See what locals say could have prevented the death of this 17-year-old Brooklyn neighborhood resident‚

Portland Police Bureau officers confer with Portland Fire & Rescue Truck 23 firefighters, a Union Pacific security officer, and railroad workers, as they begin to unravel why a 17-year-old high school junior was killed in the Brooklyn train yard.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For several evenings after his sudden death, friends of 17-year-old Christopher John King gathered near the steps of Cleveland High School. They were mourning the loss of, what one student described as “a cool guy”.

Although we wanted to learn more about the young man for whom candlelight vigils are being held at the school where he was a junior classman, we respected his friends’ request to leave the area.

Struck by a boxcar
Around the clock, one can hear railroad engines roar, as rail cars are shuffled into trains, eventually heading north and south, from the Brooklyn Union Pacific train yard.

Minutes after 5 p.m. on June 18, the rail yard goes strangely silent. A teenager is dead; he lays on the switchyard tracks, partially under a boxcar.

“I saw him start into the yard,” a railroad worker tells a Portland Police officer as they stand on the eastern edge of the rail yard, where SE Lafayette St. dead-ends into the train yard, just west of SE 20th Ave. The two are in front of a sagging eight-foot tall chain-link fence has been pried loose from rebar latticework directly under a footbridge that spans the train yard.

“I saw him look like he was going forward, then back and forward. He fell, and I saw dust kick up,” the worker reported.

A worker talks with a Portland Police officer at the hole in the fence officials say teenagers commonly use to cut through the train yard, instead of using the footbridge, directly above it.

Rescue workers powerless
We hike across the footbridge; it provides a panoramic view of the rail yard. On the west side, a firefighter from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 23 walks up to us, and looks over his shoulder at boxcars stopped on the easterly side of yard. “There was nothing we could do; the victim is deceased.”

A Union Pacific security officer approaches us. We ask for a comment; he tells us we’re on private property and politely asks us to leave. Minutes after re-crossing the footbridge, we see three individuals, with grief-stricken expressions, holding hands as they walk unsteadily out of the nearby Brooklyn neighborhood. The trio disappears from sight as they cross the bridge.

Rescue workers say they found the young victim deceased upon their arrival.

Takes a deadly shortcut
It’s common for teens to hike through the train yard‚ instead of using the footbridge‚ officials say.

King lived nearby the Brooklyn train yard, in the 1400 block of SE Rhone Street. By some accounts, some of the friends with whom King was walking chose to climb the steep stairs and to cross the train yard on the footbridge.

“A witness stated that a second teenager was walking westbound through the train yard him at the time the train struck King,” Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Brian Schmautz told us. “The train was traveling southbound on the tracks at the time of the collision. The witness stated that their attention was on another train moving through the area.”

It appeared that the deceased may not have heard or seen the train as it approached their location and hit him, Schmautz added.

As a courtesy to Union Pacific, Portland Fire & Rescue team member cordons off the scene of the accident. Union Pacific security officers investigated the death.

Bystander Jack Garrison shakes his head as he watches police officers stretch yellow crime scene tape bounding the east side of the rail yard. He says works for a nearby company. “It seems there must be a way to make the fence more secure here. A hole in the fence is like an invitation to walk on through, instead of taking the bridge.”

Other than expressing sorrow for King’s death, the railroad company has not made public comment on the tragic accident.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Organization and hard work have helped the backers of the Lents International Farmer’s Market turn into an every-Sunday food-and-fun event. Take a peek at our exclusive coverage of their opening day‚

The market manager of the Lents International Farmer’s Market, Jill Kuehler, introduces us to some of their many vendors.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Last year, the northwest corner of SE 92nd Avenue and Foster Road was the once-per-month testing ground for a new kind of farmer’s market. Instead offering up standard farm fare, they specialized in providing produce with international appeal.

“We’re providing a place for immigrant and refugee farmers to sell their crops and goods,” is what the market’s manager, Jill Kuehler, told us. “That’s why we call in an ‘international’ market. We have international entertainment, food, and produce vendors. There are produce products many people have never seen before. This part of outer East Portland has diverse cultures‚ thus, we’ve created diverse marketplace.”

Janson Owens buying asparagus from Melinda Piche, from a farm at SE 49th Avenue and Tenino St. (known as John’s farm).

Looking around we saw cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, plants, flowers, and prepared foods, many of which were grown or prepared by immigrants and refugees living in the Portland area.

Kuehler said that each week, international music, children’s entertainment, and educational talks and demonstrations by chefs, nutritionist, and gardeners, are scheduled. She added that they accept WIC and Senior coupons, and will soon accept the Oregon Trail card.

Evan Hansen and Sarah Sherertz, here buying fresh eggs from Bonnie Hodge: “Ten blocks up, 200 chickens, Brookside Farms,” she says.

Agriculture believers
“We believe that local farmers deserve a place to sell their produce,” continued Kuehler. “We support local agriculture. There are many lower-income neighbors in the area‚ and we believe fresh produce shouldn’t only be available in affluent areas. This market brings fresh produce and products to everyone here.”

Another unique feature of this market is the “Community Table”.

“Neighbors can sell surplus produce from their family gardens. They drop off their produce in the morning, we sell it for them, and they pick up the money in the afternoon,” Kuehler added.

Their hours are 9 am‚ 2 pm every Sunday. Come and visit them this weekend. Or, for more information, e-mail Kuehler at

Da StarLiner Band ‚Äì an African reggae band with members from Ghana‚ plays their original songs.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Wait until you get a look at the kids in the Kissing Booth! Oh my! See why we had so much fun at this school event‚

The “Beach Blanket Bingo” fair is a festival near the end of school for the summer, at which student art is displayed and funds are raised for next year’s activities.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It wasn’t long ago we were invited to attend a new event, sponsored by Parkrose Schools’ Bronco Boosters. Although the ocean is a long way off, the hosts chose the lively theme of “Beach Blanket Bingo” (a cultural reference most likely lost on the kids).

As we rounded the corner of the Parkrose High School courtyard, we heard a band rocking out, and saw lots of folks enjoying a casual, fun event. The smell of freshly-grilled hamburgers and hot dogs filled the air.

Decorating her rock, later placed in the Parkrose Community Peace Labyrinth is student Debbie Chao.

From games of skill and chance, such as the beanbag toss and a cakewalk, to a substantial exhibition of student artwork‚ there was plenty to see and do at this spring carnival.

Bronco Boosters Gail Volk and Allison Newman-Woods organized the fair at the high school to raise money.

“We put this on for several reasons,” explained Gail Volk. “One is to bring the community together. Plus, we’re focusing on the art our students have done this year. And, we’re doing some fundraising. We hope to raise $1,000.”

These funds, Volk said, are in addition to the beverage can drive the group holds the first Saturday of each month at Parkrose Middle School, the the income volunteers derive from operating their Coffee Cart at school games‚ “we work hard to raise money,” said Volk.

Emelie Robertson and Natasha Rose are selling T-shirts by the seashore‚ actually a booth‚ at the Beach Blanket Bingo event.

Christina Wolken and Peter Lundberg selling kisses to raise money. Pucker up!

Because of their successful fundraising, the Bronco Boosters have been able to donate more than in past years, added Allison Newman-Woods.

“We’ve supported MECHA, so this Latino student organization could hold their conference here this year; we also gave money to Tyree Harris so he could attend the Yale Leadership Conference; we’ve given money to our soccer and teen parent programs; we helped add to scholarships, too! We gave money to help the Parkrose High Thespians,” explained Newman-Woods.

We had so much fun this year, we wonder what the Broncos are planning for their carnival next year!

The band “Pompus Green [sic] rocks out at the fun fair with original music.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

No one drove to this party! Learn why several organizations got together to throw a springtime bash for the newest portion of the SpringwaterTrail that links inner SE Portland  to the trail leading to Gresham‚

Sisters Pat Farris, Barbara Swails and Michaele Gregg take their Saturday morning “power walk” across the McLaughlin Blvd. Bridge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although the inner SE Portland Three Bridges section portion of the Springwater Trail was dedicated last fall, that didn’t stop Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) from coordinating a “Springtime Three Bridges Celebration” on May 19.

The new Three Bridges section, connects Portland to Milwaukie via bridges over SE McLoughlin Boulevard, the Union Pacific Railroad and Johnson Creek.

“With the advent of spring,” explains Beth Sorensen, PP&R media and events officer, “we wanted to have a celebration that helps people learn about national environment along the trail, bike safety, the recreational opportunities out in this area and the neighborhoods.”

The 1.5 mile celebration route soon filled with pedestrians, bicyclists and in-line skaters. Along the route, participants were treated to snacks, water and information from a variety of participants, including the Portland Office of Transportation and Bureau of Environmental Services, the City of Milwaukie, METRO, SMILE and neighborhood associations.

Oregon State Senator Rod Monroe bikes the Springwater Trail with brothers Dale and Duane.

Along the Sellwood side of the bridges, local resident, Senator Rod Monroe bicycled up to say hello, accompanied by his brothers Dale and Duane.

“I was chair of the Transportation committee at METRO,” enthuses Senator Monroe. “I was responsible for getting the federal funding for this project.”

Trails are vital to the recreational enjoyment of the area, the senator says. “These bridges were crucial to connect inner Southeast Portland to the Springwater Trail.”

The project is important, Monroe continues, “Because when we build light rail down the corridor, this trail will give pedestrians access from both neighborhoods.”

Grady Wheeler, City of Milwaukie and Bob Akers, president of the 40 Mile Loop Land Trust talk with Joe Campwall, Ardenwald Neighborhood Association’s treasurer.

Further up the trail, we meet Grady Wheeler, with City of Milwaukie. He’s showing the promotional literature produced by his city to promote the trail. “This is a great project; a real cause for celebration,” he says.

At the same stop, Bob Akers, president of the 40 Mile Loop Land Trust tells us they’ve promoted the Springwater Trail from the start. “Because of the Three Bridges project, you’ll be able to walk or ride without having to cross any major streets ‚Äì like the Tacoma Street overpass.”

Ardenwals’s Marianne Colgrove talks with Brentwood-Darlington residents Deborah and Morgan Eberley.

A big celebration site is at the SE 45th Ave. and Johnson Creek Blvd. Trailhead. Bike Gallery displays new “shiftless” bicycles, a band plays, and neighborhood associations present information about their services.

“This trail is important to Ardenwald,” says their association’s webmaster, Marianne Colgrove, “because it goes through Tideman Johnson Park here in our neighborhood. Because we’re partly in the City of Portland, and partly in the City of Milwaukie, we’re here helping people who live here learn about their neighborhood. Johnson Creek and the Springwater trail run right through it.”

Keith Ticknor, riding a Penny-Farthing High Wheeler is escorted by his sons, Scott and Alexander.

If you haven’t taken the trail, give it a try. It’s a relatively level, paved path. And, the unique views are spectacular.

Encore Brass plays rousing marches and toe-tapping tunes, conducted by Glenn Taylor.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See what happens when pro photographers and community members get behind a project that allows young people to explore the art and science of photography‚

Parkrose High School freshman Elena Curtin shows us one of the photos she created, while taking the extracurricular, after-school course.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It started as project to involve students and community members in nontraditional learning process last fall.

But, the after-school photography class produced a full-fledged photo-art show this spring at Parkrose High School (PHS). Then, many of the prints went “on tour”, showcasing the students’ works around outer East Portland.

Neighborhood grant seeds program
“The Parkrose SUN School coordinator and a professional photographer met with me last fall,” explained Parkrose High program coordinator, Joanne Oleksiak, with Community Connections, OSSC/AmeriCorps.

“We worked to develop an idea that Trevor Todd, the Parkrose SUN School coordinator, and I had‚ namely, to offer an opportunity for PHS students to have a hands-on experience of learning the history, science, profession and art of photography,” Oleksiak elaborated.

Together with a professional photographer, Patrick F. Smith‚ a PHS parent and volunteer‚ the trio utilized an East Portland Neighborhood Office grant of $650 as seed money. “We leveraged those funds with generous in-kind and volunteer contributions,” added Oleksiak.

Photography 101
Smith, a City of Maywood Park based commercial photographer specializing in still-life images, provided a detailed course syllabus and handouts.

“Perhaps more important than showing the students the cameras I use and explaining technical information, was my emphasis on pre-visualizing images,” Smith told us. “To make a great photograph, the photographer must first ‘see’ the image in their mind.”

Smith said he was surprised at the young students’ ability to quickly learn how to develop good photographic visualization. “Many students demonstrated a very keen visual perspective. It was eye-opening!”

Students gain practical experience
Oleksiak told us the five-week course provided a rich learning experience for 16 budding shutterbugs. In addition to interactive classes, the students also met and saw slide presentations by two photojournalists, went on a downtown Portland photo expedition, and visited field trip to Newspace Center for Photography.

“Our series of classes was also supported by Jeffrey Simon, another PHS parent and skilled photographer,” Oleksiak added.

Parkrose through young eyes
The course leaders didn’t give specific assignments, but instead, told the kids to illustrate “their” Parkrose, letting others see their community through their eyes.

The resulting photos showed that this group of students placed a high value on relationships with their families and friends, and even their faith.

PHS freshman, Elena Curtin, created some visually stunning images‚ including the photo used on their photo show’s promotional post card. “I love flowers and still-life photos,” she told us. “It’s a fun hobby.”

She told us her idea of a good image is one with contrasts and colors. “I’m into colors.”

Abria Mitchell shows off her work.

“I like different scenes,” said freshman Abria Mitchell. “I like to capture movement in a scene. I like taking pictures. It makes me happy.”

A good photograph, to Mitchell, she said, has different things going on in the foreground and background. Holding up one of her images, she commented, “I just looked at the sky and thought this would be a good picture. Some say it is a good painting, but it is a photograph.”

Standing by her series of photos is Shante Livingston.

Shante Livingston, a sophomore, said she was pleased the community came by to admire her photographs. “I’ve just started in photography. I like taking pictures; I especially like to photograph flowers. I like their color and the texture.”

Argay neighbors Valerie Curry and Calla Marshall take in the photo art show. “I’m really impressed with the photos. I’m seeing some real talent here.”

PHS Principal Roy Reynolds moved slowly from exhibit to exhibit. “The photos are marvelous,” he commented. “This is pretty incredible.”

Reynolds said this class is a good example of how the school and community can work together successfully. “We’re working to create many events‚ of all sizes‚ that help involve students in the school and our community.”

And, Smith is already looking forward to the next school year. “I hope we can work it out so we can expose more young people to classes like this in the future.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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\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:

© 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

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