See why Portland YouthBuilders’ students, staff members, and folks from ROSE Community Development all celebrated the positive results of this project …

Nick Sauvie, Executive Director of Rose Community Development Corp, and PYB Project Manager Bill Kowalczyk, tell about the importance of this project to their respective organizations.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Earlier this year, a unique outer East Portland educational institution, Portland YouthBuilders (PYB), broke ground and started building a new single-family house in the Lents Neighborhood. (Read more about the project and PYB by CLICKING HERE.)

Students and their families, instructors, and representatives from the developer, ROSE Community Development Corp., got together at the newly-completed home on December 10th to celebrate their accomplishment.

Turns tax-foreclosed property into community asset
“We first acquired the property in 2003,” noted Nick Sauvie, Executive Director of ROSE Community Development Corp. “With the help of Portland Community Land Trust, we are able to sort through a variety of issues and get started earlier this year.”

Sauvie said that ROSE was the project’s contractor and developer. “We got PYB involved as the builder; they provide training and career development opportunities for young people.”

The third partner in this project is Portland Community Land Trust (PCLT), Sauvie added. “Their participation makes sure that this home will be owner-occupied, and permanently affordable to moderate-income families.” (CLICK HERE to learn more about the PCLT,)

PYB instructor beams with pride
The building project manager, PYB’s Bill Kowalczyk, was all smiles at the open house. He recalled talking with us as their crew prepared to pour the home’s foundation earlier. “It’s really a fun thing to see a house be built from the ground up. And it’s rewarding to watch the kids transform into better citizens, as they go through the process of building a house.”

Kowalczyk noted that he observed students as they walked around the completed house. “You can see they feel moved by what they accomplished, and are incredibly proud of their work. A couple of our students are ready to move out of the program and into their next steps in life. I’m really excited about that for them.”

PYB is important, Kowalczyk said, because he feels that many of students are not fully served by the school system, and by society. “We are a school that provides a structure, a learning environment, where there is lots of interaction between staff and students. It helps them grow as people.”


Alex Butler, a student with Portland YouthBuilders, says the program helped him learn new skills and stay out of gangs.

Builds a new life while building a home
Outside the new home, we spoke with PYB student Alex Butler. “I’ve had a little experience, but I’ve learned a lot in this program. I’ve worked on landscaping, and doing trim finishing,” Butler said.

Butler credited his mother for going into – and returning to – PYB. “I got involved after I heard about it from a friend of mine; he said it was a good for people who dropped out of school. Coming here help me get rid of a lot of bad habits. I left the first time; I kept being late.”

His mom urged him to go back and try again, Butler said. “I was influenced to hang out in gangs. I would probably be out ‘banging it’ if not for PYB. I have a friend – he’s like the big brother to me, who I don’t have – but he’s in jail. He’s been telling me to stay with this, and not to join the gangs. I look up to him, and I took his advice and stayed with the program.”

Program builds character
In parting, Kowalczyk told us, “The most important thing we teach students is patterns of behavior that help students succeed when they come out our program. We don’t really focus on teaching sophisticated construction skills. We focus on the basics, and also help provide experiences that help kids become good workers and good citizens.”

If you know of a student, or a family with a student, who could benefit from the Portland YouthBuilder program, visit their website by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why this industrial-strength swing set appeals to both kids and adults – but, it’s only there till January …

The artist and inventor of the OMSI installation, Jennifer Steinkamp, shows visitors this swing-set is also for adults. Typically, participants are seated facing the screen!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In addition to unlocking the mystery within Mindbender Mansion’s teasing puzzles, you can also get into the swing of things at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s first-ever art installation.

At the top of the escalator on the west wall of OMSI’s Earth Science Hall you’ll find an “interactive swing set” – built sturdily enough to accommodate full-sized adults – with a giant projection screen and audio system, for their newest attraction called “Anything You Can Do”.

“This is the first time that OMSI has done a formal art installation,” commented OMSI’s Communications Director, Lee Dawson. “It’s a dynamic, kinetic piece of art with which people can interact – a feature that’s really important to us.”

It’s a swing set; but, as we observed, it interacts with high technology. “This swing is tied in with visuals and sound effects,” Dawson noted.

Each of the two swings control a layer of the image, and each have its own soundtrack. As the participants swing, the two video layers combine to form a single image. There are progressively-changing sounds for each of the movements, and the experience is heightened through participation and play.

Meet the artist
Jennifer Steinkamp, the artist (or should we say inventor) of the exhibit, was visiting Portland form her home in Los Angeles, California, when we came to see the installation.

“‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ was a song my mother used to sing – almost as a competitive mantra,” Steinkamp said, about her work’s title. “Ideas for many of my works have come into my head in response to song titles or hooks.”

The best thing about her animated swing set, Steinkamp told us, is “Watching people have fun and play. I like for people to have a new experience; I guess that’s what OMSI is all about, right?”

Audio track composer Jimmy Johnson joins Steinkamp to get competitive, while swinging on “Anything You Can Do”.

Technology behind the fun
What makes it work, Steinkamp disclosed, is a computer program that accepts input from sensors on the swings. “They’re like turn-knobs. One set of sensors tracks the swing’s actual back-and-forth swinging motion. The other set measures side-to-side or twisting motion. This input controls the visual images and sounds you hear when you swing.”

The artist introduced her “composer”, Jimmy Johnson, who explained, “I created the sounds, decided where they should go, and when they should happen – as one would compose music. The sounds are all generated with computer code.”

Artist challenges reporter
After showing how the interactive art installation worked, Steinkamp narrowed her eyes, raised her voice, and challenged this reporter, “You aren’t really going to report and write about this without swinging on it – ARE YOU?”

“Is this an official throw-down?” we asked

She nodded her head, crossed her arms, and waited while we set down our camera and mounted the industrial-strength swing set.

Steinkamp looked both surprised and pleased when we leaned back, and pumped the swing high into the air. The stereo speakers on the cross-bar emitted ethereal swishes. The higher we swung, the more animated the music, and the larger the graphics on the giant rear-projection screen in front of us.

Twisting in the swing, while in the air, changed the sounds and images on the screen. Looking up, we saw the silhouette of a family strolling between the screen and the projector, adding to the installation’s interactive feel.

Even adult visitors are more than welcome to climb aboard the swing-set to try out OMSI’s first-ever interactive art installation.

Limited time
The “Anything You Can Do” interactive art installation will be at OMSI through the ending of the museum’s Mindbender Mansion exhibition, scheduled to close in January, Dawson said. “But it may stay a little longer, depending how well our members accept it.”

For more information on the artist, see her web site at www.jsteinkamp.com. To learn more about OMSI, visit www.omsi.edu.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Did the bad weather keep you from donating? It’s not too late to help out the Portland Fire & Rescue Toy and Joy Makers. Find out why and how, right here …

Portland Fire & Rescue Firefighter Specialist Bruce Thompson drives the waterborne sleigh for Inspector Mike “Santa” O’Keefe.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On the crisp, clear morning of December 4, more than one person gazing at the Willamette River from inner SE Portland was astonished to see jolly old St. Nick speeding north, from near OMSI to the fire dock under the Hawthorne Bridge, astride a powerful personal watercraft with Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) markings.

“Santa came early, on Jet-Ski,” explained, PF&R spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt. “Sleds don’t work well without snow; so to deliver a check to Toy-N-Joy Makers, we gave him a lift to help deliver a $2,000 check from the Fire Chief’s Association to them.”

Off they go on, on their mission to help the Toy and Joy Makers.

Started in SE Portland
While the Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Toy and Joy Makers current facility today sits on the Gresham city borderline in outer East Portland, the program started 94 years ago in Sellwood, at the fire station now designated Station 20.

“In 1914, close to Christmastime, a child was crying, looking at his broken wagon as he stood in front of the Sellwood district fire station,” related Oswalt. “The sight touched a firefighter’s heart – he so he brought the little boy into the station, and fixed the wagon for him. That was the act that kicked off what has become the Toy and Joy Makers.”

The idea caught on, and one by one, until the early 1980s, different fire stations had different assignments – one would fix bicycles and another would refurbish wagons, explained Oswalt. The firefighters would stockpile parts, repaint broken toys, and return them to as new a condition as possible.

“Nowadays, with the addition of new equipment, there isn’t the room to for firefighters to repair broken toys,” Oswalt went on. “So, to keep the tradition alive, we ask that people donate new, unwrapped toys.”

At the PF&R dock at Station 7, Inspector Mike “Santa” O’Keefe presents a check to the bureau’s Toy and Joy Makers “head elf”, Dean Johnston.

3,000,000 toys and counting
Dean Johnston, retired firefighter, and now the “chief elf” the organization met us at Station 20, to talk about the program.

“We work with organizations to make sure the toy-giving is not duplicated by other agencies and charities – thus making the ‘joy’ go farther,” said Johnston. “With the help and support of the community, we’ll be giving away about 10,000 toys to underprivileged kids this year; we’ve distributed more than 3 million toys since we began.”

Most needed toys noted
Now that this year’s toy supply has been depleted, they’re looking to start filling their warehouse for Christmas, 2009. “There is a special need for infant toys (Fisher Price, Playskool), due to the large lead-based paint recall of toys last year,” noted Johnston.
They’re also looking for toys suitable for older girls, ages nine through 13. Suggested toys include craft kits for jewelry-making, beads, friendship bracelets, books, and games.  Please do NOT donate make-up (even “play” make-up), or clothing.

Behind the scenes: Santa gets grilled by Portland’s TV station reporters who were all respectful as they questioned jolly St. Nick.

After Christmas donations gratefully accepted
Many parents help their children learn the value of giving by having the kids help pick out toys to be donated, Oswalt commented. “If the bad weather kept you and your family from dropping off new, unwrapped toys at fire stations, consider a cash donation. Because the organization can buy toys at wholesale, it really stretches the value of monetary donations. 98% of the money given goes to toys for kids.”

Financial contributions can be made online at their website. CLICK HERE to go there right now! You’ll be glad you did — and you may get a deduction on your income taxes if you contribute before the end of the year.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

We may never know for certain if the dead man police found holed-up in a Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood garage actually robbed the Advantis Credit Union. Read this, and learn why he’s still their prime suspect …

As SERT officers gathered around a house a half-mile to the north, the Advantis Credit Union was open for business after their morning robbery.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A man sporting a thin mustache carried a black briefcase with him, as he strode into the Advantis Credit Union at 3717 SE 17th Avenue, directly across from Portland General Electric’s SE Portland district offices in the Brooklyn neighborhood on December 19 at 10:45 a.m.

It soon became obvious that this fellow, described as being just under than 5’9″ tall, and in his early 30s – clad in a dark-colored baseball hat, blue-and-black rain jacket, and gloves – was there to make a withdrawal of the unauthorized and illegal kind.

He didn’t use a gun; he made his demands known by presenting a note to a credit union. The robber walked out the door with an undisclosed amount of cash stashed in his valise just moments later.

Joining the 20 Portland Police Bureau officers already on scene was about 50 SERT officers ordered into the neighborhood.

SERT Activated
Because the Federal Bureau of Investigation is in charge of all bank robbery investigations – and they frown on media attention during their on-site investigations – many such heists are only reported as a police blotter item.

But, as some 20 Portland Police Bureau officers set up a perimeter around a house in inner SE Portland – and ordered in their Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) officers – we took notice. They were dispatched to a detached garage at a house, north of the credit union across S.E. Powell and the Union Pacific tracks, on SE Woodward Street, between SE 15th and SE 16th Avenues.

With the property surrounded, police feel confident that the person they were seeking was still in the garage to which they’d tracked him earlier in the day.

Tear gas deployed
We learned from police records that at 11:23 a.m. police established that a Jeep Cherokee was associated with the holdup.

Hours later, an officer at the scene of the SERT callout told us that cops successfully tracked the alleged hold-up man from the credit union to the property they’d surrounded. “We’re confident the individual is still in the garage,” he said.

The officer suggested that we move from our position, downwind from the subject’s location. “We’re about to deploy tear gas,” he warned. We moved promptly.

Looking north on SE 16th Ave., the SERT officers prepare to deploy tear gas into a detached garage of a house.

“SERT deployed gas at 6:02 p.m.,” police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz told us. “When they entered the garage, they found a suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The question remains: Is the dead man found in the garage the credit union robber?

Our calls to the FBI have not been returned; Schmautz said SERT was being used to assist the FBI, and not to further a Police Bureau investigation, and that further information would have to come from the tight-lipped FBI. So, far, it hasn’t.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Street-sex Update: Is the city’s ‘permanent solution’ for street-level prostitution going to work? See why it looks like it’ll take more than cops on patrol to solve the problem. And, Discover the role of DAs, judges, and a new treatment program play …

After being cornered in the restroom of a retail store a couple of weeks ago, this woman, accused of being involved in prostitution, tries to talk her way to freedom – but the officer taking her into custody isn’t buying her story. While prostitution is on the decline – it’s far from gone on the Avenue.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) task force dedicated to reducing street-level prostitution has indeed eliminated the blatant, flamboyant street-sex vendors along 82nd Avenue of Roses and NE Sandy Boulevard, as last week’s story showed – it’s certainly far from being eliminated from outer East Portland.

Before reading our update on actions being taken to curb street-level prostitution – at the source – you may want to read our previous stories regarding:

  • Summertime anti-prostitution missions, CLICK HERE.
  • The September 15 anti-prostitution Summit, CLICK HERE.
  • The September 30 march on 82nd Ave., CLICK HERE
  • The Second anti-prostitution “Take Back 82nd” Summit on October 7, CLICK HERE.

At this September press conference, Portland Mayor Tom Potter said the Prostitution-free Zone ordinance would not be reinstated; instead, it would be replaced with a new, comprehensive plan that included treatment for re-offending prostitutes.

‘Zones’ eliminated in 2007
For several years, the law enforcement and judicial system has “winked” at prostitution, as if it were considered a low level crime.

As the quality of life problems that prostitution brought started spilling into neighborhoods, the City of Portland responded with “Drug- and Prostitution-free Zone” ordinances, in which individuals alleged to be involved in street-sex transactions could be “excluded” – that is, prevented, under threat of going to jail for violation, from hanging out along 82nd Avenue or NE Sandy Boulevard – without a good reason.

In late 2007, the Portland City Council chose to allow the ordinances to expire – saying the council believed them to be racially discriminatory. However, that conclusion was based ONLY on information gathered about the Drug-free Zone ordinance, and ONLY in downtown’s Old Town. For about a year, cops were without a valuable tool they used to remove frequent suspected prostitutes from outer East Portland.

Then, on September 11, Mayor Tom Potter held a press conference at the Montavilla Community Center during which he vowed to curb street prostitution – a problem that had grown into being “intolerable”. CLICK HERE to read this EastPDXNews article.

Justin Cutler, Montavilla Neighborhood Association Vice Chair, welcomed neighbors to the second “Take Back 82nd Avenue” Town Hall meeting.

Neighborhood chair commends efforts
A few weeks ago, we checked in with Justin Cutler, chair of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, and the person who facilitated the October 7 “Take Back 82nd Summit” to see if all of the publicity surrounding the issue had helped their cause.

“Overall, I feel as citizens we’ve made a difference. We have been working with Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman to form an oversight committee, and I’ve been to Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) meetings,” Cutler told us.

“It is our job a citizens to encourage public officials to make things happen,” Cutler continued. “We need to take ownership for our part – calling police when we see activity, being involved in the neighborhood association, and participating in foot patrols.”

Vigilant police efforts reduce prostitution
From mid-August through the first of December, officers had arrested 226 people suspected of engaging in prostitution activities. But, as we found on a recent ride-along with an anti-prostitution mission, the “johns” (customers) have kept cruising the streets looking for prostitutes – who themselves are willing to face another arrest – to service them.

As we drove back to the police station, our contact for the mission, East Precinct’s Sgt. David Golliday, explained, “What we want to do is get the prostitutes on probation, so we can use that to get them involved in social services. Soon, we should have sufficient bed space to get them off the street and help them learn life skills – so they can stay off the street and learn a normal lifestyle, or get back to one.”

Golliday reminded us that, as evidenced during our ride-along, the bureau is still providing aggressive enforcement. “And, with the District Attorney’s Office working diligently on these cases, and the judges accepting the DA’s request of putting these women on probation status – plus the social services aspect – it should really help reduce prostitution.”

J. R. Ujifusa, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney and Asst. DA Jenna Plank speak plainly about the new way the City and County plan to combat street-level prostitution.

DAs explain how ‘new system’ works
From what we’ve gathered from our investigation, a person suspected of being involved in the act of prostitution (either the prostitute, or the john) is arrested. The suspected individual is tried in court, and perhaps is convicted. If the same individual is arrested, tried, and convicted a second time, they then may be sanctioned or treated.

“Prostitution cases can be problematic,” Multnomah County Asst. DA Jenna Plank told a group of citizens wanting to learn how Portland and the County propose to deal with prostitution. “We take all prosecutable cases sent from [anti-prostitution] missions run by the police department.”

“So, this ‘new process’ relies on judges to take these cases seriously?” we ask.

“The best practices are [for the police] to run a solid mission, using whatever laws or ordinances that are in effect,” Plank replied.  “This helps us build our best cases. Another thing that will help us put more pressure on the judges to help – both through public comment, and Judicial Watch” – so they know that the community is suffering because of this issue.”

Plank continued that, if judges perceive prostitution as a true public issue, they will respond appropriately. “I will be honest and say it might be rocky at first,” Plank continued, “because it is new and different. Yet, it’s very similar to the Prostitution-Free Zone ordinances. It’s not like we’re starting from ground zero. But, realistically, not all judges will do what we ask.”

Spinning a judicial ‘revolving-door’?
We asked, “Because this new plan hinges upon successful prosecution – and the DA’s office has a finite budget – can your office keep this from becoming a judicial ‘revolving-door’ when your office runs out of money, or when judges turn offenders over to Community Court?”

Plank responded, “Yes, we think we can do it. Right now, if we are presented a case that is provable – or if we think we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt – we will prosecute it. The only added burden for us, under this plan, is when it comes down to the probation/violation phase.”

If found guilty, said Plank, the DA’s office asks judge put the individual on probation with “geographic restriction”. “If the defendant goes into that [geographic] area, they will get arrested for violating their probation.”

But Plank added that they “can’t keep charged individuals in custody”. Many of the accused don’t make their court dates. “Lots of warrants go out. If you look at the back of their worksheet you’ll see that the time from their arrest till the time of conviction is about six months. So, for these six months, [the suspects] will be out, essentially freely doing what they want to do. They will not have geographical restrictions on them until their case is settled.”

Assistant DA Plank is showing a chart that illustrates how prostitution cases will flow through the justice system under the current arrangement.

Treatment can be two years away
To make sure we understand the situation, we asked, “So, an individual must be caught-in-the-act with prosecutable evidence, arrested, and be successfully prosecuted and convicted twice before they’re legible for geographic restriction sanctions – or a treatment program? This could take a couple of years, right?”

“That is correct,” Plank stated.

“The first time a person is arrested on a prostitution charge,” continued Plank, “the case may go to Community Court.” She said, from memory, that about 30% of defendants opt for Community Court. “This could make every first-time offender say they want to go to Community Court [and thus, this arrest would not count as a first conviction]. We don’t know; and, we won’t know until we get started.”

Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney J. R. Ujifusa chimed in, “Keep in mind that we had a similar amount of cases under the Prostitution-free Zone ordinance. The system is set up a handle higher amount of cases.”

Beth Glisczinski, Director of Adult and Youth Addiction Services at LifeWorks NW, and Kathleen Treb, Acting Director for Community Justice, Multnomah County of Community Justice, look over details of a in-patient prostitution treatment program, as its coordinator, East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs looks on.

Treatment program in development
At an early December meeting of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council at East Precinct, Beth Glisczinski, the Director of Adult and Youth Addiction Services at LifeWorks NW, and Kathleen Treb, Acting Director for Community Justice, Multnomah County of Community Justice, attended with other committee members.

Talking about the treatment program for prostitutes, Glisczinski told us, “This is intended to be an intervention program for women who got in trouble with the law because of their prostitution-related activities.”

LifeWorks NW proposed a “truly integrated approach to meeting the needs of these women, addressing their mental health and addiction needs, and helping them rebuild a life – a life of recovery and stability and security,” Glisczinski said.

She added that her organization ran a similar program between 1997 and 2007. “It fell victim to budget cuts; it’s been inactive for about a year and a half.”

Their new program offers an “addiction component” and a “recovery mentor” process that were not in the original treatment program.

“A recovery mentor,” Glisczinski explained, “is someone who is been there, done that – and someone who is in recovery from chemical dependency or some other issue. We also require that they be in recovery from their involvement with the criminal justice system and are now turning their life around – and will provide their experience, insights and support the people are trying to do the same thing.”

We’ll bring you more details about this treatment program as they become available.

Members gather for a meeting of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council at East Precinct the first week in December.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See what happened when these young craftsmen turned their attention to making toys for disadvantaged kids – instead of producing gifts for their own family and friends …

David Douglas High School instructor Jeff Reardon shows the process flow chart that he and his class members developed to help them successfully manufacture 100 wooden toys in a very short period of time.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the few high schools that haven’t axed classes in practical skills – such as woodworking and metal shop – is David Douglas High School.

“Our Woods Manufacturing Program is one of the school’s eight ‘Career Paths’ that are available,” said instructor Jeff Reardon as we met in his office overlooking the woodshop floor to get way from the noise made by saws, drills, and sanders, operated by students.

DDHS student Gerardo Ruiz cuts out wheels for toy trucks using a drill press.

Manufacturing opportunity appears
“I was looking for a manufacturing project for our students,” Reardon began. “The questions that come up are, ‘What do we make?’ and ‘Where do we get the materials?’ and “Who will the customer be?'”

These questions were answered by Gig Lewis, who is with the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers. Explained Reardon, “He asked if we’d like to be involved in a special project. They would provide the plans and material for the project.” The product turned out to be a toy truck.

Members of the Guild, Reardon noted, had been making hand-crafted wooden toys, destined for the Marine’s Toy-and-Joy drive, for three years. “We had six weeks to design a manufacturing process, and produce them.”

It takes teamwork, coordination, and good communications, documenting what is to be done to run a manufacturing operation, Reardon said. “We’ve created a list of the parts for our project, and a process. These are valuable skills to build high-quality products, whether you manufacturing in wood, metal, or plastics.

Students like Max Basarava discover and utilize methods for mass-producing toys –like sanding dozens of wheels at one time.

Experienced young woodworkers rise to challenge
Once they’d completed their production methods, the classmembers got to work. “These students have been in the program for two to three years; they know how to operate the woodworking equipment. What they’re learning is how to mass-produce a product – instead of making an individual project.”

The eleven students in Reardon’s class worked diligently to meet their goal of producing 100 finished units. “That’s quite a few – for example, they need to make 400 wooden wheels. And, there are 14 parts in each toy.”

Geonard Castaneda, Kevin Orszulak, Mr. Reardon, and Anatoliy Pshenichnykh check the production schedule at the end of a class period.

Student volunteers pitch in
All David Douglas students are required to provide several hours of volunteer time, Reardon explained. To make sure that Santa’s bag wouldn’t be light by a few toys, Reardon said he asked teachers of other Career Pathways to ask their students to volunteer on the project.

“The response was great,” the instructor said. “Many of our volunteers, like those from the Arts and Communications group – your future reporters and editors, someday – had never done woodworking. They came in and sanded their hearts out. We could not have done it without them.”

On December 9, the class had their trucks finished and ready for delivery. Because of their efforts, 100 youngsters will be having fun with toys made for them by older kids, right here in outer East Portland.

Student project manager Chris Becker approves of the quality of this finished toy truck before it is packaged.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

If you haven’t noticed, this story is unfolding just outside your door – and been on TV for the past week. Here’s our take on the situation …

Sledding down this East Portland hill was occasionally interrupted by folks who had to get out in their trucks to drive around during the height of the snow storm.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We can’t ignore the weather – it interrupted Christmas plans for everyone in East Portland. Those that must work struggled to find a way to their place of employment. Schools, alternately open and closed as the weather changed by the hour, had to be maintained during the storm.

The snow was deep and beautiful, looking out behind the East Portland News and www.eastPDXnews.com international headquarters in SE Portland.

The East Portland News Cruiser remains under feet of snow and ice during the worst of the storm.

Snowiest of Decembers
This winter storm didn’t bring the coldest weather on record, according to Charles Dalton meteorologist intern at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service is located in outer East Portland on NE 122nd Avenue, just south of NE Airport Way.

“Typically, we see temperatures in the low- to mid-40s,” Dalton told us today. “We were 10º to 15º below normal – quite a way from breaking any records.”

But the snowstorm that started on December 19 is a record-breaker, Dalton added. “From the 19th through the 25th, this is pretty much a 40 year event. This has been our snowiest December on record. It really compares to the deepest snowfall on record – the storm in January 1950 with 42” measured at the airport.

Your editor discovers that the East Portland News Weather Deck is snowed in!

Along with a break in the weather on Christmas Eve day came shoppers – hoards of them – whether or not they were equipped to drive in winter weather conditions.

White Christmas after all
Mother Nature gave forecasters the Bronx-cheer on Christmas Day.

Instead of balmy temperatures and warm rain to scour out the snow and ice still clinging to Portland area streets as predicted, fringed Arctic wind swept south, and then west through the Columbia Gorge midday, changing the rain into final blast of snow and sleet.

What are the forecasters saying about this week’s upcoming weather? Regardless when you read this, you can always get the up-to-date forecast from the National Weather Service for outer East Portland by CLICKING HERE. Or, enter the Zip Code at the top of the page to see the 7-day forecast for any location in the country.

The day after Christmas, most major highways and freeways were drivable. Side streets remained almost impassable.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Look: The big winter blast won’t come in until the afternoon – come and help deliver some of the 556 Sunshine Division food boxes that need to get out …

Last year, there were plenty of volunteer drivers – this year – who knows? Just show up Saturday morning, December 20 and help! EastPDXnews file photo

Story and file photos by David F. Ashton
It’s a simple problem: Food boxes that provide needy families in outer East Portland are stacked up in the East Precinct garage; across the street from Floyd Light Middle School in Gateway. With the arrival of winter weather conditions, many people will stay home.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division depends on volunteers to deliver 556 boxes of food — each contains a complete dinner, including meat, bread and vegetables.

“If you have the appropriate vehicle to drive in inclement weather,” says Portland Police Bureau’s Officer Phil Kent of the Sunshine Division, “families across outer East Portland will sincerely appreciate the Christmas food box you’ll deliver.”

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadets load a truck with food boxes to be delivered to needy families in the area. EastPDXnews file photo

If few volunteer drivers show up, Kent says, those who come will be asked to deliver more boxes. “Our Cadets and street officers will pitch in as well. We’re hoping for a good turnout. No matter what, we will get the boxes delivered.”

Reservations are NOT required
Just show up
at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 20 at East Precinct, 737 SE 106th Ave., just south of SE Washington St. (across from Floyd Light Middle School and the East Portland Community Center).

Cue up in the community center parking lot – and the East Precinct Cadets will direct you into the parking structure and load your vehicle. You’ll be given a clear map showing where deliveries should be made.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why more organizations – and more families – are taking advantage of this unique information exchange …

Hundreds of families come to learn about community resources at this year’s event held at the David Douglas Schools’ Fir Ridge Campus.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The 5th Annual East County Resource Fair – held at David Douglas School’s Fir Ridge Campus, the district’s alternative high school – has grown considerably since we first attend the event. When we walked in this year, we saw more than 70 government agencies, non-profit organizations, and small businesse, represented at tables set up throughout the commons area.

“It started as a way to bring resources to our students,” explained Elizabeth Sommo, School-to-Work and Volunteer Coordinator at the school. “Students, and more importantly, their families, learn what’s available in terms of social services, employment services, non-profit organizations, and businesses.”

Elizabeth Sommo, the event organizer, welcomes guests to the Resource Fair.

This year, the fair was designated as a district-wide event, Sommo said. “We’re inviting all families from outer East Portland and East County school districts to participate. The fair is also a great way to build more community spirit, and have a fun event for people to attend.

“It’s a really great way for community entities to learn what’s going on in the school system, and for the school’s staff, students, and families to learn what’s available in the community.”

Arlene Kimura tells people why neighborhoods – and the EPNO neighborhood coalition – help make our city a better place in which to live.

One of the exhibitors at the fair was Hazelwood Neighborhood Association chair Arlene Kimura, who took charge of the East Portland Neighborhood Organization table.

“I’m here because our city’s neighborhoods are an important resource of which many people are not aware,” Kimura explained. “Some of these kids will eventually become our neighbors; they need to know why the neighborhoods are important, and how we help build stronger communities. They are our future citizens.”

Susan Palmer, of Multnomah County Health Department, School-based Health Clinics, tells parents how to access health care for kids.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See who was indicted for this outer East Portland New Years Eve murder …

Police cars swarmed the area of NE 82nd Avenue of Roses and NE Thompson Street looking for the person responsible for a homicide.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
In a story we brought you a year ago (CLICK HERE to read it), 2007 ended with an outer East Portland homicide.

Officials say it isn’t clear why this man, 25-year-old Christopher Adam Monette, a resident of North Portland, was gunned down just minutes before 2008 began in outer Northeast Portland. (PPB photo)

“The investigation began on December 31, 2007, at approximately 11:48 pm, when officers responded to a disturbance call with possible shots fired in the 8400 block of NE Thompson Street,” Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Brian Schmautz told us.

“Christopher Adam Monette was found deceased, and Homicide Detectives were called to the scene to initiate an investigation,” continued Schmautz. “A Multnomah County Grand Jury recently returned a murder indictment regarding this case.”

Officials say they suspect this man, 30-year-old Jerrin Lavazie Hickman, of committing the New Year’s Eve murder. (MCSO photo)

Suspect arrested in Kaiser
The US Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force hunted down the suspect in this murder case, 30-year-old Jerrin Lavazie Hickman, in Kaiser, near Salem, and arrested him on the outstanding warrant on December 8, Schmautz informed us.

For investigative reasons, detectives are withholding additional information in this ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ken Whattam at (503) 823-0696 or Detective Rico Beniga at (503) 823-0692.

© 2008 David F Ashton ~ East Portland News

If you missed it – even though we told you it was coming – take a look, and see why people say this event rivaled the largest commercial gift shows in town …

Lena Whight talks with Jerilyn Walker, one of 97 vendors at this year’s David Douglas Bazaar.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Georgia Mayfield made it perfectly clear why she was Christmas shopping at the 12th annual David Douglas Holiday Bazaar: “Why fight traffic going out to the Expo Center, pay for parking and admission, and see the same old stuff, when I can come here and shop for free?”

Yes, the hallways and the north cafeteria were filled with 100 tables covered with all kinds of gifts presented by 97 vendors, as the event got underway on December 6.

“It is our largest fundraiser of the year,” explained Kari Deardorff, Parent Teacher Student Association President, at David Douglas High School.

In addition to table rentals, the “Jingle Bell Snack Shop” was open for breakfast and lunch throughout the day.

David Douglas High’s PTSA board members pause for a photo during their Holiday Bazaar: Shannon Pitts, Treasurer; Lisa Keefe, Secretary; Gena Andersen, Vice President; and Kari Deardorff, President.

Proceeds support scholarships
“All of the proceeds go to support the college scholarships our program, in which we give six $500 awards to graduating seniors,” Deardorff continued. “The primary criterion for being awarded a scholarship is volunteerism, because we are a volunteer-based organization.”

To compete, students write an essay that describes their school and community volunteer efforts while they attend David Douglas High; good grades do also factor into the decision.

Meet three artisans

John Swenson shows off his line of “Soft Swords”.

Looking for a way to roughhouse but not cause injury? DDHS student John Swenson said he has the answer: his product called “Soft Swords”.

“They are padded play-swords for children of all ages,” pitches Swenson. “It’s an idea that’s been around for a while; I just took it and made it better. The ones in the stores last for about 30 minutes – but these are sturdy.”

Amie Griggs with her “family of snowmen”. “I’ve been making them for about three years. People seem to like them, and I enjoy making them.”

Joy Ginocchio and Doug Smith have a colorful selection of tie-dyed shirts on display.  “We make these ourselves. I used to make them back in the 1980s,” Smith said. “We started making and selling them again last year, at Estacada Grower’s Market.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Street-sex Update: See how consistent police presence, and neighbor participation, have reduced the number of street prostitutes working 82nd Avenue of Roses. But, read this and you’ll find prostitution hasn’t left the avenue completely …

Driven by a never-ending supply of customers – such as this fellow, suspected of soliciting prostitution, and being taken of to jail to be booked – street-level prostitution will continue, albeit at a reduced level, even with the efforts of police, neighbors, and the judicial system.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
All during the summer, blatant prostitution flourished along 82nd Avenue of Roses…until neighbors and business people made their voices heard – and demanded action.

Crime stats show improvement
The payoff: Gone are the gaudily-dressed women wearing outrageous makeup, strutting up and down 82nd Avenue in four-inch heels, arm-in-arm with their “pimp-daddy”.

Between mid-August and mid-October, officers arrested 148 individuals including 56 johns, 88 prostitutes, and one individual promoting prostitution activity, reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz.

When we talked with PPB East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs this week, he told us officers made 78 arrests during prostitution-related sweeps between mid-October and the first of December. “While our officers were observing prostitution-related activities and consequently spoke with arrested subjects, some of those arrested were picked up for outstanding warrants – not necessarily prostitution activities,” Crebs clarified.

“We’ve seen a decrease in prostitution-related activity on 82nd Avenue,” confirmed Crebs. “We’ve seen fewer arrests due to enforcement –and the weather. But, some are still out there.”

Although prostitution has declined, some alleged prostitutes – like this woman, being handcuffed by undercover officers – are still refusing to stop their street soliciting.

Still selling sex along the avenue
To get a feel for what’s happening now along 82nd Avenue, we rode along in an unmarked police cruiser with East Precinct’s Sgt. David Golliday – joining a team of police officers running an anti-prostitution mission, a couple of weeks ago.

At different times, Golliday said, he’s been working such missions over the last 4 ½ years.

Looking back over the summer months, Golliday said he’d witnessed the marked increase in street prostitution first-hand. “With that came more crime issues, livability issues, and more complaints from both neighbors and businesses. And, we’ve had more violence. We’ve had two alleged pimps killed – and prostitutes have been assaulted.”

Prostitution allegedly in progress
As “spotters” report known prostitutes on the police radio – and those behaving as if they are trying to pick up customers – we watched a fairly young woman, reportedly on the stroll, look around at passing cars.

She hopped into a late-model BMW, which ended up in a motel parking lot just south of SE Holgate Boulevard. She got out of the car and walked briskly toward the motel office. Instead of going in to rent a room, she broke out into a full run around the side of the building, southbound on the sidewalk.

With a $100 bill allegedly still in her pocket, this young woman didn’t rent a room at the hotel like she told her “friend” in the car she would – but instead ran next door into an auto parts store restroom, and started trying to change her appearance.

Takes the money and runs
The woman took no notice of the unmarked police car, and almost ran over our hood in the way to the auto parts store next door. Golliday followed her into the store; employees say she locked herself in the employee restroom. The sergeant tapped lightly on the restroom door and asks softly, “Hey, are you all right in there? We’re worried about you. Are you sure you’re OK? Please open the door.”

The young woman opened the door and looked very surprised to see Golliday.

The driver of the BMW told officers the fleeing woman was “a friend of his”. When the gravity of the situation became evident to the man, he was asked if the $100 bill found in the woman’s possession was his, he said that it was. He seemed surprised to learn that the woman had not gone into the hotel, but instead, took off running when she was out of his sight, and was caught trying to change her appearance.

The driver of this BMW lost more than his $100 – his car is now being towed because he was charged with soliciting prostitution.

Shows she “knows the system”
Until the woman suspected of soliciting prostitution – or, on this occasion, being a rip-off artist – could be transported in another squad car, she was temporarily seated in the back of Golliday’s vehicle.

At first, the woman spoke softly and sweetly, telling Golliday that “It was all a mistake” and she’d “never been involved in prostitution”. Her demeanor changed when the sergeant told her she’d been under surveillance and they’d seen the entire transaction.

“At least you can’t exclude me!” she shouted, her speech now loaded with expletives. “They’ve dumped the Prostitution-free Zone. I don’t care if you do take me to jail. I don’t care if you arrest me. Downtown (in the Justice Center), its book-and-release. I’ll be back out here working later tonight!” she shrieked.

Hopes City’s new treatment plan is successful
Asked if he felt discouraged because of the “revolving jail door” downtown, Golliday responded, “These missions, alone, are helping to reduce the problem.”

Referring to the City of Portland’s new plan to treat convicted prostitutes, the sergeant added, “What we want is get convicted prostitutes on probation, so we can use that to get them involved in social services programs. This program will have sufficient bed space to get them off the street and help them learn life skills so they can stay the street.”

If they choose not to participate, he added, they can be excluded from (high prostitution) areas without exception – meaning they can be arrested for merely strolling along 82nd Avenue.

“I think with aggressive enforcement, the District Attorney’s office working diligently on these cases, and the judges putting these women on probation status – plus the social services aspect – we could see street-level prostitution reduced significantly.”

In the next Street Sex Update:
We’ll question neighbors to see if the new program is really working. And, we’ll grill two Multnomah County District Attorneys regarding how this judicial strategy works.

Also, has the City actually followed up, and contracted for residential treatment for prostitutes?

Check back next week – you’ll get the answers, right here at, East Portland News.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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