Since January, folks from all walks of life have been giving their input on how the quality of life in outer East Portland can be improved. Has it been worthwhile? See what some committee members are saying …

Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE Community Development Corporation, and Mike Van Der Veen, associate pastor of Parklane Community Church, talk over the progress made by the East Portland Action Plan Committee.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
To find how the East Portland Action Plan committee was coming along – after meeting for three months – we checked in at their open house, held earlier this month at the East Portland Community Center.

“At this point in the development of the Action Plan,” said committee member Mike Van Der Veen, associate pastor of Parklane Community Church in the Centennial neighborhood, “we have selected some near-term actions. We’re formulating how to implement those actions. And, we’re discussing and brainstorming mid-and long-range actions that can address livability issues in Northeast Portland.”

Asked why he was interested in participating, Van Der Veen replied, “I’m very much interested in community-building actions. East Portland is made up of ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and geographic communities – like a quilt that is poorly sewn together. We have beautifully sewn squares, but they’re not well connected together. I think community building can help to stitch those together.”

Neighbors look at concepts the East Portland Action Plan committee has developed, and write comments for the committee’s review.

Van Der Veen noted that though many areas were annexed into the city, many long-term residents still don’t feel connected with city. “They still feel aggravation over how annexation happened. Short-term residents don’t really know any of this. We’re in an area of town feels they have the least amount of [government] representation.”

About the process, Van Der Veen said he thinks it’s being run well. “The Portland Planning Bureau is doing a good job. They provide a springboard of research and information regarding land use issues and other issues that are driving a lot of the questions – and are learning about issues about which they haven’t been asked.”

Robert liberty, District 6 Metro Counselor, and Jon Turino, Executive Director of the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations, share their respective views of the committee’s progress.

Views from Metro and business representatives
“I’m here signaling my interest in this process,” Robert liberty, District 6 Metro Counselor, told us. “I want to make sure that there are resources coming in on a regional level, not just a city level – making sure outer East Portland can flourish. That’s a big job.”

One of the reasons Liberty is on the committee, he said, is how this region affects all of Portland. “It’s the location where two freeways cross, where two light rail lines cross, and it has a lot of advantages. But the last couple years it’s gotten more of the burdens of growth and fewer the benefits of growth.  That concerns me.  It’s very important that this part of this region succeed.”

As an example, Liberty pointed out that the Urban Growth Boundary was expanded about 10 years ago to include about 800 acres in North Bethany. “It’s smaller than the Gateway regional center. But to build the infrastructure will cost $.25 billion – $300,000 per acre. There is no plan to pay for the infrastructure and transportation improvements.  What does a quarter of a billion dollars deliver across East Portland? My point is, there’s a lot of indications that outer East Portland is a great place to invest some money.”

Speaking for himself as a committee member, Jon Turino, APNBA Executive Director, and told us he thought the Planning Bureau has done a “superb job” of bringing the community together.

“My only concern is whether there will be money to do anything with the plans that we’ve developed to this process. The Action Plan portends good things for outer east Portland businesses.”

East Portland liaison, Barry Manning, with the City of Portland Bureau of Planning talks about highlights of the Action Plan committees findings so far.

Midpoint progress report
At the open house, Barry Manning, East Portland liaison for the Bureau of Planning of the City of Portland, told us, “We’re about midway through the process.  We’ve been brainstorming actions on a broad array of topic areas.  Today we’re asking the public to weigh in and give us some sense of their priorities. We’d like to know what’s important to them, and what’s not.”

Manning said he thought the program was going well. “One of the things I’ve learned is that, although there are a lot of actions taking place in city and county bureaus, word about it often doesn’t get out well. And, we’re also getting good ideas from the public, about things we might look at that hadn’t occurred to us.”

East Portland Action Plan categories of actions now include:

  • Parks, trails and open spaces;
  • Natural areas and sustainability;
  • Education;
  • Transportation;
  • Utilities and infrastructure;
  • Housing;
  • Public safety;
  • A safety net and housing services;
  • Community building strategies for action ideas and livability;
  • Equity; and,
  • Commercial areas and economic development.

“We are asking for continued citizen involvement,” Manning concluded. “They can follow the progress of the committee at our online web site.”

For more information regarding the East Portland Action Plan, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Take a look at this amazing display of student-created art …

120 students from the eight schools in the conference brought their two best works to this regional art show and competition, held at Parkrose High School in April.

Story and photos By David F. Ashton
What a surprise and delight it was to walk through the Northwest Oregon Conference Art show, held earlier in April at Parkrose High School. The art on display ranged from very good – to WOW!

Mark Warner, the Parkrose High art teacher who instructs students in pottery, ceramics, and sculpture told us about the event.

“Fifteen students, from each of the eight schools in our conference, brought their best works to the show,” Warner told us.  “Throughout the day, both our students and our visitors attended workshops and artists’ talks.”

The art on display was judged by three professional artists, the students’ peers, and by teachers, he added. “Take a look around. You’ll be impressed.”

Cesar Pina shows us his ceramic ghost character.

Great Cesar’s ghost
You’ve read about Parkrose High senior, and art genius, Cesar Pina, before, at East Portland News; we weren’t surprised to find him in the show.

“I’m holding my little ghost ceramic character,” Pina said. “This is our first project of the year, and I wanted to do something challenging. With Halloween coming up, I decided on this figure.”

Pina said this figurine wasn’t spun on a potter’s wheel.  “The basic shape is created on a core of newspaper; it needs to be hollow so it doesn’t explode in the kiln. I softened the edges, and created the shape. The newspaper burns out of the center of the figure when it is fired in the kiln. I coated it with a white, translucent glaze to give it a ghostly effect.”

We wish Pina well; he said he hopes to study animation in California; perhaps at Cal Arts.

Photographer Forest Feazle, Parkrose High sophomore, shows off his work.

Makes art with camera and lens
It’s true; we focused on local talent at our visit. Another artist with whom we spoke was Parkrose High sophomore Forest Feazle.

“I’ve tried to draw and paint – I have the artistic vision, but it just doesn’t work for me,” Feazle explained. “I started out just taking my parents’ little point-and-shoot camera on my walks at night. I took really grainy looking photographs of people and things in my neighborhood. I just got my first SLR from my aunt.”

Feazle had praise for his photography instructor, Patrick Smith, a professional photographer from the City of Maywood Park. “He has the best quality any teacher can have: He answers questions. I’m free to ask a question like ‘What would you do to achieve this kind of effect?’  He’ll answer the question, and then explain what’s behind the answer, so you understand the answer. A lot of people can do something well they can’t explain it; Mr. Smith really explains it well.”

Freshman Hayden Sexsmith shows us his captivating work of art.

We found nascent artist Hayden Sexsmith, a freshman at Parkrose High School, to be a man of few words. We did find his sculpture fascinating.

We asked what inspired his figurine entitled, “Hit the Nail on the Head”. “I don’t know. The idea came into my head,” Sexsmith said.

Art professionals Pat Boas and Dylan Morgan judge the works on display during the show and competition.

Judges: ‘Pretty amazing’
One of the judges at the show, Pat Boas, an art professor at Portland State University, took a moment to comment on what she’d seen.

“I think the show is pretty amazing,” Boas began. “There is a great array of really wonderful work here. It is very evident that these artists are inching toward both creativity and technical skill. Both the student artists – and their art teachers – are to be applauded.”

Another judge, Dylan Morgan, Gallery Manager at the Museum of Contemporary Craft agreed, “The show is great. I remember being in a similar type of show when I was in high school. It’s exciting to see so many different and unique ways of using the different media. It’s an impressive display of artwork.”

Mark Warner, the Parkrose High art teacher instructor of pottery, ceramics, and sculpture, answers questions during the art show.

‘Raises the bar’ for students
Warner told us he, too, was impressed by the art coming from students at the conference schools, which include Wilsonville, Parkrose, Century, Sherwood, Glencoe, St. Helens, Hillsboro, and Liberty.

“This event is important because it raises the bar for the students,” explained Warner.

“While a student might be the ‘hot shot’ in their class, they get to witness the quality of work put out by other students in our region.  It’s also great for the art teachers as well. It pushes us to help the students create even better works.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

How to improve a community? One new homeowner at a time they say. Discover who’s behind this unique real estate initiative …

LHI’s Amie Diffenauer and Christine Rhoney, SUN Site Manager at Kelly Elementary School, welcome folks to the third annual Lents Home Buying Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For decades, the Lents Neighborhood – one of the oldest established communities in Portland – was looked down upon, because the streets were lined with shabby homes in various stages of disrepair. Renters who lived there didn’t care about the houses any more than the landlords did.

In 2005, a group made up of officials from government agencies, non-profit organizations, Realtors, lenders, and developers started the Lents Homeownership Initiative (LHI).

Volunteer Kristin McMillen helps sign in Tammie Travis and her kids, Sofia and Angelina.

“The benefit of encouraging people to ‘buy into’ the neighborhood – instead of renting,” said Amie Diffenauer, LHI Community Organizer, “is that once you start putting down your roots, you become more concerned about how your neighborhood looks; you’re more concerned with crime and other neighborhood issues.”

In this situation, one takes more ownership in his or her neighborhood, literally and figuratively, Diffenauer added, “because your assets are right there on the ground.”

Neighbor Patricia Cabrera talks Jill Kuehler, manager of the Lents International Farmers Market, scheduled to open on June 15 on SE Foster Road at SE 92nd Avenue. “We’ll have 20 vendors this year,” she says.

Added 200 new Lents homeowners
Many initiatives are long on talk and short on action. But by working together, the LHI partners have already helped over 200 families buy a home – usually it’s their first house – in the neighborhood.

“We’re helping dedicated, hard-working people of modest means get into nice, decent living spaces; these houses are real agreeable homes,” Diffenauer commented.

“LHI is important to our overall mission,” stated Nick Sauvie, Executive Director of ROSE Community Development, LHI’s parent organization. “ROSE stands for ‘Revitalizing Outer South East’. There are a lot of good things happening in Lents; there’s really a bright future here in so many ways.”

Gabriela Straczek of Washington Mutual with a potential homeowner, Jennifer Merrill-Sordelet.

One-stop home-buying help
Potential Lents Neighborhood homebuyers can take classes on building their credit, learning how to apply for a loan, and mastering the home-buying process. Another way LHI reaches out to the community is through their annual springtime Home Buying Fair.

Although this year April 12 was a beautiful spring day – tempting for recreation and getting out of town – more than 550 people came to the third Lents Home Buying Fair, Diffenauer told us after the event. “The fair proves there are many people dreaming of owning their own home, and are willing to spend part of a beautiful day to get information on how to make this dream a reality.”

In addition to the workshops and seminars – presented in five languages – held throughout the event, representatives from participating lenders, builders, mortgage and title companies, and home insurance agents were on hand, making the fair a one-stop source for home-buying help.

David Wright gets road safety information from Sharon White, City of Portland Office of Transportation.

SUN School partner
“The best thing about this event,” said Christine Rhoney, SUN Site manager at Kelly Elementary School, host and partner in the event, “is being able to bring people together.”

Rhoney told us that their “SUN School”, a school-oriented program of Portland Impact, “works to help people become more successful. It’s about providing information, education, and support, to help people through different stages of life; to help get them where they want ago. We co-coordinate and co-host this event with LHI, because it truly matches our mission.”

Representatives on hand from partnering lenders, builders, mortgage and title companies, and home insurance agents help folks attending the fair get all the information the need about buying a new home.

Says event is empowering
One of the participants, Jennifer Merrill-Sordelet, said her family is trying to buy a new home. “I love the neighborhood; this area really is being revitalized.”

Showing us the big stack of information she carried, Merrill-Sordelet said she appreciated the workshops on how to get a loan, down payment assistance, and all the different opportunities for assistance with down payments.

“I really feel empowered,” Merrill-Sordelet added. “I found out that I can qualify for one of the assistance programs. It’s exciting to think how great it would be to buy a house, instead of throwing money away on rent.”

The Manager of Burgerville #41, Joe Tharp, Asst. Manager Dan Hathaway, and co-worker Stori Coy prepare some of the 500 hamburgers served at the fair.

500 burgers to go
After fueling renters’ appetites to become homeowners, Burgerville grilled up burgers to feed the crowd.

“We’re invested deeply in communities and schools,” said Joe Tharp, manager of Burgerville #41 at SE 92nd Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard. “We partner with LHI as part of our community service. We’re building lifelong relationships here in the community, as well.”

The winners are …
“As part of our Home Buyer’s Fair,” Diffenauer mentioned, “we hold a drawing that awards a $4,000 down payment assistance grant. This year, we drew three finalist’s names: Angela Oswalt, Nathaneual Miller, and Amelia Sanchez. The grant will go to the first finalist who’s ready to purchase a home.”

Is this a sign pointing to a new home in your future in Lents? Check in with LHI and find out!

If you’re interesting in learning more about LHI, CLICK HERE, or call Amie Diffenauer at (503) 788-8052 ext. 105, or e-mail amie@rosecdc.org.

Fair sponsors were: Portland Development Commission, Bureau of Housing and Community Development, Umpqua Bank, HOST Development, Fred Meyer, Burgerville, Unitus Community Credit Union, Bank of America, US Bank, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Catch up with the East Portland Chamber of Commerce members – as they inaugurate a business-support agency, get ready for golfing fun, and discover the ‘Dream Life’

East Portland Chamber of Commerce president, Rich Sorem, of Stewart & Tunno Insurance Agency Inc., presents a membership and welcome plaque to Jon Turino, Executive Director of the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations, before cutting the ribbon to inaugurate the association’s new offices.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce continue to combine having fun with promoting business throughout East Portland by providing events and services to the community.

For example, whether or not a new business joins the organization, the Chamber Ambassadors will perform a ribbon-cutting ceremony – complete with giant-sized shears and colorful ribbon – without cost, at the business’ kick-off event.

Joining members of the East Portland Chamber at the APNBA ribbon-cutting as Jon Turino prepares to cut the ribbon are representatives from the Parkrose, 82nd Avenue of Roses, and Division/Clinton Business Associations – along with Portland Commissioner Sam Adams, who lobbied for increased business association funding from the City.

Recently, members from the East Portland Chamber helped inaugurate the newly-opened office space for the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA).

“We appreciate the dedication and enthusiasm shown by members of the Chamber,” said APNBA Executive Director Jon Turino at the event.

The Chamber’s Ambassador chair, Holly Moss, of The Bookkeeping Company, holds up the “Golden Club” as she and Richard Kiely – of Home Run Graphics, sponsor of the “Mustang Hole-in-One” contest – pitch the organization’s June 13 event.

Duffers ready for June golf event
“It’s time to improve your backswing!” encouraged Richard Kiely, of Home Run Graphics.

There’s a good reason golfers should practice to improve their ball-driving accuracy for the June 13 event – Kiely is again sponsoring a “Hole-in-One” contest. “If you hit the ball straight and true, at one of the par-three holes, and make a hole-in-one, you’ll be driving away from the tournament in a brand-spankin’ new 2009 Ford Mustang,” he proclaimed.

The event, which starts at 9:00 a.m., also includes a prize raffle, on-course games, and supper at the fabulous Colwood National Golf Course, 7313 NE Columbia Blvd.

The special discounted fee for players who register before May 15 is $85.00 per golfer, including 18 holes of golf, two carts per foursome, lunch, and prizes after play. After May 15 the fee rises to $120.00 per golfer.

You don’t have to be a Chamber member to play! All golfers are welcome. Players without a foursome will be matched up on the day of the event.  The tournament is limited to 144 golfers.

On-line registration is available, courtesy of Copper Moon Design. Sign up now for a fun day of golf and fellowship by CLICKING HERE.

Annette Leoni of Classique Floors (“The best little floor store in town”) is picturing herself going for a ride on this Harley Davidson motorcycle at DreamLife Motorsports, during a recent EPCC “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting.

Chamber members discover the ‘Dream Life’
Every Wednesday morning – from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. – you’ll find members of the East Portland Chamber at their “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting. (CLICK HERE to check our Community Calendar – their events are held at a different location every week.)

Not long ago, we joined the “Good Morning East Portland” gang at DreamLife MotorSports, located near Portland International Airport.

“We’re a recreational club – almost like a country club – but with all the best ‘toys’,” explained partner Jason Russo. “We’ve got boats, motor homes, snowmobiles, wave runners, and ATVs, here in our warehouse, ready to go. The best part is, you don’t have to worry about buying, maintaining, storing and repairing them.  You just use them when you’d like.

As we looked at several of the boats used by their members, Russo reminded us how much hassle it is to buy a boat, and keep it clean and ready to go. “It’s an eyesore for the neighborhood if you store it in your yard. Here, they just drive up, hitch the boat, and go have fun with everything – including the life-vests and the water toys. And, we’ll even launch it for you at Chinook Landing.”

DreamLife partners Jason Russo and Matt Maher stand with Amelia Pape, office manager, hosting a “Good Morning East Portland” networking session in their showroom.

It costs about $2,000 to join DreamLife, and membership – depending on the quantity of “user points” you desire – runs between $199 to $399 per month. Chamber members remarked that, when compared to cost and continued expense of renting and owning – it is a good value.

“I have a strong belief that if you put a family together in a boat or a motor home for recreational activities, they’re going to grow closer together,” said Russo.

For more information, about DreamLife, CLICK HERE.

And to learn more about he East Portland Chamber of Commerce, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

What kind of person is it who can stay kind and calm at a time when distressed, panicked – or just plain nutty – people call ‘911’? Read this, and meet Portland’s ‘Telecommunicator of the Year’ …

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard thanks City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications workers for work well done during the year.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Earlier this month, the City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) proudly honored the men and women who serve as public safety dispatchers (9-1-1) during National Public-Safety Telecommunications Week.

As we met with her at the Sheraton Airport Hotel, the BOEC spokesperson, Jacquie Carson, told us, “We’re celebrating the outstanding work our employees perform all year long. Many people don’t stop to think about these individuals until they experience an actual emergency themselves. These professionals make the difference between life and death in many instances.”

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard and Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Alan Bronson congratulate the BOEC Telecommunicator of the Year, Kim Bronson, as does her daughter (and Portland Police Bureau Officer) Cassandra Tebo.

Portland’s ‘Telecommunicator of the Year’
Before the dinner program, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Kim Bronson, BOEC’s Telecommunicator of the Year.

“This is a real honor,” Bronson said modestly. “It’s an honor because I’m proud to have been associated with this bureau for the last 12 years. I think that everybody who does the job knows that is difficult.”

Most important to her, Bronson commented, “is making sure that every call I received is handled in a way that the caller is satisfied to be getting the best of what I can do. It is a real feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day knowing I’ve really helped someone.

“Another part is making sure the officers and firefighters are safe when they are working in the community.”

Bronson admitted she has a personal stake in helping to assure the safety of cops and firefighters. “My daughter is a Portland Police Officer, my husband is a Portland Fire & Rescue Lieutenant. We’re a family who is proud to serve our community.”

Jacquie Carson, BOEC Public Information Officer, congratulates Victoria Seifert; she was selected as their “Outstanding Team Member”. “I’ve now been there for just a little over a year,” Seifert says. “To receive the award so soon after being employed here is quite an honor.”

Reduced ‘on-hold’ time commended
“These men and women are great,” Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard told us before the dinner. “I’m glad to have had their bureau in my office’s portfolio for the past six years.”

Additionally, serving as a firefighter for 25 years – and having a son who is a 9-1-1 call taker – Leonard said he has a personal connection with BOEC.

“As I’ve told people many times, we can have fully-staffed fire and police departments, but unless someone is there to answer the 9-1-1 call, and dispatch it efficiently, those resources don’t do much good. These people are the link that makes the difference between disaster and saved lives.”

Speaking at the dinner, Leonard further commended the group, saying, “I especially thank you for the work you’ve done to reduce the call holding times so significantly. Because of the efforts that all of you are undertaking, more people are going survive. I’m proud to represent you.”

Although we didn’t have the opportunity to meet her, Sherry Alexander was also honored as “Supervisor of the Year” at the event.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

No more joyous celebration can be found than at a
pirate’s weddin’ – and we’ve got the photos to prove it!

After exchanging vows at their pirate wedding on the Willamette River, Chipper tugboat Capt. Mad Jack (Stiles) prepares to take his friends, Amethyst, Queen of the Pirates (the new Mrs. Amy Hardin), and Capt. William the Wicked (Bill Hardin), upriver to celebrate with friends.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Willamette River was calm and peaceful as Captain “Mad Jack” Stiles maneuvered the tug Chipper, and the wedding barge lashed to its bow, up to the dock at Sellwood Riverfront Park on April 17.

“A perfect day for a pirate weddin’, don’t you think?” asked the colorfully attired captain, as the wedding party came on board and prepared for the water-borne ceremony.

At the appointed time, nearly 100 pirates were gathered on the shore, dock,and barge to see Amethyst, Queen of the Pirates, and Captain William the Wicked, tie the knot.

Preacher Mike began the ceremony, speaking in the finest pirate brogue, proclaiming, “We have been summons’d here to witness the crime of matrimony. More valuable than money, in this ceremony we will see offered the gift of eternal love. This gift of love is more valuable than any treasure.  It’s stronger than any wind; it’s more intoxicating than the finest grog.”

The pirate pair exchanged vows of eternal love and fealty, exchanged rings, and promised to share any future plundered booty. Then, the newlywed pirates received the well wishes of their rowdy pirate mates. Firecrackers substituted for a black-powder salute – and the happy couple broke out a bottle of fine rum.

Nearly 100 pirates gathered on the barge, dock, and shore to wish the newly-joined pirate pair well.

Not a publicity stunt
No, the ceremony wasn’t a publicity stunt for some new high-seas adventure movie. Indeed, we learned, the wedding was authentic – even if the pirates were not.

Before the couple – and their closest crew members – next set sail for the Sellwood Public House, we asked William the Wicked – a/k/a Bill Hardin – “Is getting married the pirate thing to do?”

“Arrrr,” the captain replied with a grin and a wink, “I shouldn’t have, but I did!”

Amethyst, Queen of the Pirates (the new Mrs. Amy Hardin), told us she and her new husband both work in the hospitality industry.

As colorful a ceremony as one would expect from a scene from a pirate movie, the new Mr. and Mrs. Hardin said a pirate wedding was the “natural thing for them to do”.

“We’ve been doing pirate parties with Mad Captain Jack almost seven years,” Amethyst explained. “William and I became close friends over the years, and became a couple, living on a boat together down at the Waverley Marina. Having a pirate weddin’ seemed like the natural thing to do.”

With that, the party sailed into the sunset, and will hopefully live happily ever after.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Here’s another opportunity to meet some of the
candidates hoping for your vote on May 20 …

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two Oregon state legislature hopefuls, two Multnomah County Commissioner candidates, and four contenders for City of Portland offices all arrived bright and early at Cherrywood Village to meet and greet people from Portland’s business community on April 16.

Ken Turner, Government Affairs chair for the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, serves as moderator and quizmaster at this candidate’s forum.

The event, presented by the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, was hosted by the organization’s Government Affairs Chair, Ken Turner.

With about fifty business people and community members present – along with TV news cameramen from two local stations – the program got underway. “We invited many candidates to attend this forum,” Turner stated as the forum began, “The East Portland Chamber of Commerce is not endorsing any candidates for any office.”

The candidates lined up in front of the meeting room; Turner asked each of the candidates to introduce themselves.

The candidates appear here in the same order as they spoke …

Oregon Senate District 23 candidate Sean Cruz

The first to speak was Sean Cruz, running for Oregon Senate District 23. Cruz said he was the chief of staff for Oregon State Senator Avel Gordly for many years. “I’m a Parkrose resident, real estate broker of 8 years; I work in the district.”

Working in health care issues was his forte, Cruz said. “And about my hair – here’s the story: I said I wouldn’t cut my hair until my sons came back from military service in Iraq.” One son died in military service, Cruz reported, the other came back, but “no one has seen him since he returned. Even five years into the war, there is no [State] senate committee for veteran’s affairs. We need to work on dealing with the war – ending and helping the veterans.”

Portland City Council Position #2 candidate, Jim Middaugh

“I’m running to get the job done at City Hall,” stated Jim Middaugh, who’s running for Erik Sten’s soon-to-be-vacated seat, Portland City Council Position #2.

While we don’t recall he mentioned that he’s been Sten’s Chief-of-Staff, he did point to his work with the Columbia Gorge Commission, promoting business in Troutdale, working through Sten’s office to get more funding for David Douglas Schools and improving transportation on SE Foster Blvd. He said he’s the only “publicly-financed” candidate in his race.

“We need to recognize outer East Portland and East County. We need to help reduce the cost of permitting,” Milesnick proclaimed.

Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 candidate, Rob Milesnick

Rob Milesnick, said he’s the job as Multnomah County Commissioner for District 3 because, “It’s time for the county to change. There’s too much infighting in the county, downtown [Portland], and in Salem. I’m reaching out to start a dialogue.”

Milesnick said he’s a graduate of Syracuse University; and is employed in health care, working for ODS. His community work includes “being on the City’s Citizen’s Review Board”.

Portland City Council Position #2 candidate, Nick Fish

“We’re living in a time of unprecedented challenge,” began Nick Fish, candidate for Portland City Council Position #2. “We have a historic election ongoing: Four of five seats that govern the City of Portland are up for election.”

Fish said he’s spent 20 years in business as a lawyer, representing workers’ issues. Additionally, he said he championed reforming public housing and has been doing a weekly television talk show that shows viewers how government works.”

“I want to be a champion for small businesses. Small business is the backbone of the community, providing 80% of [local] jobs. At the same time, we all also benefit from having a strong downtown area. The Portland City Council doesn’t make jobs; but we can help create an environment that promotes more jobs being created. We need to focus on our core mission: Public safety, infrastructure and parks.”

Portland City Council Position #1 candidate Chris Smith

Up next was Chris Smith; he’s running to fill Sam Adams’ seat on the Portland City Council in Position #1. Smith said he brings 20 years of experience of being a high-tech and marketing executive to the post.

“And, I’ve been an activist in Portland on issues of livability and transportation; I’ve been working on ‘Safe, Sound and Green Streets” project. I want open and transparent government. Our [Portland City] Commissioners are legislators; but they also are administrators. Each of them runs several bureaus. I have the management experience to do that well.”

In addition to paying attention to basic services, Smith suggests that the City uses the theme of “sustainability” to build a competitive advantage. “We need to promote an industry sector in sustainability, and have our economy thrive by pursuing that strategy.”

Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 candidate Mike Delman

Mike Delman, a candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner District 3, told the group he worked as the Chief-of-Staff for an unnamed county commissioner, and has held other county posts. He now works with Portland Habilitation Center.

“I’m running because of my experience working at the county. Multnomah County has suffered from the ‘Mean Girls’ debacle. But, [sitting County Chair] Ted Wheeler has turned it around. In this office, we need someone who understands the needs of the county,” Delman stated.

As a cost-cutting example, Delman suggested outsourcing of the county’s vehicle fleet, saying the privatization could save taxpayers as much as 30% per year.

Oregon State Representative, District 49 candidate, Nick Kahl

Although he’s running for a seat that represents Fairview, Wood Village, and Gresham, Nick Kahl pitched his candidacy to be District 49’s Oregon State Representative.

“I grew up on 113th Avenue near East. Burnside Street. Now, I still see that the people who live and work east of 82nd have a commonality of interests with those who are in East County.”

Kahl’s interests include improved roads and highways and increased capital budgets for school building. “We need to see the green industry come here. I hope to see the abandoned East County high tech facilities being put to use by green industry companies.”

City of Portland Mayoral candidate, Sam Adams

Sam Adams, the Portland Commissioner running for the job as Portland’s Mayor, said he’d keep his remarks brief.

“There is a clear different between me and Sho Dozono. I’m in favor of local control of schools. I do not support Portland Public Schools taking over Parkrose and David Douglas school districts. My opponent does.”

Adams added he was in favor of using some tax increment financing to help David Douglas Schools funding capital building projects.

Questions and answers

Family Wage Jobs

Q “What are ‘family wage’ jobs?”

Cruz: “I don’t know.”

Milesnick: “We must deal with rising medical costs. Most of the bankruptcies are caused by expenses arising from medical issues.”

Fish: “It takes about $85,000 in family income to afford a home. A family wage job is two wage earners making $18 to $22/hr with benefits. Most working families can not afford to live here.”

Smith: “We need to look at the benefit component [of wages]. How to keep living in Portland affordable is the real question. Also, we need to look in to questions of affordable housing.”

Delman: “I agree with Fish. The county’s core mission is health care and public safety. Want to support [sitting Multnomah County Commissioner] Jeff Cogan to provide more family jobs. And, we need to strengthen public safety.”

Adams: “21% of Portlanders work at a poverty wage.”

With that, moderator Turner stated, “Family wage jobs are 2 times minimum wage.”

Increased employment

Q What will you do to provide more jobs?

Cruz: “Portland Community College’s Southeast Center is the economic key for this area. They provide job training. We import welders from other states; there are not enough here to fill the needs of industry. Also there are not enough nurses. The college is asking for a bond package; I hope you will support their effort.”

Middaugh: “Finish cleaning up the Portland Harbor. Investment there is frozen until the ‘cloud’ of being defined as a [pollution] superfund site is lifted. Then, we’ll be able to get living wages back. Also, I’d like to see the process of getting permits in the City streamlined; it costs too much to start, or grow, a business here.”

Milesnick: “We need more green jobs. The things we want to do will take a while.” Community design is the one of the key solutions, he added. “We need business, shopping and schools closer to home. It is hard to create jobs at the county level.”

Fish: “I have a secret plan: Live by the Small Business Bill of Rights that has already been accepted by the City. I plan have it at my side at all times. We need strong schools and school-to-work partnerships. We also need regulatory reform. Too many small businesses can’t expand; tax reform may help that situation.”

Smith: “We need to be strategic; we need to ‘go green’. Focus on alignment between government and private sector. The cities and regions that are successful have their goals and objectives in alignment.”

Delman: “The County can participate to help increase jobs. Building trades have many open slots. We need to listen to those in local business districts regarding what is needed to help them do well. Instead of just saying we’re more business friendly, we need to welcome businesses back to the county and city.”

Kahl: “At the state level, there needs to be equity between large and small businesses. Guaranteed loans could help set up green businesses here. If we want to attract more business here, we need to fix bad roads and support our schools.”

Adams: “Businesses won’t move here, or choose to grow if citizens are concerned about public safety. Gang violence is up; the Mayor’s budget does not include uniformed [gang detail] officers. We have investigators and counselors working on the situation, but the program has no teeth. I want to get officers, five of them, on the streets working on the gang issues.”

Transferring county bridges to METRO

Q Do you support the transfer of Multnomah County bridges to Metro? If not, how would you distribute the costs?

Cruz: “This isn’t an issue dealt with in the State legislature.”

Middaugh: “Don’t know if a transfer to Metro is the right answer; but we do need a way to have other counties help pay for bridges their citizens use.”

Milesnick: “I do hope the state will take an interest. Macadam is a State Highway. 65 percent of the people that cross the Sellwood Bridge are from Clackamas County.”

Fish: “We need some kind of bridge authority. One city and county can’t shoulder the total cost. Bridge authorities have been used successfully in other municipalities. Metro may be the right place. But, we need to act quickly; the Sellwood Bridge is rated as the ‘least safe’ in the state.”

Smith: “I do support regional bridge authority; maybe not Metro. We need a regional solution to this problem.”

Delman: “Metro should be the new government entity given the responsibility for the bridges. They are supposed to be the new regional transportation government. However, Multnomah County should retain ownership.”

Kahl: “Counties should not own, and be forced to maintain, bridges any longer. The State legislator has a role to play. I’m perfectly fine with handing it off to Metro or creating a regional authority. The problem is that no political institution wants to step up and take the liabilities.”

Adams: “The answer is a regional authority. How to convince [other governmental entities] to take on ‘our problem’ is the question. We have to be willing to care about their problems as well. For example, Clackamas County needs support as they develop the Sunrise Corridor.”

Less trash; more recycling

Q There is a growing amount of trash on the streets; it seems that businesses aren’t doing their part in recycling. If elected, what will you do?

Adams: As part of negotiating agreements with the next trash hauling contract, I want to see more public garbage cans and public recycling cans. It is more in keeping with our progressive values.”

Kahl: “This is more of a city/county concern. I did craft a cell phone recycling program for the county.”

Delman: “The County can beef up its legislative agenda and fine companies that do not meet recycling goals.”

Smith: “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Fish: “We should support existing laws and recycling efforts. I’m in favor of increasing littering fines.”

Milesnick: “I propose an Environmental Justice Committee. They would represent cities, and go after polluters.”

Middaugh: “Require a deposit on cigarette butts. Actually, we need greater incentives to do a better job with waste. Solar powered compacting garbage cans might be the answer; local businesses can build them.”

Cruz: “From the perspective that someone who has been involved in the war, almost no one is making sacrifice. In WW2, people saved everything and recycled it. They sold war bonds to pay for the war. People are too lazy to separate glass from plastic; commingled recycling costs more. We need a greater sense of personal responsibility and shared sacrifice.”

Wrapping up the session, Turner said, “Are YOU registered to vote? This year, your voice will be heard at the ballot box – but only if you participate.”

Learn more about the East Portland Chamber of Commerce by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Giant potholes in this unimproved road slowed their response slightly, but they didn’t let that stop them from arriving quickly …

By the time we arrived at this Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood home, Portland Fire & Rescue crews had put the fire out.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Fire trucks racing to the scene of a house fire on SE 117th Ave., just south of SE Reedway St. slowed to a crawl when the turned south from SE Harold Street.

“Can you believe these potholes?” remarked Battalion Chief Terry Munro, in charge of fighting the blaze.

Nevertheless, they arrived on scene just four minutes after the call came in and started fighting the fire in a single-story home.

“When we arrived there was fire showing through the walls,” Munro told us. “We first searched the home, and it was vacant.”

Potholes the size of small ponds slowed the arrival of the fire trucks – but not by much – it must have been a bumpy ride, however!

Firefighters first attacked the visible flames in the kitchen and bedroom of the house while other crew members took a look in the basement. They discovered that the upstairs fire was an extension from the basement.

“We fought the fire on both levels,” Monro commented as the 24 firefighers who responded started to pack up their gear.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

While some other kids spent their spring vacation getting in trouble, see why these kids chose to work – really hard – to help improve their neighborhood …

Aimee Collier and Shannon Pyles help a disabled neighbor by carrying junk out of their yard.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It seems as if all some young kids can think about doing during spring vacation is getting drunk or stoned or partying during their break from school.

“I guess this is a little different,” Tray Michael, youth pastor at Eastside Foursquare Church in Parkrose. “We’re out serving the community.”

They call their annual project Urban Impact. “Every year, we get young people together for fellowship at our church, headquartered in the Quality Inn/Rodeway Inn Hotels our church operates. We go out for three days, into the community, and help out.”

They started by picking up trash, removing debris, and washing the stores’ windows in the Parkrose business district, along NE Sandy Blvd. from NE 97th Ave. up to NE 122nd Ave.

Then, the group of nearly 50 youths from Mount Olivet, New Hope, and New Wine Churches, a church from Salem, and the youth group from the Eastside Foursquare Church, headed into the Parkrose neighborhood.

With the help of ten adults, the hard-working youths quickly filled trucks with trash and debris collected from Parkrose neighborhood yards.

“As you can see, we’re going door-to-door, picking up trash and hauling away,” observed Michael. “We’re taking junk and trash out of their yards for free. We’re not proselytizing; we’re just lovin’ them. We’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re here in the neighborhood and volunteering our time to bless you with our help’.”

In addition to trash hauling, this crew of kids makes rakes leaves and trims plants for a disabled neighbor.

Scott Larkin, a Parkrose homeowner whose yard was being raked by the kids, said “It’s a blessing. They’re helping someone in desperate need. I have a back injury, so this really helps.”

We asked Larkin if the group tried to preach at him.

“No, they just helped us out of the kindness of their hearts,” replied Larkin.  “We’re very, very thankful for. It’s amazing to see youth, nowadays, getting out and doing something like this. These folks are a godsend.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Passengers on the bus said they were alarmed, because their driver kept tailgating cars while driving the route. We’re not sure why it happened, but see what happens when a big bus rear-ends a Toyota …

This Toyota was southbound in slow traffic on SE 122nd Ave., until a TriMet bus slammed into it at SE Pine Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When calling in the details of a thee-vehicle collision about 1:45 p.m. on April 12, police at the scene told dispatchers that the bus driver said a car stopped suddenly in front of him.

Several other witnesses, including bus passengers, disagreed with the bus driver’s assessment of the situation.

One car absorbs impact
Looking at the wreckage at the intersection of SE 122nd Avenue, at SE Pine Street, we were amazed that no one was killed. Debris was widely scattered; the full-size TriMet bus had popped up over the sidewalk, and come to rest, high-sided in the side yard of the corner house.

As we looked at a demolished black Toyota Corolla with California plates, an East Precinct Portland Police Bureau officer on-scene confirmed the obvious, saying, “The bus failed to stop in time to avoid a collision.”

Both the driver of the Toyota – and that of the Isuzu Trooper in front of it –were being transported for hospital medical evaluation by ambulance, shortly after we arrived.

“My wife was driving the white Isuzu,” a man told us as he secured her personal belongings. “My wife said the guy in the car behind her must have had his foot really down on the brakes, because he didn’t hit my wife all that hard. His car absorbed most of the impact.”

After collapsing the back end of the Toyota, TriMet bus had enough momentum to high-side it in this neighbor’s yard. It took an industrial-sized wrecker to drag it free.

A wild bus ride
We came upon two individuals, Michael and Maria, who asked if we were a TriMet official.

“I don’t know why they’re ignoring us,” Michael said. “After the wreck, the bus driver told us to fill out this [incident] card and not leave the bus until we handed it back to him. I wasn’t going to give him the card, so we waited on the bus until now.”

With incident card still in hand, Maria read to us what she wrote:

“Prior to the accident I was very scared.  I was very concerned about the bus driver’s driving. He was tailgating and running a very close to the cars in front of us. I had an idea before the accident happened, it was going to happen. Then, all of a sudden, when the accident happened, he was too close, and there was nothing he could do. He slammed right into them. It’s very scary.”

Michael confirmed, “Before the accident, she said ‘I don’t think we can stop; we’re not going to stop’. When she said it a third time, he (the bus driver) hit the brakes real hard, then took his foot off the bake and plowed right into the guy.”

Slow-going Saturday traffic
Two customers in the Tonkin Honda car lot across the street said they didn’t have a clear view of the accident, but confirmed that traffic had been stopped – backed up from a red light at SE Stark Street. Cars were starting to move slowly when the wreck occurred.

“It looked like the bus was going pretty fast, considering it was coming up to slow-moving traffic,” said another witness.

When we left the scene, Michael and Maria were still standing at the intersection, looking bewildered. “And worst of it is, they’re just leaving us here. What can we do?”

Because the collision wasn’t investigated, no tickets were issued and there was no official police report.

Accident not investigates
“The collision does not appear to have been investigated,” Sgt. Brian Schmautz, Portland Police Bureau spokesman, told us. “An officer filled out an exchange form and referred it TriMet Police.”

He did say the TriMet bus was driven by 51-year-old Uchenna Agum. Because the collision was not investigated, no citations were issued.

When we asked TriMet spokesperson Peggy LaPoint about the accident this week, she said “We have differing reports about the incident. We’re investigating the accident.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Hosting their last “Candidate’s Forum” before the May Primary Election – read this and learn more about these folks who yearn to be our next Mayor …

As GABA president Alan Sanchez starts the meeting, the room fills quickly with those who want to meet the individuals, one of whom is most likely to become Portland’s next Mayor.

Story by Watford Reed; photos by David F. Ashton
The four candidates for Portland Mayor said each could do the job better than the current one, but agreed on little else in speeches before 60 members of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) on April 10.

Although all mayoral candidates were invited to attend, four of them came to woo outer East Portland voters. The candidates gave their opening statements in the alphabetical order of their last names.

City of Portland mayoral candidate Sam Adams.

Commissioner Sam Adams said Portland’s “greatness” is not accessible to everyone in the city.

“I’m running to shake up the office of Mayor,” Adams declared.

He said 43% of all eighth-graders in Portland fail to graduate from high school and 21% of employees across the city earn “poverty wages”.

On the other hand, he said, he has won more money for Portland Street safety and has lowered business license fees for 9,000 small businesses.

He also warned, “We are not ready” for the 300,000 more residents expected to move into the city in the next few years.  He promised to “keep working for small businesses” if he is elected and will strive for “fair taxes”.  Some businesses in the city grossed more than $20 million a year, but pay no more in taxes than small firms, he charged.

City of Portland mayoral candidate Sho Dozono.

Sho Dozono, owner of a large Portland travel agency, told the listeners, “In the last 50 years, we have not elected a business person [as Mayor]” and “nobody on the [Portland City] Council now has ever had to meet a payroll”.

He called for better economic conditions and more accountability in city government.

Dozono said he has helped bring airlines and Asian companies to the city, and observed, “We need to recruit others”.

He said the city needs to be “competitive in the global economy”, and at the same time, keep middle-class housing – which he says is being squeezed out by apartment buildings. High among his interests, he listed our natural resources, education, and the global economy. He recommended bringing high-technology industry to the area.

City of Portland mayoral candidate Beryl McNair.

Beryl McNair said the “economy is sad” in northeastern and southeastern Portland.

She called for job fairs, workshops, more attention to education, and food for the hungry. She also urged integration across ethnic lines, and said the needs of all of Portland’s communities should be met.

City of Portland mayoral candidate Jeff Taylor.

Jeff Taylor said Portland “is not the city I grew up in, and not what it should be”.

He promised that if he is elected he will eliminate the business tax, will not raise the water bills, will hire more police, and set up an office to help small businesses.

Taylor said he has been a small businessman for 25 years and he would not seek new businesses for Portland – “I will help businesses that are already here”. He would like to see one worker added to the staff of every business already operating in Portland.

His proposal to end the business tax altogether drew fire from Adams – who said he has won lower taxes on small businesses. Adams said eliminating the tax altogether would wreak havoc with the city budget.

In keeping with GABA tradition, Sanchez presents a rubber chicken to Deena Jensen, who is with Evergreen Home Loans, in recognition for her efforts on behalf of the organization.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Try as they might to prevent it, cops are seeing more – as well as more serious and deadly – crime along the outer east side MAX corridor. Here’s the latest one …

Although the 148th Ave. MAX station was closed, the light rail train continued service along the outer east side route during the April 16 murder investigation.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The rate of violent crimes committed along outer East Portland’s MAX corridor seems to be accelerating.

Responding to a “shots fired” call at 8:22 pm on April 16, East Precinct officers rushed to the Hazelwood Station Apartments on April 16. The shooting resulted in a death.

Authorities aren’t saying whether or not the victim was a resident or visitor at the Hazelwood Station Apartments on the night he was killed.

When we arrived on-scene, the perimeter around the four-story apartment house, located on the north side of E. Burnside St. facing the MAX station, about a half a block west of NE 148th Avenue, was taped off, as homicide detectives swarmed the area looking for clues.

“Officers arrived and found the body of 22-year-old Christopher John Tillman in a hallway on the third floor of the apartment complex,” confirmed police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “The victim appeared to have been shot at least one time, and was deceased when officers arrived.”

Police say this man, Christopher John Tillman,
was identified as the shooting victim.

A man who claimed to live in the building said the victim was shot in the elevator, and crawled out to the commons area on the third floor.

Officials have remained tight-lipped about the case.

“An autopsy conducted by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner concluded that Tillman died of a single gunshot wound,” Schmautz told us.  “For investigative reasons, detectives are withholding more specific information about the shooting. Investigators have not developed any suspect information and are currently seeking anyone who may know the victim or had contact with the victim in the hours leading to his death.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Steve Ober at (503) 823-4033 or Detective Jim McCausland at (503) 823 0449.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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