Can a serious business group’s members, like those in the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, still have a good time? You bet! Check it out …

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams visits the East Portland Chamber of Commerce – to answer questions, and talk about plans to fix Portland’s roads.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There are several reasons the East Portland Chamber of Commerce continues to be successful.

Members stay informed and involved with city and county issues; attend weekly networking gatherings – and get together to have a darn good time at “After Hours” events and their annual “Turkey Bowl”. Read on, and learn more about this remarkable group – and about upcoming events you’ll want to attend.

One of the first groups Commissioner Adams approached about his road tax programs was the East Portland Chamber.

Adams pitches road improvement plan
Perhaps you’ve followed our coverage of Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams program to fix Portland’s worst streets, improve traffic flow, and increase vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety.

One of the first business groups to whom Adams spoke was the East Portland Chamber.

“I’m also the Sewer Commissioner,” Adams told the group. “When I took over this bureau, they were starving maintenance, to keep rates down. You saw the coverage of the truck disappearing into a sinkhole. We refinanced the debt to increase sewer maintenance. The water system is in better shape than sewers. Sewers are in better shape, by far, than our streets.”

Adams outlined the improvements – and possible taxing plan. Read about it by CLICKING HERE.

By visiting, and holding ribbon cutting ceremonies, for organizations across East Portland, members make new contacts that promote local businesses.

Wide variety of programs
In addition to their “Good Morning East Portland” networking and information meetings, Chamber members are also invited to workshops on topics ranging from accounting to making effective presentations.

Because the Wednesday morning networking meetings are held at various locations around East Portland, members get to learn about new and established businesses by visiting them.

If you know of a new business, the East Portland Chamber Ambassadors conduct Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies, without charge – whether or not they are a member. Contact them to arrange it!

At this Halloween-themed “Chamber after Hours” event, sponsored by East PDX News, 60 members came by to meet, greet, and enjoy dinner at Pizza Baron.

A fun group that means business
Realizing that not everyone can attend their Wednesday morning meetings, the East Portland Chambers also hold “Chamber after Hours” evening events.

Each event’s host decides the program for their affair. Just before Halloween, this publication hosted a pizza feed at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON at SE 122nd Avenue and Division Street. Our event was simple: come after work, socialize, and have fun!

Don’t miss out on December’s events! They’re free and open to both members and guests. See the end of this article!

Having fun at the AMF Lanes on SE 92nd Avenue are members and friends participating in the chamber’s annual Turkey Bowl.

Annual “Turkey Bowl” injures no birds
Lest you have concerns, the chamber’s annual “Turkey Bowl” takes place in a SE Portland bowling alley – and the balls are used to strike down the pins, not fowl.

Agnes Zack, executive secretary of the East Portland Chamber, tells us, “This year, our first-place sponsor was Warren Allen LLP. We also had four team sponsors: Axis Design, Gresham Ford, Stewart & Tunno Insurance Agency and Westside Secretarial Service.”

The event drew 26 players, plus 15 spectators cheering them on.

“Not your ordinary bean-counter”, Kevin Minkoff, aims for another strike.

Some ask if this is a competitive sporting event. We would say not – it seemed some teams were competing to score the highest number of gutter balls. The afternoon of November 10 was filled with laughs, “high-fives”, and pizza.

Additionally, sponsors pitched in with prizes galore! Almost everyone who purchased a raffle ticket went home with a great prize.

Helping score – and handing out dozens of great raffle gifts – are chamber president Greg Zuffrea and Ambassador Holly Moss.

The winners:

Posting the highest score: 192, Richard Sorem, Stewart & Tunno Insurance, accepts his gift from prize donor Pam Olson of Farmer’s Insurance.

John Rupp, Axis Design Group, won the turkey (yes, a real frozen turkey) for rolling the highest number of strikes in a row.

Second highest scoring team is John Rupp, Melinda Peterson, Darcy Shea and Greg Shea with Team Axis Design Group.

The first place team from Stewart & Tunno Insurance are Keith Hendershott, Kevin Minkoff, Barbara Yerke, Ginny Soren, and Rich Sorem.

Doesn’t Gail Kiely of Home Run Graphics look happy? She won the BIG gift basket provided by Gresham Ford!

Upcoming special events
December 6 – Join Scott Nielson, attorney, hosts a fun evening of socializing, mingling, and connecting with business partners in East Portland from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the Executech Conference Center, 5933 NE Win Sivers Drive (just off Airport Way East).

December 12 – At 7:30 until 9:00 am, come by for a special “Good Morning East Portland Gift Fair”. Members that have gift items, gift certificates, gift ideas, and more for the holidays will have items on display. Bring your checkbook and do your holiday shopping with EPCC members. It’s at Warner Pacific College, 2219 SE 68th Avenue (just off SE Division St.).

For more information, CLICK HERE to visit their website!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at all the fun kids (and their grown-ups) were having at these inner SE Portland Halloween parties …

After crawling through a graveyard at the Meyer Boy’s & Girl’s Club Haunted House, the kids end up here – at the at the Mummy’s crypt.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While the door-to-door tradition of neighborhood trick-or-treating is still in favor, many families are opting for organized events. We visited two parties on October 31 in inner SE Portland.

Fred G. Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club
Our first stop was in Westmoreland to see the final performances of the Haunted House at the Fred G. Meyer Memorial Boy’s & Girl’s Club.

“This Haunted House supports the Oregon Food Bank,” said “Deviled Egg” and event spokesperson, Naomi Head.

During the three day run, Head said, the event attracted about 600 kids. “We’ve filled most of an office with donated food that the kids brought as their admission to the Haunted House.”

Naomi Head (a Deviled Egg) sits with a small sample of the donated food collected during the Fred G. Meyer Memorial Boys & Girls Club Haunted House.

The Haunted House was built into the large gym, and featured a haunted corn maze, a man-eating spider, a graveyard – including a pile of dead bodies to crawl through – and finally, the Mummy’s Crypt. Older kids volunteered to dress in costume and operate special effects.

Even the bravest kids were startled during their trip through the Haunted House. “Aaah, it wasn’t that scary,” commented “cowboy” Jimmie Lee after exiting the darkened room. His little sister, Alisha, fighting back tears, apparently disagreed – we hope she didn’t have bad dreams.

Woodstock Community Center Halloween Party

Outside the Woodstock Community Center, Maizie Logee and Ella Huntzinger find the spooky decorations fun, not scary.

The volunteers who produce the Woodstock Family Picnic decided to do “a little something” for Halloween at the community center. The event turned out to be a hit with neighbors.

“Welcome to our first-ever Halloween party at the Woodstock Community Center,” Ruthann Bedenkop greeted us. She was flanked by the famous fearsome pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow (aka Mike Rocheleau). “It’s sponsored by the Woodstock Neighborhood Association and Woodstock Community Business Association.”

Organizer Ruthann “First Mate” Bedenkop and Capt. Jack Sparrow (aka Mike Rocheleau) welcome guests to the Woodstock Halloween Party.

Because it was their first year, Bedenkop said they expected a low turnout. “We’d prepared 75 gift bags – they were gone before the time the event was scheduled to open.”

The volunteers planned to host about 150 guests throughout the evening, but they’d already surpassed that number by 20 guests when we visited early in the event.

Witches (they assure us they are good witches) Maile and Sylvie Baures share a Halloween moment with friends Genevieve and Susan Rosenkranz.

These kids say they’re loving the crafts at the Woodstock Halloween Party.

Thanks to the diligent work of volunteers who kept the snack counter stocked, nearly about 300 guests were treated to cheese and crackers, cookies and apple slices with “swamp sludge” (caramel) dipping sauce. In total, about 30 volunteers kept the event running smoothly.

During the late afternoon, the Woodstock Branch Library hosted “Story Time”. Upstairs, kids played simple games and won prizes; the basement craft room was packed with youngsters making masks, wands and other spooky-themed crafts.

In addition to financially supporting the event, businesses along Woodstock Boulevard participated by offering trick-or-treating at their shops.

After playing games at the party, the Murray family, from Woodstock, pause for a family portrait.

“We like showcasing our Community Center,” said Bedenkop. “We have a spring open house, and thought it would be nice to have something in the fall. Thanks to our volunteers, and our neighbors, this event has been incredibly successful.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how ROSE, an organization that’s revitalizing SE Portland, does it by taking action – instead of merely holding meetings and making plans …

ROSE Award recipients Andrew Beyer, Walsh Construction, ROSE Business Partner; Susanne Washington, Portland Impact, Community Partner; Rosanne Lee, Crime Prevention Coordinator, Community Leader; and Anna Zamudio, winner of the Outstanding ROSE Volunteer stand with ROSE Community Development executive director Nick Sauvie at their 15th annual Breakfast Celebration banquet.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many organizations say they plan to help improve the lot of hard-working, but low-income, families and individuals.

But, for the last fifteen years, ROSE (it stands for “Revitalize Outer South East”) Community Development Corporation has actually been taking action: By building affordable housing, providing supportive services, and creating economic opportunities in the area.

Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE Community Development, tells how their programs allow families to lead better lives by providing quality housing at an affordable price.

At this year’s ROSE Donor Breakfast, executive director Nick Sauvie welcomed us, “Thanks for coming to our 15th Annual Celebration and Donor Breakfast.”

About the organization, Sauvie told us, “Since our first project, rehabilitating a house for a low-income family in 1992, our work has extended beyond housing. We are improving economic conditions in our neighborhoods, and giving people the tools and the support they need to improve their lives.”

Mistress of Ceremonies Amy Jacobs of Fred Meyer Stores introduces the morning’s program participants.

The breakfast program, held at OMSI on November 8, moved briskly along, thanks to Mistress of Ceremonies Amy Jacobs, who works for ROSE community partner Fred Meyer Stores. After a video program produced by Portland YouthBuilders that highlighted the organization’s accomplishments in 2007, several individuals were called forward to accept awards for their participation.

Andrew Beyer accepts the ROSE Business Partner award on behalf of his firm, Walsh Construction.

Business Partner Award: Walsh Construction
Andrew Beyer accepted on behalf of the company for which he works. “Because this is a breakfast meeting, I have toasts for you this morning; I hope you’ll all participate,” he began.

“First is a toast to Teamwork. This project [newly opened housing project Leander Court], for which we’re being honored this morning, demonstrates that remarkable things can happen when we bring a team of talented people together.

“Second is a toast to Commitment. What I’ve observed is that every team member came fully committed to making Leander Court a success. We can all agree that this project is extraordinary in terms of what it offers to the community, to ROSE, and to the City of Portland.

“My last toast is to Hope. The theme of this breakfast is ‘The Dawn of a New Day’. At Walsh, many of our projects are involved in bettering our community. What gets me up in the morning is knowing that we’re working to improve our community. The children at Leander Court have a safe place they can play, live, and have a good life with their families. Here’s to Hope!”

Portland Impact’s representative, Susanne Washington, accepts the ROSE Community Partner award.

Community Partner Award: Portland Impact
Accepting for her organization was Susanne Washington.

“I offer a sincere thank you to ROSE CDC. Portland Impact started working with Portland’s low-income families in the 1960s. It is exciting to have ROSE in outer SE Portland building truly affordable family housing. Our organization is always looking for places where families can live, get stabilized and back on their feet.

“Our ‘Bridges to Housing’ project helps homeless families transition back into the community; we have families placed at Leander Court and other ROSE facilities. We’re really proud of the partnership between ROSE and Portland Impact.”

Rosanne Lee, East Portland Crime Prevention Coordinator, here about to accept the ROSE Community Leader award from Nick Sauvie.

Community Leader Award
East Portland Crime Prevention Specialist Rosanne Lee was given her award, Sauvie announced, for “Working tirelessly in our neighborhoods to increase the quality of life by reducing crime”.

Lee responded, “For the past number of years, I’ve enjoyed working with ROSE in my role as a Crime Prevention Coordinator in both East and SE Portland. I have very good memories – including serving on the Brentwood/Darlington Weed & Seed board with Nick.

“I’ve watched their commitment to building community by building safe and comfortable homes and housing. But also, to help many acquire the skills they need to grow economically.

“One of my favorite activities has been working with ‘Shop with a Cop’ and ‘National Night Out against Crime’ events. I look forward to continuing our community-building and crime-fighting efforts in southeast Portland.”

Anna Zamudio says she’s thankful for the support of the organization as she accepts the Outstanding ROSE Volunteer award.

Outstanding ROSE Volunteer Award
As she accepted her award, Anna Zamudio said, “Thanks to ROSE Community Development for the opportunity to volunteer. I’ve learned to work and save money for our projects. ‘Shop with a Cop’ is a great program that helps young students get a good start in school. I’m really thankful for everybody who helped me.”

The donor appeal
ROSE Board Member Roger Anthony took the podium and told the story of how a family’s housing hopes were raised as they toured Leander Court together; then sank when he had to break the bad news: They had far more applications than they had available units.

ROSE board member Roger Anthony thanks the organization’s community and business partners – then makes an appeal to the organization’s donors.

“If we’d known how popular these apartments were going to be, we’d have built an extra floor or two. That’s why, in a way, we’re here today.

“At ROSE Community Development, we’re very proud and enormously pleased with the work we’ve done, and how we’ve grown over the past 15 years.

“At the same time, the need for affordable housing has grown even more rapidly. Every day at ROSE, we see young families starting out; workers who have lost their jobs’ people looking for a chance – or a second chance – to build a good life.

“At ROSE, we believe everyone deserves a safe, clean and comfortable home. We think that a stable home is the keystone to a successful life.

“Our theme has been the ‘Dawn of a New Day’. East Portland is changing. When I-205 light rail opens up next year, the pace of change will accelerate dramatically. When that new day dawns, we’d like to make sure we have your help to make sure there is a warm, welcoming spot for everyone in SE Portland.”

Nick Sauvie presents to the grand prize drawing winner of the gift basket: Cara Lukens of Seabold Construction.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Last week, you read about sneak thieves who swiped the executive director’s credit cards – learn why we went back to Trillium Artists to check out their store …

Trillium Artisan April Alden shows one of her Rosewebs wallets made from recycled and reclaimed lawn furniture webbing. She’s also modeling a Liv & Lotus scarf, Stubborn necklace, and bracelet from Eye Pop Art.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It started as a “sewing circle” project for women working to escape domestic violence situations in 1999.

But, Trillium Artisans, On SE Foster Road just west of 92nd Avenue, has grown into an enterprise that empowers artisans and actively connects them to markets, says its executive director, Amanda McCloskey.

When we ask her to explain how this organization helps artists, she suggests we meet two members.

Transforming lawn furniture into billfolds
April Alden says she’s been involved in art all of her life. “But for the last year I’ve been with Trillium Artisans, and I’ve been treating my artwork more as a business than a hobby.”

Her brand is Rosewebs. She makes items made from recycled and reclaimed lawn furniture webbing.

“Always having a retail presence here in the store really helps,” says Alden as she shows us come of her goods. “If someone wants to see my products, I can tell them where they can see my products in person.” Alden says her web-made fashions can be found online at www.rosewebs.etsy.com.

But the best part for her, Alden comments, is being part of a supportive art community. “It inspires me to be around others who are also creating artwork. Sometimes this business can be discouraging. The workshops they hold for members have helped me. And, I get an honest critique of my work – feedback is very important.”

Turning art into income
More than being an “artists social club and school”, Trillium Artisans also provides business counseling.

“This has been huge for me,” adds Alden. “From them, I’ve learned how to turn my crafts into a real business. And, through the organization, I have merchant services, allowing me to be able to accept credit card payment at shows and fairs.”

Christine Claringbold, whose imprint is Eye Pop Art, shows one of her mandala bowls fashioned from a recycled vinyl phonograph record. The bracelet she models is one of her “Roman Record Cuffs”, also made from a recycled vinyl record.

Going for the record
Christine Claringbold, Eye Pop Art, says her first line of goods was the Mandala Record Bowl and clock, made from a recycled vinyl phonograph records, and then hand painted.

She agrees with Alden that the networking is an important benefit of being a Trillium Artisan. “I got the idea of making my Roman Record Cuff bracelets from a Trillium staff member. They’ve become my best selling item.”

It is one thing to make art, Claringbold tells us, but quite another to sell it. “We hear learn about art shows and other sales opportunities from each other. They help you develop your marketing outlets, like selling your goods in the Internet.” She says her web site is www.eyepopart.com.

“If you’re making crafts and art out of recycled and reclaimed materials, you should check them out,” Claringbold adds.

Amanda McCloskey, executive director at Trillium Artisans, models an earring and necklace set by Mel Stiles, Stubborn, and holds a Trillium Designs Catnip Slugs.

Marketplace for ‘green’ artisans
“Helping artisans market to customers looking for ‘green’ goods is the main thrust of our organization,” explains executive director Amanda McCloskey.

McCloskey says she’s not an artist – her training is in urban planning, with an emphasis in community development – tells us why Trillium Artisans attracted her.

“My mom started sewing potholders and selling them at the Eugene Saturday Market 30 years ago. She’s turned that into a viable business. She teaches quilting classes here and internationally, and designs her own line of fabrics. So, I’ve seen a ‘market vendor’ turn crafts into a viable business. That’s what we do here.”

“Catnip Slug” draws nationwide buyers
Walking over to a window display, McCloskey picks up a cellophane-wrapped product. “This is a Trillium Designs Catnip Slug. It’s one of our biggest sellers. Mud Bay Pet Supply – a natural products pet store chain in Washington – buys them by the carton. Our online sales of them are good; people from all over the country order them.”

The artists collective conceived the product, she reports, as a way to generate piecework income for artisans. “They’re made from recycled and reclaimed materials, and stuffed with organic catnip.”

Whether a “house brand” or an individual’s creation, all of the arts and crafts sold, McCloskey says, “reflect a commitment to sustainability: They are created with at least 50% recycled or reclaimed materials. And, they are priced to pay the artisan a living wage.”

Saturday sale supports artisans
On the way out, McCloskey asks us to mention that Saturday, November 10, is the date of their annual Holiday Sale.

“We’ve got earth-friendly, fair-traded, locally-handmade craft gifts that make great holiday presents. Meet the artisans, enjoy wine and goodies, and save 10% on your entire purchase. This special sale runs from 1 until 6 p.m.”

The gallery showroom is located at 9119 SE Foster Road, just west of SE 92nd Avenue. Call (503) 775-7993, or see them online at www.trilliumartisans.org for more details.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Because it went from wisps of smoke to a blazing inferno so quickly, see why neighbors say the residents are lucky to be alive …

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters from four area stations rushed to the 6000 block of SE 122nd Avenue, and found flames leaping from the garage of this home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was late Saturday morning when Sherry Morgan looked out the window of her Powellhurst-Gilbert home on November 3.

“I saw smoke coming out of the neighbor’s house – a lot of it,” reports Morgan. “I thought someone might be using a fireplace. But when I looked out a minute later, there were big flames coming out of the side window of the garage.”

Through the thick smoke, Morgan tells us she saw firefighters arrive: “It seemed like they got here almost immediately; they started putting the fire out.”

Some firefighters attack the fire from inside the garage and carport.

Four-minute response saves house
District 4 Battalion Chief Todd Keathley says the call came in at 11:20 a.m. and the first crews arrived 11:24 a.m. “They found heavy fire in the garage; extending up into the attic.”

We see a crew working on the garage roof, cutting a good-sized hole. “They cut the hole to relieve some of the heat, and gain access to the fire. Other firefighters are inside, pulling parts of the ceiling down,” Keathley explains.

The Battalion Chief tells us that the main part of the house looks to be in pretty good shape, except for smoke damage. A call comes in, telling him that the carport has become unstable. Keathley orders firefighters off it.

Within an hour, firefighters from PF&R Station 7, 11, 31, and 32 are looking for smoldering embers, and starting to pack their gear.

Other firefighters climb on the roof of the garage, and open the roof to gain access to the fire.

Fire displaces four … and more …
The fire, which did moderate physical and extensive smoke damage to the private residence, displaced 4 adults, 4 grown dogs, 4 puppies, and numerous pet birds, reveals Thomas Traver of the American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter.

“We’re helping the residents by providing assistance with food, clothing and temporary lodging. Red Cross Client Services caseworkers will continue to provide assistance and providing additional aid as needed,” Traver said.

Lights the fire
According to PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt, “An electric lamp without a shade was leaning against some hanging clothes. It started the fire.”

The loss arising from one hot light bulb left unsupervised is estimated at $135,000.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Want to see a lot of cute little pumpkins? Learn why pumpkins were the theme of the after-school effort …

Pumpkins and more pumpkins! Kids drew faces and made crafts using more than 100 mini-pumpkins at the Shaver SUN School event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When we were invited to “Pumpkin Lights-on Night” at Shaver Elementary School in Parkrose a few days ago, we just had to check it out.

“Welcome to our event,” said Helen Vank, as she dished up Burgerville hamburgers. “This is our annual Pumpkin Lights-on Night. It is part of the national Lights-on day, to bring awareness to after school programs. We’re inviting people in the school, and letting them know we have programs here.”

The idea is, Vank told us, is to help the community better understand the need for – and benefits available from – after-school programs.

Stephanie Baker, director of the Shaver Boys and Girls Club, and Helen Vank, Shaver SUN School coordinator, serve up the affordable $2 dinners to kids and their families.

“I run the SUN school program, funded thought the 21 Century Grant,” Vank explained. “At this event, we have both SUN School and Shaver Boys & Girls clubs staff here. Volunteers from the Shaver Parent/Faculty Association (SPFA) are collecting the money for the hamburger dinners donated by Burgerville; SUN provided the drinks and chips. All of the money goes back to SPFA, to help fund programs like field trips”

At this family event, kids were provided free mini-pumpkins kids for decorating. The after-school program staff members ran easy-to-win carnival games. And, a lot of kids (and parents) came in costume.

The Cervantes family came dressed in costume – ready for a good time.

Serves 200 children
Vank mentioned that their SUN School has over 200 kids registered, and sees a daily average of 125 children at their after-school activities.

“Our SUN School is important,” Vank explained, “because 83% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunches; we’re a Title 1 school. We offer things like hip-hop class, reading classes, and other activities. We offer reading classes, to help get kids reading at grade level. The art and recreation activities are important because most of our students can’t afford to pay for these kind of classes.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover what’s been happening at Sacramento Elementary School that’s earned it recognition by both state (and and soon) national educators …

Officials say that full-day kindergarten classes – such as this segment being led by Jakob Curtis, English Language Learner teacher at Sacramento Elementary School – help all kids, regardless of their language background, to do better throughout their educational careers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Stevie Blakely, Principal of Sacramento Elementary School, says she remembers the phone call she got not long ago from her boss, Parkrose School District superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray.

This call wasn’t regarding mundane-but-important topics like budgets, personnel, or curriculum.

“She was notifying us that we’d won a Title I Distinguished School Award,” Blakely exclaims, as we walk toward a kindergarten classroom at the school.

“It means that, among all Oregon schools, we’ve made the most improvement on our testing scores with our English Language Learning kids, in both English and math. We increased scores by 30 percent.”

As we enter the classroom, English Language Learning (ELL) specialist Jakob Curtis is enthusiastically leading his young students through a vocabulary-building exercise. The children respond to him like members of a TV game-show audience.

When the class ends Curtis joins us, as we walk to the school office.

“Of all our 400-plus students, more than 100 speak a language other than English at home,” Curtis tells us. “School is their main exposure to English. We have several different programs in place to support those kids as they learn English. As their language skills increase, they’re better able to access all of the teaching and learning that their classroom provides.”

Teaching and intervention
We enter the school office, and meet Learning Intervention Specialist Arlene Lemieux. “I provide intervention in reading and math for ELL and other at-risk students who are not meeting state benchmarks for these subjects.”

Learning intervention, Lemieux explains, uses one-on-one student evaluation and small-group teaching techniques to help keep kids struggling with math and reading skills from falling far behind their classmates.

Giving us the broader picture, Blakely says, “We have a school-wide assessment three times a year in math and reading. This helps us identify kids who are not meeting the mark. For them, we provide small group instruction, and we use special computer software and specially-designed programs for teaching reading and math.”

Jakob Curtis, English Language Learner teacher, Arlene Lemieux, Learning Intervention Specialist, and Principal Stevie Blakely say they’re pleased to learn about Sacramento Elementary School’s Title I Distinguished School Award

Lemieux adds, “We use differentiated instruction. This means teaching according to a student’s needs, not following a lock-step program.”

“We also provide sheltered programs,” Curtis says, “such as providing one-on-one vocabulary development and guided language acquisition help on the side.”

Teaching to the test?
We pose the question: “Are you merely preparing kids to pass the tests, or are you really educating them?”

“Learning is our primary objective here,” replies Blakely. “What we do is make sure our kids are successful in school. The tests give us an indicator of how well the kids are doing. Another way to put it, is: Here at Sacramento Elementary School, we don’t allow kids to fail. Whatever it takes to help them succeed, we’ll do it.”

“It’s not about just fitting students into our program,” adds Curtis. “We figure out what the child needs, and help them. And, all of the teachers work hard to make their instruction available to their entire class. This is why, I believe, we, as a school, have won this award.”

Overcoming huge gaps
“Right,” agrees Blakely. “It is not about what any one person does in this school. This recognition is for all of our staff, who not only work hard, but also work together to make a real difference.”

The principal reminds us that 70% of the school’s students qualify for low-income lunch programs; and a quarter of them speak a language other than English at home. “These are huge gaps to overcome. But, within the last two years, we have now been rated as an exceptional school by the State of Oregon. This award is like getting the cherry on the top of our sundae.”

Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Superintendent of Parkrose School District, shows us the official award acceptance form.

Superintendent is all smiles
When we stop at the Parkrose School District office, Dr. Karen Fischer Gray, Superintendent of Parkrose School District says she’s proud of the staff members at Sacramento Elementary School.

“To be recognized as the only school by the Oregon Department of Education for improved learning among students whose primary language is not English – that’s a marvelous accomplishment. It doesn’t happen every day. It recognizes the excellent leadership and instruction for ELL students at our school.”

When Carla Wade from the Oregon Department of Education asked if they’d travel to Nashville on January 29 to accept the award, “I told her, I’m never turning that down. This school has earned it.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See lots of exclusive photos from this great production of Shakespeare’s classic comedy right here …

As the show opens, the stage is set for the confusion of identities to follow.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Many people, who took our advice and saw the Parkrose High production of 16th century playwright William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”, realized how fun and relevant “the Bard’s” plays can be.

Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783, under the direction of theater instructor, Ms. Zena, put on colorful and fast-paced performances during its two-weekend run, ending November 9.

Is this identical twin the local, married one – or the visiting distant brother?

Presents abridged version
Part of the success of the presentation was Zena’s careful editing of the original script.

Although the actors speak Shakespeare’s words, “We say the phrases once – not three times as written. It picks up the pace of the play.”

The wife only thinks she’s got her man back. She doesn’t – she’s buttonholing his twin!

Zany Shakespeare
Zena told us kids like “The Comedy of Errors” because it is filled with comedy, puns, and slapstick humor. “Some call it the original situation comedy,” she added.

“The Comedy of Errors” is a story of two sets of identical twins who meet up in a distant city. This leads to a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities, wrongful accusations, and odd romantic situations.

One of the two identical-twin servants becomes confused about her own identity.

Bringing this full-stage production to life were 35 actors in colorful costuming – including dancing puppets and donkey. The staging of the play and costuming were as colorful as is the story line.

Theatre operations manager Terry Franceschi, and his crew of 20 student theatrical technicians provided professional lighting, sound, and staging.

More from our “The Comedy of Errors” photo album

Sorry! If you missed the production, it is too difficult to explain these characters in their recurring sight gags!

Who IS at the door? “My husband already IS inside,” shouts the woman of the house!

One brother – not the right one, of course – is arrested for the deeds of the others.

So identical are the sets of brothers – and their servants – even they confuse one for another.

Time to sort things out, once and for all.

“Who me?” The confusion continues.

The other brother comes out of hiding – and the mystery finally starts to unravel.

Finally, all is explained!

The married wife’s spinster sister gets to “bite the bagel” (gets engaged) to the flirting single brother who took a liking to her – instead of his supposed wife. (It’s the best we can explain it in one sentence!)

Curtain Call! The cast takes a bow for a job well done!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You’ll never guess how far away these nature-minded, energetic gals came to help spruce up this inner SE Portland natural park …

Terry Toedtemeier, volunteer and a homeowner near the park, gives the entrance a chain-saw manicure. “The brush trim is overdue!”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The natural ravine along the Springwater Trail called Tideman-Johnson Park has come a long way since neighbors have adopted the area.

As we walk south on SE 37th Avenue from SE Tenino Street in late October and look down the hill, we’re surprised to see a large group of young ladies, rakes and shovels in hand, preening the hillside.

On the way down the steep access road, one of the workers explains, “This is what we like to do.”

Brittnee Gillson, a senior, and Allie Rastetter, were two of the many Lakeridge High School cheerleaders volunteering in October to help spruce up Tideman-Johnson Park.

She introduces herself as Allie Rastetter a senior Lakeridge High School Cheerleader. “We like to help our community. It seemed like a good idea for us to work together as a team. This is doing something we love.”

Marianne Colgrove, one of the Friends of Tideman-Johnson Park, is pleased with the progress. The Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association got a Community Watershed Stewardship Grant to help take care of this park, she reminds us.

Lots of help showed up – including the cheerleading squad from Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego.

“We’re working with Mart Hughes of Portland Parks and Recreation,” Colgrove says. “Along with the Lakeridge Cheerleaders, we have neighborhood volunteers pulling ivy and spreading mulch. We’ll come back and plant in these areas in the winter and spring.”

Although Tideman-Johnson is categorized as a “natural park”, Calgrove says, “Most of what is growing here isn’t natural at all. It is invasive weeds and plants that don’t belong here. We’re working to restore the area to a natural state.”

Samantha Weinstein and Lindsay Mayer say they love working in nature.

How did they snag these energetic cheerleaders from Lake Oswego?

“I think the Parks Bureau is well connected,” Colgrove says with a knowing smile. “Their volunteer coordinator works with a lot of schools and community groups to provide volunteer opportunities for their participants. The ladies are all getting community service credit for being here today.”

Get dirty; dig in!
You can help improve this great little park in Ardenwald by volunteering on the fourth Saturday of each month, except Thanksgiving weekend. “We’re moving that work date back to December 1st,” Calgrove says.

For more information, check the neighborhood’s web site: www.ardenwald.org.

-5 Here’s the location of the park.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Are these open-houses “trial balloons” – or is the city really serious about “laying down tracks” out in the ‘burbs? Take a look, and decide for yourself …

Folks came from miles around to learn how, when, and why streetcar lines might be built as far out of downtown as Parkrose.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If the City of Portland names a road a “streetcar corridor”, will citizens desire it?

This is the question being asked at a trio of open house sessions being held around the Portland area. The first one took place at Parkrose High School’s Community Room on October 29.

Developing a method of analysis
“This is the Portland Streetcar System Plan project open house,” says Patrick Sweeney, a senior transit planner with the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT).

“Streetcars are an important initiative for PDOT and Transportation Commissioner Adams,” Sweeny begins. “One of the things we’d like to accomplish with the streetcar commission plan is to have a method for analyzing expansion of the City of Portland streetcar system.”

Answering questions about the project is PDOT Senior Transit Planner Patrick Sweeney.

Dealing with growth with increased density
The reason for considering adding streetcars, Sweeny tells us, is to set up a strategy to deal with increased population growth over the next 20 years.

“We’re expecting the Portland metro area’s population to grow to over one million people by 2025,” adds Sweeny, “A third of that, being absorbed by the City of Portland. The idea is to see if we can develop a network of high-density, high-quality street corridors that are attractive for people to live in. It could be a way to accommodate some of that growth, and preserve single-family neighborhoods from some of the infill pressures they are feeling right now.”

Commissioner’s objectives
Although we didn’t have the opportunity to speak with Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams at this open house, signs posted in the room stated his objectives for the project:

Streetcar corridors must:

  1. Be a viable transit option with adequate ridership;
  2. Have redevelopment potential;
  3. Have community support to make the changes necessary for a successful streetcar corridor.

Questions streetcars over more busses
“In East County and outer East Portland, I think they’re putting the cart before the horse,” comments NE Portland neighbor Jim Howell, as he looks at the plan maps.

“I think we need better bus service out here. Especially better crosstown bus service. We have people stuffed on the 82nd Avenue of Roses busses – there isn’t enough capacity for them. That is what should be done.”

No doubt about it, adds Powell, public transit is needed. “But there has to be more investment in service, not just capital projects. I think they’re looking for projects they can ‘cut the ribbon for’ when it’s opened – and providing better bus service isn’t ‘sexy’.”

Kefia and Dustin Micheletti imagine what it would be like if they could ride streetcars all over Portland – especially to work.

Couple desires streetcars
“We live in NE Portland, remarks Kefia Micheletti, as she and husband Dustin look at the charts and maps on display.

“I’ve started working out here at Parkrose High School. It would be nice if I could get to work on public transportation instead of driving a one-person car to school. That’s why I’m most interested.”

Dustin adds, “It is really important to help keep the growth of Portland do-able for everybody. To have everybody in cars isn’t going to work, if we keep attracting people.”

What do you think?
If you missed the open house, you can still get a look at the preliminary “Portland Streetcar System Plan” being proposed by PDOT.

It’s on their PDOT pages of the City of Portland website under Planning and Projects and look for Streetcar System Plan.

Or, CLICK HERE to be linked directly with the PDF document at their site. Note: This document requires that you have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer (download it at www.adobe.com).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover how a soup- (not wine) tasting is paired up with a dinner and auctions in support of this organization that helps folks get off welfare by preparing them for good jobs …

Richard Kiely, past SE Works board member and owner of Home Run Graphics, tastes the Apple Cheddar Cheese Soup (winner of a Celebrity’s Choice Award) made by Patty Park of Portland Specialty Banking Co., at the organization’s 10th Annual Celebration and 7th annual Soup Cook-off event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For a decade, an organization called SE Works has been strengthening the economic health and well being of the diverse southeast Portland community by connecting between job seekers with employers.

Their efforts have been successful: In the last ten years, the organization has helped more than 10,000 people get living-wage jobs by providing them with targeted training programs.

Sarah Keeney of Benson Shed Garden Café offers a taste of her Candied Yam Bisque – as does Heather Ficht, Worksystems Inc., with her Hungarian Mushroom Soup (later named the Golden Ladle Winner) – to Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams.

The celebrities on hand to decide the Celebrities’ Choice Award Soup Cook-off Award are Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, Kerry DeBuse of Genoa, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, and David Machado of Vindalho.

Again celebrating with soup
On October 19th, 285 guests attended “Recipes for Success: SE Works’ Ten Year Celebration, Soup Cook-Off, and Auction”.

The gala featured their seventh-annual soup-tasting competition. Guests voted for their favorite soups with dollar bills. The “Hungarian Mushroom Soup” cooked up by Heather Ficht, of Worksystems, Inc., earned the most donations, and was given the 2007 Golden Ladle Award.

John Jeska, buying balloons from Rekita Barron. Each balloon contains a gift certificate to an area restaurant.

SE Works Board Chair Denise Walton and Executive Director Heidi Soderberg get the evening’s formal program underway.

Celebrity judges, including Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, Kerry DeBuse of Genoa, and David Machado of Vindalho, voted for their favorites. The judging ended in a three-way tie: Laura Bock, Job Developers Network; Pam Butterworth, SE Works; and Patty Park of Portland Specialty Baking each earned the Celebrities’ Choice Award.

Between tastes, guests bid on a wide array of silent auction items featured on three tables. Master of Ceremonies David F. Ashton, of East PDX News, whipped up excitement as the silent auctions closed and guided guests through the evening’s activities.

The soup chefs line up as the “cream of the crop” winning entries are about to be awarded for the “Recipes for Success Soup Cook-off”.

The Celebrities’ Choice Award ended in a three-way tie! The co-winners are soup chefs Pam Butterworth of SE Works, Patty Park of Portland Specialty Baking, and Laura Bock of the Job Developers Network.

Winner of the 2007 Golden Ladle Award – chosen by a vote of attendees – goes to Heather Ficht from Worksystems, Inc. The award is presented by SE Works Executive Director Heidi Soderberg as well as staff member (and this year’s Soup Chef Host) Gwen Nothwang.

Then, while guests enjoyed a full-course Pacific salmon dinner, SE Works clients shared their success stories.

Master auctioneer Mitch Lambley stepped up and got the guests to open their checkbooks and bid on outstanding live auction packages. In all, $41,000 was raised to support SE Works’ programs.

David F. Ashton, Master of Ceremonies for the event pauses between closing the silent auctions. (Sue Eastman photo) Auctioneer Mitch Lambley gets a good price for another outstanding prize package during the live auction.

A sell-out crowd of nearly 300 showed up for the 10th Anniversary Celebration and Recipes for Success Soup Cook-off held in Southeast Portland on October 19.

Sponsors for the event included: ON Semiconductor; PCC Structurals; Portland Development Commission; Bank of the West; CMTS, Inc.; Gunderson, Inc.; IITR Truck School; Kraft Foods/Nabisco; Lumber Products; Pacific Natural Foods; Pam Olson Farmers Insurance Agency; Portland Community College; Vancouver Iron & Steel, Inc.; Alotto Gelato; Cascade Medical School; and Kern & Thompson, LLC.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why organizers produced this health-promoting event …

Event exhibitor Katrina Kellmer, with Gluten Intolerant Group, spends a moment with Carolyn Fairfield, Community Health Fair organizer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Medical professionals, health and fitness educators, and representatives of health-related businesses and organizations came to share ideas about developing a healthy mind, body, and spirit on October 20.

“We’re holding this event,” said organizer Carolyn Fairfield, “to make people aware of their health, so they take care of their body. There is wisdom on one of my favorite sayings: ‘Take care of your health; if you don’t, where will you live?'”

Steevie Weevie the Clown turns twisted, inflated latex to smiles on kids faces – as only he can!

Outside the location, Parkrose United Methodist Church, the Oregon Lions Club Mobile Health Screening Unit was on hand to provide free visual acuity, glaucoma, blood pressure, hearing, and diabetes screenings.

The event also featured free healthy snacks, activities for children, and face painting and balloon twisting by Stevie Weevie the Clown.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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