The Parkrose Business Association meeting was jam-packed with action in November – but wait until you see what’s coming up on December 7 …

Why is this young man doing a back-handspring? He’s just been surprised with a mid-year scholarship by the Parkrose Business Foundation!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The lively November meeting of the Parkrose Business Association included everything from police reports to a report card on the Parkrose School system.

In addition to asking for help from the business people in the Parkrose area to fight crime, Sgt. John W Anderson revealed plans to open a police substation on Sandy Blvd.

Two crime-fighters report
Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Sgt. John W Anderson summarized police activity in the area. He told the group, “We’re still fighting prostitution and drugs, even though Prostitution-free and Drug-free Zone [ordinances] have gone away. I encourage you to work with us to help reduce crime.”

The meeting’s “Member Moment” was Sharon Silva Taylor of ACRAnet, a firm that fights crime with computer technology. Silva Taylor revealed some surprising statistics about white-collar crime, and told how their screening services help spot fudged job applicant resumes, untruthful potential renters, and identity theft.

Austin Crumbly, a Parkrose High School student and member of the Cheer Squad, accepts a scholarship check from board member Jon Turino.

Parkrose High student gets surprise scholarship
Membership chair and association board member, Jon Turino, called up Parkrose High School senior Austin Crumbly.

“This young man has the opportunity to get several scholarships,” Turino said. “But, it has been difficult for him to pay for the uniforms and fees so they can continue to participate in the sports that can earn him a scholarship. So, the board of directors of the Parkrose Business Foundation voted to present him with this $500 check.”

When a member asked Crumbly if he was excited enough to do a back hand-spring, the young man didn’t hesitate – and did so with grace.

Dr. Karen Fischer Gray is introduced by PBA president Mark Eves.

School superintendent’s report card
Acknowledging that this was the last introduction he’ll make as the outgoing president of the association, Mark Eves welcomed Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, superintendent of Parkrose School District.

Gray started her talk by recapping how the district took 18 months to find a replacement for the retiring superintendent, Michael Taylor.

“As part of their process, the school board created a strategic plan for the district,” Gray began. “This included expectations for a new superintendent. They chose me.

Gray told the group that her professional background included a wide range of positions, from speech pathologist to high school principal. She disclosed that she has three children, ages 19, 23, and 25. “The oldest, my son, works for the David Douglas High School. As you can see, I do have roots here in the Portland area.”

Superintendent Gray says the school board is working to better connect businesses with the schools.

Expands Strategic Plan
Turning to the school district’s Strategic Plan, Gray said that she is impressed with the thinking behind it, and has an appreciation for the process. “I don’t do anything without a Strategic Plan. Intentions are good, but I like to see, and be able to measure, results.”

The new superintendent shared three main points with the group.

“First is about our Strategic Plan. We have solid board here at our district. One of the first things we did when we met was to develop a strategic plan for the board that matches the overall school system plan.

“One of our goals is to better connect Parkrose High School with area businesses. This will allow students to get real-world exposure along with their academic learning.”

Gray said another goal is to gain a better understanding of where the graduating students go after leaving Parkrose High: College, community college, technical school, or directly into the workforce.

Finally, she said, the school board is working to develop systems to better student achievement. “Throughout the district, we work in professional learning teams. All teachers, K-12, meet as professional organizations, making sure students are getting essential learning at their grade level. And, we measure to see how well they’re learning; and develop plans to help struggling students.”

Regarding testing, Gray added, “We aren’t testing students at the end of a course or a year – that’s like performing an autopsy after the patient is dead. Our testing is like ‘well baby checkups’ along the way.”

The new school superintendent says she’d like to see technology better used in the schools and has a passion for ‘marquee sports’.

Stresses importance of technology and sports
On another topic, Gray revealed that the school district doesn’t have a system-wide technology plan.

“A sound technology plan isn’t only hardware and software, but how we collectively use data to make decisions about teaching. In addition to using technology to measure teaching effectiveness, we’re looking for ways of creating embedded instruction.”

She added that they’ve hired a specialist to help them use computer hardware and software to help students learn better through modern technology.

A plan for Parkrose football
“For some time, I underestimated the power of ‘marquee sports’ like football and basketball,” Gray continued. “Most recently, I came from a school that built at $2 million collegiate stadium. They had the National Football Coach of the Year.”

The school started an athletic task force, she explained, and 30 people showed up. “Not to blame and point fingers, but a conversation. A good high school football program starts in 7th and 8th grade. We’re strategizing how to improve football, but we’re also looking at how we can beef up soccer and the swim club programs.”

Gray concluded, “We have great teachers and administration. We have a very supportive board. Their entire filter is what is good for kids. Thanks for your support.”

Past president Wayne Stoll pitches the association’s fabulous holiday banquet.

Holiday Banquet planned for December 7
Where’s the best association holiday banquet? Many folks say it is the association’s annual event in Parkrose.

Past president Wayne Stoll told the group their annual Holiday Banquet is set for Friday, December 7, at Steamer’s Restaurant and Lounge, 8303 NE Sandy Blvd at 6:00 p.m.

The meal, Stoll said, includes eight salad selections, roast turkey breast, pork loin and salmon entrees, and all the trimmings. The cost is only $30 per person.

“We need a head count, and this event usually sells out,” Stoll extolled. “Please let us know you’ll be coming by December 3 so you won’t be disappointed. Call Marsha Lee at (503) 257-3229 and let her know if you’ll be coming.”

In addition to the meal, the association holds a silent auction, and features entertainment – including the Parkrose High Debonairs.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Just when it sometimes seems only the wealthy get a break, learn how this unique program is helping turn renters into homeowners …

Andre Young, Community Relations Manager for Portland Community Land Trust, says he loves helping renters become homeowners.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Is a program which offers permanent, affordable homeownership – for individuals who would not qualify for open-market homes – too good to be true?

That’s what Portland Community Land Trust (PCLT) claims they do: They say they’ve got real program that turns qualified renters into homeowners.

To find out for ourselves, we stop by to audit a presentation by their Community Relations Manager, Andre Young, on November 12.

Before potential clients for this first-time home-buyer program arrive at the room he’s setting up at the East Portland Community center, Young gives fills us in on PCLT.

Not welfare housing
Their state-certified nonprofit organization invests funds in every transaction, “buying down” the purchase price of the home, Young explains; “Because the price of homes is skyrocketing in the Portland area. Our program helps the average citizen who wants to own a home.”

According to Young, homeowners under the program get to keep a percentage of equity whenever they choose to sell their home.

This isn’t a rental program, Young explains. “The homeowners under our program actually get title to the house. They pay the taxes. It is their home.”

“So, what’s the catch?” we ask.

“We offer a different method of home buying,” replies Young. “As the home appreciates in value, the homeowner gets a share of that increase. When the homeowner sells, they keep 25% of the increased value. 75% of the value stays with the home so the next family can buy that home more affordably.”

“Who knows their credit score?” asks Young. The first step to buying a home, attendees learn, is to make sure they have good credit.

Free class describes first steps
The first step for individuals interested in this program is to take an orientation class,” says Young.

“In addition to describing how the program operates, we show people how to take a look at their credit. We help them learn how to improve their credit score while they are on the waiting list for our program. Then, they’ll be positioned to be ready when their home becomes available,” Young tells us as he starts the class.

Does it really work?
We learn more about the Portland Community Land Trust from executive director Allison Handler.

“What track record does the organization have,” we ask.

“Our organization turns eight next month (we were founded in December 1999),” Handler reports. “So far, we’ve brought homeownership within reach of 85 families. And we expect to have more than 30 for sale in 2008.”

PCLT’s program preserves a stock of homes for first-time homebuyers – of moderate income – that will be affordable forever, Handler states.

Find out more
Not everyone qualifies, and there is a waiting list to buy PCLT homes. But from what we see, this organization is worth checking out.

Learn more by contacting them at (503) 493-0293 or see them online at www.pclt.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See what it looked like, when the crew of “MANAGEMENT” landed in the Reed Neighborhood …

The movie’s stars were well hidden away – but tons of movie-making gear was visible along SE 34th Avenue in the Reed Neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When the motion picture “Management” was filming in the Reed neighborhood just days ago, trucks full of movie-making equipment lined the streets near the intersection of SE 34th Avenue and Raymond Street. Electric power generators whirred, workers scurried about carrying lights and stands, and caterers were standing by to feed the multitude.

However, none of the neighbors with whom we spoke managed to catch a glimpse of the motion picture’s stars, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zhan.

Bud Frimoth, a neighbor since 1993, who lives a few houses away from the home used for the shoot, admitted, “I don’t think I’d recognize Jennifer Aniston if I did see her.”

When we visited Frimoth at his home a few days after the production came and left, we saw he’d had a front-row view of the production from his living room.

“About two days in advance,” Frimoth told us, “a young woman came by and told us that a motion picture production crew was going to be filming in the area.”

Although we learned it wasn’t their first choice, producers selected this Reed neighborhood home in which to film – for one day only.

On the designated day, about 10 p.m., trucks and semi-trailers started to line the residential street. A big electric power generator started up and ran all that night and into the next day, their actual day of filming.

“They set up their gear,” Frimoth said, “Went about their business, and were, overall, very pleasant. The only problem is that people use SE Raymond as a through street. At the intersection of SE 34th Avenue, there were two big trucks parked along there.”

On the set
On the day of the shoot, we’d arranged to meet with the Unit Publicist, Guy Adan. As we walked to the brown, ranch-style ranch house on SE 34th Avenue used as the day’s set, Adan gave us some details about the movie under production, “Management”.

He said that the Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Temple Hill Productions film, slated to be released in 2008, is a romantic comedy about a traveling saleswoman of corporate art (Aniston) who has a chance encounter with a young man who is stuck managing his parent’s roadside motel (Zhan). He follows her, resulting in a surprising cross-country relationship.

We snap our photos of the production, and are escorted off the block.

All of these trucks, trailers and equipment were gone an hour ahead of schedule.

Production ‘wraps’ in 23 hours
That evening, Frimoth said, he stepped into his front yard to take a snapshot of the production – and a security guard rushed up and told him he couldn’t take pictures. “I’m standing in my own yard,” Frimoth reminded the guard, “and, I’m the one that brought you cookies this afternoon! …They were OK with it all.”

Originally, the production company told neighbors they’d “wrap up” the production by 11:30 p.m. “But, when I went out about 10:30 p.m., they were gone – just like they were never here, 23 hours later,” Frimoth said.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It’s not often an 80-tree orchard is established in SE Portland. Here’s your chance to see how – and why – these trees now grow in Woodstock …

Katherine Drotos (far right) helps kids learn about some of the trees planted at the Learning Garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although groups like Friends of Trees help neighbors plant trees along rights-of-way and in yards throughout the city, no one with whom we’ve spoken can remember the last time an 80-tree orchard was established in SE Portland.

“Over the weekend, we’ve planted eighty fruitful trees and shrubs,” explains Cem Akin, Director of the non-profit Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

Chad Honl (on left) explains to students how the ground for trees – like the Asian pear tree they’re about to plant – needs to be prepared. “It’s more than digging a hole and dropping it in.”

Students learn, then plant trees
Folks from the foundation didn’t plant all of its trees – two remained in buckets – as about thirty 7th graders arrived at the site.

“Today’s activity will help bond the students with the orchard,” Katherine Drotos, an educator with the foundation, tells us. “When they actually plant trees, and then tend them, they feel more personally connected to the trees.”

Before they do their planting, the class tours the orchard. Stopping at each variety of the newly-planted trees, a student reads a “hint card” relating to the identity of tree or fruit-bearing bush, before the kids guess what it is.

Then, educators ask the students to list reasons why it is a good idea to plant and care for trees. Their responses: Shelter for animals, creating oxygen, providing food, and being a naturally-renewable raw material for pulp products.

Cem Akin, director of the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, gets a hand from students Alana Clouser and Monique Key as they plant an Asian pear tree.

Orchard to serve students of many schools
As they start planting, Drotos reveals, “We chose the Learning Garden, here on SE 60th Avenue, because it is wonderful site that serves many area schools. It meets the criteria of our organization: To donate a fruit tree orchard that serves students from a wide geographic area by providing improved nutrition – and educational opportunities to learn about sustainability and the environment.”

It wasn’t all work. After the tree planting, a foundation educator teaches the kids about the benefits of fruit in their diet. Both natural and prepared fruit snacks were gobbled up by the kids.

Within a couple of years, the arbor educators say, these kids will start enjoying the fruits of these trees.

“I learned what a lot of trees are today,” Andrew Nguyen tells us. “By looking at them, I can now figure out what kind of tree it is. It is good to learn about nature.”

As the lesson ended, Akin declares, “The manufacturer of an organic fruit snack called ‘Fruitabu’ funded the orchard planting.”

Learn more about them at www.ftpf.org

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

We’ve covered many different kinds of craft-making sessions over the years – but here’s a new one! Take a look …

Kennedy Withers shows us her matchbox-magnet diorama.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s one of the most original craft-making ideas we’ve seen in years: Making Matchbox Diorama Magnets.

When we visit artist Shanon Schollian on Nov. 11, she’s introducing the project to families at the Sellwood Branch Library.

Craft instructor Shanon Schollian gives tips on how to make a “Matchbox Diorama” to families at the Multnomah County Library Sellwood Branch.

“A diorama is a little three-dimensional picture in a box-like frame,” explains Schollian. “When they’re done, they put a magnet on the back so it will stick to the refrigerator.”

Starting with empty small matchboxes, crafters use printed images, buttons, beads, toys, ribbons, and fabrics supplied by Schollian, to make their miniature works of art.

Coming from Vancouver WA to participate in this craft session are Kenndyl, Kennedy, Kenny, Jr. and Kenny Withers

Many of the crafters present stayed and made several dioramas. “I think they’ll make nice Christmas gifts,” a girl says as she shows off her handiwork.

Asked if she originated this craft idea, Schollian replies, “I’ve never seen this before, so I think it is an original idea. What I do is making art out of little things and recycled materials.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how this early Thanksgiving day dinner nourishes the bodies and nurtures the spirits of their area’s senior citizens … Read the rest of this entry »

Neighbors in the Centennial and Glenfair neighborhoods aren’t getting mad about crime – they’re taking action against it. Learn about the steps they’re taking …

Harry Jackson, Mayor Tom Potter’s Office; Nicole Robbins, Asst. DA; Lonny Roberts, County Commissioner; Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs; Captain Tim Girkman, Gresham Police Department; and East Crime Prevention Specialists Teri Poppino and Rosanne Lee. Glenfair’s Donn-Lynn Kublick is introducing the panel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Organizers didn’t say it was the alleged baseball bat beating of 71-year-old Laurie Chilcote by 15 year-old Abel Antonio Chavez-Garcia that pressed them into action.

But the incident was still fresh on the minds of citizens who filtered in to the November 13 Neighborhood Crime Summit co-sponsored by the Centennial Community Association and by the Glenfair Neighborhood Association.

Glenfair Neighborhood Association chair, Donn-Lynn Kublick, says rocks smashing her house’s windows led her to become more involved.

Rocks through her windows
The new chair of Glenfair’s association, Donn-Lynn Kublick, began the meeting by telling the group – which numbered more than 100 citizens – why she decided to get involved.

“I’ve had rocks thrown through my front and back windows,” said Kublick. “Another time, in my front yard, I heard someone yelling, ‘Don’t pull out the gun.’ I hit the deck and grabbed the cat. Yet another time, I got a call at 4:30 in the morning; a neighbor is telling me people were going into my back yard. It is scary. My stories are just a little of what has been going on in the area.”

Kublick introduced the panel, saying they were there to inform and educate neighbors and regarding how they can make their neighborhoods calm and safe.

“I have one more thing,” Kublick added. “Next door, my neighbors came here from Bosnia. They told me stories about how dangerous it was to live in their home country. After living here seven years, they moved last month. They said it was too dangerous in this area. That really tells a story.

“I know that, as neighbors, if we stick together, take suggestions from our crime reduction professionals, we can be safe here.”

Setting the stage
Providing further context for the meeting, organizer Ron Clemenson, vice chair of the Centennial Community Association, thanked Parklane Christian Church for hosting the event.

“We’ve had meetings [regarding crime and drugs] here in the past. We talked about crime. We all have our stories; we all have our reasons for being here.”

The problem doesn’t stem from lack of police concern, added Clemenson. “The problem is, our police aren’t getting the support they need. And people who are causing problems and continue on the road to crime; so often, they don’t go to jail.

“My comment is this: we don’t want to become like a little Los Angeles. I’m afraid we’re progressing toward that.”

Commander Michael Crebs, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct, speaks of his bureau’s efforts to reduce crime. PLEASE SEE THE END OF THIS REPORT to learn the about crime statistics along the MAX line.

The police report
The first speaker was Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs.

“Authorized staffing is 136 officers in the patrol division. We’re at 105 officers; we can’t find officers to fill the positions. This is a nationwide problem. People don’t want to work nights, be put in dangerous situations, and sometimes, get spit upon.

“We need your help. During the day we have 12 officers on patrol, 16 during the afternoon, and about 11 working overnight. Even if we can’t get to you right away, every call is registered. Our staffing is determined by the number of calls for service we get.”

Asked about the demise of Prostitution-free and Drug-free Zones ordinances, Crebs commented, “This doesn’t mean we will stop enforcing the law. We identify chronic offenders, and they are booked into jail. A small handful of people are doing most of the crimes.”

Regarding incidents along the MAX line, especially at the 162nd Avenue station, Crebs told the group, “During the late summer, we had a lot of crime going there: Shootings, rock throwing, and fights. We’re working with the Gresham Police Department to saturate the area with law enforcement officers.

“MAX doesn’t cause crime; but some criminals do ride MAX. We’re working to stop the crime they commit. And, We are working to have landlords evict people who are causing the problems. Evicting one bad tenant out of one complex can help.”

Gresham Police Department’s Captain Tim Girkman says they want their MAX crime-reduction missions to be more than a “feel-good” effort.

Gresham police join the effort
Staffing problems also plague the Gresham Police Department, reported Captain Tim Girkman of that bureau.

“We have 120 sworn positions – this is about 1.2 officers per thousand population. It is the lowest ratio of any city our size in the state. And, not all of those positions are currently filled.”

On any given day, Girkman added, their department takes about 120 calls for service. “We have 23 officers working hard day in and day out. We want to provide satisfactory service.”

Regarding the crime at the 162nd Avenue MAX station, Girkman said, “We don’t want this to be a temporary ‘feel good’ mission. Our commitment is to make this a permanent commitment to service. Bad guys say that they don’t like hanging out there anymore because there is too many police there.”

In addition to having Gresham Police officers riding MAX, Girkman stated their department was working with East Precinct to develop an “Action Team” plan made of officers from both agencies.

He also made a pitch to Gresham residents, he added, “When you look over proposed police funding levies, look at the wide range of positives that will come out of it. We want to be the kind of police force you want and need.”

Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts told the group that the entire justice system – from corrections to prosecution – needs to be better supported.

Roberts expresses County’s view
Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts lauded the efforts of the police bureaus.

He added, “But County corrections needs be studied. When you put someone in jail, they have to go somewhere, and have to be supervised by someone. We are currently 95 corrections officers short.”

Roberts added, “We’ve got to back the District Attorney’s office, courts, and others in the justice system to get better public safety. We suffer, out on the east side, because of the Portland’s gentrification. Urban renewal has caused a large migration of people into East County. And, some bad folks move on out along with the good people.”

Roberts went on, saying that tax abatements granted by the city reduce funding the county gets to provide justice services. “And, Wapato is still closed. We have to open the jail so we don’t keep having to matrix out prisoners.

“The basis of a lot of the crimes is drugs,” Roberts went on. “When the state legislature made cold pills hard to get, it cut down on meth labs. But, it certainly didn’t stop meth addiction. The traffic from the southern border — 80% comes from Mexico – more than fills the need.

“We calculate that meth-caused problems cost every household about $300 a year. But what you can’t put a price on is the cost of a man being hit in the head with a baseball bat.”

Harry Jackson, a recently retired Portland Police Bureau lieutenant, says accountability – by both parents and kids – will reduce gang-related problems in outer East Portland.

Retired officer blames lack of accountability
Retired Portland Police Bureau lieutenant Harry Jackson was next to speak. He currently works on gang-related issues out of Mayor Tom Potter’s office.

“I deal with youth violence. After 30 years of law enforcement, it seems that youth problems are getting worse. It isn’t just formal gangs. We see groups of kids coming from games and parties who ‘text message’ and get into trouble. It takes a lot of [law enforcement] personnel to deal with 500 kids who simply won’t go home after an event.”

The problem stems from a lack of parental accountability, Jackson told the group.

“Not only do we need to get our young people to be accountable for their behavior, we need to have parents take responsibility – and be accountable – for the actions of their kids. Parents must know where their kids are; they must make sure their kids are in school – and home after curfew.”

The answer is for parents to be involved with their children – not just “talk at them”, Jackson added.

East Portland Crime prevention Coordinator, Teri Poppino, says working with landlords in the area to bring in better tenants will help reduce problems in the 162nd Avenue and E. Burnside Street area.

Helping landlords reduce and prevent crime
Crime prevention coordinator, Teri Poppino spoke regarding the work she’s done helping property owners and managers densely populated in the 162nd Avenue and E. Burnside Street area.

“When you have densely populated areas where people are ‘warehoused’, they get cranky. There is not enough space in this area for families.”

Poppino said that a meeting two weeks before, among nine property managers and justice system representatives, was a good start. “We suggest they tighten up their background checks, make ‘watertight’ rental agreements, and enforce them, to get rid of people causing problems.”

In general, Poppino suggested neighbors form Neighborhood Watch groups. “Criminals feel safer when they believe no one is watching them. Check the street now and then; if something doesn’t look ‘normal’, call 911 and report it.”

Changing MAX platforms could lower crime
East Portland’s other crime prevention coordinator, Rosanne Lee, said she is working with TriMet regarding the design of the stations, including improved lighting and landscaping.

“Although [TriMet officials] haven’t committed to them, we came up with a list of changes, including keeping shrubbery low, trimming tree branches, and perhaps removing some walls that limit visibility.”

The new I-205 MAX stations will be transparent and less hospitable to loitering, Lee added.

Ron Clemenson, vice chair of the Centennial Community Association, leads the question-and-answer session.

Questions and answers
What followed was a question-and-answer session during which individuals shared their experiences and asked questions of panel, led by Ron Clemenson.

A neighbor asked Nicole Robbins, East Portland Assistant District Attorney, how more criminals could be sent to jail.

Robbins responded, “In order to prosecute, we need to have victims and witnesses willing come to court to testify. Cases get ‘set over’, and this means they must come back again. It can take from three months to a year for a case to track through the system.

“If you want results, you have to be willing to testify – which means that if you witness a crime, you must to leave your telephone number so we can contact you. Criminals learn that most people won’t testify; all that happens to them is that they get displaced for a couple of hours. You have to be willing to get involved, if you want to solve the problem.”

MAX line crime rate skyrocketing? Actually, no …
At this meeting, we asked Commander Crebs if the rate of violent crime has taken a dramatic upturn along the MAX line. “That’s a good question. Let’s get the statistics.”

A week later, we joined Crebs at East Precinct to look at the numbers and graphs that represent how much voilent crime has taken place near the MAX line in outer East Portland.

We were both surprised to see, that in East Precinct, over the past five years until present, the rate of violent crime within a quarter-mile either side of the MAX line has remained relatively steady. In some areas, the crime rate has slightly decreased, in others it has slightly increased.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Find out why, on the first Saturday of every month (including Dec. 1), the Can Man Clan works to turn recyclable cans and bottles into cash to help the Bronco Boosters …

Members of the Parkrose High School Band, and their adult sponsors, help the “Can Man” Dave Luce (shyly ducking out of this photo) at their November 3 collection day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dave Luce is a man who appears torn about getting publicity. He usually declines being photographed; our interviews are typically brief.

Yet, Luce wants everyone to know about – and pitch in at – the Parkrose Can Drive, the first Saturday of every month at Parkrose Middle School.

Luce, also known as the “Can Man” in Parkrose, states his mission succinctly. “I collect deposit-refundable aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles. At the monthly can drive, 100% of the funds are turned over to the Parkrose High Bronco Boosters and their Parkrose Scholarship Fund.”

But that’s not all. At companies and organizations throughout the community, Luce has placed 215 large can-collection barrels. “They call when they are full, and I exchange it for an empty barrel. Those funds go directly to the Senior All Night Party Committee.”

Even though Luce no longer has kids attending Parkrose Schools, he keeps at it, “because it is a good thing to do. I still support all the sporting programs, and I like to help them out. I like to see kids do well.”

Can sorter supreme
Deposit refunds on “house brand” sodas, sold by stores like Fred Meyer, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and Costco, can only be redeemed at the selling store. So, Luce sorts the cans. “I take them to the right store and put the cans in their machines; but I can’t exceed the limit.”

But, Luce lauds the managers of the Fred Meyer store at SE 148th Avenue at SE Division Street, who let him cash in over the limit; and of the Safeway store at NE 122 Avenue at NE Glisan Street, who permit him to bring in counted and prepared bags of Safeway-branded cans.

The standard national brands, Luce says, he takes to CR Inc., located behind Montgomery Park in NW Portland. “I don’t handle the money; checks are cut to either the Bronco Boosters or to the Senior All Night Party Committee.”

School groups get credit and cash
When we stop by to visit on November 3, the Parkrose High School Band crew is busy sorting and bagging cans and bottles.

“Each month, kids from different school groups help out with the event,” Luce explains. “That group gets community service credit, and a portion of the day’s proceeds.”

Save those cans for Dave … and the kids …
Remember, Luce and his helpers will be waiting for you on Saturday, December 1 from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Bring your deposit-return cans and bottles with you to help support these community efforts. The depot is at Parkrose Middle School, on NE Shaver Street, across from the high school. If you have sizable loads – or know a good place for Dave Luce to install a recycling barrel – call him at (503) 255-3745.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See volunteers, teaching staff, farmers and guests enjoying a truly international afternoon at this delightful event in SE Portland …

The cofounders of the Learning Garden on SE 60th Avenue, Dr. Pramod Parajuli, standing with Dilafruz Williams and Lane Middle School Principal Karl Logan, welcomed all to their first International Harvest Festival.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As one walked through the Learning Garden’s gate on SE 60th Avenue, just across from Lane Middle School, one could see the canopy tent set up in the clearing on the sunny afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

But the sense that was most delighted was the sense of smell – savoring the pungent, tangy and earthy scents given off by more than a dozen dishes being prepared as the first International Garden Festival got underway.

As we walked up to the canopy, Portland Public Schools board member, and co-founder of the Learning Garden, Dilafruz Williams was welcoming the nearly 225 guests to the event.

These young gals carved pumpkins grown in the Learning Garden.

“The kids are responding to the garden,” proclaimed Dilafruz. “Having kids learning here helps them become engaged in learning about their bodies, health, science, and math. It is that kind of transformation that is important. We have many supporters here, including the Parks Bureau. I thank them all.”

Turning to the man on her right, Portland State University professor, Dr. Pramod Parajuli, Dilafruz lauded her friend – the co-founder of the Learning Garden:

“I don’t want to leave out Pramod Parajuli. He’s a visionary person; an amazing intellectual who is able to cross disciplines, borders, boundaries, countries – coming from a little Himalayan village in Nepal where there was no electricity. He remembers his roots. At the same time, he’s able to embrace this culture. He brings everyone together.”

Selena Nita learned the difference between domesticated and wild rabbits from Rabbit Advocate volunteer, and elementary school teacher, Karen Corsini.

Feasting and fun in the sun
After the brief greeting, guests started lining up and were served some of the dozen international dishes and beverages being offered.

Kids carved pumpkins grown in the garden, played on hay bales, and learned about bunnies from Rabbit Advocate associates.

Serving up some of the one dozen varieties of international foods were volunteers Maria Spaccarelli, Karen Wolfgang, and Heidi Mann.

About 225 people came by to socialize, enjoy the garden and foods prepared from vegetables grown there.

Dilafruz looked pleased with the event. “This particular event has brought together our entire community of SE Portland. Some are involved with the project; others are here because they care deeply about the formation of community,” she told us.

“Today, we’re here celebrating the harvest with some of our international farmers who have worked this land,” she added, smiling broadly. “It is a wonderful day to come together, hang out, and enjoy the fruits of the labor of all these months of work.”

Portland Public Schools Board member Dilafruz Williams introduced the new PPS Superintendent, Carole Smith, to their garden festival.

New school superintendent approves
With Dilafruz was Portland Public School’s Carole Smith – in her fourth week of being the District’s Superintendent.

“This is fabulous,” commented Smith approvingly. “This garden – the whole program – is a wonderful representation of well-working partnerships. It is fun to be here and watch the garden program grow. I’m really touched by experiencing this high-quality, learning environment.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

While not a comprehensive survey, see what we found during a tour of four prominent East Portland independent hardware stores …

Parkrose Hardware’s David Ableidinger and Michael Nelson stand by the chains that are part of the store’s compliance measures for the new city ordinance.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Portland City Council says their new Graffiti Materials and Sales code will put a halt to tagging and gang marking.

“Spray-paint police” have been on patrol since the code went into effect on November 1 – and at least one major hardware retailer SE Portland has been ticketed for noncompliance. They were busted, we’re told, by Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, author of the measure.

Are independent hardware stores in East Portland complying, and locking up their spray paints and “marking materials”? Here’s what we found, checking into four establishments.

Parkrose Hardware complies
It seems like everyone across East Portland – from Sellwood to Wilkes – knows about the city’s best-stocked independent hardware store: Parkrose Hardware, at 10625 NE Sandy Boulevard.

“We opposed the ordinance from the beginning,” says Michael Nelson, Chief Operating Officer at the store. “We tried to persuade members of the Portland City Council to change their minds. We were not successful.”

Michael Nelson shows us the “purchase log” on which more than 300 customers have been compelled to share personal identification information when buying spray paint at Parkrose Hardware.

But, Nelson says, they’re complying with the ordinance. “During the first 15 days of enforcement, we’ve already copied down information on more than 300 customers who have purchased spray paint from us.”

It is a major inconvenience for the customers, Nelson tells us. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of negativity from customers, to the extent they’ve walked out of our store because of the law. These aren’t ‘taggers’, they are older folks who feel it is inappropriate to give detailed, personal information to buy a can of spray paint.”

Nelson adds that, because they’ve always kept their spray paint visible, and in the front of the store, they’ve never had a problem with stolen paint.

One of store’s owners, David Ableidinger, adds, “Customers can go across the river, or, even closer – drive out less than sixty blocks to Gresham. We try to educate them. We try to make the best of the situation.”

No scofflaws in inner SE Portland

Westmoreland True Value Hardware’s Ivan Stahlecker assists customer, Chris Custer, who said, “I think it is a good idea. Maybe this will help slow down taggers.”

At Westmoreland True Value Hardware, 6505 SE Milwaukie Avenue, we check with owner and store manager John Horsman.

It wasn’t practical for them to move the spray paint into a secured room, Horsman tells us. Instead, they locked it up.

“Magic Markers, glass etching and cutting tools, spray paint – anything considered to be a ‘grafitti material’ – must be locked up,” explains Horsman. “We’re in compliance.”

Spray paint prison
We walk over the shelving, now secured by heavy powder-coated steel bars. “This is our ‘spray paint prison’. The law requires employee assistance to access it. Then it has to be taken up to the front, and logged into a special form.”

Store clerk Ivan Stahlecker unlocks the display, slides back the bars, and helps his customer, local restaurateur Chris Custer, select several cans of spray paint.

“Actually, I think it is a good idea,” confides Custer. “I’m opening a new restaurant down at SE Lambert and 13th Avenue called Acena. We’ve gotten tagged already. Maybe this will help slow down taggers.”

John Horsman, owner and manager at Westmoreland True Value, logs a spray paint purchase, as checker Grace Sweeney looks on.

Custer takes his cans to the front counter where Horsman notes down information from his driver’s license, lists the products sold, and rings up the purchase.

“It hasn’t yet affected business,” notes Horsman. “But, we’ve never had a problem with spray paint theft. It might slow down impulse sales by someone who wants to pick up a can of paint.”

Even under these new rules, the transaction didn’t take that long – about five minutes, total.

Out of sight in Woodstock

In the “employees only” room at the rear of Woodstock Hardware, Barry Odgers shows us the store’s secured supply of spray paint, markers – and their official log.

When customers come in to Woodstock Hardware at 4430 SE Woodstock Boulevard looking for spray paint on the shelves, they won’t find it.

“Our way of complying with the new law is to take everything off the display floor,” says weekend manager Barry Odgers. “We put it in the back room, an ’employees only’ area, away from customers.”

It’s too soon to tell whether or not the new law will slow down paint sales, Odgers tells us, as he shows us his official purchase log.

“But, in my opinion, I don’t think this is an important step ahead for the city. If someone wants to buy spray paint – without the paperwork – they’ll go to across the county line. But, we are obeying the law.”

May drive customers to nearby store
Many area residents know the owner of 52nd Avenue Hardware and Building Supply, Gordon Besaw. He and his sons have operated the business there since 1972.

Most of their facility is dedicated to lumber, plywood and building supplies; their showroom is smaller than the other stores.

“We’ve had to put all of our spray paint up here, on a shelf you can only reach with a ladder,” Besaw says. “We haven’t had a customer yet. Spray paint is not a big seller for us, anyway.”

At 52nd Avenue Hardware and Building Supply, owner Gordon Besaw shows how they put their paint cans out of reach – and opens for us his still-blank spray-paint sales log.

Will drive business to nearby store
However, this new law will be an inconvenience to his customers, Besaw emphatically states. “Anyone can go right down to Wichita Feed & Hardware to buy it off the shelf. They’re just a few blocks away.”

(We checked: Wichita Feed, just over the line in Clackamas County, is indeed just a mere 1.4 mile – four minute – drive from Besaw’s store.)

Gordon’s son, David Besaw, pokes his head around the corner and says, “This really doesn’t make any sense.” He hands us the still-unused purchase log form and adds, “See how much information they want?”

“We’ll do it to please City Hall,” the elder Besaw says with an air of resignation. “But it just makes business a little more difficult.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover why this aquatic sport draws participants of all ages – and if you’re good, you don’t even get wet …

Racing crews swiftly glide under the Sellwood Bridge as they near the finish line of the Lake Oswego to Oaks Park regatta.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As these race boats sprint north, under the Sellwood Bridge, and shoot past the finish line at Oaks Park, there’s no motor’s roar or sail’s flapping to be heard.

In fact, the only sound emanating from the eight-person, 60-foot long, 250 pound craft is the voice of their coach urging on the rowing team with calls like, “Now’s when it counts”, “Just a little more”, “This is what you’ve trained for”, and “Give it all you’ve got”.

We’re witnessing the 19th Annual “Portland LO/OP Regatta of Champions”.

LO/OP stands for “Lake Oswego to Oaks Park” we learn from organizer and Pacific Northwest rowing legend, Frank Zagunis, executive director of Oregon Rowing Unlimited.

Event organizer Frank Zagunis monitors the race from the portable dock at the regatta’s finish line.

Half-hour, human-powered race
“The teams start at Oswego Point and row downstream 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) to the finish line,” explains Zagunis. “It takes under a half-hour for the teams to complete the race.”

Some of the finest rowing crews in the country attend this event, adds Zagunis. “Today, we have crews from Seattle, Olympia, Eugene, and Portland. This is the ‘home course’ for the Willamette Rowing Club.”

If rowing 4.5 miles in half an hour isn’t enough exercise, this Willamette Rowing Club crew also gets a workout just lifting their craft out of the water, and carrying it up the riverbank to their boathouse at Oaks Park.

The fastest crews at the November 3 regatta are the college kids from Washington’s and Oregon’s state universities. “In the national standings, Washington State was undefeated last year.”

The morning air is cool and crisp, and participants from the 40 crews entering the regatta agree that the calm, clear weather is perfect for the event.

This well-organized event, in its 19th year, draws both local rowers and nationally-ranked athletes.

Says rowing promotes fitness and friendships
“Rowing is a great sport for overall fitness,” claims Zagunis. “It’s a real workout. But, most people stick with it because of the camaraderie. Rowers enjoy staying fit by working out with their friends.”

As the last of the teams come in, Zagunis looks pleased. “This race is a great way of enjoying the Willamette River on a beautiful Saturday morning. For racers, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Want to learn more? Visit www.oregonrowing.org on the Internet.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

… GERMS, that is! See how tiny tots are learning critical principles of hygiene that could save their lives. Adults can learn a lesson here, also …

Using rhyming patter, Multnomah County Library Children’s Librarian at Midland Library, Sue Ciesielski, teaches little kids to wash their hands and cover their sneezes.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With stories about deadly flu strains and killer colds circulating, the Midland Library storytime entitled “Stories About Not Sharing — Germs, that is!” was a good idea.

When we dropped in on November 8, children’s librarian Sue Ciesielski was already sharing storybooks like “Bear Feels Sick”, “Squeaky Clean”, and “Wash Your Hands”.

Ciesielski then led and twice repeated for the kids the rhyme,

Tissue, tissue, where are you?
I feel a sneeze coming through!
I cover my mouth, I cover my nose,
Look out everybody, here it goes …
Aaaaaa Chooooooooo!

Multnomah County Health Department’s Jessica Guernsey Camargo shows how “germs” can transfer, hand to hand, by sharing toys.

The big finale was a demonstration by Jessica Guernsey Camargo, MPH, a program supervisor with Multnomah County Health Department.

“When you share books or toys, here’s what happens,” Guernsey Camargo told the kids as she and Ciesielski toss a cushy toy, laden with invisible ultraviolet powder, back and forth to one another.

Guernsey Camargo turned on an ultraviolet lamp and spots and splotches become visible. She asks, “See what is on my hands?”

“Uck, GERMS!” shouted the kids.

“Tell me what to do,” Guernsey Camargo prompts.

“Go WASH YOUR HANDS!” the kids shout in unison.

Guernsey Camargo “washes” her hands while the kids serenaded her with The Birthday Song.

The best way to know how long to wash your hands, Guernsey Camargo says, is to “sing the [SESAC copyrighted] ‘Happy Birthday to You’ song twice while you’re doing it.”

Because Ciesielski and Guernsey Camargo presented their message in an age-appropriate way, the kids looked like they were having a great time. But perhaps some little ones in East Portland will suffer less from illness – or even from a worse fate – thanks to a very timely, special program.

Jessica Guernsey Camargo gives away free hygiene books to toddlers who attended the presentation.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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