Why do Multnomah County Jail inmates volunteer to strenuous work, in difficult conditions in hot weather? Find out why convicted crooks offer to help clean up their community right here‚

A county jail inmate helps the community by painting out graffiti on the columns under the Ross Island Bridge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Anyone who has been along the Springwater Trail has seen the graffiti on the pillars and abutments under the Ross Island Bridge‚ just down from the homeless refuge, “the caves”, under S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

“Graffiti is a precursor to other crimes,” says Multnomah Count Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Lt. Jason Gates. “It invites other inappropriate activities. By leaving graffiti up, it sends the message that community will tolerate crime. And, it takes away from the livability of the area.”

By organizing a graffiti paint-out crew, Gates explains, “We’re trying to send a message to the people who are committing these crimes that we’re reclaiming this area; we’re taking it back from them.”

Inmate Dwight Golden and MCSO Sgt. Tina Breiten prepare to lower more buckets of paint down to the worksite.

Crooks serve community
The volunteers painting out graffiti at this particular June 26 project aren’t from the neighborhoods or schools. They’re convicted criminals.

We learn from MCSO Sgt. Tina Breiten that not all county convicts are satisfied sitting out their sentence in their cell. Some inmates, like Dwight Golden, prefer to volunteer for work details‚ even when tasks are in hot, dirty, and difficult conditions.

Coming up for more paint supplies, Golden tells us, “I like being out here in the sun and fresh air. Panting out graffiti is good. It makes it look nicer. I’m glad to be on this work program today.”

Multiple benefits from inmate work program
Only non-violent offenders, Sgt. Breiten confirms, are allowed on the work details. “It gives them the opportunity to pay back to the community. It allows them to prepare to transition back into the public. Some of our inmates need to learn the most basic of job skills‚ like getting up in the morning and going to work.”

After scrambling down the steep bank, inmate Golden is ready to take more supplies down to the cleanup site under the Ross Island Bridge.

Both “good time” and “work time” cuts down the non-violent offender’s sentence, says Breiten. “This system gives us the opportunity to free up some jail beds for the hardened, violent criminals that come into the jail system.”

Inmate work crew projects also help reduce tensions inside the jail, adds Breiten. “Doing physical labor helps inmates to ‘work out tensions’ that otherwise build up when they’re just sitting, day in and day out, in the jail. Instead of thinking about their next crime, they’re thinking about becoming productive in our community.”

ODOT partnership
Portland’s spokesman for Oregon Department of Transportation, Dave Thompson, arrives on-site and tells us how the MCSO inmate crews helps the state highway agency: “When we can use inmate crews, it helps the workers, and improves the community at the same time. This is a great use of taxpayer money.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Some drivers grumble about the camera systems that automatically generate traffic tickets for red-light-runners. Here’s another reason you’ll soon be seeing such systems in outer East Portland‚

Witnesses say the driver of this silver Mazda (foreground) blew through the red light at SE 103rd Avenue, and struck the green Toyota Camry with such impact, it was spun around facing west on SE Washington Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
According to Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officials, automatic camera systems designed to catch motorists who speed through red lights will soon be installed in outer East Portland.

Between assignments, we heard a police radio call on July 21, saying a car was hit broadside at SE Washington St at SE 103rd Avenue. We drove over to take a look.

Witnesses told us they saw a silver Mazda, heading eastbound on SE Washington Street, shoot through the red light at SE 103rd Avenue at about 11:45 a.m.

“It looked like Mazda’s driver stepped on the gas,” reported Becky Holsted who said she was waiting for a bus as the event unfolded. “The silver car smacked right into the side of the Camry. It was going north on SE 103rd Avenue on a green light.”

Because one driver took a risk and blew a red light, another driver was sent to the hospital and his car was demolished. Police say this is a high price to pay for trying to arrive at your destination a few seconds earlier.

The T-boned Camry was hit so hard, it spun 90-degrees, coming to rest facing westbound in the eastbound lanes of SE Washington Street. The driver was injured; the side-impact victim was put on a backboard and rushed to Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

Cops say red-light cameras save lives
Preparing a story we’ll publishing soon about the new “red light cameras”, we spoke with Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division.

“The most serious crashes that occur at intersections are caused by someone running a red light,” Costello told us. These ‘turning and angle crashes’ are 2.5 times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes. Adding more cameras will further decrease these types of crashes,” said Costello.

In this area of the Gateway district, Costello said the city in the process of installing the red-light camera systems at SE Stark St. at 99th Avenue (19 red light crashes in the past year) and at SE Stark Street at 102nd Avenuie (due to 44 red light crashes).

“No matter how pressed for time you are, please stop for red lights,” commented the Portland City Commissioner in charge of PDOT, Sam Adams. “Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you and someone else. Red-light-running has very serious consequences.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Will the blistering heat wave continue? Learn what the meteorologist for the National Weather Service‚ located on NE 122nd Ave.‚ predicts for the next few weeks, right here‚

A sign of the times: The Bank of the West sign, at SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Division Street, indicates what everyone knows‚ it’s darn hot here!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On July 10, the expected cell phone text message from our brother arrives: “Hot enough for ya?”

We put this inane question to Kirk Kurchel, owner of Kurchel Heating and Air Conditioning, as he arrives at the Love Boutique on SE 122 Avenue to investigate why the novelty store’s air conditioning conked out. As he sets up his ladder, he remarks, “This weather makes me a very popular guy, it seems.”

“You think it’s hot out here‚  it’s hotter up there,” Kurchel tells us. In minutes, he climbs down the ladder and reports, “The AC unit isn’t getting power from PGE; one of the phases is out.” Store owner Donna Dionne tells us that PGE crews removed a barbecued squirrel from the transformer hours later; her air conditioner again quickly floods her store with cool comfort.

Beating the heat, kids in Powellhurst-Gilbert’s Raymond Park make good use of the water feature installed by Portland Parks & Recreation in 2005. A fully-dressed parent, sitting in the shade of nearby trees, says, “I’m about ready to join them!”

Las Vegas weather moves north
We ask Dan Keirns, meteorologist with the National Weather Service‚ located here in outer NE Portland‚ if Tuesday’s temperature record-breaking heat wave would continue.

“According to our records going back well over 100 years,” Keirns tells us, “at 102 degrees, we did set a new record high temperature for July 10.”

Our sweltering heat wave was due, Keirns informs us, to a large area mass of high pressure anchored over the Pacific Northwest. “Also, there was a condition we call a ‘heat low pressure’ that developed out of the Great Basin; this allowed us to share hot weather typical of Las Vegas. The pattern of high heat extended up into Canada.”

The sign at Division Crossing, on SE 122nd Avenue at Division Street, confirms our record-high temperatures.

As the weather system shifted, it allowed rain to move northward from the south coast, adds Keirns. “Our rain on July 12 was spotty; the most reported was a tenth of an inch. There were a few [storm] cells that made pretty good rain.”

‘Normal’ summer weather to resume
“The [hot weather] ridge is moving the east, and a trough of low pressure is moving in. We’ll be moving to more seasonal temperatures, around the 80 degree mark, throughout next week,” forecasts Keirns.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why the folks who live in this unique community love their traditions‚ like a July 4th Parade and potluck picnic‚

Many adults, and most of the kids of the City of Maywood Park, pose for their annual “community portrait”, taken before they parade through the neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
They don’t advertise their parade; people don’t camp out to hold their prized “spot” along the route. The citizens of the City of Maywood Park don’t hold their July 4th Parade to encourage tourism or improve their image in the world.

“We love our traditions,” comments the mayor of this small city, which is surrounded by Portland, snuggled in the northeast corner of the intersection of interstate freeways 205 and 84.

We can’t help it‚ we tell the mayor how much his city reminds us of television’s fictional “Mayberry USA“.

“In many ways, we are like the Mayberry that was depicted on TV,” Mayor Hardie says with a broad smile. “The City of Maywood Park is a nice, quiet, comfortable place to live.”

Hardie’s official proclamation for Independence Day is simple: “Have a safe, enjoyable day together.”

Another tradition on this day is the “Community Photograph” taken by professional photographer, Patrick Smith.

Mary Jo and Jeff Steffen — City of Maywood Park’s Citizens of the Year

Citizen of the Year named
As Mayor Hardie helps organize the photo, we meet Maywood Park’s “Citizen of the Year”, Jeff Steffen.

“I lived here with my parents in 1959,” Steffen says. “We lived on a wooded lot right over there,” he says, pointing to an area that’s now the I-205 freeway.

We learn Steffen was the city’s mayor at one time, and has served as the city attorney for “let’s say — a long, long time. Long before the city of Portland tried to annex us. It is a feeling of camaraderie I don’t think I’d get anywhere else. It truly has a small-town feel, while being surrounded by a big city.”

The City of Maywood Park parade is on the march!

Parade grows as it goes
It doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes for the parade, led by Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies in a patrol car, playing Susa marches over their PA system‚ to complete the route around the neighborhood.

As we’ve noted in past years, this is one of the few parades that end larger than they begin. Neighbors who aren’t satisfied simply to watch the parade go by join in the throng.

Following the parade, residents get together for an old-fashioned potluck barbecue; and later, for “safe and sane” fireworks.

“These traditional events are important,” Hardie explains, “because our people have a proud heritage in Maywood Park. We’re proud to be separate from the City of Portland. We feel it is important to gather several times a year to meet and greet one another. Our newcomers meet established families. Events like our July 4 Celebration gives us a strong sense of community.”

While it isn’t the biggest summertime event around, the City of Maywood Park’s Independence Day Parade and Celebration certainly feels like it has the most “heart”.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Members of the “Parkrose Posse” are out to get ya‚ to come to the 10th Annual Barn Bash, that is‚

Members of the “Parkrose Posse” hope to see you at 10th Annual Barn Bash!

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
On July 14, hundreds of folks will be dressing down and heading to Parkrose for the “10th Annual Rossi Farms Barn Bash”.

This great 21-and-over event, held every year at Rossi Farms, raises money for the Parkrose Youth Activities Fund. More than 30 area sponsors donate food, services, or money, to underwrite the event.

The $12 entrance fee buys an all-you-can-eat BBQ chicken dinner, cooked up by the Parkrose Lions Club‚ and they really know how to cook chicken right. The dinner is served from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

For entertainment, patrons can take in the Wild Western Action Show performed by Turkey Creek Productions‚ it’s a blast (or two!). These professional actors, dressed in authentic costuming, portray the rough-and-tumble activities one might see in Parkrose a century ago. There’s as much humor as action, in the scenes they present.

Also, in the barn, visitors may choose to dance to live country music provided by The Last Rodeo Band.

Sip premium craft beers donated by the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company at the no-host bar (you pay, but the cost is reasonable).

Check outer East Portland stores for tickets, or buy at the gate. The fun starts at 6:00 p.m., and it runs until midnight.

Rossi Farms is located at 3839 NE 122nd Ave. at NE Shaver Street.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

They say it looked like sticks of dynamite; read what authorities say they actually found in this home improvement store‚

As the crew of Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 12 prepares to leave, employees and shoppers head back into the Home Depot store on N.E. Glenn Widing Drive — after standing in the heat on Portland’s hottest July 10 in history.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Authorities speculate it was a prank that cleared the Home Depot store, just north of NE Airport Way, just after 4:00 p.m. on July 10.

But it wasn’t a laughing matter to the customers and employees of the store‚ made to wait outside, on the scorching parking lot pavement, for more than an hour‚ in 104 degree heat.

Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman John Hill said fire crews were initially sent out on a call about a fire in a bathroom. When they investigated, they found a “suspicious package there with, what looked like sticks of dynamite with fuses.”

After the bomb squad finds smoke bombs, not high explosives, police break down their safety perimeter around the store. In the background, workers take shelter from the blazing sun in the shadow of the closed CompUSA store.

After fighting their way through late-afternoon traffic, the Portland Police Bureau’s bomb squad investigated the potential bomb. Their conclusion: the sticks were, most likely, a commercial smoke bomb.

Officials say there was no danger of an explosion, and no one was hurt.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Police confirm that the vehicle which killed the boy was driven by his 21-year-old sister; but officials say they’re still sorting out exactly what happened‚

Late into the evening investigators from city and county agencies work to figure out why a 7-year-old boy was killed on a residential street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This case starts with a 5:00 p.m. call to 9-1-1, reporting that there is a fatal collision between pedestrian and vehicle in the 2700 block of SE 153rd Avenue, about a block south of SE Division Street, on July 12th.

Soon, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team investigators, the bureau’s Homicide Division, and an investigator with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse team try, with limited success, to unravel how and why a 7-year-old boy is dead.

“Upon arrival, officers found a deceased boy, 7-year-old Denis Onofreychuk, in the driveway of a residence,” reports police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “Investigators believe the boy died after being hit by a car driven by his sister, 21-year-old Valentina Yarovenko.”

Initial statements by members of the family indicate that the collision occurred at, or near, the location where the child was found, says Schmautz. “Witness statements and physical evidence contradicted this information.”

At least one witness tells officers that the child was running next to, or perhaps hanging on, the car, as it was southbound on SE 153rd Avenue. Subsequent interviews with detectives, who use an interpreter for the interviews, help to bridge the perceived gap between the initial statements and the subsequent interviews.

On-scene, we attempt to interview several of the numerous people gathered nearby‚ but none of them will speak with us.

“At this time no one is in custody or being detained in connection with the investigation. An autopsy is scheduled, and detectives are continuing the investigation,” Schmautz adds.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you missed this fun and informative event, see why you should plan to attend the East Precinct Open House next year‚

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officer Brian Hunzeker helps Lucas Lechuga Jr. try on a patrol motorcycle, with the support of his mom and dad, Tisha and Lukas.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Helping citizens connect with their law officers is the theme a yearly open house held by the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct.

“We plan all kinds of activities to bring members of our community in to see our precinct,” explained Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs.

Martha, Carlos and Isabel Pagan meet Portland Police mount, Jack and his human partner, Mounted Officer Paka Searle.

Third-year Portland Police East Precinct Cadet, Ryan Mele, proves he’s the “Emeril” of the Open House BBQ grill. “I’m looking forward to law enforcement as a career. I don’t think there is any more satisfying job out there.”

Spencer Duncan gets final instructions from Officer Cox before he rides the bicycle safety training course called “Bike Rodeo”.

The open house was carnival of law enforcement attractions. In addition to opening their motor-home-like mobile precinct for inspection, mounted officers, members of the SERT team, the bomb squad with their remote-control robot and a bike safety rodeo were some of the hands-on exhibits available to the more than 500 visitors who came by on June 23.

The Portland Police East Precinct Cadets provided hospitality to everyone who visited‚ grilling up a complete BBQ lunch for more than 400 visitors.

“It is important to us that people can come out and see that their police are people, like everyone else,” Crebs told us. “When they come to our open house, people get to see what we’re doing with their tax dollar.”

K-9 Officer Shawn Gore, with his partner Eddie, talks with visitors Ryan McLaughlin and Ioanita Costache.

At the armaments table is SERT Officer Larry Wingfield, talking with Carl Fincher. “Very interesting to see the equipment our police uses in their work,” says Fincher.

The basis of “community policing” continued Crebs, is that the police and the people they serve work together as partners to reduce crime, as well as the fear of crime, where they live and work.

“If in individual feels comfortable talking to us, because we’ve already established a relationship, it help them feel like they can call and report a problem or crime, when that time comes,” the commander explained.

Loaded up with goodies after visiting the East Precinct Open House are Evan, Brandon, and Caleb, with their mom, Darlene Peterson.


East Portland Crime Reduction Specialist Rosanne Lee and Wilkes Community Group Chair Ross Monn discussed plans for National Night Out, this year on August 7.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Career-after-career, Teena Ainslie has helped young people in outer East Portland become more successful adults. You’ll be amazed to learn about her NEXT career‚

Although she’s departing as the program director for Parkrose High School ASPIRE program, Teena Ainslie says she’s excited about her next project.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Over the years, we’ve told you how the ASPIRE program, lead by Teena Ainslie, helped Parkrose High School kids make important higher education or workforce training decisions.

“This is my third retirement from the same line of work,” Ainslie told us at her “Re-retirement Party” held in the school’s library. “It’s been wonderful helping young people find their way, in my previous career with David Douglas High School, and then in Parkrose.”

Ainslie served as an AmeriCorps Member stationed at Parkrose High for two years before joining the College & Career Center as a part-time assistant for an additional two years.

“The grant funding for her position has evaporated,” reported Meg Kilmer, her supervisor, “and it will be challenging to continue the program without Teena’s leadership.”

ASPIRE, Kilmer added, is a statewide college-prep mentoring program. “Teena recruited, trained, and supported dozens of ASPIRE advisors, as they coached many college-bound youth of Parkrose High.”
Helped kids find careers

Seeing the kids develop was the best part of her current assignment, Ainslie said. “Working with their volunteer adult mentors, our students were able to get a realization of their career possibilities, and start developing a career path for themselves. They learned what they had to offer; and which skills they would need to develop, to achieve their goals.”

Aircraft carrier school
“It’s been wonderful,” Ainslie continued. I’ll miss all of the wonderful volunteers, parents, staff members and students in Parkrose.”

But when we asked if she was going to “take it easy”, Ainslie shook her head, and with a twinkle in her eye, she said, “I’m working on a project with the USS Ranger aircraft carrier. Part of this is developing a vocational school connected with the project here in Portland. This is going to be my next career. I’m pouring all of my 40-years-worth of experience into this project. It’s going to be fun.”

Ainslie said she’s working with a group that aims to park the USS Ranger at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2.

For more information about the aircraft carrier, Ainslie suggested a visit to www.ussranger.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Although it seems city government has put off dealing with crumbling roads and traffic safety issues for years, see what PDOT’s Commissioner, Sam Adams, is doing to start moving the city toward improving our transportation infrastructure‚

Judy Welch, Lents Neighborhood resident, and Alicia Reese, Chair of the Woodland Park Neighborhood, sign in at the outer East Portland transportation meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Pay now for road maintenance‚ or pay a lot more, later on‚ was Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams’ theme at a series of town hall meeting held across Portland in late June and early July. We took in the meetings in inner Southeast Portland on June 20, and the town hall at Central Northeast Neighbors on NE Sandy Boulevard on July 2.

“Portland’s streets and roads are deteriorating rapidly,” Adams told us before he addressed citizens attending SE Portland “Transportation Priorities and Funding Options” town hall sessions.

“We have to make the tough decision to get on top of transportation system repairs. If we don’t start now, it will cost all of us much more if we delay,” Adams said.

“Our transportation system is in trouble,” says Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, as he begins his PDOT town hall tour by documenting the problems with Portland’s roads.

The purpose of these public sessions was to explore the options regarding Portland’s street maintenance and safety backlog, the Commissioner said.

“We are here to learn about the street safety and maintenance concerns of the people who live here. We’re here to ask for their feedback. We’re asking them to prioritize the work that should be done, if we had more money. And, we’re discussing the various funding options that might meet those priorities,” said Adams.

Transportation troubles defined
In his opening remarks at both well-attended town hall meetings, Adams spelled out why the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) says our transportation system is in trouble:

  • 3,941 miles of streets, or 32%, of arterials are in poor condition;
  • 157 bridges, (22% of them) are in poor condition;
  • 992 traffic signals, (43%) are in poor condition;
  • Too many Portlanders are being injured and killed in traffic crashes; and,
  • Deferred maintenance adds an estimated $9 million annually to future costs.

Low vehicle fuel tax rates to blame
The reason Portland’s street transportation system is in bad shape, Adams explained, is a lack of funding.

“There hasn’t been an increase in the 24-cent per gallon state gasoline tax since 1993. And, the Portland metro region receives only 46 cents out of each dollar paid in state gas tax and vehicle registration fees,” said Adams.

More than half of the time during the town hall meeting was dedicated to allowing citizens to express their concerns about roads and street safety.

Similar values discussed; except for bicycle transportation
Although the specifics differed, the general theme of questions and comments we heard at the two meetings were similar, with one exception: bicycles.

Many folks attending the inner SE Portland meeting raised their voices in favor of bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

At the meeting in outer East Portland several days later, a different attitude became apparent. When a community member said he objected to the amount of money spent on bike lanes; spontaneous applause broke out.

“How much money is being spent on bike lanes?” the commissioner was asked. Adams stated that 1.35% of the transportation budget was spent for bicycle lanes. “About 3% of people in Portland use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation,” Adams added.

Other questions; and answers
Adams was peppered with queries such as: “Did the Tram take money that could have used for road maintenance?”

Adams replied that PDC tax-increment-funded dollars can only be used to increase capacity, not to repair or maintain.

Asked if the city spent too much for light rail and streetcar lines, Adams answered, “Transportation funding is complicated. Federal and state light rail funds must be spent only on light rail.” He added that an increase in parking meter and garage fees, along with other undisclosed funds, supports streetcar operation, along with $1.6 million from the city’s budget.

Asked to comment on how “tax abatements on expensive downtown high-rise condos” hurt street maintenance funding, Adams responded, “I voted against the last round of tax abatements. Where I live in Kenton (near St. Johns), we all pay full taxes.”

When questioned why the backlog on inadequate or defective traffic signals was so great, Adams said many of the traffic signals that are failing are old; the city has delayed replacing them.

Sidewalks: the homeowner pays
A question asked in both sessions concerned what agency has the responsibility for building and maintaining sidewalks that run in front of residences.

“In most places,” Adams responded, “sidewalks and curbs are improvements that are, or were, the responsibility of the developer. In some places, the county didn’t require sidewalks, so they weren’t built.”

Questions “wasteful spending”
Quizzed if PDOT could cut “wasteful spending”, Adams answered, “I’m dedicated to improving efficiencies. The number of [PDOT] city employees, per capita, has not increased. As Commissioner [of PDOT] for the last two years, I can say we’ve reoriented the agency, and taken it in a new direction.”

When asked why seemingly-good arterial streets are now being repaved, Adams replied, “The Portland City Auditor has stated the city isn’t doing enough to prevent streets from deterioration.” He explained that shallow grinding and repaving projects prevent much-more-costly later repairs to the street’s foundation.

Several of those in attendance used the meeting as a forum to praise or decry public transit, to point out what they see as the city’s fiscal boondoggles, to speak against tax abatements and infill development, or to complain about poor roads and a lack of sidewalks in their neighborhoods.

Playing “Stump the Commissioner”, one wag opined that charging more for metered parking spaces could help defray road maintenance costs and asked, “Exactly how many parking spaces in the city?” Adams answered, “I don’t know.”

Opinion poll points out problems
“Research shows strong results for road repair, maintenance, and safety,” Adams quoted from public opinion survey taken in January.

When outer East Portland residents were asked for their opinion of the area’s greatest transportation needs, “light rail” and “pothole repair” were the top two topics. Across all four quadrants of the city, “pothole repair” came up most frequently.

Sam Adams states, in dollars and cents, what SE Portland neighbors can expect to pay in increased taxes, to get safer streets and save crumbling roads.

Funding options
“I’m not asking you to sign a blank check for transportation,” Adams stated. “I’m asking you to focus on selecting projects that save the most money, and save the most lives.”

Adams then presented several funding concepts. These included local bond funding options paid by property tax, an increase in the local fuel tax of 12 cents per gallon, Street Maintenance Fees, and employee and business taxes.

Research shows, the commissioner said, public opinion favors a “Street Safety and Maintenance Fee” of just over $30 per residence per year‚ generating about $15 million annually. Those polled were almost evenly split when asked if they would accept a local fuel tax increase.

Commissioner voted “very well prepared”
People we polled after the meetings rated Commissioner Adams as being “very well prepared” for these meetings. “He had an answer for everything,” was a typical comment‚ some said it in a sincere tone of voice, others sounded sarcastic.

Those attending were urged to take a “transportation survey” and “vote” on the importance of issues, and solutions. Several neighbors grumbled that some of the questions appeared “loaded” to favor increasing taxes. “It’s like they’re asking, ‘Do you want to see your roads crumble; and have more people be killed crossing the street‚ or pay a little more in taxes’,” one attendee commented to us.

See you in September
A draft proposal developed from PDOT’s research, and data gathered from the informational surveys taken at the meetings, will be revealed in a series of public meetings scheduled in September.

The outer East Portland meeting will be on September 20, at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Community Room at 737 SE 106th Avenue, across from Floyd Light Middle School.

The inner Southeast Portland meeting is scheduled for September 24 at St. Philip Neri Church, on Division Street at 2408 SE 16th Avenue.

Adams documents maintenance and repair needs that PDOT has uncovered in inner SE Portland.

Update: Study findings
On July 10, Commissioner Adams released information regarding the surveys taken in his round of neighborhood coalition meetings.

“The results are surprising,” Adams wrote. “At each of the town halls, neighbors expressed very strong support for new funding sources to address basic transportation needs.”

According to Adams, the PDOT survey shows:

  • “Transportation is important. Transportation ranks second to schools as Portlanders’ highest priority.
  • “Intersections and school crossings need to be safer. Portlanders want safer crosswalks, especially around schools and at intersections.
  • “Find new funding sources — Portlanders dislike over-reliance on the state gas tax, and strongly encourage funding diversification.
  • “Promote conservation — New funding sources that encourage conservation are most favored; a local gas tax is strongest followed by a ‘gas guzzler’ tax and a fee on parking spaces.
  • “Be clear and accountable — While Portlanders want a full-service package, they also want transparency and accountability. Portlanders support: an independent oversight committee, buy-in from neighborhoods and neighborhood business districts, capped administrative costs, a defined list of projects, and ‘sunsetting’ taxes and fees after 10 years.
  • “Get it done. Town hall attendees support more expansive funding packages than the $23 million proposal Adams presented: eliminating the maintenance backlog in ten years at $45 million annually scored highest, followed by a more comprehensive package at $70 million per annum.”

For complete survey results, see: CommissionerSam.com/transportationsurveyresults

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Volunteers working with Senn’s Dairy Park in Parkrose didn’t give up on their dream to starting a community garden. Learn more about the first community garden in the neighborhood, right here‚

A little rain‚ actually a steady downpour‚ didn’t stop Barbara Nizich from planting her plot.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago, outer East Portland was drenched in a series of rainstorms. But that moisture, followed with lots of sun, has helped crops grow well at the new Community Garden at Senn’s Dairy Park in Parkrose.

Life-long connection to the location
Barbara Nizich was planting her crop when we visited. “I’m planting mostly vegetables. Peas, beans, beats, korabi, tomatoes and a couple of winter squash,” she told us.

Nizich said she decided to try a plot in a community garden because where she lives, in the City of Maywood Park, the tree canopy is too dense to grow a garden.

“What is making this especially fun for me,” Nizich continued,  “is, as a teenager, one of the first places I got to drive the family car was here to Senn’s Dairy, to get milk for the family. Now, here I am, tending my garden.”

On the Community Garden’s opening day, the park also offered crafts for kids. Here, Amy and Kyran Salvador are making birdhouses.

Park nears completion
Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Marcy Emerson-Peters stopped by to check on the new garden’s progress. “Isn’t it great? Even in the rain, people are coming here to plant their gardens.”

Emerson-Peters said each feature added to the park draws more attention to it. “Completion for our park, playground and all, is scheduled by the end of the year. This is exciting.”

Liza Judge and Leslie Pohl-Kosbau — Community Parks Director for Portland Parks & Recreation — help new Parkrose gardeners get started, at the new Senn’s Dairy Park location.

Garden plots for all
“In addition to tilled garden beds, this garden features raised beds designed and built for people with mobility and disability issues,” said Leslie Pohl-Kosbau, community parks director Portland Parks & Recreation.

Pohl-Kosbau said the garden offers a total of 26 plots. “We’re also installing a shed and picnic table for the gardeners. The area is also fenced to help protect the garden.”

A garden plot costs $45 per season, with a $10 deposit. “People can garden all year; the next cycle starts in Feburary,” said Pohl-Kosbau.

For more information regarding community gardens – anywhere in East Portland – call (503) 823-1612 or E-mail at comgardens@ci.portland.or.us.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at the result of this joint garden education project that helps grade school kids from inner SE Portland gain a hands-on agricultural experience‚

Johathan Suarez, Duyle Le, and Kimberly Alvarez from Lane Middle School show off part of the crop they picked at the Learning Garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the students crossed SE 60th Avenue from Lane Middle School to the Learning Garden Laboratory for a spring celebration a couple of weeks ago, they were joining kids from Atkinson and Woodmere Schools, and from the Native Montessori Program at Richmond School.

“Today is about getting the whole community‚ all generations‚ together to celebrate,” one of the coordinators, Judy Bluehorse Skelton, told us. “As we get to know one another and share food, we connect with this land once again.”

The kids filtered through the planted rows, some cultivated the soil, and others picked vegetables they’d prepare for their lunch.

As part of their Spring Celebration, children and adults chanted a Native American song, “Haya-ha-haya”, expressing their thankfulness for the sun, the rain and the good earth as they walked around the sunflower garden.

“The Parks Bureau owns this property,” explained Jeff Milkes, SE Services Manager for Portland Parks and Recreation. “We have an agreement with the folks who created the Learning Garden with Portland Public Schools and Portland State University. It’s a great partnership, and fantastic use of the land.”

Explains the garden’s function
Asking who could best explain the program at the Learning Garden Laboratory, we were directed to Portland State University’s Prof. Pramod Parajuli.

“This is a ten-acre outreach and teaching station, located here in the heart of Southeast Portland,” Parajuli told us.

Prof. Pramod Parajuli with Sarah Goforth children from Native Montessori Program, part of PPS Native American Title VII program at the Richmond School 41st and Division.

“We’re trying to create a kind of a learning community where we not only learn about the human society, but also the ‘more than human’ society, together. We’re creating an intersection, a fusion; a kind of biological and cultural conglomeration,” continued Parajuli.

The professor said the collaboration connects PSU graduate students with the next generation of leaders and educators [grade school children].

“We are entering into an ‘ecological era’ that our educational institutions need to embrace,” added Parajuli, “to prepare future generations who will translate our ecological vision into what we do, how we teach, what we eat and drink; how we protect our food, water, and air.”

Atkinson School students Kennedy, Fiona and Saela are “picking their lunch” at the SE Portland Learning Garden.

Practically speaking, the facility provides opportunities for 250 students to learn about how the foods they grow relate to the region and to the agro-ecological and culinary cultures of Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

The students gathered for a short program, including a Native American song thanking the good earth. Then, the kids headed for the gardens and picked vegetables that were used to prepare their lunch.

As they gathered greens, the smiles on their faces were evidence that they enjoyed learning that produce comes really from the ground‚ not a plastic bag.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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