This event is truly “for the birds” – take a look and discover why …

Portland Audubon Society volunteer Virginia Ross shows off Jack, an American kestrel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hundreds of avian admirers once again flocked to Sellwood Park on a couple of Saturdays ago to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day at a special event.

“Three partners put on the ‘Festival of the Birds’ to bring attention to the migratory birds that pass through here,” said Karen Munday, Urban Wildlife Specialist at the Portland Audubon Society. “U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Audubon Society, and Portland Parks and Recreation all participate in this event.”

Karen Munday, Urban Wildlife Specialist at Portland Audubon Society, coordinates the festival.

On the intercontinental ‘freeway’ for birds
It’s important to pay attention to migratory birds that pass through Portland, Munday said, “Birds migrate from the northern regions down south, along the Pacific Flyway. Because Portland is a stop along their migratory path, we need to help protect the habitat they use, right here, in our own back yard.”

Visitors to the festival were treated to guided bird walks. On these walks, they learned that 200 different bird species can be found in the greater Portland area. They saw, with the help of their guides, wild bald eagles, great blue herons, osprey, and dozens of species of waterfowl and songbirds that make their homes in Oaks Bottom.

Telling visitors about Hazel, a northern spotted owl, is Audubon’s James Mier.

Meeting feathered friends
Along Sellwood Park’s western walkway, tented stations provided bird-related crafts for kids and information for adults.

“We’re encouraging people to protect urban habitat,” explained Munday. “And, we’re asking them to help make our area more bird-friendly by doing things like planting native plants in their backyards, and keeping cats indoors.”

Youngsters Dakota and Miller Heikes, and Chloe Hemelstrand, get to experience how birds eat.

Along the way, we met Jack. His handler, Virginia Ross, an Audubon Society volunteer, said Jack is an American kestrel, the smallest of the falcon family.

On the arm of another Audubon volunteer, James Mier, we were introduced to Hazel, a northern spotted owl. “She’s about five years old. Her injured wing was damaged; she can’t fly so she’s not releasable.”

Information specialist Nancy Pollot of the US Fish and Wildlife Service helps homeowners learn about the native plants and flowers most favored by migrating birds.

Improving avian habitat
Nancy Pollot, US Fish and Wildlife service, was visiting with those who stopped at her booth, teaching about plants favored by birds.

“This plant is a red osier dogwood,” informed Pollot. “Birds and butterflies love these; and they’re native to Oregon. They grow without much maintenance, and attract wildlife. It flowers in the spring, and by the end of summer, it grows little white berries that the birds like.”

A highlight of the festival was the release a rehabilitated Red-tailed Hawk back into the wild, Munday said. “The hawk was set free after nearly three months recovering from an illegal gunshot injury.”

Coloring handbags at the festival are Annecy Crabtree, Mira Henri, and Brandt Henri.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Check out what went on at a community happening they’re now calling an outer East Portland tradition. And, we say goodbye to a great East Portland cop, Officer Hoover …

Several hundred Lents-area neighbors looked to be having a good time, while they learned about neighborhood resources, at the fourth annual Lents Resource Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It wasn’t a school day, but the cafeteria at the Marshall High Campus on SE 91st Avenue was hopping on May 10, as the Portland Development Commission (PDC) hosted its fourth annual Lents Resource Fair.

Joleen Jensen-Classen, with Juan Carlos Ocaña, stands by, ready to serve a lunch of hot burritos and chips at the Resource Fair.

Informing neighbors
“The primary purpose of the fair is to provide information to the community about a variety of services and goods available to them in Lents, and in the greater Lents area,” is how Juan-Carlos Ocaña, a public participation coordinator at PDC, set the stage.

The Lents Urban Renewal team brought 40 government and nonprofit agencies together to set up exhibits and to talk with neighbors.

Jon Gail of the PDC neighborhood housing program discussed homeowners assistance.

Folks talked with representatives from the City of Portland, TriMet, Multnomah County, Holgate Library, the Lents International Farmer’s Market, and ROSE Community Development, to name just a few.

“The fair has grown into being an annual tradition,” Ocaña said. “It started as an opportunity to showcase the diversity of services available. Many people in the Lents area are struggling in the current economic conditions. It’s a good opportunity to show them different places where they can go for support.”

Nancy Hand talks with Portland Police Bureau Neighborhood Resource Officer William Hoover.

Goodbye, Officer Hoover
After his appearances at the event year after year, neighbors expected to see Portland Police Bureau Neighborhood Resource Officer William Hoover at the event.

For those who know Office Hoover – including us – seeing him this time was a bittersweet event. “It’s true; I am leaving the Bureau, and moving south.”

We asked Hoover if he wished to comment on this, his final public meeting.

“I spent my nine years in police work in this neighborhood and this police work for a reason: I think these are good hard-working people that deserve assistance.  I’ve done my best to help the good people of this neighborhood,” Hoover told us. “I will miss the people in this area a great deal, when I leave.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Station 11 C-Shift attend the event, along with Lt. Michael O’Keeffe, public education Officer and fire inspector. “We’re here helping out folks in the Lents neighborhood with fire safety education, and some fun games for the kids.”

Community-building affair
Another aspect of the occasion, Ocaña told us, is community building. “It’s a great opportunity for people in the neighborhood to get together to talk to other neighbors, talk to different service organizations, and also to enjoy a tasty meal and beverage.”

From what we saw, neighbors did have a good time – and learned – as they drifted by the exhibits, and munched on burritos.

Daniel Casey said he was enjoying his burrito. Actually, his exact comment was, “Mmmmm, this is yummy!”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See how this big clean-up program took on an
even “greener” tinge this year …

Lines of trucks and cars await their turn to dump trash at the annual East Portland Neighborhood Organization Clean-up event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From the minute the event opened at 9 a.m. until it closed at 1 p.m., the (former) Albertson’s parking lot at NE 122nd Avenue & Halsey Street was filled with folks dumping trash and debris at the annual East Portland Neighborhood Organization (EPNO) Clean-up on May 10.

These neighbors weren’t littering – they were filling Dumpster after Dumpster with bulky waste, metal, yard debris, Styrofoam, and even appliances.

Earl Brant gives his donation to Ross Monn, Wilkes Community Group Chair and event volunteer. Even though Monn is moving to Washington State, he still pitched in and worked throughout this entire event.

Pitchin’ debris from her truck is Parkrose neighbor Trystan Askelson.

50 dumpsters filled
When we stopped by the event, it was almost closing time – and there was still a line of trucks and cars waiting to unload rubbish.

“We’re close to the successful conclusion of another EPNO Clean-up,” said Bonny McKnight, a volunteer, and Co-Chair of the Russell Neighborhood Association.

“It looks like we’ll use all of the 50 Dumpsters we ordered for the event,” stated McKnight. “About 35 volunteers offered their time today, plus many other folks who helped hand out fliers and help in other ways. Together, we’ve made our community a nicer place in which to live.”

Jim Blatt, from Wilkes Community Group, is one of 35 volunteers who helped at the event.

Promoted greater participation
In addition to publicizing the event in the local media, volunteers took fliers to every church and school within the area area.

“At the least,” McKnight told us, “folks learned that we do this every year and perhaps learned more about what Portland neighborhood associations do for them. We hope more people will choose to participate in their neighborhood organization.”

Instead of sending this computer monitor to the dump, Parkrose Heights volunteer Bill Midkiff sets it aside for dismantling and recycling.

Greening up the event
In addition to the yard debris and rubbish dumpsters, we noticed more recycling bins at the collection site.

“Everything we collect today is going to be recycled in some form,” McKnight said. “For example, bicycles that otherwise would become metal junk are being recycled this year. Instead of dumping computer monitors and televisions, they’ll be dismantled before they’re recycled. We’re doing everything we can to be environmentally conscious.”

Even the donations were recycled, we learned! “The donations that we get from this event are given back to the participating neighborhoods, so they can do more good work in their communities,” said McKnight.

Spencer Wessling, from the Russell Neighborhood, is stacking tires that will be recycled – instead of being dumped into a landfill.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

It was more than the grilled burgers and hot dogs that brought out prospective students to this BBQ! See what students and their parents really hunger for …

Dr. Richard O’Connor, Jon Taylor, and Evan Pine, here are cooking up hot dogs and burgers at the Ace Academy BBQ.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The air was filled with the scent of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the Willamette Carpenter’s Training Center in Northeast Portland not long ago, as the ACE Academy, opening in September, held an open house for future students and parents.

“This is the home of the Academy for Architecture Construction and Engineering – we call it the ‘ACE Academy’,” said Dr. Richard O’Connor, president of the newly-organized academy’s board of directors.

“ACE Academy is a charter school that is sponsored by four school districts: Parkrose, Centennial, Reynolds and Gresham/Barlow,” O’Connor said. “The Oregon Building Congress, and the construction and engineering and architectural industries, have worked together to create the school.”

When the school bell rings in September, O’Connor says they’re on track to open with 150 students. “We’re starting with students who are in their junior year of high school. They’ll continue on as seniors next year, when we’ll bring in a new group of juniors to the program.”

By the end of the second year, they expect to have as many as 400 students in the program, O’Connor told us.

Michel Taylor, educational director for the school, introduces the ACE Academy staff (seated to our left) to 150 parents and prospective students who attended the BBQ event in May.

Blends technical training with traditional high school
Michael Taylor, the educational coordinator at the school, explained to students and their parents that the ACE Academy isn’t just a glorified “shop” class.

“At the Academy, you’ll learn from experts in the industry on some days; but on alternate days, you’ll continue your high school experience – participating in educational and social activities,” Taylor said.

“For a project to be successful, it’s not only up to the architect designing it; it’s up to engineers who make sure it will be structurally sound. And, their designs can be realized only with the work of skilled carpenters, sheet metal workers, electricians, plumbers, and every kind of labor that make sure that the building is constructed properly.”

Creating pathways to construction trades
At the event, we asked Bob Strader, chief financial officer for Associated General Contractors, why their organization supports the new, start-up school.

“It’s critically important that we start creating pathways for young people to find a career in construction, plain and simple,” Strader stated.

AGC is a trade association representing commercial contractors throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington,” continued Strader. “Our #1 objective has been to identify our future workforce, and to create pathways for them into the industry. We have millions of baby boomers who are retiring; leaving a big void behind them. Those industries which see this turnover in the workforce coming – and which prepare for it – are the ones which will prosper in the future.”

Taylor says the area in which the group now sits will have classrooms and an atrium built overhead by the time the ACE Academy opens this fall.

Check it out today
If you are the parent of an interested student who will be a high school junior in September – or know of one, who lives in one of the participating school districts – now is the time to check out this program. Each district is allocated a limited quota of students – so check it out now.

You can find out more information at their web site by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

A couple of weeks ago, you heard about the suspected crook that cops chased away from the 82nd Ave. MAX station – now learn the REST of the story …

Police closed off this street along which the suspected MAX station drug dealer ran, after he dodged through the Elmer’s Restaurant parking lot. He gave the cops the slip not once, but twice!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While their efforts often don’t make headlines or the evening news, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers – from the precincts, and those specifically assigned to TriMet – wage a daily battle against crime along the steel-railed highway called MAX Light Rail.

It’s so easy for thugs and drug pushers to hop on and off the MAX trains. But many of the stations, like the MAX stop at NE 82nd Avenue of Roses, are difficult to police. It is set down, away from street, accessible only by stairs and an elevator.

About 6:30 p.m. on May 14, PPB Transit Division officers spotted a familiar-looking character, and kept an eye on him.

“Officers developed probable cause to arrest an individual,” police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz told us that evening. “It looked to them like he was engaging in drug trafficking activity.”

When officers started closing in on him, the suspect dashed off, and a foot pursuit began. “They try to catch the guy as he ran into the through Elmer’s Restaurant parking lot; then into the [nearby neighborhood] blocks west of 82nd Ave.,” confirmed Schmautz.

Searching the blocks west of NE 82nd Avenue of Roses near NE Multnomah Street, the police came close to nabbing the suspected drug-dealing runner; but he slipped away.

Tries to hide in the neighborhood

A search by officers – and a K-9 unit – couldn’t locate the suspect in the area where they thought he might be hiding.

“Then, a citizen in one of the homes within the perimeter realized there was a stranger in his house, and confronted the suspect,” Schmautz told us as the situation was unfolding that evening. “It startled the suspect as much as the neighbor – and the suspect took off again, heading westbound.”

Police dogs were soon hot on the suspect’s trail; the chase led to a home on NE 78th Avenue.

With the potential for a hostage situation on their hands, the SERT unit is activated, and takes a position near the home where they think the suspect may be holed up.

SERT unit activated
“We had information from neighbors that there was someone home,” Schmautz said. “We didn’t want to take any chances, in case this turned into a potential hostage situation; the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was activated.”

After a couple of tense hours of waiting, police learned that the suspect had again fled; the SERT officers disbanded.

Police get their man
“Officers knew the man they were chasing as 35-year-old Detrick Griggs,” Schmautz said. “Our bureau’s Drug & Vice Division (DVD) officers helped track him down.”

Police say this man, Detrick Griggs, was the suspect who ran – but, from our cops, he couldn’t hide for long.

Two days later, on May 16, they located Griggs. “Again, he ran from officers and there was a little foot pursuit with him. A K-9 police dog persuaded him to give up,” added Schmautz. “He was taken into custody on the 4800 block of N. Williams Avenue.”

Griggs probably won’t be riding the rails soon; records show he was arrested for Trespass, Escape, Failure to Appear, Resisting Arrest – and he also had an outstanding warrant. In addition, he had failed to register as a sex offender.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Take a look, and discover the creativity and artistry demonstrated by these talented kids …

Friends, family members, folks from the community – and members of the DDS School Board all came by to take a look at this outstanding art show.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The quality of artistic work on display in the breezeway at the David Douglas School District office was stunning, as we sauntered among the displays on May 15.

“Welcome to our annual student art show,” greeted Gayla Buyukas, one of seven art teachers at David Douglas High School.

“The art on display is created from all of our students, from ninth grade to seniors,” Buyukas explained. “The forms of art range from painting and drawing to ceramics, jewelry and metals, calligraphy, crafts, glasswork.

David Douglas High art teacher Gayla Buyukas shows us a decorated brass box, created by student Celeste Hunter as part of the “Heroes Project”.

Heroes Project highlighted
Buyukas took us over to a locked glass case in which very small, delicate pieces – such as jewelry and memory boxes – were ensconced. “This case contains some of the works of art students created for what we call the ‘Heroes Project’.”

Students were asked to identify people – either folks they know, or personalities in popular culture – who are important to them, she said. “It could also be a philosophical concept in which they believe. Then, they design and create symbolic piece that represents that person or idea.”

As an example, Buyukas pointed out a small, elegant brass box. “This work was done by a junior, and near-4.0 student – Celeste Hunter. It represents her family; each side depicts one of her relatives who symbolize the story of her African-American tradition.”

Students tell about their works
Many of the works of art we saw in the gallery looked as if they were painted by professional artists. We enjoyed talking to several of the student artists about their projects.

Freshman Ricky Adams, with his portrait of actor McCauley Calkins.

A freshman, Ricky Adams, presented a pencil drawing of child actor McCauley Calkins. The photorealistic drawing clearly captured the image of the youthful actor starring in the “Home Alone” series of motion pictures. “It’s fun to learn about art,” Adams said. “I’m glad to have my drawing in the show.”

Lupe Diaz, 9th Grade, shows off her treasure boxes.

Another ninth grader, Lupe Diaz, showed us her “treasure boxes”, made for an art class. “I picked up colors that I liked and put them all together, and made patterns,” she commented.

This portrait of Snoop Dogg was drawn – in pencil – by junior Juan Diaz.

Juan Diaz, a DDHS junior, presented his drawing of rap artist Snoop Dogg. “It’s a drawing in pencil. The challenging thing is to get the dark and light shading contrast just right when you’re doing a pencil illustration.” Diaz added that he planned to pursue a career in art.

Bruce Ross, a senior, says he enjoys creating art in different media.

“The best thing about the show is that it means I’m about to graduate,” quipped a senior, Bruce Ross. “I’m known for my calligraphy; I won a blue ribbon for a work at last year’s Oregon State Fair. With calligraphy, you can express a concept by using both words and artistic style.”

But the work Ross chose to show us was a ceramic dish. “With ceramics, you can create a lot of texture.” The talented young man said he planned to attend the Art Institute of Portland, and go into art direction and graphic design as a career.

The artists who designed and created theses fused glass artworks weren’t around, but they did produce some beautiful pieces.

Showcasing school’s talent
The show was substantial; the works of nearly 800 students are represented in it.

“It’s one of the rare times when students can actually showcase their pieces before the school and their family and members of the community,” commented Buyukas. “In addition to students, parents, and community members, our school district’s board members also get the opportunity to look at what our kids have done during the year.”

We were delighted to have had the opportunity to be among those enjoying these works of art, created by outer East Portland students.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

… At least on opening day! Even though our County Commissioners want NOTHING to do with it, see how volunteers and Oaks Amusement Park are keeping this century-old tradition going …

Haylie Graham, visiting Multnomah County Fair from Troutdale, has fun feeding the sheep at the free petting zoo.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With gas prices shooting past $4 a gallon, many folks decided to have a “day-vacation” close to home, during the Memorial Day weekend. Folks even came out and had fun, sometimes dodging raindrops on the last two days of the event.

“We’re thrilled that we can provide a place for families to go,” said Mary Beth Coffey, Senior Manager of historic Oaks Amusement Park. “We’re seeing a very high turnout this year.”

In the Oregon Dairy Women booth is Heidi Larson, the 2008 Dairy Princess Ambassador; and, Deanna Lenire, 2008 Columbia County Dairy Ambassador serving the thousands of folks coming to the Multnomah County Fair.

In times of economic uncertainty, Coffey said, the amusement park and County Fair make a great combination. “With free parking, and free admission to the park and the fair, it’s a great value. And, there are a lot of free activities: Humphreys Farmyard Frolics are back, with their magic shows and activities for kids; so is the petting zoo.”

As we walked through the park, we find some other traditional County Fair activities.

Pat Swonger, superintendent of the Floral Department holds her cup for which she won the “Best Tea Cup” award; fair helper and consummate backyard gardener, Larry Smith, shows off one of his entries “Best of Fair Herbs”.

Craft and produce exhibits flourish
In the Dance Pavilion, handcrafts, homemade foods, and plants were judged and put on display.

Pat Swonger, superintendent of the Floral Department, said she was surprised by this year’s large number of entries. “There were hundreds, even though we’ve had a peculiar spring so far.”

Perennial entrant, and winner of ribbons at all of the area fairs, Larry Smith, had items on display and also helped with the setup. “This year’s weather has been odd. Just after I finished planting my radishes, it snowed,” he commented.

ARBA certified rabbit judge George Germaine is evaluating an English lop-ear. “Obviously, the breed is known for its large ears.”

Bunnies on parade
Although cows and chickens weren’t judged at the fair, a substantial rabbit show, sanctioned by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, was underway when we visited on opening day.

“This is a ‘Double Crown’ event,” explained the rabbit show manager, Miriam Keyes. “This means each of the 300 rabbits is judged twice, by two different ARBA-certified judges.”

One of judges, George Germaine, traveled from Vader, Washington, to participate in the show. “The rabbits I see today are excellent,” remarked Germaine. “For a small show, there’s a lot of really nice rabbits here today. The good thing about a spring show is, because it’s been cooler, the rabbits have kept their coats, and they’re really in good condition.”

The Wiener Dog Races have become a favorite at the fair.

This year’s canine events expanded to include Fly-Ball, in which dogs demonstrate their agility and speed. And, how fast can a “wiener dog” run? Wiener Dog races were held several times during each of the three days of the fair.

Food and shopping opportunities abound
“In addition to all of the free entertainment for both kids and adults,” Coffey said, “we’re thrilled to have 61 vendors here this year.”

They’re being turned into ‘Toons! Hailey and Hanna Tolson get immortalized by caricature artist Mike Morley.

As we walked the midway, we could smell the savory foods of many nationalities and styles wafting through the air. Unlike some other fairs, the prices were reasonable – and several folks said the quality of the food exceeded their expectations.

As the unforecast sun shined on opening day, the line at the Oregon Dairy Women’s booth grew with folks lined up for ice cream treats. “Coming to fairs is our way of thanking people for buying Oregon-produced dairy foods,” explained Heidi Larson, 2008 Dairy Princess Ambassador.

In the amusement park, this little “easy rider” is Jadyn Smith – she traveled all the way from Hillsboro to attend the fair, her parents say.

If you missed it this year, circle Memorial Day weekend on your 2009 calendar, for the annual return of the volunteer-operated, nonprofit, Oaks-Park based Multnomah County Fair.

But, even without the fair, Oaks Amusement Park is a great family destination throughout the summer.

“Oaks Park has been making family fun for 103 years – it’s everybody’s park,” Coffey smiled.

OK, it wasn’t all sunshine and blue sky. The clouds opened up and it rained quite a bit on Sunday and Memorial Day! Still, many families came to visit.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Cops use the PIT technique to spin-out fleeing crooks – but learn what happens when a careless driver tags a delivery truck near Airport Way …

We don’t know why the driver didn’t make the eastbound Airport Way exit off I-205; we did see the results of her trying to pull back onto the freeway. At the bottom, you can see gouged earth where the truck hit after it got knocked off the freeway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
All in all, 18-year-old Jake Council seems to be taking his harrowing experience rather well, as he sits on the back ledge of the delivery truck he was driving on around 9 a.m. on May 28.

“I was going [north] along on freeway, and just past the [eastbound] Airport Way exit, my truck started skidding out of control,” Council tells us. “That exit drops way down, you know. I tried to keep it under control, but I could see I was going over the top, down into the exit. I thought for sure the truck was going to roll, but it stopped on the other side of the ramp.”

Traffic backed up as tow trucks and rescue gear cleared the accident.

Indeed, the elevation drops off steeply at the exit; and we see where his truck’s tire marks end at the top – and begin again at the bottom of the drop off.

Even though it is well after the morning rush, traffic is backing up, as a towtruck removes a wrecked car from the freeway; the off ramp – where Council’s flying truck came to rest – is closed off.

This car won’t be driven on the freeway – or anywhere else – any time soon.

Executes the PIT maneuver
The official report says that the collision occurred at 9:03 am, when 19-year-old Olga Brichak swerved to attempt to take the Airport Way East exit northbound from I-205.

“The report says Brichak was past the exit when she attempted to merge onto Airport Way. When Brichak realized she could not take the exit, she was forced to re-merge with the freeway traffic,” police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us.

As she did so, Schmautz says, Brichak inadvertently tapped the bumper of a truck Council was driving. “Officers are trained in the ‘Pursuit Intervention Technique’ – we call it the PIT maneuver. A rather small ‘tap’, if it’s in the right place, and send a large vehicle out of control.”

Brichak received a citation for Careless Driving.

Jake Council says he tried to regain control of his delivery truck – as it flew over the embankment and landed 20 feet below on the Airport Way East offramp. You can clearly see where the front of the truck gouged out the hillside of the exit – stopping it and keeping it from rolling over.

Called ‘Careless Driving’
Portland Fire & Rescue workers on scene tell us they’re amazed that that Council’s truck didn’t roll. “But, there were no injuries,” confirmed one of the crew members.

“This could have been a deadly accident,” confided a police officer.

With his foot still in a walking cast, Council continues to sit on the back ledge of his flying truck and says, “Today was my first day back at work. Maybe I should have waited another day.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

It’s ore than your ordinary obedience school. See how this organization helps folks with a wide variety of disabilities have richer lives, thanks to their helpful pooch …

“Paws To Freedom” client Joanne Bryngelson says the organization has, with the help of her service dog Sadie, gotten her get out of the house and enjoying life again.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Owners bringing their dogs to the lower level of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on SE 39th Avenue aren’t coming to help correct Fido’s bad habits.

“Welcome to Paws to Freedom, Inc. a non-profit service dog team training, support, and education organization,” greeted Mara Windstar, the organization’s founder.

When we visited during an open house, not long ago, Windstar explained that “service dogs” assist individuals with disabilities. “Some people have visible disabilities; they use a wheelchair or move mobility device. Other people have ‘invisible disabilities’ like a psychiatric condition, diabetes, or a seizure disorder. The dogs are trained to have public access skills, as well as special skills needed by the client.”

Public access skills, she noted, are those that help the client move about in the outside world – like going to stores, or to work. “Dogs that can be trained to retrieve items, help with doors, and turn on flights. Specifically what they do all depends on their handler and the disabilities.”

Lifesaving skills learned
Some dogs, Windstar continued, can detect the seizure. “But all dogs can be trained for seizure response, whether or not they can detect it.  They can be trained to push a button that is to a telephone to call for help for example. Often they stay with the person; if the dog is right up against the person lying against them, they can help the length of the seizure become shorter.”

Other dogs can be trained to help owners with diabetes. “They can be trained to detect low blood sugar. This can be lifesaving for some people for people that have frequent or unexpected blood sugar drops.”

Trained 23 service dogs
Since Windstar started training her own service dog in 2001, she and her volunteers have by now worked with a total of 23 service dogs.

“We’ve learned that not all dogs are suited for the program. We’ve also learned that training is a big commitment. The handler must be willing to work the dog 24/7. One of my jobs is to figure out how the owner can have schedule training. It’s very different from pet dog training.”

Partners in training
At the open house, a client, Joanne Bryngelson, talked about the Paws to Freedom, Inc. program. She appeared to be calm and relaxed as she lauded the organization and its volunteers.

Speaking about the reason she sought a service dog, Bryngelson explained, “I have really high level anxiety and agoraphobia.”

It was her therapist, Bryngelson recalled, that told her about the organization.

“The biggest difference that Sadie, my service dog, makes in my life is that I can go out in public and enjoy myself. I’m here today and I’m talking to you, and I feel pretty calm. It’s amazing. It’s just really easy to stay inside, but it’s so destructive; I don’t want to spend the rest of my life indoors.”

On the way out, Windstar commented, “We are an all-volunteer program; we’ll do it because we love it. We’re committed to people being able to be more independent.”

Learn more about their program online by visiting:, or by calling 503-231-2555.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

“HOUSE RECYCLING” PROGRESS REPORT: We’re checking in again with Ms. Q-Renew as she continues her project of recycling an old, dilapidated house into a brand new home – located on the same lot …

The old house they dismantled on SE Rex Street had lath-and-plaster interior walls – they reused the lath to provide a “rain-screen” that provides an air space between the siding and the wall.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The house that Shannon Quimby — “Ms. Q-Renew” from HGTV — is building on SE Rex Street in Westmoreland is nearly finished.

“We tore down a house on the property,” Quimby reminds us when we visit.  “We’re infusing all the materials from the original house into our new one – and we’re doing it without a Dumpster.”

Old walls into new rain screen
“In older construction here in the Westmoreland area, many of the houses’ interiors featured lath and plaster,” says Quimby. “Lath is the thin wooden boards that made up the framework over which plaster was spread.”

Instead ripping it all out, they carefully salvaged the lath boards, she says. “It took me three days to pull out all the nails! They’re becoming a ‘rain-screen’.”

She explains that a rain screen goes between the outer siding and the inner portion of the house.  “If any water seeps into the siding, it’ll vaporize before it hits the side of the house, preventing mold and mildew. The materials cost me zero dollars.”

Even the rock wool insulation was reused – it insulates the new fireplace flue.

New life for old insulation
Walking over the fireplace, Quimby shows us a bag of rock wool salvaged from the old house.

“It’s a natural mineral, and was standard insulation back in the 1930s. It is a fire retardant. Instead of throwing it in the dump, we put it around our fireplace flue.”

“I’ve always wanted a tree house,” says Shannon Quimby. “We’re building one from framing scraps and dismantled wood from our old house, for our six-year-old.”

Yard gets a bonus house
The spunky Quimby can’t resist showing off a “bonus house” – a new tree house. “We’re building it using a combination of the leftover framing materials, and dismantled wood from our old house.  I always had a dream of having my own tree house.  Now our six-year-old son will be able to have his own tree house.”

This new insulation technique decreases foam waste by 80 percent, Quimby says, as Rian Schmidt from Northwest Foam Home injects insulation under the plastic sheeting that contains it.

Novel insulating technique cuts waste
We next climb upstairs and watch as wall insulation is being installed. “They’re using a new technique that it decreases their waste of foam by up to 80%. By tacking plastic on the frame, and not allowing the foam to expand past the plastic, they use much less foam. Because they’re dedicated to reducing waste, it’s a perfect match for us.”

Home Tour brings many guests
“The ‘Ultimate Open House Tour’ wrapped up a couple of weeks ago,” Quimby mentions. “I was both amazed and pleased that nearly 2,000 people came by to look at how we’re recycling a house.”

Quimby says if builders and remodelers adopt their “no waste” techniques, their clients would save money while they help the environment. “Over 60% of our landfills are filled with construction materials, waste, and byproducts. We want to help build a better future for our children.”

Want to learn more? Check her web site at

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how this food festival helps unite the DDHS student body – and raise funds for student organizations – at the same time …

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Most folks in outer East Portland occasionally need to go to the west side – and frequently use the Sellwood Bridge. Here’s what the County is doing to keep it intact …

Even with all of the “bridge closed” signs up, some drivers still acted surprised to find the Sellwood Bridge closed for inspection on May 18th.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While we were out reporting on this story on Sunday, May 18th, drivers who ignored the five “Sellwood Bridge Closed” signs posted starting from SE 17th Avenue westward rolled down their window and asked, “Why is it closed again?”

As we drew closer to the workers above and below the side-hanging gantry crane, we could see workers measuring and marking on the bridge.

We hiked down to the trail below, and observed two Multnomah County Bridge employees inspecting the aging structure inch by inch.

Using a specially designed rig, crews can inspect the sides and under deck areas of bridge from this moving platform.

“The purpose was to map the cracks into which epoxy will be injected in August,” we later learned from Multnomah County spokesman Michael Pullen.

“There are cracks, both in the concrete bridge deck and in the girders. Our workers were documenting the size of the cracks.”

It’s clear where concrete has broken off and the exposed steel rebar is rusting. Officials are more concerned, though, about rust weakening the internal structure which is hidden from view.

To be able to draw up a work contract, all of the cracks, Pullen said, must be identified and located.

“This is a low-cost, short-term measure to prolong the life of the bridge. The purpose of sealing the cracks is to keep water out. When water seeps in, it rusts the rebar. When the cracks are filled with epoxy, the experts say it will slow the bridge’s deterioration.”

A Multnomah County bridge maintenance worker measures and marks cracks to be injected with epoxy during a planned August closure.

In August, the Sellwood Bridge will be closed for two or three days and nights while the epoxy injection work is being done – so, expect a 10-mile detour looping around and over the Ross Island Bridge before Labor Day.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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