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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

Librarian Schell has seen many changes in outer East Portland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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

Ross Monn explains the Clean Up program to arriving neighbors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The barricade-smashing granny wasn’t the only problem driver threatening the Portland Rose Festival Children’s Parade this week. You’ll be amazed to read what this guy did‚ and what he had in his car, and at his East County home‚

Story by David F. Ashton
Just as the annual Portland Rose Festival Children’s Parade was getting underway at 12:30 p.m. on June 5, the 9-1-1 Call Center started getting calls about a Ford Focus automobile that had crashed through a barricade near the intersection of NE 56th Avenue and Sacramento Street.

Once through the barricades, police say the driver ended up in the parade’s staging area. There, they say, the errant driver hit a parked car and kept going. The Ford bumped into a participant, who hopped up on the hood of the car to avoid being hurt.

“From there,” reported Portland Police Bureau spokesman, Sgt. Brian Schmautz, “The driver found himself stuck behind a large group of junior high students lining up to march in the parade. Taking the path of least resistance, he began to drive through the crowd of students at a very slow speed. Officers on the other side of the parade line quickly converged on the car, and took the driver into custody.”

Police find four ounces of pot
Police identified the parade-crashing driver as 35-year-old Joshua Cohen, an East County resident, and placed him under arrest.

Police charged Joshua Cohen Possession, Delivery, and Manufacture of Marijuana, after they found a growing operation in his Montavilla home.

“Hand prints on the windshield of Cohen’s car helped officers determine that this may have been the same car just reported as being involved in the hit and run,” Schmautz added. “Officers ordered a tow for Cohen’s car, and conducted an inventory search. Officers located approximately one-quarter pound of marijuana.”

East County suspect’s problems grow
As cops continued to question Cohen, he indicated that he had a marijuana grow operation at his Montavilla residence, in the 8400 block of Southeast Alder Street.

Schmautz told us Drugs and Vice Division officers searched Cohen’s home, and, with his consent, removed about 20 growing marijuana plants from his residence.

“Cohen was cited and released, and charged with one count each of Possession, Delivery, and Manufacture of Marijuana, and the two counts of “Failing to Perform the Duties of a Driver [Hit and Run],” commented Schmautz.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

We were touched by this service, at which the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department memorializes those who have given their lives to protect the citizens of the county. Take a look‚

The flag that flies in front of the County Sheriff’s Department is lowered, and made ready for presentation, at the department’s memorial ceremony.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A Color Guard unit marches to the front of the Hansen Building, home of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department, and takes their place. An Honor Guard, with ceremonial rifles in hand, performs an arms drill.

In addition to Sheriff’s Deputies, Gresham Police Department, Portland Police Bureau, Sheriff’s offices from Clackamas and Clark County are also present for this solemn program held at on the late morning of May 16.

Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto speaks with us as the memorial service is about to begin.

The flag, about to be ceremonially folded, is displayed.

“The nation started this recognition and memorial service 16 years ago. It is to remind us, not only of the sacrifice of the people in law enforcement who have lost their lives, but also what it means to protect the nation, our state, and our community.

“It’s important to remember that sacrifice. It is also important to remember that these men and women protect the freedoms we enjoy in our country, in our state, and here in our county.”

The Honor Guard stands at attention before their black-powder salute.

After a brief invocation, the National Anthem plays.

Deputies slowly lower the flag in front of the Hansen Building. This flag is presented – held out in the noonday sun. As a new flag is raised, then lowered to half staff, the retired flag is ceremonially folded and presented to Sheriff Giusto.

Sheriff Bernie Giusto receives the flag, taken down in honor of fallen deputies.

“Taps” is bugled; the Honor Guard fires their rifles into the springtime sky.

Sheriff Giusto addresses the group, saying in part, “Behind each [fallen member’s name] is a story of service to others. Of risks taken, so that others might be safe; of running toward danger, not away from it. We celebrate the legacy they left behind: A safer and more secure nation.”

The “Roll of Fallen Deputies” is read aloud, naming those who fell in service from 1917 to 2003.

A Portland Police Bureau bagpiper plays “Amazing Grace”.

Sheriff Giusto salutes the carefully-folded United States flag, after he places it before the Deputies’ Memorial.

Speaking to us after the memorial ceremony, regarding the law enforcement professionals with whom he works, Giusto adds, “As we move forward, it is an amazing dynamic that people are willing to come into our profession. They are willing to ‘give it all’.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Did leaves really keep this truck driver from seeing the stop sign? See for yourself‚ and the damage this NE Portland accident caused‚

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters from Truck 2 help paramedics prepare a driver injured in this collision.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As foliage grows out, we notice more and more stop signs being hidden by the leaves.

“The driver of a van, heading west on NE Wygant Street, says she didn’t see the stop sign at NE 112th Avenue,” reported Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Michael Leisure.

By looking at the damage, it appeared as if the van’s driver was traveling at a good clip when she collided with a sedan.

Regardless who was at fault, two vehicles were wrecked, and two people went to the hospital because of the accident.

The driver of the van appeared shaken, but said she was OK. Two of the occupants of the auto were transported to the hospital by ambulance; their condition remains undisclosed.

“The driver has the responsibility to look for traffic control signs‚ and to make sure the intersection is clear‚ even if they have the right-of-way,” Leisure told us at the scene.

What do you think? It looks as if leaves from the tree’s overhanging branches do partially block the view of the sign.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Have salmon really been seen spawning in Crystal Springs? Yes, thanks to Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s minion of dedicated volunteers. Check it out, and see who the council is thanking‚

David Douglas High School teacher Stacey Barber and student Amanda Krekow pick up the JCWC Youth Group award for “adopting” a park along the creek.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Ten years ago, much of Johnson Creek was little more than a sludge-filled, weed-choked, 26-mile-long drainage ditch running from Gresham to Milwaukie, where it dumped into the Willamette River.

But, thanks to the dedication of the hundreds of Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) volunteers, this waterway is one of the last free-flowing streams in Portland, supporting several salmon species as well as an incredible variety of wildlife.

The JCWC’s annual meeting luncheon was held at Reed College this year on May 17 at 11:30am. The event showcased the organization’s successful partnerships, projects, and community investment in Johnson Creek.

The envelope, please‚
In addition to the keynote speech by Kim Stafford and presentation of the groups Annual Report, many volunteers and supporters were honored. We spoke with two of four award winners.

The Youth Group Award went to Stacey Barber’s David Douglas High School class who “adopted” the creek-side Bundy Nature Park.

“We’ve planted over 500 plants along the Springwater Corridor,” Barber told us at the event. “Part of our class requires community service work. But our students realize if we don’t protect our natural resources now, they won’t survive to be enjoyed by later generations.”

Their projected centered on the “Bundy Park” area in outer SE Portland, in the shadow of Powell Butte.

Amanda Krekow, a David Douglas junior, accepted the award with Barber. “I especially like pulling ivy. Oregon is such a beautiful place. If we don’t keep it green and clean, no one else will be able enjoy it. I want to keep being able to walk in nature.”

Sharon and Gary Klein accept the JCWC Individual Award from the organization’s executive director, Michelle Bussard.

The Individual Award was presented to Gary and Sharon Klein. “For the last five years, I’ve been their ‘tool guy’,” Gary explained. “I keep the tools in order, fixing broken tools, cleaning gloves and buying manual labor tools when they need them. If Johnson Creek doesn’t survive, and eventually thrive, it is bad for all of us. It is kind of an ‘ecological pulse’ of or area.”

The council’s accomplishments
Michelle Bussard, executive director of JCWC shared some of her organization’s many accomplishments with us as she helped prepare for their annual event in Kuhl Auditorium.

“This year, we spotted spawning Coho salmon in Crystal Springs. This is really nothing short of magic,” Bussard said. “And, we’re working with more and more private property owners who are improving their creek side stream stewardship practices.”

The list of projects and accomplishments filled a booklet she showed us. “But, this is the work of a lifetime; the work of generations. We have so much more to do. Won’t you join us?”

Their summer work party is scheduled for August 18. Learn more‚ and join in, by visiting their web site at www.jcwc.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why this gathering was their most successful to date‚ and learn what Portland Commissioner Sam Adams told this outer East Portland group‚

Guest Kendra Rice, Washington Mutual, joins Dr. Norbert Huntley, DC, secretary of the Midway Business Association, and the group’s treasurer, Tammy Williams, Wells Fargo Bank, at their annual open house‚ for pizza at Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Each year, the Midway Business Association (MBA), the group representing businesses in the southern portion of outer East Portland, hosts a get-together for area business people and neighbors. By far, this year’s event was their most successful ever.

“I’m really glad to see so many people coming,” the group’s president, Donna Dionne told us. “It shows more and more people recognize the potential of associating together.”

Bill Dayton, the host of the event at Pizza Baron, invites business people to join the association.

About 50 people came by Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron to meet one another, learn about the business association, hear Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams briefly speak ‚Äì and enjoy a pizza buffet.

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams tells how the city plans to support area businesses in the future, and improve area roads.

Commissioner Sam speaks
At this informal meeting, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams stopped by to congratulate the association for another successful year, and was asked to speak.

Adams started by informing people at the get-together that the city of Portland has set aside a $250,000 strategic grant to set up professional offices for the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations, of which MBA is a member.

“It just doesn’t seem fair that the city funds neighborhood associations at level much higher than that of district business associations. This is why, through the APNBA, we’ve provided project grants in support of our business districts.”

The commissioner spoke to a “full house” at this MBA meeting.

On the topic of taxation, Adams continued, “We were able to get through the City Council the first small business city tax reduction in the history of the City of Portland three months ago. Those of you who have small businesses, or are sole proprietors, you’ll see a reduction in your business income tax.”

The tax reform, Adams added was very controversial. “It took me two years to get [the tax reform] passed. My former boss, Mayor Vera Katz, accused me of being a ‘supply-sider’. But, if we don’t have strong businesses, we can’t have a strong and prosperous city.”

Turning to roads, Adams continued, saying he’s asked the city to spend $11 million to address the most dangerous intersections in the city.

“I’m happy to tell you the request was improved. And, 54% of that money, about $4 million, will be going to improve the most dangerous intersections here in Outer East Portland ‚Äì along 122nd Ave. and on 82nd Avenue of Roses. We have a long ways to go, but we will save lives, reduce injuries, and make it a more friendly area in which to walk and drive.”

Adams closed his remarks, commending the group: “You and your leadership have been good advocates on the issue. You are a great association‚ you’re full of small businesses. We want to support you.”

Come meet the members on June 12
Come learn all about this business group dedicated to helping neighbors and business, on June 12th, runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division Street. For more information, go to www.midwayba.com.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover how this dedicated group of organizations is helping to revitalize the Lents Neighborhood, by dramatically increasing the number of homeowners seeded into their community‚

Amie Diffenauer, ROSE CDC, and Deborah Johnson, Host Development, talk with Angela Wilkinson‚ who says she’s interested in buying a home in Lents.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Business, community organizations and government agencies aren’t just hoping the Lents Neighborhood will improve. They’re taking action.

One of their projects was putting on a “Home Buying Fair” not long ago. By the time we’d arrived, families were streaming into Kelly Elementary School where the fair was set up.

Mipzia Menjivar checking folks in at the Lents Homeownership Fair.

“Welcome to our second fair,” Amie Diffenauer, Community Organizer for the Lents Homeowner Initiative at Lents Community Development greeted us. “People come here who are interested in purchasing homes.”

The fair, she explained, is geared to lower-to-moderate income families, and those considering buying their own home for the first time.

“Many people in our community don’t realize they have the opportunity to purchase a home,” continued Diffenauer. “At this event, we encourage homeownership as a possibility‚ even if it may be several years out. We show them how to start planning now, by improving their credit, building up some savings, and learning how to apply for loans.”

Kristin Breen, Washington Mutual, encourages Shannon Milliman‚ who tells us, “We’re exploring buying a home. Having a plot of land of your own, a garden, draws a family together. We’re working toward it; this fair is really helping.”

Homeowners make better neighbors
People who are homeowners, she said, tend to be more “invested” in their neighborhoods‚ and more than just financially. They take better care of their home and yard, and care about what is happening around them‚ in their street, and in their community.

“We have helped 130 families become homeowners in two years,” Diffenauer enthused. “Our goal is 120 more new homeowners in the next two years. We’re working to build a stronger community, encouraging people to buy homes.”

Provides education, connections and food
The nearly 100 potential new homeowners who attended talked with many of the 23 home buying vendors‚ such as real estate agents, banks, and other lenders‚ and twelve community organizations and government agencies were also at the fair.

In addition the meeting the exhibitors, attendees took home-buying workshops that were available in English, Vietnamese, Russian, and Spanish.

At the Northwest Natural Gas cook trailer, grilling up great fajitas are volunteer Darrell Thiessen and chef Buzz Busse. “We’re NW Natural. We’re giving folks something good to eat ‚Äì and showing them that gas is the best way to cook.”

And, the lunch cooked up by the Northwest Natural Gas team was indeed superb. Freshly grilled chicken fajitas, with all the trimmings, were mouthwateringly delicious.

“We’re happy with the diverse turnout and the enthusiasm of the attendees to learn about homeownership,” said Diffenauer.

About 100 families came to the fair and learned how they can become homeowners in Lents.

We ran into Nick Sauvie, executive director for ROSE Community Development, the driving force in this homeownership campaign at the event.

He looked pleased as he summarized what he saw, saying “This has been a great partnership among realtors, banks, and other companies who are helping people buy a home in Lents. It’s great for the homebuyers, and good for the community. There are good things ahead in Lents.”

Learn more at the work of this organization by visiting  www.rosecdc.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Men and women who served their country under the seas gathered for this tribute. You’ll see exclusive coverage right here‚

A Portland Fire & Rescue Fireboat sends patriotically-colored streams of water in honor of fallen submariners at OMSI.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
1300 hours on Memorial Day, former submariner Bob Walters sounded the “dive” claxon to signal the start of a memorial service for those who have served our nation under the seas.

Then, a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and the colors of our nation were honored.

“This memorial celebration is important because this is the time we remember those we served with, those with whom we are currently serving, and those who died in the service of their country,” J.D. Corbitt, the event’s organizer is with the Portland Blueback Base told us. “Memorial Day is a fitting day to do this.”

The Blueback Base, Corbitt said, is a gathering of men and women who have served their country on submarines.

Because they work closely together, in a confined space for a long period of time, “Submariners form a special brotherly-bond seldom seen in other branches of the armed forces,” explained Walters.

“These are all highly skilled people,” Walters continued. “To be a crew member on the USS Blueback submarine, now docked behind OMSI, had to be certified in every position on the vessel.”

Captain Kenneth Dale Walker places a wreath in memory of lost submariners at the memorial near OMSI.

Captain Kenneth Dale Walker, U.S. Navy, was the event’s keynote speaker.

During part of Walker’s speech, he told the group of 100 service people and family members, “What is our responsibility to the submariners who gave their lives in the service of their county? I believe it is to celebrate their lives. They are an inspiration. To the veterans here, you have a personal experience of the horrors of war, of grief and hope. We honor those who serve, take up arms, and place themselves in harm’s way, so we may live in peace.”

Retired submariner Bob Walters rings the ship’s bell in memory of those lost at sea in the service of their nation.

As part of the Memorial Day ceremony a bell was tolled in memory of lost boats and sailors; and a wreath was placed at the Submariners’ Memorial at OMSI by Captain Kenneth Dale Walker, U.S. Navy.

As a finale, a Portland Fire & Rescue fireboat shot streams of red, white and blue water, providing a patriotic background for the USS Blueback’s former crewmates gathered for the event.

Former submariner George Hager blows taps, ending the memorial service as a PF&R Fireboat salutes with a spray.

© 2007 David F Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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