What fun folks had, as this neighborhood business district held a block-long party! Come along, and enjoy it with us …

On many side streets along the Hawthorne District, booths promote civic involvement, and provide merchants the opportunity to sell their wares.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although it was blazing hot on August 15, lots of folks came out to peruse one of the better-known business districts – SE Hawthorne Boulevard.

“Hawthorne Street Fair is more popular than ever,” commented the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association’s President, Karin Edwards. “People have wonderful nostalgic feelings about our area.”

Budding artists Andres Sanchez and Jessamyn West-Barker draw on their talents.

Willa Stewart learns how to use Circus Magic Sticks from Circus Cascadia’s Jeff Garritano.

The event is good for both merchants and neighbors, opined Edwards. “It gives people the chance to look at Hawthorne Boulevard with fresh eyes. It generates good feelings that last all year long.”

Edwards said they counted more visitors than last year – even with record heat that day. The event, that included kids’ activities, bands and lots of street sales, ran smoothly she noted.

Stirnkorb of the store 8 Women sets out a colorful display in front of their shop.

Lots and lots of shopping – both in stores and at sidewalk sales – are a big draw for this event.

“We started planning in December and had good crew of seven main volunteers, plus our staff from The Support Group. And, our shopkeepers sponsored and ran exhibits near their stores.”

Lorna Miller entertains with songs and stories as she presents “Little Kids Jamboree”.

We didn’t get her name before she went into the drink – but this intrepid Rivermark Community Credit Union coworker had the coolest duty of the day – taking a dunkin’ for the cause.

Has it been a while since you’ve strolled along SE Hawthorne Boulvard? CLICK HERE and see all they have to offer by visiting their website!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Last week, you learned our “secondary source” of drinking water. Now, discover how a group works to make sure that the well water that constitutes that source stays usable – and, learn about a fun family event that took place in August, and another coming up at the Slough in September …

As officials from the water bureau serve up groundwater knowledge, Katie Meckes, outreach director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council readies lunch at their August “Subs on the Slough” event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Near the scene of last week’s story – about how the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) makes sure we have a constant supply of drinking water, by maintaining a well field in the northern part of outer East Portland – we found a related, fascinating story.

Katie Meckes, outreach director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) met us a couple of weeks ago just east of the Columbia South Shore Well Field operations center on NE Airport Way at NE 166th Avenue.

“Welcome to our community event,” began Meckes. “We call this ‘Subs on the Slough’. The purpose is to get folks out to the Columbia Slough, tell them about the CSWC, and learn how every-day citizens can help protect the Columbia Slough – and the groundwater below us.”

Canoe landing provides waterborne recreation
Although 35 people signed up for the event, perhaps the prediction of 100° weather kept some folks away – about 20 people gathered in the parking lot.

Even though the sun baked down, and the temperature soared, the walk to our picnic area was comfortable, as we strolled under a canopy of trees.

“The canoe dock is great public access area,” Meckes pointed out was we walked past the floating dock, “It’s a great asset to the community. Thanks to the efforts of everyone along the Slough, there’s great paddling and canoeing throughout the system.”

PWB hydrologist Randy Albright tells why it is vitally important to keep pollutants from running into our groundwater system.

City’s back-up water comes from wells
Meckes turned over the program to Randy Albright, a groundwater hydrologist in the engineering section at PWB.

Keeping the Columbia Slough Watershed clean helps improve the ecology of the area, Albright observed – but the same area is also an important source of drinking water in the greater Portland area.

“The groundwater in this area is our backup system for providing drinking water,” confirmed Albright. Wells will draw out the groundwater in an emergency, he added, when Bull Run water is turbid, or when water use during a hot summer depletes the water stored in the Mt. Hood reservoirs. “We use some groundwater every two of three summers.”

PWB’s education program manager, Briggy Thomas, shows that Portland’s water is provided, primarily, by melting snow on Mt. Hood, captured in Bull Run reservoirs.

Connects surface activities with groundwater
“Surface activities can affect the water in the ground,” Albright explained.  “Most of our aquifers are pretty well protected – they’re well confined and a couple hundred feet deep. There are confining layers [of soil] that help prevent any spills of hazardous materials from percolating down into the aquifers.”

But, the hydrologist cautioned, it’s better to prevent contamination of the aquifers than to restore them after they’ve been polluted.

What you can do
“We’re asking neighbors to be careful, and think about what they put in the ground,” informed Albright. “It starts with your lawn; please don’t over- fertilize them. Use and dispose all household and industrial chemicals properly, so they don’t get into the ground and migrate into the aquifers.”

And, while this should be obvious, he added: “Don’t pour motor oil onto the ground, or down storm drains!”

Some of the “Subs on the Slough” participants climb stairs leading away from the canoe launch area – and toward their “lunch and learn” spot.

‘Aquifer Adventure!’ on Saturday, September 13
Now for the family event coming up in September: Join the Portland Water Bureau and CSWC for a free pirate-themed treasure hunt, and learn how to protect groundwater on your way to finding hidden treasures, on Saturday, September 13th.

“We’re providing activities that include free pirate-guided canoe trips for intrepid treasure hunters and their families,” Meckes said. “There’s live music, hands-on activities, a treasure hunt, prizes, and more. Oh, and be sure to dress like a pirate!”

“Aquifer Adventure” runs from noon till 4:00 p.m. at the Portland Water Bureau Canoe Launch, Airport Way at NE 166th Avenue, on the 13th.

For more information, see their website by CLICKING HERE; or, contact: Katie Meckes at katie.meckes@columbiaslough.org or call (503) 281-1132.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Click Here to read more East Portland News

From the “grudge-match” softball game, to parade and fair, to music in Lents Park – discover what’s been going on – and what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks …

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Sr. Vice Commander of VFW Post 1442 Dale Guldenzoph, Event co-organizer Ken Turner, and Lents neighborhood Chair Dewey Akers, are all here enjoying Lents Founder’s Day events.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Why do folks in the Lents Neighborhood celebrate “Founder’s Day” each year in August and September, with a baseball game, parade, festival and musical concerts?

“We’re honoring our founder, Oliver Perry Lent, a stonemason who came to Oregon in the 1850s to farm a 190-acre land claim,” Dewey Akers, the neighborhood’s Chair, explained. “The town was platted in 1892, annexed from Multnomah County, and incorporated into the City of Portland in 1912.”

Locals win Lents vs. City of Portland clash

Against the perennial rivals, the “Portland City Stickers”, it was Ken Turner, President of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, on the mound who pitched a winning game for the “Lents Rebels”.

For many years, Lents townspeople have been taking on the downtown bigwigs; but this contentious situation isn’t a lawsuit – it’s a softball game, at the Lents Little League field, which kicks off the annual Founder’s Day celebration.

“This ballgame came out of the Lents Urban Renewal process,” related the chief instigator, Ken Turner – longtime Lents booster, and President of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association. “At times, the relationship between the city personnel and the community here were strained, because we were at odds regarding various topics. But the ballgame has turned out to be a great, really enjoyable tradition in Lents.”

The 98° temperature didn’t stop the game on Saturday, August 16.

The Lents Rebels came out of the annual softball game with bragging rights for this year.

Although the Portland City Stickers played valiantly, they succumbed to the mighty Lents Rebels.

In fact, instead of playing the usual seven innings, the game went nine innings, as the “Lents Rebels” took advantage of the “Portland City Stickers”, scoring 18 to 3.

All agreed that officially-sanctioned umpire, Mike Delman (candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner), called the game fairly.

Lents Founder’s Day Parade and Celebration

With Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs driving the lead car, the Lents Founder’s Day Parade begins.

Portland City Commissioner, and Mayor-elect, Sam Adams, once again walks the Lents community parade, greeting citizens along the way.

At left, the organizer of the event, Judy Welch, rode in the parade; at right, Mike Delman, candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner, greeted folks along the parade route.

Celebration features food, fun and music
The following day, August 17, the Lents Founder’s Day Celebration continued, with a parade around Lents Park, followed by a community fair and concert.

At the conclusion of the parade, and throughout the afternoon, townsfolk quaffed some 60 gallons of ice-cold lemonade, provided by Lansing Linoleum; dined on 1,000 steaming hot dogs, courtesy of the New Copper Penny Restaurant; and refreshed themselves with slices of watermelon, served by Lents Lutheran Community Church members.

Carrie Wright and Mark Urell, are icing down some of their famous Lents Lansing Linoleum Lemonade (say that fast three times!). They’ve been providing the refreshing liquid for neighbors every year since the first Founder’s Day many years ago.

Serving the hot dogs (with all the fixings) and soda pop, supplied by the New Copper Penny restaurant, are Judy Houghton and John Welch.

Joe Ferguson and Irving Gomez, from the Lents Lutheran Community Church, cut up fresh watermelon for visitors.

Thirty community organizations, civic clubs, and commercial sponsors gave neighbors a variety of information about available services and offerings. Giving kids and adults a “hands on” experience of life in Lents 100 years ago, a large historical exhibit called “Pioneer Living” offered activities ranging from gold-panning to bread-making.

Portland Parks & Recreation sponsored a “climbing wall” – a big hit with kids of all ages, including Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs. He rang the bell atop the wall – twice – to the delight of the youngsters who cheered him on.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs took several turns on the climbing wall. He rang the bell on top, to the delight of the young people below, who were cheering him on.

Just one of the hands-on exhibits at the Pioneer Living “village” was a station where kids could pan for “gold”.

Event organizers recognized
Akers gave special kudos to all of the volunteers who make the event possible – especially past neighborhood Chair Judy Welch, and Ken Turner. Both work year-’round on the celebration.

Akers also pointed out the “facelift” given to the Lents Park Gazebo. “Maxine Miller designed ‘clouds and sun’ motif, Portland YouthBuilders did the cleaning and structural preparation, and Wes Wolf of Wolf Construction was responsible for the installation. A grant from Portland Development Commission helped make it possible.”

Here, gracing the newly-refurbished Lents Park Gazebo stage is the Providence Stage Band, under the baton of Larry Morrell. (Take note of the American Folk Music events set to appear here in September!)

Good music, and more music
As the afternoon wore on, the air was filled with swing-era music provided by the Providence Stage Band. This concert kicked off the Lents Music in the Park Concert series that runs through September – this year, produced in cooperation with the Portland FolkMusic Society.

But the fun isn’t over yet!

Coming up on September 7, at 3:00 p.m., there will be a free concert at the Lents Park Gazebo (SE 92nd Avenue & Holgate Boulevard) illustrating musical Americana, and featuring an all-star lineup, including “River City Folk” radio show host and musician Tom May. Sharing the stage will be Mary Flower, considered one of the finest proponents of acoustic blues in the country; LynnAnn Hyde and Stu Kinzel, “guardians of traditional Acoustic Blues”; and the Ragtime music of Henry and Moggy.

And there’s even more. The series continues on September 14 (same time and location) with a Woody Guthrie Tribute Concert (Guthrie lived in Lents, writing music for the BPA, in 1941) featuring The Wanderers – Murlin Allen, Ken Vigil, Joe Seamons, and Renegade Minstrels.

With the stability provided by increased home ownership in the neighborhood, more businesses moving into the area, and now the possibility of professional minor-league baseball coming to Lents – it looks like neighbors in Lents can now look forward to a bright future as much as they have been looking back on a storied past.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

You might be surprised to learn the identity of the classically-trained concert pianist who led this “Music in the Park” series …

Warming up before his performance, classical pianist (and local realtor) Fred Sanchez said he hoped to escape the Gateway Keystone Kops paddy wagon by giving a virtuoso performance during the Ventura Park Music in the Park program. And he did!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although outer East Portland has numerous City parks – many of them large enough to accommodate thousands of people – the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) “Music in the Parks” concerts haven’t made it east of 92nd Avenue – until now.

Under stormy-looking clouds and with the threat of rain, the first Gateway-area “Music in the Park” program began on Thursday, August 21, at Ventura Park, on SE Stark Street.

But, it didn’t rain – in fact, the sun came out! Slowly, an audience of nearly 200 gathered, seated on lawn chairs and blankets, to enjoy top-quality entertainment for the first time in their park.

Chief Kop Kevin Minkoff warmed up the audience at the first-ever Ventura Park concert series.

Before the show, we spoke with one of the musicians, and also one of the organizers of the event, ever-faithful Gateway booster Fred Sanchez.

“Culture is very important to help the community grow,” remarked Sanchez, as he warmed up on the grand piano atop a covered stage. “Any time we can produce a program of good music, and provide a venue for people to gather and enjoy themselves, it helps our community come together. These are the kind of events that help a neighborhood’s character grow.”

Sanchez added that cooperation between the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association and the Gateway Area of Business Association (GABA) made the concert series possible.

“Fast Fingered Fred” Sanchez plays the classics with finesse.

Sanchez plays his way out of ‘jail’
It wouldn’t be a GABA-sponsored event without the wacky antics of their pep squad, known – since 1951 – as the Gateway Keystone Kops.

To get the series going, the commissioner of the Kops, GABA board member Kevin Minkoff CPA, introduced the program to the audience and recounted the organization’s illustrious history and mission.

The Keystone Kops then brought to the stage “Fast Fingered Fred”. To earn his freedom, the audience was told, Fred Sanchez was tasked to play the piano. Sanchez proved to be more than up to the job, as he played selections from Mozart, Chopin, and other legendary classical composers.

After Sanchez “earned his release”, Minkoff told how Sanchez studied with great piano teachers, including José and Amparo Iturbi. “Sanchez found that piano recitals, competitions, and traveling didn’t leave him much time to spend for his family and for volunteer work in our community,” Minkoff explained. “So, in 1979, he formed Realty Brokers; six of his sons now work with him in this business.”

Between numbers, the Keystone Kops “passed the hat” to raise money to support the new concert series.

Sharing the stage with Sanchez was the Gordon Neal Herman Trio, with their namesake on piano, Rick Maier on drums, and Jerrold Fentress on bass. They played original and standard light, traditional, and modern jazz tunes; the audience showed appreciation with applause.

Between the acts, the Keystone Kops passed their hats, literally, through the audience, accepting donations to help support the concert series.

The following week, this two-part concert series featured a Cuban dance party with the music by Melao de Cana.

As the sun comes out, Martin Wyatt decides he needs to make some cool-looking sun glasses, with the help of his dad, Andy – at the Portland Parks & Recreation activity booth.

The organizers asked that we share their special thanks to the East Portland Neighborhood Organization Small Grants Program. Additional sponsors for the concert series included Classique Floors, Realty Brokers, American Sani-Can, Cooley Partners, Michelle’s Pianos, and Adventist Medical Center.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

While officials say they’re making plans and creating programs to curb the new explosion of street prostitution, many neighbors say they’re “fed up” with having their local streets turned into brothels. See what’s up …

If it weren’t for “johns” – like this alleged street sex customer being taken in by a custody team during a summertime mission  – prostitutes and their pimps wouldn’t be so brazenly strolling along 82nd Avenue of Roses offering their services.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Lynnae Berg spoke to East Portland Concerned Citizens – a meeting on which we reported a couple of weeks ago – she was asked about how the bureau was dealing with street level prostitution, now that Prostitution-free Zones have been discontinued.

Her response: “…The zones are no longer in place; this is a fact of life. We’re working on other strategies to deal with prostitution. Until we have an effective strategy in place, we are working ‘precinct-level missions’ to reduce it.” She noted that it isn’t possible to continuously run anti-prostitution missions, because they are highly labor-intensive. “Hopefully, we will have more effective strategies in place in a couple of months.”

Judging by the collective groan heard throughout the room, her answer didn’t sit well with the attendees.

Officers on an anti-prostitution mission arrest another suspect for peddling sexual favors on SE 82nd Avenue.

Intensive missions in August produce results
Responding to the concerns of neighbors and businesspeople along 82nd Avenue of Roses, officers from SE and East Precinct have been running anti-prostitution missions throughout the month of August.

According to Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, officers conducted a total of six “missions” – targeted law-enforcement operations – to reduce the highly-visible, blatant street-sex trade on 82nd.

Four of the missions, Schmautz reported, were set up to allow prostitutes to proposition undercover police officers. Two additional missions put undercover female officers on the street, to see if customers (“johns”) would attempt to pick them up and propose sex for money.

“During the month, 64 individuals were arrested for prostitution-related crimes,” reported Schmautz.

Group prepares Town Hall Summit on September 15
One group, calling itself “Take Back 82nd Avenue”, says they’re organizing a Town Hall Summit on September 15 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at Vestal Elementary School, 161 NE 82nd Avenue (just south of E. Burnside).

“We’re holding this forum to develop a community-based and proactive solution session that empowers everyone with knowledge on how to deal with this issue at a house, street, business, and neighborhood level,” noted the group’s spokesperson, Dawn Rasmussen. “Additionally, we want to emphasize a humane approach to the women involved [in prostitution], as many [of them] are victims.”

They invited an impressive lineup of panelists – hopefully, she said, many of the city leaders will be on hand for the event. The auditorium at the school seats 400; the group is hoping that most of them will be filled with concerned neighbors.

Montavilla neighbors take action
Last Saturday, we met with a leader from a group calling itself “Montavilla in Action” (CLICK HERE to see their blog).

We learned these neighbors also feel they must take action because “82nd Avenue of Roses has turned into ‘Portland’s Red Light District’; the activity spills into all of the surrounding neighborhoods, especially our schools and parks.”

This group is obtaining signatures on a petition asking members of the Portland City Council to reinstate the Prostitution-Free Zone.

And, yet another group — from the Montavilla Neighborhood Association — is also holding a meeting they call “The Summit for Montavilla Neighborhood” on October 7 at Portland Community College Southeast Center at S.E. Division and 82nd. We’ll give you more details as they become available.

Starting in September, one police car will be dedicated, full time, to combating street sex in outer East Portland.

Police cruiser to target street-level prostitution
“The Police Bureau is currently dedicating one car to prostitution enforcement for a full ten-hour shift each day,” Sgt. Schmautz said on August 28. “The hours and location of patrol will shift, as individuals involved in prostitution activity change their behavior to avoid enforcement.”

We’ve asked to be allowed once again to ride along and report on this latest mission. We’ll let you know what we learn.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Other merchant associations could take a page from this organization’s book. See why, right here …

Event chair Debbe Hamada (formerly director of East Portland Community Center) at her store, Tilde, says she enjoys creating events that bring the community together.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When 100 merchants, members of the recently-expanded Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance, agreed to participate in this August 9 event, they hoped it would draw folks to their businesses – and indeed, everyone came out a winner.

“We call it ‘Passport to Sellwood and Westmoreland – Celebrate the Summer,” explained Debbe Hamada, owner of a modern lifestyles accessory store in Sellwood called “Tilde”, and credited as being the prime mover behind the event.

Brent Heeb, proprietor of Stars Antique Mall and Stars & Splendid says the Passport event is perfect for businesses in the neighborhood.

“We want people to come here and have a good time,” Hamada said. “And I think it’s a great thing to do for the neighborhood. While we attract some visitors from around the greater Portland area, we’re primarily providing a fun event so our neighbors can have a great time.”

The idea was, Hamada said, that visitors would pick up a free “Passport” booklet, and take it around to participating merchants, each of whom marked it with a unique stamp. Having their booklet stamped at a minimum of six businesses qualified participants to win prize packages.

At one of the stops on the “Passport to Sellwood and Westmoreland” tour, Staccato Gelato, Annalee Schafranek stamps a passport.

Event expands as business districts unite
“This is the second year for this event in Sellwood,” Hamada said. “Last year, only stores on SE 13th Avenue participated. This year, with our two business districts united, we expanded it from 43 merchants to 108 merchants participating in both Sellwood and Westmoreland.”

Although Hamada is credited with creating and organizing the event, she said others have helped out. “Honestly, Brent Heeb worked equally as hard on this promotion.”

The Stumptown Swing trio enlivens SE 13th Avenue as they entertain in front of Grand Central Baking and Looking Glass Books.

Brings neighborhoods together
We next asked Brent Heeb, the proprietor of “Stars Antique Malls” and “Stars & Splendid” on SE Milwaukie Avenue for 18 years in Westmoreland, why he was enthusiastic about helping Hamada.

“I remember driving down 13th Avenue last year and seeing all the balloons,” Heeb replied. “It looked like there was a fun event happening. When our business districts joined, I met Debbe and learned about their ‘Passport’ event. Working on it has really brought our neighborhood business districts together.”

Folks said they came for miles around to peruse the offerings of merchants in Sellwood and Westmoreland.

In addition to running his shops, Heeb said he’s also a Westmoreland resident. “We have a real neighborhood here. We were ‘green’ and on foot before the concept became fashionable. Anytime we can support and promote our neighborhoods, it benefits everyone.”

Look for another area-wide promotion in Sellwood and Westmoreland in December; for more information check the business district’s web site: CLICK HERE. NOTE: our site was hacked – rest assured, the original link shown was redirected.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

They call this East Portland teen a musical “whiz-kid”. See why he returned to offer a special concert to benefit his alma mater …

Matthew Cohen plays classical selections with verve and passion, during a benefit concert at his former music academy, the Community Musical Center in Inner Southeast Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Starting when he was six years old – and continuing on for a decade – Matthew Cohen held his violin case tightly, as he headed into the Community Music Center (CMC) on SE Francis Street for his music lessons.

The result? At 19 years-of-age, Cohen is now in his second year studying at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York City.

On August 11, Cohen returned to his roots, to perform a benefit concert highlighted by works for viola and piano by J.S. Bach, Max Reger, Ernest Bloch, and George Enesco – accompanied by Janet Coleman.

Switched to viola
Before his concert, Cohen talked about his life in music. “I became frustrated with learning the violin, My Mom encouraged me to try the viola one summer, when I couldn’t get violin lessons,” the young virtuoso explained. I was afraid all my friends would get better than me during the summer if I wasn’t taking lessons.”

Cohen kept studying with teachers after he left CMC at age 16. He served as Principal Violist of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, and was twice winner of the Oregon Viola Society competition – and a host of other musical talent contests as well.

“I wanted to give a recital this summer; having a dated deadline gave me the drive to prepare, during my vacation,” noted Cohen. “I’ve played in this hall so many times over the years; this concert gives me the chance to give back to the Center.”

Playing the “hits” (of classical music) in Southeast Portland: Second-year Juilliard School of Music student, and East Portlander, Matthew Cohen.

Concert benefits endowment fund
CMC Director Gregory Dubay was, understandably, excited about the event. “We’re very honored that Matthew Cohen has offered to give this benefit concert. The proceeds will go to the newly-created Naomi Blumberg Endowment Fund for Chamber Music Education. It supports students like Matthew to follow their dreams of becoming a skillful musician.”

After completing his Bachelors of Music degree at Juilliard, Cohen told us  that he’ll pursue a Master’s Degree. “I’m not interested becoming a tenured musician in an orchestra. I’d rather be part of a professional chamber ensemble; I’d also like to teach at a university or conservatory.”

Before this accomplished violist walked on stage, he gave high marks to his former school. “They have a lot of skilled teachers here who really care; they know what they’re doing. If anyone was looking to start learning an instrument, CMC is the first place I would recommend to them.”

Visit the Center’s website at www.communitymusiccenter.org to learn more; or call (503) 823-3177.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

North, south, east and west – we traveled to all of the National Night Out gatherings throughout outer East Portland. Here’s your chance to “ride shotgun” on our annual odyssey …

Carol Krikava, Parkrose Neighborhood Association’s Secretary, and Marcy Emerson-Peters (Chair of land use and community development) help out at the National Night Out information center at the Parkrose Festival and Cruise-in on August 2.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton (except as noted)
More than many other cities around the country, Portland – and especially outer East Portland neighborhoods – participates with gusto in the National Night Out Against Crime.

The purpose of these gatherings is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, and to generate support for – and participation in – local anti-crime programs.

Speaking about the event, Crime Prevention Specialist Rosanne Lee, who works with the East Portland Neighborhood Organization, commented at one of the gatherings, “They strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships. But more than that, they send a message to criminals, letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.”

Not all events were on the “officially designated” dates – National Night Out activities took place all during the first week of August.

Where was the grandest event of all this year? Check out Argay Neighborhood Association’s party!

Saturday, August 2

Oregon Baptist Retirement Home
During the day, folks came by and enjoyed a BBQ luncheon, live Dixieland and Oldies music, participated in a silent auction, and walked among classic cars on the grounds in the 1800 block of NE 108th Avenue.

“We’ve got kids’ activities, police and fire bureau exhibits. and are having lots of run,” said organizer Lou Fontana. Proceeds from their event benefited Snow Cap Community Charities.

Parkrose Neighborhood Association
As part of the 2008 Parkrose Festival and Cruise-in, volunteers of this association talked with many of the thousands of attendees.

“We’re here to get the word out about how our association is actively helping neighbors,” said Marcy Emerson-Peters, past association Chair.

Tuesday, August 5

Gateway Apartments in Hazelwood

In Gateway, Robert Minden and James Oliver grill hot dogs for folks who live in their apartment complex.

For the first time this year, the Gateway Apartments, located in the Hazelwood Neighborhood, held a National Night Out event.

Gateway area neighbor Andrea Long presents some homemade baked goods to Portland Fire & Rescue crew members from Station 30, who were visiting their event.

“Because we have so many families living here, we decided to be part of this,” said coordinator Sandi Lattin. “We’re cooking up hot dogs and we’ve had all kinds of good picnic foods all afternoon – and also for folks who are just getting home from work.  It’s been great; the police department has come by, and firefighters from Station 30 also came to visit.”

Wilkes/Russell Neighborhoods

Kerry Brown shows off one of the several cakes decorated for the Wilkes/Russell event.

Our next stop was up in the northeast corner of outer East Portland. Everyone, including your reporter, missed seeing Ross Monn, former Chair of Wilkes, because of his recent move to Spokane.

Bonny McKnight and Alice Blatt sign in guests at Wilkes/Russell National Night out.

Ice Cream scooper Steven Johnson keeps busy.

But, Kerry Brown and her band of volunteers came together to produce an Ice Cream & Cake Social. Their event included entertainment, gifts and games for their 200+ attendees.

Glenfair Neighborhood Association

Helen Beehler, Donna-Lynn Kublick and Betty Twiss serve pizza for their guests at Glenfair Park.

Again this year, neighbors hosted a pizza dinner in Glenfair Park. About 100 folks came by to mingle and enjoy their hospitality.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadet Joseph Huff gives out “Honorary Cop Badge” stickers at the Glenfair event.

A “makeover” – done by a clown? “Pockets the Clown” (a.k.a. Patricia Bunnell) performs a makeup consultation for Genfair guest Rachelle Grant.

“We’re having a great time, out meeting our neighbors, and letting them know more about our neighborhood association,” said Donna-Lynn Kublick, Chair of the neighborhood association.

Woodland Park

Laura and Glen Heiner – and family – cook up a feast for their National Night Out luau in Woodland Park.

This event moved out of the Heiner family’s driveway – and took over a whole street in the Woodland Park Neighborhood.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer John Billard shows kids around his police car.

“We decided to have a luau this year,” said organizer Laura Heiner. “For us, the very best part of National Night Out is getting to know all of our neighbors. I have four kids, and I want to know who my neighbors are.”

Centennial Community Association

Centennial Community Association’s Patty Hicks and Tom Lewis get prize tickets ready for a give away.

More than 120 neighbors showed up at Parklane Park for a potluck dinner, prizes, and information during Centennial Community Association’s event.

Neighbors look at plans Portland Parks & Recreation is considering for further developing Parklane Park.

There were games for kids, face painting, and other activities. Many of the adults enjoyed talking with one another. But a real draw was a chance to see the comprehensive plans set out by the Parks Bureau for developing Parklane Park.

Glenfair’s Lifehouse Baptist Church

“The Haphazards” perform their positive brand of praise music at this community event.

“We’re part of the community,” said Pastor Dan Brown, “so we are participating in this community event.”

PPB Cadets Megan Anderson and Rae McKay help spread the word about community policing – while they enjoy freshly-made Strawberry Shortcake.

Plenty of kids’ games kept the young ones occupied and happily winning prizes, and adult volunteers grilled up hot dogs and other treats.

Argay Neighborhood Association

Portland Mayor Tom Potter is welcomed to the National Night Out event in Argay Park by association Chair Valerie Curry.

Our next stop was in the Argay Neighborhood. Their National Night Out event was already in full swing – and the “KoolTones”, in their sixth consecutive year entertaining there, was playing great classic rock and roll music for the appreciative crowd.

“Thanks to our 61 volunteers, we had a great event,” said Argay Neighborhood’s Chair, Valerie Curry. “We estimate about 500 people came out; Burgerville cooked 485 classic cheeseburgers at the event.”

Bringing the burgers is Rodica Pirv with Heavenly Cafe — and the association’s Transportation Committee Chair – one of more than sixty volunteers helping out at the event.

One of the guests, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, arrived while we were visiting. Potter told attendees, “I’ve been visiting NNO events, and this is the coolest place I’ve been all day. Congratulations on a great National Night Out. Remember to connect up with your neighbors. By working together you can help to keep your neighborhood safe.”

Miguel Ruiz gets a tour of Portland Fire &Rescue Truck 2 from Firefighter Matt Fullerton.

Curry told us an event of this size is only possible because so many individuals, organizations, and companies donate time and materials.

“Again, Shaver Elementary School Principal Cindy Bartman supervised children’s games with the help of SUN School Coordinator Helen Vank and other teachers and parents. Tina Scarborough and Dana McCray sat in the sun throughout the event selling food tickets,” Curry recounted. She also thanked Parkrose High School, Parkrose Hardware, Kyle Ziegler (CastleGate Realty), Jeff Reese’s Parkrose Chevron, and Target stores.

Mill Park Neighborhood Association

Todd Baker cooks up the food for 70 neighbors in Mill Park for their annual street party.

“I think the heat chased people off today,” commented Mill Park’s event organizer, Todd Baker. “The good thing about our event is that we get to know our neighbors. There are a lot of new neighbors in the area this year.”

Lents Neighborhood Association

At Lents Park, volunteers scoop up ice cream sundaes for visiting neighbors. Photo: Mackendree Thompson ROSE Community Development Corp.

For many years, the Lents Neighborhood Association has held an Ice Cream Sundae Social in Lents Park at their National Night Out event.

Portland Development Commission’s Lents Sr. Project Coordinator John Jansons and Housing Services Coordinator Javier Mena share information about area development.

Near the end of the evening, Karin Hanson, Lents organizer Judy Welch, and Mayor Tom Potter talk about the success of National Night Out programs.

According to organizer Judy Welch, they went through about 13 gallons of ice cream, and 400 Otter Pops, as about 250 people came to their event in Lents Park.

Thursday, August 7

Liesl Vistaunet, public relations and marketing director for Portland Adventist Academy, and Rosanne Lee, ONI Crime Prevention Specialist, greet neighbors at this NNO party.

“We’re having our second annual neighborhood block party, and we’re having lots of fun,” is what Liesl Vistaunet, public relations and marketing director for Portland Adventist Academy told us about their event.

Vistaunet said they were holding a block party to welcome neighbors to their campus. “Some people who have visited say they’ve lived here for 50 years, but never set foot on our campus.”

Mattison Bibb learns how to crawl under smoke to reach safety, with the help of Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Inspector Michael O’Keefe.

Christine Escalante and Katie Palumbo serve up flavored snow cones at the Portland Adventist Academy event.

Another reason for holding the event is that the Portland Adventist Academy is starting a building campaign. “Over the next ten years,” Vistaunet explained, “we’re rebuilding our school, on the same property. We want neighbors to know that we’ll be improving our campus – not putting in low-income housing units, or another strip mall shopping center.”

We’re looking forward to next year …
As the sun slowly sank into the western sky, so ended our National Night Out travels for 2008. Now, check our Community Calendar and make plans to attend your neighborhood’s association meeting next month!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Here’s a way to help kids do better in school! Take school supplies to a barrel in Eastport Plaza before the end of August …

Portland General Electric’s specialist in community affairs, Rachel DeRosia, says she hopes you’ll fill this barrel at their Eastport Plaza office with school supplies.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Now’s the time that folks start thinking about buying pencils, erasers, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks, markers, notebook paper, and backpacks for their young students.

But, many folks can’t afford to equip their kids for school. Portland General Electric is stepping up to help them out.

“Last year PGE employees and customers donated over 25,000 supplies,” Rachel DeRosia, specialist in community affairs at PGE, told us when we met at their Eastport Plaza office.

“One of PGE’s primary focus areas is community investment in education,” explained DeRosia. “We believe that children should have basic school supplies; it gives them the opportunity to get a better education. A better education provides for better citizens and a stronger future workforce.”

DeRosia suggested buying an extra set of supplies when you shop – and drop the extras off at any of their offices during regular business hours.

Look for the PGE office and drop off donated school supplies before August 29.

“The donated items will help stock ‘Schoolhouse Supplies’ here in Southeast Portland; some of supplies go directly to the local school districts most in need,” DeRosia added.

All PGE customer service offices are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – including the one at Eastport Plaza, on the southwest corner of the plaza (near Starbucks) at 4328 SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, Suite 2050.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

We don’t often need to use groundwater wells – but, discover here what it takes to keep this backup water supply ready – just in case it’s needed …

Brian Robison, Portland Water Bureau operating engineer, stands above one of several pumps in the Groundwater Pumping Station, located in the Wilkes neighborhood in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the things that make the greater Portland area an attractive place to live runs out of our sinks’ faucets – Bull Run drinking water.

Portland Water Bureau (PWB) customers use about 103,000,000 gallons of this pure water every day. If a disaster struck, or a large-scale plumbing failure was to occur, Portland would quickly dry up without a secondary source of water.

“If an emergency affecting the availability of our primary Bull Run source occurs, the Water Bureau has a responsibility to ensure that we have a fully functioning back-up supply to supply our customers with water,” explained PWB’s administrator, David Shaff – as the bureau announced they’d be testing their secondary system, called the Columbia South Shore Well Field (CSSWF), located in the northeast corner of outer East Portland, in the Wilkes Neighborhood.

Portland’s secondary source of sanitary water comes from 26 wells, located in far outer Northeast Portland, along the Columbia River. PWB photo

Emergency water supply tested
To find out more about this water source, we visited the CSSWF operations center on NE Airport Way, adjacent to the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s canoe launch.

The facilities are not well marked for security reasons; a high, barbed-wire topped fence surrounds the grounds that are under 24-hour video surveillance.

Brian Robison, operating engineer for the Portland Water Bureau Groundwater System, met us at the main building, and filled us in on the system he and his coworkers maintain.

“We have 26 groundwater wells, located on five square miles of land, which went into service in 1985,” Robison began. “These well fields run along the Columbia River, from Portland International Airport to east of Blue Lake Park.

“We’re in the process of testing 23 of those wells (three are down for repair), to make sure they’re functioning right, both electrically and mechanically. We also collect water from each well, and test the samples twice a year, to make sure we’re meeting all federal and state drinking water regulations.”

Jeph Greenwood, operating engineer, monitors the operation of groundwater well field pumps and the sanitizing chemical injection levels during the tests.

Electronic monitoring systems
Our preconceived image of engineers hoisting huge wrenches over their shoulders as they trudge from well-head to well-head was shattered when Robison showed us how they really control the operation – the “nerve center” is a large electrical switch panel.

PWB operating engineer Jeph Greenwood sat in front of a computer workstation with four video displays, monitoring operations during our visit. On computer screens, Greenwood showed us diagrams of the entire system, from Bull Run to the huge holding tanks buried in Powell Butte, to the well field system under test.

Little groundwater needed this year
Because of a good snowpack on Mt. Hood, and relatively mild weather, PWB hasn’t had to supplement Bull Run water with that from the wells along the Columbia River.

“With the high water flows still coming in from Bull Run, we have a small blend ratio,” Robison told us. “We’re only pumping 18,000,000 gallons a day – a small percentage of groundwater – into the City’s system.”

While that may seem like a LOT of water, it accounts for only about 5% of Portland’s water during this week’s testing period. “All of the groundwater is sanitized and pH adjusted before it enters the system. It isn’t as soft as Bull Run water – but it far surpasses all governmental standards.”

Giant pumps push water up Powell Butte
Robison told us that the reason for the huge pumps we’re about to see in the Pump Room – a place that is typically off-limits to visitors for security reasons – is that the treated groundwater must be pumped to the reservoirs atop Powell Butte, some eight miles to the south.

“We’re about 30 feet in elevation; the reservoirs at Powell Butte are about 560 feet high,” explained Robison. “We’re pumping at very high pressures; all of the pipes and fittings used in this system have to meet high safety standards.”

We learned that, along with the pumps in the wellheads, the high-pressure pumps are also tested. We donned heavy-duty hearing-protection muffs and entered the pump room. Even though only the smallest pump is running, it sends out pressure waves that can be felt the moment we enter the pump room.

Water in this 2,000,000 tank at the CSSWF control center swirls faster and faster, as more water is drawn from the well fields.

Back up to the back-up wells
We asked Robison if other outer East Portland water wells – like those in Hazelwood and Powell Valley – were also part of this back up water supply.

“Hazelwood has two smaller production wells,” the engineer replied. “They are thinking about using one of them for irrigation.”

However, the former Powell Valley Water District has six substantial wells, Robison noted. “The city’s policy is to give everyone the same water; we’re looking at ways to draw on the production of those wells and blend it into our other well system.”

But, he added, the Powell Valley wells are available in case of emergency. “It’s just a matter flushing them out and getting them running; it would only take a few hours’ work to put them into production.”

Testing runs ten days
On August 28 the testing will end, the wellheads and high pressure pumps at the CSSWF will go silent, and once again we’ll be drinking 100% Bull Run water.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Move over meth! Big-time heroin trafficking is now out into the ‘burbs! Get the inside story here …

Folks living around this Montavilla Neighborhood home say they feel unsettled that a house on their street is suspected to be involved with one of the largest heroin distribution operations in East Portland the cops have ever seen.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
We’ve all heard about the “methamphetamine epidemic” that swept outer East Portland. While the Mexican drug lords are still pumping the drug into our part of town; the dangerous methamphetamine labs are pretty much a thing of the past.

But some neighbors near the 9200 block of SE Market Street say they’re disquieted to learn heroin dealers had a “distribution center” set up on their otherwise quiet residential street, just south of SE Stark Street – mere blocks from area schools.

An observant few were not shocked. “Actually, I wasn’t surprised they were selling drugs there, based on what I’ve seen,” said a neighbor down the street, who begged not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

To get the facts, we talk with Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division (DVD) Captain Mark Kruger – a former Parkrose resident and long-time officer in East Precinct. He tells us information about the drug operation started coming to light on March 16th, when 28-year-old Kevin Caldwell Stoll died of a drug overdose in Northwest Portland.

“This death led us to begin an investigation; and 49-year-old Richard Williams was subsequently arrested,” Kruger says.

Using evidence obtained during the Williams investigation, officers developed information leading them to believe that Williams was supplied by a drug trafficking organization that was selling more than two pounds of heroin in the Portland Area every month.

With warrants in hand on August 19, DVD and precinct officers swept the SE Market Street house and seized approximately $17,000, two vehicles, and one ounce of heroin. They also executed search warrants on houses in the 1000 SE 114th Avenue in Mill Park and in the 3200 block of SE Palmquist Road in Gresham.

At the Montavilla address, “officers also discovered a room dedicated to the repackaging of heroin into small quantities for redistribution, and thousands of balloons used to distribute heroin,” Kruger adds.

Further, he said that investigators uncovered information that documents the fact that members of the drug operation made or received more than 8,000 calls in the past two months on telephones associated with the investigation.

Investigators arrested (left to right) 19-year-old Martin Camacho-Ramirez, 23-year-old Kevin Omar Castillo-Grajiola, 23-year-old Jose Gilberto Gracian, 21-year-old Casiano Huerte-Diego, and 18-year-old Edgar Zavala-Rodriguez – charging each with Distribution of a Controlled Substance and Conspiracy to Commit Distribution of a Controlled Substance.

Heroin moves east
“Heroin has been a problem on Oregon for many years – it is on a par with methamphetamine,” Kruger tells us.  “Heroin has been more associated with the downtown Portland scene. Now it’s moving around a lot more. The group [broken up in outer East Portland] was working almost exclusively on the East side.”

While this bust has “put a significant dent” in heroin distribution, Kruger adds, they’re still on the lookout for other drug dealers looking to supply heroin to users.

This investigation is ongoing.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See how the East Portland Chamber of Commerce is fulfilling its mission of providing a voice for businesspeople throughout the area …

The co-host of the Chamber’s Summer Fiesta, Vicki Mosier of CopperMoon Design, welcomes the folks coming to her studio and invites them to dig into some great Mexican food.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the more social business groups, the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, held a Summer Fiesta networking event on the last day of July at the SE Portland studios of CopperMoon Design.

Events like these allow Chamber members and guests to get better acquainted, and learn how they can help one another. This after-hours event provided grand hospitality, including freshly-made margaritas and other libations. Folks snacked on tasty Mexican foods including quesadillas, chimichangas, nachos, cookies, and fresh fruit.

Realtor Norm Rice with First Class Properties mixes up another fresh batch of margaritas.

Hostess and webmaster
“I’m happy to be hosting the event with Pam Olson of Farmer’s Insurance and Norm Rice from First Class Properties,” said CopperMoon’s owner, Vicki Mosier. “I enjoy sharing my space with people. I feel fortunate to have found such a beautiful space in which to work. Having all these great people here brings it good energy.”

Mosier is the new webmaster for the Chamber’s web-based communications services. We learned that the organization will unveil a brand-new website on September 2.

EPCC VP Pam Olson, Farmers Insurance Agent, talks with Multnomah County Commission candidate Mike Delman.

Provides clean, elegant style
The communications business Mosier operates provides graphic design for both print and web. “I have a real clean, elegant style,” explained Mosier.  “I’m like a messenger who runs between a business owner and their customers. I listen to the ideas, thoughts, and message of the business owner – then put it on paper or screen in a way that the customer is drawn to and helps them ‘get’ the message.”

Learn more
To learn more about the Mosier’s business, CLICK HERE to visit her website.

Or, to learn more about the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (and check out their NEW website in a couple of weeks) CLICK HERE to visit their web site.

Members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce enjoy hospitality at CopperMoon Design.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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