Take a look at his unusual art, and you’ll agree this gentleman has an affinity for turning wood into treasures ‚Ķ

Ralph Smith shows us some of his unusual works – and tells us why he loves creating them.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Fancy automated equipment isn’t part of Ralph Smith’s shop. Instead, he uses mostly hand tools to turn hunks of wood into impressionistic art.

We caught up with Smith at CherryWood Village’s “Show and Sell” day, on November 9.

In his words

“I started when I retired,” Smith told us. “I gave up golf and took up woodcarving. Carving traditional objects developed into creating abstracts. I love to do abstracts.

“I take unusual pieces of wood and make unusual designs out of them. As I start working with a piece, I get a feeling for the shape it’s meant to be. It takes imagination and work.”

Smith said he creates his works with all kinds of tools. “I start out using a mechanical saw. Then, I use wedges to chip out the rough shape. Next, I’ll use a rasp to finish the form. Then, I’ll shave the wood with metal scrapers. You can make it smooth, almost like glass.”

The very last step, Smith explained, is finishing it with some fine sandpaper.

“The biggest problem is finding the right kind of wood ‚Äì wood with character, which lends itself to my work.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

East Precinct Police officers were running in the rain, from call to call, while most people dreamt of the morrow’s feast ‚Ķ

A 29-year-old man died in the street here on 148th Ave. the night before Thanksgiving Day. Police say they have little to go on.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Other than the howl of wind-blown rain, it seemed like the night before Thanksgiving Day would be peaceful. Then, not long before midnight, police officers who serve outer East Portland became deluged with calls.

Gang activity caused officers to cordon off blocks out by the PAL club. Drunk drivers took to the roads. And, a man was stabbed to death.

“Here in Dispatch,” the news-line 911 Communicator told us, “we’re wondering why people aren’t just staying home on such an awful night.”

Officers were called to investigate a street fight, but all they found was a stabbing victim.

Murder in Glenfair
At 11:00 pm, East Precinct officers were radioed to check on a fight and possible stabbing on NE 148th Ave. near Glisan St. When officers pulled up on their patrol cars, they didn’t see a fight. But, shining their powerful spotlights around, they did discover the body of an adult male who had suffered what appeared to be stab wounds.

We rolled on-scene just after the Mobile Precinct pulled in and homicide detectives began conducting an investigation.

According to Sgt. Brian Schmautz, The victim in homicide has been identified as 29-year-old Leonardo Perez. “He is also known by the name Marco Leonardo Perez. Detectives have not developed any suspect information and have not established a motive for the crime,” said the police spokesman.

Schmautz was able to tell us that the autopsy showed that Perez died of multiple stab wounds.

Drunks take to the road
Fortunately for good citizens, the cops were keeping a sharp eye out for early, overly-lubricated celebrants of the holiday.

All across East Portland, both precincts reported numerous encounters with inebriated drivers.

Police say a drunk driver took out this utility pole on SE 92nd Ave. around midnight.

We just missed seeing the vehicle towed away from SE 92nd Ave. at Duke Street. The drunk driver stuck the utility pole with such force, it snapped it like a twig. The wooden pole was suspended from electric power, telephone and cable TV cables as it dangled in the blowing wind.

Police blocked off SE 92nd Ave. until PGE workers could install a new pole. “Another DWII driver into another pole,” mused the damp officer at the site, “Why can’t people just drink at home?”

Two-alarm fire displaces families in Wilkes
Thanksgiving Day was spoiled for at least two families when a fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. when firefighters were called to an apartment building at 14200 NE Sandy Blvd.

Within moments after the call came in, the crew of Engine 2 arrived on scene. They saw “flames were rolling out of the ground floor apartment and smoke from the apartment directly above,” according to Lt. Allen Oswalt, Portland Fire & Rescue.

Oswalt reported that the fire spread to the second floor apartment through a window directly above the fire room, after the heat from the flames broke out the glass. Moderate damage was done to the second floor apartment and major damage to the ground floor apartment where the fire started.

All of the occupants escaped the inferno, Oswalt added.

Take a tip from a firefighter: “A working smoke alarm in your apartment can save your life,” says Lt. Allen Oswalt. (Note: We took this photo at a training exercise, not at this fire.)

Commenting on this fire, Oswalt added, “When you live in an apartment you are only as safe as you make yourself. Don’t rely on the other tenants. Take responsibility for your own safety, and make sure you have two ways to escape. Above all have a working smoke alarm in your apartment.”

The fire is under investigation.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

To those who believe the story of ‘PETER PAN’ is just a fairy-tale, we have photographic evidence to the contrary …

As promised: Peter Pan caught in mid-flight, soaring high around the stage, at David Douglas High School’s Howard Horner Performing Arts Center.

Story and astonishing photo by David F. Ashton
November 30 is opening night for the David Douglas High School Performing Arts Department production of “PETER PAN”.

Sell-out crowds who have seen this school’s past productions expect to see professional sets and lighting. They already know they’ll enjoy this classic story, brought to life by the student actors, singers and orchestra members.

But a flying, singing and acting Peter Pan? Yes indeed.

Meet Peter Pan
Katy Beckemeyer, a senior at David Douglas High, plays the role of Peter Pan. We asked Beckemeyer what it’s like to fly.

“There is a line in the show that where Peter Pan says, ‘I’ll show you how to jump on the wind’s back and away we’ll go ‚Ķ’ Flying is exactly like that. It’s like being caught by the wind and suddenly, you’re flying. It is so amazing. It’s fun.”

When we asked if learning to master flying was a frightening experience, the young actress confided, “I made myself scared with thoughts like, ‘Hey, I’m going way up in the air; if I fall I’ll die.’ But once you fly, it is like riding a magic carpet. It’s the like a wonderful roller coaster ride.”

Learning to sing and act while flying took some doing, though, she said. “I’ve really focused on breath control when I sing.”

The greatest thing about the role, she added, is how it can open people’s minds and encourage them to use their imagination.

Tickets are selling fast; don’t be left out
Opening night for “PETER PAN” at the Howard Horner Performing Arts Center is November 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Additional performances are at the following dates and times:

Friday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, December 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, December 10 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $7 for seniors and students, and $10 for adults.

Howard Horner Performing Arts Center box office at David Douglas High School, is located 1400 SE 130th Avenue. Call (503) 261-8270, Mondays through Fridays, 3 to 5 p.m. It’s also open an hour before show times ‚Äì but don’t risk being disappointed if that performance is a sellout! Order your tickets in advance.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

And, plan to attend Michael Allen Harrison’s
“Back Home” concert on December 2 …

Meet this year’s Parkrose High Debonaires choral group.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Those who came to the first musical concert of the year at Parkrose High School were treated to both choral and jazz selections in October.

The Debonaires took the stage first. Choral director, Lesley Bossert whispered, “Don’t their new outfits look great?”

The young singers did look sharp ‚Äì and sounded great ‚Äì as they went into their four numbers, “Star Spangled Banner”, “Be True to Your School”, “Over the Rainbow” and “Saturday Night Fish Fry”.

This year’s Parkrose High Jazz Band in concert!

Then, it was time for the Parkrose High Jazz Band to take the stage, under the baton of Mike Tolon.

This great group of youthful jazz musicians showed talent and ability as they presented “It Don’t Mean A Thing”, “When I Fall in Love” and “Foo’s Blues”.

Back Home with Michael Allen Harrison Dec. 2
Begin your holiday season on December 2 by enjoying the musical genius and flair of award-winning pianist Michael Allen Harrison.

Michael returns to his high school alma mater for a fourth annual benefit concert, hosted by the Parkrose High School A Cappella Choir. They will be joined by the elementary choirs from Prescott School and Russell Academy.

Proceeds will be used for continued development of the PHS choral program.

Tickets are only $12.50 adults; $10.00 seniors & students. They are available by calling (503) 408–2718. The show starts at 2:00 p.m. on December 2 at the Parkrose High School Theater, 12003 NE Shaver St (at the corner of SE 122nd Ave.).

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

When Bull Run runs dry, we drink water out of the ground. See what East Portland folks learned from this unique training and trip …

Randy Albright, hydro-geologist and groundwater specialist for the Portland Water Bureau, shows participants exactly where some of their water comes from.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For some time, the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council have teamed up to present “Groundwater 101″. This class helps unravel some of the mysteries of the “other” source for Portland’s drinking water.

But on November 4, the team gave an expanded training, called “Groundwater 201″ located at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center.

This workshop started with an in-depth class on our local groundwater sources, using charts, maps and models. The instructors showed the group the importance of keeping the water table clean and usable.

After a light lunch, the participants climbed into a bus for the second half of the event: A tour of the Groundwater Protections Area in outer East Portland.

Portland City Well 14 is the first stop in the groundwater field trip.

Standing on drinking water
Their first stop was at the site of Well 14, out near NE Marine Drive. As participants piled out of the bus, Randy Albright, hydro-geologist and groundwater specialist for the Portland Water Bureau, showed them the lay of the land.

There, Albright told us, “On this field trip, we can show people how things actually look, instead of showing photos, or pointing things out of a map.”

The city has groundwater as its secondary source of drinking water, he added. “It is an important resource for the city. There have been some misconceptions about it in the past. We explain how it functions, and how we’re protecting it for them.

The “how” of protecting groundwater is complicated, as the instructors explain in detail during the class. “The ‘why’ is simple,” Albright said, “We need a good, secondary source of drinking water.”

Not a uniform filter
We learned that the earth and soil, between the top of the ground and the aquifer, varies in thickness.

In Gresham and Troutdale, the layers that can filter groundwater are relatively thick. Yet, in the Parkrose area, this layer is thin, giving little protection to the aquifers below the ground from runoff and contaminated wastewater.

This plant was once a source of groundwater contamination. Now, Boeing is preventing the contaminated groundwater from spreading by pumping it out, and treating it – thus drawing clean water into the area.

Contamination solutions
Looking west, we could see the Boeing Aerospace plant in East County. In the early 1990s, the company was charged with contaminating groundwater.

Albright told the group that Boeing now controls the ‘plume’ of ground contamination around its facility by installing a ring of wells outside the contaminated area. “By pumping out and treating the contaminated water before discharging it into slough, Boeing has created a slightly negative groundwater area so it doesn’t spread into the aquifer tapped by the city’s nearby Well #14.”

Full containment was achieved in 1997, and continues today, he added.

Groundwater protectors
The group then traveled on to Cascade Station, the new development area by Portland International Airport.

Rebecca Geisen, manager of the Groundwater Protection Program, Portland Water Bureau said they’re evaluating whether or not the Cascade Station area development is impacting well fields.

The Cascade Station stop ended with the class touring a stormwater treatment facility. Finally, the class was bussed to the new industrial development area near NE 152nd Ave. and Airport Way.

“The Wellhead Protection Program is important,” Geisen told us, “because it prevents spills of hazardous materials that could contaminate our groundwater. By working with businesses, we’re able to institute best management practices.”

Learn more about your water
Columbia Slough Watershed Council provides a number of programs to help people become more knowledgeable about groundwater, pollution and storm runoff. Visit their website at www.columbiaslough.org to learn more.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

On our tour during the storm, we expected to see massive damage from the 60 mph winds. See what we found, instead ‚Ķ

The high winds pushed over many trees rooted in rain-soaked soil. This tree, on NE 111th Avenue, pulled over a utility pole.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Major storms blowing through our area in early November, days apart, blew tree limbs into yards and roads, flooded low spots in streets, and alarmed a lot of East Portland residents and business people.

While an outer East Portland man was trapped in his truck after a tree in his yard pulled down power lines, and other incidents darkened as many as 2,000 homes for several hours, surprisingly little damage was done by the howling storms.

This MAX stop at 148th Ave. and E. Burnside St. was dark, and traffic was warned to be careful by burning flares.

On Sunday evening, we snaked throughout blacked out intersections on SE Powell, from SE 162nd Ave. westward past SE 136th Ave.

Making our way through Eastmoreland, we expected to see some of the mighty American Elms toppling. All we found was a large branch that fell off a conifer on SE Woodstock, just east of SE 28th Avenue.

Predictions for a wild winter
The weather service predicts more storms in the Pacific that will find their way inland to Portland over the coming months.

Make sure you have plenty of blankets, flashlights – and an auxiliary power source for your computer so you can keep reading East PDX News – when the power goes out!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Follow along, and see how specialized training keeps Southeast Portland firefighters on their toes, to better save lives …

We used a flash to photograph members of Southeast Portland Fire & Rescue Station 25’s Truck company, in full turnouts and wearing breathing apparatus, crawl through a pitch-dark abandoned factory, in search of a “disabled firefighter”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Over a dusty, rutted road, Truck 25 – a long, Portland Fire & Rescue ladder rig, based in Southeast Portland, steered around corners by both front and rear drivers – picks its way toward an abandoned factory in Troutdale.

These seasoned firefighters are on their way to a class and training session.

“Today, we’re covering a change in procedure,” Lt. Don Stauffer, Portland Fire and Rescue’s District Training Lieutenant, tells us. Firefighters from three stations gather in the open-air loading dock. Chairs are set up, classroom style, and a white-board is nailed to the building’s chicken-wire and tar-paper wall.

Before the training exercise, Lt. Don Stauffer covers procedure changes and outlines the scenario.

Back to school
Sitting in on the class, we learn the topic is “Air Management” ‚Äì making sure firefighters keep enough air in their breathing tanks to get out of a burning building alive. Stauffer emphasizes the importance of the subject, quoting statistics from the National Fire Protection Association: “More firefighters die from running out of air than die from fire.”

“We’re increasing the amount of reserve air. We now want firefighters to hold 25%, not 10%, of their air in reserve,” he instructs. The crews will conduct their drill under simulated emergency conditions, putting into practice this new procedure. While increasing their safety, the new policy gives firefighters less time to work while having to breathe bottled air.

“In our scenario today,” Stauffer explains, “we have two firefighters down [injured, and running out of bottled air]. To simulate the structure being filled with smoke, we’ll be doing this drill completely in the dark ‚Äì no flashlights. Locate them, get an extra air supply on them, and bring them out to the exit point.”

To help prevent injury, firefighters warm up before suiting up for the drill.

After the formal learning session, firefighters “warm up” by doing stretching exercises, much like athletes before training.

As the firefighters don their turnouts, tanks, and masks, we ask Stauffer why the Fire Bureau didn’t simply send out a memo explaining the new procedure.

Drilling for proficiency
“Even though we do this every day, drilling gets you more proficient,” Stauffer responds. “This means you’ll be able to react more quickly, and make better decisions ‚Äì especially in life-or-death situations. They’re highly skilled already. But simulations help them sharpen their decision-making abilities. To rescue people and save property, firefighters must first themselves stay alive.”

Station 25 firefighters Mike Schultz, Mark Gift, Zach Parrish and Jeremy Paul don their gear and check each other’s equipment before entering the building.

The training team has blacked out the building’s interior. We enter the first floor of the building — originally a wool processing plant — getting ready to photograph the entrance of the crew from Truck 25. After our eyes adjust to the darkness, the only light visible is the dial of the instructor’s wristwatch.

The firefighters enter and begin their drill in complete darkness. A hose line, stretched on the floor, is their only guide as they crawl around obstacles. They follow the hose up a staircase. Within minutes, they come to the aid of their fallen comrade; they successfully complete the drill.

Then, as it happens, within hours of training, the crew of Station 25 was off on a real call, putting to use their newly-honed skills, saving lives and property.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Follow along, and see how specialized training keeps Southeast Portland firefighters on their toes, to better save lives …

We used a flash to photograph members of Southeast Portland Fire & Rescue Station 25’s Truck company, in full turnouts and wearing breathing apparatus, crawl through a pitch-dark abandoned factory, in search of a “disabled firefighter”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Over a dusty, rutted road, Truck 25 – a long, Portland Fire & Rescue ladder rig, based in Southeast Portland, steered around corners by both front and rear drivers – picks its way toward an abandoned factory in Troutdale.

These seasoned firefighters are on their way to a class and training session.

“Today, we’re covering a change in procedure,” Lt. Don Stauffer, Portland Fire and Rescue’s District Training Lieutenant, tells us. Firefighters from three stations gather in the open-air loading dock. Chairs are set up, classroom style, and a white-board is nailed to the building’s chicken-wire and tar-paper wall.

Before the training exercise, Lt. Don Stauffer covers procedure changes and outlines the scenario.

Back to school
Sitting in on the class, we learn the topic is “Air Management” ‚Äì making sure firefighters keep enough air in their breathing tanks to get out of a burning building alive. Stauffer emphasizes the importance of the subject, quoting statistics from the National Fire Protection Association: “More firefighters die from running out of air than die from fire.”

“We’re increasing the amount of reserve air. We now want firefighters to hold 25%, not 10%, of their air in reserve,” he instructs. The crews will conduct their drill under simulated emergency conditions, putting into practice this new procedure. While increasing their safety, the new policy gives firefighters less time to work while having to breathe bottled air.

“In our scenario today,” Stauffer explains, “we have two firefighters down [injured, and running out of bottled air]. To simulate the structure being filled with smoke, we’ll be doing this drill completely in the dark ‚Äì no flashlights. Locate them, get an extra air supply on them, and bring them out to the exit point.”

To help prevent injury, firefighters warm up before suiting up for the drill.

After the formal learning session, firefighters “warm up” by doing stretching exercises, much like athletes before training.

As the firefighters don their turnouts, tanks, and masks, we ask Stauffer why the Fire Bureau didn’t simply send out a memo explaining the new procedure.

Drilling for proficiency
“Even though we do this every day, drilling gets you more proficient,” Stauffer responds. “This means you’ll be able to react more quickly, and make better decisions ‚Äì especially in life-or-death situations. They’re highly skilled already. But simulations help them sharpen their decision-making abilities. To rescue people and save property, firefighters must first themselves stay alive.”

Station 25 firefighters Mike Schultz, Mark Gift, Zach Parrish and Jeremy Paul don their gear and check each other’s equipment before entering the building.

The training team has blacked out the building’s interior. We enter the first floor of the building — originally a wool processing plant — getting ready to photograph the entrance of the crew from Truck 25. After our eyes adjust to the darkness, the only light visible is the dial of the instructor’s wristwatch.

The firefighters enter and begin their drill in complete darkness. A hose line, stretched on the floor, is their only guide as they crawl around obstacles. They follow the hose up a staircase. Within minutes, they come to the aid of their fallen comrade; they successfully complete the drill.

Then, as it happens, within hours of training, the crew of Station 25 was off on a real call, putting to use their newly-honed skills, saving lives and property.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why you should be making plans to see ‘PETER PAN’, opening on November 30 ‚Äì and why many performances of the show will be soon sold out ‚Ķ

The pirate band teaches one of their own a little discipline, as this group of students block out a number from their upcoming production of “Peter Pan”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We are constantly amazed at high quality of productions mounted by the David Douglas High School Performing Arts Department.

This season’s blockbuster show ‚Äì a full Broadway-style production of “PETER PAN” ‚Äì looks to be a very entertaining show.

The story:
In old Edwardian London, Wendy Darling nightly fascinates her brothers by telling bedtime stories featuring swordplay, swashbuckling, and a fearsome Hook. But, these youngsters become heroes, themselves, in an even greater story.

One night, Peter Pan flies into their nursery, leading them over rooftops and through a star-filled sky to a place called Neverland. There, Wendy and her brothers are enlivened to find a land where adult rules are set aside. But, they also face confrontation with Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty pirates.

But, what happens if Peter Pan “grows up” like normal kids?

DDHS Theater Technical Stage Manager Mark Taylor Jessica Baltzor and Adara Elliott building Wendy’s house for the play “Peter Pan”, opening November 30.

A show to amaze and delight both children and adults
The sets, designed by DDHS Theater Technical Stage Manager Mark Taylor and built by the student crew, rival those found at major theatrical productions. In fact, we’re told professional theater companies have already bid to rent the sets from this show after it closes.

Add to this, the professional-quality lighting and sound, operated by the twenty-member technical crew, and you have the underpinnings of a great production.

Under the direction of Judy LeCoq, a cast of sixty – yes, 60 – actors, singers, and dancers will fill the stage, to the accompaniment of a chorus and thirty-member orchestra.

And yes, Peter Pan really flies
This classic story would certainly lose panache if Peter Pan were grounded. Have no fear – Peter Pan indeed will fly high above the stage. We have photographic evidence.

Check back in a week and you’ll see Peter Pan fly for yourself!

Don’t be disappointed, order tickets now
Opening night for “PETER PAN” at the Howard Horner Performing Arts Center is November 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Additional performances are at the following dates and times:
Friday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, December 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, December 10 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $7 for seniors and students, and $10 for adults.

Call the David Douglas Box Office at (503) 261-8270, Mondays through Fridays, 3 to 5 p.m. It’s also open an hour before show times ‚Äì but don’t risk being disappointed if that performance is a sellout! Order your tickets in advance.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Why was Gilbert Heights Elementary School the only grade school in Oregon to win the title of National Title I Distinguished School? Read this article and see …

Gilbert Heights Elementary School Principal Kevin Fordney says the award belongs to the entire staff of the school, because of the way they work together improving each child’s educational experience.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Being an educator in outer Southeast Portland is a challenging. An increasing number of their students come from less affluent – in fact, poverty-level – families. And, more of their kids are learning English as their second language.

Yet, this David Douglas School District school, Gilbert Heights Elementary, was the only school in the state this year to be awarded the title of National Title I Distinguished School.

“This is an affirmation for our staff, for the work they do every day,” Principal Kevin Fordney told us in an exclusive interview. “Indirectly, this award affirms that David Douglas schools are working hard to help a diverse group of students make good things happen.”

No overnight success
The award was six years in the making, Fordney said. It started with the expectation that children can learn; and the realization that the demographics of the area are changing.

“The school’s improvement process was started by Principal Sherrie Barger and her staff,” Fordney explained. “They took the time to stop, look at research, and determine where they were succeeding, and what they needed to strengthen.”

The school focused on making sure each child has good reading skills said the principal. “Reading is the foundation for success in every subject area of school. It also provides personal enjoyment for those who are good at it. We pour lots of effort into reading skills.”

The result: Over the last six years, staff developed, implemented, and worked together to support student achievement in key subject areas.

Beyond “teaching to the test”
Some educational advocates feel schools measured as being successful merely show kids how to “ace” achievement tests. We asked if “teaching to the test” might have been Gilbert Heights Elementary’s method for success.

Fordney pondered our query for a moment.

“That’s a good question. The answer is ‘No. We teach to the standards.’ And because we teach to the standards, students learn what they need to be learning to be well educated. Because they are well educated, they can pass the tests.”

Secret of their system
Asked if there is a secret to their success, Fordney explained, “Everyone here has agreed to ‘own’ the responsibility to help all of the kids learn, according to standard programs we’ve found to be successful. The individual classroom teacher is supported by other teachers who collaborate with them.”

On several occasions during our conversation in his office, Fordney emphasized, “This is a team honor. Every single person in the building has contributed to this award.”

Note to parents
We asked what parents can do to help their youngsters become better students.

“Reading to and with your child is important. So is being connected with your school, and your child’s progress,” Fordney responded. “We believe the success is a partnership between the student, school, and family. We appreciate parents’ help, and hope they continue to support our efforts.”

The school will receive a $5,000 award, which will be used to further assist in student achievement. The school will be honored at the National Title I Conference January 27-30 in Long Beach, California.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn why this event attracted hundreds to go for a run on a cold, soggy Sunday morning …

After their run, Friends of Trees volunteers Scott Fogarty, Lori Hoffman, Rachel Haig, and Steven Sonderman mulch the roots of young saplings the group has planted along the Oaks Bottom Trail.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
More than 230 runners and walkers decided to “leaf their problems behind them” as participated in the first “Fun Run for Restoration” held by the nonprofit group, Friends of Trees.

“We wanted to have an event to draw attention to our activities,” Scott Fogarty, the group’s executive director, told us. “The run is routed though a neighborhood and natural areas where we’ve planted trees.”

Fogarty said that their volunteers are active people. “We like to get out, work, and make friends. Many of those participating in our fund-raising event today are already members.”

Event kicks off planting season
“Our planning season is starting. In addition to raising funds, and awareness, this event kicks off our ‘work’ season,” Fogarty explained. “Trees and natural areas are valued by people in the greater Portland area. People move to Portland and live here because of our trees, clean air, clean water, and green streets. We want to keep Portland green.”

The organizer said the event raised about $8,000 for their cause. Want to join in on a “tree planting party” in your area? Check their web site at www.friendsoftrees.com .

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how this unique event combined a soup cook-off with a dinner and auction raising $32,000 for SE Works Career Center …

Heather Ficht of Worksystems won the coveted “Golden Ladle Award” for her “Wisconsin Delight” soup; it was, presented to her by five-time previous winner Anne Sweet.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
An organization that helps people find jobs has found a tasty formula for fundraising here in Southeast Portland. They call it “Recipes for Success”.

The Sixth Annual SE Works Soup Cook-Off and Auction used its tried-and- true recipe of mixing a soup cooking contest, banquet, and charity auction to help financially support their One-Stop Career Center.

The event, held at inner SE Portland’s Melody Ballroom, attracted 225 guests, who tasted unique soups cooked by 15 volunteer “chefs”.

Two chefs were awarded for their potages. The coveted Golden Ladle went to Heather Ficht for her “Wisconsin Delight” soup that garnered the greatest number of popular votes. Kerry DeBuse, owner of acclaimed Portland restaurant Genoa, and Sunset Magazine writer Susan Hauser, bestowed the Celebrities’ Choice award on Bryan Tremayne, for his “Roasted Vegetable Soup”.

As dinner was served, the organization’s staff, board, and volunteers were honored. “SE Works strengthens our community by providing employment and education programs,” explained executive director Heidi Soderberg. “Our clients say we do more than just help people get jobs. They say we help them improve their lives, and the lives of their families,” added board chair Mitch Cogen.

Clients William Parker, Tina Velasquez, and Nakeisha Bent gave moving testimonies about how SE Works went beyond getting them a job by also helping them improve their lives.

Guests bid generously during the lively auction run by Stan Ash. The event raised $32,000 to support the mission of SE Works: Strengthening the economic health and well-being of the diverse Southeast community by increasing access to employment, educational, and support services.

To learn more about the organization, see www.seworks.org.

“Recipes for Success” photo album

Three of the fifteen “soup chefs”, sampling their creations, and hoping to win the coveted “Golden Ladle Award”. They are Patty Park of Daverci Solutions, Inc., “Cream of Wild Salmon Pumpkin Soup”; Heather Ficht of Worksystems, “Wisconsin Delight”; and Amy Parkhurst, also of Worksystems, “Autumn Pumpkin Stew”.

Celebrities’ Choice Award winner at the event was Bryan Tremayne of Pacific Foods for his “Roasted Vegetable Soup”; the award was presented by Anne Sweet.

Bob Homer and Mary Phelps, ready to bid on some of the dozens of great items at the silent auction, which ranged from weekend getaways to event tickets.

Kerry DeBuse, owner of famous Portland restaurant Genoa, and Susan Hauser, a longtime freelance writer, sample and judge each soup entry, as they prepare to bestow the Celebrities’ Choice Award to one soup chef.

Mitch Cogen, SE Works board chair, & Heidi Soderberg, executive director, start the evening’s program.

Silver Ladle Sponsor Pam Olson, of Farmers Insurance, gets ready to pop her own prize balloon, to see what she won.

Soup chefs line up to receive their Medal of Appreciation.

Auctioneer extraordinaire Stan Ash has fun with the participants, as he gets top dollar for each item.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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