18 hours after the last truck firebombing, police arrest three suspected arsonists. Was this a terrorist attack? Were radicals making a political statement? Find out right here‚

Arson K-9 Chyenne and handler, PF&R Fire Investigator Rick Aragon, search for clues at the SE Tolman St. firebombing of a Honda Element.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the number of vehicles torched and burned beyond repair‚ including a vehicle fire that sets an occupied home ablaze‚ increased to seven during the nights of May 22 and 23, so did the fears of Southeast Portland residents.

Vehicle owners, especially those of Hondas and other compact SUVs, wonder if they were being targeted by eco-terrorists, or perhaps a band of thugs with a brand-specific vendetta.

“My half-ton pickup truck burns a lot more fuel than my neighbor’s Honda Element did,” Jim Cornetta told us as he looked down SE Tolman Street at the charred Honda being examined by fire inspectors on May 23. “I wonder if I should stay up tonight and keep watch.”

This Honda was found alaze on SE Raymond Street. By the time firefighters extinguish the flames, the car is destroyed.

Fiery path of destruction
Until the firebugs were caught, citizens had good reason to worry. In the wee hours of May 22, three Honda CRV sub-SUVs and 1 Ford Ranger were targeted. Three more were burned the following night.

“Looking at the times and locations, it wasn’t difficult to see the arsonists’ path,” Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allen Oswalt told us. He read from the record: SE 66th at 4:24 am; 75th & Division at 4:42 am; SE 75th‚ firefighters found this Honda CRV fully involved in flames, only five feet from a house at 4:52 am; then, another, at SE 36th and Raymond at 5:24 am.

Early the following morning two vehicles just inside Clackamas County were torched, as was that Honda Element on SE Tolman Street.

Immediate investigation begins
As the sun came up on May 22, the Metro Arson Task Force fanned out across Southeast Portland. Working throughout the day and night, they inspected burned vehicles, took samples and wrote reports at each arson site. “The first fire started in a pickup truck,” said Oswalt, “but went out on its own.”

We saw an official accelerant-sniffing dog, Cheyenne, with PF&R handler, Fire Investigator Rick Aragon, gathering evidence. “The task force is made up of investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue, Portland Police Bureau, the federal ATF, and the FBI,” Oswalt commented.

An arson investigator leaves a burned Honda Element as he goes to file his report. All but one of the vehicles in the SE Portland arson spree were charred beyond repair.

Neighbors provide valuable leads
Investigators pored through clues given them by witnesses of the blazes. Lists of possible getaway vehicle descriptions were created and distributed.

Portland Police Bureau’s Southeast Precinct assigned detectives and undercover officers; uniformed patrol officers were put on alert as the hunt for the arsonists continued.

A little before midnight on May 23, SE Precinct officers Tashia Hager and Nichole Green were dispatched on a vandalism call in the 6100 block of SE Lexington Street. On-scene, they spotted a car suspected of being involved in the fire-bombings. As Hager and Green questioned the car’s occupants, they learned “information” which potentially connected these subjects to the vehicle arsons. The possible firebugs were turned over to arson investigators.

Police say they suspect Dennis Panichello and Lena Thi Son of torching vehicles across SE Portland.

Suspected arsonists arrested
As dawn broke May 24, the Metro Arson Task Force announced three arrests in the case.

Authorities said they are bringing a variety of charges against the three associated with that car: 27-year-old Dennis Panichello, 19-year-old Lena Thi Son, and a 14-year old juvenile, whose name is withheld to due to age.

Apart from the apparent desire to set vehicles on fire, authorities said the trio of suspects had no political or social motive.

Dennis Panichello’s father publicly blamed “the system” for his son’s problems‚ saying his son needed mental health care, but the young man’s probation officer didn’t help him get treatment.

Suspects face multiple charges
The charges leveled at the suspects are substantial. They include one “Measure 11” count of Arson I; that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, if convicted. This charge is being brought, authorities say, because two residents were in the nearby home set ablaze by one of the burning vehicles.

Other charges include seven counts of Arson II, and one count of Criminal Mischief I. Total prison time could total 26 years, and total fines could mount up to over $500,000.

©2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

There wasn’t much the driver could do, cops say, when a youngster shot out into the street right in front of the car on NE Halsey St. There are lessons about helmets and stop signs to be learned from this tragic story‚

An investigator from the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division uses a GPS measuring device, while determining the facts of this car-versus-bicycle accident that left a boy in very critical condition.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Along outer NE Halsey St., east of Glendoveer, the terrain rises steeply as one travels south‚ and away from the Columbia River basin.

It’s a difficult climb on foot up SE 157th Avenue‚ riding up the hill would be nearly impossible. Yet, neighbors say, the kids love the thrill of approaching this hill from the top, via SE Glisan Street, and “rocketing” down the steep grade of “thrill hill”, where the joy ride can abruptly end at SE Halsey Street.

Thrill ride ends in serious injury
Moments before 5 pm on May 22, Janet Gomez is driving her Kia on NE Halsey Street. Police say the evidence shows she isn’t speeding, nor impaired, as she heads east from the light at NE 142nd Avenue.

“A 14-year-old young man was on his BMX bicycle,” Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Sgt. Dan Costello tells us on-scene. “From what we can tell, he was going lickety-split down the steep hill on SE 157th, didn’t stop at the stop sign at Halsey St., and rode right in front of the Kia.”

Skid marks before the impact indicate the driver was going the speed limit and tried to avoid the accident, police say.

Costello points out the skid marks left when the driver tried to avoid the bicyclist. “Even though she wasn’t speeding, the impact threw the boy about thirty feet through the air, and his bicycle about fifty feet.”

We learn that the injured boy, with ID in his pocket indicating he’s a student at Barlow High School, was rushed Emanuel Hospital in critical condition.

When we follow up, the police spokesman, Sgt. Brian Schmautz, reports the young man remains in very critical condition. “He wasn’t wearing a helmet.”

No citations have been issued.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Learn why 20 breeders, trainers, and volunteers brought a full-blown dog show and demonstration to the kids of this fine outer SE Portland school‚

Dog show organizer Jennifer Clohessy spends a moment with David Douglas High School student Judy Davis and her dog, Frazier.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Mill Park Elementary School’s gym becomes a dog show stadium‚ complete with a 60′ x 40′ ring‚ on May 5. In this ring, twenty breeders and trainers put their dogs on display, demonstrating their obedience, agility, and confirmation skills.

Among the 35 well-trained dogs present, there isn’t hardly a bark in the bunch.

“We’re putting on this assembly to teach children about AKC breeds and responsible pet ownership,” explained Judy Davis, president of Vancouver Kennel Club.

“It’s important for kids to know about different breeds of dogs, and know how to take care of them. Young people need to know both how much work it is to keep a pet ‚Äì but also know how much love their pet can give back to them,” Davis tells us.

Research before you buy
One of the most important things, Davis continues, “is that parents need to ‘do their homework’ before they buy a dog. Make sure you have the right size; you know the temperament of the breed; how much work is involved in grooming and exercising the dog. A dog isn’t a ‘toy’ or ‘fashion accessory’. Pick your dog carefully.”

In the obedience portion of the show, Jennifer Clohessy puts Frazier through his paces.

Obedience demonstrated
One of the trainers we met was Jennifer Clohessy, a student at David Douglas High School.

She introduces us to Frazier. “He’s a Canadian champion ‘Caledon Deuces are Wild’. Yes, that is the name of the breed,” she confirms in response to our quizzical expression. “It is a Shetland Sheepdog, also known as a Sheltie.”

The high school junior says she’s in David Douglas’ “health track” program. “I plan to major in veterinary medicine in college,” she says.

When it is his turn, Clohessy releases Frazier. He races forward, jumps hurtles, scampers through a U-turn tunnel, and hops over the obstacles before he returns to his trainer. The fast-paced action wins the approval of the young student audience‚ they break into cheers and applause.

In the obedience demonstration, Frazier walks, stops, and “stays” at Clohessy’s side‚ his eyes on his master at all times.

We ask Clohessy why her dog is so well trained.

“Actually, I have three of them. I just fell in love the breed,” the perky teenager replies. “It takes daily training. This means three to four hours every day‚ per dog. It takes lots of time.”

We ask if her social life has “gone to the dogs”.

Clohessy  aughs and says, “You’re right!”

Dan Butcher puts his golden retriever, Tommy, through is paces.

Breeder Dan Butcher is the event’s MC. During the confirmation portion of the assembly‚ it’s like a beauty show of dogs‚ he interviews the trainers about their breeds of dogs.

While the young students seem to enjoy the action demonstrations, they really appear to enjoy the time when they could pet the dogs and meet the trainers and ask questions.

As we think back about this special school assembly, we wonder who had the most fun‚ the kids, the trainers, or the dogs.

Torri and Kylee Tjensvold with Liberty and Herbie Chow-chows, father and son.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Even though Portland Public Schools operates the Mandarin Immersion Program, see why the parents group, Shu Ren, work so hard to make this event a resounding success‚

Tom DeMeo, co chair, Amy Liu (voted “most extraordinary helper”), and co-chair Betty Brickson say this gala and auction will raise funds to help students in the Mandarin Immersion Program travel to China.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Friends and parents of students at Woodstock Elementary School’s “Mandarin Immersion Program” make fundraising fun‚ and delicious.

On April 21st, 230 supporters packed the Legin Ballroom in SE Portland for the annual Shu Ren Gala‚ a dinner and auction hosted to fund projects like student overseas travel and local programs.

We ask Betty Brickson, co-chair of Shu Ren Gala and Auction, to fill us in on “Shu Ren”.

“Shu Ren is a nonprofit organization,” Brickson tells us, “established to support the Mandarin Immersion Program at Woodstock Elementary and Hosford Middle School.”

Michelle Braulick and Cheyenne Chapman are checking to make sure no one outbid them in the silent auction.

The money raised supports the overall Mandarin language and culture program. “The funds help us buy supplies for the classroom, and provide extracurricular activities.”

A goodly portion of the money will help pay travel expenses for the 8th graders to study for two weeks in Portland’s “sister city”, Suzhou, China, during the month of May. Brickson says she hopes the event will raise $35,000; but by the end of the evening, generous patrons have donated about $47,000.

“My daughter is in seventh grade,” explains Brickson. “She’s already looking forward to her class’s trip next year. In Suzhou, they conduct a research project, all in Mandarin.”

Hundreds of Shu Ren Gala attendees enjoy course after course of Asian delicacies during their event.

Importance of Mandarin education program
We ask why Portland Public Schools sponsors a Chinese language and culture program.

“Living on the Pacific Rim,” says Brickson, “our economy is increasingly dependant on trade with Asia and China. China is becoming a huge market and international trading partner. We need to read and speak Mandarin, to be part of the global community.”

Seen here flanked by Neal Linegar and Shawn Baird, Woodstock Elementary School Principal Mary Patterson is clearly enjoying the evening.

Woodstock Elementary School’s Principal, Mary Patterson, agrees‚ adding,  “in addition to providing children the unique opportunity to learn a second language, we’re helping them become more culturally aware.” Of the 380 students at Woodstock Elementary, Patterson tells us that about half participate in the immersion program.

Next year, we learn, the program will be expanded to include Cleveland High School, allowing students to continue their Mandarin studies‚ along with typical school subjects.

Denny Sutton, auctioneer, begins the live auction.

Desserts are extra‚ in fact, they are actually auction items! EPNO director Richard Bixby (his daughter is a 7th grader at the school) wins the bid for this great chocolate cake, and shares it with the lucky diners at his table.

Shu Ren was organized in 2000, and is governed by a board of directors and supported through membership dues, grants, and fund-raising activities. For more information, see: www.shurenofportland.org .

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Celebrating both a love of her neighborhood and of her own thriving enterprise, take a look at what the owner says is the secret of their success,

Jane Glanville serves up another cone of premium ice cream, as she and her crew celebrates their first year in Woodstock.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In today’s uncertain economy, many new businesses don’t survive long enough to see their first anniversary.

But, not along ago, The Island Creamery‚ the tropical-themed ice cream store at 4525 SE Woodstock Blvd.‚ was throwing a party featuring live music and entertainment.

“We’re having our first birthday today!” beamed owner Jane Glanville

“It is wonderful for the community to come together to celebrate with us. We are so thankful to everyone here in the greater Woodstock community who have welcomed us.”

Friends and neighbors came by to dance up a storm to the tropical rhythms provided a marimba band, at the Island Creamery’s first anniversary celebration.

Involved in the community
In addition to her role as Woodstock’s ice cream impresario, Glanville serves the community in her role as the new President of her neighborhood’s business association as well.

“I’m involved because it is important for businesspeople, along Woodstock Boulevard, to be united. As owners of small and large businesses get to know each other, it helps strengthen our community. By working together, we can apply for grants and to even more to help our community.”

The Woodstock Community Business Association presents the annual Woodstock Festival, Glanville said. “We look forward to seeing everyone come out for our association’s summer events.” Find details on the brand new WCBA website, www.woodstockbiz.com.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

No, it wasn’t all black-powder guns and cannon fire at this “living history” lesson. See what else these middle-school kids learned, as actors recreated life in long-ago Parkrose‚

Crag Flynn shows the items most solders carried with them. “Remember, they were living in a time when most people wouldn’t go more than fifty miles from home. Going from Parkrose to Portland was a strenuous, day-long trip.”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Walking the dirt street of long-ago Parkrose, it’s like we are stepping out of a time machine, and into the old Wild West, on April 27.

Unlike dry history lessons taught from a book, students from Parkrose Middle School are seeing history being brought alive‚ along with the smells and sounds of the old west‚ on the grounds of Rossi Farms.

“We like doing this because we get to fire the black powder guns and cannon,” quips Craig Flynn.

“But really‚ is a fun, educational experience for the kids. By dressing and acting the parts, kids get an idea of what it might have been like in the Civil War era much more vividly than they would get from reading a book, or even seeing a movie,” Flynn adds, as he takes a break from his demonstration.

Flynn, and his town full of soldiers, farmers, and farm wives, provide a full immersion experience helping the students understand what Parkrose pioneers went through in their everyday lives.

Dressing up Parkrose Middle School student Ricar Ross in clothing of the era are Tanya Little and Linda Steffen.

The well-dressed lady
Along the boardwalk, Tanya Little and Linda Steffen show the way a lady was expected to dress in the Civil War era.

“It took at least a half hour for women to dress,” Little tells the students. “And, they couldn’t do it alone. If women didn’t have a servant, they relied on their mother, sister, or a friend to help the dress for the day.”

They did wash their undergarments on a regular basis, she adds; but the outer garments got washed only once a year.

“Does anyone have an idea what the primary cause of death was then?” asks Steffen.

It wasn’t tripping, nor dehydration, she says. “It was fire. Even though the women weren’t wearing their ‘hoop skirts’, they did have on all their petticoats. Think about it. If a woman turned around, too closely to the open-flame cooking fires‚ either outdoors, or at the hearth‚ their garments would catch fire.”

Captain Rick Spooner and Benjamin Sanford explain how Civil War solders were outfitted for battle.

Off to war
At another station, Captain Rick Spooner holds up a small box of ammunition.

“At first, the commanders didn’t issue repeating rifles to their troops,” instructs Spooner. “If the solder could fire rapidly, he’d just waste valuable ammunition instead of taking careful aim. Even after the government issued repeaters, ammo was limited.”

Lynn Zimmerman-Stevens demonstrates the finer points of real camp cooking.

Real home cooking
“If one wanted to enjoy a hot meal,” says Lynn Zimmerman-Stevens (who, in real life, is a speech pathologist with Parkrose Schools), “it didn’t come out of a microwave oven.”

Set up to cook in front of the Jail, Zimmerman-Stevens is making split-pea soup. Although the students see the wholesome ingredients that go into the camp-cooked soup, few are willing to sample her pottage.

“Because meals had to be prepared completely ‘from scratch’, obtaining the raw ingredients, preparation and cooking took up a good portion of a woman’s day,” she adds.

This sharply-dressed mounted solder attracted many students.

On mounted patrol
Staying in character, a mounted solder says he’s Lt. Ken Morris, 10th New York Cavalry.

He’s riding “Pistol”, an 18-year-old Morgan Cross horse. “I’m in the Union Army. We fought in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania between 1861 and 1865.”

Even though the shots fired were blanks, most students cringed and plugged their ears as a team demonstrated the “rapid-firing cannon drill”.

Students, and their teachers agree: The living-history lessons provided by these history re-enactors are ones they’ll long remember.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You’re invited to the “fun, family fair” May 26‚ 28. Read this and discover all the reasons you should plan a visit this year‚

The magical Mother Goose will entertain kids of all ages at this year’s Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park.

Story and archive photos by David F. Ashton
Against overwhelming odds, and without financial assistance from the county, the 101st edition of the Multnomah County Fair kicks off in late May at Oaks Amusement Park.

“‘We’re Still Kickin’ Get your kicks at the 101st Multnomah County Fair’ is our theme,” says the fair’s coordinator, Cheryl Jones.

The fair is a safe place for young people to learn how food gets from the farm to their table.

“It’s a great deal for families,” Jones tells us. “Admission and parking is free. People of all ages will enjoy the activities and events scheduled this year.” She adds that heaps of contests, prizes, exhibits, demonstrations, good friends and good times make this a popular and traditional gathering.
Pirate shows to musical acts

Those rascally “Pirates at the Beach” scallywags will be back this year in full costume, doing pirate shows.

Be sure to see Humphrey’s Farmyard Frolics‚ with the magical Mother Goose and a dozen farm-themed activities for the kids.

“We’ve booked musical and other entertainment acts,” Jones says.

A wide variety of food vendors cook up hot meals the whole family will enjoy.

Contests galore
Many categories for competition feature special awards for items designed around this year’s theme. In addition to arts-and-crafts judging, this year’s fair will include:

  • A professionally-judged rabbit competition and show;
  • The “Big Cluck” chicken cook-off hosted by “Mr. Barbeque“;
  • Cowboy Boot Contest — Grab your old cowboy boots and decorate them to win a trophy; and,
  • Weiner Dog races ‚Äì the winner gets a year’s supply of Hill’s Science Diet.

See craftspeople create beautiful works of art‚ right before your eyes.

Silent auction supports fair
In The Pavilion, check out some of the great items up for auction: dinner for 8, cooked by a chef in your home; wheelbarrows of gardening supplies; beach vacations; gift baskets and much more.

“The items will be on display on May 27,” says Jones, “and the bids close on May 28.

KXL’s “Mr. Barbeque” will host another “Big Cluck Chicken Cookoff” at the fair on May 26.

Fun and educational
The Multnomah County Fair is still an important institution, Jones explains, so city-dwellers can get a taste of country life.

She adds, “The fair is a place to learn and explore. Having a place where arts, crafts, agriculture and livestock can be judged encourages young people to participate in positive activities‚ arts and crafts.”

And, Jones reminds us, rides at Oaks Amusement Park are reasonably-priced‚ unlike the rides at traveling carnivals.

You can help
“We need community-minded people to help us produce the Fair,” says Jones. “You can contribute a little time or a lot. Please call the Friends of the Fair at 503-761-7577 and volunteer.”

Thrill rides at Oaks Park provide fun and excitement for the whole family‚ at an affordable price.

101st Multnomah County Fair
Saturday through Monday: May 26, 27, & 28, 2007
Hours: Noon – 7:00 PM
Oaks Amusement Park
7100 SE Oaks Park Way
at the foot of SE Spokane St., Sellwood.
For more information, see the Fair’s website: www.neighborhoodlink.com/org/multcofair

We’ll see you at the 2007 Multnomah County Fair!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The beautifully-restored Montavilla movie palace was the perfect place for a “Fabulous ’40s” party supporting the Oregon Symphony. Take a look! We have a backstage pass‚

Beau escorts Rosalie Williams, Chair of the event, as they welcome guests to Oregon Symphony benefit party at the Academy Theater.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When the Mt. Tabor chapter of the Friends of Oregon Symphony wanted to throw a 1940s-themed “Night at the Academy” party, they knew right where to go‚ the Academy Theater, in Montavilla.

“Can you think of a better place for our event than this beautifully-restored theater?” asks event chair Rosalie Williams when we meet her.

Sivia Kaye and Marcella Nandor toast the glamorous atmosphere.

“We’re volunteers who support the Symphony in every way we can‚ from ushering at youth concerts, to putting on benefits like this,” explains Williams. “It is important to have music and arts in our city. Fine music brings culture to our city, and adds to the livability.”

1940 newsreels are running in one of the theater spaces; “On the Town” with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Ann Miller play in another; and the “Two Sisters Trio” entertain in the third auditorium.

Meanwhile, guests nosh on appetizers supplied by Yahala Restaurant, another Montavilla business, as well as by Flying Pie Pizzeria.

The main course‚ chicken strips, steak and mushrooms, prawns, salads, and fruit‚ is catered by Sayler’s Old Country Kitchen.

The Academy Theater’s host, Ty Dupuis, shows off one of his delicious pizza pies.

Ty Dupuis, part-owner of Flying Pie Pizzeria and the Academy Theater, is on hand to greet‚ and feed‚ the multitude of well-dressed guests who mingle throughout the building.

“This is a spectacular event,” confides Dupuis. “It brings the community together in a way you don’t see any more. I’m glad we could host this party.”

Even the event photographer, Rachael Kubik is fashionably dressed in vintage style.

About the theater, Dupuis comments, “We’ve built a place where friends and family can get together and have a good evening. It is wonderful to see how Montavilla is making real comeback. Now there are many reasons to come and visit our district ‚Äì Montavilla and South Tabor.”

Judging by the merry countenances of the nattily-attired guests, the Academy Theater may become the setting of more vintage-themed festivities in the future.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service.

Look at these two totaled vehicles, one on its side, and you too will wonder how the occupants were able to walk away from this accident‚

Police say “careless driving” was the cause of this accident which totaled two vehicles in Hazelwood. Officers are talking with the occupants and witnesses at the scene.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two vehicles collide‚ both of them are totaled, and one is on its side‚ but this accident on May 14 isn’t being blamed on bad weather, mechanical failure, or a drunk at the wheel.

Instead, police on scene tell us the wreck on NE Glisan St at 117th Ave. is a simple case of careless driving.

Everyone limped away from this wreck‚ police say all of them were wearing seat belts. You can see the deployed air bags in the SUV.

“It looked like the minivan was trying zip through traffic,” said eyewitness Jerome Jackmann. “It happened so fast; but it looked like the minivan was trying to cross Glisan St,. and pulled right in front of the SUV.”

Both the driver and passenger in the minivan, and the driver of the SUV, were treated for minor injuries at the crash site.

A traffic officer takes measurements and writes up his report – and ticket.

“No one is going to jail‚ or the hospital‚ today,” says an investigating police officer as he looks at his notes. “But someone is going to get a ticket for careless driving.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Inspired by a police officer, discover why an unlikely philanthropist hatched a plan that helps young students meet law enforcement officers on friendly terms‚

Kelly Elementary School principal Sharon Allen introduces the originator of “Kids, Cops & Pizza”, David Yandell.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Radio Cab driver who put together the company’s Thanksgiving turkey dinner drive, and hatched a bicycle give-away program for needy kids, has come up with a new project: Connecting kids and cops.

“An officer inspired me to do this,” explains David Yandell. Asked about his philanthropy, Yandell says, “Two years ago, Radio Cab created a foundation to help with my projects. I’m not part of the foundation. I don’t like to be encumbered by the ‘four walls’ of an institution‚ they can’t fire me!”

The idea behind his current project, explains Yandell, is helping to keep kids safe. And, at the same time, to help youngsters understand that the police are their friends. “We’re creating a positive context for them to interact. If the kids were ambivalent before this event, I promise you they won’t be after this day.”

Dishing up pizza is Sgt. Tom Perkins, School Police; Officer Dave Thoman, School Police; Officer Hank Hays; and Sgt. John Anderson, East Precinct.

Plied with pizza
We catch up with Yandell at Kelly Elementary School on May 1. Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers are working the cafeteria’s food line, dishing up a perennial lunch favorite, hot pizza!

While the kids dine, Yandell talks with them. His message is simple: “Cops are your friends. Get to know them for yourself, and you’ll agree.”

East Precinct Officer Mike Honl gets the “movie star” treatment from Kelly School kids. At their request, he signs his autograph on the backs of their hands.

Event promotes community safety
As class after class of students file out to the playground to meet the officers and tour waiting patrol cars, Sharon Allen‚ Principal of Kelly Elementary‚ takes a moment to speak with us.

“It is important that we have safe community,” says Allen. “Our police are part of that. We want our students growing up knowing how to be safe‚ and how to access help when they need it. The first place they should go is our Portland Police. I love seeing our officers taking time out of their busy days to participate.”

Playground full of squad cars
As smiling youngsters swirl around, begging him to autograph scraps of paper‚ or the backs of their hands‚ Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Mike Honl returns their smile.

The students squeal with glee as they race around, climb around, and sit in one of the many patrol cars parked on the school’s playground.

“With some of the events we deal with day in and day out,” Honl tells us, “It’s nice to see these smiling faces. This is a great way to connect with kids, letting them know their police officers are helpers and friends.”

He adds he thinks being a cop is a wonderful career. “You really help other people. I want kids to understand that.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Take a look at what you missed, if you skipped Leach’s big spring plant sale. And, learn about the Children’s Nature Fair on May 19 right here‚

Karen Young rings up plants purchased by Chet and Reagan Orloff at the Leach Gardens plant sale.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The gym at Floyd Light Middle School was turned into a huge nursery showroom, not long ago, as the Friends of Leach Botanical Gardens held their annual spring plant sale.

“We are run by a nonprofit organization, even though the grounds are part of the City of Portland Parks system,” the garden’s executive director, Karen Young, told us. “We rely on special events and donations to support the garden and keep it going.”

At this event, Young said, they have 20 vendors who sell their plants and donate a portion of the proceeds to the organization. “But, many of the plants we sell‚ primarily those native in the Pacific Northwest, are raised in the nursery at Leach Gardens.”

Hundreds of horticultural plant-hounds scout out greenery of all kinds at the Leach Garden plant sale.

Young added that this event is the Friends’ major fund raising activity. “But more importantly, it directly represents what Leach Gardens is all about.”

Leach Botanical Garden Children’s Nature Fair
“On May 19, come to Portland’s only public botanical garden, for a day of fun and learning for the whole family,” invitedYoung.

“Visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to learn about pollinators, hear wonderful storytelling prepared just for Leach Garden, make wood ‘cookies’, origami flowers, and pine cone critters. You can take part in a ‘treasure hunt’ to learn about native plants and bird species in the garden. There will be ‘Lady Bug Walks’, Slug Races, and more.”

The event runs from 10 am until 3 pm. A $1/person donation requested. For more information, call Katie at 503-761-4751 or Nancy at 503-823-1671.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Although Portland’s Urban Search and Rescue team is based downtown, see how their training might enable them to rescue you‚ anywhere in our area‚ when disaster strikes‚

USAR firefighter Wesley Loucks directs USAR team members as they shore up a concrete floor to prevent it from collapsing.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As you conduct your business in one of Portland’s tall buildings, the floor beneath you starts to shake. You see light fixtures start to swing and plate glass windows burst.

In a heartbeat, the floor gives way, and you’re trapped in a dark, concrete-and-steel crypt.

Soon, you hear the reassuring voices of trained experts. They tell you how to protect yourself as they remove rubble and stabilize the partially-collapsed structure.

Coming to your rescue are the men and women who make up Portland Fire & Rescue’s elite Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team.

Preparing for the worst
It probably won’t be a terrorist attack or jetliner crash that crumbles a large building in the greater Portland area‚ a catastrophic disaster will, most likely, be the result of an earthquake.

At Portland Fire & Rescue training facility, Station #2 on NE Sandy Blvd., we watch USAR team members sharpen the skills they’ll use to save hundreds of lives when disaster does strike.

“A number of years ago,” USAR firefighter Wesley Loucks tells us, “the City of Portland developed a program to have firefighters certified to help provide rescue assistance in major disasters, such as structure collapse.”

After calculating weight and load distribution, USAR team members pre-build shoring materials, before erecting them in an at-risk building.

In one area of the training yard, team members are building frames made of lumber to shore up unstable concrete floors.

“Several times a year, we hold exercises to hone our skills,” Loucks continues. “This training helps us keep our skills current. And, as new USAR information and techniques becomes available, we put it into practice.”

Inside the practice structure, USAR firefighters erect the shoring they’ve built.

During the drill we’re watching, team members calculate the overall weight distribution of a concrete slab floor, such as used in high-rise building construction.

Then, they design a “shore” to hold that amount of weight. They construct parts of the shore outside the collapsing structure, then bring it inside, setting it up and erecting it to stabilize the floor about them.

“This structural collapse scenario is something our team is likely to face in a disaster,” Loucks says. “It could be from a terrorist attack‚ or, most likely here in Portland, an earthquake. Whatever the cause‚ we’re ready to save lives.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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