Officials aren’t talking about the circumstances, but some
speculate the elderly man suffers from dementia …

The report of a double shooting – and a victim inside a home – bring a substantial police response to this Woodstock neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many neighbors along SE 42nd Avenue, in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood just a few blocks north of former Mayor Tom Potter’s residence, were surprised by a massive police response as patrol cars converged at the corner of SE Cora Street before 8:00 a.m. on January 16.

In the driveway of the modest home, snuggled into the hillside on the northeast corner of the intersection, officers found 49-year-old Mark Myers with a gunshot wound to the stomach. He told police he was shot by his adoptive father, 92-year-old John Wesley Myers.

Officers measure and check over the crime scene, marked out by red tape.

Traffic was halted throughout the morning while detectives examine the crime scene.

Special Emergency Reaction Team officers were activated, because officers learned that a second victim was still inside the home, along with her 12-year-old son and the suspect.

“After loud-hailing, the suspect he did come out and talk with officers,” said police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz at the scene. A neighbor said the elderly Myers looked unsteady as he stood in his bathrobe talking to officers and later walked away with them.

“Officers entered the residence and found a second victim who appeared to have a very serious wound, shot in the head,” Schmautz reported. “A Rottweiler dog was standing guard on the couch, as if protecting a female gunshot victim.”

Because the dog wouldn’t budge, and victim, identified as 43-year-old Kim Macintosh, appeared “gravely injured”, Schmautz said an officer made the decision to shoot the dog. Both gunshot victims were transported to Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital where Myers now in serious condition.

Kim Macintosh died a week later, on January 23, from injuries she sustained in the shooting.

In the driveway, marked off by red police tape, officers found one of the victims suffering from a chest gunshot wound.

The two shooting victims are the adopted children of John Myers, and the victims are brother and sister, police detectives said. Neighbors suggested that Macintosh was acting as the primary caregiver for the elderly Myers.

Detectives processing the crime scene had not determined a motive for the crime as of the time we spoke with Schmautz. “John Myers has been charged with two counts of Attempted Murder, and was lodged into the Justice Center Jail.” He was arraigned on January 20, but did not enter a plea, pending an evaluation.

Police arrested this man, John Wesley Myers, on two counts of Attempted Murder.

Relatives reportedly said John Myers had several shotguns in his home because he was an ardent bird hunter. Further, Mackintosh told them she believed that when her dad began showing symptoms of mental instability, she’d removed the ammunition from the home.

Mackintosh’s son, age 12, described as severely autistic, was found hiding in the home when police searched the house; he has been placed in temporary foster care.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Molly Dahl at (503) 823-0991 or Detective Rico Beniga at (503) 823-0692.

Sgt. Brian Schmautz talks with reporters about the double shooting after the victims were transported to OHSU for medical care.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Officials don’t know why this suspected gang member allegedly whipped out his pistol and started shooting at the AM/PM Mini-Mart on SE Holgate Boulevard. But, find out what police did about it – and what steps they’re taking to halt gang violence …

After unsuccessfully negotiating the purchase of a cigar at this ARCO AM/PM Mini-market, witnesses say the shooter headed north [toward the camera] and opened fire at a vehicle parked in an auto repair shop’s driveway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even the sound of a truck backfiring makes folks throughout outer East Portland duck for cover, as gang member gunplay increases.

On January 14 – this time, in the Lents area – gunfire broke out, as a suspected gang member opened fire at the intersection of SE Holgate Boulevard and SE 92nd Avenue.

“The suspect had gone into the market,” Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz told us. “When he came out of the market, it appears as if shots were fired. Because of the close proximity to the store, there is surveillance video of the crime occurring.”

Shooting shatters innocent’s window
According to the office manager at R-Boes Automotive repair shop across Holgate from the AM/PM market, a car pulled into their lot around 2:15 p.m. “The car just sat there. Then we heard gunshots, and saw a man running toward us (north) shooting at the car; maybe a half-dozen shots.”

Apparently the gunman’s aim wasn’t good; his target vehicle escaped without damage, she said.

However, a Lexus SUV driven by Maria Swearingen – she was heading westbound on SE Holgate Boulevard, approaching the 92nd Avenue intersection – was hit by at least two bullets that shattered the vehicle’s rear window. “She wasn’t involved in any way with the suspect or his intended target,” Schmautz noted. “She was caught in the cross-fire.”

Traffic along SE 92nd Ave, along Lents Park, was shut down for the afternoon and most of the evening until police convinced the suspect to surrender.

Vigilant citizens finger suspect
“Our mechanics saw the shooting and took off after the guy,” R-Boes’ office manager told us. One hopped into his car to follow [the shooter], and the other ran after him on foot as he ran [east on Holgate then south] on the trail along the freeway. [The mechanics] told police which house he went into.”

The description the mechanics gave the police, and surveillance video footage from the AM/PM market, helped police quickly identify the subject who witnesses said ran into a residence on SE Pardee Street, just a block east of from Lents Park.

Police block off SE Pardee St., just east of SE 92nd Avenue across from Lents Park, where they believe the suspected gangster gunman who shot up an innocent driver’s car is holed up.

Subject unwilling to give up
We asked Schmautz why the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) was called out to the scene.

“At first, the suspect was being loud-hailed by officers,” replied Schmautz. “He didn’t respond to any of the loud-hails. We think the presence of additional equipment and the SERT officers coming into the area got him to change his mind, after he understand that the police were not leaving until he surrendered.”

Finally the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Anthony Dwaine Bell, gave up and came out without further incident.

Finally, the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Anthony Dwaine Bell, gave up without further incident.

SE 92nd Avenue remained closed into the evening hours, as detectives and members of the Gang Enforcement Unit obtained a search warrant.

The following day, we learned that Bell was charged with one count of Attempted Aggravated Murder, two counts of Attempted Aggravated Murder, and one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm. “Investigators believe that there is a direct connection between this incident and recent shootings in both Portland [during a funeral service] and [New Year’s Eve shootings in] Gresham,” Schmautz added.

Commissioner of Police, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman announces “Operation Cool Down” – his plan to crack down on gang violence.

Commissioner calls for a ‘Gang Cool-down’
In response to the upswing of gang violence, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, now in charge of the Police Bureau, announced a mission called “Operation Cool Down” to “focus resources and enforcement on individuals and neighborhoods affected by gang violence”.

At a press conference at Portland City Hall on January 16, Saltzman presented plans to coordinate efforts of the Portland Police Bureau, Gresham Police Department, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, and the United State Attorney’s Office.

Increasing the contact among gang members and police officers will help reduce gang violence, says Portland Police Bureau chief Rosie Sizer. She’s flanked by City of Gresham Mayor Shane T. Bemis and Commissioner Saltzman.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Chief Rosie Sizer said that police efforts in recent years have reduced gang activity. “As it was reduced, there was less of a day-to-day contact between patrol officers and gang members.  That is no longer going to be the case.”

Each police precinct, including East Precinct, she added, will put on officers who can identify gang activity initially. “Then, through in-service training over the next few months, gang unit officers and members of the HotSpot Action Team will teach street officers how to identify gang members, where they’re active, and whether that they may be carrying guns. The overall organizational capacity is going to be enhanced.”

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs listens to the presentation at City Hall before explaining how the two-officer patrol plan has already resulted in arrests.

Two-officer cars target gangsters
After the press conference, we asked Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs to strip away the political rhetoric, and explain how this plan will be executed.

“I’ve told all of my lieutenants on all three shifts to send out as many two-person cars out as possible,” Crebs told us in the Portland City Hall chambers. “The job of these two-person cars is to be looking for potential gang activity and known gang members.”

When officers double up, Crebs explained, they can stop and approach individuals immediately without having to call – and wait – for a backup officer to arrive on scene.

“Officers are looking for specific behaviors, not individuals,” Crebs said. “We want officers to start engaging people and talking to them.”

Plan pays off immediately
“Last night, officers in a two-person patrol car saw a vehicle commit a traffic violation and pulled them over,” the commander said. “In the course of the stop, they ended up recovering two guns and arresting three gang-associated gang individuals. This is just the first step, but it’s an important one.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Dreaming of motor boating to this Willamette River isle – to take family and friends for a delightful picnic ashore? Forget it! Find out why, before, during, and after restoration you can look at – but not touch – this City-owned 45-acre paradise …

David McAllister of Portland Parks & Recreation points out the Holgate Channel where they hope to create a “No Wake” zone.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
More than a year after Robert B. Pamplin Jr., owner of Ross Island Sand & Gravel Company and Community Newspapers, Inc., donated a 44.83 acres parcel of land on the north end of Ross Island to the City of Portland, plans for managing the property were announced in a Portland Parks & Recreation board meeting – held, of all places, on the west side in Multnomah Village.

PP&R’s David McAllister talked about the progress they were making – and some of the challenges they face – in developing a Ross Island Management Plan.

City owns land, but not shoreline
McAllister noted that the donated land parcel excludes the shoreline on the east side of the island, along the Holgate Channel, facing Inner Southeast Portland. “Another 15 acres of island land in the area is to be negotiated in good faith in the future, but there’s no guarantee.”

The northern tip of the island is owned by the Port of Portland. Ross Island Sand & Gravel owns a southern portion, and the waters inside the lagoon are owned by the State of Oregon, and are open for public use.

Endowment helps restoration
Along with the donation agreement, Pamplin included a $100,000 endowment to help with the city’s efforts to complete major wildland reclamation work by 2013. The endowment also passes the obligation to meet the reclamation requirement on to the City of Portland.

“We’ve done a vegetation survey of the property,” McAllister said. “It is in severely degraded condition, and overrun with invasive species. In spite of its condition, it is being used by nesting birds.”

Dredge mining was discontinued in 2000, and an objective of the reclamation plan is to improve endangered species’ fish habitat, explained McAllister. “Fish can spend some time in the lagoon before they out-migrate.”

McAllister explains the bureau’s efforts to create a Ross Island Management Plan to the PP&R board members.

Four commitments outlined
The Parks official said they’ve developed four main commitments in the Ross Island Management Plan:

  • Develop a habitat plan for City-owned property;
  • Manage the island property as a natural area;
  • Control the invasive species and restore habitat in the island; and
  • Manage the habitat.

“We have no other total-water access parks,” McAllister mentioned. “The Parks Bureau didn’t own a boat; we had to buy one.”

Look, but don’t touch
If you’ve dreamed of motor boating to Ross Island to enjoying a picnic lunch, with the Portland skyline as your backdrop – this will never become a reality, we learned.

“A restriction [in the plan] is NO public use,” stated McAllister. “We want people to love the island, but not ‘love it to death’. But we are looking at ways of providing information access, in a limited way, for environmental education.”

This past October, the Parks Bureau started developing an agreement with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to enforce the policy of keeping citizens from coming ashore on this City park. “We’re developing signs, to let people know it’s off limits.”

Motor boats to be banned
“We’re also working on a ‘No Wake’ proposal,” McAllister continued. “We want to reduce all of the high power watercraft in the Holgate Channel. This will reduce wildlife disturbance and soil erosion, and provide a pleasant place for people to recreate.”

In addition to the “No Wake” demarcation, the bureau hopes to enlist the aid of groups like Willamette Riverkeepers and the Portland Audubon Society to propose a ban of ALL motorized watercraft in the lagoon to the Oregon State Marine Board. Citizens will be allowed to “experience the lagoon” in a kayak or rowboat.

This map shows the portion of Ross Island now owned by the City of Portland that you may view – from shore – but not touch.

Short term steps
“We’re using the endowment to work with the Bureau of Environmental Services on a re-vegetation plan,” McAllister explained. “First, we’ll remove the invasive species. After a couple of years, we’ll replant the area with native plants, then make sure they take hold.”

The next step, he said, is to develop a management plan. “The plan will be created with pubic involvement, and will emphasize the visual nature of the island,” said McAllister. “We will develop was of providing access, but not like people may think. We will encourage participation, but without actually being on the site.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why police detectives say that stealing a few bucks, under false pretences, really is more than a petty crime. Perhaps YOU can help …

Portland Police Bureau Southeast Precinct Detective Dan Andrew shows a “donation sheet” signed by victims of the suspect’s door-to-door solicitation fraud.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One might think that door-to-door solicitors asking for donations for non-existent causes constitute a pretty inconsequential scam. But, a Portland Police Bureau detective, building a case against one of these scam artists, said there is more to such a criminal enterprise than simply cheating citizens out of a few dollars on a false pretext.

Just after noon on December 28th, Eastmoreland neighbors called police when they suspected that band of door-to-door solicitors were fakes.

“Neighbors on SE Glenwood Street [in Eastmoreland] said three suspicious subjects were going door-to- door attempting to collect money for the Grant High School basketball program,” reported police spokesperson Officer Catherine Kent.

“They told officers that the suspects could not answer questions about the program, and appeared older than high school age,” continued Kent. “Officers arrived in the area and located a suspect in the area of SE 32nd Avenue and SE Tolman Street who matched the description they were given.”

Suspect is known to detectives
Although his accomplices were not located or identified, officers arrested 19-year-old Antone Marquece Foster, and charged him with Theft by Deception after he was identified by the victims, according to Kent.

“This isn’t his first time,” Portland Police Bureau Southeast Precinct Detective Dan Andrew told us. “Foster was arrested and charged for Theft in March, 2008, when he was canvassing neighborhoods in NE Portland, soliciting money for an AAU basketball tournament. He was arrested again in September of 2007 for soliciting funds in North Portland for the Jefferson High School basketball program. He wasn’t affiliated with any of these schools.”

Pot in his pocket
When he was arrested this time, Andrew said, Foster had $89 in his possession. “He also had three baggies of marijuana. So, if people believe that they were giving him money for a good cause, perhaps this money was simply used to supply himself and his crew with marijuana. We don’t think this is a good cause.”

The detective said fake solicitors tend to deter people from donating to legitimate charities. “They are selfish people who are denying other people the ability to receive charitable donations because neighbors have given to them, and because of their bad experience, may not then give to legitimate organizations.”

Prelude to other crimes
While not accusing Foster of other crimes, Detective Andrew said that this individual, on other occasions, printed fake “donation sheets” on which he collected information from unsuspecting neighbors – including personal information. “This could be used for identity fraud.”

Further, as with other scamming solicitors, these visits might have been a prelude to burglary. “It’s an easy way – a semi-legitimate-appearing way – for a criminal to case a house,” noted Andrew. “If no one is home, the residence might become a burglary target. Or, during warm weather, they may come in the screen door and grab a laptop computer or purse. They are specifically looking for ‘crimes of opportunity’.”

Help stop fake solicitors
Andrew advises not to give money to door-to-door solicitors. “Really think about someone who is at your door asking for a donation. If you give to a fraudulent solicitor, in a sense you’re helping to enable and perpetuate their criminal activity. It’s easy to check out legitimate charities using the Internet.”

If your area has an active Neighborhood Watch program, Andrew added, let your neighbors know you think a scam artist is working your street. “Get the best description you can of the person. Come out and see if there is a vehicle associated with the solicitors – and get the license plate. Don’t be afraid to walk out to the end of your walkway to see where he is going. If they see you’re paying such close of attention, though, they’ll probably move on. Then, call and report it to our non-emergency number, (503) 823-3333.”

Police say they suspect that this man, Antone Marquece Foster, keeps fleecing unwitting neighbors, and officers need the help of victims to make the theft charges stick. Foster was arrested in Eastmoreland, after neighbors suspected he was a fake and reported it.

Asks victims to come forward
Many victims give because they want to help the cause, reported Andrew. Others give because they are afraid of “brick through the window” retaliation. Nevertheless, the frauds add up to good money. A scam artist can take in $150 within an hour or two.

Andrew said that scam artists get more confident over time. Because scammers collected only a dollar here, or five dollars there, they figure they won’t get prosecuted, because people who’ve been cheated will not follow through with the charges.

“Right now, we’re ‘up to here’ with this kind of behavior,” affirmed Andrew. “We want to see that these people are prosecuted, but we need victims to come forward – even if they were only taken for a couple of dollars.”

If believe you’ve been a victim, call Detective Dan Andrew at (503) 823-5031.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Why did folks from this outer East Portland neighborhood give coffee mugs to all the officers and workers in East Precinct? We’ve got the answer right here …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs receives the first Argay coffee mug from Argay Neighborhood Association Chair Valerie Curry.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We wondered what was happening, when we saw Argay Neighborhood Association chair Valerie Curry getting a couple of East Precinct cops to help her carry large and obviously-heavy cardboard boxes into the police station.

During a break in last month’s East Precinct Citizen’s Advisory meeting, we found out, when Curry presented a wrapped gift to Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs. “Its our way of saying ‘Thank you for all you do’,” Curry told Crebs as they stood before nearly 80 people who were at the meeting.

Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer admires her new coffee mug.

Curry also gave a coffee mug to Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer. The chief politely thanked Curry as she examined the gift and noted the mugs were green, the official color of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department.

Curry informed Chief Sizer, “This is the official color of our neighborhood association – it’s called ‘Argay Green’!”

Upon closer inspection, we observed that the coffee cups feature the Argay Neighborhood Association logo on one side, and the Portland Police Bureau shield on the other.

These substantial coffee mugs are a token of appreciation from the Argay neighbors to their cops, according to their association’s chair.

Asked how the idea of making mugs for Crebs and Sizer came up, Curry told us, “We wanted to say thank you. There’s not enough public support in Portland for the police.”

Curry added, “The boxes we were carrying in are full of coffee mugs. We made up 144 cups, so all of the police officers and East Precinct workers could have one.”

Meet the Argay neighbors on January 20
If you live in the Argay Terrace area – it’s located east of Parkrose, and runs along the south bank of the Columbia River – consider coming to an association meeting and getting involved in reducing crime and improving livability.

Their General meeting is on January 20, and gets underway at 7:00 p.m. at the Portland Fire Station Training Center, 4800 NE 122nd Avenue. To see their website, CLICK HERE. Or, for more information, call (503) 256-5579 or e-mail to argayinfo@yahoo.com.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Don’t let cold winter weather rob you by stealing the heating energy from your home!  Find out about these FREE classes coming to outer East Portland right there …

Community Energy Project’s Weatherization Workshop Coordinator, Loni Silva, shows some of the simple, energy-saving products that can cut drafts and save money.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Folk all over East Portland are learning how to keep their home or apartment from getting cold and drafty when the winter winds blow at free classes offered by an independent, non-profit organization called Community Energy Project (CEP).

CEP’s Weatherization Workshop Coordinator, Loni Silva, was getting ready for a presentation in SE Portland last month when she told us about the 60 free, do-it-yourself oriented classes CEP offers during the winter months for renters and homeowners.

“These classes are important, now,” Silva began, “especially during this economic crisis when people are short on money. We show people many simple things they can do to reduce their energy bills at home. Using these tips, they can save money on utility bills and make their home or comfortable process.”

None of the projects they discuss requires a contractor, Silva added. “These are things that you can do yourself on a free Saturday to make yourself more comfortable.”

Hands-on classes
Some of the tips and techniques taught during their classes can be found on their Internet website, Silva said – but the classes provide hands-on, interactive demonstrations. “Instead of reading about it, people who come to our classes get to practice doing it – and go home feeling less intimidated by the tasks we teach.”

Some of the projects include:

  • Putting weather-stripping on doors;
  • Using energy-saving light bulbs;
  • Installing gaskets on outside wall electrical outlets; and
  • Wrapping hot water pipes with insulation.

Silva said the best energy-saving tip of all is to learn how to look for “energy leaks” that can be simply fixed – and not to put it off! “You don’t have to be handy. If you take one step today, you’ll start saving money, dollar by dollar, that adds up to real money over the course of the season.”

Calking can keep the winter’s wind a bay, Silva tells the class

Free materials for low-income attendees
The courses are free, and open to everyone, Silva mentioned. “And for people who are income qualified, they also get $150 in energy-saving materials to take home at the end of the class.” Watch for the announcements of future classes in the area.

Workshops come to outer East Portland
If you’re interested in staying warmer and saving money, call (503) 284-6827 x108 and register for one of these free classes in January:

  • January 14 – 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm at Snow Cap, 17805 SE Stark St.
  • January 21 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Lent School, 5105 SE 97th Ave
  • January 27 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Alice Ott SUN School, 12500 SE Ramona St.

For more information, call (503) 284-6827, or visit their website by CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Outgoing Portland Mayor Tom Potter didn’t get to take a dip, but come along on the sneak preview Portland Parks officials arranged him at the East Portland Community Center Aquatic Center …

Outgoing Portland Mayor Tom Potter is all smiles as he starts his tour of the soon-to-be-opened East Portland Community Center Aquatic Center.  The shark in the background is actually a little kid’s water slide.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Snow was blowing sideways when Mayor Tom Potter visited the East Portland Community Center Aquatic Center on December 19.

It wasn’t the celebration that Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) planned for neighbors and community leaders – but, because he was down to his last few days in office, they wanted to make sure Potter got a special sneak preview of the facility they said he helped to build.

Mayor Potter, PP&R project manager Richard Bosch, and PP&R’s director Zari Santner together tour the new East Portland natatorium.

Complete, after ten years
PP&R project manager Richard Bosch recounted the history of the soon-to-be-opened pool addition, as he and other officials walked Potter around the recently-completed section of the Community Center.

“The East Portland Community Center was completed in 1998,” Bosch began. “At that time, we had intended – we’d hoped – to build a swimming pool. In fact, a swimming pool design had been already committed to a schematic drawing.”

However, plans for the pool dried up when the Parks’ bond measure failed in 1998. And, the pool was again put off when a levy measure failed in May of 2002.

But, when the Parks bond measure was approved in November of 2002, the bureau dove into the project and started construction a year ago, Bosch said.

“We did not expect the prices of steel and concrete would go up so high,” PP&R’s director Zari Santner chimed in. “It was then we started to realize that we didn’t have enough money to complete the project. We’re grateful that the City Council authorized the funding to finish it.”

Even the wide-angle lens doesn’t fully capture the massive size of the new Aquatic Center.

Family-friendly features
As we walked into the 15,000 square foot “natatorium” (from the Latin cella natatoria, translating to “a swimming pool in its own building”), Abbe MacFarlane, the center’s director, pointed out the five family changing areas that are provided, in addition to men’s and women’s locker rooms. “These solve the changing-room problem that arises when a mother brings her sons, or a father brings his daughters, to enjoy the pool.”

This Aquatic Center isn’t simply one huge pool – it’s divided into two primary areas.

On the south end is a 2,886 square foot, 90,000 gallon, lap pool. To the north is the 4,500 square foot, 120,000 gallon, leisure pool.

Amenities in the leisure pool include a:

  • 136 foot long water slide,
  • 118 foot long “Current Channel”,
  • Vortex whirlpool, 14′ diameter,
  • Little Tot Slide (it’s the “Shark” in the pool’s northwest corner),
  • Fireflies, and crown jets, and
  • Hydrotherapy Bench

The east section of the leisure pool features the giant water slide (in the background) as well as the Vortex and Current Channel.

We asked Eric Ridenour from SERA Architects to describe the Current Channel and Vortex features in the leisure pool.

“These are the two concentric circles south of the water slide,” Ridenour pointed out. “The water swirls rapidly in the center Vortex; and then slows down to about five miles per hour in the Current Channel. One can float on the water and ride with the current, but it was primarily designed for people to walk against the current for exercise and to get physical therapy benefits.”

On such a cold, winter’s day, the 2,000 square foot hot-tub Spa looked inviting. About 17 people can enjoy the hot tub, Ridenour said.

Want to swim laps? A separate pool allows serious swimmers to exercise without having to dodge those who come to the pool for pleasure.

Accommodates all levels of ability
In the northwest corner, in the youngsters’ swimming area, is an unusual feature for a public pool – a ramp that gradually goes down from the side, through the top surface of the water, and down into the depths of the pool.

In both the leisure and lap pools, power-lift seats can be raised to the level of a wheelchair, which can then lower disabled swimmers into the water.

For high-spirited splashers, there’s a giant waterslide – the towering, zig-zagging structure dominating the building. And, those wanting to exercise by swimming strokes can do so undisturbed in the five-lane lap pool.

PP&R project manager Richard Bosch explains to Portland’s outgoing mayor Tom Potter how the pumps and filters in the equipment room keep the water safe and flowing.

Hidden systems revealed
Lisa Petterson, also with SERA Architects, pointed out that even the natatorium’s air-handling system was designed and built with subtleties.

“We didn’t want air blowing across people who are standing in the wading pool since that would make them feel chilled,” Petterson explained. “And, we still needed to have sufficient air-handling capabilities to remove moisture-laden air containing the sanitizing chlorine vapors. It’s quite an engineering feat.”

In the equipment room, hidden away some distance from the pools, Petterson pointed out the high-power pumps that drive the Vortex, Current Channel, slide jets, and sanitizing tanks. The automated sanitizing equipment keeps just enough disinfectant in the water to keep it safe, without over-chlorinating the water.

Mayor Potter eyes the Hot Tub
As the tour was winding down, Potter smiled and nodded his approval of the project. “I think this is wonderful,” he told us. “And, I think it’s long overdue for the people of outer East Portland. I know this place is going to be well-used. Children will love it, adults will love it, and senior citizens will love it.”

“If you had your swimming suit on today, where would you go first?” we asked Potter.

“The Vortex and Current Channel look really interesting to me,” Potter replied. “To be able to walk against it or ride around in it looks fun. And, especially seeing the snow blowing outside, I think I would take a nice long relaxing sit in the hot tub!”

Potter says the East Portland Community Center’s new Aquatic Center is “everyone’s legacy”.

Considers the pool “Potter’s legacy”
We asked Potter if new facility could be considered his legacy in outer East Portland.

“I think it’s everyone’s legacy,” Potter replied graciously. “In a sense, it’s [Parks Bureau] Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s legacy – and all of the people who believed in it, and worked hard to see this concept become a reality.”

Santner countered, “If it weren’t for Mayor Tom Potter, and his leadership convincing other City Counselors to provide the funds to build this pool, we could not have built it the way we needed to do it. He made this project a priority. That’s why we wanted to make sure that he saw it completed before he left office.”

Potter smiled, looked down and responded, “It’s really the community’s legacy; they’re the ones who said this is what they wanted. It took us 10 years to get around to doing it. I think it’s going to be well-used and enjoyed for years to come.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out why “Mayor Sam” chose outer East Portland for his public swearing-in ceremony. Also, see our exclusive photos, and read the full text of Adams’ remarks, right here …

Parkrose School District Board Chair James Woods Ph.D. checks over his opening remarks, while superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray awaits the swearing-in ceremony for Sam Adams to begin, at the Parkrose High School Theater.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Perhaps you’ve seen the 60-second TV version of the story: At the Parkrose High School Theater, about 400 people gathered on January 5th to witness Sam Adams’ public Mayoral swearing-in ceremony.

But, there’s more to the story which you might find interesting: Why Parkrose High was chosen, and want was said at the occasion by its participants.

Superintendent on Adams ‘Education Cabinet’
We asked Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray why she thought Parkrose was chosen as the location for this event.

“I think it came about because I am doing quite bit of work with the Mayor’s office, and will be part of his ‘education cabinet’. While he was preparing to take office, the superintendents of Portland area school districts met with him to talk about the things they think are important about improving education.”

Gray added that she feels thoroughly delighted and excited about the swearing-in ceremony being in Parkrose. “I feel honored and privileged.  I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Sam Adams in the months and years ahead.”

At the event on January 5, Parkrose High Principal Roy Reynolds commented, “There’s no better place that represents Portland than Parkrose. With the diversity here – the broad spectrum of students, and the community that we serve – Parkrose is Portland’s future.”

Dr. James Woods, Chair of the Parkrose School Board, introduces the event with theatrical allusions.

Introduction laced with theatrical allusions
The Chair of the Parkrose School Board, Dr. James Woods, revealed an irrepressible sense of humor as he began the program.

“This setting is truly appropriate, here in the theater,” Woods began. “While the ceremony won’t have the grandeur of being tapped on the shoulder with a sword, or being draped in ermine robes, it is the way we do things around here. In keeping with the theatrical motif, we’ll have a chorus out here in a moment. There will be some rote recitation, and if I know my politicians well enough, there will be a least one soliloquy.”

Woods identified several honored guests, beginning with former Mayor Vera Katz.  He also introduced the new slate of Portland City Commissioners: Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz, Randy Leonard, and Dan Saltzman.

The stage curtains open, and the Parkrose High Debonairs, under the direction of Lesley Bossert, sing the National Anthem.

Music and swearing
After the Parkrose High Debonairs sang the National Anthem, Woods introduced the Honorable Judge Jean Kerr Mauer.

Judge Mauer said it was an honor and a privilege for her to administer Sam Adams’ oath of office. “As we know, the public ceremony is an important part of what we ask of our public officials. It is an opportunity for the person who is assuming the office to declare publicly the vow – if you will, the oath – to uphold the law, and to refrain from personal interests. And it is important to all communities that that oath be taken publicly, in a public forum, and in front of members of the community that the public official serves.”

That Mayor Adams selected Parkrose High as the location for his public swearing-in, Mauer noted, “speaks volumes about the importance to him of children and education. Before we move forward with the oath, I like to ask Mayor Adams if he has anything to say at this time.”

Heeeeere’s Sam!
Officials on the stage, and people in the audience, looked around for Sam Adams – he was nowhere in sight. Nevertheless, they started applauding for him. Adams then walked out through the center of the closed curtains on the theater stage, and the applause grew even louder.

“I guess I’ve gotten so used to waiting to become mayor,” Adams quipped, “I was backstage wondering ‘How do I know when to come out?’  …There are a couple of things I need to do before I go any further.”

Mayor Adams gives Dr. Karen Fischer Gray a bouquet – and a hug – as he did with several other family members and dignitaries in the audience.

Brings bouquets to family and supporters
With an armload of floral bouquets, Adams strode down into the audience and gave flowers to his grandmother, to former Mayor Vera Katz, to Parkrose Schools Superintendent Gray, and to several other individuals.

Adams also introduced his father, seated midway in the auditorium remarking, “He is shy”.

Judge Mauer administers the oath of the mayor’s office to Sam Adams.

Back on stage, Adams rejoined Judge Mauer, and took the oath of his new office.

He repeated after the judge, “I, Sam Adams, do solemnly affirm that I will support the constitutions of the United States and of the State of Oregon, the charter of the City of Portland and its laws; and will faithfully, honestly, and ethically perform my duties as Mayor of the City of Portland.

“I have no undisclosed financial interest in any business located in Portland, or having any contracts with the city. I hold no other office or position of profit, and I am not a member of any partisan political committee.”

Sam Adams addresses his first audience as Portland’s mayor.

The audience applauded enthusiastically as Portland Mayor Sam Adams turned to address the audience. He began his speech saying, “My name is Sam Adams, and I am thrilled to be your mayor. I thank the judge for swearing me in, and I thank the Parkrose Broncos for their excellent hospitality.”

Adams’ remarks, in their entirety, appear at the end of this article.

Reverend William Lupfer provides the convocation closing the event.

Channels power to Adams
Closing the formal program, Reverend William Lupfer asked that all audience members to put their hand on the shoulder the person next to them. “I realize it might be a little touchy-feely for some in this crowd, but we want to channel all of the energy in this room in towards Sam; please do what you do when you pray.

“Holy and life-giving Spirit, we ask your blessing and care upon Sam upon his person,” Lupfer began. “We know the only way that he can lead is with a healthy soul.  So we thank you for Sam; we ask you to strengthen him.”

In his prayer, Lupfer asked of those in City government that “… some of the rivalry and squabbling be relaxed a bit, [that] they may come together in an unusual and powerful way to be a symbol of how all people in Portland can come together.”

Former Portland Mayor Vera Katz enthusiastically answers questions posed by a television news reporter after the ceremony.

The Parkrose High stage fills with well-wishers who greet Mayor Adams.

Celebration, with punch and cookies
At the conclusion of the official ceremony, the stage curtains swept open, revealing tables laden with cookies, punch and coffee.

The Chair of Parkrose Neighborhood Association, Mary Walker, greets Sam Adams.

Parkrose Business Association board member Marsha Lee, of Copy Express, gets a hug from Portland’s new mayor.

Mayor Sam Adams’ remarks

Mayor Sam Adams addresses officials and citizens at his inauguration.

“What a glorious and quirky city we have. Where else can you buy a donut designed to look like ‘dirt’?  Or browse one of the world’s largest bookstores and then walk a couple of blocks to the world’s smallest park. There is a reason experts always seem to rank us so high. As the nation’s most livable city, the best city for seniors, the best city for walkers — a city known for its bikers and hikers; food and flowers; beer and bridges.

“The reason for all this is clear: That reason is you. Us. All of us. Because we have created this think-different, keep-it-real, improve-the-world kind of culture; a culture of sustainability, a culture you can’t find just anywhere else. It is the reason why Portland is a city we can love. And it’s those values that position us to thrive at this moment of transition and transformation.

“Portland has also become what it is, in part, because of our leaders. Like Mayor Tom Potter. He brought youth, immigrants, Portlanders of color into civic decision-making. Like Mayor Bud Clark.  He boosted the city’s rainy day fund from a few thousand dollars to $20 million. And like my dear friend, Mayor Vera Katz. She created beautiful Portland places like the esplanade that circles the Willamette. Thank you. We are better people and a better place because of you.

“And before I go further, I want to thank my family, like my brother and sisters, my Mom and Dad; my boyfriend, Peter; and all the friends who keep me grounded and accountable. I love you guys.

“It’s a new year, and now Portland has new leadership. The 2009 City Council brims with fresh ideas. Please stand up. Auditor Gary Blackmer; Commissioners Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz, Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman: I am excited to work with you. We are a small team with big plans, a city council willing to take on smart but unconventional ideas that give Portland its standout innovations.  Also: Portland has strong bureau management and dedicated city workers. You will help us steer a constructive course.  I have a tremendous team: perhaps the best mayoral staff in public service today, anywhere. Will my team please stand up?

“Together – with all Portlanders – we will make the city even better. Because Portland is better together and because Portland belongs to all of us.

“We will do more than just push back on the problems that confront us.  Together, we will push ahead.  Our goals are tough but doable. Make Portland the greenest city on earth.  Stoke our capacity for creativity and groundbreaking innovation.  Brand and sell Portland-made products and services around the globe.  Find more of our people family-wage jobs and affordable housing.  Keep Portlanders safe.  And, regardless of neighborhood or race or household income, educate all of our kids to world-class standards.

“As mayor, I will take risks to innovate. I will be grateful to those who help.  If things don’t work out as expected, I will take responsibility for failures.  To those who disagree with me, let’s not be disagreeable.  I promise to listen to you. Your ideas may be better than mine and your participation makes us stronger.  Because Portland is better together.

“Our community, of course, has problems — big problems – and fixing them will be tough.  The work might go slow.  This will be frustrating, at times. But we need to recognize that our problems can also offer us opportunities.  One thing is absolutely certain: Despite the worst economic recession in 60 years bearing down on us, Portland cannot wait; the time to move is now.

“To set a standard of action, in coming weeks I will announce my plans for the first 100 days in office.  To set a standard of inclusion, I will soon announce my citizen mayoral cabinet members.

“In addition to supporting the work of my council colleagues, as mayor, my focus is on jobs, education and sustainable planning. Let’s talk about jobs first.

Jobs
“Almost three out of ten Portlanders are unemployed or make so little they can barely afford basic essentials like food.  This means the city needs more family-wage jobs. Good jobs that come from successful and ethical businesses.  The City Council will work to support such companies to open, expand and stay here.  And we have already started.

“The resurgent Portland Development Commission and Governor Ted Kulongoski last month helped us attract the proposed North American headquarters of Vestas Wind Systems. That’s 850 more jobs and a quarter of a billion dollars in a private-sector investment in Portland.  Now we need our legislature to approve the deal.

“To help businesses more immediately, the Portland City Council this month will unveil the city’s first local job creation and economic stimulus package.  I intend it to include scholarships so people recently laid off can get training at our Worksource Centers and community colleges.  Also, I want provisions in the stimulus package to give local companies – and companies that hire local workers – “buy local” preferences in awarded city contracts.

“To build our local economy on a firm foundation of accountability, we aim to integrate these and other efforts into an economic development plan.  And, as Mayor, I am putting out the city’s ‘welcome mat’ to businesses.

Schools
“Another area of focus for me is schools. Here’s one figure that scares me.  Count off four eighth graders. One. Two.  Three.  Four.  In Portland, chances are that two of them will drop out of high school.

“Making sure our children graduate high school is more than an ethical thing; it is a smart investment in our future prosperity.  Our economy hinges on an educated workforce.

“So, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler and I have created a new education improvement partnership with local school districts and local school foundations.  We are collecting the best ideas on how to reduce the dropout rate.  Here is one idea.  Studies show that 8th graders going on to 9th grade are more likely to excel academically if
they get workplace experience during their summer vacation.

“So let’s help our students get the experience they need.  Let’s create the Portland Youth Corps.  For the summer of 2009, just five months away, the Portland Youth Corp would need 250 adults to volunteer as coaches.  These coaches will partner with employers to welcome young people to the workplace. You will be asked.

“Schools make the American Dream possible.  We need our families and teachers to educate our students to first class standards so all our children can soar.  Yes, education costs money.  Ignorance costs more. Let’s invest now.

Sustainability
“My third priority is sustainability. Sustainability means meeting our needs without compromising our children’s ability to thrive.  It means economic, social and environmental justice.

“We all know which bad habits that contribute to this planet’s potential environmental doom. We rely on a dwindling supply of fossil fuels. Burning them, poisons our atmosphere. Our climate is changing faster than experts expected.

“Here’s a silver lining to this toxic cloud:  Portland is the ideal starting place for this nation to get serious about environmental sustainability.  We can show what’s possible, setting an example the rest of the world can follow.  And we can prove sustainability pays off.  Our economy benefits from an estimated $2.6 billion annual green dividend. Portlanders get money back into their pockets through the automobile miles not driven, worse congestion not experienced and pollution not breathed.  Our green dividend grew from public investments in transit and land-use planning.

“Portland may be the greenest city in the country.  That’s no longer good enough.  We aim to be the greenest city on earth. We can do this with thoughtful planning that integrates Portland’s value of sustainability into everything we do.  I want to see this philosophy put into action with the completion of the Portland Plan, a blueprint for the next 30 years.

“The Portland Plan will put density where density belongs and shape our city so that the necessities of a good life, like grocery stores, are a 20-minute walk from home.

“But we need more than planning.  We need more sustainable ‘doing’, too.

“So, I am thrilled today to join the Governor and the Oregon University System to announce the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center, to be located in the Portland State University district.  Governor Kulongoski has included $80 million of state bonds in his proposed budget to help pay for it.  Thank you, Governor.

“A green revolution is about to bloom across America.  Let’s make Portland the hub.

Better Together
“In closing, I want to repeat a quote that I used on the campaign trail: The Scottish writer Alasdair Gray once wrote, ‘Work as if we are living in the early days of a better nation.’

“To me, this means working with a young nation spirit of belonging to something you can believe in. Even in the toughest of times, Portlanders never let our “young nation” spirit die. At our best, Portlanders do more than just push back on problems.  We push ahead. If we can channel our collective energy for the common good, there’s no stopping us, no problem we can’t solve, no opportunity we cannot seize.

“In the coming days, the City Council will announce an initiative that will make it easier for Portlanders to pitch in. Imagine a Portland with more people like Matt Todd, a city maintenance worker I met in December during a late-night ride-a-long on a city plow.

“Matt volunteers as a groundskeeper for Jefferson High School.  Nobody asked him to, but every summer, he mows and edges the sports fields.  He keeps the school’s outdated irrigation system functioning.  He spends many, many hours making the fields look better. Matt has respect, appreciation and fulfillment that come with improving a piece of Portland.  Thank you, Matt.

“I will work hard as your mayor to make Portland even better. And I ask that you work at it, too: because Portland is better together, and the responsibility for its care belongs to all of us.

“We need everyone’s help to move Portland forward, so I will close by paraphrasing a hero of mine, Harvey Milk, a great city leader, “My name is Sam Adams, and I’m here to recruit you!”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Folks at the Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division wondered whether the snowy weather would leave needy families without food boxes for the holidays. Boy, were they surprised when then opened the station house door! Find out who showed up …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Police Cadets Andrea Ettlin, Colton Sharmen, Ryan Mele, and Jose Perez get ready to load food boxes into the vehicles of drivers who await to take them to needy families.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The wacky winter weather on the morning of December 20 worried Cliff Madison, retired Portland Police Commander, and Chairman of the Sunshine Division’s board of directors. He, and everyone else involved with the annual food box delivery program, wondered if anyone would brave the sideways-blowing snow and predicted blizzard.

“Here at East Precinct,” Madison said that day, “We have 554 boxes of food – complete dinners, including meat and bread – that need to be delivered, today.”

While the food drive distribution materials were being organized by members of the Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Police Cadets in the station’s garage, folks started filling in the Community Room, awaiting dispatch on their seasonal mission of mercy.

Thanks to many drivers from outer East Portland – plus many more from Gresham and East Multnomah County – it looked as if many volunteers had braved the elements to help make deliveries.

Gresham’s Steve and Shannon Jannsen are waiting to get their car loaded with Sunshine Division food boxes in the East Precinct Community Room.

Waiting in the early-morning sub-freezing temperatures, with snow falling and swirling around, volunteer drivers line up in front of East Precinct, ready to receive their cargos of mercy.

Come to ‘share their blessings’
Steve and Shannon Jannsen, who live in Hunter’s Highland in Gresham, warmed up in the precinct’s Community Room before they made their delivery run. “We came to help, because we feel so blessed this year,” Shannon told us. “We wanted to share our blessing with somebody else.”

“My motivation for coming was that I didn’t know if other people would be inclined to come out,” Steve said. “I figure that Christmastime is the best and most appropriate time to show the love of Christ through works; that’s enough motivation for me.”

Before being loaded up to make deliveries, Portland Police Officer Larry Keller gets his delivery instructions and maps from “traffic coordinator” Kandi Marks, an East Precinct employee.

Sunshine Division’s Chair, Cliff Madison, and East Precinct Officer Michael Gallagher, coordinator of the East Precinct Police Cadet program say they’re thrilled with the volunteer turnout on such a nasty morning.

Intrepid drivers lined up on SE 106th Avenue
When they opened the parking garage door, organizers were surprised and delighted to see a line of vehicles that stretched northward to SE Washington Street. Others queued up in the Floyd Light Middle School parking lot.

“The number of drivers here amazes me,” East Precinct Officer Michael Gallagher, coordinator of the East Precinct Police Cadet program, told us. “With these weather conditions, we were concerned we might not have nearly enough drivers to get the boxes delivered before the blizzard sets in this afternoon.”

Eleven East Precinct Police Cadets picked and packed food boxes, meat and bread into cars, trucks, vans – and even an open-air Jeep. Five more Cadets hopped into tire-chained bureau cars and headed out to make distant deliveries.

“Every year, many of our cadets say they look forward to helping out on this project, because they find it so rewarding,” Gallagher commended. “It would be difficult to do without their hard work.”

East Precinct Police Cadets hustle to load cars and trucks, quickly sending them on their way.

Saying he “Just came to help our community”, Joe Short drove in from his home in East Gresham to volunteer for the Sunshine Division deliveries. East Precinct Cadet Adam Hartless loaded Joe’s SUV to the roof with food for the needy.

Many volunteers quickly pack out boxes
In addition to the score of civilian volunteers, cops such as East Precinct Officer Mike Chapman and his wife, Rachel, packed 19 boxes into their car. “We live here in outer East Portland,” Rachel said. “We took boxes to deliver to people in the district he patrols.”

While they didn’t have an exact count, officials estimate about 130 drivers came to drive Sunshine Division food boxes to their destinations.

“The best thing about having so many willing drivers,” Gallagher reflected, “is that all of the boxes were out by 10:30 a.m. – well ahead of the blizzard.”

In addition to encouraging folks to help the Sunshine Division deliver boxes, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs (second from left) and his family themselves headed out with a SUV full of food boxes.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

You might say this bungling crook got clean away – but didn’t get a single cent for his efforts. The victim’s hands weren’t totally clean, though – find out why he was arrested during the investigation …

This Washman car wash on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses at NE Glisan Street sprays down hundreds of vehicles every day – and power-washed a would-be bandit on December 13.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The crime was simple, although perhaps not well-thought-out: Just rob a Montavilla-area carwash, and scoot with some quick cash.

On Saturday, December 13, at 10:42 a.m., a man wearing a skull-stenciled ski mask tried to rob the Washman Carwash, located at 426 NE 81st Avenue of Roses, The suspect approached an employee on foot, pulled a gun from his sweatshirt, and demanded money.

“The suspect dropped the gun, and it appears the gun fell apart,” reported Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Officer Catherine Kent. “The suspect then waved his fist at the employee and demanded money.

These four photos, taken by the car wash’s security cameras, tell the story.

The employee, Chris Truax, walked the suspect over to a booth and opened up the till, as the suspect demanded.

“I wasn’t trying to be a hero,” Truax said. “It just really upset me that this guy was getting into my personal space, even though I was trying to cooperate.” When the masked bandit reached for the money, Truax said he grabbed the power washer and sprayed the suspect in the face.

Perhaps thinking the “skeleton” ski mask would frighten his victim, the suspect charges Truax.

Truax picks up a gun of his own – a high-pressure washer spray gun – and prepares to blast the suspect in the face.

“The suspect fled on foot westbound on NE Everett Street,” Kent reported. “The suspect is described as a white male in his 20’s, 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants, and a white ‘skeleton’ ski mask. The employee described the suspect as having dark eyes and unusually long arms. The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous.”

Becomes a Crime Stoppers case
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357) or leave a tip online at www.crimestoppersoforegon.com.

Victim later arrested
We’d heard that Truax, the victim of the robbery attempt, was later arrested on an unrelated charge.

Kent told us, “Yes, that is correct. Officers discovered an unresolved, seven-year-old DUI warrant during the course of their investigation. He was arrested, and later released.”

“I should have taken care of this long ago,” Truax told reporters. “I’m taking care of it now!”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why volunteers each year turn the outer East Portland DHS office into a delightful wonderland for hundreds of kids during the Holiday season …

Amanda Martinez and Sherry Robinson, children living in foster care, say they’re thankful they can enjoy a delicious Holiday meal and the DHS Holiday Party events.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While many people find the Holidays taxing, consider the stress felt by a child living in foster care at Christmastime.

“When parents are unable to keep their children safe,” explained Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) Social Service Specialist, Mary Boehme, “the children are often placed in foster care with relatives or non-relative families. Parents are given an opportunity to change their circumstances in order to reunite. The Holidays are a difficult time for the children and parents alike.”

For the eighth year in a row, workers at the DHS East Multnomah Branch have worked to make the Holidays bright by hosting a special Christmas party for foster kids. The event has grown over the years; this party hosted more than 200 children with their siblings, parents, and foster parents, from Mid- and East Multnomah County.

Event brings families together
“This time of year, parents of children in foster care often want to be with their kids,” Boehme told us, as the event got underway.

“This party gives kids the opportunity to experience a fun, no-stress event with their visiting parents or foster parents,” Boehme noted. “It’s a way that East Branch can give back to the kids that we serve, and perhaps allow the parents to have some fun time with their kids while they’re in foster care.”

DHS volunteers turn the normally utilitarian-looking visiting rooms at their offices on SE 122nd Avenue into a Holiday wonderland. Cheerfully decorated visiting rooms offer games, crafts, face painting, and cookie-decorating.

Mary Boehme, with the DHS East Branch, gets help from Jeff Dayton and Bill Dayton, owners of Pizza Baron, who present Santa Claus his own Christmas pizza. “It’s like leaving cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, but hot and cheesier,” Bill said.

Labor and supplies donated
The children and families who attend this party are often without financial resources,” pointed out Boehme’s coworker, Stacey Mahler. “This party allows them to enjoy a rare Holiday event as a family. This year, as families are struggling more than ever before, it seems really important to do this.”

The party is organized by staff volunteers who plan, manage, acquire in-kind and monetary donations, decorate, and volunteer in the party rooms. “We hold fundraising events throughout the year to help pay for supplies and food,” Mahler added.

We ran into Jeff and Bill Dayton, owners of Pizza Baron just up the street at SE 122nd Avenue at SE Division Street, as they were bringing in stacks of hot, bubbling pizza. “Our customers come from the outer East Portland community,” Bill Dayton told us, “we do our best support good causes here, as we have for the past 30 years.”

Boehme said their organization appreciates local companies, such as Pizza Baron. “The kids love their pizza. And, Bill and Jeff have been supportive of DHS East branch, helping us and our organization, and our kids, for years in so many ways.”

Weather gives ’em a break
Many Holiday events were cancelled this season due to poor weather conditions, but good fortune – and the sun – shone on the DHS volunteers, as the party got underway on December 16.

We saw many small, smiling faces as the youngsters “fished” for gifts, got their faces painted, spent a few moments with Santa Claus – and gobbled down slices of pizza.

Caricature artists Steve Dorris and Sam Arneson draw whimsical portraits of the visiting kids.

Boehme and Mahler asked us to acknowledge other organizations who contributed to the event: The Duck Store, Oaks Amusement Park, Portland Children’s Museum, Columbia Sportswear, Higgins Restaurant, Learning Palace, Music Millennium, Old Spaghetti Factory, OMSI, Maletis Beverage, NW Priority Credit Union, On Point Community Credit Union, Steamfitter Union Local 290, and Met-Tek Inc.

“We thank them so much; this wonderful day wouldn’t be possible without their support,” Boehme said.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Officials aren’t saying if this partial cave-in is related to the collapse that happened four years ago. Find out what we did learn about the incident …

Shoppers looked puzzled and confused when they were directed to stay away from the Gateway Fred Meyer store last Saturday.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“This is kind of creepy; the roof fell in at the same place a few years ago,” was the sentiment expressed by shopper Marta Sanchez as she walked away from the yellow tape which warned shoppers to stay away from the Gateway Fred Meyer store on December 27.

She was right: the roof once before gave way at this store, in nearly the same place – on the store’s west side – in January, 2004.

In this four-year-old East Portland News archive photo, workers clear debris and begin to rebuild the section damaged after part of the Gateway Freddie’s roof collapsed.

It happened again – in nearly the same spot – as this PF&R photo shows.

Finds roof top ‘swimming pool’
Some reports said shoppers were in the store when the roof caved in this week. But, according to Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) spokesperson Kim Kosmas, “The collapse happened when only a few employees were in the store.  Everyone was able to escape without any injuries.”

When PF&R crews rolled up to the store on NE 102nd Avenue at 7:10 a.m., Kosmas said they discovered a 30′ x 30′ section of roof had collapsed on the side of the building facing the Gateway MAX station.

According to Kosmas, roof drains were blocked by a heavy accumulation of snow. When it started raining on Saturday morning, there was nowhere for the water to go. “This caused a ‘swimming pool effect’ on the roof,” stated Kosmas.

Water gushing from the store’s sprinkler system added to the mess at this Fred Meyer store. PF&R photo

Broken pipe floods store
As the roof gave way, falling debris struck the store’s fire suppression system water pipes, knocking them loose from a sprinkler riser pipe. “That added insult to injury, with additional water pouring into the structure,” Kosmas noted.

PF&R crews were concerned that a secondary collapse might occur, and closely monitored the structure until they relinquished control of the scene to the building owners and structural engineers. The fire crews were gone by 10:00 a.m.; the store employees looked to be involved in recovery efforts when we arrived at noon.

Our request to speak with a Fred Meyer official on-scene was greeted with a gruff rebuff, preventing us from being able to report on the recovery effort, but the store did reopen the following day.

A little after 12 noon, heavy cranes, like this one, started rolling on scene to help workers with damage control and reconstruction efforts.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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