If you’ve wondered why giant construction cranes are towering over the field next to Adventist Medical Center, just south of Mall 205 —  here’s the answer …

Adventist Medical Center’s Senior VP, Thomas Russell, sits with Judy Leach, Director of Marketing, upon the first steel column to be installed in the hospital’s new four-story 192,000 square foot structure.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Too often, worksites in outer East Portland are marred by gang graffiti.

But, at the construction site of Adventist Medical Center’s new wing and parking garage, the first steel beam to be erected on Monday bears inscriptions of hope, and dedication to serve and care.

“Our physicians and employees are really connected with our mission,” says the medical center’s senior vice president, Thomas Russell. “As we look at what they’ve written on this beam, we see that many people ask the Lord’s blessing on this project. When put in place, this beam will stand, literally, supporting our mission of providing excellent medical care.”

The new pavilion, Russell says, will increase the hospital’s emergency room capacity, add surgical suites, consolidate outpatient services and provide new center for cardiovascular care.

“We’re adding a parking garage with 403 spaces,” adds the medical center’s marketing director, Judy Leach, “making it easier for people using outpatient services to more easily access the clinics.”

The medical center’s $105 million building expansion is scheduled for completion in 2009.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you’ve never heard of a “Relay for Life”, see why all who participate – or even visit – will never forget what they experienced, at this very special event  …

All night long, and into the following day, at least one team member was walking to raise money for cancer research and patient aid during the “Relay for Life”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From telethons to footraces, many fundraising events have become media circuses – a spectacle that overshadows the mission of the organization.

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event called “Relay for Life”, which took place overnight from August 10 and 11 at Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Encampment supports participants
In the twilight, the park’s grassy lawn looked like a cross between a festival and a Scout’s campout. Tents were pitched; open-air encampments were set up. Food booths offered nourishment, ice cream – and rich, strong coffee. Live music played softly from a stage framed by the Willamette River.

Relay team members sat around a camplight, providing company and support for one another as they took turns walking the circular path around the park, fulfilling the donation pledges they’d solicited.

Candles light the way
The walkway was illuminated with candles in paper bags – they called them lumenaria. Many of the lumenaria were inscribed with names of individuals who have died of cancer.

Here, standing in the light of a camp lantern, are the American Cancer Society’s Mary James – and the volunteer Chair for Portland’s “Relay for Life”, Kathy Allworth.

“This event is held each year by groups around the world to support cancer research, advocacy, and patient aid,” the Portland event’s Chair, Kathy Allworth, told us.

Allworth says this is one of 4,800 Relays that celebrates survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer), remembers loved ones, and raises money for the fight against cancer.

“My personal connection is – well, my parents’ luminaria are right over here,” said Allworth, pointing to two flickering path side lanterns. “I lost my mom to cancer when she was 54; my dad to cancer when he was 75.”

First-time volunteer and food chair Gloria McAll says “This is an awesome event.” On the hill behind her, the word “HOPE” is spelled out with lumenaria.

Allworth said her employer, Fred Meyer, supports employees’ volunteer involvement. “The Relay for Life is something that – once you come here and see the event for yourself, once you walk the track, once you see all the lumenaria lit – you can’t help but pitch in.”

About 400 participated in the Portland event. “This is our third year. It’s gotten consistently bigger each year. Come join us!”

Throughout the night, Relay for Life participants walked the path to raise money for research that can lead to finding a cure for cancer.

Learn more about the American Cancer Society – and plan for your participation next year, by visiting www.cancer.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Find out which outer East Portland park is next to get a “skatepark”, and how you can have a say in how it’s built, here …

After demonstrating some gnarly moves at the Glenhaven Skatepark on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses, Rocco Caravelli, says he never tires of skateboarding. “It’s great to have this skatepark close to my house in Montavilla. If it weren’t here, I’d probably be sitting at home watching TV.”

Story and photos by David “Grinder” Ashton
The high-flying skateboard and bike riders of “Dew Action Sports Tour” have now left town, but their sponsor, Vans – a maker of sneakers and sportswear – has again left a permanent mark on Portland.

No, it wasn’t graffiti or damaged benches they left behind.

For the third year in a row, Vans presented to Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) a big cash contribution for its skatepark project.

“We want to do more than just hold a commercial event and leave town,” Vans’ spokesman, Chris Oberholser told us on August 14. “We want to put our name on something that lasts. PP&R has put together a tremendous program to build skateparks, with the recognition that these parks are integral to the wellness of the community. It provides things for kids to do.”

Vans’ representative, Chris Oberholser, presents a check for $10,000 to Mayor Tom Potter, as Wade Martin, President of the Dew Tour, looks on. Check out the mayor’s cool, checked Vans shoes!

The event was held at outer East Portland’s first skatepark, Glenhaven, just north of Madison High School. “We’re proud to have had a part in building this skatepark by giving $10,000 donations for the last two years. And, we’re pleased to provide another $10,000 donation this year that will help build the Ed Benedict Park Skate Plaza, to be opened in the next year.”

More skateboarders than baseball players
At the event, Mayor Tom Potter greeted us and pointed to his checked sneakers. “They’re from Vans,” he chuckled. “It’s too beautiful a day not to be outside; it’s great to chill out and relax here.”

As we watched kids swoop and glide around the Glenhaven Skatepark, Potter remarked, “In Portland, there are far more kids who skateboard than play baseball; yet, we have many more baseball diamonds than we have skateboard parks. We’re starting to change that.”

The mayor said this year’s donation was going to expand the Ed Benedict Park Skate Plaza, located in outer East Portland on SE Powell Blvd. at SE 98th Ave. “I’d like to see skateboard parks in every neighborhood of our beautiful city.”

Watching local skateboarder Matt Gabriel do some of his tricks in the Glenhaven Skatepark “peanut bowl” – a deep, swimming-pool looking structure, he gets applause from the crowd. Donations by Van’s in ’05 and ’06 helped finance this feature at the park.

Says skateparks build community
Ben Wixon has worked with PP&R to help build their skateboarding program for the last five years. He’s currently an instructor.

“Kids need an outlet for their energy,” explained Wixon. “They need a place to practice their craft. More importantly, skateparks provide a space for them to hang out. It is a place of community. Kids are getting a sense of ownership out of it by taking care of it.”

Wixon says he doesn’t think skateparks will end the skateboard damage done to public and private property, but adds, “It sure helps cut down on it [damage by grinding], to have fun and challenging places to skate.”

Vans made two other donations supporting PP&R’s skateparks in both 2005 and 2006. The support of Vans allowed for additional amenities at the recently opened Glenhaven skatepark – the “peanut bowl”, and the path linking the facility to Madison High School. This year’s contribution will allow for the skatepark at Ed Benedict to increase in size by 250 square feet.

Youngsters arrive from far and wide – not to see the Vans check presentation – but to get everything from shirts to shoes autographed by stars of the Dew Action Sports Tour.

Portland system first in nation
According to PP&R’s Sarah Schlosser-Moon, the Portland’s skatepark system is the first of its kind in the nation. “In 2003, PP&R began an intensive process of planning for network of skateparks,” she related. “Our committee has developed a vision for a skatepark system encompassing 19 skateparks with a variety of features aimed at meeting the diversity of needs of Portland’s actions sports enthusiasts.”

Help plan outer East Portland’s new skatepark
PP&R is holding a Public Open House & Workshop regarding the soon-to-be-constructed Ed Benedict Skate Plaza project. Come review their design ideas and provide input into Portland’s first skate plaza.

The meeting will be held on September 13 in the Earl Boyles Elementary School cafeteria at 10822 SE Bush St.; 1 block south of SE Powell Blvd. from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Just in time for school, learn why these health care professionals help kids who can’t afford their shots – necessary to enter school …

Jean Taylor, MN, and Karen Oglesby, BSN, remind parents at Lents Founders Day that the monthly Lents Clinic can help make sure their children’s’ immunizations are up to date

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Seeing our friends from the Lents Childhood Immunization Clinic at Lents Founder’s Day reminded us that, once again, their clinic will be open the first Saturday of each month, starting in September.

“We help families who don’t have insurance and not on the Oregon Health Plan make sure their kids are immunized,” says Karen Oglesby, BSN. “This program is operated in cooperation with the Oregon Nursing Association, Multnomah County Health Department, and Wattles Boys & Girls Club.”

The service is for children ages 2 months to 18 years, Oglesby tells us; no appointment is needed. “All we ask is that parents bring all documentation of previous immunizations.”

The clinic runs from 10:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. on September 1 (and the first Saturday of each month, through March of 2008) at the Wattles Boys & Girls Club, located at 9330 SE Harold Street (just east of SE 92nd Avenue).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how much fun kids had during
this “Magic of Reading” show …

Right before their eyes, magician Jay Frasier grows flowers on a bush, as part of his “Reading is Magic” show.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the great programs hosted at Midland Library, designed to keep kids interested in books during the summer months, was the “Magic of Reading” show.

Professional magician Jay Frasier performed simple magic tricks – in a very entertaining manner – to illustrate the benefits of reading.

“I do magical routines that relate to books that kids can check out in the library,” said Frasier after his show. “I try to draw them into books.”

Seven-year-old Sunny laughs so hard he can hardly stand up, while he helps magician Frasier at Midland Library.

Frasier, a professional entertainer of 20 years, told us he’s been interested in magic since he was four years old. His skills showed; kids were doubled over with laughter, and tears of joy streamed from the eyes of parents.

“I love to read. Encouraging kids to read is something I value,” Frasier said. You can learn more about the magician at www.twistedmagic.com.

What’s happening at Midland Library this week? Be sure to check our Community Calendar.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at one our favorite summertime events:
Sundae in the Sellwood Park

International variety arts star Charlie Brown strikes a pose during his famous box juggling act during Sundae at the Park.

Liz Joffe says little Sophie Beck needs no help consuming her ice cream cone.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For many people, it would be enough that this event that provides 50-cent ice cream sundaes on a sunny, summer Sunday afternoon.

But the 27th annual “Sundae in the Park” offered even more, including world-class comedy and musical entertainers, crafts, and community service booths.

Event organizer Pamela Orser and MC Scrafford Orser welcome visitors to the annual event.

“We spend a lot of time putting this together,” said organizer Pamela Orser, at the August 5 event.

“In times like this, when we can be so easily become ‘detached’ from our neighbors, community events like this help draw people together,” Orser reflected. “It’s more important now than ever, for us to have a sense of belonging. When people feel like they belong, they care about their neighborhood.”

Bolley Quast says fifty cents is a small price to say while making his donation to Rotarian volunteer Patrick Cowles.

Stepping up to the ice cream table is Andrew Morelock; Louis Morelock is careful with his dish, he’s using both hands!

The weather was threatening rain on the morning of the event, but as the sun came out, Sellwood Park filled with neighbors dining on chili dogs, free popcorn, and cheap ice cream cones and sundaes. Orser estimated that more than 1,500 people attended the event.

“All I can say is ‘hats off to our volunteers’ for all they’ve done,” Orser said, commending the 200 helpers who make the event possible. She also gave high praise to the sponsors: the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement LeaguE (SMILE) neighborhood association, the SE Portland Rotary Club, Umpqua Dairy, and The Joinery.

Cooking hot dogs on behalf of Loaves & Fishes are volunteers Brian Darby and Michael James.

Jason Shaw watches as Kara Juarez help steady Maresa Juarez as she tries walking on stilts.

Listeners agree no one plays great jazz tunes better than “Tall Jazz”. If you could have heard them as we took the photo, the song being played was “On Blue Dolphin Street”.

From the toddlers to codgers, everyone said they look forward to this great community event, year after year.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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At their training yard, we saw linemen make their death-defying work look like an aerial ballet. Take a look at this unique competition …

Cliff Campbell Zeek McCarthy of Clark Public Utilities replace an insulator

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
People driving on east Powell Valley Road might have been puzzled when they saw workers racing up and down a forest of utility poles, hanging from bucket trucks, and doing maintenance work atop high-voltage lines.

What they were seeing wasn’t a power crisis – it was 14th Annual Pacific Northwest Lineman’s Rodeo. Considered one of the most challenging lineman’s rodeos in the country, this competition takes place each year – right here – on the outer east edge of Portland.

“This event gives linemen around the Northwest the chance to show off their skills,” explains event chair Rob Wales. “The teams also get bragging rights among one another, while they show people what they do every day as part of their job.”

Not all participants are linemen. The wife of a lineman, Becky Cersovski, learns how challenging it is to climb a wooden utility pole using boot spikes.

We watch an event in which the linemen change insulators that keep live power lines from shorting out on the utility poles. They work swiftly; the events are timed. “More than speed and agility,” commented Wales, “safety is the primary thing. Judges make sure all safety procedures are followed – it’s part of the grading system.”

Specifically, contestants are judged by the following criteria: Safety; work practice; neatness and ability; equipment handling – and timely competition of the event (that one is used only as a tie-breaker).

Waiting their turn, Portland General Electric linemen Ed Hatanpa, Josh Rinard, and Adam Blackwell get ready for their next event.

Event winners from this regional competition, Wales adds, will advance to the 24th Annual International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo World Championships, later this year, in Overland Park, Kansas.

More than 80 linemen from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and other western states participated in the event. IBEW Local 125, IBEW Local 659, PGE, Pacific Power and Clark Public Utilities sponsored the event.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at our “tour”, as we crisscrossed outer East Portland, visiting all of the National Night Out against Crime events …

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The idea behind National Night Out against Crime (NNO) is simple: When neighbors come together and socialize, they tend to look out for one another. As neighbors become less isolated and form community bonds, it makes it more difficult for criminals to succeed at their dastardly enterprises.

For most neighborhoods, NNO is their premiere networking event – from family potluck dinners to big barbecue dinners.

Saturday, August 4

Oregon Baptist Retirement Home and the Parkrose Neighborhood Association held their events on this date.

Oregon Baptist Retirement Home

Many of the attractions at this particular venue is the cruise-in. This classic Mercedes was a favorite.

“This event is a community outreach of our retirement home,” said Lou Fontana. “It brings folks in from around the neighborhood to share the facilities with them. We offer a $2 barbecue lunch.”

On the grill with the white hat is Steve Williams, administrator of Johnson Assisted Living.

This was the only NNO event that features a cruise-in. “We have about 70 cars today; all kinds of specialty vehicles: Classics, muscle cars, antiques – a little bit of everything,” Fontana told us.

The event attracted over 1,000 visitors.

Portland Police Mounted Officer Angela Hollan makes friends while astride Ian, a pure-bred Belgian. The Mounted Patrol visited many NNO events across East Portland.

Firefighter from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 2, Christopher Invester, makes friends with Kaitlyn Lee.

Parkrose Neighborhood Association
At Senn’s Dairy Park; NE 112th Ave & Prescott St.

Burgerville’s Amanda Stewart takes a break from serving sandwiches to talk with event coordinator Mary Walker, and neighborhood chair Marcy Emerson-Peters.

“Welcome to our annual neighborhood picnic,” smiled neighbhorhood chair, Marcy Emerson-Peters. “We’ve got cold sandwiches and all the lunch fixin’s for people to enjoy, for just a buck.”

While the adults enjoyed the music and conversation, the kids favored playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer afternoon – along with Marcy Emerson-Peters.

“We love our neighbors – this is our way of showing it,” Emerson-Peters added.

Sunday, August 5

Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors

This more informal potluck dinner in Powellhurst Gilbert has the feel of a big family picnic – but without the ants and the squabbling!

Today, we stopped by to visit with neighbors in Powellhurst-Gilbert area for their National Night Out gathering on SE 119th Ave.

“This is our second year,” commented organizer Carol Thornberry. “Many of the neighbors enjoyed it so much last year, they said they wanted to do it gain this year.”

At this casual gathering, about 50 neighbors brought treats and put together a treat-looking pot-luck dinner.

“By doing this,” Thornberry said, “we know who we’re waving at when they go by. We say hello when we meet at the store. It’s really nice to feel the sense of togetherness.”

Tuesday, August 7

Centennial Community Group, Harold Oliver and SUN Schools
At Harold Oliver Middle School

Cynthia Thomas, Mayor Tom Potter, his wife Karin Hansen, and Jackie Jaffe – at the big Centennial Community Group event.

Our first stop on our whirlwind tour of outer East Portland’s National Night Out events was to visit the big event put together by coordinator Jackie Jaffe, Metro Family Service, SUN coordinator at Harold Oliver primary.

“We’re having shows, bands, a Mexican dance troupe – and we’re giving out hot dog dinners,” said Jaffe.

She said they made the effort because “here in this area, people feel pretty disfranchised. It seems like people have ‘boarded themselves up’ in their homes. This event draws people out into the community so they get to know their neighbors, and feel more comfortable living in our community. Not enough this happens out here. I wanted to help start his process.”

We were surprised and pleased to see Portland Mayor Tom Potter at the event, which drew about 500 adults and kids.

“National Night Out is really about neighbors getting together with neighbors,” Potter told us. “When neighbors get to know one another, they look out for each other; this helps prevent crime. It makes neighborhoods safe. It shows people that people that they feel responsible for their community. It scares off crime.”

Wilkes Community Group and Russell Neighborhood Association
At Wilkes Park

About 400 neighbors from these two neighborhoods gathered for their annual barbecue, which featured sirloin steak burgers.

Wilkes Community Group chair Ross Monn told us the neighborhood volunteers again were putting on a first-class event.

“I wanted to be part of the celebration and show my community spirit,” said volunteer Sheryl Reinisch. “You get to meet your neighbors and establish more relationships and get to know people better.”

Ross Monn, Chair, and volunteer Sheryl Reinisch together call the neighbors to dinner.

Paul Capell and Joe Clifton, cooking up sirloin steak burgers at the Wilkes NNO.

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors
At Knott Park

Carol Williams, Chair, welcomes James Cash and Arabelle “Sam” Fliniau to the NNO event in Knott Park.

“Thanks for coming by,” welcomed neighborhood chair Carol Williams. “It’s our National Night Out celebration! It’s a good thing for everybody to get together, get information, and meet their neighbors.”

Serving hot dogs are neighborhood volunteers Allison Newman-Woods and Stephanie Viegas-Dias.

Alexander Viegas, getting the balloon from Steevie Weevie (he’s the one with the more colorful outfit).

Argay Neighborhood Association
At Argay Park

Volunteer Jan Cornelius, here serving Burgerville burgers to Nancy and Don Humphries.

“It’s a great event,” commented neighborhood chair Valerie Currey. “It looks like we’ll have about 475 attending.”

Highlights included a visit from SpongeBob SquarePants (aka 88-year-old Evelyn Benson); Burgerville’s Tillamook cheeseburgers; and the participation of Target stores, which donated gift cards and sent six volunteers to help out.

The popular Kooltones, a classic soft rock band, performed for the fifth consecutive year.

Valerie Curry checks in neighbors at the Argay shindig.

Kenneth Vernon is presented an honorary Portland Police Bureau badge by East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs.

Hazelwood neighbors
On NE 111th Ave. near NE Oregon St.

Denine Foote, and her neighbors from the surrounding three blocks, enjoys the classic rock music of the band Cover Dawgz.

It’s not hosted by any neighborhood association, but this Hazelwood National Night Out party seems to grow every year.

“This year we’ve expanded it,” said organizer Denine Foote. “We included residents from three blocks, from NE 110th Avenue through NE 112th Avenue along NE Oregon Street.”

Their musical potluck affair drew about 30 mellow neighbors.

Woodland Park Neighborhood Association
On NE 101st Ave.

Glen and Laura Heiner pull out another winning ticket at their neighborhood NNO party drawing.

Each year, the NNO party in Woodland Park grows larger, as more neighbors participate.

“I also hosted our National Night Out party last year,” Laura Heiner told us. “All year long, I’ve had more people asking if I was going to host it again. They ask, ‘When is it? Will you be serving those great pulled pork sandwiches?’ It is great they are looking forward to this event.”

This barbecue and potluck drew nearly 100 neighbors, Heiner reported.

Mill Park Neighborhood Association
On SE 113th Ave at SE Yamhill St.

Tending the three (3) grills at the Mill Park festivities are Leslie Catabay, Karl Moody and Todd Baker.

“We decided to make simple food this year – burgers and dogs,” reports Todd Baker, as he takes a break from his grilling duties. “We’ve got a musician again this year. You might say our theme is ‘Simple fun with neighbors’.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s firefighter Neil Martin, shows neighborhood kids around Engine 7. Fire engines and trucks visited most of the gathering this year for, at least, a short time.

Mill Park neighbors
On SE Mill Court

Jackie Putman (lower right hand corner) and her neighbors share a quiet celebration in their Mill Park a cul-de-sac.

“This is our fourth year for participating in National Night Out,” Jackie Putman said. When you live in a cul-de-sac with front porches, you don’t always see everyone. This gets people out and helps us update our phone-tree list. And, it’s just fun to visit.”

About 25 neighbors came out for a quiet evening of outdoor dining and conversation.

Lents Neighborhood Association
At Lents Park on SE 92nd Ave.

Amber Lane scoops ice cream at the Lents Neighborhood Association’s Ice Cream Social.

As the sun was setting behind the tall trees at Lents Park, the picnic area facing SE 92nd Avenue was swirling with neighbors. We asked organizer Judy Welch how it was going. She replied, “I’ll be back; we’ve got to get more ice cream!”

Over 300 Lents community members and surrounding neighbors came out to Lents Park to enjoy the old-fashioned Ice Cream Social, greet one another, and mingle with visiting cops.

At the Lents National Night Out, John and Judy Welch, Officer Tony Passadore, Officer Mark DeLong, and Shawndrae Norwood give us a smile, in front of the Portland Police Bureau’s Mobile Precinct.

We learned that a group planned to meet at the facility on SE Lafayette Street – but at the last minute, the facility withdrew permission. They were then invited to attend the big celebration at Lents Park – and did!  They shared their hamburgers and hot dogs; and in return, got free ice cream.

Community service groups, such as the folks from ROSE Community Development, were on hand to tell of their community services.

“Many people stopped by information tables for Lents Neighborhood Association, Portland Park Rangers, Portland Development Commission, Lents Homeownership Initiative, Portland Water Bureau, the Neighborhood Emergency Team, and our booth for ROSE Community Development,” explained their community organizer, Amie Diffenauer.

Their event was sponsored by some of those with the informational tables, including the Lents Homeownership Initiative, ROSE Community Development, Lents Neighborhood Association, and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement

Powellhurst Gilbert neighbors
On SE Woodward St.

Shannon and Luis Morales, Mary Walker, Debbie Chin, Ivan Morales and Jay Auslander share good times at their neighborhood gathering in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

The fact their neighborhood association doesn’t organize an “official” National Night Out event doesn’t stop our friends out on SE Woodward Street from having their own gathering. It’s almost dark by the time we get there.

“We’re just getting started,” says Shannon Morales as she offers us a snack. “It’s good because everyone gets together. This annual event gives us a mental picture of the people who are supposed to be here. It keeps us safer. And, we have fun!”

Thank you all for welcoming us as we visited your event – if only for a few moments, making our East County rounds!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you didn’t get to the dinner at New Copper Penny,
you’ll see right here how businesses and neighbors
came together that night to support great events
YOU can enjoy for FREE, starting on August 19 …

The neighbors and friends who came to the New Copper Penny’s Pantheon Hall to support Lents’ “Concerts in the Park” were treated to a three-course dinner, in exchange for their contribution to the cause.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The only “Summer Concerts in the Park” concert series east of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, staged in the Lents Park gazebo, has become an August tradition. The first performance is traditionally held on Lents Founder’s Day.

But the music series, partially funded by neighborhood and business donations, was in jeopardy this year because of a dip in sponsor support.

Owners of the Lents restaurant and entertainment establishment “New Copper Penny”, John and Saki Tzantarmas, hosted the event held to support the Lents “Concerts in the Park” series.

New Copper Penny hosts dinner
To make up the shortfall in funding, neighbors turned to Saki and John Tzantarmas, owners of Lents’ famous restaurant and night club “New Copper Penny” for help. The Tzantarmas family offered to host a fundraising dinner.

“The idea was to raise funds for a good cause,” said John Tzantarmas, at the fundraising dinner hosted by his restaurant on August 2. “We’ve long been a part of the Lents community. We try to help out when we can. We think the ‘Concerts in the Park’ series is good, and we’re happy to support it.”

Dewey Akers, Chair Lents NA and Clint Lenard (Safety Chair) offering raffle tickets to Rachel and Chris Slottke.

Good turnout shows support
In addition to raising money,” said the Lents Neighborhood chair, Dewey Akers, “we’re also able to publicly thank the businesses in our area who are sponsoring the Lents Summer Concerts in the Park program.”

Akers told us he thinks the concert series is important, because “it helps solidify the identity of our neighborhood. It celebrates the diversity of the neighborhood through having diverse music playing here. It is a free event for families who can enjoy.”

Long-time Lents boosters Judy and John Welch enjoy their roast baron of beef dinner at the fund-raising banquet.

An, another benefit of the event, Akers told us, is that it provided the opportunity for businesses and neighbors to get together and meet one another. “It reminds neighbors to support their local businesses.”

Finally, Akers had high praise for the New Copper Penny. “Saki is wonderful. They provide food for Founders Day, and now they’ve put on a good dinner – 100% of the proceeds will go to support our concert series. We really appreciate their participation.”

Nearly 120 neighbors enjoyed both food and a sense of community in the Pantheon Ballroom.

Lents Founders Day this weekend
The main Lents Founder’s Day celebration takes place on Sunday, August 19.

But Saturday is the day for the “Lents Softball Showdown”, pitting the “Lents Rebels” against the “Portland City Stickers”. It’s held on August 18 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lents Little League field at S.E. 92nd Avenue and Harold Street.

Sunday’s Lents Founders’ Day Parade & Celebration kicks off with a grand parade at noon. The parade forms at SE 91st Avenue and Harold Street, at the Wattles Boys and Girls Club. The procession heads north, winding around Lents Park.

Come on into the park for FREE food, provided by the New Cooper Penny, after the parade. Experience the thrill of discovery at the hands-on Pioneer Living Exhibit and Displays.

Also, see the display of historic Lents photographs; take a shot at the free rock climbing wall; and browse the community information booths.

Then, at 2:00 p.m., enjoy the “Music in Lents Park Summer Series” – great music at the Lents Park Gazebo, located south of the baseball stadium on S.E. 92nd Avenue, south of SE Holgate Boulevard. Music by the Providence Stage Band highlights music from the swing and big-band era.

By the way, consider saying “thank you” by patronizing the sponsors of the concert series. They are New Copper Penny, Providence Portland Medical Center, Eastport Plaza Merchants, Lents Body Shop, Lansing Linoleum, Econolodge, Frank Bitar & Associates, Lents Neighborhood Association, Al’s Shoes and Boots, Kadel’s Auto Body, TriMet, Light Truck Parts and Thompson Auto Body.

Be sure to say hello, when we see you there!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It’s hard to believe that everyone walked away from this accident caused by a driver who witnesses say ran a red light …

This accident closed down the intersection of SE 52nd Ave. and Woodstock Blvd. for hours.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From his home, two blocks away from the intersection of SE 52nd Ave. and Woodstock Blvd., Neil Paulson says he heard “a crash that sounded like something big running through a metal building.”

Paulson is one of many bystanders who tried to make sense of the scene that included four badly-smashed vehicles at this major intersection on Thursday, August 9.

Talking with numerous witnesses helped us learn how this intersection-closing wreck took place:

A gold Saturn, eastbound on SE Woodstock Boulevard, was preparing to turn north on SE 52nd Avenue on a green light.

A white Subaru, facing northbound on SE 52nd Ave., was stopped at a red light in the left-turn lane, waiting to turn west on SE Woodstock Boulevard.

And, a white Dodge Sprinter van southbound on SE 52nd Avenue was approaching at red light at SE Woodstock Boulevard at a high rate of speed.

“We’re walking up to this corner by Arby’s,” says witness Stella Vegay. “The van was coming really fast. It went through a red light and hit the gold car in the intersection. That made it fly into the air and roll over – right into the white car.”

Although paramedics say his injuries didn’t look traumatic, the driver of the Saturn is taken by ambulance for medical evaluation.

Sees van flying sideways at her
The driver of the Subaru declined to give us her name, but described the accident from her point of view. “I really can’t say exactly what happened. I was stopped at the [red] light. I look up and this big van is up in the air, wheels off the ground, and flying sideways right at me.”

The force of the impact a moment later was so great, it drove her car – and the Jeep behind it – back about 30 feet.

While Portland Fire & Rescue Station 25 personnel checked out the accident victims for injuries, we noticed a man wearing a shirt imprinted with the name “Intrepid Marble and Granite”, apparently the driver of the van that ran the light, telling police he’s leaving the scene. An officer requests he instead wait in the back of his patrol car.

A young lady arrives on scene and inquires about the accident. “That’s our truck. My dad’s the owner of the company; he sent me to see what happened,” she says. “He’s very upset. This isn’t good.”

Surprisingly, although the Saturn’s driver was taken to the hospital for evaluation, all persons involved in this accident were able to walk away from their vehicles.

The driver of the Subaru who saw the van “flying sideways at her” collects her personal items from her wrecked car.

Because there were no trauma injuries resulting from the accident, police say it won’t be investigated.

But an officer does say he’s “pretty sure” the van driver will receive a ticket for running a red light.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Homicide Detectives are continuing their search for 20-year-old Raymundo Marquez-Vela in connection with the August 12th stabbing death of 47-year-old Merle Graham. Detectives have information to believe the suspect is still in the Portland Area, and are asking for the public’s help in locating him.

Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357) or 9-1-1, if you know where police can find Raymundo Marquez-Vela.

Shortly before he died, the victim and other area residents heard the sounds of a domestic disturbance in the area. The victim walked over towards the argument to provide assistance and became involved in an altercation with the suspect. During the altercation, the victim was stabbed to death.

Vela is described as Hispanic male, 5’11”, 180 pounds with black hair, and brown eyes. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has issued a Murder warrant for Marquez-Vela in connection with the homicide. Vela is considered armed and dangerous.

Additionally, Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest in this case – or any unsolved felony – and you remain anonymous. Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357) or 9-1-1, if you know where the suspect is located.

Detectives continue to seek witnesses who may have information on this investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jim McCausland at (503) 823-0449 or Detective Steve Ober at (503) 823-4033.

© 2007 East Portland News Service

In our continuing coverage of Portland’s skyrocketing rate of car thefts, see how taking just one car-stealing criminal off the streets can make the whole community safer …

Portland Police SE Precinct Officer Terry Colbert stands before a table, laden with goods allegedly stolen from cars in S.E. Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Thanks to sharp-eyed cops, one less car thief is on the street. In this case, this means your car is now much less likely to be stolen.

When most people are heading to work on August 7, Portland Police Bureau Southeast Precinct officers, working an Auto Theft Detail [mission], are already on the job. They are on the lookout for a stolen 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid.

About 8:00 a.m. the officers spot the car and follow the car as it heads north on SE McLoughlin Blvd. The driver tries to ditch the cops by cutting into the neighborhood, but is stopped at SE 6th Ave. and SE Woodward St.

Wanted passenger bolts; is arrested
Police reports say the driver of the allegedly stolen car, 25-year-old Russell Konell, is taken into custody without incident.

But, a call from an alert reader reporting a large police presence, a foot pursuit, and an arrest in the area of SE 8th Avenue and Powell Boulevard at about 8:30 am, caused us to question whether or not Konell had complied with officers when he was stopped.

According to police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, Konell had a passenger in the car when it was stopped — 25-year-old Laura Wardius bolted from the car; she had outstanding warrants for her arrest, and was taken into custody.

More than a car thief
At Southeast Precinct, Officer Terry Colbert tells us that they’ve been investigating Konell for several weeks.

“Konell is prolific. We finally caught him behind the wheel of a stolen car,” Colbert says. “We target these guys, and try to get them off the street, so they’re not stealing more cars.”

A search of the suspect’s home turned up items police say were used for ID theft, various items including cell phones – and this loaded pistol.

Through interviews and investigation, officers are able to connect him with more stolen vehicles, adds Colbert. “We got a search warrant for his house, and found a lot of property we believe is stolen.”

Colbert shows us items he says officers found at Konell’s residence, in the 1600 block of S.E. Rex Street in Sellwood. “It’s mostly things taken out of cars, like stereos, [GPS] navigation units, laptop computers, cell phones, garage door openers, and items used for ID theft. In a related vehicle, we found a loaded .22 caliber pistol.”

Police say they suspect this laptop computer was stolen from a car.

The property on display, Colbert says, is only part of the items Konell is alleged to have stolen. “We know where a lot of this property came from; we have released some of it to the victims.”

‘Jail time’ makes community safer
In the case of individuals they’ve identified as “prolific” car thieves, Colbert says they work to build multiple cases against them. “We refer those cases to the District Attorney. When charged with multiple property crimes, they will usually get more jail time, or be sent to prison. For that time they’re in jail, the community is a lot safer.”

Police accuse this man, 25-year-old Russell Konell, of being a “prolific” car thief.

This isn’t Konell’s first brush with the law. “This subject is on ‘supervision’ with Multnomah County Parole & Probations,” says Colbert. “He’s charged with two counts of Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle; he has a ‘detainer’ put on him by his probation officer. He’s currently in jail.”

In addition to stealing “high end vehicles” and theft from vehicles, officials say Konell has been charged with Possession of Methamphetamine. “He’s a good one to get off the streets,” Colbert comments.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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