While most kids flock to the Internet, you might be surprised to see how some young people choose to communicate the old-fashioned way – on paper …

Nicole Georges, a confirmed ‘zine publisher, shows some of her work at the Woodstock Branch Library class.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many young people are drawn toward Internet communications, with websites slicked up with modern computer technology. Yet, other kids are drawn toward a quainter form of publications. They call their printed publications ‘zines – short for magazines.

At Woodstock Branch Library, ‘zine expert Nicole Georges is holding a class.

“We’re learning about how to make our own ‘zine,” Georges tells us.

She says a ‘zine is a self-made publication. It is usually created by an individual, but sometimes is produced by a group.

They rarely make a profit, she says, “The key is passion. ‘Zines are created and produced purely out of passion for a particular topic. The subject matter can be about anything.”

In addition to sharing how-to tips, Georges brought supplies and many samples to share with the class.

Physically Georges tells us, they can take a variety of forms. Sample ‘zines she shows the class range from very simple looking pamphlets, to sophisticated, full-color artist’s books.

Although young, Georges says she learned how to make ‘zines 14 years ago. “I’ve learned how to create and distribute them through trial and error.” Today she teaches a five-step method for creating a ‘zine.

Here’s how to make a Zine:

  • Write – “It all starts off with writing. What are your ideas? What can you write passionately about?” she asks the class. When writing a ‘zine, she suggests thinking about what images could go with the text.
  • Illustrate – “Draw, take photos, or use historical photos to illustrate your ‘zine. But be sure to make sure you have permission to use others’ images,” Georges instructs.
  • Layout – Make a mock-up of the ‘zine before you do your final artwork, she recommends.
  • Duplicate – Copy your pages, fold them into a ‘zine and staple.
  • Distribute – “Your most immediate audience is your friends. But, now there are plenty of places that offer ‘zines for sale. Check out the ‘zine website,” explains Georges.

“The best, and most important part of ‘zines – is you!” says Georges.

Don’t judge – write!
When we ask for her most important advice she gives to students, Georges thinks for a moment and says, “Most important thing is for students is to write for themselves and express themselves as much as possible. Don’t be afraid of doing it. Don’t be objective or inhibited. Write how you feel.

“The best part of ‘zines is … you!”

See her website at www.nicolejgeorges.com or see the group site, www.iprc.org

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The program was both delightful and moving – for several reasons.
Read this, and see why …

Members of the Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783 perform “Reality Check I”.

Story and (some) photos by David F. Ashton
As the lights dimmed, the background music faded, and the curtain at the Parkrose High School Theater rose, the applause was for the student actors of Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783 themselves, not for the roles they were about to play.

To start off the evening, the cast of “Reality Check I” – a show that uses humorous skits to demonstrate good behavior, performed at Parkrose’s Sacramento, Shaver, and Russell Elementary schools this spring – presented their show. Although written with young kids in mind, the humor held up for the largely adult audience.

Derek Herman entertains with a moving solo performance. Patrick Smith Photography

Incoming troupe president Tom Crawford performs his solo “reading” – it wasn’t read; it was well-acted. Patrick Smith Photography

This hilarious musical theatre piece from “Spamalot” was deftly performed by Jacquelle Davis & Steven Ennis. Patrick Smith Photography

Induction and awards ceremony
Members of the troupe were invited onto the stage. When seated, they donned the ceremonial cap.

Intermingled with the telling of the thespian tradition, student actors performed moving readings, a duo guitar piece by Jason McGhee & Jacob Pratt, and a never-to-be forgotten (it was that good) adagio dance number.

Yes, your reporter was privileged to wear the ceremonial cap – light the candle – take the pledge, and become an honorary member of the troupe. Patrick Smith Photography

In addition to the official induction ceremony, presentation of awards, honor stoles, and graduating senior awards, both Parkrose High School band teacher Michael Tolon and David Ashton, editor of East Portland News, were made honorary members of Thespian Troop number 1783.

Introducing the incoming officers: (back row) Tom Crawford, President, Junior; Brian Fitzgerald, Vice President, Junior; Heather Grassel, Historian, Sophomore; (lower level) Mackenzie Billick-Smith, Secretary, Sophomore; Kiely Simmons, Oregon State Board Member, Junior; Ciera Willis, Clerk, Junior; Derek Herman, Historian, Junior. Of course, when school starts this fall, they’ll be in the next grade!

After the ceremony, the actors, their family and friends retired for a reception fit for a Hollywood actor. Patrick Smith Photography

My special thanks to Patrick Smith for the photos – we were a bit occupied during the ceremony!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Why is this ‘stationary carnival’ more popular than ever? Find out what we learned, when we stopped by their birthday party …

Erica, Alexia, and Kayla (she’s also having a birthday today!) Jimenez are here enjoying a slice of Oaks Amusement Park 103rd Anniversary cake.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For people who live in most cities of our size, the only time folks can take a spin on thrill rides, play midway games, and see live entertainment, is when a carnival comes to town.

Fortunately, Portlanders can “get away from it all” all summer long – as they have for 103 years – at historic Oaks Amusement Park.

Emily McKay, promotions manager, cuts cake for guests visiting them during their 103rd anniversary celebration.

Celebrating 103 years of fun
Built by the Oregon Water Power and Railway Company, it opened on May 30, 1905 – making it one of the oldest continuously-operating amusement parks in the nation.

“It’s important to celebrate Oaks Park,” said Emily McKay, promotions manager for the park, “because coming here to play has been a Portland tradition since the days of the horse and buggy. When you come here, you get to see what Portlanders experienced so many years ago.”

Amusement rides – old classics and new state-of-the-art ones – stand side-by-side at the park.

When we visited during the park’s anniversary celebration on June 7, we were reminded how well it has blended the thrills of today’s high-tech rides with the more genteel pastimes of yesteryear.

As we strolled around the midway, McKay pointed out, “We’ve taken care of our classic rides; some of them have entertained guests for more than 60 years. And, we’ve added new, exciting rides for the brave.”

This historic roller-coaster still thrills Oaks Park patrons.

Acres of recreation
The 44-acre park is more than just rides, McKay reminded us. “The roller skating rink, the largest in the country, has been here for 102 years. It’s the last rink in the world to feature live music played on a Wurlitzer theater organ. Today’s kids may not know it, but their great-grandparents may have enjoyed the same rink.”

In addition to hosting events such as the Multnomah County Fair, and Oktoberfest, the park offers special areas in which many companies, organizations, and large families host catered picnics under the oak trees for which the park is named. And Oaks Park sells a wide variety of reasonably- priced “fair fare” to hungry carnival goers.

And, an area overlooking the Willamette River provides picnic tables dedicated to families who bring their own basket lunch.

Kids of all ages can take a leisurely spin around the park on the miniature railroad train.

Expecting a bustling summer season
With fuel prices soaring, McKay said they expect many people will stay in town. “There are no gate admission, parking, or picnic fees. We want folks to come have a safe, wholesome day with their families.”

We asked McKay why she seemed so enthusiastic about her job. “I’m in love with it; I’ve come here almost every day since I was six years old. I’m sure your family will love it too.”

Oaks Amusement Park, once a for-profit family business, but today in the permanent care of a nonprofit corporation established to benefit Portland by its former owners,  is located near the foot of S.E. Tacoma Street.

They’re open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, we’ll take you to their web site of you CLICK HERE!

Some of the Oaks Park rides – like this one – are not for the timid.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

The beauty and detail evident in their work is the result of craftsmanship that’s been passed down over two centuries. Read this, and learn why you should consider taking a look in person …

Min Zhu and Jimmy Cheng hold a large porcelain bowl – said to be the largest of its kind in production. After they set it down, Mr. Zhu tapped it with his finger — it rang like a bell!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The largest traveling display of Chinese porcelain and ceramic art – and its only stop in the United States during the current world tour – isn’t at a museum or Pearl District showroom.

This fascinating exhibit is currently showing in SE Portland.

One doesn’t need to speak or read the Chinese language to appreciate the beauty and scope of the exhibition, brought to this country by Yu Xiang Porcelain Co. Ltd. in Jingdezhen, China, and currently on display at Eastport Plaza on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses.

To learn more about this intriguing combination of museum and store, we enlisted the aid of restaurateur Jimmy Cheng from Grand Buffet to act as our interpreter, when we met the company’s manager, Min Zhu.

One of the antiquities Min Zhu brought to Portland is this stone carving of the Buddha’s head, made by an artisan in Jingdezhen.

Gave “China” its name
The artisans who produced porcelain and ceramic art and dishware for emperors and dignitaries for over 2,000 years didn’t realize they were inadvertently giving their country the name Westerners call now it.

“We call our nation Zh?ngguó,” Zhu began. Literally translated as “Middle Kingdom”, the compound [two pictogram] word means “the center of civilization” – which they were, while most of Europe was in the Dark Ages, and the “new world” of the Americas was yet to be discovered by Europeans.

This jade dragon shows the craftsmanship currently being done by Chinese artisans. The spider in front represents happiness for what you have, the five bats on the back are a symbol of very good luck.

“Our city of Jingdezhen [also Jingde Zhen] has been the location of the Imperial Kiln and the center of ceramic production since the early Han Dynasty,” related Zhu. “When our ancestors took our ceramics to Europe, and were asked of their origin, they said the name of our city. To Europeans, it sounded like ‘China’. Thus, Jingdezhen-produced ceramics from the nation of Zh?ngguó became known as China, and our people became known as Chinese.”

This vase is a replica of one presented to US President Richard Nixon. The temperatures when firing are precisely controlled, to keep the colors vibrant as they flow down the face of the vase.

Thin as paper
Jingdezhen was one of the four major towns in ancient China, we learned. In addition to historically dominating the development of ceramic arts, it is currently the epicenter of high-quality porcelain production today.

“They say Jingdezhen ceramics are as white as Jade, as thin as chime”, said Zhu. “Most ceramics are fired at 1,000°. But Jingdezhen kilns are much hotter, about 3,200°. Being so hot, the material gets very dense and strong. They will last much longer than other ceramics.”

In fact, Zhu said, virtually all the ceramics and porcelain on display in museums around the world were made by craftsman in his town.

This ornate, delicate porcelain vase shows fine detail and rich coloring.

Bowl rings like a bell
Zhu and Cheng walked over to a 3-foot-diameter porcelain bowl decorated with red dragons and blue waves. We caught our breath as they held up this giant piece of exquisite, translucent porcelain wear.

“See how extremely thin and delicate it is?” asks Zhu. After they set it down, he tapped the rim and it rang like a bell – and continued to reverberat for about 20 seconds.

“These are the largest [porcelain bowls] in the world,” stated Zhu. “They are very difficult to make, even for a very experienced artisan. These artists might make a hundred, or thousand of them, before they make one that is right. Then, one day, their hand is so steady, it’s like God gives them the strength and power to make this beautiful bowl.”

Modestly-priced one-of-a-kind works of art are available for purchase at the unique exhibition at Eastport Plaza on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Ancient treasures on display
In addition to the ceramic works offered for sale, Zhu also brought stone carvings and other works of art, many of them hundreds of years old.

“We have samples of our arts and culture – these colorful and splendid ceramic works and handcrafts that represent our craft – to help the people of Portland gain a better understanding Jingdezhen porcelain,” Zhu said.

Unlike in a museum, in this case you can take home an original work of art – items are on sale ranging from $10 to $100,000 in value. “It’s wonderful for people to come and look,” commented Zhu. They don’t have to buy anything. Just come see this wonderful artistry from China.”

The exhibit and sale is open every day from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. through August 10. Both are located at the north end of Eastport Plaza. Children are welcome – but do keep a watchful eye on them!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Looking at the wreckage from the NE 102nd Avenue overpass, the railroad cars on the bridge high above the I-84 freeway were definitely tilted – and cars under the bridge were lying on their side. Find out exactly what happened, right there …

The derailment of this train shook up neighbors, and snarled traffic on two freeways – and on NE 102nd Ave. as well.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A little after 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, Parkrose Heights resident David Green said he had just gotten home after working his graveyard shift when he heard a “troubling” sound coming from the freeway and railroad canyon just to the north of his home.

“It was a loud, screeching, grinding noise,” Green told us. More than just the noise, “You could feel a vibration, then a big thud. It wasn’t like an explosion, just a really big thud.”

Despite the noise, he went to bed. While Green slept, hundreds of motorists found themselves locked into  nightmare of a traffic jam.

Green said he didn’t think much about it until he woke up in midafternoon and walked over the NE 102nd Avenue viaduct – just south of NE Fremont Street – that takes neighborhood traffic above the I-205/I-84 interchange – and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Although no one was injured, the damage to railcars and the rails was extensive.

Cars akimbo
Dozens of spectators were lining the overpass, looking at the derailed train below, when we arrived and met Green. Railroad cars below us, on either side of the bridge, were lying on their sides; other cars were off the tracks and leaning southward.

Directly below us, on the east side of the bridge, the hardened steel rails were sheared in two – as if cut by a giant pair of tin snips.

Of greater concern to Oregon Department of Transportation, though, were the rail cars – teetering sideways by a few degrees, on the fly-over railroad bridge, high above eastbound I-84. Because of the precarious angle of the railcars, ODOT shut down ramps connecting westbound I-84 to I-205 until 11 a.m.

Many bystanders speculated about the cause of the derailment; police and fire officials had no comment, because the incident took place on privately-owned land – that of Union Pacific Railroad.

It looked as if the rails were cut by a giant pair of tin snips.

Broken wheel causes derailment
In the past, we’ve been stonewalled when asking questions regarding railroad-related incidents. In a refreshing turn of events, we were able to speak with a Union Pacific Railroad spokesperson, Zoe Richmond, who proved candid and forthcoming.

“Early on, there was speculation it was a track issue,” reported Richmond. “But preliminary reports indicate the derailment was caused by a broken [railcar] wheel. The train kept going along the track until it reached the curve [under the NE 102 viaduct, heading around the base of Rocky Butte]. It ended up derailing.”

The cars were so heavily loaded – but within safety standards – that the broken wheel sliced the ties, then shredded the track, derailing many of the train’s 36 cars. These fully-loaded lumber cars weigh as much as 140 tons each, Richmond added.

“Indeed, the derailment happened on private [railroad owned] property,” Richmond confirmed. “And, we’ve been working with local and state authorities to make sure there are no safety impacts. We’ve got a big job to do, and we’re working to get it done as quickly and safely as possible.”

Each of these lumber cars weighs in at 140 tons – or more.

On-site injury confirmed
A spectator on-scene told us they saw a railroad worker injured when a chain, being lifted by a portable crane, came loose from a coupler, and knocked him to the ground.

“We had an employee, in the Car Department, involved in an accident, and he received facial lacerations,” Richmond candidly confirmed. “I don’t have all of the details, but a piece of equipment injured him; he is being treated. We are evaluating the situation. Safety is our Number One priority.”

With the railcars stalled on the bridge spanning the Banfield Freeway, ODOT closed the road while workers labored to clear the bridge.

Clean up efforts ongoing
Although they’d hoped to have the rail cars moved from the tracks Thursday night, June 26th, the cleanup and salvage efforts will take longer, Richmond admitted.

“After our work on Thursday night and early Friday morning, we could see this was going to take longer than we’d expected,” said Richmond. “We didn’t want to be a burden to the [Friday] morning commute, so we’ll be working on it again during the evening hours tonight [June 27th].”

ODOT said to be aware that they’ll close down I-84 again on Friday night, while crews remove the remaining railcars; and they may need to shut down the freeway again if necessary during the rest of the weekend.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Although they came from far and wide, few vets checked out the information tables set up for them, but everyone seemed to be having a good time …

Mustering for the Colors Ceremony are representatives from Northwest Indian Veterans (NWIV) members Alvey Seyouma, NWIV V.A. Chair; Hopei Tribe from N. Arizona; Louis Pacheco, a Piute who served with the 7th division in Korea; Arnie Holt, president of NWVA, who served with the 101st airborne and member Kavel Kaval Federated tribes; Chuck Dougherty, a Vietnam veteran in the 1st Air Cavalry Division; Darwin Hartman, Cherokee; Vern Wilson, U.S. Army, who served at Ft. Lewis, Washington; and Bruce Brown, U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Maryland during Korean conflict.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Military veterans were treated to a day of picnic lunches, music, and politicians’ promises at Oaks Amusement Park a couple of weeks ago.

“Today we’re having a ‘welcome home’ celebration for our Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans,” said Mike McAleer, Public Affairs Officer for Portland Veteran’s Administration (V.A.) Medical Center.

“We’ve invited them to come and learn about benefits and services available – we have over 35 tables set up where they can gather information about jobs, education, and V.A. benefits,” McAleer went on. “We’re happy to do anything we can to help these folks transition back home after their service to the government.”

One of the many volunteers giving out information bags is Kathy Hunt, who works at the V.A. in the Operative Care Department.

Cody Szabo with SuperDog – they catered the event – here, serving up hotdogs.

Giving a big ‘thank you’
The Bridgetown Big Band played World War II vintage melodies as veterans and their family members filtered into the area, marked off with a two-story high arch made of red, white, and blue helium balloons.

In addition to providing information, the event was planned to allow the VA to “Give our veterans a big thank you, and let them know we’re here for them and their needs – now that they’ve taken care of our needs,” said McAleer, a Vietnam-era veteran. “I also was in Iraq twice with the Army Corps of Engineers as a public affairs officer for the reconstruction we did over there.”

US Senator Ron Wyden takes a moment to talk with VA officials before he goes on stage.

Vets need more help, Wyden says
Then the band took a break, and V.A. officials and political dignitaries took the stage.

US Senator Ron Wyden started off by quipping, “For senators, a keynote speech usually lasts for an hour or so.” Wyden then turned to his hosts and said, “I’m afraid they think I’m serious!”

He continued, “In our country, we believe that those who honor us by wearing our uniform, and put themselves in harm’s way to defend our freedoms, should have good-quality health care when they come home. I think we have seen this at the Portland V.A., with the resources they have. But too often, the priorities are bent out of whack. There haven’t been the dollars for the doctors, the programs, and shortening the waiting lines, to make sure people get their services in a timely way.”

Wyden calls for more, and better, benefits for U.S. Armed Forces veterans.

Calls for ‘equal benefits”
Wyden complained that the “G.I. Bill” hasn’t kept pace with the times, especially in Oregon. “We don’t have the big military bases like they have back east. And so we don’t have the same number of folks in the active military. What we have is a tremendous number of courageous Oregonians who have gone into the National Guard and Reserve – and we now have one of the highest percentages in the country of people serving in the Guard and Reserve. And they don’t get the same benefits that you get under the G.I. Bill.

“If you’re a soldier, dodging the same bullets, in the same place, for the same length of time – you’re entitled to equal benefits. We want to get those for our soldiers who are serving our country.”

U.S. House Representative, fifth District, Darlene Hooley, on the Oaks Park stage to thank veterans’ family members for their sacrifices.

Hooley echoes sentiments
US House Representative, fifth District, Darlene Hooley followed, thanking the veterans present for their service to our country, saying, “You do us proud. You’re the ones who make sure that we have a safe country in which to live and keep our freedoms.”

Corbett Craig, First 327 101st Airbore from Ft. Campbell; “we were over in Iraq twice, each time for one year,” he said, as his face was painted by volunteer Paula Holmes.

After saying she agreed with Wyden’s remarks, Hooley added, “If you are a veteran’s family member, or a friend who has supported veterans, I thank you for the sacrifices you and your family have made.”

With that, the veterans and their family members were provided with hot dog lunches, with the opportunity to visit the information booths, and were given wrist bands allowing them to ride the thrill rides at Oaks Park for free.

We saw a few veterans picking up information provided by the 35 organizations that set up tables at the event.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why this farmer’s market on SE Stark St. packs ’em in,
even with an earlier start …

Manager at the Montavilla Farmers Market, Gretchan Jackson takes a break and welcomes us to their market, along with volunteer coordinator Tonya Stark and volunteer Monica Rotzen.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Before they opened for business last year, neighbors who organized the Montavilla Farmers Market wondered if anyone would stop and shop at their lot, located across the street from the landmark Mr. Plywood store.

Instead of counting a couple hundred visitors, this market has been attracting shoppers by the thousands, said Gretchan Jackson the market’s manager. “We’ve counted around 2,000 shoppers at each market; we have really consistent crowds all day long. We opened on June 7 and had about 1,900 visitors during our four hours of market.”

At the market, Nicolette Purcell and Carol Kiel buy their fresh vegetables mere blocks from where they live.

Weather delays crops, not shoppers
There are fewer fresh fruit and vegetable vendors at the start of the season, commented Jackson. “Our farmers tell us the cool weather is delaying their crops about two to three weeks. While we’re featuring 19 vendors today, that number will grow to around 30 at the height of growing season.”

On this day, it looked like market vendors were having brisk sales as neighbors came by to shop.

After tasting the giant strawberry, Ruby Anderson says she found it a bit tart for her taste. She came with her aunt – they live near Creston Park.

Nicolette Purcell liked the looks of produce at one stand in particular. “I live close by in the South Tabor neighborhood.”I come here because I want to support local farmers, and I get the very best produce in town, week after week.”

Another shopper, Carol Kiel, told us she lives just blocks away. “I love the fact I can get fresh produce straight from hands of those who grew it, and support them directly.”

‘Buns on the Run’ server Jessica Curtin serves up a freshly-made sausage to Jeanine Diamond. The savory scent was so inviting, we dined on a chicken sausage made with garlic and Portobello mushrooms – it was delicious.

Community gathering place
In addition to the market’s providing them with reasonably-priced fresh food, all of the shoppers with whom we spoke said the secondary reason for their weekly visits to the market was to mingle with their neighbors.

“I’m really pleased to see our market has become a real community space,” Jackson agreed. “It provides a place for neighbors to come, shop, enjoy live music, and have conversations about issues great and small.”

A new vendor this year, Clint Bissell at “Liquid Sunshine” squeezes up a fresh strawberry lemonade.

Where and when
Montavilla Farmer’s Market

  • Where: 7600 block of SE Stark Street across from “Mr. Plywood”
  • When: Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except July 6, until October 5

To learn more, CLICK HERE to visit their website and get on their e-mail newsletter list.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out how this market’s organizers are meeting the needs of its ‘food-insecure’ residents – and how everyone benefits …

Jill Kuehler, Lents International Farmers Market Manager, talks with a customer at the Community Table on the market’s opening day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The most recent local open-air marketplace to open for the year, on June 15, was the Lents International Farmers Market.

“Last year was our first full season,” said manager Jill Kuehler. “We had an average of about 400 customers and 8 vendors every Sunday last year. This year we’re doubling our number of vendors, and we hope to double our number of customers as well.”

Meeting community’s food needs
Three years ago, Kuehler said, a research project showed that about 25% of Lents-area residents felt insecure about the availability of, and the ability to buy, fresh and wholesome food in the area.

“Of all the ideas the group came up with, an international farmer’s market is what really resonated with the neighborhood,” explained Kuehler.

Offering freshly grown greens, raised at the Portland State University Learning Lab Gardens on SE 60th Street, are graduate students Stephanie Rooney, assistant manager, and Jeanne Ferreira, garden manager. They accept donations, and give produce to families in need.

Fresh from the farm
An dependably early sell-out at this market each week is the eggs Bonnie Hodge brings from her Brookside Farms, ten blocks from this market. One customer quipped, has he snapped up a dozen, “These eggs are so fresh, I don’t think the hens have had time to miss them.” Hodge warned, “Once you’ve tried farm-fresh eggs, there’s no going back.”

“Blooming Goodies” returned this season their stunning flower bouquets and unique Asian produce. “Caspian Blossoms”, new to the market this year, sells Turkish and Arabic pastries, plus olive spreads, eggplant dips, and dolmas – an Eastern European stuffed vegetable dish.

Three cultural celebrations planned
Scattered throughout the summer, the market has planned events celebrating the culture of Eastern Europe (July 13), Southeast Asia (Aug. 17), and Latin America (Sept. 21).

“These events promote the cultural diversity of Lents residents and the market vendors, while creating an educational opportunity for people to learn more about their neighbors,” noted Kuehler.

While her mom and dad shop, Ailee Pederson creates artwork at the market’s children’s center.

Weekly music and activities
Musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations showing how to prepare many of the more exotic vegetables available at the market, and children’s activities, are offered each week.

Prepared foods and beverages from Parkrose’s “Traveling Coffee Kids” rolling kitchen, fresh fruit pies and pastries, and Mexican delicacies are also available. We enjoyed a delicious chicken-and-vegetable tamale prepared by a family participating in the Hacienda CDC program called “Micro Mercantes” – it teaches entrepreneurial skills, while providing economic opportunities.

Plans July food stamp promotion
“As part of our mission, we accept food stamps,” commented Kuehler. “During the month of July, we’ll help stretch their value by giving these customers extra value. For every food stamp dollar spent, the market will match it, up to $5 each week.”

Kuehler asked us to thank their major supporters: Zenger Farm, a non-profit farm and wetland in outer southeast Portland, Kaiser Permanente Community Fund of the Northwest Health Foundation, and New Seasons Markets.

Where and when
Lents International Farmers Market

  • Where: The corner of SE 92nd Avenue and Foster Road.
  • When: Sundays, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. through October 14

To learn more, CLICK HERE or call (503) 621-7655

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at what its like for a SE Portland area teenager to be named as the Portland Rose Festival Queen, when you read this story …

Cleveland High’s Portland Rose Festival Princess, Marshawna Williams, greets the Memorial Coliseum crowd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
By now, getting up early in the morning wasn’t unusual for this 18-year-old Cleveland High School senior. For weeks, Marshawna Williams, the school’s 2008 Portland Rose Festival Princess, arose at the crack of dawn to participate in a wide variety of activities, along with other princesses on the Rose Festival Court.

On June 7, when Williams rolled out of bed at the pre-dawn hour of 4:00 a.m., she didn’t know her life was about to change. At 9:12 a.m., Williams was crowned Queen Marshawna, the second Cleveland grad in three years to earn the honor of representing Portland Rose Festival for the next twelve months.

Tens of thousands of people watching TV saw Queen Marshawna briefly take the throne set up in the middle of Memorial Coliseum, be given the crown and scepter, and then ride off on a float in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

Moments after being named “Queen Marshawna” of this year’s Rose Festival, Williams is at a near loss for words.

Caught up in a flood of emotions, Queen Marshawna wipes a tear from her eye.

A royal interview

While previously attending her selection as Cleveland High’s Princess, we learned Williams was co-president of the Black Student Union, Student Body VP, and an active member of National Honors Society.

We wondered what made this poised young lady so special as to be chosen as Portland’s grand festival ambassador. While Queen Marshawna was too busy with her many appearances during the festival to speak with us, we were granted an interview after the conclusion of the main festivities.

Queen Marshawna is crowned Queen of Rosaria.

With crown and scepter in hand, Queen Marshawna is ready to begin her one-year reign to end at the start of next year’s Portland Rose Festival.

A queen in the making
“I’ve never been in a pageant of any kind,” Williams began. “In a sense, trying out to be Cleveland’s representative on the Rose Festival Court fell into my lap. It was a new experience I wanted to try out.”

Williams said she tendered her application to begin the process. “I was judged on how I carry and express myself. I learned some skills that I didn’t even know I have! I remember being a little nervous when I gave my speech. It was a close vote, I learned.”

After the excitement of the selection program subsided, Williams said she had the feeling that it was “meant to be. I didn’t prepare for this.”

Queen Marshawna walks down the aisle, and into the Portland Rose Festival history books.

Life on the Court
We learned that Portland Rose Festival Princesses wrap up their high school year early, on April 28. Instead of getting up for school, Rose Festival Court members begin to “work” 40-hour weeks, as they ride in neighborhood parades, attend luncheons, and promote the festival.

“It’s like we’re ‘on stage’ all day, every day, from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.,” related Williams. “It’s wonderful, because people are happy to see us; but it means we have to stay ‘up and positive’ all of the time.”

A happy memory that stood out for Williams was when the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Court came to town. “We all went for a Jet Boat on the Willamette River, and had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.”

Williams also told us of poignant moments when they visited one of many nursing and assisting homes. “At first, I felt a little uncomfortable meeting patients with dementia. One woman came over and took my hand – she was speaking a language I didn’t understand. But, just my listening to her seemed to cheer her up.”

Composure regained, Queen Marshawna gives her first interview to the waiting media reporters and cameras.

The big day
On the day of the queen’s selection, Williams said she got up at 4 a.m. and was at the festival’s Lloyd Center offices at 4:30 a.m. for check-in, and to start fixing her hair and putting on her makeup.

With shoes and gowns in hand, she and the other Princesses next arrived at Memorial Coliseum. In a side room, the princesses were treated to the catered “Royal Breakfast” at 7 a.m. “It was good. I had a lot of fruit, and some sausage and eggs, too.”

As the coronation program was beginning, Williams said the Princesses helped each other get ready, putting on finishing touches with makeup and slipping into their gowns.

Over the PA system, the Master of Ceremonies called the Princesses’ names, one by one, as they came out to greet the crowd.

“I remember being nervous when I heard my name. I was thinking, ‘What if I’m selected; or what if it isn’t me?’ I remember walking down the carpet to the stage; across it, and down to my seat. I was walking fast.”

At the program’s end, when the MC read her name, Williams said, “I was excited, and laughing and sad – all at the same time.”

All hail Queen Marshawna! She and her court ride off on their float in the June 7 Grand Floral Parade.

Queen’s-eye view of the parade
Williams said she doesn’t remember much of the impromptu press conference following her crowning, but she started to relax when she, and her royal court, mounted their float in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

“As we got on the float, a couple of the girls said they were hungry. Our ‘Royal Coachman’ – Gary, our bus driver – brought pepperoni sticks for us to eat, when we make long stops along the route.”

“Trying to make it up the hill from the Convention Center, on NE Weidler Street, our float either stalled or ran out of gas, and we had to be towed,” Williams recalled. “And, later in the parade, we got stuck in a pothole. It was a fun and interesting ride!”

As announcers at outlying reviewing stands along the route stumbled while pronouncing her name, Williams realized many parade-goers hadn’t gotten the word who had been crowned, but everyone smiled and waved.

“It was really fun seeing all the people along the route. A little girl holding a sign that read, ‘I love you Queen Marshawna’. A whole line of friends from Cleveland High were standing on the Burnside Bridge, cheering me.”

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officers Mark De Long and Jacob Clark are part of the bike patrol assigned to the Grand Floral Parade route.

Representing Portland abroad
Williams said she looks forward to appearing at the Pendleton Round Up later this year, and may represent Portland at the Pasadena Parade of Roses festival in Southern California on New Year’s Day.

“I’m also looking forward to visiting our sister city in China, Kaohsiung, R.O.C.”

Back to being a teenager
This fall, Williams said she’ll be entering the University of Portland to study environmental engineering with a minor in business.

And, while Williams said she’s looking to enjoy a little time off, she added, “I already miss the girls and our chaperones. We had so much fun together. But I’m looking forward to being a teenager again and taking a little time off. I woke up with a start the other morning at 7 a.m. – but realized I wasn’t late – I didn’t have to go anywhere!”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The stove burner didn’t work, they said – but find how much damage this kitchen fire caused, when kitchen grease ignited …

Firefighters pull equipment off their truck. Because it occurred during the day – when the residents were awake, and in the house – tragedy was averted when a stove burner, thought to be out-of-commission, set this home’s kitchen on fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The alarm sounded at 1:04 p.m. on June 15 – and Portland Fire & Rescue’s Station 25 crew answered the call, and headed for a house in the 7800 block of SE 68th Avenue; they arrived in four minutes.

Even though we arrived on scene just minutes after the emergency dispatch hit the airwaves, firefighters had already extinguished the blaze, and were removing burnt debris from the house.

“When we arrived, we found a kitchen fire,” said Lt. Phil Loving, who was riding with Engine 25. “It got a bit out of control and into the cabinets. We had it extinguished quickly, but there was a lot of smoke damage.”

Said stove burners didn’t work
Lt. Allen Oswalt, fire department spokesman, reported the exact cause of the brief blaze that did $45,000 worth of damage to the home.

“The homeowner said that only two of the four burners on the electric stove worked – and he stored pots, with grease in them, on the non-working burners,” Oswalt reported. “The fire started in a pan left on the left rear burner that supposedly didn’t work. The stove was unattended.”

Although damage was limited to the kitchen area, smoke made the Inner Southeast home uninhabitable, and the destruction was estimated at $45,000.

Basic fire safety rules ignored
Oswalt said that, fortunately, no one was injured, and the fire damage was limited.

“Two of the most important rules of preventing a house fire were ignored in this incident: Never leave anything unattended on the stove, and always make sure you have a working smoke detector,” warned Oswalt.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires across the country, he added. “And, we’ve all heard of the tragedies that happen every year – people dying needlessly in house fires. In this instance, what if the fire had occurred while the occupant was sleeping? With no working smoke alarm, the outcome could have been deadly!”

It’s a wrap! Firefighters pick up their hoses after putting out the kitchen fire.

Cheap and easy protection
Smoke alarms are cheap and easy to test, the bureau spokesman went on. “If you don’t have one, there is a smoke detector hotline (503) 823-3752: If you qualify, PF&R will provide one and install it. How easy is that?”

He added that for renters, the landlord is required by law to provide a working smoke alarm at the time of lease signing. It is the renter’s task to test it and make sure it works, however.

“Fire safety is your responsibility,” Oswalt concluded. “Don’t let you or your loved ones become a statistic!”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Some dogs jump for joy; others to compete. See the X-Treme Air Dogs leap higher and higher as they each strive to take home trophies …

Producer of the “X-Treme Air Dogs” competition, Michael Allen, announces the next high-flying canine contender during the Extreme Air High Jump event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For many years, the canine sport of “off-the-dock long jumping” has been growing in popularity. Owners toss a toy into the water; their pooches run along a 40-foot “dog launch dock” and jump as far as they can. The dog that flies through the air for the greatest distance before hitting the water, wins.

Dogs doing a long-jump into water may not seem like “real” sport; but to thousands of registered dock-jumping teams across the country – who compete in more than a hundred officially-sanctioned events each year – it’s turned into a major-league spectator sport.

Cera Rausser and Rikki relax for a moment before they next high-jump attempt.

Adds a new dimension
As part of the 2008 Portland Rose Festival, this sport came to Oaks Amusement Park for the first time this year, on June 7 and 8.

“As part of our sanctioned ‘X-Treme Air Dogs’ competition,” said the promoter, Michael Allen, who hails from Junction City, near Eugene, “This meet is also featuring the Extreme Air High Jump.”

The concept of this competition is simple. Dogs launch themselves off the dock, and try to bite a chew-toy suspended high in the air eight feet from the end of the dock – before plunging into the 27,000 gallon pool. The competition starts with the toy suspended 5’8′ above the water, and is raised a few inches for each subsequent jump by each dog.

On the launch dock, Cera Rausser coaches Rikki, giving her words of encouragement.

Taking the plunge
These contests were taken very seriously by all 65 owners who signed up for the competition. But for the dogs, it’s clearly all play. The crowd around the pool cheered on the teams and applauded each successful attempt, as the bar rose higher and higher.

“Rikki does it because she really seems to like it,” said her owner, Cera Rausser, from Warren, Oregon. “This is our third competition. She’s got experience in the long-jumping game; but she’s new at playing the high-jumping game.”

In addition to bragging rights, winners took home cash and prizes, Allen told us. “This event is part of our four-city tour called ‘Chase to the Championship’. We loved Portland, and so did the competitors. We plan to be back as an official Rose Festival every year.”

Rikki launches into the air. She’s reaching for the black-striped toy hung from two ropes …

grabs the toy …

heads for the water, toy firmly in mouth …


First-time flyers welcome
The promoter said that he plans to add events in the Portland area, and “first-time jumpers” are always welcome at these competitions. “We host four divisions, from little pups to pros.”

To learn more, see their web site by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Folks along his street had only good things to say about this young man – but, see why he potentially faces up to 5 years in jail and a $125,000 fine …

All of his neighbors describe the young man who was arrested at this house as a responsible neighbor. They were surprised to learn he was accused of illegally selling fireworks.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Montavilla resident Leslie Roma-Smith says she was surprised on the night of June 19 to see a procession of law enforcement and fire bureau vehicles – even a bomb squad truck – pull up her street, and charge into her next door neighbor’s house.

It wasn’t until hours later that Roma-Smith learned that her next door neighbor apparently had a booming side business – selling illegal-in-Oregon fireworks on the Internet.

“He’s lived there for going-on three years. He’s been a really helpful, responsible neighbor. He works hard. And,” Roma-Smith reflected, “he does put on a good backyard July 4th firework display.”

Authorities say these “bad boys” of the firework kingdom are illegal – and selling them is also against the law – especially if the vendor doesn’t have the appropriate license. PF&R photo

Starts with Craigslist posting
“Several weeks ago,” Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) spokesman Lt. Rich Tyler began telling the story, “the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office forwarded an investigative lead to PF&R investigators, regarding a posting on ‘Craigslist’, advertising fireworks for sale.”

E-mail exchanges between the alleged explosives seller and a member of the Metropolitan Fire Investigation Team (MFIT) set up the undercover purchase of large quantity of illegal fireworks, revealed Tyler. A subsequent search of a home at 130 NE 71st and two vehicles netted illegal fireworks with an approximate retail value of $10,000.

Most people wouldn’t consider these “Bottle Rockets” and “ladyfingers” to be “destructive devices” – nevertheless, they are illegal to use or possess in Oregon. PF&R photo

Subjects may get BIG fines … and jail time
The MFIT arrested two individuals in SE Portland for illegal firework sales, possession, and manufacture.

22-year-old Harvey Joe Edward Stevens, the home’s primary resident, was charged with Sale, Possession and use of Fireworks, a Class B misdemeanor – carrying a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. 35-year-old James P. Johnson was also charged. Both were booked and released.

Tyler said the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office – along with other agencies – are considering adding other charges, including Possession of Destructive Device,a  Class C Felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, and a $125,000 fine.

“A lot of work by the MFIT crew went into this operation,” PF&R’s chief investigator, Rich Stenhouse, stated. “Our focus is always on the protection of citizens and property in the City of Portland.”

We don’t know if MFI Team found evidence of fireworks manufacturing in the Northeast Portland home, but these fireworks – legal across the river in Washington, but illegal here – appear to be factory-made devices. PF&R photo

Other neighbors, who declined to be named, said that while the backyard July 4th fireworks shows were elaborate, they never felt in endangered by pyrotechnic displays. One added that he thought the authorities were “trying to make an example of Stevens” to curb other Internet sales.

Tyler countered, “As we enter fireworks season, firefighters from around the region would like to remind people to ‘Keep it Safe, Keep it Legal’.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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