director of catering, shows Hanh Nguyen about his department. “We’re showing him what a great opportunity it is to join an industry where you can start at the bottom and work your way to the top,” says Tritt. “I’ve been in the business for 26 years – what started as a job turned into a great career.”

Ashley Ortiz learns about the Hilton’s housekeeping department from director Cyndi Matto. “In our department,” Matto tells him, “there are new challenges every day; no day is the same.”

“Others will join the industry after they get out of school,” Schaeffer adds, “and find there is a real opportunity for career growth. Not all students are college-bound. The hospitality industry gives students the opportunity to find a great career path.”

Job shadows lead to internships
Accompanying us on our downtown tour is David Douglas Career Center counselor Deb Murray.

“It’s a really good experience for our students,” says Murray.

Greg Pinetti, the front office manager at the Hotel Monaco, shows students Chris Harrel and Jordan Olsvik the finer points of checking guests into this posh downtown boutique hotel.

“Not only is it a requirement for students to participate in a junior-year job shadow,” Murray explains, “it gives them a ‘snapshot’ of what it will be like when they go out for their business internship as a senior. The job shadow requires them to dress and speak professionally, and to interact with adults.”

At the Greek Cusina

Jonathan Byers and Dusty Whipple serve Debbie Page, Hospitality Tourism teacher at David Douglas High School, and Deb Murray, Career Center, David Douglas high School.

We stop in at Portland’s famous Greek Cusina and check in with two students, already at work, preparing for the lunch rush.

“I like how a chill everyone is,” comments Jonathan Byers, one of two students working at the restaurant. “Everyone is very nice, and this place is really cool. I think I’ll like working in the hospitality industry a lot.”

Fellow student Dusty Whipple adds, “I think would be good to have a job here. We’re learning what you don’t get to see and learn in the classroom.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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