Plans to build monument to Portland’s immigrants revealed in Parkrose

Learn about this worthy project – the Portland Immigrant Statue – from the man who proposes it! Also, you’ll be surprised how quickly businesspeople raised scholarship funds for Parkrose High Seniors.  It’s all right here …

Parkrose Business Association President Wayne Stoll, from Century Associates, introduces a man who needs little introduction to a room full of friends, Joe Rossi, to reveal details of his Portland Immigrant Statue project.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A fascinating community-based project – the Portland Immigrant Statue – was revealed publicly for the first time at the April meeting of the Parkrose Business Association.

The man behind the undertaking is Joe Rossi, who spoke with us about the project.

“It came about, in part, because the Parkrose Business Association has been keeping up the traffic island that some people call the “Parkrose Triangle” on NE Sandy Boulevard at NE 98th Avenue. It’s where Sandy and NE Portland Boulevard and Killingsworth come together,” Rossi began.

This is the “Parkrose Triangle” — the proposed location for a life-sized Portland Immigrant Statue.

Over the years, Rossi has been researching the immigrants who settled the Parkrose area about a century ago, and has told us he’s in the process of writing a book on the topic.

“Thinking of the Parkrose Triangle, it seemed like a good idea to use this area to commemorate some local history,” Rossi said. “Parkrose was a community of immigrants; a lot of immigrant families settled here. And many immigrant families settled in, and help build, greater Portland.”

Idea percolated for years
The idea of the statue was in the back of his mind for about two years, Rossi told us, and has evolved over time. “I wanted to make sure that this was a project that included everyone. So many people have the common experience of immigration – whether it’s their great-grand parents, grandparents, their parents, or themselves. It’s meant to be a welcoming symbol for people coming to our community in the future.”

Where the statue will be placed is of historical significance, noted Rossi. “In the early days of settling the area, there were farms from what is now Fairview all the way west into Portland. Immigrants came down NE Sandy Boulevard, looking for work on farms, which were primarily owned by immigrant farmers. The statute would be located in the center of that agricultural area.”

Rossi says that the words “History, Inspiration, Courage, and Hope” are the key concepts he hopes the Portland Immigrant Statue will convey.

Cleared by governmental agencies
Before talking publicly about the project, Rossi said he wanted to quite certain the project wouldn’t get hung up in bureaucratic red tape.

“I’ve had several meetings with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), because Sandy Boulevard is a State highway. After my last meeting with ODOT, they really rolled out the red carpet for me, and gave me the green light. They said the plan was solid, and very seldom does an individual come to them with a plan that has been thoroughly thought out.”

Rossi’s reception at the Regional Arts & Culture Council was also warm. “They’ve been very accommodating.”

Joe Rossi shows a scale model of the Portland Immigrant Statue, and invites community members to support the project.

Statue model kicks off campaign
Showing a scale model of the proposed life-size bronze sculpture to members of the Parkrose Business Association, Rossi said it was created by NE Portland artist James Gion, who was also commissioned to create the bronze columns at the Japanese American Historical Plaza at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

“This is a privately funded project, and we’re now starting our fundraising campaign,” Rossi said. “We’ll be fundraising for a year. Our statue dedication is going to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Parkrose in 2011.”

Pointing out features and details of the statue, as he presents the idea to the Parkrose Business Association, Rossi says, “It commemorates something local, but is also a ‘snapshot in time’ of the immigrant stepping into the American experience.”

Donors to be noted at site
The project’s public relations director – noted outer East Portland author and journalist Rich Riegel – later told us that the project is being sponsored and partially funded by the nonprofit Parkrose Community Foundation.

“The statue’s adjoining wall will include a dedication plaque, along with plaques listing the names of sponsoring individuals and organizations,” revealed Riegel. “Sponsorship packages range from $1,000 to $10,000, and include either a bronze replica of the statue or a commemorative coin.”

Be a sponsor: The person to contact for sponsorship information is marketing director Amelia Salvador; call her at (503) 789-0161.

Unusual ‘auction’ raises funds for scholarships

Nancy Murphy, Bank of the West branch manager, stands with Gordon Boorse, of Compaction and Recycling Equipment, as PBA’s president Wayne Stoll accepts Murphy’s check in support of Parkrose High School scholarships.

Also, at the very-well-attended meeting, held at The Grotto, the organization’s President, Wayne Stoll, announced that the Parkrose Business Association would not be holding a public event in 2011.

“It is in question whether or not we’ll be funding scholarships for graduating seniors at Parkrose High School this year,” Stoll said. “It’s up to you, our members.”

Nancy Murphy, Bank of the West’s branch manager stepped up with a check in the amount of $500 – enough to fund one scholarship. Stoll asked if others would join in by contributing to the fund. As if participating in an auction for a prize of great value, hands shot up around the room.

Candy Bafus, manager of the local West Coast Bank, smiles after her bank pitches $1,500 into the scholarship fund.

Pacific NW Federal Credit Union’s manager, Judy Kennedy, pledges a donation of $1,000 from her organization.

One after another, twenty business people stepped forward to promise contributions to the Parkrose Business Foundation, the nonprofit organization that sponsors the Parkrose High scholarships.

Donors pledging to support the Parkrose Business Foundation included:

  • Bank of the West
  • West Coast Bank
  • Pacific NW Federal Credit Union
  • Copy Express
  • NW Pest Control
  • Davey Organicare
  • L.A. Signs
  • Bob Brown Tire Center
  • Mark Eves
  • Gail Bash
  • First Class Corvette
  • Portland Disposal
  • Norm Stoll
  • Compaction and Recycling Equipment
  • Century Associates
  • Karen Taylor, Mary Kay
  • Sundeleaf Painting Inc.
  • Hollywood Chiropractic
  • SpotMaster

Within minutes, a total of $4,500 for scholarships was raised. According to the organization’s Treasurer, Marsha Lee of Copy Express, that’ll fund six $1,000 scholarships for Parkrose High School Graduating seniors.

There’s always good food, fun and networking at Parkrose Business Association meetings.

Come meet the members
The Parkrose Business Association – one of our favorite business groups – gets together on May 20 at 11:30 a.m. This month, find out which Parkrose High School scholars were chosen for a Scholarship Grant! The Member Moment will be presented by Paul Van Dyk of Bathfitters.

Note: The meeting is at Holiday Inn Airport, 8439 NE Columbia Boulevard – in the hotel building, around the back at the Flirt’s Nightclub entrance – not the Convention Center next door.  For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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