Of all the topics he covered, Commissioner Randy Leonard spoke out most strongly against proposed changes in how the City of Portland is run. Read this: After all, you’ll be voting on it in May‚

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard is welcomed to the podium of the Gateway Area Business Association by GABA president, Alan Sanchez.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Members of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) meet in March to network, hear plans of the upcoming May Fun-O-Rama events, and listen to Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard’s address.

“I appreciate so much about the Gateway area,” Leonard began. “The Golf-O-Rama, Fun-O-Rama Parade, and Community Fair show the great community spirit alive here in this area. And, I’m glad to see that that Mike Taylor, Parkrose School District Superintendent, has been chosen to serve as Grand Marshall.”

He noted that Gateway-area businesses have been associated, in one form or another, since “two years before I was born.”

Leonard’s take on education
“Portland Public Schools has had financial problems; the City has stepped up, donating millions of dollars to help them bridge their gap,” said Leonard. “This is good; but I remind the City Council that there are five [school] districts in Portland, and all are important.

“I’ve been a ‘burr under the saddle’ to make sure all of our districts get the same funding, per capita. Our [outer East Portland] districts are models, in many ways, of how schools should function. I know, because I’ve worked with both Parkrose and David Douglas boards.”

Commissioner Leonard says he’s been a “burr under the saddle” to make sure outer East Portland schools and programs are funded.

Says he represents outer East Portland
GABA’s immediate past president, David Panichello, asked Leonard what the City Counselor thought was his biggest accomplishment.

“Before I got on the City Council, there was no discussion of issues east of 82nd Avenue. Our prior mayor was not happy with me asking for public assistance for East Portland programs. I’ve worked with Lents Urban Renewal. But, I grew up in East Portland; I graduated from Grant High School. I’m proud to advocate for outer East Portland.”

Leonard said his biggest challenge is “getting two additional votes” to pass issues in City Council. “I’ve worked on issues for working-class people. Worked on the towing industry, for example, helping to change regulations. We’ve capped the amount tow companies can charge you‚ and made it possible to pay by credit card.”

The commissioner also voiced his support for the East Portland Community Center swimming pool. “It’s always a challenge getting enough votes for east Portland projects, an area most folks downtown never see.”

Against changes in Portland’s City Charter
“Even if you like the proposed changes, you’d have to be offended on how it ended up on the ballot,” Leonard expressed, as he turned to this timely topic.

Leonard said that a special charter review commission met for 18 months before making specific recommendations. “Then, in one‚ just one‚ single  hearing, the City Council passed a measure to be put on the [May, 2007] ballot with no public input. No‚ public‚ input. Sten and I voted against it. I thought we should have had public input, and that it should be talked about. This measure represents a MAJOR change in how Portland is managed.”

Leonard gives examples of why he’s opposed to the measure to change the City’s Charter that will appear on the May ballot.

Leonard’s take on Charter changes
All of the City’s bureaus are currently administered by City Counselors.

Under the revised Charter, Leonard explained, all bureaus would be directly under the mayor’s control. Indirectly, a new city executive‚ a Chief Administrator Officer‚ would run the city on a day to day basis.

Leonard gave this example; he’s currently in charge of the bureau that issues permits. “Every day we get calls from people with the Bureau of Permits. I don’t just pass legislation, or talk about how the bureau should operate. The staff of that bureau works for me. I can call and get things ‘unstuck’. That [process] will all be lost.”

He gave an example how, when a destitute resident’s water service was cut off, he intervened with the Water Bureau‚ another bureau in his portfolio, to have it turned back on. “I told my people, ‘I want you to go to her house and cut the seal and turn it back on’.”

Another example Leonard gave was regarding an effort for Portland Parks Bureau to “sell Mt. Tabor land to Warner Pacific College. We got a document signed by the Parks Bureau that showed it would be sold on November 6th, even after months of denial. We stopped it. Now, four of five on the Council must agree to sell City property. Under the revised charter, the mayor, alone, can decide to sell public parks land. He [Mayor Tom Potter] defended this, saying it would make it ‘more efficient’.

“We have a strong tie to our parks. Think of Leach Gardens, donated to the city‚ it could be sold, with a stroke of the Mayor’s pen.”

Future of City Council
GABA board member Jon Turino asked what role the City Counselors would play under the proposed new system.

“We [City Counselors] would be relegated to City budgeting. But, all of the budget bureau staff works directly for the mayor. This means all of our questions would be answered by the mayor’s office. We wouldn’t even have our own budget people. The mayor suggests this is a check and balance. There would be no check and balance. Now, we frequently ask questions of one another, regarding our bureau’s budgets.”

In closing, Leonard promised to keep working for outer East Portland residents. “I’m as close as your telephone, or computer e-mail.”

Meet GABA members on April 12
You are welcome to come hear Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman speak at the April 12 Gateway Area Business Association general meeting, at JJ North’s Buffet, located on NE Halsey St. at NE 106th Ave. Networking starts at 11:30 a.m.; reservations are NOT required. For more information, go to www.gabanet.com.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

CRIME STOPPERS: Look at this story‚ let’s see if we can find these gambling-machine busting thugs, and put them behind bars‚

As they stroll into the gaming room, authorities say, these guys don’t depend on luck ‚Äì they crowbar-open the machines, and steal the cash inside.

Story by David F. Ashton
Two guys have taken megabucks from lottery earnings‚ but it isn’t because they have stupendously good luck. Instead of relying on good fortune, they use a crowbar.

Check their brazen MO
During business hours, with customers and staff in the building, these two thieves walk into restaurants or bars, and take a seat at the lottery machines.

Then, they whip out a crowbar or some sort of prying tool, pry the machine open, and take the cash.

Customers have been sitting right next to the suspects unaware to the crime being committed. In less than two minutes, the bad guys pry the machines open and slip out with thousands of dollars.

Anyone you recognize? Call Crime Stoppers and turn ’em in!

Let’s put an end to their crime spree
Bill’s Steakhouse, 10227 NE Sandy Blvd, has also been hit twice — March 9 and March 20. The Tic Toc at SE 112 at Division St. was hit on March 12. Most recently, machines at the Firescape Bar at NE 90th Ave and Sandy Blvd. were busted open on March 21.

  • Suspect #1 is described as a white male, 30s, 5’9″ tall, 220 pounds, with brown hair, wearing long shorts, and tennis shoes with a reflective strip down the top of the shoes.
  • Suspect #2 is described as a white male, 20-30 years of age, 5’9″ tall and 200 pounds.

The suspects may be associated with a white 1992 Suzuki Samurai, with a possible Washington license plate of 788PHG.

Don’t let these crooks get away. Your anonymous tip could be worth $1,000.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony — and you can remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (823-4357).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

This family didn’t think they needed a professional arborist to cut down at tree at their house. Read about what happened next, that sent two men to the hospital‚

In an instant, a family tree-cutting party turns into a tragic event, as a limb pins two family members to the ground. After freeing them, Portland Fire & Rescue workers stabilize the two victims.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Because members of the homeowner’s family had successfully trimmed away the branches and smaller limbs, it seemed like the rest of the tree removal job would be a snap. Actually, it was louder than that, and more painful.

Two men were steadying a large branch, at the home in the 6400 block of SE 74th Avenue, about 7 p.m. on March 18. Then, “crack” ‚Äì loud enough to startle neighbors across the street‚ and the limb dropped on the two men below it.

After being strapped to a backboard, the most seriously injured man is stabilized with a neck brace.

Helping out when at the time of the accident is Vicente Aguilar. On scene, he tells us the branch “just fell off. It hit one of my brother-in-laws in the neck, and knocked down the other one.”

Praises fast emergency response
In less than five minutes, Aguilar says, the first fire truck pulls up to the house.

“The call came in as a ‘pin in’,” the navigator of Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 11 says, “but it was a ‘pin under’. We’re taking care of two people who look fairly seriously injured by the falling branch.”

Ready to be transported, the second victim is wheeled on a gurney toward an ambulance.

Due to new privacy laws, information on the condition of the injured men is not available to the press.

“Our firemen are nothing but the best,” says Aguilar. “We have the best rescue people in the whole world. They were professional. They know what to look for, and treated the guys the best. Please thank them.”

We certainly will pass on your praise to them, Mr. Aguilar.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Why would more than 400 volunteers tromp around Johnson Creek on a dismal winter day? Read this article, and you’ll discover why this waterway is so special to so many‚

Westmoreland residents Christine Steele and Joe Liedezeit are doing their part, cleaning the banks of Johnson Creek.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The invitation to this party read, “Be sure to bring your bad weather clothing and boots”. But the drippy, dreary weather on March 3 didn’t keep the more than 400 volunteers from slopping around, as they worked to improve the health of Johnson Creek.

We enquired to find out why so many people turned out for the annual “work party” sponsored by the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC).

Walt Mintkeski works at the “Bundy Site” in outer East Portland, near SE 141st Avenue and Foster Rd.

Grew up on the Creek

“Our family grew up on the Creek,” explained Walt Mintkeski, JCWC’s treasurer. “We’ve lived in the Eastmoreland neighborhood since 1975. I took my kids down to the creek.”

At the time, Mintkeski told us, Johnson Creek looked like a storm sewer ‚Äì perhaps even a sanitary sewer. Instead of grousing, he started a group called Friends of Johnson Creek to do something to improve its condition. “About the same time, the City of Portland started an effort to plan for Johnson Creek. That evolved into the Johnson Creek Watershed Council.”

Gradually, Mintkeski observed, the public is seeing Johnson Creek as a valuable public asset. “It is a wildlife corridor, a waterway. Through our efforts, we making Johnson Creek into a place we can respect and of which we can be proud. There’s a lot of recreation and wildlife potential here.”

Clean-up stretches from Gresham to the Willamette
Mintkeski said that more than 400 volunteers, at ten different sites, were working along the Creek that day.

Inner SE Portland residents Yarrow Murphy and Gibran Ramos say worked at the 169th and Foster site.

Volunteers went to work where they were needed. Brooklyn area residents Yarrow Murphy and Gibran Ramos drove out to help at the SE 169th Ave. and Foster Rd. work site.

“We’re graduate students,” Yarrow said studiously. “It’s nice to get out and do something other than study. We planted trees and picked up some trash. It was great. I feel good about it.”

Gibran added learnedly, “It was a good break from studying. I like getting out and being in nature. It felt good to plant trees and make the site look a little nicer.”

JCWC “chili chef” Marty Urman checks her vats of steaming hot potage.

Chili feed warms workers
After working in the rain for hours, volunteers were invited to several sites for hot lunches. They dug into bowls of freshly made chili, accompanied by breads and cookies.

We stopped in at JCWC headquarters located in Milwaukie, and talked with chief chili chef Marty Urman.

“I do graphic arts work for the council,” Urman reported, “but I’m volunteering today. I made about 20 gallons of chili. We’re feeding eighty hungry volunteers at this site.”

Ready for some hot chili is METRO Counselor Robert Liberty.

“We got to see things we planted last year near Crystal Springs, commented District 6 METRO Counselor Robert Liberty, as he prepared to tuck into a bowl of red. “I was on the mulch ‘bucket brigade’ this year. We were sinking in our boots ‘up to here’. But, we had a lot of people who were helping out.”

We asked Liberty why he volunteered for the clean-up.

“Why volunteer?” he responded. “I want Johnson Creek to be a living creek. I’d like to see someone pull a Steelhead out of it some day.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Neighbors confess they feel a mixture of relief and concern about the changes being charted for wetlands surrounding the creek …

Lents neighbor Chris Bodine is about ready to mark the location of his property with a push pin, as he talks with Marie Johnson, BES, Program Coordinator Johnson Creek Watershed program

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most of the people coming to the Johnson Creek Wetlands open house at Lent Elementary School a few weeks ago were neighbors whose property abuts the proposed work sites.

East Lents Project
“We’re here to let folks know about the East Lents Project,” says Marie Johnson, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Program Coordinator Johnson Creek Watershed program. “This project will be adding flood storage and making habitat improvement south of Foster Road, between what was known as ‘Freeway Land’ property and the Brookside property that BES renovated several years ago.”

The project, Johnson tells us, will make Lents a better place to live and work. “For many years, flooding has been a problem in Lents. The East Lents project will be adding flood storage near SE Foster Road.”

A FEMA grant for $2.7 Million will fund the first phase of the project, Johnson says; and BES is kicking in almost another $1 Million to make that happen. This project is currently in its design phase.

“In addition to providing flood storage,” adds Johnson, “it will be a nicer place for the community. Having some of the flooding issues addressed makes it easier for businesses to invest in the community.”

Lents neighbor Chris Bodine tells us he came to the open house to find out what is happening to the property adjacent to his.

“I’ve been watching them buy up houses around the area and remove some of them. It is all getting overgrown with blackberries. With a lot of homeless and transient coming in and camping in the area, I’d like to see it cleaned up,” says Bodine.

Lents resident Chuck Olney talks with Jeremy Weber, Project Manager, Army Corps of Engineers, about the Johnson Creek Springwater Project, as does neighbor Tom Larson.

Army Corps’ Springwater Project
We also learn the Army Corps of Engineers is working on a project to improve the habitat all along the Springwater Corridor, between Begger’s Tick Marsh and Banger Park.

“It’s important, because it will improve habitat for wildlife,” is how Jeremy Weber, Project Manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, Johnson Creek Springwater Project, put it to us.

Weber adds, “It will give neighbors access off the Springwater Trail. It will open up a lot of things to see; it will be educational for the kids. About a third of what we do these days is environmental work. This is under our Section 206 Authority, which is aquatic ecosystem restoration.

The project that runs from SE 111th to 121st Avenue along the Springwater Trail Corridor in Lents is a shared effort between the federal government and the City of Portland’s BES.

“Currently we’re working on the feasibility study to be completed this year,” says Weber. “Construction will begin when we get federal funding.”

The object of this project is to allow more water to flow into the wetland property. “There was a lot of fill in this area,” explains Weber. “We’ll be removing a lot of that. Also, look for improvements to the area like more interpretative signage, and a parking lot to access the Springwater Trail.”

Privacy concerns
Neighbor Tom Larson says his concerns are security and loss of privacy.

“Also, I want to know when it will start. My property is adjacent to this project. I know the area on one side and behind me was designated wetland owned by City of Portland; so no one can build there.

“It will be a great project as long as they take seriously privacy and security issues ‚Äì I don’t want people who are wandering through the area to wander into my yard.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

One look at the young lady’s face, and you’ll see why we’re bringing you this story. Take a peek! And, this great workshop comes to Midland Library on March 27 (see how to register)‚

Using her hand-made shadow puppet, Audrey tells a story to her father, Shawn Smallman, and class teacher Kathy Karbo, at the Sellwood Branch Library.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As part of the Multnomah County Library’s “Every Family Reads” program, a most unique workshop took place on March 10 at the Sellwood Branch Library.

“Today’s featured book,” says instructor Kathy Karbo, “is ‘The End of the Beginning’. We’re making shadow puppets, and telling stories with them.”

This kind of play, Karbo explains, helps youngsters understand the basics of storytelling. “Theater starts with light and shadow. Shadow puppets also help children realize they can create their own stories without elaborate tools or props.”

Cultures all over the world use puppets for storytelling and for children’s theater, Karbo says. “And, children get to learn shapes and patterns. It teaches them skills in learning to use tools to make things. They get to use their bodies; it shows them that storytelling and acting doesn’t only happen from the neck up.”

Comes to outer East Portland March 27
You and your kids can participate in the Shadow Puppet Workshop! You’ll explore light, shadow and movement with artist Kathy Karbo as she shows you how to make your own shadow puppet.

Registration is required; register online, in the library or by calling (503) 988-5234. The workshop runs from 6:30-8 p.m.

The place: your Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.; call (503) 988-5392 for more information.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Why pay to visit the Convention Center or Expo, when you can meet contractors right in your own neighborhood? Looks like the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is on to something‚

Nearly 300 Eastmoreland neighbors came to see the exhibits and talk with the vendors at this Faire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While it seemed like a good idea, board members of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) wondered if anyone would actually come‚ on a weeknight‚ to their first Remodeling Faire.

The organizers looked delighted on March 8, when a steady stream of homeowners poured into, and circulated around, the exhibits set up at the Duniway School cafeteria.

Steve and Mary Baker, organizers of the Remodeling Faire, say it was a success.

“A lot of remodeling and restoration goes on in Eastmoreland,” said Steve Baker, ENA, board member and webmaster. “We thought it would be good to bring the contractors here to meet with homeowners.”

Baker credited fellow board member, Bert Sperling, with hatching the concept a few years ago.

“In addition to providing a good event for the neighbors,” Baker added, “this event is helping us raise money for street trees, as well as our neighborhood garden, which needs a lot of maintenance.”

Steven Klingerman with Sovereign Construction explains his company’s services to neighbor Rosalind Schreiber.

Homeowners and contractors pleased
Taking a break from looking at exhibitors, Eastmoreland neighbor Rosalind Schreiber told us, “We did a major remodel about four years ago, but we’re looking at other projects. This is great. Having everybody in one place is convenient, but isn’t overwhelming, like the Remodeling Show.”

Most important to her, Schreiber commented, was that all of the exhibitors at the event have done work in Eastmoreland.

“This event helps us meet people who might use our work,” is how Steven Klingerman with Sovereign Construction felt about it. “Even more, it gives us the chance to meet, face-to-face, to answer questions and learn about homeowners’ needs.”

Jane Morrison, Architectural Heritage Center.

Old and new, and ice cream too
For those who needed a quick pick-me-up at the four-hour, evening event ‚Äì or wanted to appease antsy kids‚ Woodstock’s Island Creamery was on hand, providing coffee, soft drinks, ice cream, and cookies.

“This is the place to be!” exclaimed Jane Morrison, with the Architectural Heritage Center. “We have been around for a number of years helping people who like old buildings. We have classes and exhibits about old buildings. Being here with businesses in who restore and repair older buildings is a good match for us.”

What is the ENA up to next? Find out by checking their website at www.eastmoreland.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Why pay to visit the Convention Center or Expo, when you can meet contractors right in your own neighborhood? Looks like the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is on to something‚

Nearly 300 Eastmoreland neighbors came to see the exhibits and talk with the vendors at this Faire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While it seemed like a good idea, board members of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) wondered if anyone would actually come‚ on a weeknight‚ to their first Remodeling Faire.

The organizers looked delighted on March 8, when a steady stream of homeowners poured into, and circulated around, the exhibits set up at the Duniway School cafeteria.

Steve and Mary Baker, organizers of the Remodeling Faire, say it was a success.

“A lot of remodeling and restoration goes on in Eastmoreland,” said Steve Baker, ENA, board member and webmaster. “We thought it would be good to bring the contractors here to meet with homeowners.”

Baker credited fellow board member, Bert Sperling, with hatching the concept a few years ago.

“In addition to providing a good event for the neighbors,” Baker added, “this event is helping us raise money for street trees, as well as our neighborhood garden, which needs a lot of maintenance.”

Steven Klingerman with Sovereign Construction explains his company’s services to neighbor Rosalind Schreiber.

Homeowners and contractors pleased
Taking a break from looking at exhibitors, Eastmoreland neighbor Rosalind Schreiber told us, “We did a major remodel about four years ago, but we’re looking at other projects. This is great. Having everybody in one place is convenient, but isn’t overwhelming, like the Remodeling Show.”

Most important to her, Schreiber commented, was that all of the exhibitors at the event have done work in Eastmoreland.

“This event helps us meet people who might use our work,” is how Steven Klingerman with Sovereign Construction felt about it. “Even more, it gives us the chance to meet, face-to-face, to answer questions and learn about homeowners’ needs.”

Jane Morrison, Architectural Heritage Center.

Old and new, and ice cream too
For those who needed a quick pick-me-up at the four-hour, evening event ‚Äì or wanted to appease antsy kids‚ Woodstock’s Island Creamery was on hand, providing coffee, soft drinks, ice cream, and cookies.

“This is the place to be!” exclaimed Jane Morrison, with the Architectural Heritage Center. “We have been around for a number of years helping people who like old buildings. We have classes and exhibits about old buildings. Being here with businesses in who restore and repair older buildings is a good match for us.”

What is the ENA up to next? Find out by checking their website at www.eastmoreland.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Learn what citizens had to say about the new, round-robin format designed to encourage more input regarding the Portland City budget …

The organizer of the event, Laurel Butman, of the Portland Office of Management and Finance, talks with Mayor Tom Potter, at the SE Portland meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In an effort to strip away the mystery of the City of Portland’s budget process, the City’s Office of Management and Finance has created a new “citizens’ forum” format.

Instead of having a parade of City officials talk amongst themselves ‚Äì with little citizen input ‚Äì a new “round-robin” format was instituted at the meeting a couple of weeks ago at Cleveland High School, on S.E. Powell Boulevard.

Hundreds of people, from the far corners of outer East Portland ‚Äì to the close-in neighbors from inner SE Portland packed the school’s cafeteria.

Potter pleased with project
“I’m a graduate of this fine institution,” Mayor Tom Potter told us at the forum.

“This forum is a way for citizens to provide us input about what they think is important. It gives them a chance to look at what we are recommending. If there are things we need to add, they let us know.”

Looking out over a sea of tables, charts, and people, the mayor told us how this event differs from ones held in the past. “We have a table for each of the major bureaus of the city. There are some initiatives hosting tables, also —  including public safety and Children’s Bill of Rights.”

Surrounding the room were tables for neighborhood and community services. Sylvia Bogert, the executive director for SW Neighborhoods, Inc., and Cece Hughley Noe, the executive director of the Southeast Uplift Coalition agency. The latter explained, “We’re working together to show our support for the Office of Neighborhood Involvement budget.”

Citizens spent about ten minutes at each table, looking over the proposed budget for that particular department, and gave their input and listened to the opinions of others. Then, they rang a bell, and people changed tables.

Mayor Tom Potter, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, and Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten told what they learned at this forum.

Commissioners comments
Wrapping up the evening, top city officials talked with the attendees.

“I’ve sat in at several of the tables,” commented Potter. “People are asking really good questions. It saves citizens time; we get more input of a higher quality. I think the result is much more effective.”

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said “I like it. I was able to wander around and hear many thoughtful comments at the tables. We’ll take the ideas. I appreciate the enthusiasm for sustainable development and parks, Children’s Bill of Rights, and other initiatives the City Council supports.”

“This has been really been fun”, enthused Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten. “I’ve had more in-depth conversations that I usually get. We were just talking about affordable housing. I do think it is important that we get good feedback from all of the tables. Having more in-depth discussions is more helpful than two-minute ‘hits’ from a few people. I heard a lot about how the City can better integrating projects and programs. You’ve set the bar very high.”

The tables were filled with citizens — learning more about the city’s budget, and asking probing questions about expenditures.

Many people at the event with whom we spoke were upbeat about the new format.

Business and housing concerns
Nancy Chapin, from the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, said she liked hearing that more storefront-improvement funds will go to businesses outside the Urban Renewal Districts. “As important as housing is, I’m still concerned there is still way too much housing in southeast Portland with not nearly enough community development. The city is still spending too much money downtown.”

“Did you feel you’d been heard?” we asked.

“Well, they wrote it down,” Chapin replied.

View from Mt. Tabor
Neighborhood activist Paul Leistner, Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association and chair of SE Uplift, commented, “There is some good projects here, but we have more good projects than we have money to fund. I hope the community will stay engaged and continue to have a voice in this process.”

We asked Leistner if he thought city officials were really listening. “I saw comments being written down. I know it doesn’t stop here. We have to continue to be heard to make sure the programs we feel are important get funded.”

Transportation topics
Marianne Colgrove, vice chair of SE Uplift, and Secretary of the Ardenwald/Johnson Creek neighborhood told us she liked being able to ask questions of city officials. “It was important to hear other people’s concerns. But I felt that the time at the tables wasn’t long enough.”

Colgrove said the major issues in her neighborhood are transportation and transportation safety. “Including a lot of the things people mentioned — pedestrian and bike safety, ‘Safe Routes to School’, traffic calming within the city to make it safer when not in a car.”

NE Portland resident Dave Lister said he liked being able to look over the City’s complete line-item budget, on display at the forum.

And finally, a quip from Lister ‚Ķ
A former City Counsel candidate, Dave Lister said this format was “much improved”, and quipped, “When [former mayor] Vera Katz ran these [forum meetings], they presented the budget in such a sophomoric fashion, they should have handed out coloring crayons!”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

This is your invitation to experience real culture‚ in outer East Portland! Read this, and you’ll be calling to get tickets for Metro Dancers’ new show, presented March 17 and 24‚

Preparing for their roles in the ballet “La Fille Mal Gardee” are Metro Dancers Moriah Newman, Amy Johnson, Krista Bennett, Lorianne Barclay, Bridgette Emard, Meng Paulson, and Helen Rappe.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
You don’t have to drive and park downtown to treat yourself (and friends) to a great program of ballet.

Presenting both matinee and evening shows, the Portland Metro Performing Arts Center proudly presents the Metro Dancers’ production of La Fille Mal Gardee.

Metro Dancers prepare, as rehearsal gets under way their Spring production.

From what we saw during the rehearsal, the entire family will enjoy this colorful dance program.

You don’t need to speak French to enjoy “La Fille Mal Gardee” ‚Äì the story is acted out in dance. It’s a comic tale that unfolds as its characters romp through the timeless entanglements of love and marriage.

You’ll hear wonderful music, see the dancers dressed in professional costumes, marvel at the sets, and fully enjoy seeing the dancers’ skill as they make this story come alive.

Metro Dancers Nigel Swehla, Calvin Fackrell, and David Larison make a breathtaking catch after full-time PMPA volunteer Len Mills leaps into the air.

Shows on March 17 and 24
Metro Dancers present La Fille Mal Gardee is presented on both days at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.

Tickets, at the door are: Adult $18, Children $12; Pre-Sale Price: HS/Adult $15, Children $10. Reserve your seats now by calling (503) 408-0604, emailing us at info@PDXMetroArts.org or in person at the PMPA box office.

Portland Metro Performing Arts Center is located at 9933 SE Pine St. (just north of E. Burnside St.) in Gateway.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

No one was injured in the fire, officials say; but you’ll see the damage this conflagration caused to a home in this quiet neighborhood in outer NE Portland ‚Ķ

Neighbors say things are usually pretty quiet along the 10600 block of NE Knott St., where this fire took place.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Damage to the modest, one-story frame home in the 10600 block of NE Knott St. in Parkrose isn’t great. But, how ‚Äì and why ‚Äì the fire started concerns some area neighbors.

Youngster spots blaze
“I saw a light in front of our house,” explains Jesse Almasan, whose family lives across the street from the fire-damaged home.

“I thought it was my sister coming back from the library.” The young man continues. “I looked out the window and saw a house burning. I called my

Dad and told him to call 9-1-1 because the neighbor’s house, across the street was on fire.”

When neighbor Jesse Almasan saw fire, he made sure his dad quickly called 9-1-1.

The helpful neighbor says he could see fire burning out from the front of the house. “You could really see the flames. It’s too bad this happened. I used to mow the lawn for the lady who owns the house.”

Police arrive before firefighters
Jesse’s father, George Almasan, picks up the story: “Two police cars were here in less than two minutes, and asked if someone was in the house. It  looked as if it was empty because no cars were around it in the driveway. I thought there was someone there.”

Telling us his family has lived there for 19 years, the father adds, “l sorry for them. We got to know them. They are very nice people. It is very sad.”

Other neighbors also report seeing police cars arrive before fire units. We’re told that one individual, exhibiting signs of emotional distress, is seen being escorted out by officers.

In the chief’s words
“We have a fire in a single-family residence,” confirms Battalion Chief Chris Babcock.

One occupant was transported by ambulance to Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital, Babcock tells us on scene. “Her exact situation ‚Ķ nothing fire-related. The individual was taken to the hospital for treatment.”

Engine 12 is the first to arrive, quickly followed by an engine, truck, and rescue unit from Station 2. Crews from Stations 19 and 7 also respond to the fire.

An individual, whom neighbors say lives in the home, looks on as firefighters make sure the fire is completely out.

Word from the experts: Fire intentionally set
Although this incident remains under investigation, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt later tells us they believe the fire was “intentionally set”.

“It may look like the home was severely damaged,” Oswalt continues, “but crews knocked down the fire in minutes. It was hot enough to burn off the PP&L power line, but the fire was contained in the carport area. The home mostly suffered only smoke damage.”

No smoke detectors
There were no smoke detectors in the home, Oswalt adds. “There’s no reason NOT to have a working smoke detector. Today’s units are reliable and inexpensive. And, we have a program that will supply ‚Äì and will even mount ‚Äì a smoke detector in a home of anyone who can’t afford one.”

To learn the conditions that apply to that offer, citizens can call the Smoke Detector Hotline at (503) 823-3752.

“One last thing,” Oswalt adds, “we’ve had several apartment fires in East Portland. Please remind tenants that the landlord is required, by law, to provide a working smoke alarm. They are also responsible for testing it on a regular basis, to ensure that it will give residents the early warning they need, in the event of a fire.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Here’s the whole story of why SE 39th Ave. & Holgate St., including the Woodstock Trader Joe’s, was shut down on March 12‚ and, learn about the man police are honoring as a hero for fingering the alleged felon‚

All through the evening of March 12, traffic was routed around the crime scene where a wanted man shot at police officer‚ for no apparent reason.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What starts off as a routine traffic stop turns into a one-sided shooting spree and manhunt on Monday, March 12.

Folks driving home from work, perhaps planning to shop at Trader Joe’s on SE 39th Ave. south of Holgate Boulevard, find area streets blocked off with yellow “police crime scene” tape.

At traffic stop, passenger opens fire
“About 5:20 p.m., Portland Police Bureau SE Precinct Officer Robert Wullbrandt pulled over a black Buick Regal for a traffic violation,” Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us on scene.

Schmautz says the car pulled in to the north end of the Trader Joe’s parking lot, followed by Wullbrandt’s patrol car. Inexplicably, as the officer is starting to chat with the driver of the auto he stopped, a passenger “bolts out of the car’s backseat and starts running eastbound across SE 39th Ave.”

As Wullbrandt chases after the fleeing man, the subject turns, takes aim, and fires his semiautomatic weapon at the officer. Because of Wullbrandt’s training, the officer resists the impulse to return fire and risk wounding the many bystanders.

As the gunman nears SE Holgate Boulevard, he stumbles, turns, and shoots again, before disappearing around the corner.

Members of the Special Emergency Reaction Team direct the evacuation of nearby residents and begin to negotiate with the alleged gunman from their post in the Trader Joe’s parking lot on SE. 39th Street.

The Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) is activated, the area is cordoned off.

Biker aids cops
Meantime, while the foot chase passes him, Greg Geist is astride his motorcycle, stopped at a red light on 39th at Holgate.

“I heard a gunshot, and saw a man fall,” Geist reports. “He got up and continued running, chased by a police officer. He had a semi-automatic pistol in his right hand.”
As the alleged shooter continues running in a labored jog, Geist finds himself in the dangerous position of being between the suspect and the officer, as Officer Wullbrandt ducks for cover.

The vehicle from which the gunman leaped is parked right where it was originally stopped for an unsafe lane change, in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

Watches shooter’s getaway into apartment
Geist watches the suspect hike down Holgate. Still on his bike, Geist follows the man who had the gun into an apartment complex, and notes that he enters an apartment through a particular sliding glass door.

The alert motorcyclist then returns to the intersection to give officers a detailed description of the man he followed, and points out the specific apartment the suspect had entered.

The SERT officers evacuate nearby residents. After several hours, Hostage Negotiators talk the suspect into surrendering, and he is taken into custody without incident.

Police allege this man, 24-year-old Nicholas Ramon Onuskanvich, is the person who took a couple of poorly-aimed shots at the officer.

The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Nicholas Ramon Onuskanvich, is booked into jail on an outstanding warrant for Distribution of Methamphetamine, plus ‚Äì now — one count of Attempted Aggravated Murder.

Afterward, geist called a hero
At a ceremony held on Friday, March 16, at the Portland Justice Center, Greg Geist’s actions are lauded.

At the March 16 commendation ceremony are Officer Robert Wullbrandt, Greg Geist, Police Spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, and Portland’s Police Chief, Rosie Sizer.

Geist’s commendation reads, in part, “Without Mr. Geist’s assistance, even with a thorough canvassing of the area, the dangerous suspect might not have been found. Mr. Geist’s detailed description of the events and the suspect was a tremendous assist to all involved.”

Chief Sizer presents the Citizens Medal of Heroism to Greg Geist.

Just before she hangs a medallion around Geist’s neck, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer says, “We all wonder, in a crisis, how we would react. Mr. Geist, you acted very well. You helped police officers in a time of real jeopardy. You helped all of us, by getting a dangerous person off the streets. And you did so, exercising good judgment and calculating the risk. I, and all of our officers, appreciate your actions that day.

“On behalf of the Portland Police Bureau, I present you with the Citizens Medal of Heroism.”

Looking somewhat overwhelmed by his tribute, Geist thanks the Portland Police Bureau for honoring him.

An unassuming champion responds
After being presented with a card from the Police Association’s Robert King, Geist steps forward.

“When I came here today, I’d hope to meet Chief Sizer to tell her how impressed I was with every police officer I came in contact on Monday. They were very professional and humane. Thank you all.”

Reporters ask Geist to show his medal.

Talking with reporters, Geist answers their questions: “No, I didn’t feel in danger. My heart raced a little bit when I saw both the officer and the gunman with their guns out. I just followed him, and kept an eye on him.”

Sharing his proud moment with fianc?©e Kim Powers, Geist confides that the couple is to be married August 4.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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