Learn what it took for ten teens to pass by hundreds of musically-talented kids to get a finalist slot in this new competition. We’ll find out who the winner is on June 16 at Reed‚

SE Portland’s Mackenzie Winter performs at the PDX Teen Idol semi-finalist competition at Mt. Scott Community Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One by one, 26 talented teenagers walk on the bare stage at Mt. Scott Community Center in SE Portland; pick up the microphone, and sing‚ first without, the with accompaniment‚ each one hoping to win the approval of the judges.

But, contestants in the PDX Teen Idol semi-final competition on May 20 know fewer than half of this group will progress to the finals.

A singer steps on stage
The next entrant, SE Portland’s Mackenzie Winter tells us she’s frequently been to this community center‚ but as a pool life guard‚ not a contestant in a musical competition.

“I’ve never don’t this before, but I absolutely love to sing,” Winter says. “It doesn’t matter if I win or lose. It is fun to sing.”

Winter performs, the audience applauds, the judges make their comments, and the next performer takes the stage.

“We have some major talent here in Portland!” exclaims one of the coordinators of the PDX Teen Idol competition for Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), Megan Hope.

“This is a pilot program, funded by the City, created to help teens stay healthy, active and engaged,” Hope explains. “We started with 260 entries — the kids are really responding to it.”

With so many talented performers taking part in the competition, judges Jen Folker, Keith Schreiner and Richard Kiely have their hands full as they make the final cut.

No ‘Simon’ here
The competition is based on the hit television show American Idol. But there is clearly one exception to the TV show’s formula: no Simon Cowell.

The judges, professional musicians Jen Folker, Keith Schreiner and Richard Kiely praise the performers and give constructive advice‚ instead of verbally abusing contestants’ failings.

“We discussed this beforehand and decided not to be negative,” said Richard Kiely, himself an electric bass player of 38 years and Brentwood-Darlington resident.

“It was wonderful to see the kids living their dreams and showing their talent. They weren’t full of themselves,” Kiely reflects. “Even though only ten will go to the finals in June, they’ll all go on to do something special in their lives.”

When Jeff Milkes, SE Services Manager for PP&R asked him to be a judge at both the semi-finals and finals, Kiely said he was more than happy to invest time in the project. “Programs like this gives young people an alternative. If kids are supported by the community and their parents and their peers, positive things happen. Whether they win or lose, this is an experience they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”

PDX Teen Idol finals on June 16
Our favorite, Mackenzie Winter, was still smiling even though she didn’t make it into the finals. “I had a good time, and I’ll still keep singing. I’m really excited about going to Principia College in Illinois this fall.”

Each of the top-10 finalists won prizes‚ but more importantly‚ get a coveted spot at the PDX Teen Idol finals show on June 16 at 7 p.m. in Reed College’s Kuhl Auditorium.

“You’ll be blown away by the talent you’ll see,” recommends Kiely.

In addition to winning the of Portland’s Teen Idol, the top-rated performer will also win a $500 US Savings Bond, an 80GB iPod and the opportunity to record a song in a professional studio.

Learn more online at www.myspace.com\pdxteenidol .

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

They call it a “thesis exhibition”‚ but it looks like a great art show, and party to us! Take a look at the work of the two graduating artists we met

Graduating Reed College art student, Daniel Sander, shows his multi-dimensional work, “Self portrayal of Lil’ Red”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Reed College maintains a lower profile than many major institutions. But, this liberal-arts school graduates many students who go on to national prominence in many fields, such as fine arts.

At the opening of seven graduating seniors’ “thesis exhibitions” a couple of weeks ago, we meet professor who chairs the college’s Art Department, Gerri Ondrizeck.

“The exhibition is important,” says Ondrizeck, “because it’s the culmination of each student’s year-long project. The projects come from a variety of disciplines, culminating in a body of art.”

In addition to creating works of art, the professor explains, students focus on anthropology, or philosophy or sociology as part of their project. “They write a major thesis on their body of work. Each project is unique; they design on their own. It is more than art for art’s sake.”

Art in many dimensions
As we enter one section, we meet Daniel Sander, and view his works.

Of one multi-layered artwork, Sander tells us it is entitled, “Self portrayal of Lil’ Red”.

“This piece falls within the context of the exhibition,” Sander explains. “This one deals with the trans-gendered body with the checkered mirrors, and brings in the 90’s feminism, and Lacanian psychoanalysis.”

Describing his artistic process, Sander says, “I start with the words. Then I tell the stories in a visual format. If I think of a picture, I describe it in words first. It may be a short poem. Then, I gather materials that fit those words. These could be photographs, mirrors and shapes.”

Sander says he’ll intern at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art before he decides his next career step. “I’d like to keep doing studio arts‚ or at least do work related to the ‘graphic images’ field.”

Sarah Harvey says about her thesis exhibition artwork, “My thesis is on cinematic versus photographic narrative‚ but incorporating both. It is almost like a motion picture storyboard.”

Her pictures tell the story
In another area, we meet Sarah Harvey. She’s graduating with Bachelors in Studio Art. We’re looking a large collage she calls “Caf?© Scene”.

“I knew I wanted to do something with narrative,” Harvey says. “I combined all these photographs together to make a story. It is more of an alternative kind of narrative.”

In this artwork, Harvey says she took different photographs‚ from diverse times and places — and constructed them to be read as a continuous narrative.

“The story is about the relationship between two people,” explains Harvey. “It shows how the relationship evolves, and more specifically, how it ends. It shows the characters feeling isolated because it ended.”

Harvey says she’s considering graduate school, with studies focused on art history.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

And, see how the fun folks from the Parkrose Business Association have been promoting the only Portland Rose Festival event east of 82nd Ave‚ the June 24th Parkrose Cruise-in

Lt. Joe Rossi, Parkrose Posse, shows around a poster for their “most wanted man”‚ retiring Parkrose Schools superintendent Michael Taylor. The Posse tried to capture him during the Gateway Fun-O-Rama Parade. Remember, the Rossi Barn Bash is coming up on July 14!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The lighthearted members of the Parkrose Business Association (PBA) are always dreaming up was to have fun‚ while they work hard to beautify their area and provide scholarships for high school seniors.

The group learned about Portland Commissioner Sam Adams’ tour of Parkrose, work progress on the “Sandy Triangle” being renovated by the group, and the upcoming Parkrose Cruise-in.

PBA president Mark Eves, Eves & Wade, LLP welcomes vice president Jon Turino, Farmers Insurance, to the podium to present his “Member Moment”.

Before the guest speaker could be introduced, the meeting was interrupted by members of the Parkrose Posse looking for their “most wanted” man, Michael Taylor, outgoing superintendent of Parkrose Schools. In doing so, they promoted their participation in the May Gateway Fun-O-Rama Parade and Fair — and the BARN BASH on July 14.

County chair speaks, but not about county
Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler was the guest speaker. While it may have disappointed some, Wheeler didn’t spend even one minute talking about the county’s budget, the Sellwood Bridge’s needed repairs, nor opening the Wapato Jail.

“I’m glad I was invited to talk about mountaineering,” began Wheeler, “instead of fielding questions about the Executive Budget.”

Wheeler said his father often took the family on “death marches”‚ long hikes. “But these outdoor experiences started a life-long interest in mountain exploring,” said Wheeler.

Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler shares his experiences on Mt. Everest.

“I climbed Mt. Everest, not because I wanted to get to the top, but for the adventure,” Wheeler continued. “When I was young, I read adventure stories‚ especially about expeditions and adventures that ‘went wrong’. My bookshelf is filled with books about explorations that went wrong. It has given me a good knowledge of exploration.”

Wheeler says he joined Portland Mountain Rescue. “Here, I developed skills needed to be a mountaineer. After 25 years of experience in rescue, I decided it was time for me to climb Mt. Everest.”

Spring is the best season to climb Mt. Everest, Wheeler went on. “This year, many people have climbed the mountain, the weather has been good. To date there have been only three fatalities on the mountain this year, compared to nine last year‚ a typical number.”

The County Chair said he’s visited Mt. Everest on three different occasions.

“I was part of an expedition seeking explorer George Mallory’s lost camera. Although Mallory was found, we didn’t find the camera, film, nor his lost climbing partner. I’m glad the mystery [of what happened to them] remains.”

Wheeler’s next Mt. Everest adventure was a summit attempt, he went on. “I felt good, did well at altitude, and maintained a good appetite. You need to eat, at 26,000 feet; you burn 10,000 calories an hour.”

Third time not charmed
In 2003 Wheeler said he mad his third, and final, attempt to reach the top of Mt. Everest via the north face.

“This did not go well,” Wheeler stated flatly. “No one died, but the mountain beat the expedition badly. I felt terrible. Summit day requires one to be well, rested, hydrated‚ it didn’t work well. We were stranded on an ice face, then exposed to deteriorated weather. The ropes disappeared under an avalanche. My frostbite has healed, but I still need to be careful in cold weather.”

Wheeler added that he’ll never return to Mt. Everest. “I’ve gotten out of my system.”

Wheeler says weathering the trials of mountaineering helps keep him grounded while presiding over the county’s matters.

Life lessons learned
Asked what he has learned from his mountaineering experiences, Wheeler replied, “Very little fazes me. You survive on the mountain‚ and in business‚ by working and sticking together.

“Mountaineering has taught me to take advice; work with team, and follow a plan. As I wrestle with the budget deficiencies, I can’t know every item in the 800-page [county] budget. I rely on our department heads to help guide me. I let go a little, and trust their judgment.

“And, I remember that no matter how bad your day is going, someone on this planet is having a worse day than you are. I can be in a meeting where people are disagreeing, yet still feel grounded.”

Parkrose Cruise-in fever heats up June 24

At their June 21 meeting, the PBA will be making their final plans for the Portland Rose Festival Parkrose Cruise in on Sunday, June 24.

Event Sponsor, Rex Hollingsworth, Rex Heating & Air Conditioning, rides in the Gateway Fun-O-Rama parade promoting the Parkrose Cruise-in.

In addition to being able to walk among hundreds of antique and special interest vehicles of all kinds, folks can enjoy:

  • The famous Swedish Pancake Breakfast;
  • Butch & the Buicks’ live music playing all day;
  • Food and Fun Vendors;
  • A Kids’ Area with activities, compliments of Cascade Athletic Club;
  • Two “Blowup Car” Contests ‚Äì guess how long the junkers will run without water, and win cash prizes — compliments of Portland Imports;
  • Visit the “Company Store” and shop for 2007 Cruise-in T-shirts, tank tops, and polo shirts, hats, posters, and souvenir Shirts from the event’s first 5 years;
  • Raffle Tickets drawn all day long for great prizes.

Longtime PBA supporter and past president, Gordon Boorse of Compaction & Recycling Equipment, is about to fire up the hot rod engine Gail Bash donated to be raffled off at the Parkrose Cruise-in on June 25.

Grand prizes include a $1,500 barbecue donated by event sponsor Rex Heating & Air Conditioning; $2,500 worth of Bob Brown Tire Center tires and wheels sponsored by West Coast Bank; and a 383 cubic inch small block Chevrolet Engine, valued at $18,000, donated by the event’s creator, Gail Bash.

“Proceeds benefit scholarships for Parkrose High School seniors,” said PBA board member Marsha Lee, “and for community enhancement projects here in Parkrose. Come meet our five 2007 scholarship winners at the Cruise-in.”

Show off your vehicle
Registration is just $20; and the first 150 registrants get goodie bags and dashboard plaques. With 55 categories of trophies, many entrants go home winners.

It’s open from 10 am until 3 pm. The group asks you pitch in at least $1.00 for general admission

We’ll see you at the 2007 Parkrose Cruise-in at Parkrose High School and Community Center, 12003 NE Shaver Street (a block west of NE 122nd Ave.).

Meet the PBA
One of our favorite groups meets at one of our favorite restaurants. Come at 11:30 a.m. on June 21 and meet this group of fun, energized business people. You’ll get the best business lunch at town at Steamers Restaurant, 8303 NE Sandy Blvd. (east of NE 82nd Ave.); NO reservations required. Info: www.parkrosebusiness.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The cops didn’t catch the armed robber they were tracking down‚ but wait until you see the BIG pistol they took from a fellow they call a felon‚

Even if this isn’t the weapon used in the tavern robbery, neighbors say they feel safer knowing this big-barreled blaster‚ toted by a felon‚ is off the streets.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A gun-toting robber holds up Cheers Tavern on SE 122nd Ave at Holgate St.; the bandit makes off with a with the watering-hole’s cash drawer on Monday afternoon, June 11.

One of Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct police officers catches sight of a vehicle roughly matching the description used by the robber at SE  92nd Ave. and Flavel St. The car careens north on SE 52nd Ave. in inner SE Portland.

Neighbors report this Acura didn’t make the corner, climbed the utility pole guy wire, and slid back down before the driver fled on foot.

“I was standing in my driveway and saw this white Acura coming [north on SE 52nd Ave.], heading right for me [westbound on SE Henderson St.],” the resident tells us. “He was going too fast to make the turn, and he drove right up the guy wire for this [utility] pole. The car slid back down, and he took off on foot.”

The driver, a male, takes off running, leaving a woman in the car. He heads west on SE Henderson St., and starts to jump the fence of a home protected by a very large, growling dog. Three houses west of SE 52nd Ave., he heads north, jumping fences, cutting through yards.

An officer, with his K-9 partner, search the area looking (and sniffing) for any evidence the fleet-footed suspect may have discarded during the chase.

The fence-hopping suspect pops out at SE 52nd and Knapp St., apparently hoping to circle back around and get to his car‚ but runs into a homeowner armed with a shovel. “I encouraged him to leave my yard,” he tells us.

Neighbors make sure this suspect doesn’t get away. They point out his direction of travel to cops who swarm the area.

The suspect continues east, crossing SE 52nd Ave., hopping yet another fence, and cuts north to SE Ogden St. where cops take him down.

While they now say it’s unlikely that 27-year-old Don Ray Livingston was the Cheers Tavern bandit‚ they did arrest him for being a “Felon in Possession of a Firearm”.

Still, a good collar
“Officers took 27-year-old Don Ray Livingston into custody,” reports Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “There was some [police] radio chatter that indicated he might have had some connection to the robbery, but that proved false.”

Nonetheless, Schmautz says, Livingston is charged with “Felon in Possession of a Firearm” and “Attempt to Elude”.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Not since the Division/Clinton Street Parade and Fair have we seen such a crowd in this inner SE Portland neighborhood. See exclusive photos and learn what fire investigators have to say about this blaze‚

The commercial building fire at SE 20th Ave. and Clinton St. burns so fast and hot, a second alarm is called just eleven minutes after the first.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not often do we arrive on-scene at a fire and see flames leaping high out of a structure. Typically, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters have already gotten the blaze out before we get there.

On June 11, Jim Farris, the owner of Red’s Electric, closed his business as usual. But an hour later, at 6:00 p.m., people were gathering on the sidewalks nearby to watch, as firefighters raced to his warehouse‚ now belching smoke‚ on SE Clinton St., just west of SE 20th Avenue.

“There was a lot of smoke coming out of it,” area resident Sarah Hendrickson tells us. “Then, flames started shooting up the side of the building. The wind was blowing and I thought the fire might damage other buildings.”

When PF&R Engine Company 23 pulls up, three minutes after receiving the call, they see thick, heavy smoke billowing from the eaves of the residential electrical contractor’s warehouse.

Firefighters enter the company’s office and cover equipment and records to minimize damage.

“Firefighters are making an aggressive interior attack on the fire,” reports the bureau’s Lt. Allen Oswalt, “but heavy smoke and intense heat from the burning plastic coating on wire coils, and other electrical supplies, are giving off extremely dense smoke and high heat.”

While many firefighters concentrate on the fire in the warehouse, other crewmembers race to reduce smoke and water damage to in the building’s office. They crawl in a broken window, and quickly wrap file cabinets and computers in plastic to help protect them from debris and water.

As fire and smoke build, the Battalion Chief orders firefighters out of the building.

The fire continues to escalate. Battalion Chief Chris Babcock orders the firefighters out of the building, and calls for a second alarm at 6:11 p.m., bringing more firefighters and equipment to the scene.

“Every time they’d bust open a hole, flames shot everywhere,” says neighbor Ruthie Berry. “My friend owns a music studio in the building next door. I’m concerned that the fire will spread to the other buildings.”

Firefighters douse flames from the outside for 15 minutes, then snug up their breathing gear and head back inside and extinguish the main body of the fire.

Dousing the building with water from the outside, firefighters quell the blazing inferno fueled by plastic-covered wire inside the warehouse.

We see Ferris pull up on scene, look at his building on fire, and walk over to the Battalion Chief’s vehicle.

By 6:44 p.m., the fire is out; but firefighters remain scene for several hours. “It will take a while for firefighters to ‘overhaul’‚ dig through the rubble‚ to make sure no hidden hot spots might flare up later,” says Oswalt.

Myra walks up and tells us she’s lived in the neighborhood for thirty years. “I’ve used Red’s Electric in the past,” she says. “It is a good, responsible business. But I think they sold the place; the timing of this fire seems odd.”

Ferris later tells reporters that, while the building hasn’t yet been sold, a contract of sale is pending on the property. He says they were planning to move into a new location in about six months.

To keep the adjoining structure‚ just inches away‚ from catching on fire, firefighters shoot streams of water between the buildings.

“Investigators have listed the cause of the fire as undetermined. The cause is not suspicious,” Oswalt tells us, “but the investigation is continuing. Damage to the building and contents is estimated to be $300,000.”

No one was in the building at the time of the fire, Oswalt adds; all workers had gone home by the time the fire was discovered. “There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.”

PF&R’s Public Information Officer, Lt. Allen Oswalt, confers with fire crews.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

When school starts for the 2007-2008 season, you’ll see a mix of new and familiar faces supervising education in Parkrose. Who is going where? Here is your guide‚

Superintendent of Parkrose School District (until June 30) Michael Taylor; Marion Young, Director of Human Resources; and former Principal at Russell Academy of Academic Achievement Jeff Rose each share their plans for the upcoming school year.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As Parkrose school kids head out to begin their summer vacation this week, the top leadership of their school system is already hard at work planning for the upcoming school year.

Last week, Michael Taylor, Superintendent of Parkrose School District; Human Resources Director Marion Young; and later, Jeff Rose, Principal at Russell Academy of Academic Achievement sat down with us at the district office to talk about staff changes about to take place.

Importance of stability
“We’ve been concerned over the last two years, and especially the last six months, about how Parkrose Schools will be led during the leadership transition,” began Taylor, whose last day on the job is June 30. “Quality education is often tied to stability, predictability, and consistency of leadership.

“The [Parkrose School] Board has worked hard to get the district on a sound financial and educational track. They are concerned about keeping things on this path, and keeping this momentum during the transition.”

The district’s strategic planning and leadership transition has gone well, Taylor told us. In addition to welcoming Dr. Karen Fischer Gray as the new Superintendent, Taylor announced other administrative changes.

Michael Taylor tells that, while some of the staff is changing, Parkrose Schools are positioned to provide a quality education for area students.

Hiring process based on strategic plan
“Because we have a clear picture of our mission and strategic plan,” Taylor continued, “we had high-quality guidelines for assembling the new administrative staff.”

From 21 to 37 people applied for the various positions vacated due to retirement or promotion within the school system.

Depending on the position, from eight to twelve candidates were interviewed, face-to-face. Three or four finalists then interacted on-site to with staff members, parents, and other stakeholders. “This is important because, in addition to their credentials, there must be a good chemistry. There are folks who could be successful at one school, but not in another.”

“All of the individuals we recommended for hire were hired, and staffing changes have been finalized by Dr. Gray,” commented Taylor. “She called each chosen applicant and offered them the position. They will be her team members. It is appropriately that she made the final determination and did the hiring.”

Some fresh, some familiar faces
While many of the schools in the district will keep the same leadership, Taylor pointed out some changes.

Director of Student Services
Pat Jackson is retiring. Her assistant, Kathy Keim Robinson, was mentored to fill this district-level position. Robinson leaves the Special Education Coordinator position, a function being shifted to the high school.

School Improvement Specialist
For the past two years, this has been a half-time position, Taylor said. “In the past, the position was named ‘curriculum director’ or ‘director of instruction’.”

Russell Academy’s Principal, Jeff Rose, will take this post. “Rose will monitor instruction. He’ll make sure ‘best instruction practice’ is being used‚ and that our instruction is getting measurable results. By studying the results, he will determine where the gaps are, and determine what institution-wide changes can be made to enhance our delivery of education,” Taylor explained.

High School Assistant Principal of Student Services
When Kathy Keim Robinson was selected as the new Director of Student Services, it left a vacancy in the assistant position.

“We took a look at what that person was doing,” Taylor told us. “Much of that work involved high school students and middle school students. So, we moved that position to the high school.”

“This is a high school VP position, the area of responsibly will be student services within the high school.  The person in this position helps students who are in our homeless student program, and deals with counseling transition-program students who need or are entitled to services beyond their high school experiences into the workplace.”

In this position will be Michelle Markle; she comes to Parkrose from the Centennial School District.

Returning to the Portland area from Newport, on the Oregon coast, Ana Gonzalez was named as the new Principal of Parkrose Middle School.

Parkrose Middle School
As Dr. Penny Alby retires as Principal, the school welcomes Ana Gonzalez.

“She comes to us from Newport Middle School on the Oregon Coast where she was Associate Principal. Earlier in her career, Gonzalez specialized in special education in the Tualatin district. She’s a solid, sound educator,” stated Taylor.

The Vice Principal at the Parkrose Middle School is taking the district’s Director of Maintenance position, vacated by Ted Evans.

Molly Davies, currently an 8th Grade teacher in Parkrose, was named the new VP. “She’ll be new to Administration,” Taylor commented, “but she’s coming to it with seven years experience teaching in our classrooms.”

We caught up with Jeff Rose, leaving Russell Academy for his post as the district’s School Improvement Specialist, and with teacher Debbie Ebert, named as the school’s new Principal, as they came in from officiating the last intramural soccer game of the season.

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement
With the announcement that Jeff Rose was moving to the district office, students, staff, and parents speculated as to who would be named Principal.

“We hired Russell Academy fifth-grade teacher Debbie Ebert to be Principal,” announced Taylor. “She knows the school, the staff, and the work they’ve done in the last five years. Ebert has the skills and capabilities it takes to keep their good, solid program running.”

Talking with Ebert as she headed toward her classroom after officiating the spring term’s final soccer game, she told us, “I’m really looking forward to being part of the continuing success we’re having here at Russell Academy. With the support of our great staff, we’ll build on our successes.”

‘Principal school’
Logistically speaking, we can’t run an actual “sidebar” on our East Portland News pages ‚Äì but we found the concept of “Principal school” too fascinating to discard.

Because some of the district’s teachers have been promoted from teaching to administrative positions, we asked Taylor, half jokingly, if teachers are required to attend “Principal school”.

“Yes, they do, as a matter of fact. It is a 35 to 40 credit-hour graduate program,” instructed Taylor. “Sometimes folks integrate this work with their Master’s Degree, others take it as a stand-alone program.

“The state identifies the standards and competencies. Each institution that offers this program has a state-certified curriculum.

“Coursework includes staff supervision, budgeting, leadership, school change, policy and procedure‚ a heavy component of school law. The requirements are spelled out in the Oregon Administrative Rules.”

What’s next for Taylor?
Anyone who knows Mike Taylor knows he’s not ready to sit back in a recliner and watch the world go by after he leaves Parkrose Schools.

In two weeks, we’ll tell you all about Taylor’s next adventure.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

What kind of neighborhood association meeting treats everyone to a delicious barbecue dinner? Take a look at this event‚ it has become a springtime tradition‚

Portland Water Bureau’s Jimmy Brown caters the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association meeting, highlighted by his BBQ chicken and ribs.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
A couple of years ago, the chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association, Glenn Taylor, talked Jimmy Brown into serving his famous barbecue as a drawing card to attract folks to their spring meeting.

At that time, Brown headed Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Brown’s homemade barbecue chicken and ribs were the talk‚ and taste‚ of the association’s meeting.

Susan McDonald and her daughter are one of the dozens who lined up for a plate full of Jimmy Brown’s scrumptious barbecue.

Even though Brown has since moved over to the Portland Water Bureau, he’s kept the new tradition alive by‚ once again‚ serving up a dinner, including heaping portions of toothsome barbecue and all the fixings at the association’s meeting in May, their last meeting until fall.

“I love seeing folks enjoy good food, and I like to support neighborhood activities,” was the reason Brown gave us for serving the banquet.

City execs provide update
As happy diners cleaned their plates, Taylor called the neighborhood meeting to order.

Tom Klutz, Portland Water Bureau, brought news regarding Portland’s newest “hydro-park”‚ a public park built and maintained by the water bureau‚ scheduled to be developed at SE 138 Ave. & SE Center St.

“The old rusting fences are down,” Klutz reported. “We’ve brought in more boulders from Bull Run to keep vehicles out and still let people in.”

The next step for the park will be improving the land with grass, installing picnic tables, benches and a walking path around the perimeter.

“And, the park will be easily accessible by the handicapped. I thank the Powellhurst-Neighbors who have made it [the park’s development] a good process.”

The manager of Powell Valley Road Water District before it was transferred to the City of Portland, Tom Pokorny, stopped by the meeting.

“At the SE 138th Ave. well field,” Pokorny reminisced, “we used to have the Drinking Water Festival in September. And, perhaps many of you remember out ‘tapping contests’‚ our team took international honors one year.  When Commissioner Leonard took over the water bureau, PWB provided two men’s and two women’s teams in the competition. By the way, the Rockwood team, a men’s and a women’s team, are going to the international championships in Toronto this year.”

In the foreground, Tom Klutz, Portland Water Bureau, listens to questions about the new “hydro-park” planned for the area‚ as his boss, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard (in the background), listens.

Leonard delivers “state of the water” message
“Until the city took over,” said Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, “my water at home came from Powell Valley. I recognized how well this water bureau served its citizens, so I invited Tom [Pokorny] to our leadership and management meetings when I was assigned the Portland Water Bureau in 2005. Tom’s participation was a turning point that helped [water] bureau develop into an organization that puts customer service first.”

Turning his attention to Powell Butte, Leonard said, “We’re putting a new home up there that will look like a log cabin. It will be an amenity, instead of an eyesore. The Water Bureau will pay a person full time to help make it secure, and work on the Butte‚ they will be a full time caretaker.”

Asked about filtration, the commissioner said, “The city has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. We are challenging their requirements. New York City has joined in the suit.”

As for long-term goals, Leonard says they plan to build an interpretive center on Powell Butte. “It is part of a five year master plan. Part of the permanent structure might be an original work cabin built at Bull Run. We’d dismantle it, bring it here, and restore it.”

Concerns about Graffiti
When Commissioner Leonard asked about neighbors’ concerns, many voiced their ire regarding the marked increase in graffiti.

“In many places here, this problem is out of control,” stated Leonard. “It is rising to the level of being unacceptable. I regularly drive Powell, Foster and Division heading to City Hall; I see it every day. I’m working on an ordinance regarding graffiti. The idea is that spray paint will be put in a secure location in stores; and buyers will sign a book when they buy it. There are civil rights challenges involved.”

As for ourselves, we thank Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors for welcoming us to attend all of there meetings‚ especially the most delicious one of the year!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover why this service club was founded “way out east” in Multnomah County‚ and why they’re still going strong‚

Holding a poster depicting activities of this 50-year-old Rotary club, is Northeast Portland Rotary’s treasurer, and a member since 1987, Shirley Wiltshire.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The Refectory’s banquet room was packed a few weeks ago, as the Northeast Portland Rotary club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The club’s members were joined by wellwishers from other area Rotary clubs, and past members.

First-hand history
One of the two founding members, Keith Manning, gave us a first-hand account of the club’s beginnings.

“When we started,” Manning began, “there wasn’t much out here in Multnomah County. Most of the ‘city’ stopped at 82nd Avenue. Back then, Parkrose was ‘the city’; Portland was way out west. One of the difficulties of forming a club here was that our membership was so spread out.”

Asked why he joined Rotary, Manning explained, “To begin with, it was a means of acquaintance. After you get involved a little, you realize that you’re part of something bigger than yourself, or even your local club. Together, we work to help many people in many ways.”

Stephen H. Wiley presents Keith Manning, one of two living founding members of the club, with a plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Northeast Portland Rotary Club. The other founding member, Aldo Rossi, was unable to attend the meeting.

The club first met at St. Clair’s, now the Pig N’ Pancake. They moved to The Flame at SE 122nd Ave. and Halsey St. When tghat was torn down, the club met at Chinese Garden. Today it meets each Tuesday at noon at The Refectory, on NE 122nd Ave. north of Halsey St.

Manning, who told us he operated a dry cleaning business at NE 119th Ave. and Halsey St. “for 40 some-odd years”, said Rotary gives individuals the opportunity to come in contact with the people they would not otherwise meet. “I’ve attended somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500 meetings. You can’t be around this group for any length of time and not gain an education.”

Club members line up for a delicious buffet luncheon served at their regular meeting place, The Refectory.

The club’s current president, Nick Rossi, told us his family has a long history with Rotary. “In 1957, my dad Aldo was a charter member here. We’re still working to do good things for our community and the world. I got involved because of Dad. It’s nice to give back to the community.”

Through their international organization, Rossi said Rotary is the driving force for eradicating polio. “We’re bringing fresh water to impoverished areas. Locally, we provide scholarships for high school seniors, we’ve restored Camp Collins, and we have a number of youth activities.”

Rotary District 5100 Governor Thomas W. Jenkins presents the keynote address, congratulating the club for providing 50 years of service.

After introductions and other club traditions were observed, Rotary District 5100 Governor Thomas W. Jenkins addressed the group.

Jenkins recounted the history of Rotary, saying that Paul Harris, the founder, looked to create a group that valued fellowship, doing business with one another, and later, to be of service to their community.

Northeast Portland Rotary Club president Nick Rossi accepts a certificate of commendation from Thomas Jenkins.

We at East Portland News Service extend our congratulations to the members who keep the spirit of Rotary alive in outer East Portland.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Mayor Tom Potter was ready and willing to listen‚ but he didn’t hear much. Read this, and learn of a missed opportunity‚

Glenn Taylor, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association chair, host Bill Dayton of Pizza Baron, and Portland Mayor Tom Potter talk, while they wait‚ and wait‚ for citizens to come “Talk with Tom”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Across the city Mayor Tom Potter holds “Talk to Tom” sessions, giving ordinary citizens ten-minute sessions to bend his ear about any and all topics.

Potter’s May session was scheduled in outer East Portland, at the Pizza Baron on SE 122nd Avenue at Division Street.

“It was great to be able to talk with the mayor,” said host Bill Dayton. “I got to tell the mayor that business owners within the City of Portland deserve the right to vote on city issues‚ even if the don’t live in the city.”

Dayton says he learned that the City Charter prohibits his request‚ and nothing short of a change in the charter will change that. “He told me that groups, like our business association, can make these changes, not him.”

Overall, Dayton says he felt he got a fair hearing. “I think it is great he came to outer East Portland.”

Mayor Tom Potter says he came, ready to listen. Sadly, no one from outer East Portland bothered to come speak with him.

A session observer, Glenn Taylor, chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association, expressed his concerns about zoning that allows for “massive amounts of infill housing and high-density housing” to keep sprouting up in outer East Portland.

After a spirited exchange between Taylor and Potter, the two sat back and waited. And they waited.

Sadly, no one came to talk with Tom. Please remember this, the next time someone says, “No one at City Hall listens to us out here‚”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Learn what Carolyn Schell, manager of Midland Library, shared with us as she talked about her tenure in East County, and what she says she’ll miss the most after she retires‚

One of duties Carolyn Schell, retiring manager of Midland Library, says she loves the most is “Story Stop” with young kids.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After 17 years at the Multnomah County Library’s Midland Library in SE 122nd Ave., retiring manager Carolyn Schell said she’s seen a lot of changes‚ both in outer East Portland and in the library.

Before she shelved her last book, and gave her last “Story Stop” for little kids on May 29, Schell sat down with us to talk about her love of libraries, but most of all, helping children gain an appreciation for books.

“Although I tried teaching,” Schell related, “I soon realized it was not my calling. I was interested in books and libraries. I got an MLS [Masters in Library Science] from University of Oregon because I knew what I wanted to be‚ a librarian.”

Schell said she started her career working part-time in 1968, and worked as Children’s Librarian. “After ten years, I became a full-time librarian and worked at many different library branches.”

Librarian Schell has seen many changes in outer East Portland.

Watches Midland branch grow
In 1990, Schell was assigned to outer East Portland’s Midland Branch of the Multnomah County Library. “It was about one-third the size of our new building. It was too small for all the patrons we served.”

A few years later, the County funded a new library building on the same site as the old one. “I was part of the building committee. It was a wonderful experience. We involved the public, had a great architect and hard-working building committee.”

Observes technology’s explosion
From her “window on the world” the library, Schell says she watched as outer East Portland grew and matured.

“The biggest change has been in the use of technology,” Schell said. “In fact, this is the biggest change across the library system. When I first started here, there were no computers. Then, we installed one computer for the checkout system‚ but still had none for the public. Not even for the reference librarians had a computer.”

But, when they built the new library building, provision was made for public computer terminals. “That was in 1995,” Schell recalls. “Since that time, computer usage has taken off. The public loves them.”

The Midland Library manager says she’s proud how they’ve kept up with the changing needs of outer East Portland residents.

Meeting the needs of changing demographics
“The demographics of the neighborhoods we serve have changed somewhat,” Schell pointed out. “Now, we have many immigrant families who use the library. Russians, Spanish-speaking patrons‚ people from all over the world use the Midland Library. We now have a very diverse population, and we’re changing our programs and offerings to meet these needs.”

Considering other demographic shifts, Schell said that, in 1990, the patrons were predominantly women looking for books. “Now we see as many men as women‚ they’re using the computers. We’ve always had a lot of teenagers. And, we’ve always served many senior citizens‚ now, we even offer computer classes especially for them.”

The importance of libraries
Most important thing about being a librarian to Schell, she told us, is making sure everyone has access to all information.

“It is part of our democracy. “If people didn’t have public libraries, our citizens wouldn’t have access to free information‚ of all kinds. Where would people get it? The library is a place where people can come and find out information they want to know. This is a very powerful concept.”

But the library offers more than books and computers, Schell said. “The library system prides itself in providing educational and cultural entertainment for our patrons.

More than a librarian
During her time at Midland, Schell didn’t confine herself to the stacks and help desk. She was active in the Gateway Area Business Association‚ serving on the board, and as president. She also was a founding member of the Midway Business Association where she served as secretary.

Behind the library is Midland Park; Schell worked with the “Jane’s Park Group” to help “make the park a safe and nice place for people to enjoy.”

Through her volunteerism in association with these organizations, Schell touched the lives of many people outside the library and helped her community thrive.

“Of all my duties, I think I’ve enjoyed doing ‘Story Stop’ for young people the most,” Schell told us.

Lasting memories
After she introduced us to the library’s new manager, Javier Gutierrez, we asked Schell what memories she’ll cherish about her time at Midland.

“I enjoy the interactions with everyone,” Schell said. “But some of the most fun are with the children.

“I’m lucky I can still do ‘Story Stops’ here. I love doing them. Just today, a little boy was so excited. ‘Oh, wait! Can I tell my mother what a fun story that was!’ he exclaimed For me, that’s part of what libraries are all about‚ getting kids hooked on books and reading when they’re little. Then, you know they’ll be readers their whole lives.”

On behalf of our community, we thank you, Carolyn, for your service‚ and enduring smile.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at the beautification effort undertaken by teenagers, at our favorite little city in East Multnomah County‚

Rainbow volunteers Erin Jones, Kayla Als-Huynh, and Amber Person‚ with help from their friend, Colin MacDonald‚ add beauty to the City of Maywood Park with a springtime planting session.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Jim Akers, City of Maywood Park resident, made a point of letting us know when a special beautification project would commence. We made a point of being there.

While the young volunteers said they were too busy to talk with us, Majbritt Baker, and advisor of the Kellogg Assembly #92 of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, told us about their youth group.

“The organization’s focus is on teaching girls, ages from 11 to 20, about the importance of service to their community, country, church, and school,” Baker said. “Assembly #92 is associated with the Parkrose and Eastgate Masonic Lodge.”

Judy White and Majbritt Baker make sure the plan for the garden is followed, and the materials are at hand.

We also met Judy White, “head volunteer” for landscaping and municipal plantings in the City of Maywood Park.

“I’ve worked on the design of our public places with Sam Lund,” she explained. “We have designed plantings for the center of our city, and now we’re working on the southern garden,” said White.

Instead of using gardening services, White said it’s volunteers who weed and plant, so their public spaces will look good throughout the summer months. The City pays for the materials.

“We love beauty here in Maywood Park. It lifts our spirits when we drive or walk by. It helps neighbors be happier when they look around and see pretty growing things.”

When you drive by on NE 102nd Ave., you too will enjoy the work these dedicated volunteers do on behalf of their city.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how more than 300 neighbors got rid of rubbish and yard debris‚ without leaving East Portland‚

Ross Monn explains the Clean Up program to arriving neighbors.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A new location and increased promotion are credited for revitalizing the East Portland Clean-up program sponsored by East Portland Neighbors, Inc., the coalition of outer East Portland Neighborhoods.

“This event helps everyone in our neighborhoods get rid of junk and stuff that is hard to dispose of,” said coordinator Bonny McKnight, co-chair of the Russell Neighborhood Association. “This would sit in back yards and basements. Hopefully, this will keep our neighborhoods a little cleaner.”

Marco Reyes, Bob Earnest, and Jim Blatt take a short break. Look at the junk they helped folks get out of their homes and neighborhoods.

McKnight said the event also lets people in the communities see their neighborhood organizations in action. “We’re handing out a lot of information about our associations and community services.”

Neighbors Scott Noy and Adam Leibham unload their truck of yard debris.

In fact, the tally shows 300 of the 340 neighbors bringing trash picked up information regarding their neighborhood associations. “It’s a combination of outreach and service,” McKnight added.

Centennial, Glenfair, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Hazelwood, Wilkes, Russell, and Mill Park neighborhoods participated in this event.

Increased promotion perks participation
The volunteers distributed an increased number of flyers, promoted the event at schools, bought an ad in the Mid-County Memo newspaper, and promoted the event in their own publication, East Portland Neighborhood News.

Wilkes Community Group chair Ross Monn was one of the neighbors who helped participants check in, and directed them to the appropriate drop boxes. Instead of just dumping refuse, participants separated recyclable metal, tires, and yard debris. Everything else was pitched into general debris drop-boxes.

Stephen Jenkevice, Glenfair Neighborhood Association, helps keep traffic moving smoothly at the event.

Monn said the increase in participation did cause the occasional backup onto NE Halsey St. and 122nd Avenue, the event’s location. “But the volunteers worked to keep traffic from spilling out on to the main streets,” he commented.

Eliminated fees for drop-off
In past years, those dropping off refuse paid a small “dumping” fee to defray the costs. This year, volunteers just asked for donations from participants. “This simplified the intake process and seemed to collect a comparable amount,” we learned from McKnight.

Marianne Solheim of Parkrose Heights got rid of trash, and is writing a donation check accepted by volunteer Alice Blatt.

By the time it was all over, just past noon on May 12, 19 drop-boxes (dumpsters) were filled to capacity.

Thanks to the diligent work of 45 volunteers, 24 tons of yard debris, 44 tons of mixed waste, 197 tires, and 3 tons of scrap metal were collected from 340 neighbors happy to rid their homes of this debris.

Volunteer Joyce Rothenbucher from the Hazelwood neighborhood helps out in the tire bin.

If you live in outer East Portland, find out more about what your neighborhood association is doing for you‚ and how you can help your neighborhood‚ by visiting www.epno.org.

On top of a dumpster filled with debris, volunteer Paul Capell from Wilkes Community Group helps neighbors get rid of just one more basket of refuse.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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