Read about this Boy Scout’s project‚ it helps him earn Eagle rank, and honors his grandfather, at the same time‚

Hauling laurel tree branches and weeds are (top left) Matt Faunt, (bottom left) Jonah Mahoney, (bottom right) Kevin Sharp, (top right) Collin Faunt and (top center) Jessica Faunt.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For many in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, the recently-completed Hazeltine Park is a proud symbol of cooperation between neighbors and the City.

On this Saturday, a few weeks ago, the park is abuzz with another cooperative activity‚ a large-scale spruce-up effort‚ led by a 16-year-old young man, Matt Faunt.

Dick Hazeltine, the park’s namesake, with chainsaw in hand.

Faunt is an Eagle Scout candidate, previously Senior Patrol Leader for Boy Scout Troop 64. “I was born and raised in Westmoreland, but this park has special meaning to me. It’s named after my grandfather, Dick Hazeltine. Not only am I earning a rank for which I’ve worked; I’m doing it in a way that honors my grandfather.”

One of the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout, Faunt tells us, is creating and successfully executing a Leadership Service Project.

Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association’s Gail Kiely hauls a big load.

“My main role is organizing the project and delegating tasks to other people,” states Faunt, shovel in hand. “I can help on the project when I’m needed. But my main tasks are creating the project, calling people to get them involved, and making and handing out flyers that ask neighbors to volunteer to help.”

Faunt’s recruitment campaign is successful: under a sky threatening rain, 36 volunteers show up from the neighborhood, along with members of Boy Scout Troop #64, leaders of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association, and workers from Portland Parks and Recreation. Faunt’s troops are diligently weeding flowerbeds and spreading mulch throughout the park.

Jalal Haddad volunteers at the Hazeltine Park clean up.

“And, we’re cutting down the laurel trees in the back of the park. This will really improve the view,” supervisor Faunt explains. “We’ll be transplanting the shrub roses and planting as well.”

In the front west corner of the park, other volunteers are digging post holes, preparing to install a kiosk that will display park and neighborhood information.

Up on the truck, Jill Craig, a volunteering neighbor, helps load a PP&R truck with branches.

When you drive past the 5300 block of SE Flavel Drive, you’ll see the results the hard work of this new Eagle Scout’s volunteers‚ an improved city park in the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Does anyone care if we have a county fair? See why the increased gate count at the 101st Multnomah County Fair indicates there will be a 102nd edition‚

Totally concentrating on his first pony ride is Christian Cop.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Since the Multnomah County Commissioners withdrew their support for the county fair years ago, the event had dwindled to the point of near-extinction.

Unlikely locations, such as the Portland Meadows race track, and a minuscule promotion and operating budget, have nearly shuttered the century-old traditional family event.

SE Portland back-yard gardener Larry Smith showing his award-winning, and very, very big trombone squash.

Jeanette Benson and Katie Olson, judging flowers and arrangements at the Multnomah County Fair.

But, 25,000 folks passing through the Oaks Park gate during the Memorial Day weekend gave credence to their 2007 slogan, “We’re Still Kickin’ – Get your kicks at the 101st Multnomah County Fair”.

“Thanks to good weather, and the support of the community, this was a very successful event,” reported Steve Higgs, one of the fair’s coordinators.

The three-day event included entertainment, talent contests, pirate shows, a chicken barbecuing contest‚ and the wacky Weiner Dog races.

Kristin Madden and Capt’n Mad Tim provide pirate fun, as they promote “Scream at the Beach”. “Come see our October show,” Mad Tim urges.

Karly Morris tap-dances her way to a trophy at the Kid’s Stage. She’s a Junior Blazer Dancer.

The event, held at Sellwood’s Oaks Amusement Park, included traditional county fair events such as officially sanctioned rabbit and cavy judging, pony rides, and a petting zoo. And, the amusement park polished up and operated all of their rides, providing thrills for family members of all ages.

By going back to the traditional values of county fairs ‚Äì community, friends, and simple entertainment‚ this event provided great memories for the many hundreds of families who visited. And, the $8,000 raised by the fair’s foundation silent auction will help its dedicated volunteers mount the 102nd edition in 2008.

Leather worker Low Gray Wolf shows his craft.

Jason Whitehurst, Cavy Judge, traveled from Salem. This particular show is by Rose City Rabbit and Cavy Fanciers.

Tabatha Ruiz, Jadon, and Jon solve the puzzle, in Humphrey’s Farmyard Frolics.

Pat Chappell and Brandon Richardson were winners in the “Big Cluck Cook-off” at the county fair. “Garlic, seasoned salt, and pepper makes it work for us,” said Pat.

Shelden Richards, with Hayden Pinney‚ who is holding his winning racing Weiner Dog. Pinney says, “She’s the fastest wiener dog here; she’s primed, she’s ready, she’ll take on any hot-dog here!”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Even worse than the damage already done to 40+ vehicles is the concern that the hooligans are still on the loose‚ and might be returning. See exclusive photos‚

The owner of this car‚ one of many damaged in the early-morning smashing spree‚ taped up the baseball-sized hole to keep rain from damaging the interior of her car.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s clear: windows of about 40 vehicles were bashed in, or smashed out, during the early morning vandalism spree on June 28.

What isn’t clear is why the perpetrators of this senseless destruction chose this activity ‚Äì or who the thugs may be.

The area of outer East Portland affected by the crime lies between SE Stark Street, north to NE Halsey Street, and from 77th Avenue to as far east as 122nd Avenue.

Teens chased by neighbors
Police officers are called into the neighborhood about 3:30 a.m., answering a car prowl report, officials say. A neighbor who says he just chased a teenager out of the area flags down officers, as they roll into the area. A witness reports seeing a silver car, driven by a teenager, flee the neighborhood.

A K-9 team patrol car rushes to the area, but no suspects are tracked down.

Rear windows targeted
As owners inspect their newly-damaged cars, they notice nothing has been stolen from them. Instead of finding items removed, many of them find their vehicles now have something extra: Baseball to softball size rocks in the back seats of cars.

As the sun rises and residents in the affected area awaken, officers find a rapidly-increasing number of cars with the back windows broken out.

Afraid of a return visit
With so many cars damaged in the area of NE 77th Avenue, north of NE Glisan Street, residents with whom we spoke say they are afraid to be identified. We assure them we won’t report even their block address.

“We don’t know who they are; the police haven’t caught them‚ they’re still out there. We’re worried they’ll come back tonight,” says one nervous resident as he works in his yard.

The neighbor of the owner of this car says the entire rear window was smashed out “for no apparent reason. They didn’t steal anything.”

Further east from the other incidents, near SE 109th Avenue and SE Stark Street another car is damaged.

Marilyn Blufton tapes plastic across the gaping hole in the rear window of her black Toyota. “This car isn’t anything special; but it is my transportation. It’s how I get to work. I don’t understand what the thrill is to smash up someone’s car.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Apparently, this home-invading thief picked the wrong target‚ and was shot in the head. Learn what the neighbors have to say, and see exclusive photos, right here‚

NE Glisan St. was shut down all morning while police investigated the shooting of a man accused of breaking into this Hazelwood home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“About 5 a.m. this morning, the sound of lots of sirens and police cars woke us up,” says Sunny Frankel. She lives in Hazelwood, just across NE Glisan Street where police have strung yellow crime-scene tape around a home in the 10700 block.

“You could hear lots of commotion,” Frankel adds. “An ambulance came and went. I hear there was a shooting.”

Burglary in progress
Police log the early morning disturbance on June 29 as “Incident # 311: burglary in progress” at 4:50 am.

As Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers roll to the scene, the call is updated; they learn someone had been shot. Officers arrive and locate an individual who, officials say, has suffered a possibly life-threatening gunshot wound.

Officers get 71-year-old Leroy Hudson and another resident out of the house and then, go in to investigate.

Police aren’t saying much about the case‚ other than they’re investigating. Here, you can see the CSI heading into the home.

“They found one person down, in an enclosed porch area,” says police spokesman, Sgt. Brian Schmautz.

Homeowner cooperates
We’re told that Hudson heard someone breaking into his house, armed himself, and confronted the invading burglar.

The police say this man, Brent Sweet, was shot after he broke into Hudson’s home.

“The 26-year-old burglary suspect suffered a single gunshot wound to the head. He is in critical condition at Emanuel Hospital,” is the official word from the police.

Typically, this neighborhood is pretty quiet, neighbors say, and add they hope this shooting with discourage other criminals from trying to break into their home at night.

Officials say Hudson is cooperating with the investigation. Hours later, Schmautz publicly states, “We have no intention to bring charges against Mr. Hudson. And, it’s my understanding that the District Attorney declined to send an investigator to the scene.”

More as this story develops.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

He’ll never get his beloved Chevy El Camino back, but see how the East Portland CRU helped him recover his engine and parts, in these exclusive photos‚

While Caleb Wood still isn’t going to be driving his El Camino back to Idaho, at least he can take his customized engine and accessories home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
34-year-old Caleb Wood says he’s sad, and a little angry, that he won’t be driving his classic, 1972 Chevrolet El Camino back home to Idaho.

Wood says he learned today that cut-up car parts resembling those of his El Camino were loaded on a scrap truck and hauled away a couple of days ago. But, at least, he’ll go home with his engine.

Wood had to partially disassemble the engine to be able to remove it from the garage from which it was being sold.

Stolen off the street
“I came to Portland a few weeks ago to go to car shows, and do a cruise-in or two with my buddy,” Wood recounts. “I was heading home the morning of June 4, but we woke up to find my car was gone. It was stolen off the street.”

Wood says friends encouraged him to peruse Craig’s List and E-Bay looking for parts from his missing car. “Everyone told me, because the car was a classic car, they’d part it out. I started checking.”

Finds June 28 ‘Craig’s List’ ad
Weeks of checking the web-based sales sites turned up nothing‚ until Wood came across this June 28 listing. Wood confirmed the Craig’s List ad that follows is the one that caught his attention:

———–

Reply to: sale-361914213@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-06-27, 8:29PM PDT
chevy motor 350+ – $800
polished edelbrock intake holly 650 carb polished hooker headers and turbo 400 tranny all one package $800 obo call laura or jason at 503-760-[withheld].

Location: se portand

it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 361914213

————-

“My car has a Chevy 350 engine; nothing special, they made thousands of them. It’s all the stuff I added to it makes it special, like the custom intake and headers. I knew this had to be my engine they were selling.”

Doing some detective work, Wood calls the number listed in the ad, and agrees to meet a man who calls himself Jason Rickerd, at the house at 2115 Southeast 112th Ave.; just north of Division St.

“We took a look at the motor. Even though they’d painted part of it, it had all of my custom parts on it. It was mine. I just kept cool; we didn’t confront them. I told Rickerd it would probably fit in a car I had, and I’d be back.”

East Precinct CRU Sgt. John Scruggs shows us some of the guns they found in the home where Wood’s engine was offered for sale.

Brings out cops, not cash
Instead of heading to the bank to get some cash, Wood makes a bee-line for Portland Police Bureau East Precinct about 1:00 p.m.

“When Sgt. Anderson called to tell me that Wood positively identified his engine,” Lt. Chris Uehara, acting Commander of East Precinct tells us, “I had Sgt. John Scruggs and his Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) come to the house and recover this engine.”

Says this is community policing at its best
“Fantastic,” Uehara says as a smile broadens across his face. When not acting commander, he’s the lieutenant in charge of CRU.

“This is exactly what we want: citizens calling in and reporting crime,” says Uehara. “Citizens are our eyes and ears in the community. They did it right. They didn’t act as vigilantes; they didn’t take matters into their own hands‚ they did it the right way and called us in.”

Wood comments, “You know, I am from Idaho; we tend to take care of things ourselves. I thought about taking [my engine] back, but saw a lot of other parts at the house and decided to call the police.”

While they’re disappointed they didn’t find Wood’s car intact, CRU team leader, and acting precinct commander, Lt. Chris Uehara says he’s happy these suspected criminals are off the street.

Finds drugs and guns
Uehara reports CRU officers found small, user-amounts of narcotics. “We found some meth paraphernalia in the house. Methamphetamine, auto theft, and burglaries, these activities all go hand-in-hand.”

After searching the house, CRU Sergeant John Scruggs shows us weapons they say came from inside the house where the stolen engine was offered for sale. “I believe there are more guns in the house; we’re still looking.”

Scruggs says they ran the plates on the cars and motorcycles located on the property. “It doesn’t look like they’re stolen. We’ll continue to investigate what’s in the house; we suspect there is more stolen property there; but we have no other complainants.”

Felons arrested
Just after 5:00 p.m., officers arrest 29-year-old Jason Rickerd on one count of “Theft By Receiving in the First Degree” for allegedly (and unknowingly) trying to sell Wood’s engine back to him. He also is charged with one count of “Felon in Possession of a Firearm”.

50-year-old Clifford Rickerd, Jason’s father, was also arrested for Probation Violation. Ironically, Clifford Rickerd is on probation for “Theft By Receiving in the First Degree” in connection with another stolen vehicle.

Welcome to the worldwide ‘fencing operation’
We ask Scruggs if he and the CRU unit are finding more stolen goods showing up on Internet sites like Craig’s List and E-Bay.

“We haven’t detected a marked increase of stolen goods showing up on websites,” reports Scruggs. “We do see these sites used as a medium for selling stolen goods.”

The websites have cut into profits for “fences”, or middlemen, who buy and sell stolen property, the sergeant tells us. “Instead of having a fence give the criminal a dime on a dollar’s worth of property, the criminals now can ‘cut out the middleman’ and get the full fifty cents on the dollar.”

As evening falls, one of those accused stands in the rain, waiting to go to jail.

Not driving back to Idaho
While we talk with officers, Wood and his friend struggle with a rickety homemade engine hoist and carefully lift his engine into the back of his friend’s truck.

Wood’s friend picks up chromed exhaust pipes from the El Camino, and show us how they bottoms were caved in and scraped. “They had to fly the car to do this. It had fly up in the air, and hit so hard that it bottomed out and scraped the pipes,” Wood says.

Wood and officers talk to neighbors along SE 112th Avenue, trying to get additional information. One person says he saw the cut-up pieces of a vehicle, matching Wood’s Chevy, being taken away in a scrap metal truck.

“I guess that means I’m not taking my car back home,” Wood says. “But at least, I got my engine‚ and some of the people involved with this crime.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You might not notice the colorful addition to the Parkrose High School Community Library, so we thought we’d point out this visual legacy left behind by graduating students‚

Graduated seniors Brad Tinsley and Tamiqua Martin designed and created the stained glass panels the now decorate the Parkrose High School Library’s smallest windows.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Parkrose Highs School Class of ’07 graduates, Brad Tinsley and Tamiqua Martin, have left a physical mark on their school. It isn’t a scar‚ but instead, a beauty treatment for the small square windows on the south wall of the Community Library.

The two students created panels made of stained glass; one for each of the windows.

“It took us eight weeks to do the project, from design through installation,” Tinsley told us. “We started it because our teacher said the librarian wanted something that had a flowing design for those windows.”

The stained glass panels decorate each of the small windows on the south wall of the library, when taken together, form a wave pattern. The top left image starts the sequence on the east end of the library; the bottom right photo concludes the pattern on the western end of the room.

Martin explained the process: “We drew a design. We switched it up a little and came up with these panels. It was hard work; foiling took the most time.

After graduation, Tinsley said he signed up with the US Army, enlisting as a military police officer. Martin plans higher education at Mount Hood Community College‚ or may decide to enlist in the US Navy.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

When these two outer East Portland neighborhoods set out to rid their areas of trash, they gather dumpsters full of refuse. See why these volunteers work so hard to clean things up‚

Argay Neighbor Jim Edmonds, one of the nearly 100 neighbors dropping off trash, being checked in by volunteer Bonny Scott at the Argay Clean-up day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“We’ve already had 70 cars so far; it looks like we’ll probably serve 100 neighbors this year,” says Argay Neighborhood volunteer Bonny Scott, as she checks in cars at the early June neighborhood clean-up. “This is the most we’ve had in three years.”

At Shaver Elementary School, Scott is checking in Argay neighbor Jim Edmonds. He says, “This is great! It gives us the chance to clean up the yard and get rid of things.”

Argay Neighborhood Association volunteers Dana McCray and Jane Roffey-Berry don’t mind getting dirty while they help clean up their part of Portland.

Large turnout
Perhaps more important than the good weather, Argay Neighborhood’s chair, Valerie Curry, tells us, is that “we really promoted our clean-up day.”

It wouldn’t be such a successful effort, Curry says, if not for the efforts of the eleven volunteers from the Soccer Club at Parkrose High School. “These young dynamos have been unloading, tossing, pitching, slinging, arranging, and cramming trash and yard debris‚ making the best use of our dumpster space‚ for over four hours. And, they did it with good humor!”

The help of these Parkrose High volunteers was especially helpful, Curry explains, saying, “The leadership of our association presently consists of a small group of “older” neighborhood volunteers, at the moment all females who work hard for their community and who organize periodic special services for the neighborhood, such as a Neighborhood Clean-up Day.”

David Toscano and Connor Leines, two of the eleven Parkrose High School student volunteers help load out up trash in Argay.

Curry says she wants to thank the helpers by name: Matt, Josh, Connor, David, John, Jacob, Nathan, Josh (No. 2), Nick, Jose, and Christian.

“And, we also thank our steadfast neighborhood volunteers Clare & Sharon Mershon, Dana McCray, Alice Ford, Tina Scarborough, Jane Roffey-Berry, Gary Scott, and coordinator Bonnie Scott.

ROSE helps Lents neighbors
‘take out the trash’

Due to the sprawling size of the Lents Neighborhood, clean-up organizers located their dumpsters throughout their area.

“It really helps when people can take their debris and trash just down the street, instead of having to haul it to a central location,” said organizer Judy Welch.

Neighbor Nicole Yates unloads her truck, getting rid of a big old load from our back yard as clean-up coordinator Judy Welch sweeps up at one of the 13 locations.

“We’ve filled two dumpsters here; one with yard debris and one with solid waste,” says Welch.

Overall, this Lents Clean-up filled 13 dumpsters throughout Lents.

This project was partly funded by ROSE Community Development; they sponsored six of drop-box bins.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Businesspeople and neighbors work together, as they plan this community’s future. Now they have gotten a look at the findings of PSU grad student planners. Interested in what they said? Take a look: the complete report is right here‚

Brian Ableidinger introducing the Parkrose Vision Committee

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The people of Parkrose aren’t just wishing and hoping for a bright future, they’re actively planning for it.

Months ago, the City of Portland’s East Portland Planning Liaison, Barry Manning, suggested that Portland State University graduate urban planning students could help the area’s residents and business people develop a comprehensive plan.

After informal meetings and a group workshop called “Planning for Parkrose” on April 24, interested folks gathered at Parkrose High School’s Community room on June 6 student planners’ recommendations.

The text of the formal presentation is at the end of this article‚

Process helps set priorities
Brian Ableidinger, co-owner of Parkrose Hardware, welcomed the group that packed the meeting hall.

“As a business owner, getting input from the neighborhood association about what they want to see in their business district has been an eye-opener for me,” Ableidinger told us during a break in the program. “I learned, for example that most residents really want a Parkrose grocery store.”

When they first started the process, Ableidinger explained, he saw that the both the neighborhood and business associations had their own point of view. “The views are necessarily opposed to one another; they’re just not synchronized. I hope this Vision Committee can bring all of these points of view together to help us develop a plan for a good.”

Neighbor Arnie Osterhaus talks with one of the Portland State University grad student Brian, one of the group who prepared recommendations for the Parkrose Community.

Ableidinger agrees with the recommendation to expand the Parkrose Vision Committee. “I see the committee including other stakeholders in the neighborhood‚ such as the faith community‚ we want to address their needs.”

Having a united front is important to the process Ableidinger says, especially when it comes to Sandy Blvd. redevelopment. “If our businesses and neighbors show city government we are united‚ and have a professional developed plan‚ the leaders will be more amenable. We’ll have more power and influence.”

Retired Parkrose School Superintendent Mike Taylor and Bob Brown, Bob Brown Tires, discuss some of the options the student planners outlined.

Neighborhood leader approve
At the June meeting, Marcy Emerson-Peters, chair of Parkrose Neighborhood Association, told us, “This is a great idea. I’m impressed with the energy people are showing to get this going.”

Emerson-Peters said she thought it was important that businesses in downtown Parkrose are being encouraged to be involved with the plans for developing the city’s business district.

“From the standpoint of neighbors, business district improvements will make Parkrose a more appealing place to shop. It will increase the value of homes. The city will pay more attention to us. And, we’ll attract more investment. This is good for everyone.”

Parkrose people, from all walks of life, come to participate in planning the community’s future.

Parkrose Vision Committee Recommendation Presentation

Findings
1. What would bring you down to Sandy Blvd. more often?

  • Grocery Store: 27% of total points
  • Greater Dining Options: 13%
  • Specific Specialty Stores: 12%
  • Less Prostitution, Crime and Drugs: 9%
  • Improve Neighborhood Appearance: 7%

2. What would you like other people to think of Sandy Blvd. ten years from now?

  • Multi-Cultural Area: 17%
  • Safe and Well-Maintained: 14%
  • Family Friendly Area: 13%
  • Prostitution Free Area: 10%
  • Local Business Oriented: 8%

3. Name three things you think would make Parkrose better?

  • Fewer Adult-Oriented Businesses: 20%
  • Encourage Neighborhood Unity, Communication & Involvement: 14%
  • Improve Neighborhood Appearance: 14%
  • Decrease Prostitution, Crime, Drugs: 8%
  • Prioritize Children: 6%

Goal
Creating a Downtown Parkrose area that would be a vital business district, provide a strong sense of community and thus, make it a “great place to be”.

Recommendations

  • Expand Parkrose Vision Team
  • Invite representatives from other community organizations
  • Formalize monthly meeting schedule
  • Undergo leadership/team building training

Improve Neighborhood Communication

  • Maximize use of existing resources
  • Employ a multi-media approach
  • Develop Parkrose Neighborhood-specific newsletter

Market Parkrose Business District

  • Promote Parkrose as a unified business district providing a range of goods and services
  • Proactively establish district identity and culture
  • Encourage neighborhood residents to shop locally

Enhance Appearance of Sandy Boulevard

  • Improve storefronts and landscaping along Sandy Boulevard
  • An aesthetic and well-maintained commercial district exudes success and attracts consumers

Expand Crime Prevention Programs

  • Further develop current community policing efforts
  • Increasing the sheer number of people on the street is the largest deterrent to crime

Support Sandy as a Neighborhood Center

  • Work with ODOT to have Sandy recognized as a neighborhood center‚ not simply a transportation corridor
  • A Special Transportation Area designation will help ODOT prioritize improvements

Host Neighborhood Event on Sandy

  • Food festivals, street fairs, live music
  • Incorporate existing events onto Sandy
  • Prepare for and celebrate Parkrose’s 100th anniversary in 2011

Develop Community Design Standards

  • Promote development appropriate for Sandy Boulevard
  • Ensures consistency in future development and helps foster identity

Partner with Local Business Support Systems

  • Take advantage of existing business assistance programs to encourage entrepreneurship
  • Fill vacant and underutilized commercial properties

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Even though this program didn’t get a lot of press, see how this unique‚ and successful‚ program positively influenced thousands of teenagers in the greater Portland area‚

Leandra Stanley, a 16-year-old De La Salle High junior and 18-year-old Jordan Thompson from Hillsboro touch up their makeup before they head onstage to sing in the final round of PDX Teen Idol.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Since the competition started in March, 266 talented teenagers, from four Portland area counties, have expressed themselves through music, hoping to be named Portland’s “Teen Idol”.

At the PDX Teen Idol Semifinals in May, the field of 26 entrants was narrowed to ten finalists who performed before a cheering and energized crowd that packed Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium on June 16.

Before the program, we stepped backstage and greeted the nervous contestants. A spirit of camaraderie, reminiscent of the final day at summer camp, pervaded the dressing room.

The judges, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman; Michael Allen Harrison, composer, musician and record producer; Solid State Radio 970 talk show star, musician and rock historian Rick Emerson; Scotty J., Radio 970; Portland musician (Dirty Martini) Stephanie Schneiderman and  Tami Milkes, judge coordinator sit before a full house at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium.

A professionally produced show
Starting at 7 p.m., these top ten musical teens stepped on a professionally-illuminated stage and were accompanied by top-flight live band and backup singers. Only network TV cameras were missing from this expertly-produced show.

Seated along tables in front of the stage were the judges: professional musicians, radio personalities, 2006 Mrs. Oregon, and Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

After each finalist sang their first of two numbers, the judges commented on the performance and assigned scores.

Listening to her belt out “Hopelessly Devoted” and “Chain of Fools”, it was difficult to believe outer East Portland’s Da Vinci Arts School student, Samantha Hooper, is only 13 years old.

As the contestants were changing costumes after the first round, one of the judges, Stephanie Schneiderman of the regional band, Dirty Martini, rocked the house with two well-received songs.

Performers earn standing ovation
At the conclusion of the second round, runners took the judges’ scoring sheets, sealed in envelopes, to Portland Parks & Recreation accountant Cassie Chain for tallying.

Jordan Thompson made her way from tryouts in Hillsboro to become one of ten finalists in the PDX Teen Idol competition‚ did she win? Read on …

From the bleachers to the front row, the crowd gave thunderous applause during a standing ovation for the seven of ten finalists who weren’t chosen to advance to the final round.

Finally, each of the top three singers performed a song‚ composed specifically for this competition, by Portland music pros Keith Schreiner, Jen Folker, and Megan Hope ‚Äì entitled “Who I Am”.

16-year-old Josephine Woolington, hailing from Wilson High, sang “Where You Lead” and “Cry Me a River” well enough to earn her the second-place title.

Milwaukie High School’s Moorea Masa, 15, came in third place singing “Can’t Hurry Love” and “I am Ready for Love”.

The envelope, please!
After the final round, the audience members and the judges cast their votes. Milwaukie High School’s Moorea Masa, age 15, came in third; and 16-year-old Josephine Woolington, hailing from Wilson High, placed second.

The title of 2007 PDX Teen Idol went to 18-year-old Hillsboro native Jordan Thompson. “I’m so excited!” she told us, as she autographed programs for a crowd of admirers. “It was simply the best experience for all of us. We met really great people. And, I was able to do what I love‚ sing and perform.”

18-year-old Jordan Thompson took the grand prize‚ besting more than 250 other entrants‚ to be named Portland’s Teen Idol‚ with her polished performances of “Before He Cheats” popularized by Carrie Underwood, and “Alone”‚ a hit by Heart.

Her mom, Samantha Green, could hardly contain her excitement. “She deserves it. It is something she’s been working toward for a long time. She’s a special girl. Finally, her hard work is paying off for her.”

A new Parks Bureau annual event
The Portland City Commissioner in charge of Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), Dan Saltzman, said he was proud to be part of the program.

“This event has engaged teenagers through out the city. Creating programs like PDX Teen Idol, and extending community center hours, are great examples of what we can do to engage young people in positive activities throughout the city.” Saltzman told us.

Portland Parks & Recreation Southeast Services Manager, Jeff Milkes welcomes hundreds of cheering supports and family members to the first PDX Teen Idol final competition.

PP&R Southeast Services Manager, Jeff Milkes, credited the program’s success to parks bureau coordinators Megan Hope and Natalie Caminiti. The entire list of credits, including many people who volunteered hundreds of hours, filled an entire page in the official program.

“I was amazed by the high level of talent we saw,” commented Milkes. “This will be an annual event. We look forward to even more participation as we reach out more to the communities. We hope to involve all the park and recreation agencies in the four-county area.”

Investing in the city’s youth
Milkes said the program’s budget was about $12,000. “We think the benefit is well worth the cost,” he told us after the event. “It provides positive alternatives for our young people.”

During the week following the competition, we asked Multnomah County Department of Community Justice spokesman Robb Freda-Cowie if he agreed with Milkes’ assessment.

“We know that programs that engage kids in positive activities,” commented Freda-Cowie, “helps them build connections with their community and discover positive outlets for their energies. This helps keep them out of our juvenile justices system.”

Freda-Cowie added that the PDX Teen Idol program budget cost no more than would keeping ten teens people‚ in trouble with the law‚ locked up for four days.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

From slug races to crafts, see why this annual springtime event attracts hundreds of kids to Portland’s only city-owned botanical garden.

Sammy Bidwell watches the slug races being put on by Ron Goodwin at Leach Botanical Gardens.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Typically, Leach Botanical Gardens is relatively quiet, as folks linger in the test gardens, marvel at the natural surroundings, or learn about the unique species of plants and animals found at this outer East Portland nature spot.

But the stillness and serenity was broken in late spring, as children laughed and chattered while they made crafts, listened to stories, discovered nature‚ and rooted for a winner in the slug races.

Kathy Goertz with her grandkids, Lilly and Nick Balladone, make pinecone art with the help of Leach volunteer Marylou Koehler.

“This is one of my favorite races,” volunteer Ron Goodwin told us has he got ready for the next round of slug races.

“This event‚ we hold it each year in May‚ let’s kids have hands-on fun. In larger settings, like at OMSI or the Zoo, there may be a crush of kids around, and they don’t get to actually handle and touch nature,” Goodwin continued.

We saw families making paper flowers and bark animals, and having all kinds of nature-oriented fun. They were planting seeds, looking at insects, and even going on “ladybug walks” with Portland Parks & Recreation helpers.

Putting her own stamp on paper is Arsina Gavrishov — making stamp art.

Goodwin continued, “We want the community to know that Leach Garden is here, in outer southeast Portland, on SE 122nd Ave. south of Foster Road. But even more importantly, we want youngsters to get outdoors and be able to see what nature looks like up close. We have such a large natural space here; there isn’t much of that left in Portland.”

The botanical garden hosts over 2,500 species of plants, giving people plenty to see.

“I’ve got to go,” Goodwin said, as he gently took out slugs and put them on the “race course”. Sammy Bidwell, a first-time visitor was transfixed watching Goodwin handle the slimy mollusks.

“I’m betting on Sluggo,” Sammy exclaimed, after the start of the race.

“Which one is Sluggo?” asked Goodwin.

“He’s the one that’s winning!” replied Sammy.

Sammy, and his new friend, Ron Goodwin, declare “Sluggo” as the winner of this slug race.

Activities all summer long
Be sure to take in Scotty Fairchild’s “Gardener’s Tour” the first Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. For more information, call the garden at 503-761-4751 or 503-823-1671.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It wasn’t a burglary. The driver claims mechanical problems; cops don’t buy his story. You won’t believe the damage that was done — even after you see our exclusive photos‚

The driver tries to explain to Portland Police officers how making a right-hand turn caused his pickup truck to end up parked half-way inside the Woodstock RadioShack store.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Everyone‚ including the driver‚ agrees on what happened late in the evening on June 17. But why a full-sized Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck ended up halfway through the Woodstock RadioShack store front window is still unclear.

Eyewitnesses, watching from Mickey Finn’s across the street, agree on what they saw: The truck was northbound on SE 44th Ave.; it accelerated and fishtailed as it turned right, heading eastbound on SE Woodstock Blvd. It kept turning and drove up the curb, across the sidewalk, popped up the four-brick-high facing, and through the plate glass window storefront.

“A guy and girl got out and started running,” said one patron. “I recognized him, I know his family. But, he walked back to the scene of the accident before the police arrived.”

Although the incident caused extensive damage to the store‚ and shook up other tenants in the building‚ no one was hurt in this crash.

Crash shakes building
When we arrive on scene, we meet Robin, owner of the Bubble Tea restaurant directly east of the RadioShack store.

“I was working late, doing paperwork in the office,” he tells us. “I heard a loud, big sound. I think ‘Something is wrong; really wrong.’ I felt the building shake. Then, I heard the next door alarm going off.”

Driver tries to explain
The driver of the truck, who police later identified as 26-year-old Andrew Rubin Garcia, has no qualms about speaking with us.

“When you drop the truck into four-wheel drive,” Garcia explains, “all of a sudden, all the front and back tires start moving at the same time. As you turn, you fishtail, because the back tires are moving. It is the only way I can explain it. I just turned right, and it fishtailed right into the building.”

The RadioShack store manager arrives to find his storefront demolished, and calls his regional manager, the insurance company, and a board-up service.

Because the truck had dropped into four-wheel drive, Garcia adds, it was easily able to climb over the bricks below the plate glass windows and drive into the store.

Sobriety checked
Portland Police Bureau SE Precinct officers can’t help but smile as passers-by use their cell phones to take photos of the wreck‚ with themselves included in the picture.

Despite claims of a mechanical malfunction, the results of a Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officer’s Field Sobriety Evaluation sends this driver to the Justice Center.

A Traffic Division officer pulls up on his motorcycle. We see Garcia led through a Field Sobriety Evaluation. This officer isn’t smiling as he concludes the tests. Garcia is escorted to a patrol car and taken to the Justice Center.

As of this writing, officials have not released what charges are pending, if any, against Garcia.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

They say the driver had a heart attack and lost consciousness, causing him to veer off Marine Drive. Learn how rescue teams from three agencies worked hand-in-hand to rescue the victim‚ still alive‚

After veering off NE Marine Drive, the pickup truck plunged to a depth of 17 feet under the cold Columbia River’s surface.

By David F. Ashton
A motorist on NE Marine Drive and a cyclist on the bike path tell 911 operators they just saw a black Ford Ranger 4×4 splash into the Columbia River, just west of the Glenn Jackson Bridge, on June 19.

Simultaneously, these witnesses tell emergency operators they see a man struggling to free himself from the vehicle through the rear window‚ but the truck sinks before the driver makes it out.

“Perfect” inter-agency cooperation
To members of three responding rescue agencies, it doesn’t matter why the truck veered off a smooth, straight section of road on a sunny morning.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Dive Rescue Team, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R), and Port of Portland Fire & Rescue all race to the site where the truck slipped under the 61-degree, fast-moving river.

“This incident is a textbook example of ‘perfect’ inter-agency cooperation,” says MSCO spokesman, Lt. Jason Gates, as he fills us in on the rescue effort.

Training exercise turns into rescue effort
When the mid-morning call came in, Gates says, the MCSO Dive Rescue Team are training at the 42nd Street boat ramp [on NE Marine Drive]. They grab their gear and arrive on scene six minutes later.

As MCSO divers charge into water, Port of Portland’s crew located the vehicle‚ 17 feet under the river’s surface.

“Fighting against the river’s strong current, MCSO diver Dep. Brent Laizure finds the driver, still stuck, half-way out of the pick-up’s rear window,” reports Gates. “Laizure cuts the driver free from his seat belt, pulls him free, and transfers the seemingly dead driver to Gresham Fire diver Lt. Jay Cross.”

Removed from his truck by a sheriff’s deputy, then being taken to the river’s bank by a Gresham Fire diver, PF&R firefighters carry the accident victim up to waiting paramedics.

Cross swims and guides the patient to shore where PF&R rescue workers bring the victim from the river’s edge, then up the steep embankment to awaiting paramedics.

Paramedics establish a pulse
The rescued driver wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse. Despite the two dozen minutes the man had been under water, paramedics applied CPR and oxygen, and to their astonishment were able to establish a pulse. They transported him to Emanuel Hospital.

Because of the rapid response of three agencies, paramedics were able to reestablish the victim’s pulse.

“From the time the man went into the water to recovery was approximately 26 minutes,” Gates explains. “Although rare, in cold-water drowning, there exists a possibility of resuscitation.”

The driver, identified as 55-year-old Roy Clark, a Gresham resident, is in critical condition at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center. Clark is said to have suffered a medical condition that caused him to momentarily lose consciousness, thus losing control of his vehicle.

“The teamwork among the agencies was superb,” comments Gates. “They gave the victim a chance to survive.”

Clark’s pickup truck was recovered from the Columbia River after he was rescued.

Photos: MSCO
© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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