If you missed this fun and informative event, see why you should plan to attend the East Precinct Open House next year‚

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officer Brian Hunzeker helps Lucas Lechuga Jr. try on a patrol motorcycle, with the support of his mom and dad, Tisha and Lukas.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Helping citizens connect with their law officers is the theme a yearly open house held by the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct.

“We plan all kinds of activities to bring members of our community in to see our precinct,” explained Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs.

Martha, Carlos and Isabel Pagan meet Portland Police mount, Jack and his human partner, Mounted Officer Paka Searle.

Third-year Portland Police East Precinct Cadet, Ryan Mele, proves he’s the “Emeril” of the Open House BBQ grill. “I’m looking forward to law enforcement as a career. I don’t think there is any more satisfying job out there.”

Spencer Duncan gets final instructions from Officer Cox before he rides the bicycle safety training course called “Bike Rodeo”.

The open house was carnival of law enforcement attractions. In addition to opening their motor-home-like mobile precinct for inspection, mounted officers, members of the SERT team, the bomb squad with their remote-control robot and a bike safety rodeo were some of the hands-on exhibits available to the more than 500 visitors who came by on June 23.

The Portland Police East Precinct Cadets provided hospitality to everyone who visited‚ grilling up a complete BBQ lunch for more than 400 visitors.

“It is important to us that people can come out and see that their police are people, like everyone else,” Crebs told us. “When they come to our open house, people get to see what we’re doing with their tax dollar.”

K-9 Officer Shawn Gore, with his partner Eddie, talks with visitors Ryan McLaughlin and Ioanita Costache.

At the armaments table is SERT Officer Larry Wingfield, talking with Carl Fincher. “Very interesting to see the equipment our police uses in their work,” says Fincher.

The basis of “community policing” continued Crebs, is that the police and the people they serve work together as partners to reduce crime, as well as the fear of crime, where they live and work.

“If in individual feels comfortable talking to us, because we’ve already established a relationship, it help them feel like they can call and report a problem or crime, when that time comes,” the commander explained.

Loaded up with goodies after visiting the East Precinct Open House are Evan, Brandon, and Caleb, with their mom, Darlene Peterson.

East Portland Crime Reduction Specialist Rosanne Lee and Wilkes Community Group Chair Ross Monn discussed plans for National Night Out, this year on August 7.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Career-after-career, Teena Ainslie has helped young people in outer East Portland become more successful adults. You’ll be amazed to learn about her NEXT career‚

Although she’s departing as the program director for Parkrose High School ASPIRE program, Teena Ainslie says she’s excited about her next project.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Over the years, we’ve told you how the ASPIRE program, lead by Teena Ainslie, helped Parkrose High School kids make important higher education or workforce training decisions.

“This is my third retirement from the same line of work,” Ainslie told us at her “Re-retirement Party” held in the school’s library. “It’s been wonderful helping young people find their way, in my previous career with David Douglas High School, and then in Parkrose.”

Ainslie served as an AmeriCorps Member stationed at Parkrose High for two years before joining the College & Career Center as a part-time assistant for an additional two years.

“The grant funding for her position has evaporated,” reported Meg Kilmer, her supervisor, “and it will be challenging to continue the program without Teena’s leadership.”

ASPIRE, Kilmer added, is a statewide college-prep mentoring program. “Teena recruited, trained, and supported dozens of ASPIRE advisors, as they coached many college-bound youth of Parkrose High.”
Helped kids find careers

Seeing the kids develop was the best part of her current assignment, Ainslie said. “Working with their volunteer adult mentors, our students were able to get a realization of their career possibilities, and start developing a career path for themselves. They learned what they had to offer; and which skills they would need to develop, to achieve their goals.”

Aircraft carrier school
“It’s been wonderful,” Ainslie continued. I’ll miss all of the wonderful volunteers, parents, staff members and students in Parkrose.”

But when we asked if she was going to “take it easy”, Ainslie shook her head, and with a twinkle in her eye, she said, “I’m working on a project with the USS Ranger aircraft carrier. Part of this is developing a vocational school connected with the project here in Portland. This is going to be my next career. I’m pouring all of my 40-years-worth of experience into this project. It’s going to be fun.”

Ainslie said she’s working with a group that aims to park the USS Ranger at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2.

For more information about the aircraft carrier, Ainslie suggested a visit to www.ussranger.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Although it seems city government has put off dealing with crumbling roads and traffic safety issues for years, see what PDOT’s Commissioner, Sam Adams, is doing to start moving the city toward improving our transportation infrastructure‚

Judy Welch, Lents Neighborhood resident, and Alicia Reese, Chair of the Woodland Park Neighborhood, sign in at the outer East Portland transportation meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Pay now for road maintenance‚ or pay a lot more, later on‚ was Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams’ theme at a series of town hall meeting held across Portland in late June and early July. We took in the meetings in inner Southeast Portland on June 20, and the town hall at Central Northeast Neighbors on NE Sandy Boulevard on July 2.

“Portland’s streets and roads are deteriorating rapidly,” Adams told us before he addressed citizens attending SE Portland “Transportation Priorities and Funding Options” town hall sessions.

“We have to make the tough decision to get on top of transportation system repairs. If we don’t start now, it will cost all of us much more if we delay,” Adams said.

“Our transportation system is in trouble,” says Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, as he begins his PDOT town hall tour by documenting the problems with Portland’s roads.

The purpose of these public sessions was to explore the options regarding Portland’s street maintenance and safety backlog, the Commissioner said.

“We are here to learn about the street safety and maintenance concerns of the people who live here. We’re here to ask for their feedback. We’re asking them to prioritize the work that should be done, if we had more money. And, we’re discussing the various funding options that might meet those priorities,” said Adams.

Transportation troubles defined
In his opening remarks at both well-attended town hall meetings, Adams spelled out why the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) says our transportation system is in trouble:

  • 3,941 miles of streets, or 32%, of arterials are in poor condition;
  • 157 bridges, (22% of them) are in poor condition;
  • 992 traffic signals, (43%) are in poor condition;
  • Too many Portlanders are being injured and killed in traffic crashes; and,
  • Deferred maintenance adds an estimated $9 million annually to future costs.

Low vehicle fuel tax rates to blame
The reason Portland’s street transportation system is in bad shape, Adams explained, is a lack of funding.

“There hasn’t been an increase in the 24-cent per gallon state gasoline tax since 1993. And, the Portland metro region receives only 46 cents out of each dollar paid in state gas tax and vehicle registration fees,” said Adams.

More than half of the time during the town hall meeting was dedicated to allowing citizens to express their concerns about roads and street safety.

Similar values discussed; except for bicycle transportation
Although the specifics differed, the general theme of questions and comments we heard at the two meetings were similar, with one exception: bicycles.

Many folks attending the inner SE Portland meeting raised their voices in favor of bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

At the meeting in outer East Portland several days later, a different attitude became apparent. When a community member said he objected to the amount of money spent on bike lanes; spontaneous applause broke out.

“How much money is being spent on bike lanes?” the commissioner was asked. Adams stated that 1.35% of the transportation budget was spent for bicycle lanes. “About 3% of people in Portland use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation,” Adams added.

Other questions; and answers
Adams was peppered with queries such as: “Did the Tram take money that could have used for road maintenance?”

Adams replied that PDC tax-increment-funded dollars can only be used to increase capacity, not to repair or maintain.

Asked if the city spent too much for light rail and streetcar lines, Adams answered, “Transportation funding is complicated. Federal and state light rail funds must be spent only on light rail.” He added that an increase in parking meter and garage fees, along with other undisclosed funds, supports streetcar operation, along with $1.6 million from the city’s budget.

Asked to comment on how “tax abatements on expensive downtown high-rise condos” hurt street maintenance funding, Adams responded, “I voted against the last round of tax abatements. Where I live in Kenton (near St. Johns), we all pay full taxes.”

When questioned why the backlog on inadequate or defective traffic signals was so great, Adams said many of the traffic signals that are failing are old; the city has delayed replacing them.

Sidewalks: the homeowner pays
A question asked in both sessions concerned what agency has the responsibility for building and maintaining sidewalks that run in front of residences.

“In most places,” Adams responded, “sidewalks and curbs are improvements that are, or were, the responsibility of the developer. In some places, the county didn’t require sidewalks, so they weren’t built.”

Questions “wasteful spending”
Quizzed if PDOT could cut “wasteful spending”, Adams answered, “I’m dedicated to improving efficiencies. The number of [PDOT] city employees, per capita, has not increased. As Commissioner [of PDOT] for the last two years, I can say we’ve reoriented the agency, and taken it in a new direction.”

When asked why seemingly-good arterial streets are now being repaved, Adams replied, “The Portland City Auditor has stated the city isn’t doing enough to prevent streets from deterioration.” He explained that shallow grinding and repaving projects prevent much-more-costly later repairs to the street’s foundation.

Several of those in attendance used the meeting as a forum to praise or decry public transit, to point out what they see as the city’s fiscal boondoggles, to speak against tax abatements and infill development, or to complain about poor roads and a lack of sidewalks in their neighborhoods.

Playing “Stump the Commissioner”, one wag opined that charging more for metered parking spaces could help defray road maintenance costs and asked, “Exactly how many parking spaces in the city?” Adams answered, “I don’t know.”

Opinion poll points out problems
“Research shows strong results for road repair, maintenance, and safety,” Adams quoted from public opinion survey taken in January.

When outer East Portland residents were asked for their opinion of the area’s greatest transportation needs, “light rail” and “pothole repair” were the top two topics. Across all four quadrants of the city, “pothole repair” came up most frequently.

Sam Adams states, in dollars and cents, what SE Portland neighbors can expect to pay in increased taxes, to get safer streets and save crumbling roads.

Funding options
“I’m not asking you to sign a blank check for transportation,” Adams stated. “I’m asking you to focus on selecting projects that save the most money, and save the most lives.”

Adams then presented several funding concepts. These included local bond funding options paid by property tax, an increase in the local fuel tax of 12 cents per gallon, Street Maintenance Fees, and employee and business taxes.

Research shows, the commissioner said, public opinion favors a “Street Safety and Maintenance Fee” of just over $30 per residence per year‚ generating about $15 million annually. Those polled were almost evenly split when asked if they would accept a local fuel tax increase.

Commissioner voted “very well prepared”
People we polled after the meetings rated Commissioner Adams as being “very well prepared” for these meetings. “He had an answer for everything,” was a typical comment‚ some said it in a sincere tone of voice, others sounded sarcastic.

Those attending were urged to take a “transportation survey” and “vote” on the importance of issues, and solutions. Several neighbors grumbled that some of the questions appeared “loaded” to favor increasing taxes. “It’s like they’re asking, ‘Do you want to see your roads crumble; and have more people be killed crossing the street‚ or pay a little more in taxes’,” one attendee commented to us.

See you in September
A draft proposal developed from PDOT’s research, and data gathered from the informational surveys taken at the meetings, will be revealed in a series of public meetings scheduled in September.

The outer East Portland meeting will be on September 20, at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Community Room at 737 SE 106th Avenue, across from Floyd Light Middle School.

The inner Southeast Portland meeting is scheduled for September 24 at St. Philip Neri Church, on Division Street at 2408 SE 16th Avenue.

Adams documents maintenance and repair needs that PDOT has uncovered in inner SE Portland.

Update: Study findings
On July 10, Commissioner Adams released information regarding the surveys taken in his round of neighborhood coalition meetings.

“The results are surprising,” Adams wrote. “At each of the town halls, neighbors expressed very strong support for new funding sources to address basic transportation needs.”

According to Adams, the PDOT survey shows:

  • “Transportation is important. Transportation ranks second to schools as Portlanders’ highest priority.
  • “Intersections and school crossings need to be safer. Portlanders want safer crosswalks, especially around schools and at intersections.
  • “Find new funding sources — Portlanders dislike over-reliance on the state gas tax, and strongly encourage funding diversification.
  • “Promote conservation — New funding sources that encourage conservation are most favored; a local gas tax is strongest followed by a ‘gas guzzler’ tax and a fee on parking spaces.
  • “Be clear and accountable — While Portlanders want a full-service package, they also want transparency and accountability. Portlanders support: an independent oversight committee, buy-in from neighborhoods and neighborhood business districts, capped administrative costs, a defined list of projects, and ‘sunsetting’ taxes and fees after 10 years.
  • “Get it done. Town hall attendees support more expansive funding packages than the $23 million proposal Adams presented: eliminating the maintenance backlog in ten years at $45 million annually scored highest, followed by a more comprehensive package at $70 million per annum.”

For complete survey results, see: CommissionerSam.com/transportationsurveyresults

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Volunteers working with Senn’s Dairy Park in Parkrose didn’t give up on their dream to starting a community garden. Learn more about the first community garden in the neighborhood, right here‚

A little rain‚ actually a steady downpour‚ didn’t stop Barbara Nizich from planting her plot.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago, outer East Portland was drenched in a series of rainstorms. But that moisture, followed with lots of sun, has helped crops grow well at the new Community Garden at Senn’s Dairy Park in Parkrose.

Life-long connection to the location
Barbara Nizich was planting her crop when we visited. “I’m planting mostly vegetables. Peas, beans, beats, korabi, tomatoes and a couple of winter squash,” she told us.

Nizich said she decided to try a plot in a community garden because where she lives, in the City of Maywood Park, the tree canopy is too dense to grow a garden.

“What is making this especially fun for me,” Nizich continued,  “is, as a teenager, one of the first places I got to drive the family car was here to Senn’s Dairy, to get milk for the family. Now, here I am, tending my garden.”

On the Community Garden’s opening day, the park also offered crafts for kids. Here, Amy and Kyran Salvador are making birdhouses.

Park nears completion
Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Marcy Emerson-Peters stopped by to check on the new garden’s progress. “Isn’t it great? Even in the rain, people are coming here to plant their gardens.”

Emerson-Peters said each feature added to the park draws more attention to it. “Completion for our park, playground and all, is scheduled by the end of the year. This is exciting.”

Liza Judge and Leslie Pohl-Kosbau — Community Parks Director for Portland Parks & Recreation — help new Parkrose gardeners get started, at the new Senn’s Dairy Park location.

Garden plots for all
“In addition to tilled garden beds, this garden features raised beds designed and built for people with mobility and disability issues,” said Leslie Pohl-Kosbau, community parks director Portland Parks & Recreation.

Pohl-Kosbau said the garden offers a total of 26 plots. “We’re also installing a shed and picnic table for the gardeners. The area is also fenced to help protect the garden.”

A garden plot costs $45 per season, with a $10 deposit. “People can garden all year; the next cycle starts in Feburary,” said Pohl-Kosbau.

For more information regarding community gardens – anywhere in East Portland – call (503) 823-1612 or E-mail at comgardens@ci.portland.or.us.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at the result of this joint garden education project that helps grade school kids from inner SE Portland gain a hands-on agricultural experience‚

Johathan Suarez, Duyle Le, and Kimberly Alvarez from Lane Middle School show off part of the crop they picked at the Learning Garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the students crossed SE 60th Avenue from Lane Middle School to the Learning Garden Laboratory for a spring celebration a couple of weeks ago, they were joining kids from Atkinson and Woodmere Schools, and from the Native Montessori Program at Richmond School.

“Today is about getting the whole community‚ all generations‚ together to celebrate,” one of the coordinators, Judy Bluehorse Skelton, told us. “As we get to know one another and share food, we connect with this land once again.”

The kids filtered through the planted rows, some cultivated the soil, and others picked vegetables they’d prepare for their lunch.

As part of their Spring Celebration, children and adults chanted a Native American song, “Haya-ha-haya”, expressing their thankfulness for the sun, the rain and the good earth as they walked around the sunflower garden.

“The Parks Bureau owns this property,” explained Jeff Milkes, SE Services Manager for Portland Parks and Recreation. “We have an agreement with the folks who created the Learning Garden with Portland Public Schools and Portland State University. It’s a great partnership, and fantastic use of the land.”

Explains the garden’s function
Asking who could best explain the program at the Learning Garden Laboratory, we were directed to Portland State University’s Prof. Pramod Parajuli.

“This is a ten-acre outreach and teaching station, located here in the heart of Southeast Portland,” Parajuli told us.

Prof. Pramod Parajuli with Sarah Goforth children from Native Montessori Program, part of PPS Native American Title VII program at the Richmond School 41st and Division.

“We’re trying to create a kind of a learning community where we not only learn about the human society, but also the ‘more than human’ society, together. We’re creating an intersection, a fusion; a kind of biological and cultural conglomeration,” continued Parajuli.

The professor said the collaboration connects PSU graduate students with the next generation of leaders and educators [grade school children].

“We are entering into an ‘ecological era’ that our educational institutions need to embrace,” added Parajuli, “to prepare future generations who will translate our ecological vision into what we do, how we teach, what we eat and drink; how we protect our food, water, and air.”

Atkinson School students Kennedy, Fiona and Saela are “picking their lunch” at the SE Portland Learning Garden.

Practically speaking, the facility provides opportunities for 250 students to learn about how the foods they grow relate to the region and to the agro-ecological and culinary cultures of Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

The students gathered for a short program, including a Native American song thanking the good earth. Then, the kids headed for the gardens and picked vegetables that were used to prepare their lunch.

As they gathered greens, the smiles on their faces were evidence that they enjoyed learning that produce comes really from the ground‚ not a plastic bag.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See East Portland Chamber of Commerce members and friends network and learn why you may want to check out this business association‚

Steve Schopp, Dave Lister, and John Bradshaw, and tournament organizer Ken Turner, are scouting out the Eastport Plaza sponsored hole.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton|
The East Portland Chamber of Commerce is known by many for their business exchange and networking meetings, called “Good Morning East Portland”, every Wednesday morning from 7:30 to 9:00.

The group also focuses on giving its members the tools to grow their businesses, learn to be effective business leaders, and be heard by local government officials.

All of them from Riverview Community Bank, Casey Ryan, Jessica Douglas, and Dana Kelley hold a special running “Green for Green for SnowCap” event, raising more than $850 for the charity.

But, sometimes they leave their business concerns at the office and just have fun. A good example is their annual golf tournament, a couple of weeks ago at the Colwood National Golf Course.

Rain, early on June 15, threatened to dampen the spirits of the golfers headed to the course‚ but the sky cleared, and more than 90 players hit the fairways.

Scouting the putting green are Seve Ghose of Portland Parks & Recreation, Richard Kiely from Homerun Graphics, Jonathan Johansen of Complete Financial Services, and Jeff Milkes, who is SE Services Manager for PP&R.

“This is a great course,” said organizer Ken Turner, the chamber’s Government Affairs chair, and manager of Eastport Plaza. “I’m glad we had such beautiful weather, and a great turnout.”

Chamber Golf Tournament Photo Album

Annette Leoni and Dan Mills from Team Classique (as in floors!) take a break while awaiting their turn.

Frank Ryan, NW Senior & Boomer News, watches as his drive sails straight and true down the fairway

Bill Cullerton, with EPCC Membership Chair Rich Sorem of Stewart & Tuno Insurance, golfs with buddies Mike Schultz and Randy Ferch.

Keeping an eye out for a lucky (or skillful) golfer to hit a hole-in-one and win this new Ford Mustang, sponsored by Homerun Graphics, is Gail Kiley and Ginny Girotti-Sorem.

M-Bank’s chairman Rex Brittle, Kareen Cabatingan, Rob Bohannon, and Mike Czajak show their team spirit.

After playing 18 holes, hungry duffers hit the chow line.

The Envelope Please!

Putting Green Contest winner Eric Dunlap, Dunlap Mortgage. He’s getting the cash from Ambassador’s chair Pam Olson, Farmer’s Insurance.

Accepting 3rd place awards are Ken Turner of Eastport Plaza, John Bradsaw from Bradshaw Automotive, and Dave Lister, “The Eastside Guy”.

For the 2nd place team, Joe Ornduff and Scott Hendison, Search Commander, accept the award.

Sweeping into 1st place with a score of 61 are Mike Turcol, Roger Stopa and Jiles Ogles, and Chuck Garner. They aren’t Chamber members; they just heard about the tournament and decided to play!

Even though they came in at last place, Pete Moss, Taylor Sherwood, Noelle Sherwood, and Julia Farman‚ known as Team Bookkeeping Company‚ are first-class good sports.

2008 Golf Tournament date set
“We’ve already booked Friday June 20, 2008, for next year’s tournament,” Turner told us. “Plan now to come out and play!”

Turner also invited business and neighborhood folks to attend the Wednesday morning “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting.

“The meetings are free,” Turner added. “The welcome mat is always out for business people who want to check out the chamber by visiting one of its weekly networking events.”

A different chamber member hosts the weekly meeting at various locations. For more information about the chamber or its events check online at www.EastPortlandChamber.com or call (503) 788-8589.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Who took top prizes in the Gateway Area Business Association’s Fun-O-Rama Parade? Will “alternative energy” work here in Oregon? Find out the answers by reading this article‚

The award for being the “Best Overall Participants” in their May Fun-O-Rama Parade went to The Parkrose Posse. The trophy is being accepted by Joe Rossi.

By VM Wells; David F. Ashton photos
Awards were given, and alternative energy sources were discussed at the Gateway Area Business Association’s June meeting.

Saying that being partial to Gateway’s Keystone Kops had nothing to do with it, GABA president Alan Sanchez awards the Fun-O-Rama Parade “President’s Award” to the Keystone Kops.

Fun-O-Rama Parade “Best Commercial Entry” award went to Cascade Athletic Club, accepted by Scott Dobson.

Answers to pollution and energy needs presented
Wind and sunshine are answers to the world’s twin problems of getting more energy and having less pollution: This message was left with the 50 members attending the June luncheon by Diane Zipper, spokeswoman for the Renewable Northwest project.

First, Zipper outlined the dark side‚ 47 percent of the electricity generated in the Northwest comes from water power. That source can not be increased, she warned, because the dams are wiping out the fish population.

Diane Zipper, spokeswoman for the Renewable Northwest, pitches the positive attributes of solar and wind electricity generation.

Coal is responsible for much air pollution, she said, charging that it is part of the “electricity generation trio” responsible for a third of America’s air pollution: Coal, gas, and oil. Transportation is responsible for another third of pollution; industry, homes and the like the remaining third, she added.

Touts solar power
Sunshine is one of the best answers, Zipper advocated. She pointed to Germany as the world’s leading generator and user of sunshine-generated electricity. But she said the Willamette Valley actually has better possibilities than Germany.

Zipper says solar energy is actually more viable here in Portland than in Germany, where this form of power generation is more widely used.

She explained that Oregon, in spite of its rain, has more sunny days than Germany‚ and “better solar resources, which have not been developed yet.”

Further, she pointed out, sunlight generates electricity at the time when most electric power is consumed. And sunshine-generated electricity which is not used where it is made, can be fed back into the power network to lower the monthly bill for the homeowner whose solar generator produced it.

Praises windy power solutions
She also praised windmills that generate electricity. The turbines are roughly 250 to 350 feet above the ground, and ideally stand away from the flyways used by migratory birds.

Federal and state tax incentives are available for users of wind-powered and sunshine-generated electricity, Zipper added.

Generators using wind and sunshine “strengthen the economy, help the rural economy and improve the environment,” she concluded.

Meet the Gateway business folks
On July 12, the Gateway Area Business Association meets again‚ Networking starts at 11:30 AM. Visitors are welcome to attend this long-established group. And, it’s a good networking opportunity. This month, hear Pegge McGuire, executive director, Fair Housing Council of Oregon speak at JJ North’s Buffet, 10520 NE Halsey St. Reservations NOT needed. For more information, go to www.gabanet.com.

© 2007 East Portland News Service ~ and VM Wells

Two accidents, only 17 hours apart, take a life, in one case‚ and “totals” two vehicles, sending occupants to the hospital, in another,

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Traffic was shut down at the intersection of SE 122nd Avenue and SE Stark Street twice, in less than 24 hours, due to car crashes.

Deadly hit-and-run
July 4, about 10:35 pm, East Precinct officers respond to a pedestrian- involved hit and run accident, near the intersection of SE 122nd and SE Stark.

“A citizen apparently saw the collision, and followed the suspect until officers could stop him and take him into custody,” Portland Police Bureau’s spokesman, Sgt. Brian Schmautz, tells us. “Officers located a critically injured male; he was transported to OHSU.”

Police say Florentino Garcia struck a pedestrian in the intersection on July 4.

Investigators believe, Schmautz informs us, that 59-year-old Florentino Garcia was driving a Ford pickup westbound on SE Stark Street when he hit a man, identified as 44-year-old Dannie Price. They believe Price was crossing northbound across SE Stark Street in the crosswalk.

Dannie Price died of injuries sustained in this Independence Day accident.

“Based on witness information,” Schmautz continues, “investigators believe Garcia, the driver, had a green light at the time of the collision.”

Officials say Garcia was booked on one count of DUII, one count of Reckless Driving, and one count of Assault in the Third Degree. The suspect was booked before the victim died. “The case will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office, which may ask jurors to consider raising the assault charge to a manslaughter charge at grand jury. Alcohol consumption will be a factor in the decision-making process regarding both the suspect and victim,” adds Schmautz.

17 hours later‚
At 3:18 p.m. on July 5, on SE Stark only 50 feet west of SE 122nd, a two-car collision ultimately sends two people to the hospital.

Within minutes of the smashup, Portland Fire & Rescue Truck 45 arrives on-scene. Fire and Rescue workers help remove the injured passengers from the two cars; they prepare the patients for transport to Mt. Hood Medical Center for evaluation.

Police say the this accident victim was in the car that pulled out into traffic and caused the wreck.

Again, Sgt. Brian Schmautz fills in the details: “18-year-old Shauna Leistiko was exiting the Burgerville parking lot [on the northwest corner of the intersection].”

Schmautz confirms what an eyewitness at the scene, Allen, tells us: “The Chevy Cavalier came out of the parking lot, looking like she was going eastbound on SE Stark Street. She drove right in front of a car coming westbound. It was quite a smash,” the witness says.

This accident victim came from the Camry. The vehicle was hit so hard, it knocked it south, across three lanes of traffic and into a tree on the south side of the road, authorities say.

Leistiko’s Cavalier collided with a Camry driven by 73-year-old Constance Haynes, Schmautz says.

While no tickets were issued, Schmautz tells us, Haynes had the right of way. “Two people went to the hospital for trauma injuries. Two cars are wrecked. The lesson is simple: Look before you enter the street.”

Police say this accident is the result of one driver not yielding the right of way to traffic already traveling along the street.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Because Portland Fire & Rescue’s crew arrived within four minutes of the call, the house was saved. There’s an important lesson here‚

Firefighters used power saws to slice open garage doors, to gain access to the fire raging inside.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dressing up in firefighting outfits, called “turnouts”, on a 90-degree day, makes for a warm afternoon.

But, the heat of the day doesn’t slow crews from Portland Fire & Rescue from preventing a home in outer SE Portland’s Centennial Neighborhood, on the 14300 block of SE Woodward Street, from burning down on July 5.

By the time we arrive on scene, the fire is out, although smoke and steam is still pouring out of the attached garage.

Looking at his MVT (mobile data terminal), Portland Fire & Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Mark Schmidt confirms crews arrived within four minutes of getting the call. “It came in at 1424 [2:24 p.m.], and the truck arrived on scene at 1428.”

We ask why the city’s Deputy Fire Chief is in command; usually a district Battalion Chief directs the crews.

“I was coming out to meet to the Gresham Chief,” Schmidt says. “I was only blocks away, and came over.”

Asked to comment about the fire, Schmidt tells us, “This is a house fire. Most of the loss is in the garage. Also, there’s quite a bit of smoke damage inside the house.”

Although it’s hot work, crews use heat-sensing cameras to check for any hot spots left in the garage.

Schmidt notes that a training crew from Station 2 was called in to do the overhaul [checking for hot spots and removing burned material]. “On a hot day like this, it helps to have extra crew on scene‚ they spell off each other. It’s hot work, especially wearing these turnouts.”

As some of the firefighters paused to guzzle a bottle of water, no one complains. “We’re happy to serve,” one said, sweat pouring off his brow. “We saved a house today.”

The homeowner, Paula Farris, praised the bureau’s response. “We have a wonderful fire department. They arrived quickly and saved the house. Everyone was OK.”

A Portland Fire & Rescue training crew joins regular firefighters, spelling them off on this hot, July afternoon.

Lighter’s flick ignites blaze
Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Doug Jones later tells us that fire investigators reported: “An 18 year old male was working in the garage working on motorcycle or vehicle. There was an open container of flammable liquid. He lit a [cigarette] lighter, or was using the flame from a lighter, and that accidentally ignited the vapors. He received minor injuries to his leg, but was treated on-scene.”

Jones adds, “We’re glad no one was seriously injured. But people have to use common sense with fire and open flame, when working with flammable fluids.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

How does retired Parkrose School District superintendent view his tenure? Does he plan to kick back in an easy chair? Read his reflections on his time managing the district‚ and his new adventure‚ right here‚

Now that he’s retired, Parkrose School District’s former superintendent, Michael Taylor, says he’s pleased to have helped increase the quality of education that Parkrose students have received‚ but gives teachers and staff members the credit.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On June 30, the hard-charging superintendent of the Parkrose School District walked out of his office on NE Prescott St. for the last time‚ and into retirement.

We’ve brought you the story about how the district’s board conducted a community-wide research program, from which they developed a concise plan for the future of education in Parkrose. Then, the school board conducted an extensive search for a new superintendent. And, we introduced you to the candidates, and the board’s selection of Dr. Karen Fisher Gray to fill Taylor’s post.

Taylor’s good ‘grades’
Just before he left Parkrose Schools, we asked Taylor to share some of his thoughts about his tenure at Parkrose‚ and plans for his future.

“I feel really good about my time here in Parkrose,” Taylor began. “The transition process has spoken to that. The board’s research says there is a core level of satisfaction about what we‚ our schools, teachers and staff‚ are doing. It shows they appreciate our desire to maintain quality education. That says something good.

“We’ve worked to make this happen. I feel good both about my tenure here, and the transition process.”

While Taylor credit’s the districts achievements to the diligent efforts of its teachers and staff, he does admit he’s pleased to have had a hand in improving public education in Parkrose.

Best part: seeing more students succeed
We asked Taylor what the best part of his time in Parkrose Schools.

“Sometimes in education, you don’t get to see the results of the things you have done. But the way things were in this district, you got to see the results.

“Other people in other districts work as hard I do, and know as much about schools and I do, but not everybody gets the opportunity to help close such a [educational success] gap. It is easier to close the first part of the gap‚ moving from 50% of your kids making it — to 70% — than moving from a 70% success rate to a to 100% rate.

“When I came here, my predecessor told me, ‘All the basics are here, Mike. The core is solid. It just needs to be organized and brushed up a little bit.’

“It was true. Our core staff was good and only got better. Our community supports our educational efforts. The core structure was here; it just needed to get aligned.”

Alignment, Taylor told us, is “about getting people into the right places to do what they need to do. More importantly, successful alignment means moving non-important stuff out of the way so our educators can be successful. To a great extent, we accomplished this.”

Not the best of times: contract negotiations
Asked if there was anything he truly disliked about the job, Taylor thought for a moment before answering.

“If I never negotiate another contract with the union, it will be fine with me. The further the relationship between the school management and the teacher gets, the less the issues are about your schools and your kids.

“To a degree, the interests that were present [in negotiations with unions] got further away from the good of the teachers and the students. We had a couple of hard rounds of negotiations, influenced heavily by outside interests. This stresses the relationships among management, the teachers, and the district.

“Yet‚ and David, this is important — the individual teachers, staff members and organization‚ I have the greatest respect for them.”

Dealing with budget woes
“Another difficult task was creating a budget with the lack of funding we had before the Multnomah County I-Tax,” Taylor continued.

“After 10 years of reductions, having to make yet another round of cuts the year before the I-Tax‚ that was extremely difficult for me. We were down to the point losing services to the point to where the NEXT cut would become toxic to the kids we were trying to serve. It just felt like any more cuts would harm our students.”

Taylor says he’ll stay involved in East County education‚ he plans to help set up a construction trade Skills Center in outer East Portland.

No easy chair for Taylor
Although he did admit to taking fly-fishing lessons this spring, Taylor’s retirement won’t consist of hours spent terrorizing trout. Nor will be be putting his slippers on and lounging in his easy chair at home.

“I’m going to stay involved with education,” Taylor said about his next adventure.

“There is a four-district ‘Skills Center’ that’s being developed; created in association with the Oregon Building Congress.

“The Skills Center has a charter [school] application in to the State of Oregon; it will be sponsored by four school districts in East County. When it is approved, a charter school in construction, architecture and engineering will be available to high school juniors and seniors.”

Skills Center partners with existing high schools
Taylor continued, “I’ve pursued this notion several times before, and never was able to make it happen. I firmly believe that the Center for Advanced Learning in Gresham is a good model for this program.”

Instead of building “mega-high schools” that try to be “all things to all students”, Taylor continued, the concept of operating educational clusters, centers or satellites of specialty makes better sense.

The educational model of the future, he added, is to have a core public high schools, and satellite learning centers.

“If we create a massive number of small schools, we lose public education. We lose the integration of cultures and interests.

Combines specialty training and school spirit
High school juniors and seniors will take general education courses when they attend their “home” high school every other day. “On their days at the Skills Center, students will get [educational] content in math, English or communication, calculations and maybe some of their science — in conjunction with skill sets in construction and engineering.”

Taylor told us that the “comprehensive” high school provides the setting for socialization. “The social culture of high schools is important. A sport, proms, arts, elections and even ‘donkey basketball’ are important parts of growing up.

“At the same time, when it comes to the individual learning interests, schools have to better accommodate the individual student’s needs. We can’t build academies to accommodate all interests in all schools.”

The Skills Center is being developed with partners in the construction trades: carpenters, electricians, HVAC and sheet metal. These trades all currently have their training centers in outer East Portland. The Skills Center, Taylor said, will be located at NE 158th Ave. and Sandy Blvd.

“You’ll be hearing more about it in September,” Taylor promised.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

While many Argay neighbors agree their neighborhood could use another park, read why security, access, and activity locations raised some eyebrows at a recent meeting‚

Representatives from Portland Parks & Recreation‚ Doug Brenner, East Portland Services Manager, and Riley Whitcomb, Program Manager‚ show an aerial photo illustration of the farmland scheduled to become a park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While most people in the outer Northeast Portland neighborhood of Argay think of the “Beech Property” plot as farmland, it will eventually become a city park, according to representatives of Portland Parks & Recreation.

On June 11, Doug Brenner, East Portland Services Manager, and Riley Whitcomb, Program Manager from Portland Parks & Recreation, held a public meeting at Shaver Elementary School to tell neighbors why the city revoked a farmer’s lease‚ even though there isn’t currently funding to develop that land into a park.

“At present,” Doug Brenner told a group of 40 neighbors, “there is no funding for park development, but a variety of strategies can be considered once the Master Plan is complete.”

The 15.7 acre Beech Property, leased out as farmland up till a few weeks ago, is actually an undeveloped park located next to Shaver Elementary School, we learned from Brenner. “Portland Parks and Recreation purchased the parcels in 1984 and 1999 as part of a long-range vision to provide a large community park to serve this part of east Portland.”

Brenner said a Master Plan for the new park will be developed in 2008, “through a collaborative, community process.  It will result in a park design that responds to the area’s recreation needs, and reflects the community’s priorities.”

Ending urban farming
Neighbors quizzed the PP&R pair about halting the farming activities for which the land has always been used. Whitcomb acknowledged it as “a difficult situation, when we must end a [farming] lease. But, stopping the farming is the responsible thing to do, for environmental reasons. We don’t want to put [the farmer] out of business.”

Whitcomb said one of the parcels was foreclosed and given to the City of Portland by Multnomah County. “If we don’t develop it as a park, we’ll have to give it back to the county. They will put housing there. If you don’t want a city park on the NE parcel, we’ll have to sell it. It will probably be sold to a developer. It is zoned R3, low-density multi-family. The point is, we want to see a park there. It is a matter of partnering with you to make it happen. We want to make it as good as possible.”

Brenner said PP&R would become responsible for planting “tall grass” and keeping it mowed to knee height. He also said the rainwater runoff on the land would become a responsibility of the city.

More questions and answers
Asked why the city is going through a Master Plan process, Riley Whitcomb replied, “Without going through the planning process, we don’t know what people want. We want to learn the issues and desires of neighbors, so we can address them.”

Issues that surfaced immediately included:

  • Mice and rats living in the tall grass;
  • Potential access points into the park;
  • Parking problems affecting adjoining streets; and
  • Safety concerns.

“We’re park planners — I can’t specifically speak about roads and mice,” said Whitcomb. “But we don’t just rubber-stamp our approval on park plans. We’re here to talk about concerns you may have.”

As this PP&R photo illustration shows, the Beech Property consists of two oddly-shaped parcels‚ they adjoin each another at only one small point.

Two odd parcels
Asked how a park can be made from two oddly-shaped parcels that meet only at one small point, Brenner replied, “Our two pieces of property do touch at one point. We’ll have to talk with the [Parkrose] school district [which owns the other property] at some point.”

Addressing access, traffic and parking, Brenner said one potential location for a parking lot is at NE 131st Place. “And, there are many walk-in access points.”

Issues of uses and security raised
“What kind park will this be? What kind of activities will it be designed for?” asked neighbors.

“We’re designing this as a more active kind of park,” replied Whitcomb. “It could be designed to accommodate soccer and softball fields. There is room for picnicking and activities for kids. We try to zone activities to fit the situation. We don’t want the soccer field next to someone’s house.”

When a neighbor raised concerns that park traffic may lower neighborhood safety, Whitcomb replied, “One key to providing a safe park is to have good visibility by neighbors, and to make sure the police can see into the park. Lighting is important; but sometimes lighting also brings in undesirables at night.”

At the meeting, PF&R’s Riley Whitcomb says good park design can reduce drug activity and crime.

Valerie Curry, Argay Neighborhood chair, noted that nearby Argay Park has turned into a place for increased drug activity, and asked what could be done to keep this from happening in the proposed park.

Whitcomb responded, “The way we organize the space is important. Where you have a dark corner area, like in Argay Park, those areas are problematic. We may need to think about how we address that. Maybe we need a street that comes though the park so everything is in full view. Lighting and location of activities are at issue. And, when neighbors ‘take ownership’ of their park, we see fewer problems.”

Bathrooms and trees
The group learned that the proposed park would feature a permanent bathroom.

A neighbor living south‚ thus above‚ the property, asked about trees. “Will I lose my view? I can see the Columbia River from my home.”

Brenner replied, “Portland parks are about trees. We will be bringing trees into the park.”

Timetable revealed
Exactly how the park will be designed, and the features it will include, is all part of the Master Plan, Brenner repeated.

Although asked in several different ways during the meeting, the most frequently asked question regarding the final Master Plan was, “Do we, the neighbors, get to vote on it?”

Whitcomb stated, “It is discussion. Typically, we bring three or four alternatives.”

“The plan is developed as collaborative decisions made between the community and PP&R,” clarified Brenner.

The Master Plan will be developed in 2008, stated Brenner. “It can take from three to nine months. We don’t yet have funding to develop the park. We look at a variety of strategies to develop a park. It could be a citywide parks levy. Maybe by then the city will be in good financial shape; funding could come from grants.”

Riley Whitcomb says of the Beech Property, “the reality is, the use of this land is changing. For many years, it was farmed. Now, there will be other kinds of activities.”

Summing up, Whitcomb added, “Some people will be happy with what we come up with, others will be upset. If this is the case, then I’ve done my job. We listen to your concerns. The reality is, the use of this land is changing. For many years, it was farmed. Now, there will be other kinds of activities.”

Stay in touch
“We want you to be included in the process,” Brenner concluded. “Please e-mail or telephone me with your contact information. We never sell or lend our lists to anyone for any reason, other than contacting you about this project.”

For information, contact Doug Brenner, East Portland Services Manager, at 6437 SE Division Street, Portland, OR  97206; telephone (503) 823-5255, or E-mail pkdoug@ci.portland.or.us.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how Portland transportation officials say they plan to make East Portland more “bike friendly”‚ and what this means for car drivers,

David Prause‚ he says he’s a daily commuter from Sellwood to NW Portland ‚Äì talks with Linda Ginenthal, Transportation Options, City of Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) is preparing a comprehensive city-wide transportation plan.

Earlier in June, the Transportation Options section of PDOT rolled out its finding regarding bicycle riding at the East Portland Community Center.

Everything we know about bicycling in Portland is illustrated on charts here,” explained PDOT’s Roger Geller. “The next phase is how we can take Portland to the next level: How we can create world-class cycling conditions in Portland.”

Geller said this is important because, “citywide, 5.4% of people use bicycles as their primary method of commuting.”

Roger Geller, PDOT, consults with full-time bikers.

“Cities around the world have recognized that bicycles, for many short trips, are an ideal vehicle,” Geller went on. “Bicycles don’t pollute, they’re inexpensive, and riding promotes health and reduces greenhouse gases.”

America has a relatively low level of cycling activities compared to the rest of the world, Geller added. “The main reason many people don’t use bicycles more here, is they’re concerned about being near motor vehicles. To that extent, safety is a huge concern.”

The next step
“We identified our target market,” reported Geller. “The majority of Portland’s population isn’t using bikes for transportation. We’re trying to figure out how to adopt good designs, and where to focus to increase biking.”

Bicycle enthusiasts look over the city’s bikeway plan, laid out for them on panels that line the room at the East Portland Community Center.

Impact on motorized vehicles
When the city’s Commissioner overseeing PDOT‚ Sam Adams‚ arrived, we asked him how making Portland more “bicycle friendly” would impact the 94% of citizens who travel by motorized vehicle.

“We are seriously looking at how these plans will impact motor vehicle traffic,” Adams told us. “The old idea to route bikeways was to stripe a bike lane down a busy street and call it good. But that doesn’t make the bike riders feel safe. A high percentage of people won’t use it.”

Their new plans call for bikeways to be routed on quieter, adjacent streets. With some “modest” improvements, these roads become “bike boulevards”.

“This strategy is actually cheaper for the city‚ and has less impact on cars; we’re taking bicycles off the main, heavily-used streets.”

Calls East Portland bikeways inadequate
Adams said he was attending the open house because the bikeway system in East Portland is inadequate.

“It is inferior compared to the rest of the city. With transportation costs for each household going through the roof, I want to offer people an alternative mode for transportation that is safe, and will get them to and from where they want to go.”

For more information, see www.pdxtrans.org; and, search for Platinum Bicycle Master Plan.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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