Find out where to take your recycle-for-credit bottles and cans – and thereby help outer East Portland student programs …

The Parkrose High School Varsity Cheerleaders lend many helping hands to Dave Luce, the “Parkrose Can Man”, at their monthly can drive in February.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Having saved a big plastic bag full of deposit-return cans and bottles, we trekked to Parkrose Middle School on February 7 to drop them off at the monthly collection event put on by Dave Luce, the “Parkrose Can Man”.

The money collected from this first-Saturday-of-the-month can drive at Parkrose Middle school is evenly divided between the Parkrose Bronco Boosters, and the sports team or club that helps out, Luce reminded us.

Bottles and cans help fund programs
During the last school year, Luce and his student volunteers raised about $6,000 from the monthly can drives. “All folks have to do is bring us their returnable-for-credit cans and bottles. We do all of the sorting, and properly recycle their non-refundables, also,” he said.

He does this, Luce said, because his kids went to Parkrose Schools. “And, I’m retired and I don’t fish as much as I used to,” he says with a smile.

The Parkrose Can Man will come to your site to pick up the larger, hard-to-transport quantities of cans. Just give him a call!

Supports All-night Party
Some businesses and larger organizations let Luce post plastic barrels or drums, Luce said. “When the drums get filled, they give me a call and I come pick them up, and drop off a clean, empty barrel. These cans go to support the Parkrose Senior All-night Party.”

You can help
Drop off your cans on March 7 or April 4 at Parkrose Middle School (it’s on NE Shaver St., a block west of NE 122nd Ave.) – or give Dave Luce a call at (503) 255-3745 if you generate a substantial number of deposit-return cans and bottles at your home or business, and would like him to come pick them up.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Instead of just complaining about how City government may be wasting their tax dollars, see why about 100 people spent a Saturday morning talking turkey – and, what the Commissioners say they learned from the session, as they start making difficult decisions …

Andrew Scott, Budget Director with City of Portland’s Office of Budget & Finance, thanks citizens meeting at Floyd Light Middle School for their comments on the City’s budget.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Portland City Budget Forum held at Floyd Light Middle School on February 21 was different – and better – than similar sessions in past years, according to both the participants and the leaders who attended the four-hour meeting.

In the past, we’ve seen the halls filled with individuals representing narrow interest groups monopolizing the time and attention of the Portland City Commissioners and bureau chiefs as they advocated funding for their own programs’ needs.

Discussions and roundtables
At this City Budget Forum, citizens were quizzed using a hand-held, remote-control “clicker” – and the result of each vote was instantly displayed.

Folks sat down at a table to learn more about – and comment on – Portland bureaus and their budgets, then moved on to a second table.

Attendees were invited to talk with bureau representatives to learn more about the City’s main areas of service. Each service hosted a table; neighbors chose what each considered their two most important services areas’ tables at which to meet. Those tables were labeled:

  • Culture & Arts
  • Development Services & Permitting
  • Fire & Rescue, Emergency Communication (9-1-1) and Emergency Management
  • Housing
  • Neighborhood Involvement, including Human Relations & Cable Access
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Planning & Sustainability
  • Police
  • Public Utilities (Sewer & Water services)
  • Transportation.

Portland City Commissioners Randy Leonard, Nick Fish, and Amanda Fritz, along with Mayor Sam Adams, drifted among the tables, listening to comments made by participants, as they learned more about the programs operated by the bureaus, budgets, core missions, and community-need priority rankings.

After the visitations, representatives from each table summarized the top ideas and concerns that came from the discussions held there.

Dorothy Teeple votes her preferences using a “clicker” provided to each of the participants.

Voting results displayed instantaneously
Again, using their voting “clickers”, the participants anonymously recorded their demographic information:

  • 70% were female and more than half 55 years of age and older;
  • More than two-thirds were long-time Portland residents, living here 11 years or more; and,
  • 72% were homeowners, and had obtained some advanced education.

We were encouraged to note that most of the participants did live in East Portland.

Most of the participants indicated that they thought their neighborhood – and the City of Portland in general – is a good place to live.

Asked for their opinion about “things in Portland” – 55% voted “Going in the Right Direction”, 17% indicated “On the Wrong Track” and 27% punched in “Not Sure”.

After each “vote”, the tabulated results for each question instantly shows up as a video projected slide, like this one.

When asked to name the single most important need in their neighborhood, the top three issues selected were:

  • 18% voted to “Maintain neighborhood police patrols”;
  • 18% voted to “Preserve recreation programs”; and,
  • 17% voted to “Ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing”.

Commissioners’ comments
After it concluded, we asked each of the Portland City Commissioners what they’d learned from the Budget Forum.

In addition to monitoring the formal proceeding, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard listens to the concerns of a constituent.

“Today, I learned that people care a lot about city services,” said Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard. They care a lot about fire, police, and parks. We need to figure out a way to minimize impacts to the budgets for these bureaus.”

We asked Leonard, “Are these Budget Forums you’re holding around the city ‘window dressing’, or the real deal?”

Leonard replied, “This is real input; it’s the most important we get. Instead of hearing one group after another get up to testify about a special interest, with this method I get to go around, talk to people, and really hear what they think.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz thanks participants, saying “Please continue to engage; we have some very difficult choices, in many ways no good choices to be made, in this current budget cycle.”

Portland’s freshman City Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, said she thought this kind of Budget Forum is the “real deal” in that “it helps us get a sense of community priorities”.

The commissioners have more input when it comes to the writing the questions asked of citizens, she opined. “But this is really helpful information. Even so, I think we can do better still, next year,” Fritz told us. “But the conversation really needs to start in July. Many of the bureaus have done an excellent job of including citizens throughout this process.”

We observed that Fritz had now gone from being a citizen and activist to being on “the other side”, and asked her to comment.

“The past 17 years I’ve come to budget forums, and organized citizens to come and lobby for various issues,” Fritz responded. “I’ve taught people how to ‘work the processes’. You now have someone in City Council who understands how the game is played – and how I feel it should be less of a game and more of a constructive exercise. I think we’ve made a very good start on that this year.”

Asked what she sees as the best hope for coming up with a satisfactory budget, Fritz said, “In all of the questions asked, there was nothing in there about the value of building community. I think [building community] is necessary to get us through this crisis – people stepping out to cover the gaps that are left when government cannot fund as much. That’s going to get us through this.”

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, hears the concerns of a neighbor at the forum.

“To me, this is hugely helpful,” began Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “I’ll tell you why this Budget Forum is good. We get very constructive feedback on budget priorities. I’ve already gotten some ideas on how we can do some of the budget differently.”

Fish gave an example regarding senior recreation programs. “Many older adults have asked us not to cut senior programs. But one senior said we might consider raising certain [participant] fees a little, to keep from having to cut other programs all together.”

His response to the attendees: “Your time is very precious. Thank you for giving up a Saturday morning for helping us to do our job.  The feedback we’ve gotten from you will help us make smarter decisions.  So thank you.”

Portland Mayor Sam Adams thanks participants for spending their Saturday morning at the Budget Forum.

The Budget Forum process is “really helpful”, Mayor Sam Adams said.

“At this point in the process, there been no decisions made by counsel on what to say or what to cut. But, we have to make cuts. The input that we get from this Budget Forum, from East Portland people, is vital in helping us determine how to prioritize our budget.”

One thing that struck him, Adams said, was the need he’s seen expressed to maintain programs and services for the most vulnerable populations, such as seniors. “Those are, frankly, easy areas to cut, unless people turn out and say how these programs are a key part of their quality of life. We heard them loud and clear.”

The Portland City Budget process will continue through out the spring; the City’s fiscal year ends June 30.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Plan now to see the comedic play upon which the
musical Hello, Dolly! was based …

As the stage crew finishes the set, David Douglas High theater instructor – and the play’s director – Michael Givler gives direction to student actors Sam De Roest, Marissa Hanson, Kathryn Martin, John Ellis, Corey Cedarleaf, Quinci Daoust (and below) Carson Cook and Josh McKinley.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton|
During our visit, both onstage and behind the scenes at the David Douglas Horner Performing Arts Center stage, theater manager Mark Taylor and 20 class students were busy putting the finishing touches the set of DDHS Theater Department’s upcoming production of Thornton Wilder’s classic comedy The Matchmaker.

It’s based on one-act farce first written in 1835 by forgotten playwright John Oxenford, and adapted by Thornton Wilder. It went on to be adapted into the Tony Award winning Broadway musical, “Hello, Dolly!”

“With all the grim news we see these days,” said the show’s director, Michael Givler, “we’re happy we can lighten the mood and send people home laughing, by putting on a play that’s been called ‘Loud, slapdash, and uproarious’.”

The Matchmaker is a story of mistaken identities, slapstick situation comedy, and manipulation and true love, Givler added.

Once again, theater-goers will be treated to lavish sets, professional lighting, and high production values, provided by the 14-member student crew.

Show opens March 5
Don’t be left out in the cold! Order your tickets for The Matchmaker today.

The show debuts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5.

The run continues on March 6 and 7; and returns on March 12, 13, and 14. Curtain for all performances is at 7:30pm.

Tickets are $5 for students and seniors; $7 for adults. The Box Office is open from 3:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For mail-in order information, or for more information, call (503) 261-8270 during Box Office hours.

The David Douglas High School Howard Horner Performing Arts Center is located at 1400 SE 130th Avenue, between SE Division and Stark Streets.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

What does the plan to collapse Portland’s five police
districts down to three mean to neighbors in East Portland?
Read on …

Regardless of where officers are headquartered, Chief Rosie Sizer insists, most officers will still patrol the districts they know.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the City of Portland struggles to balance its budget by requiring all Bureaus to make cuts of up to 5%, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) hasn’t been spared from the need for cost-cutting.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who is in charge of the Police Bureau, as well as Chief Rosie Sizer and Assistant Chief Brian Martinek, have been out pitching a “Precinct Restructuring Proposal” they say would cut $3,609,469 from their budget without taking cops off the street.

Their plan is to return to the pre-1994 three-precinct structure – by eliminating Southeast and North Precincts. All Portland police officers would then be headquartered at Central, East, or North Precinct offices.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman tells neighbors why the redistricting program is important to meeting cost-reduction goals.

Saltzman tells of budget woes
“We need to balance the City’s budget by July 1st,” Saltzman told a group of East Portland neighbors at the East Precinct Citizen’s Advisory in early February. “The important thing is keeping cops on the street.”

Saltzman didn’t mince words when he talked about the City’s budget. “We’re facing tough times. The [Federal] Stimulus Package’s ‘COPS Program’, designed to put more cops on the street nationwide, won’t fund everything. We need to balance the City’s budget by July 1st. We’re looking citywide for cuts of from 2.5% and 5% in every bureau.”

Another real challenge to the public safety public safety system, Saltzman added, is on the county level. “Multnomah County is facing major cuts. They operate our jails, Parole and Probation offices, and fund the District Attorney’s offices. We’re in this together. As Chair of the Public Safely Coordinating Council, I can say that all of the right people are at the table. We’re seeking ways to continue public safety services in a more efficient manner.”

During his presentation Saltzman, the Police Bureau Commissioner, said he’d gone on patrol with officers several times. We asked him what impressed him the most.

“What impresses me most is how respectful officers are when they are dealing with the public,” Saltzman replied. “I’m also amazed at how many people drive around without driver’s licenses!”

This map is the clearest way to illustrate which districts – mostly falling along neighborhood boundary lines – will be moving to an expanded East Precinct.

The great 39th/60th Avenue divide
According to the proposal, there won’t be changes for any of the outer East Portland neighborhoods currently served by East Precinct.

All of the neighborhoods west of 82nd Avenue of Roses, currently in the Northeast and Southeast Precincts, will be headquartered at East Precinct, as will the more westerly neighborhoods of Woodstock, Brentwood-Darlington, and Foster-Powell – all of whose district patrol officers would move their lockers to East Portland’s Gateway district.

There will be a big change for some of the neighborhoods we cover in the Sellwood, Reed, Eastmoreland, Westmoreland, Brooklyn, and Creston-Kenilworth neighborhoods – their cops would headquarter at Central Precinct in downtown Portland.

Sizer says she expects most police officers to stay in their current patrol districts.

Chief expects no reduction in service
Speaking directly with Chief Sizer at a Southeast Portland meeting on February 11, we asked her if it will take officers covering neighborhoods now located farther from their precinct longer to respond to service calls, since they’d be stationed over the bridges at the downtown Justice Center location.

“It’s a common misconception the police officers operate like firefighters,” Sizer responded. “With firefighters, the closer you are to the fire station, the faster the response is more likely to be. Police officers operate very differently.”

But for cops, Sizer said, precincts are chiefly headquarters. “District patrol officers go to their precinct to change clothes and attend roll call. The overwhelming majority of their time is spent in their cars responding to community concerns, calls for service, and crime problems in the districts to which they are assigned.”

A patrol district is the area of the city that usually conforms to the boundaries of one or more neighborhoods.

The police chief said, under the new plan, district officers will likely stay in the same areas they’ve patrolled in the past.

“Officers have a lot of choice about the area in which they work,” Sizer explained. “My expectation is that most officers will want to patrol in their current districts. Our officers had developed partnerships with members of their community. They enjoy the appreciation their community shows for their work. That’s part of how you maintain consistency within a district – a good relationship with citizens and officers.”

Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Brian Martinek says they plan to keep an “active police presence” at the closed precincts.

Precinct buildings to be repurposed
According to Assistant Chief Brian Martinek, if the plan now under consideration is adopted, the Bureau’s Traffic and the Tactical Operations Divisions would move into the current Southeast Precinct building on E. Burnside. However, plans are afoot to keep a Neighborhood Contact Office open at that location as well.

“Community members will be able to talk to a police desk clerk, and access forms and information, during the same hours now available,” Martinek said. “We intend to have neighborhood and community meetings – such as the Bureau Advisory Group meetings – as we have in the past, in the same building.”

Should the restructuring plan be accepted, Precinct Commanders plan to visit individual neighborhoods affected by the change to answer any questions.

“If the Bureau chooses to keep me as East Precinct Commander,” assured Michael Crebs, “I promise to visit every neighborhood or group to introduce myself, and answer any questions they may have. The other commanders will do the same.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See what it took for MCSO deputies to bust this dope-peddling ring, run by illegal aliens (oops, undocumented visitors)

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies say these balloons aren’t party decorations – they contain heroin and cocaine, packaged for sale. MCSO photo

Story by David F. Ashton
The investigation leading to a substantial drug bust on Thursday, February 26, started with a tip from Multnomah County’s Parole and Probation department – as many of them do, according to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) spokesman Dep. Paul McRedmond.

“About four months ago, the tip provided to our Special Investigations Unit (SIU) got deputies to start watching a group of people in inner SE Portland,” McRedmond told us. “Working with confidential informants, and many agencies, we keep track of people who are involved with narcotics trafficking.”

Over time, the MCSO SIU deputies followed leads, went on surveillance missions and started building their case. “This led to a traffic stop outside the house,” McRedmond said. “From there, we applied for a search warrant for their house.”

Getting a search warrant, McRedmond informed us, takes more than just filling out a form. “Search warrant applications are somewhat complex, and must be complete. It contains a ‘resume’ that details the facts of the investigation, and tells why law enforcement officers should be trusted to enter someone’s private property and search for more evidence.”

In other words, he added, they must prove to a judge why there is “probable cause to suspend a person’s freedoms in the pursuit of prosecuting crime.”

In addition to the dope they found, deputies also found this wad of cash at the suspected drug house. MCSO photo

A judge believed there was enough evidence presented by the deputies, and issued a search warrant permitting deputies to enter a residence in the 8700 block of SE 67th Avenue., near SE Crystal Springs Boulevard, near the southern border of Multnomah County.

“Inside the home, in various places, were found over 40 ‘balloons’ of heroin packaged for sale (24 grams, worth $4,000), and 8 grams of cocaine (worth $800), along with $5,100 in cash,” reported McRedmond. “Deputies also found scales, and drug-packaging materials.”

These three “visitors” – Lucy Castro, Carlos Cruz, and Dennis Lopez – won’t be allegedly selling dope for quite a while, MCSO Officials say.

In addition to the dope, deputies cuffed and took into custody three illegal aliens: 35 year-old Lucy Elena Castro, 36 year-old Carlos Javier Cruz, and 24 year-old Dennis Lopez. They are charged with several counts of possession and distribution of cocaine and heroin. These alleged dope peddlers are suspected for selling heroin and cocaine in the Portland, Gresham, and Clackamas.
In addition to the drug selling charges, the trio has an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) “hold” on them.

This investigation continues.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out why Lynn Darroch has been presenting his word-and-music programs at libraries across East Portland this month …

Lynn Darroch, with the help of keyboard player Randy Porter, and with David Evans’ tenor saxophone, brings characters prominent in Portland’s jazz scene to life.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Some might think that author and performer Lynn Darroch has taken on quite a challenge: telling entertaining stories about songs and musicians. But, in his presentation called “New Stories of the Jazz World”, as presented at Sellwood Branch Library on a couple of weeks ago, Darroch adeptly demonstrated his unique skill.

As he was setting up for the program, Darroch commented, “These stories – musical stories, I call them – are meant to be performed live, with live musical accompaniment. The stories I’m sharing today are about a number of local jazz performers and characters – some of them are also internationally well-known.”

The library’s meeting room provides an intimate setting for Randy Porter David Evans, as they play jazz tunes that heighten Darroch’s stories.

Music brings stories to life
With the help of keyboard player Randy Porter, David Evans’ tenor saxophone, the history of jazz music comes alive, Darroch said, in a way that no other lecturer or musical performance can do with words.

“I give the music equal time with the words; the music’s an integral part of the story.”

Darroch’s work is drawn from experience as a music journalist for magazines and newspapers. He’s been an author, college teacher, and radio broadcaster. His stories are based on personal encounters, interviews, and historical study, he said

“We’re doing our best to bring these musical cultures to life for the people of Portland,” added Darroch.

Storyteller, performer and journalist Lynn Darroch says, “We’re doing our best to bring these cultures to life”.

From crows to international recording stars
His program at the library began with a story called “Crows”. It was about one woman’s struggle with crows. “Since crows are so much of the landscape in Portland, it sets the scene for Portland.”

Darroch’s second story was about Warren Bracken, an important musician in the N. Williams Avenue “jazz scene” during the 1950s. He also recounted the story of Chesney “Chet” Baker Jr., whose good looks and smoldering, intimate singing voice established him as a promising name in pop music – but who was badly hampered by drug addiction.

After weaving more stories around the musical lives of George Page and Clare Fischer, the storyteller told about Salem-born Native American musician Jim Pepper – a jazz saxophonist, composer, and singer of Native American ancestry, who garnered international fame, and whose near-hit single “Witchi Tai To”, was covered by many artists, including the hippie duo Brewer & Shipley.

Darroch’s skillful performance at the library was entertaining and educational. But, as he says, “My focus is always on telling a good story.” Some of his presentations are now on CD; find out more at his website:

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Instead of lobbying for a wider bridge, learn which bike-riding government official advocated a bridge that was even narrower than the structure proposed …

According to organizer Bradley Heinz, about 800 neighbors came out on the foggy morning of January 31 to show their solidarity for rebuilding a two-traffic-lane replacement for the Sellwood Bridge about where it now stands.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After listening to the testimony of about two dozen citizens, and considerable discussion among themselves and staff members at the meeting, the Sellwood Bridge Policy Advisory Group (PAG) rubber-stamped its approval on the Community Task Force’s (CTF) recommendations for replacing the ailing, 80+ year old river crossing on February 6.

82 citizens and interested parties signed in at the meeting, about 100 people listened and participated in the meeting held in the Multnomah County Board Room.

At the PAG meeting, SMILE president Paul Notti advocates for the neighborhood’s preferred alternative. Behind him, and out of focus, is Multnomah County Public Affairs facilitator Michael Pullen and John Buyer, who was about to testify.

Neighbors say they favor current alignment
Paul Notti, President of the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), testified that their organization’s board and membership recognizes that the Sellwood Bridge is failing and needs to be replaced. He said SMILE has “lobbied for, cajoled, collaborated, and recently endorsed” a two traffic lane replacement bridge that they say will support the ideals of the Tacoma Main Street Plan, and protect the historic nature of the area — including the Sellwood Riverfront Parks and the historic Oaks Pioneer Church.

“We as a neighborhood, and I as a neighbor and a citizen, are concerned that the size and cost of the proposed bridge are potentially unaffordable, unknown, and unwise – portions of it, not all of it; especially the price tag and as it relates [to the proposed bridge’s] west end.”

Correcting an article in the Oregonian newspaper that “some neighbors approve of Alternative D”, Notti concluded his remarks saying. “Everyone I’ve spoken with over the last couple of years favors Alternative D.”

Notti’s statement was met with a strident chorus of “No! Not true!” from several attendees – unit owners at Riverpark Condominiums, near the foot of Spokane Street, just north of the bridge.

Sellwood Harbor resident John Holmes advocates for Alternative E, and adds, “If you don’t have the funding, maybe this bridge should be repaired and stay right where it is.”

Bridge project compromises property values
“My neighbors and I have been left out of this process,” said Jan Bohlmann, a Riverpark Condominium owner. “Although we live, shop, and pay taxes here, we feel like we’re not [considered to be] part of Sellwood. Given that, I hope you’ll carefully consider what you’ll do if you go ahead with Alternative D. With imagination and effort, I think it can be done without the destruction of units.”

John Holmes, Ed Murphy, and several other residents at Sellwood Harbor Condominiums again testified that they support a narrow bridge and the Tacoma Main Street Plan. But, they decried bridge construction that would result in at least four of their units being dismantled. Albert Gonzalez asked government officials to “remember the 80 people left behind [at Sellwood Harbor] who will experience the vibration, noise, dirt, and aggravation of bridge building.”

Governmental officials confer
The Policy Advisory Group, chaired by Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, included Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Milwaukie City Councilor Greg Chaimov, Federal Highway Administration Manager Philip Ditzler, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen, Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson, State Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell, and State Rep. Carolyn Tomei.

Regarding bridge rehabilitation, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty stated, “We are making decisions regarding the Sellwood Bridge before we have funding in place. I want it on the record that [bridge] rehabilitation should be more developed as an alternative.”

Portland City Mayor Sam Adams noted, “We can’t go for funding unless we have a project to present, based on a locally-preferred alternative. I recommend going ahead and getting finding.”

Members of the PAG – Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury and TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen – listen to staff reports, as they deliberate elements of a locally-preferred alternative for replacing the Sellwood Bridge.

Alignment discussed and decided
Regarding the bridge’s alignment, Chair Wheeler commented, “I was swayed by CTF consensus on selecting Alignment D. Reasons they gave made common sense. Members of the community will be impacted; people [will be] displaced and we will have to mitigate problems promptly.” He also noted that Alignment D can be built in phases, allowing for phased financing, and for the bridge to stay open during construction.

Adams agreed with the recommendation and said he’ll propose it to City Council for their approval. He added, “I recommend working to help get residents [affected by the decisions] out of their [negative financial] situation as quickly as possible.”

At this point, and throughout the discussion, Liberty opined that a 64 feet width for a new bridge was unnecessarily wide. “A 58-foot wide bridge is just fine.”

After several members of the PAG chimed in, Wheeler said “We have a pretty clear idea [of a  preference for] Alignment D.”

Interchange impasse
At the east end of the bridge, adding a pedestrian or bicyclist activated signal at the intersection of S.E. Tacoma Street and SE 6th Avenue passed without comment.

However, there was significant discussion regarding the west end of the proposed bridge – shown to be nearly 100 feet wide, with a grade-separated and signalized interchange at Highway 43. Many questioned the proposed size, complexity, and cost of such an interchange.

Among other members, State Rep. Carolyn Tomei spoke up. “The purpose of this action is to rehabilitate or replace [the Sellwood Bridge] and provide a safe bridge for multi-modal use, not [necessarily] to improve [traffic on] Macadam Boulevard.”

The PAG members chose to accept the CTF’s recommendation “as a placeholder”, as Wheeler put it, and proceed to the next stage of the process.

Metro Councilor Robert Liberty suggests 64 feet for a new Sellwood Bridge is wider than necessary.

Bridge width narrows
Because the CTF didn’t provide a “clear consensus” on whether the bridge’s cross-section should be 75 feet or 64 feet wide, it was up to the PAG to make the decision. Adams said he’d support the narrower 64-foot width.

After reviewing lane typical lane widths for motor vehicles, bike lanes, and sidewalks, Liberty again spoke up, noting that two 12-foot wide vehicle lanes, plus two 6.5 foot wide bicycle lanes and two 10-foot wide sidewalks add up to 57 feet. “I question the need for a cross-section 64 feet wide.”

Wheeler proposed they adopt language saying that the bridge’s cross-section be “A cross section of 64 feet or less at its narrowest point – with two traffic lanes, two bike lanes/shoulders, and two sidewalks.”

Next steps
Three local jurisdictions – Multnomah County, City of Portland, and Metro each must vote to adopt the Locally Preferred Alternative. If approved, the county will complete and submit the final Environmental Impact Statement, and project managers will begin the permitting process.

Then, the County will need to secure funding for the cost of approximately $300 million. “Our congressional delegation has been very clear that we will need to have a regional consensus on the Sellwood Bridge plan if we want to have a realistic chance of securing federal dollars for the project,” noted Wheeler. “We have now delivered on that regional consensus.”

For more information, see Multnomah County’s Sellwood Bridge website by CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Discover why teachers say that teaching kids how to play chess pays big dividends in the classroom …

Parkrose Middle School students Daniel Lillard and Cameron Davison play a practice game of chess during the “Chess for Success” tournament held at their school.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Unlike in sports, where size and strength count most, winning at the game of chess doesn’t require any special physical or mental skill – it takes concentration, plus the will to succeed.

That’s why an organization called “Chess for Success” supports kids’ chess clubs in more than 70 Title I schools in the area.

Kids compete for state-level contest play
On February 7, kids from all over outer East Portland made their way to Parkrose Middle School to participate in the Chess for Success regional tournament.

At the start of the tourney, as many as 150 students sat nearly motionless, as they focused on their game.

The event’s host, Parkrose Middle School math teacher and chess club sponsor Greg Nakashima, said “The tournament has five games, and winners play winners. Players who win every game qualify to move up to the state tournament.”

Parkrose Middle School math teacher – and chess club sponsor – Greg Nakashima welcomes youngsters from 25 schools to the Chess for Success tournament.

Chess teaches kids critical thinking
Some 25 kids regularly attend his Chess for Success club, said Nakashima. “It’s worthwhile, because it teaches young people critical thinking, and to think ahead. As they mature, they’ll be better equipped to think about the consequences of their decisions.”

During his club sessions, Nakashima told us the students usually start by learning and practicing a series of moves. “When we start playing games, there is no talking unless it relates specifically to that game. In addition to learning chess moves, they have also learned to sit still, concentrate, and focus.”

In the  schools they support, Chess for Success is open to any kids who want to join, we learned from the organization’s executive directory Julie Young.

To learn more, CLICK HERE to visit their website.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Take a look and see what you can learn at the outer East Portland working farm and food education center …

Zenger Farm’s Community Involvement Coordinator, Prairie Hale, takes to the streets in the Lents Neighborhood handing out leaflets promoting their new classes with help from volunteer Jon Wagner, and Hazelwood Neighborhood’s Arlene Kimura.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For years, we’ve brought you stories about Zenger Farm. It’s a unique, working urban farm on SE Foster Road that promotes sustainable food practices, kids’ education, environmental stewardship, and community and economic advancement.

When we saw their community involvement director, Prairie Hale, distributing flyers in the Lents Neighborhood, we stopped to find out more about their current mission.

More than kids’ classes
“We want everyone in the neighborhood to know about Zenger Farm and how we are a great resource, right here in their neighborhood,” Hale told us. “We have people coming from all over the city to participate in our programs and would like more people from outer East Portland to check out what we offer.”

One of the volunteers handing out flyers was Arlene Kimura, the chair of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association, a few miles to the north of the farm. “Zenger Farm is a great resource for our community,” she told us. “I’m helping out because I want to encourage more connections between neighbors and the farm. And, it’s a wonderful day to get out and get some exercise!”

Zenger Farm, located on SE Foster Road at SE 117th Ave. provides food education for thousands of kids every year.

Back at the farm …
Jill Kuehler – you’ve seen here at East Portland News as the director of the Lents International Farmer’s Market – has also become the executive director of Friends of Zenger Farm, the nonprofit organization that supports the farm’s activities.

“It’s true; we’re offering some great new adult classes in organic gardening and farming, fruit tree pruning and keeping your own worm bin for composting,” Kuehler told us as they prepared for a class in the farm house educational center.

“These classes are open to everyone and residents of the Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhoods qualify for a 15% discount,” she added. “We always keep a scholarship spots available in each of our classes for those who cannot afford it.”

Connecting people with their food
Zenger Farm is important, Kuehler said, because it helps adults and children stay connected two where their food comes from and how it grows.

“Individuals, and as many as 3,000 Portland-area students attend our educational programs,” Kuehler noted. “We’re always ready to make new friends.”

Cooking class starts next week
Now is a good time to pre-register for the new Zenger Farm Cooking Classes that start on February 26.

Learn to cook delicious, quick and nutritious meals from a well-stocked pantry! Katherine Deumling, regional governor for Slow Food USA, is leading this three-week series on concepts, techniques and easy combinations to cook with what you have on hand. Classes will be interactive and include hands-on participation and demonstration.

“They’ll serve a full meal and copies of recipes and additional materials are included,” noted Kuehler. “The class is appropriate for a wide range of experience levels.”

The class objectives include learning how to stock your pantry for quick, everyday meals, becoming comfortable cooking without specific recipes, creating vegetable/grain/legume-based meals with meat used as a condiment, and using in-season produce year-round.

Classes will be held at Zenger Farm on February 26, March 5, and March 12 from 6 until 8:30pm. The cost is $140 for the three-part series.

Limited scholarship spots are available – contact Prairie Hale at (503) 282-4245 for a scholarship application.

To register e-mail contact Katherine Deumling at

To find out more, visit the Zenger Farm website by CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Was there a disparaging word heard – about the plan, or about Portland’s Mayor – at the Portland City Council’s “road show” at Midland Library? Learn the answer, and see exclusive photos, right here …

Portland Mayor Sam Adams, flanked by Commissioners Amanda Fritz, Dan Saltzman and Randy Leonard listen to Portland Planning Bureau’s Barry Manning (far left) as they watch the PowerPoint presentation that details the East Portland Action Plan.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In an effort to deal with explosive growth, burgeoning schools, and a dearth of improvements to outer East Portland, the Portland City Council on Wednesday, February 18th, voted to approve funding to develop and begin implementation of the East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) in 2007.

In December, 2007, Mayor Tom Potter, State Representative Jeff Merkley, and Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler convened a committee comprised of neighborhood, business, government services, and faith representatives to “look strategically at short-term opportunities to improve livability, as well as long-term strategies to address some of the challenges facing East Portland,” as Barry Manning with the Portland’s Bureau of Planning put it.

Winter storm postpones meeting
The EPAP Committee wrapped up its meetings last fall. (See end of article for a list of links that detail the project’s process.)

The Portland City Council was to meet in outer East Portland in December to hear testimony and to vote whether or not to adopt their recommendations. A blizzard postponed that meeting until this week – on February 18.

The large assembly room at Midland Library on SE 122nd was filled to capacity as the session of the Portland City Council gets underway.

City Council meeting draws full house
It was standing-room-only at Midland Library’s large hall, as the crowd swelled to about 200 people – almost double the room’s stated capacity. Portland City Commissioners Randy Leonard, Amanda Fritz, Dan Saltzman, and Nick Fish joined Mayor Sam Adams in these makeshift Council Chambers.

Introduced by the Portland Planning Bureau’s Joe Zender, the Bureau’s East Portland liaison, Barry Manning, summarized the project – involving eighteen committee members from December 2007 to July 2008.

Members of the Portland City Council learn about EPAP’s seven actions.

Manning told how the committee selected seven “actions”, from an initial list of 160, for funding, specifically:

  1. Providing “storefront improvement” matching grants for businesses on SE Division Street, east of 122nd Avenue;
  2. Hiring an “advocate” to implement East Portland projects and pursue grants;
  3. Creating “safer routes to school” by improving pedestrian crossings at key locations on busy arterial streets;
  4. Initiating planning for future improvements on SE Powell Boulevard;
  5. Funding studies to create “Gateway Green,” a regional green space opportunity;
  6. Initiating a Portland Plan pilot study to consider and improve land uses, access, and connections, and development design along SE 122nd Avenue between Division and Foster; and,
  7. Creating an EPAP Grant Fund, to allow area organizations and groups to propose and initiate projects from the Action Plan.

US Senator Jeff Merkley joins Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler at the table as testimony begins.

Dozen line up to testify
Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler began by jesting, “I urge you to adopt the plan. There is only one exit from this room, and it is located behind me.”

Wheeler commended the committee for the “considerable time and energy” spent on this process. “It is about more than issues and problems. It is really about community and pride. One after another, [outer East Portland] neighbors said there is no other part of town in which they’d live.”

The County Chair said that story of outer East Portland has been one of long-standing negligence and inequity. “When these neighborhoods were annexed into the city, relatively low levels [of attention were paid to] transportation, jobs, green space, educational outcomes and public safety. That hasn’t changed much. Yet, East Portland is unique in this region.”

The EPAP Committee, Wheeler added, “took these issues and made them opportunities; and they’re working to make them into realities. This is, without question, the best example of civic engagement I’ve seen.”

Senator Merkley’s surprise appearance
Many in the room were surprised and pleased to see another convener of the project, newly-minted US Senator Jeff Merkley, come to testify.

“I grew up just eight blocks from here,” Merkley began. “It was only with some frustration that [this area] was annexed into the City. Annexation seemed to be more about pulling taxpayers into the district than giving them full recognition as citizens of the city.”

Portland’s planners, the Senator added, seem to find it difficult to see beyond 82nd Avenue. “This conversation has changed the tenor of the relationship among [outer East Portland residents] and the Portland City Council. I praise the people who have invested so much energy in this program … and I second Chair Wheeler’s recommendation that it be adopted.”

Portland Commissioner Nick Fish thanked Merkley, noting, “It is rare for a US Senator to testify before the City Council.”

Testifying on behalf of education and better regional planning are of Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray and Metro Counselor Robert Liberty.

More committee members chime in
Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Superintendent of Parkrose School District, praised the plan’s recommendation to hire a staff member to make sure the plan is implemented and to help locate leveraged support. “I also want to speak for education. Each East Portland school district has special things to offer. We also have tremendous diversity and poverty. We need your continued support of our educational system.”

The Oregon House Representative for District 47, Jefferson Smith, quipped with self-effacing humor, “While Oregon got a great, new US Senator in Jeff Merkley, my district ended up with me.”

Smith advocated for better low-income housing planning and improved MAX light rail safety in outer East Portland. “From 82nd Avenue east, this area has had the greatest opportunity to fail; it now has the greatest opportunity to succeed.”

Portland’s commissioners and mayor listen as Hazelwood Neighborhood Chair Arlene Kimura testifies.

Hazelwood Neighborhood Chair Arlene Kimura said she was glad to find “people as passionate about our area” as she is. “Community building happens when a group of people engages in an activity. Hopefully, the results of this will be inclusive of everyone; we’re working to include those who don’t speak English as their primary language.”

Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE Community Development Corp., made a literary allusion: “Portland is the ‘Tale of Two Cities’. In our case, it’s the areas east and west of 82nd Avenue.” He pointed out the City auditors found that outer East Portland’s residents give livability low marks in terms of parks and housing by all measures. “As a multi-family housing developer, I didn’t always agree with other committee members; but we did agree that housing zoning needs to be reconsidered.”

Jim Chasse speaks up for better zoning, streets and “Safe routes to School on behalf of Portland’s largest neighborhood, Powellhurst-Gilbert; and, the APNBA’s Jon Turino says he favors the proposed business upgrades.

Jon Turino, the Executive Director of the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA), advocated in favor of the plan’s business renewal project along outer SE Division Street.

Longtime Parkrose School Board member Katie Larsell noted, “We are Portland. Equity is about making positive connections. And, a sense of being cut off comes when there isn’t equity. Thank you for holding the meeting here, thanks to Sam [Adams] and Ted [Wheeler] for being sworn in on the East Side – helping to make concrete connections. If the connections [among outer East Portland citizens and City Hall] are there, the equity will come.”

Barry Manning gets his just disserts, a home made berry pie delivered by Mary Wallker.

As Larsell’s time ran out, she thanked Barry Manning and his staff for their efforts, while Mary Walker presented the planner with a homemade berry pie. “Take this back down to City Hall. It will help them remember that we want our part of the pie.”

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs said, “I’d like to ask for a lot more cops, but I’m advocating for the neighborhoods. Enhanced sidewalks, streets, lighting, and storefronts will make the area more attractive to pedestrians and shoppers. More ‘eyes on the street’ will help reduce crime.”

Crebs also advocated for better residential construction. “It breaks my heart to see dirt roads and so few sidewalks here.”

When the role is called, each Portland City Council member congratulates and commends the EPAP committee and staff members before voting “aye”.

Finally, the vote
Time came for the long-awaited City Council vote. Starting with Amanda Fritz, each of the Portland City Commissioners commended the EPAP Committee members, conveners, and staff for their diligent actions.

The voting roll was called; with five “ayes” the East Portland Action Plan was passed.

Internet Links
We at eastPDXnews have long been following the progress of this unique process….

  • To read how it started, CLICK HERE.
  • To learn how it progressed mid-year, CLICK HERE.
  • And to read about the committee’s wrap-up meeting, CLICK HERE.

To see the City’s official East Portland Action Plan website, CLICK HERE

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

If your electricity goes out, and you want to use a portable generator – this story may save your life …

Officials say a portable generator, used in the basement of this Lents Neighborhood home, exhausted carbon monoxide fumes that nearly killed the residents.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide (CO), but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes.

Early on Monday morning, February 9, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews rushed to a Lents neighborhood home in the 10300 block of SE Harold Street. It wasn’t a fire that brought out the firefighters; officials say it was carbon monoxide poisoning.

“When crews arrived they found a family of four – one twelve-year-old child, and three adults – who had been exposed to extremely high levels of CO within their home,” PF&R’s spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt told us. “Three of the family members had gotten out; our crew located the fourth shortly after beginning a search of the house.”

The reason for the near-fatal incident, Oswalt reported, was that “The family was using a gasoline-powered generator in the basement of the home, so the noise wouldn’t bother their neighbors.”

This portable generator is set up outside of a home; there’s no chance for carbon monoxide fumes to enter the home. Generators can kill when operated indoors where they blow fumes into occupied areas. Paul E. Ashton photo

Tragedy narrowly averted
Oswalt said that, according to the gas-measuring instrument the crew took into the home, the generator’s exhaust caused their initial CO readings to nearly “peg the meter” at 300 ppm (parts per million). “Any level of CO is dangerous. For comparison, at 35ppm, firefighters are required to wear their self-contained breathing apparatus [air masks and tanks]!”

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. “If fuel-burning appliances are vented, maintained, and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous,” explained Oswalt. “Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning which is caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances or equipment.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Take a quick look: If you know who this waddling
bandito is, turn him in and collect $1,000.

If you live in outer East Portland, this delightful fellow may have visited your home and made off with some of your treasures.

Story by David F. Ashton
After his parents were victims of a burglary, at their home in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood not long ago, their son – and next door neighbor – said he invested some $1,500 in a video security system.

That video surveillance system which Michael Neumann installed was up and running on January 12 – and captured stunningly-clear images of a man strolling up to the front door of his house in the 2300 block of SE 139th Ave. just before 10:00 a.m.

“The surveillance recording clearly shows a suspect walking up to the front door, ringing the doorbell, discarding a cigarette, and then walking around to the back of the house,” confirmed Portland Police Bureau spokesperson and Crime Stoppers Coordinator, Officer Catherine Kent.

“The suspect made entry into the home through the sliding door, setting off the alarm,” Kent stated. “The suspect was scared off, and left without taking any property.”

Investigators believe this suspect may be involved in several burglaries in the area, revealed Kent.

Stop, thief; get a Grand
Look at the photo, and read this description: This guy is a white male, late 20’s to early 30’s, stocky build, short brown hair with a receding hairline, and has a goatee. He was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt over a light-colored sweatshirt, dark shorts, and white tennis shoes. The suspect has a large distinctive tattoo on his left calf.

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

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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