Hey! Don’t throw away those return-deposit bottles and cans that piled up during the Holidays! Here’s where to take them – and why …

The first Saturday in December, the Parkrose Swim Team helped Dave “Can Man” Luce collect and sort deposit-return bottles and cans.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
On the first Saturday of the month – including January 3, 2009 – the Parkrose Can Man (aka Dave Luce) and his clan (student volunteers from clubs, sports teams and groups at Parkrose-area schools) collect deposit-return cans and bottles.

As the Parkrose High Swim Team takes our cans, Luce tells us, “We raised $576.40 last month.” To learn more about how and why Luce has become known as the Can Man, read our past articles: CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE for two of them.

Just a reminder: Instead of dragging your cans all over town – or worse, leaving them out by the curb, thus enabling drug-affected scavengers – round ’em up and take them to the Parkrose Boosters Pop Can Drive – they’re open 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Parkrose Middle School, on NE Shaver Street, across from Parkrose High School.

If you manage a place of business, call Dave Luce and he’ll bring over and service a can recycling barrel for you. Or, if you have a large load of cans to be picked up, call him at (503) 255-3745.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Read this and see what you missed at the “Fix-it Fair” in Lents – and discover all of the money-saving, health-improving, safety-enhancing topics to be covered at the January 10 event at Parkrose High School …

Kyle Barton with Energy Trust of Oregon gives Fix-it Fair attendee Ed Sharick a free energy-saving light bulb and tells him, “Our mission is to help people save money on their energy bill.”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Once again this year, the streets around Lent Elementary School were packed with cars, as neighbors flocked in to attend the City of Portland’s Fix-it Fair a couple of weeks ago.

“This event, at the Lent School, is our first Fix-it Fair of the ’08-’09 season,” said Jill Kolek, the Training and Outreach Manager at City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development.

We marveled aloud that that the event has taken place for more than two decades. “Portlanders love the Fix-it Fair; this is our 22nd season of producing them,” she agreed.

Welcoming guests to the Lents Fix-it Fair are organizer Jill Kolek, Desiree Williams-Rajee, and Derek Smith – all from Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development.

Exhibitors show attendees how to save money, be safer and “greener” at the annual Fix-it Fair events.

Money-saving resource connection
The point of the Fix-it Fair, Kolek said, “is to get people connected to all kinds of available resources to help them conserve natural resources like energy and water, and to do ecologically-friendly repairs and upgrades to their homes.”

In addition to helping citizens “be green”, it helps people save money, especially in energy costs. “At this event, people can learn to save a little money by connecting with local food sources, and save a lot of money by learning how to becoming a homeowner instead of paying rent.”

This toy dinosaur looks friendly – but it’s covered with lead paint, explains Perry Cabot, who is with the City’s Lead Poisoning Prevention team, during the free seminar he presents at Fix-it Fair events.

Super safety seminars
Kolek noted that community safety is featured at this year’s Fix-it Fair. “People can meet with crime prevention specialists, learn about identity theft prevention, and learn how to be prepared for major emergencies.”

We always enjoy playing with Portland General Electric’s “Shocking City” exhibit that teaches electrical safety, and we sat in on a seminar that demonstrated how to take steps to protect a family from the dangers of lead poisoning in both air and water.

Ian Fabik and his son, Roland really enjoyed their Burgerville Tillamook Cheeseburgers while attending the Lents fair.

Free samples, classes, and lunch
All of the 45 exhibitors provided one-on-one help in the area of their expertise, and many of them gave free samples to those who visited their booths.

Throughout the day, free classes provided timely information taught by experts on a wide variety of topics. Most of these sessions gave printed handouts to help participants get the most of their learning session.

Coming to Parkrose on January 10
And it’s not too late to attend one of these fairs. “We’re excited to be bringing the Fix-it Fair to Parkrose High School,” Kolek told us. “It’s our first time at the high school.”

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 10, at Parkrose High School, 12003 NE Shaver Street (just west of NE 122nd Avenue).

Parkrose Fix-it Fair Class Listing

“Exactly what topics are presented?” is the question we’re most commonly asked. Kolek responded with the list of classes planned for the January 10 event:

Utility Bill Savings

  • Furnace Basics – Improve the efficiency of your furnace by learning about operation and maintenance, thermostat types, and ducts. Presented at 9 a.m. by Multnomah County Weatherization.
  • Saving Water Makes Cents – Learn simple home repairs and modifications to conserve water and reduce sewer and water bills. Receive a free water conservation kit. Presented at 9 a.m. and at noon by the City of Portland Water Bureau.
  • Home Weatherization – Keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer by learning how to install effective weatherization materials with basic tools. Presented at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. by Community Energy Project.
  • Water Heaters 101 – Get hands-on experience with a step-by-step demonstration of gas and electric water heaters. Presented at 10 a.m. by City of Portland Bureau of Development Services.
  • Cutting Your Energy Bill – Seven easy steps for lowering electric and gas bills. Presented at 11 a.m. by the City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development.
  • Snooping Out Air Leaks – Focusing on air and heat movement, professional methods for identifying and measuring air leaks, and solutions for your home. Presented at 11 a.m. by Multnomah County Weatherization.

Home and Personal Health

  • How to Create an EcoSafe Home – A room by room audit of ways to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, with effective alternatives. Presented at 9 a.m. by Oregon Center for Environmental Health.
  • Green Remodel – See how Portlanders conserve resources, save energy, and reduce their “carbon footprint”. Attendees receive a Green Home Remodel Guide. Presented at 10 a.m. by the City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development.
  • Principles of a Healthy Home – Creating a healthier home environment adds to your family’s health and well-being. Presented at 11 a.m. by Multnomah County Environmental Health.
  • Got Mold? – What is mold? Can it make you sick? How do you remove it? How do you prevent it? Presented at noon by Multnomah County Environmental Health.
  • Green Cleaners – Save money and protect your family and the environment by using safe, simple ingredients to clean your home. Presented at noon by Metro.
  • Lead Poisoning Prevention – Protect yourself and your family from lead poisoning. Presented at noon by Community Energy Project.
  • Stress Less – Learn about the effects of stress on your body, and how proper nutrition and other techniques can help you lower stress in your life. Presented at noon by Everyday Wellness Clinic.
  • Lead-Safe Home Projects – Accessible and easily applicable Lead Safe Work Practices for the layperson. Receive a free lead-safe project kit, and be pre-qualified to borrow a HEPA vacuum from the Community Energy Project. Presented at 1 p.m. by Community Energy Project.
  • All Season Cycling – Learn tips to stay dry, comfortable, and safe while riding all year round. Also includes a demo of flat-tire repair. Presented at 1 p.m. by the City of Portland Office of Transportation.

Your Home, Your Money

  • Downspout Disconnection 101 – A hands-on demonstration of how to disconnect your downspouts, including tools, materials and safety standards. Presented at 9 a.m. by the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.
  • Emergency Preparedness – Protect lives and property in the event of a natural- or human-caused disaster. Presented at 10 a.m. by the City of Portland Office of Emergency Management.
  • Financing Your Home Fixes – Discuss popular financing tools and learn common terms for financing home improvement projects. Presented at 10 a.m. by the Portland Development Commission.
  • Identity Theft – Stop identity theft before it occurs, and be prepared if it does. Presented at 10 a.m. by the Identity Theft Awareness Group.
  • Improving & Repairing Your Credit – Repair damaged credit and raise your credit score to get the best terms and rates on loans and related offers. Presented at 11 a.m. by the Portland Development Commission.
  • Homebuying 101 – Learn what you need to buy a home. Discuss the home-buying process and learn helpful tips and resources. Presented at noon by the Portland Development Commission.
  • Emergencies: Beyond 72 Hours – Prepare yourself and your family for beyond the first three days after an emergency. Presented at 1 p.m. by the City of Portland Office of Emergency Management.
  • Create a Budget That Works – Learn the best ways to budget, save money, and reduce debt. Presented at 1 p.m. by Mirra Consulting.
  • Crime Prevention – Solutions to crime and livability issues. Presented at 1 p.m. by the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Team.
  • Hiring a Contractor – Understand contract details, how to avoid fraud and scams, and get valuable tips. Presented at 1 p.m. by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

Yard & Garden

  • General Tree Care – Thorough pruning results in trees that thrive. See examples of healthy trees and pruning techniques. Presented at 9 a.m. by City of Portland Parks and Recreation.
  • Grow Your Own Vegetables! – Learn which plants grow best in the Pacific Northwest, when to plant, and how plentiful the bounty will be. Presented at 9 a.m. by City of Portland Parks and Recreation, Community Gardens.
  • Introduction to Naturescaping – Naturalize your yard with naturescaping and help keep it healthy. Presented at 9 a.m. by East Multnomah Soil and Water.
  • Weeds – Discuss why some weeds are unwanted or invasive, and learn how to control them in your yard. Presented at 10 a.m. by East Multnomah Soil and Water.
  • Introduction to Rain Gardens – Manage stormwater from disconnected downspouts. Assess a site for suitability, chose appropriate plants and more. Presented at 11 a.m. by East Multnomah Soil and Water.
  • Vegetable Gardening for the Northwest Climate – Plant a successful vegetable garden with easy tips for soil preparation, planting calendars, planting methods, and water conservation strategies. Presented at 11 a.m. by Oregon Food Bank.
  • Converting Lawn to Garden – Reduce your lawn mowing chores and grow chemical-free vegetables instead! Learn how to convert your lawn – or weed patch – into raised garden beds. Presented at noon by Metro.
  • Composting Made Easy – It’s easy and inexpensive to improve garden soil by composting your food and garden waste. Learn how to set up and maintain a compost system or worm bin. Presented at 1 p.m. by Metro.

The 22nd Annual Fix-It Fair season is presented by The City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development and supported by the following sponsors: Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, Portland Development Commission, and Portland General Electric.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Everyone thought the flood in December, 2007, was bad – but take a look at what this week’s major rainstorm did to businesses – and even to a PGE Substation – on SE Foster Road …

Looking east on SE Foster Road from SE 101st Avenue, the water on the roadway gives a whole new meaning to the term “traffic island” – the Springwater Trail crossing is deep beneath flood water.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Thirteen months and six days have passed since Johnson Creek last flooded Lents area businesses and neighbors. (Read about last year’s flood by CLICKING HERE.)

The 2009 New Year’s Day rainstorm did more than dampen holiday plans – it caused land to slide and creeks to swell throughout the metropolitan Portland area.

And, the third “10-year storm” within the decade also caused Johnson Creek to rise more than four feet above its bank, flooding Lents-area residents and businesses.

James Thompson says this is the worst flooding he’s seen. The blue steel building behind him in the distance – across “Lake Foster Road” – is his business: Thompson Auto Body.

Business owners work through rain and darkness
“Homeowners say they’ve had more flooding today, from 103rd Avenue and 109th Avenue, than they did in 1996,” James Thompson, owner of Thompson Auto Body, told us. “Ten years ago, Johnson Creek didn’t flood like it does today – all of a sudden, they’re under water.”

Thompson said his business has been at its current location, 10310 SE Foster Road, for 18 years. “Back in 1996, we moved everything up about a foot. And, we equipped the shop so we can lift cars high above the water level, and move our equipment quickly. With all the snow, and then the prediction of rain, we saw [a flood] coming.”

To this end, Thompson said they didn’t schedule any new auto body jobs, and started preparing for the storm. “We’ve now got about 6 inches of water in our building. With the water receding the way it is, we’ll probably come out OK, after we clean up the mess.  So, while we’re losing business, at this point, everything is ‘golden’ for me.”

Business loads up and moves, overnight
As in last year’s storm, Gary Sargent’s business – Sargent’s Motor Sports – is almost directly across the street from Thompson’s, at 10207 SE Foster Road.

Looking at his business, inundated by two to three feet of muddy water, Sargent moaned, “Another winter, and another flood. What a way to start out the year.”

Sargent said he got a call from staff members at the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services warning him about the impending flood. Throughout the day, and into the night, he and his staff and friends loaded their entire inventory of motorcycles, ATVs, shop equipment, and parts into semi trailers and trucks.

“We took everything that was within four feet of the floor. When the water goes down, we’ll have a big cleanup ahead of us – again.”

Muddy water, now about three feet deep, separates Gary Sargent from his business on SE Foster Road.

Owner blames ‘land filling fairies’
Sargent said appreciates the work the City of Portland has done to help reduce flooding along Johnson Creek. But, he again brought up the Freeway Land Company area of infill he says was never approved – yet still remains high above the creek’s flood stage.

“According to the last Army Corps of Engineers study, [Freeway Land’s] storage of ‘recyclable materials’ is where the water used to pond and flow,” Sargent maintained. “It seems that the ‘land filling fairies’ magically filled the property, so it is out of the 100 year flood plain.”

The City has a plan to work with homeowners along SE Foster Road, Sargent added. “I’m told that Mayor Sam Adams informed them that the only way that they can make their water retention pond work properly is to take all of their land and houses. I hope the city makes these people whole.”

Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Johnson Creek Watershed Manager, Maggie Skenderian, stays in touch with her coworkers, as they evaluate the current flooding conditions in Lents.

City monitors flooding
We caught up with Maggie Skenderian, Johnson Creek Watershed Manager for the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, at SE 111th Avenue, north of SE Foster Road.

“I can’t say the water level is record-setting,” Skenderian told us, “but this is a major flood event. It peaked out at 14.69 feet around nine o’clock this morning (January 2nd).”

The next reading taken at their Sycamore station showed that the creek had dropped to 14.64 feet. Skenderian told us that Johnson Creek’s bank is at 10 feet; and “overflow” occurs when it reaches 11 feet. “At 14 feet and above, we consider this to be a major flood – one of the top 10 or 15 events that we’ve measured at the creek.”

More water than ‘Restoration project’ could handle
We asked what impact the East Lents Flood Plain Restoration Project would have had during the current flood, if the construction work had been completed.

“This is not that kind of an event,” Skenderian replied. “At best, it will mitigate the flood events that happen every 10 years. I have a feeling this amount rainfall would’ve overflowed that ‘bathtub’ by a long shot. Mother Nature always has her way – we’ve already spent $30 million on our Johnson Creek restoration projects.”

(CLICK HERE to read our article about the progress of the East Lents Flood Plain Restoration Project.)

Jackson Green, his friends and neighbors fill sandbags at SE 111th Avenue and SE Harold Street. “We’re hoping to keep water from flooding our home, east of this location and SE 115th Avenue. Our next-door neighbors’ houses are already flooded,” he said. “We hope we can put around enough sandbags to prevent our home from flooding as well.”

City official comments on Freeway Land infill
We asked Skenderian if the infill on Freeway Land property contributed to the 2009 flood – and, if anything is being done to remove that landfill which some people call “unauthorized”.

“This area has been a flood plain since the [prehistoric] Missoula Floods,” replied Skenderian. “Folks are looking for someone, or something, to blame – and that ‘fill’ has been there well over a decade. This is the reality of the situation: This is a flood plain fed by a creek that overflows. It floods a lot. The money it would cost to remove that fill from Freeway Lands is astronomical. This is not to say it is impossible to be done someday – but we’re talking millions and millions of dollars to remove it.”

Skenderian recalls that the Schweitzer Project at SE 159th Avenue near SE Foster Road cost more than $5 million, and involved removing about 140,000 cubic yards of fill along Johnson Creek’s bank. She estimated the Freeway Land fill to be 10 times that size; and added that the land in question is private property.

“I know everyone wants to point fingers and try to find out who they can get to take responsibility for the flooding,” Skenderian concluded. “The truth of the matter is, people should live and work outside of a flood plain. This area has had a very long history of flooding – long before anyone could fill in at the Freeway Land property.  This is not to say that that fill does not make matters worse, or that nothing can be done about it to remove it.”

This now-flooded Portland General Electric electrical substation on SE Foster Road was taken off-line until the flood water recede and the equipment can be serviced.

Electrical substation flooded
Sargent and Thompson pointed out that the Portland General Electric (PGE) substation near both of their businesses was also flooded.

We asked a PGE worker if this assertion was true, as he climbed into a large dump truck towing an industrial-strength vacuum system.

“We had between 2 and 2½ feet in the main control building at the Foster Road Substation,” he said. “We got to our dispatcher about 2 a.m. this morning to let them know we were losing the battle.  So we had to cut power off at the station.”

-7 PGE crews will use the vacuum towed behind their truck to start cleaning out their substation’s control room as soon as the water recedes.

PGE’s Public Information Officer, Steve Corson, confirmed the story. “Two feeders [major distribution lines] coming to the substation that supplies about 3,200 customers were affected. Power went out about 5:00 a.m., and was restored at 8:20 a.m.”

The power grid system is designed to provide flexibility when things affect a substation, noted Corson. “It is handled, in part, through our downtown control center – but a lineman has to switches in the field.”

The water was deep at the intersection of SE Foster Road and SE 111th Avenue – and was closed to traffic most of the day.

Neighbor praises BES warning
Long time Lents area Johnson Creek activist Joyce Beedle, a homeowner at SE 108th and Foster Road, called to say that her home was still above water.

“We owe a big thank you to BES and Mayor Sam Adams. On New Year’s Morning, they called to say that the National Weather Service was predicting a flood so we could do what is necessary to protect ourselves. We weren’t at home, and thus, weren’t aware that the creek was on the rise. We came home and sandbagged our place.”

Most of her other neighbors are sitting high and dry, but some of their outbuildings have been flooded, Beedle reported. “We don’t expect the City to come and take care of us individually; I found this worthy of praise.”

Rain not record-breaking
Dan Keirns a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said total rainfall was 3.04 inches as measured at the airport. (However, a Southeast gauge measured 3.83 inches over the first two days of the New Year.)

“This was a good heavy rain, but not nearly a record,” Keirns said. “It was a record for a January 2nd, breaking the record previous record recorded in 1987 by .10″. But it isn’t unusual to get heavy rains this time of year.”

Keirns said things would dry out over the weekend. “We’re expecting another system to come in Sunday night or Monday, and will bring about half as much this storm.

“However, we could get hammered again next week,” he forecasted.

Get the latest weather forecast from the experts!
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.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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