Here’s why this outer East Portland high school was on ‘lockout’ for a while this week … Read the rest of this entry »

See how the Rosewood community came together to help kids get ready to have bicycle riding fun … Read the rest of this entry »

Discover why the Parks Bureau puts on these events for people with disabilities and special needs, at the Mt. Scott Community Center … Read the rest of this entry »

Come on along and ride with us, as we take a whirlwind tour of “National Night Out Against Crime” events throughout outer East Portland in August. This story is packed with more photos than ever … maybe you’re in one of them! Read the rest of this entry »

Published March 24, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton

Multnomah County Lonnie Roberts reads letters of support for equal school funding, as a “who‚Äôs who” of county education sits ready to lend their support at the March 22 gathering. David F. Ashton Photo

It looks like Multnomah County Commissioners Lisa Naito, Maria Rojo de Steffey, and Serena Cruz Walsh have gotten their way when it comes to funding schools with County I-Tax dollars. They voted to spend $6.4 million to help some schools – but not all of them – in East Portland. Their decision was to give $5.2 million to Portland Public Schools and the remainder to the Reynolds School District.

How much will Parkrose and David Douglas School Districts get? Nada. Nothing. Not one, thin dime. The Multnomah County Commissioners voted 3 to 2 on March 23. The two commissioners who “lost” were Roberts and Chair Linn.

The day before the vote, school superintendents from all over Multnomah County gathered at the David Douglas School District offices for a meeting they called, “Superintendents Speak Out!” A “who‚Äôs who” of education propionates turned out for the event.

David Douglas Schools superintendent Barbara Rommel talks with Dr. Thomas Hagerman, her counterpart in the Riverdale district. David F. Ashton Photo

David Douglas‚Äô superintendent Barbara Rommel told us, “We‚Äôre here today to emphasize the importance of parity in funding for any money available from Multnomah County to the schools. We need to give attention to all of the students, in all of our schools.”

Commissioner Lonnie Roberts and Gresham mayor Chuck Becker say the unequal distribution of Multnomah County education dollars is unfair. David F. Ashton Photo

“We want equity in school funding,” is what District 4 County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts told us in an exclusive interview. “Three of the county commissioners put forth a proposition that would leaving out David Douglas and Parkrose ‚Äì remember, these school districts are both in the City of Portland, as well as the county.”

While Roberts said he can‚Äôt speak for Commissioners Naito, Rojo de Steffey, nor Cruz Walsh, he said he was told that their formula was based on the giving the money to the districts with the greatest “needs”. “Either these two school systems really do have greater problems, or they haven‚Äôt managed their resources as well as the others.”

Roberts pointed out that David Douglas doesn‚Äôt serve wealthy neighborhoods. “77% of their students qualify for reduced or free lunches. We have the same situation in Centennial. In Parkrose, David Douglas and Centennial, 47 different languages or dialects are spoken at home. This cultural diversity presents an enormous challenge to develop programs that are designed to meet the needs of these students.”

The bottom line, Roberts added, is “we need to have equal funding.”

“Oregon PTA is very interested in school funding issues and fairness for all children. We are concerned about the fund distribution in Multnomah County,” is how Victoria Guillebeau, VP Leadership, Oregon PDA, put it to us. “Our children are our future. While I‚Äôm sure the Commissioners‚Äô hearts are in the right place, we want to make certain that all districts are treated fairly.”

Fred Sanchez, owner of Realty Brokers, was introduced to the group as also being the past president of the Gateway Area Business Association. “It is important that all of our kids get a fair share of educational funding. I‚Äôve come to speak so all of our kids get a good education.”

Michel Taylor, Superintendent of the Parkrose School District, speaks out regarding the funding situation he says is unfair to those gathered at the meeting — and Portland’s traditional media.

Superintendent of the Parkrose School District, Michel Taylor, said during the meeting how the I-Tax helped their district bring education up to “minimal levels”, providing students with a better education. He explained how they budgeted the money to stretch out the funding over time. the length of time “Then, without any conversation with our district, this [new plan that cuts their funds] determines we don’t have a need. There was no talk, no rationale presented. We have a grate deal of difficulty with that notion.”

To the surprise of some, Dr. Terry Kneisler, Reynolds School District superintendent ‚Äì the other district scheduled to get some county cash ‚Äì didn‚Äôt seem pleased. When asked if his district will accept the funding, he said “Yes. We have no choice.” He added that he told the commissioners it didn‚Äôt seem fair for the funding to go to some school districts, and not others. “The amount of money available to students should not change when they move across boundary lines. We appreciate the generosity, but we need a better way,”

Will there be a better way? We’ll see. Threats of lawsuits are flying – like by Ken Noah, superintendent of Gresham-Barlow Рto even things up.

?ì 2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News

Find out how, within minutes, all of the eggs disappeared, one by one, at this city’s delightful home-spun event.

Placing some of the 3,000 Easter eggs prepared for the City of Maywood Park Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt on the “Big Kids’ Hill” at the April 15 event is volunteer Jason Troutman. David F. Ashton Photo

While nine-month-old Garrett Bertholf, isn’t quite old enough to gather Easter egg prizes, a visit with the Maywood Park Easter Bunny seems to be OK. David F. Ashton Photo

By David F. Ashton

Some people jokingly refer to the small City of Maywood Park, nestled between I-205 and NE 102nd Ave., as “Mayberry, USA”. The independent residents voted years ago to not become annexed by Portland ‚Äì specifically so that the area could retain its identity.

One of the two big annual events sponsored by Maywood Park is the Annual Easter Egg Hunt.

The EGGcitement begins as the kids rush to find goodies. David F. Ashton Photo

Gathering eggs, as fast as her little hands can pick them up, is Sage Lucas. David F. Ashton Photo

This time-honored tradition does more than give kids candy, said Patty Meighen, chair of the event. “This is a great way for our community to come together. Maywood is a unique community, in that we’re a city of our own. Our other big event which we hold each year is our July 4 parade and barbecue.”

She, and 30 of her neighbors stuffed about 3,000 plastic eggs with candy, small toys, and gold coins.

Camille Vushard is showing off her prized Easter eggs to her Grandma, Jan Rishel. David F. Ashton Photo

The pouring morning rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of parents and kids on April 15, as the kids scoured a neighbor’s yard and the city’s park hillside. Within minutes, the eggs were whisked away and opened. “We recycle our plastic eggs, and we’ll store them for next year,” explained Meighen.

By finding plastic Easter eggs containing a Lucky Gold Coin, kids got to pick gift certificates for restaurants or other prizes. The winners were Lily Mitchell, Olivia Erickson, and Noella McQueen. David F. Ashton Phot


We asked Mayor Mark Hardy for a comment; he just smiled and told us to look at the excitement on the faces of the kids. “We do have a real sense of community in our city,” he said.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Organizers and musicians booked a second performance did when their first show ‘sold out’ in minutes. Find out how to make sure you can enjoy the Tom Grant concert on February 13 …

CMC volunteer Judy Seubert sells David Malcolm one of last remaining tickets at their first Family Friendly Friday concert event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Minutes after the doors opened at S.E. Portland’s Community Music Center (CMC) at 3350 SE Francis Street, and people began to flood in to buy tickets for the center’s first Family Friendly Friday concert on January 9, the event sold out.

Working his way through the crowded lobby, the Executive Director of CMC, Gregory Dubay, smiled faintly. “Everybody wants to have this problem: Too many people come to enjoy a concert!”

Community Music Center executive director Gregory Dubay welcomes folks to their new series of family-oriented concerts.

The idea for holding a Family-Friendly Friday concert series came from the CMC’s Board members, Dubay said. “There are lots of concerts in the community, but because of their late starting times – it being on a school night, or in a far-away venue – they felt many programs didn’t serve families with children.”

Making it fun for families
The CMC series programs begin earlier than most concerts, Dubay continued, noting the 7:00 p.m. start time. The musicians are chosen to appeal to a wide range of age groups.

“One of our Board’s primary considerations was to offer something that families can afford, especially with our economy the way it is. At just $5 for adults, or $15 for the entire family, these programs are affordable.”

The CMC performance hall at 3350 SE Francis Street – filled to capacity with folks listening to music from the Portland Cello Project.

So many people came to the concert, Portland Cello Project agreed to play a second concert that evening.

Group adds a second show
A CMC board member interrupted Dubay to whisper in his ear. “The Portland Cello Project has just agreed to do an entire concert for everyone who wants to come back at 9 p.m.,” he said. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t help our families with early bedtimes; we hope they come early next month.”

As the auditorium doors closed, the music started, and the rich, mellow sounds of cello music filled the center.

Tom Grant to play February 13
The series features instrumentalist, singer, and entertainer, Tom Grant at their February 13th program. Grant has been a recording artist for 35 years, and has been featured on CNN and a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

“This concert will sell out quickly,” Dubay said. “Because tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the door, come early to make sure you’re not disappointed.”

All proceeds from this volunteer-run concert series, sponsored by Larkins Vacura, LLP Trial Attorneys, benefit scholarships and other programs at the Community Music Center.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Spend a day paddling on the “Columbia Sewer?” Read this article and see how we got a close-up look (and smell) of how Slough clean-up efforts have paid off ‚Ķ

Lynn Youngbarr, interim executive director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, prodded us to take a “closer look” by going for a paddle on this unique inland waterway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For decades, the Columbia Slough was the repository of raw sewage, rainwater runoff, and liquid industrial waste.

Thus, in years past, we’d covered the “Columbia Slough Regatta” from a distance‚Ķon land.

This year was different. At the July 30 event, interim executive director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) Lynn Youngbarr suggests we take a paddle to get “closer” to the story.

“We’re celebrating this fabulous resource for residents of Portland and the whole region,” Youngbarr began, coaxing us into going for a canoe ride. “This is one of the most diverse natural areas in the whole state. The slough’s ecosystem ‚Äì here along the Columbia River from the Sandy River to the Willamette ‚Äì has both heavy industry and residential areas. Since we’ve taken steps to clean the Slough up, there is also an abundance of wildlife here.”

These are a few of the 500 adults and kids getting ready to paddle the Slough in nearly 250 non-motorized watercraft during the Regatta.

Youngbarr says the purpose of the Regatta was to raise awareness of the Slough. “I was born and raised here. For all the times I’d driven on Sandy and Airport Way, it never occurred to me to see what was under the overpasses. When I started working with the Council, I learned what a fabulous resource this is to the region. I think people come here to explore this interesting natural setting, within the city of Portland.”

Some of the Columbia Slough is naturally-occurring. Louis and Clark reported camping along the slough. But, they couldn’t stay more than a night before moving inland. They reported that the din of the birds and animals kept them awake!

For decades, Youngbarr tells us, it has been greatly impacted by human endeavor. The Slough is important because it prevents the low-lying areas along the Columbia from flooding. “It is now a carefully managed waterway.”

Long-time nature advocate, and Wilkes Community Group resident, Alice Blatt shows paddlers where to go. If you’ve ever seen “Alice Springs” on the map ‚Äì yup, it’s named after her!

We edge closer to the dock, located in the “Big Four Corners” site, said to be the fourth largest natural area in Portland. Individuals in kayaks, and families in canoes, look like they’re having fun. At the dock, we’re introduced to Ry Thompson, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Slough Group. He’s offered to be our guide.

Ry Thompson, was our intrepid guide as we paddled through channels making up the northern part of the Slough.

Handing me a flotation device to strap on, Thompson says, “This is truly a special place. It’s a hidden gem in the city of Portland. It is accessible to families ‚Äì people of all ages.  And, this is a great place to experience nature in one’s own back yard.”

We climb into a canoe and push off from the dock. Within moments, we feel safe and confident, even with our camera. Our guide was doing the paddling, and we were snapping photos.

Even though there were dozens of craft on the Slough, it didn’t seem crowded as we explored this inland waterway.

Feeling more confident, we pick up the second paddle and start rowing. Guide Thompson doesn’t mind we’re helping out.

As our strokes synchronize, we pick up speed. “At this rate, we’ll be able to see quite a bit,” he says.

Using a parasol as a sail, Cherry Ann and Wayne Low use wind power for part of their journey on the Columbia Slough.

“The Slough has a long history of industry and farming,” says Thompson. “Things used to be pretty bad, but things have turned around dramatically. It is much cleaner.”

We had expected to have our olfactory senses assaulted with nasty odors. However, there is no bad smell, even though we are cruising inches above the water.

The family Hume–Rebecca, Sarah, Linda and Richmond–explore a side channel of the Columbia Slough during the Regatta.

Our guide continues, “We’ve planted over a million trees and shrubs to keep the water cool. And, as we continue to reduce pollutants that come into the Slough, the water quality gets better and better.” However, he advises against swimming in the water just yet.

After what seems like only a few moments, we realized we’ve been out nearly a half-hour. “Time to turn back,” Thompson advises. “But we have time to take a look at this side channel.” We both paddle, and slip swiftly along the waterway.

Rob Dolphin was first introduced to the Slough as part of his job. Now, he says he’s “fallen in love with it” as he paddles by us.

One of the many people we meet along the way is Rob Dolphin, an employee of the Owens Illinois Glass Company located on the Slough at Johnson Lake.

“Part of my work assignment,” Dolphin says, pulling up along side, “is to work with environmental issues having to do withour plant. But, I became fascinated with the Slough to the point where I love coming out here.”

CSWC board chair Chuck Harrison glides up, and talks with us about the Slough.

Soon, we’re able to hold another on-the-water interview. This time, it’s with Chuck Harrison, the chair of CSWC.

“I work for an employer that has properly along the Slough. They wanted to be aware of what was going on at the Council, and also, to be a good steward to the waterway. What started as a job function as grown into a love of the water.” After the third Regatta, Harrison tells us, “I decided to get my own kayak. Now, I come out often just to unwind. Isn’t it relaxing out here?”

The most important thing for people to know, Harrison says, is that “it’s not as bad as people remember it being. As you can see, it’s beautiful here. You’d never know you are in the city of Portland, except for the planes flying overhead.”

Too soon, it was time to return to the dock, as this couple was doing, so others could enjoy their own canoe ride in the Columbia Slough.

Looking at the time, we notice we are a little overdue getting the canoe back to the dock, so others can enjoy the Regatta. As we both paddle, our craft slips swiftly through the water; we soon glide up to the dock.

Want to explore the eastern of the Columbia Slough for yourself? The canoe launch we used is located at 16550 NE Airport Way, but there are others available.

For more information, go online to www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=dccac.

And, to learn more about the CSWC, see www.columbiaslough.org.

Here’s a secret: If you don’t own a canoe, you can borrow one from the Council! It’s another good reason to check out the CSWC, and check into your Columbia Slough.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Food, cultural exhibits and entertainment were attractions, but what really drew nearly 450 people to PCC SE Center was the prospect of becoming a homeowner …

Between Native American homeowners Norman and Julia Red Thunder is MAYA’s executive director, Nicole Maher, along with youngsters John and Joyce Nelson at the East Portland Native American Housing to Homeownership Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not many Native Americans are like the Red Thunder family: Norman and Julia Red Thunder have been homeowners for years. John told us, “By not having to pay rent, we have had big savings in the long run, and we own something.”

At the July 29 event, we found a number of representatives from financial institutions, real estate, and other resources to help Native Americans go from being renters to being homeowners.

“There is a long legacy to our community of limited access to home ownership,” explained Nicole Maher, the executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center, known as NAYA. “We believe that home ownership provides stable situation for families, youth, and our community. We need fair and equitable housing.”

In addition to the information, fry bread, being made by Tawna Sanchez, was another attraction to the homeownership fair.

Maher told us this is their first of such fairs, and they hope to make it an annual event. “There are 31,000 Native Americans in the greater Portland area,” she said. “People from more than 300 tribes live here. Yet, we have the lowest homeownership rate of any minority in Portland.”

Throughout the afternoon, business was brisk, as bankers, realtors and community agencies met with individuals and couples — showing them options for buying a home. Additionally, classes at the fair provided homebuyer assistance information and resources for renters with homeownership goals.

It appeared as if everyone who attended enjoyed the Native American meal prepared by volunteers, being served here by Jennifer Petrilla and Laura Booth.

But the afternoon wasn’t all business. Also featured were Native American dance performances, a guest drum, a free dinner, a kids craft corner, and raffle prizes. One lucky participant won $1,500 in down payment assistance.

For more information, contact the MAYA Family Center at (503) 288-8177, or see www.nayapdx.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Cop coverage gets stretched very thin in outer East Portland:
Read crime prevention tips … and learn how to get a booklet that will reduce your chances of being a crime victim …

Crime Prevention Coordinator Rosanne Lee gives valuable tips on home and vehicle safety to Russell Neighborhood Association members, co-chaired by Bonny McKnight.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
More than likely, you – or someone you know – has been a victim of crime.

“You can blame it on the city, or the police department,” began East Portland Crime Prevention Coordinator Rosanne Lee, as she laid out the facts-of-safety to 21 neighbors in Russell, a northeast neighborhood on July 20. “But the fact is, you have to take some responsibility for your own safety.”

Police coverage stretched thin
“The East Precinct of the Portland Police Bureau is short-handed this year. Our police commander and staff work hard to make sure everything is covered,” Lee explained. “But, this very evening, your district [specific area of outer East Portland] almost didn’t get staffed. If there is a major situation, or multiple emergencies, your neighborhood could be without police coverage. Multnomah County has very few deputies available to help with calls.”

Steps toward safety
Lee said that forming a “Neighborhood Watch” program on your street is a good first step. “All you have to do is get your neighbors together, and we’ll train you how to set up and run your Watch program.”

When you see crime happening, or notice a fire, or know someone is in physical danger from someone else, call 9-1-1 for help, she advised. Otherwise, use the non-emergency number, (503) 823-3333.

“The 9-1-1 operators work hard to help you. Just give them the facts. As you speak, they are entering information; it goes immediately to the dispatchers.”

The more accurate and timely information you give them, Lee added, the better. If a vehicle is involved in the crime, get a good description. “Instead of just saying they left in a car, tell the operator it is a red minivan with body damage on the left side, or a loud muffler. Note the direction they went as they left the area. An officer may be able to intercept them.”

“Also, look carefully at what the person is wearing. Look for tattoos or other features like hair and shoes. They may be able to change their shirt; they probably won’t change their shoes!”

Safer parks
Attendees who live near parks asked for advice for keeping these public spaces safer. “The first step is to read and know the park rules. If you see a violation, call the non-emergency number and report it.”

Lee also urged them to consider forming a park foot patrol. “This takes a bit of training for your safety. It’s a good idea to form partner teams. Also, take a dog with you. We’re seeing a growing number of foot patrols.” Some people neighborhood associations have banded together, she added, to gain a large enough pool of volunteers for such patrols.

Car prowls
The main reason neighbors’ vehicles get broken into, Lee explained, is that people continue to leave items of value right in plain view. “Leave a ‘clean’ car. A laptop computer, even a few music CDs visible inside are enough to entice a criminal to smash in a window and grab what they can.”

Lee told the story of a street nearby plagued by car prowls. “A drug-affected young man broke into cars around his Mom’s house. One night, He cut himself on broken glass and left a trail of blood back to his home. It made him easy to catch.” While petty crooks often escape jail time, this one didn’t. “Because neighbors showed at each hearing, he eventually pleaded guilty to 24 charges and went to jail.”

Graffiti
“If you see this kind of vandalism happening, call 9-1-1,” Lee advised. After the fact, you should still report gang graffiti. “The key to controlling graffiti is persistence. If you paint it out often enough, they will go somewhere else.”

Light the night
“Darkness is the criminal’s friend”, the crime prevention expert told her audience. “Outdoor lighting makes your home – and street – much less criminal-friendly.”

Her suggestion: “While it isn’t a well-publicized program, you can get lighting installed in public places.” City officials examine crime statistics and look at the physical location, she said. “If officials agree there is a problem, and affected neighbors can come up with $350, the city will install a street light.”

Do-it-yourself home security program
“The best way to protect yourself,” Lee concluded, “is to complete a ‘Home Security Survey’, based on a document prepared by the police department. What you discover in and around your own home may surprise you.”

Lee suggested inviting a trusted friend or neighbor to help with your security survey. “Using the booklet, they may well see things you don’t.”

The booklet, “Home and Vehicle Security”, a comprehensive guide to increased safety, is available free online. You can find it at the city’s web site. The direct link is: www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=31554 .

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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