Parkrose Cruise-In ends – to be replaced by new event

Learn more about the all-new festival slated for August – and, why a faith group turned a drug-infested, crime-ridden flophouse into luxury accommodations – in this article …

Gail Bash holds the prototype of a new “street banner” that will adorn utility poles along NE Sandy Blvd. proclaiming the expanded Parkrose Festival & Cruise-in scheduled for August 2.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Taking a “field trip” away from their usual meeting place, Steamers Restaurant, members of the Parkrose Business Association (PBA) held their March meeting a few blocks east, at the Quality Inn & Suites. Here are some of the highlights:

Estelle Fuller of Bob Brown Tires, and Denise Smoke of Bank of America, sample the delicious food provided by Quality Inn & Suites.

Old Cruise-in cancelled; new event announced
After dealing with a recent string of soggy June Saturdays the Portland Rose Festival Parkrose Cruise-in, the steering committee for the event has announced its demise.

But, in its place, they’re producing an entirely new event – in a new location – and, in a much more weather-friendly month: August.

“It is like we’re staring over,” said Michael Taylor, educational director of the newly-formed ACE Academy, and President of the PBA. “This change brings new challenges and opportunities. We’ll be bringing in new businesses to participate this summertime event.”

Taylor said the new event, called the Parkrose Festival & Cruise-in, is scheduled for Saturday, August 2. Instead of being on the Parkrose High School grounds, it will take place in “downtown” Parkrose on NE Sandy Boulevard – a state highway.

Festival on the boulevard
“Working in cooperation with Oregon Department of Transportation, and the Portland Police Bureau,” explained Taylor, “we’ll be shutting down half of NE Sandy Boulevard between NE 105th Avenue and NE 112th Avenue for the day, and into the evening.”

The event will start with the traditional pancake breakfast; vendors will be on hand to provide food at lunchtime, and “perhaps a beer garden and music festival in the evening, all in cooperation with local restaurants. All day long, there will be family events, in addition to a great cruise-in.”

The idea, Taylor said, is to pull traffic into the downtown Parkrose area without shutting down the street. “This is a great opportunity to showcase our business center here in Parkrose, and enrich an event that has been very successful.”

Pastor, and manager of Quality Inn Suites and Rodeway Inn, David Walmer, tells why they transformed the rundown hotel they now own.

From flophouse to first class hotel
Hosting the meeting was Quality Inn Suites and Rodeway Inn on NE Sandy Boulevard, located almost directly over the I-205 freeway.

This lodging is unusual, members learned from its manager, David Walmer –  because it is now owned by a church.

“When the Eastside Foursquare Church took over the property,” Walmer began, “the police called the hotels (they’re co-located on the same piece of land) the biggest crack house in Portland. The cops joked that they’d let us know which rooms they were busting so we could rent them out again that evening.”

During the two-year, $7.7 Million renovation, starting in June 2004, their business dropped by half, revealed Walmer. “We turned away the hotel’s former ‘cash-paying, no-ID, no-tell’ customers. But, we kept working at it, and transformed one of the community’s largest ‘problem properties’ into a first-class lodging. Our business is growing by at least 30% per year.”

Church means business
“Many faith groups and churches want to help their community,” Walmer went on, “but because they’re small, they lack the resources to do so.

Walmer says that, instead of “begging for money”, faith groups should find practical ways to fund their missions through running legitimate businesses.

“Most churches complain they need more money. But, most churches are notoriously bad at business. They want to challenge societal problems like prostitution and homelessness, but don’t have the money. Businesses know how to make money. They can teach the churches how to make money – instead of begging for it. The self-funding model allows a church to make a substantial difference in their community.”

Walmer summarized, “We’ve looked to government to solve problems. But government can’t drive the agenda. Churches can’t do it alone, they don’t have the resources. But a partnership of government, business, and faith community can transform an area.”

In closing, Walmer expressed his concern about the still-vacant former Parkrose Glass building – almost directly across the street from their facility. “The owner has been actively marketing it to the ‘adult’ [sex] industry. While perfectly legal, we’d prefer to have a business or community project in the building across the street. We don’t need another strip club here.”

Denise Smoke tells why she loves working for Bank of America, during her PBA Member Moment.

Member Moment features Smoke
The featured PBA member this month was the Parkrose branch of Bank of America – represented cheerfully by Denise Smoke.

“14 years ago, I joined the bank, worked hard and eventually became assistant manager,” Smoke stated. “This bank has given me what I need for my family and my career. And we have great services for our customers, including a mortgage product.”

She applauded the bank’s willingness to let her volunteer at her daughter’s school and help out with community projects. “Check out our banking products. I’m so proud to be part of the bank, and part of the PBA.”

PBA’s “new” president, Michael Taylor (standing), gives outgoing exec, Jon Turino, (seated, right side of photo next to past PBA president Mark Eves) some good-nature ribbing about his two-month stint.

President’s farewell
PBA’s “new” president, Michael Taylor, thanked Jon Turino – he was president for two months before being drafted to be the Executive Director of the Alliance of Portland Area Business Associations (APNBA) – and thanked Turino for his support of the organization.

Meet the PBA members
You’ll always find smiling faces greeting you at the Parkrose Business Association. While they take their commitment to their community – they sponsor thousands of dollars in scholarships each year – they love having fun.

Come on by on Thursday, April 17 and meet this group of fun, energized business people. You’ll get the best business lunch at town at Steamers Restaurant & Lounge, 8303 NE Sandy Blvd. (east of NE 82nd Ave.); reservations are NOT required. For more information, see their newly-updated web site by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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