Look at this article and you’ll learn why hundreds came out to enjoy a great breakfast ‚Äì and support the “Meals on Wheels” folks ‚Ķ

Carolyn Williams, and her youthful charges, Evelina and Diego, enjoy a great breakfast benefiting the Cherry Blossom Loaves and Fishes Meals on Wheels center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A steady stream of people, with a lean-and-hungry look in their eyes, poured into the East Portland Community Center all morning long on February 3.

It didn’t take long to turn these famished folks into sated patrons, as they consumed piles of pancakes and plates of biscuits and gravy ‚Äì along with a heaping serving of scrambled eggs and ham. They washed it all down with coffee and orange juice.

And, this massive breakfast only set them back $3.75 a person.

What was the event? It was the Cherry Blossom Loves & Fishes Center’s annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser.

Loaves & Fishes Center director Tamara Bailey works with volunteers Larry Jacobs, Susan Black, and Janis Crandell as they dish up breakfast for hundreds.

“Each center is responsible for raising part of their own funding,” explained Cherry Blossom Loaves and Fishes Center director, Tamara Bailey. “This is one of our biggest events, ever. We’ve had 200 come in to join us for breakfast today.”

Because almost all of the food, supplies and labor is donated, Bailey said, all of the funds brought in from the event will go to help feed elderly people in their homes, and at the center.

You can help
“We always need volunteer drivers and kitchen help,” Bailey told us.

If you’d like to help, stop by the Cherry Blossom Loaves and Fishes Center at 740 SE 106th Avenue, or call (503) 256-2381

© David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Wonder why they’re digging up the hillsides along Interstate 205 between Gateway and Clackamas? Read this, and find out how the construction will affect you ‚Ķ

I-205 MAX community affairs reprehensive Leslie Hildula discusses construction issues with Lents resident Larry Sullivan, at the Lents MAX open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Larry Sullivan lives in the Lents neighborhood on SE 92nd Avenue. He, and other neighbors, say they’re concerned about the MAX light rail train construction now underway.

“I’m anxiously waiting to see what will be happening,” Sullivan tells us at the TriMet’s open house they are holding in Lents in late January. “They’re closing up SE 94th Avenue, and moving out the houses. All the houses are boarded up. I was hoping there was a meeting instead of an open house.”

But, at the open house, Sullivan meets, and is able to ask questions of Leslie Hildula, community affairs representative for the MAX I-205 project.

“We started to move utilities, fiber optic and water unities in preparation for the project,” Hildula tells us. “I expect to see heavy construction starting in March. We’ll be working our way from the north, near Gateway, south to Clackamas.”

No parking in Lents
Looking at the map, we ask Hildula about parking at the Lents station.

“The Lents/Foster Road Station will primarily be for people walking or take busses to it. The park-and-ride stations are at Powell Blvd. and Holgate Ave.,” she tells us.

At the Mall 205 open house, residents check over a large, photographic map depicting the location and stations of the new I-205 MAX light rail line.

Asked about area disruptions, Hildula says, “One major change will be disruptions in the I-205 Multi-Use path. The construction of the light rail line will go between the freeway and the path. We created an alternative route, so they wouldn’t have to worry about what part is open or closed; they could use SE 92nd Avenue all the way down to Clackamas County.”

Meghan Oldfield, the TriMet’s lead I-205 MAX project engineer talks with George Till at their Mall 205 open house.

Mall 205 gets MAXed out
A few days later, TriMet held another open house, this time at Mall 205.

Neighbors lined up, all looking points of interest or reference, such as their homes, businesses or schools. “We’re showing how we’re bringing MAX to people in outer East Portland and Clackamas County,” says the project manager, Meghan Oldfield.

Former Lents Neighborhood Association chair Judy Welch examines the map, looking at how her area will be served.

Neighbor George Till doesn’t appear to be all that thrilled with the project. “I’m trying to figure out what it all is. It this really approved?”

Yes, George, like it or not, expect construction along the freeway for a year while Portland’s newest light rail line is constructed.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See which police dog was chosen for the “K-9 of the Year” award by members of SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council. And, you may be surprised to learn how many bad guys these four-legged cops take down ‚Ķ

Portland Police Bureau’s Dave Benson presents K-9 Unit Officer Shawn Gore with the “K-9 of the Year Award” for his work with his departed partner, Deny.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A group of citizens gathered to honor a fallen officer at Portland Police Bureau’s SE Precinct on February 1. In nine years on the force, this cop helped his partner capture 415 suspects, conduct 1,878 searches, and took down a criminal who was shooting at his partner.

By the way, this police officer wasn’t human. He was a K-9 Police dog named Deny [pronounced “Denny“].

Working with his human counterpart, Officer Shawn Gore, the pair received 26 separate commendations and two Police Bureau medals, trained with the Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team ‚Äì and gave 43 demonstrations to youth groups across the city.

Deny developed an inoperable brain tumor, was put to sleep in October of 2006.

Accepting the award, Gore said simply, “Thank you very much. There are a lot of good people doing good work. I’m honored to be here.”

K-9 Unit Officer Shawn Gore introduces his new K-9 partner, Eddie.

Gets new partner
Even though Deny is gone, Gore won’t be on patrol alone. At the awards ceremony–presented as part of the SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council meeting–the officer introduced his new partner, Eddie.

“He’s a pure-bred Belgian Malinois,” Gore told us. “We’ve been together for nine weeks; and, we’re in our fourth week of class. Eddie is going to be a great partner.”

Telling why the SE Precinct Citizen’s Advisory Council has long supported the Portland Police K-9 Unit is Eric Bosler.

SE citizens “adopt” police dogs
Speaking for the Advisory Council, Eric Bosler told us, “our group has been the council to East Precinct originally, and now to SE Precinct, for almost 30 years. We adopted the K-9’s as one of our programs.”

It was decided early on, Bosler said, that the group felt they could “make a real difference” by directly supporting the police dog program. “Not only to the K-9 Unit officers work in our precinct, but they also travel to all parts of the city. In talking with officers over the years, they’ve told us, without exception, one of the best tools at their disposal is to be able to call in a dog. This is why our commitment to this program remains strong.”

Equipment costs have gone up, Bosler told the group. A full ballistic vest for a police dog costs about $1,600, he said, by way of example. Then, he held up a check ‚Äì a donation from a citizen ‚Äì to pay for a new K-9 vest. “Thank you, citizens, for all you do.”

Portland Police Bureau K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick relates the role of police dogs within the bureau.

K-9 Unit moves to SE Precinct
Partly because the SE Precinct Advisory Council supports the program, we learned the K-9 Unit will be moved back to SE Precinct on February 22.

The division has a staff of one sergeant, plus ten officers with canine partners.

“With staffing at this level,” K-9 Unit Sgt. Bob McCormick told us, “we’ll have officers and their dogs available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

We asked the sergeant why officers appreciate having police dogs available.

“The dogs’ unique ability to use their nose allows us to locate suspects more quickly, and safely, than any other method,” McCormick explained.

Without the dogs, he added, they would not find people who are a danger to our community. “Our job, as K-9 teams, is to find people who are highly-motivated to not get caught. They are hiding, running, and fighting. We locate, and help take into custody, those who are the most challenging to capture.”

McCormick said that the 10-week training that officer-handlers go through is the most challenging training program in law enforcement.

Eric Bosler presents Officer Bert Combs with a plaque recognizing his years of service in the K-9 Unit.

New K-9 officers train
At the meeting, Officer Bert Combs, a 22-year veteran of the K-9 Unit was honored as he retires. Combs worked with four canine partners during his career. He’s retiring with his present partner, Brutus.

Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Rod Beard, who oversees the K-9 Unit, also recognized the two newest dog handlers. “They have captures already. It tells me the K-9 Unit is in good hands. They are very motivated, and work very hard.”

K-9 Unit Officer Ryan Hilstenteger shows off his new four-legged partner, Justice.

Beard thanked the members of the Advisory Council, saying, “You all have been strong supporters of our K-9 Unit. We thank you.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

But, the suspected crook ends up collared by a dog!

Not often do you see an East Precinct patrol car ripped up like this one was, as an officer was pursuing a crook on February 13.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Westbound NE Glisan St. is shut down for hours on February 13. A police patrol car tangles with civilian cars, in the midst nabbing an individual suspected of being a prolific thief.

The commotion has eastbound early-evening traffic backed up to nearly NE 102nd Avenue, while cops investigate the incident, and search for the alleged perpetrator.

“They [police] were chasing a Range Rover or Bronco,” Melinda Jacobs tells us. She says she was coming out McDonald’s [on the NW corner of NE 122nd and Glisan St.]. “It was like he was trying to get away; this guy was driving crazy, going down Glisan really fast.”

While police and rescue units investigate, and secure the scene of the crash, other officers are chasing down a suspected thief.

Witness recounts the accident
Tim Lawrence, an off-duty TriMet driver, tells us what he saw.

“I just pulled into McDonald’s. I saw something out of the corner of my eye that was unusual. It was a cop car going sideways on Glisan,heading west. The cop car hit a minivan, but not very hard.”

Lawrence says the cops were chasing a vehicle going south on SE 122nd Ave. and turned west, around the clipped civilian car. “The cop car got clipped by a coupe, looked like it went out of control, and into the van.”

Police say this car “zigged when it should have zagged”; after the first patrol car passed, it clipped the second police car as it rounded the corner from NE 122nd Ave. on to Glisan St.

The official word
We get in touch with Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Brian Schmautz. He fills us in on the details.

“Officers were chasing an individual wanted in connection with a series of property crimes.

“The suspect made it through the intersection; as did the first patrol car. The second patrol car was hit by a citizen who was trying to get out of the way, but turned into the second police car.”

Police allege that this man, 35-year-old Tom Lepesh, is suspected of numerous property crimes – in addition to leading cops on the Tuesday evening pursuit.

Collared by a canine
The suspect, identified by police as 35-year-old Tom Lepesh, speeds west on NE Glisan Street. He bails out of his vehicle just east of SE 102nd Avenue, and heads east into the apartment complex near NE Marx Street. He’s then seen walking south on NE 102nd Avenue. Police fear he’ll hop on MAX and be gone.

But, a Portland Police K-9 officer arrives on scene and gets the scent. It doesn’t take long for the four-legged officer to sniff out Lepesh; he’s then taken into custody.

Back at the accident site, two ambulances are called to the scene. “The officer and one citizen received some medical attention, but there were no serious injuries,” reports Schmautz.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Try to guess what these actors are up to as they work on their parts for Arsenic & Old Lace – a play in which murder is, well, really funny …

Members of Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783, Blair Osborn, Tom Crawford, Molly Wirth, Derek Herman and Maria Rose, work out the staging for Arsenic & Old Lace opening on March 1.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Take a look at the scenery they’re building, and you’ll know the student actors at Parkrose High School are hard at work getting ready to present a witty show, Arsenic & Old Lace, running March 1, 2 and 3.

About play’s story line
While his other plays weren’t commercial successes, Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic & Old Lace had a very successful first run, a strong revival in the 1980s and was made into a motion picture.

The play is a farce (madcap comedy marked with many mix-ups) revolving around Mortimer Brewster, a theatre-hating drama critic who must deal with his crazy family ‚Äì and the local police. He’s debating whether to go through with a honeymoon with the woman he loves.

His family includes two spinster aunts who have taken to “helping out” lonely old men. It also includes a brother who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt and digs locks for the Panama Canal in their home’s cellar and a criminally murderous brother who has received plastic surgery from alcoholic accomplice to conceal his identity.

“Don’t forget Brewster’s poor nephew” reminds theater program Director, Ms. Zena, “he thinks he’s going crazy ‚Äì and with all this insanity going on, perhaps is!”

One weekend only
You’ll have a great time watching this story unfold. Plan now to attend the theater on March 1, 2, or 3. Showtime is at 7 p.m. at Parkrose High School Theater, 12003 NE Shaver Street, Portland, OR 97230.

For ticket information, call: (503) 408-2621.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Learn why these adults volunteer to help high school kids discover their career and higher education goals. When you read this, you, too, may choose to give an hour a week to help out …

New ASPIRE counselor Bethe Mack helps Parkrose High senior Christian Harrison sort out educational options.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Christian Harrison is a bright-eyed, ambitious senior at Parkrose High School who sees a future for herself in fashion merchandising.

“I’d like to learn the fashion business,” Harrison tells us. “I want to go to college and get an education.”

Harrison says preparing for life after high school would be a more difficult without the help of her ASPIRE counselor. “It’s good to have someone there to give opinions, and help you sort through the forms and decide on options.”

Helping Harrison fulfill her aspirations is Parkrose ASPIRE counselor Bethe Mack.

“I remember how overwhelming it can be,” Mack tells us, “when you are young, and thinking about what to do after high school. It would have been nice to have an ASPIRE counselor when I was thinking about college and trying to deciding what to do.”

Although Mack only volunteers one hour per week, she says “It’s really fun. It feels good to hang out with, and help, young people.”

Jim Lipscomb, seen here helping Adrian Altanirano, has assisted many students to better prepare for their future after they leave Parkrose High.

Loves working with kids
Another ASPIRE volunteer, Jim Lipscomb, has been with the program for three years. “I’m helping eleven students now,” he says, “and I take on two more next week.”

We ask Lipscomb why he is an ASPIRE counselor.

“The ASPIRE program is set up to make it easy for adult volunteers to help kids find more success in life. I get as much out of the program as do my students,” Lipscomb says.

No experience needed
What is ASPIRE? It’s an acronym, standing for “ASsistance Programs In Reach of Everyone”.

We ask the program coordinator, Teena Ainslie, how an individual would know if they’d like being involved in the ASPIRE program.

“Ask yourself these questions,” Ainslie replies:

  • “Are concerned about the future workforce of our country?
  • “Will you give a little yourself to help improve a young person’s entire life by helping them get a great career?
  • “Can you spend as little as an hour per week with students?”

If you answer “yes“, Ainslie wants to hear from you.

“First of all,” she tells us, “no experience is necessary. We provide all training and coaching materials. Your training time is adapted to fit around your schedule.”

The more ASPIRE “College Coaches” they have, Ainslie continues, the more students will be helped to the next phase of their lives. “Whether planning for college, a trade or technical school, or other higher learning, we help young people move into the life-long learning program of their choice.”

Learn more
Ainslie asks you not to wait. “There is still time to help this year’s high school seniors ‚Äì we have more students than counselors.”

Call Ainslie today at (503) 408-2642, or Meg Kilmer at (503) 408-2681, to learn more about this great volunteer opportunity.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If an influenza pandemic hits East Portland, 40% of its business will be forced to close for as long as six weeks. Everyday life, as we know it, will be suspended. Read this, and find out what business people learned from the “flu guru” of Multnomah County ‚Ķ

Pulling no punches, Jessica Guernsey Camargo, Program Supervisor with Multnomah County Health Department, describes the impact a flu pandemic will have on businesses and residents

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Last summer, we brought you the hard facts about what would happen if the “Bird Flu” turns into a worldwide pandemic. Portland is along the “Pacific Flyway” along which infected birds from Asia may travel.

The bottom line: People will die, life in the city will be disrupted ‚Äì and don’t expect the government to take care of you.

Enlisting business people’s help
In late January, the Multnomah County Health Department’s (MCHD) program supervisor in charge of pandemic planning, Jessica Guernsey Camargo, MPH, spoke to business people from the East Portland area.

Speaking in an assured, matter-of-fact voice, Camargo presented an “Avian and Pandemic influenza Update” containing some disturbing information.

“First, seasonal influenza is typically spread with a sneeze,” she began. “It affects up to 20% of population; the figure is higher among children.”

Getting flu shot helps, she said. “And, good hygiene is basic, for prevention. This means wash your hands; cover your cough, and stay home when you’re ill.”

Pandemic influenza defined
“A ‘Pandemic’ is a worldwide outbreak of flu that occurs nearly simultaneously around the world,” explained Camargo.

She said it’s well-known that a lot of people died during the pandemics of 1918 and 1957-58. But, in 1968-69, most people didn’t know there was another pandemic outbreak underway.

Current pandemic assumptions
Camargo warned, “We do not know what the next strain of pandemic will be, so we can’t produce a vaccine. When we do, it will take 6 months to make a vaccine.” Anti-viral drugs will have a limited effect, she added, and will take some time to produce. “There are concerns regarding viral resistance to current virus medications like ‘Tamaflu’.”

The Avian Influenza, she continued, called “HP-H5N1”, is primarily a disease among birds–mainly in Asia. The “HP” stands for “Highly Pathogenic”. “It is passed from birds to humans ‚Äì not humans to humans, at this time. While few people get infected, over half of those who catch it die from it. We’re testing birds here in Oregon, but we haven’t seen it, yet.”

A role of MCHD, Camargo explained, is disease surveillance–identifying and containing a disease outbreak.

Another role of the county agency is planning for emergency response, should a human-to-human pandemic flu virus arrive in the Pacific Northwest. In November, MCHD coordinated a statewide preparedness exercise called “PANDORA”.

Information gained from this exercise, Camargo related, includes revising the MCHD emergency response plan to include:

  • Increasing public information community education and engagement;
  • Increasing hospital capacity; and,
  • Increasing ability to deliver medications and vaccinations.

The county health department’s Jessica Camargo describes the responses to a pandemic their bureau is permitted, by law, to take.

Community-level intervention
Asked if a quarantine would stop the pandemic, Camargo replied, “We do have the ability to do that. If it is early-on in the pandemic, and we have an isolated situation, quarantine may be effective. But it is not practical to quarantine a neighborhood.”

While the MHDC has the legal authority to impose a quarantine, Camargo told the group, “we don’t want to completely disrupt the community. When the situation is past, we want something left to come back to.”

She urged businesspeople to think about the effect that different steps to limit the impact of a pandemic could have on their businesses.

Increasing from moderate to severe responses, as needed, the MHDC proposes:

  1. Routine patient isolation;
  2. Focused contact notification/management;
  3. Quarantine of small groups;
  4. Closure of specific facilities and events;
  5. Community-wide activity slow downs (stay home days) including
  6. Cancellation of school and public events;
  7. Broad closures of businesses, schools and events; and,
  8. Strict communitywide quarantine.

Camargo listens to the concern that a pandemic might shutter many small businesses, voiced by 82nd Ave. of Roses Business Association president Ken Turner.

Effect of measures on businesses
“People still have to buy groceries when they’re sick, don’t they?” asks participant Jean Baker, president of the Division/Clinton Business Association.

If a pandemic worsens to the level of requiring community-level intervention, Camargo said the officials will begin to “enforce ‘social distancing'”. “In a pandemic scenario, it is possible that more than half of a company’s workforce may be too ill to work. This is why both citizens and businesspeople need to be prepared and make a plan.”

Ken Turner added, “This could destroy many small and micro-businesses here in East Portland.”

“So, ‘the government’ can’t help?” we asked.

“There is no magic wand,” Camargo responds. “There is no ‘cavalry’ coming. We’ll all be dealing with this at the same time. It will require every single person to make this a livable situation.”

Be aware and prepare
How will businesses – and citizens – be able to survive the Avian Flu?

“Multnomah County is doing all we can to prepare for it from the governmental side,” answered Camargo. But people put too much reliance on vaccines and medication. The fact is, the only real way of managing a pandemic is through citizens taking personal responsibility.”

For more information, see www.mchealth.org, or call (503) 988-4454 for a recorded message.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See youngsters meet the composer of a new orchestral work, moments before it’s played at its world premiere ‚Ķ

Duncan Neilson, composer of “Heart of the Wild” takes a moment to talk with young music lovers, moments before his latest work is rehearsed for the evening world premiere concert.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The Portland Chamber Orchestra typically performs in the Kaul Auditorium at Reed College. But their afternoon rehearsal and evening concert were special events on January 27.

“We have two world premieres tonight,” Rosalie Neilson, vice president of the orchestra told us. “This is a special day for us. Portland Chamber Orchestra plays the classics. But, we also are bringing arts together with a multimedia presentation.”

The free afternoon dress rehearsal was special for kids. Many of the dozens of kids who came were treated to snacks and face painting.

Before the rehearsal began, the composer of “Heart of the Wild” ‚Äì a work about to have its world premiere ‚Äì Duncan Neilson talked with the youngsters about his work.

“I’d been studying bear imagery in folklore around the world,” Neilson told them, “and found the bear is frequently associated with rejuvenation. The bear sleeps in the winter, and wakes up in the spring — much like springtime awakens plants and animals.”

Neilson’s orchestral piece was accompanied by visuals projected on a screen above the orchestra, and narration.

Maestro Vaacov Bergman, Portland Chamber Orchestra music director, leads the musicians at their free afternoon rehearsal.

The other world premiere was composer Forrest Pierce’s “Great River of the West”, another composition highlighting the importance of Nature.

The youngsters were also inspired by Andy Liang, a 15-year violin student. He’s the concertmaster of the Portland Youth Philharmonic. Liang was the featured soloist performing Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, opus 14.

We learned that this 38-member orchestra has been a part of Portland for 60 years. Their season will continue through the spring. For more information, see www.portlandchamberorchestra.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Read how “good, old-fashioned detective work” led East Precinct detectives to a band of I-5 cruising crooks who stole a $100,000 stamp collection ‚Äì and how they recovered the rare and valuable goods ‚Ķ

After his mishap in Portland, the victim of the stamp collection theft was glad to show us his recovered collection, but didn’t want to appear on camera.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“I didn’t ever think I’d see them again,” exclaims Charles. “Not only for my own benefit, but also for that of the Sioux tribe in central South Dakota, to which this stamp collection belongs. I am surprised and delighted that the police were able to recover this collection.”

An older gentleman, Charles declines to give his last name, and won’t say where he is from, other than he lives in Washington State.

Starts with a “smash-and-grab”
Charles’ story started on February 5, in the parking lot of the CompUSA store in the 11500 Block of N.E. Glenn Widing Drive, near Airport Way.

“We were en route,” Charles tells us, “heading north. The stamps were in the car. I went into the store to buy a new computer. During the time we were in the store, someone smashed the window and grabbed the stamps. They also grabbed other bags, and a brief case.”

Charles says he still feels sick when he remembers returning to the car and seeing the driver’s side rear window of his SUV smashed in, and the bags gone.

“These stamps are not postage stamps”, Charles elucidates. “These are ‘revenue stamps’ that validate a license to hunt waterfowl on a reservation. When you buy a hunting license, the stamp validates it.”

While Charles’ says his “best guess, low end” value for the stamp collection was in the neighborhood of $100,000, he adds that there is a very limited market for the valuables. “Very few people collect these stamps. They are rare, but not widely collected. They couldn’t be immediately dumped on the market.”

The victim says these are only 6 of the revenue stamps he holds; their value has yet to be established.

Detectives on the case
Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Detective Sgt. David Anderson picks up the story.

“This crime fit the profile of several others we’ve had in the area,” Anderson tell us. “We pounded the pavement and burned the midnight oil. We did some good, old-fashioned detective work.”

East Precinct Detective Sgt. David Anderson tells how a little extra investigation helped them build a strong case against the alleged crooks – and recover the stolen stamp collection.

While the put together information for arrest warrants, the detectives didn’t immediately move in for the collar.

“We followed the suspects to Clackamas Town Center,” Anderson says. “We watched them break into a car at the Old Spaghetti Factory. That victim was an off-duty, out of town police officer ‚Äì using an unmarked police car ‚Äì attending a conference. After scouting out the area, it took less than five seconds for them to smash the window and grab his police bag. Fortunately, he had his gun with him.”

The two suspects, arrested, gave up the third suspect – the man accused of actually harboring the allegedly swiped stamps at his house.

“We did a knock-and-talk,” Anderson relates. “He coughed up the stamps.”

By investing a little extra investment in time and legwork, the detective says, they were able to build a rock-solid case against the alleged thieves – and recover the stamps.

The thieves said they knew they’d found something unusual. They moved the stamps to another location. They tried to figure out how much they worth. It isn’t that easy.

They ended up at a house on N.E. Halsey Street, where the police found them on Monday night.

Cops say Tuan Ho, Rong Li and Quan Vo, accused of smash-and-grab car prowl hits, told them they plied their trade in Tigard and Portland, and as far north as Kirkland and Bellevue in the Seattle area.

Busted!
On February 6, East Precinct Detectives arrested 44-year-old Tuan Ho, 29-year-old Rong Li and 28-year-old Quan Vo each on One Count of Aggravated Theft in the First Degree.

Anderson describes their operation, saying “they specialized in SUVs and vehicles that look like corporate fleet or rental cars. They target cars they think might contain a laptop computer. It takes about five seconds to grab a computer and they’re gone. They sell them for about $300 bucks.”

Don’t be a victim
We asked Charles if he learned anything from his ordeal.

“No, nothing I didn’t know,” he replied. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Anderson turns to us and says privately, “Sometimes it’s unavoidable; sometimes you must leave valuables in plain view in your vehicle. But, this is the second set of suspects in a year that are doing this. They prowl restaurant lots during lunch hour or happy hour, and parking lots in malls. Save yourself a lot of trouble: Take your computer bag with you into the restaurant, or put it in the trunk.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If the alleged dope dealer thought he’d hide behind his wife and 2-year-old baby, he was wrong. Look at this, and you’ll see what Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Deputies saw ‚Ķ

These bags of dope won’t be on the street tonight, thanks to a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office bust.

Story by David F. Ashton
While some neighbors might have wondered why Apt. #22 at 17440 E Burnside St. had so many short-staying visitors, others suspected the occupant was selling drugs.

But, law enforcement doesn’t take action based on opinions.

“Before we get a search warrant,” explains Lt. Jason Gates, Public Information Officer, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO), “undercover agents or confidential informants make at least three buys from a location, to demonstrate probable cause for drug distribution.”

7:00 a.m. wake-up call
Early on February 9, the occupants of this apartment are awakened by MSCO Special Investigations Unit Detectives – search warrant in hand.

The occupants also get to meet Nikki, the drug-detecting dog. It doesn’t take long for the team to locate several pre-packaged amounts methamphetamine and cocaine ‚Äì ready for sale. They also find a stash of $20,500 in cash.

This is what $20-grand in drug-tainted cash looks like, Sheriff’s Deputies say.

Baby in the home
Even worse, this alleged dope dealer didn’t live alone. He was found with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, when taken into custody

Sheriff’s Deputies allege that Alejandro Cruz-Hernandez was a low-level drug dealer in East County.

“Alejandro Cruz-Hernandez was taken into custody without incident,” reports Gates. “It is believed the narcotics attributed to Cruz-Hernandez very likely originated from Mexican drug cartels. Cruz-Hernandez is acting as the end-distributor of these narcotics after they were trafficked into the US and Oregon.”
Dealer demographic shift

Gates says that, in the past, Caucasian males were typically the dealers of home-grown meth. “And, we used to make seizures by the ounce; and now we’re seeing seizures by the pound. The flow of drugs into the country is accelerating; we’re now seeing more Hispanic males becoming dealers.”

We asked Lt. Gates why we’re finding that many of the dealers now apprehended have families.

“I’m not attributing it necessarily to this case,” Gates replies, “but some families brought into the United States have a debt to pay by to the coyotes [smugglers] who got them in. They agree to distribute drugs in exchange for coming to the United States.”

Cruz-Hernandez has been charged with PCS II-Methamphetamine, PCS II-Cocaine, DCS II-Methamphetamine, DCS II-Cocaine, DCS II within 1000 feet of a school, and endangering the welfare of a minor. He is being held on $100,000.00 bail and an INS hold at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

All photos provided by MSCO
© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why an inner Southeast Portland winery and brewery got together to host a seafood and sausage fest, raising funds for a school’s educational foundation ‚Ķ

Serving up the crabs are students Hannah Giger, Elizabeth Van Brocklin, and Sarah Menashe, at the CHS “Claws and Dogs” fest.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two unique Southeast Portland adult-beverage businesses, Hip Chicks Do Wine and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company aren’t easy to find. They’re tucked back in an industrial park on S.E. 23rd Ave., east of the train yard, and just south of the SE Holgate Boulevard viaduct.

But their secret location didn’t stop more than 250 supporters of the Cleveland High School Foundation from finding their way recently to a new event called “Claws and Dogs for Cleveland”.

Ready to raise a glass celebrating the new event are Lisa Dandrea and Laurie Lewis, “wine goddesses” of Hip Chicks Do Wine, with Traci Wall, VP of the CHS Foundation.

“We wanted to create a fun, original event,” explained Traci Wall, VP of the CHS Foundation. “So, we came up with the idea of holding a crab and bratwurst feed. With the help of these two wonderful businesses, it looks like a real success.”

Wall said fundraising was the primary reason for the festive food event. “But secondarily, this event is giving our four-year-old foundation good exposure.”

For those who wanted a brew to go with their brats, folks checked in with Alan Sprints at his Hair of the Dog Brewing Company sampling room.

Specifically, Wall added, the foundation does fundraising — strictly for Cleveland High School academics. “The funds we raise here tonight will help purchase additional teaching or counselor time.”

Event nearly sells out
Wall said they couldn’t guess just how the turnout would be on this cold, rain-swept Saturday night, January 20. But it soon became clear that the event was close to a sell-out.

Nearly 200 people turned out for the Claws and Dogs fest to help provide more in-classroom teaching hours at CHS.

Soon diners were elbow-to-elbow, cracking freshly steamed crabs and downing brat dogs – complete with all the trimmings. Two very accomplished CHS student musicians, Charlie Stanford and Grant Richards, serenaded the crowd as they feasted.

According to the foundation’s treasurer, Jim Giger, the event took in $6,400.

On the way out, the foundation’s Randy Carlson asked us to let folks know that Ted Gamble of “Good Dog Bad Dog” supplied the savory sausages for the event. “They have locations at Portland Airport and Washington Square.”

Enjoy these additional photos from the event

Entertaining the crowd are student musical artists Charlie Stanford on guitar and keyboardist Grant Richards.

Diners Kim Nickelby and Susan Mendelson say they’re having a great time digging into their crab-and-brat dinner.

Brat-meister” Randy Carlson spent the evening grilling up the “Good Dog Bad Dog” brats at the CHS Foundation benefit event.

Get involved
If you want to help the CHS Foundation, call (503) 916-5120 during school hours, and ask for extension 449.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Without funding available to build and expand schools, read this and learn how DDS administrators are scrambling educate outer East Portland’s growing number of students with what they have ‚Ķ

Rob Buckner, 5th Grade teacher at West Powellhurst Elementary School, can’t fit even one more student into his already-packed classroom.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Voters in the David Douglas School District (DDS) made it clear, last November: “No new taxes”. The bond measure requested by the schools garnered only a 44% “Yes” vote.

But homeowner’s reluctance to increase funding hasn’t stopped their flood of new students into the already over-crowded schools.

Back to school
“Honestly, we’re having challenges finding space to educate our students, given our growing population,” is how Allen Browning, principal of West Powellhurst Elementary School put it to us.

“We’ve had combine programs and offices through the school,” Browning continued. “Our reading coach and Title 1 program are all housed in one small area. Our school counselor’s office was moved into a closet-like space. Every classroom is full. If we have any more children come here, we will have no place to put them.”

As we tour the school, Browning didn’t grumble or whine. The teachers with whom we speak appear to be cheerful and conscientious educators. Instead, they seem to have taken on their crowded situation as a challenge. The principal shows us how the gym’s former locker room was turned into first-rate classrooms to accommodate the increase in students. “We use the stage for after-school programs, the closets for book rooms. We’re making the most efficient use of the space we have.”

And, we learn, some of the other schools in the district are even more crowded, especially in the south end of the district.

Once-rural district faces explosive growth
In 1959, three small, rural districts – Russellville, Powellhurst and Gilbert – joined with the David Douglas Union High School District to form a 1st through 12th grade school district.

Over the decades, enrollment has increased, peaking in 1970. It slightly decreased during the 1980s, but has resumed growing as unincorporated East Multnomah County continues to grow.

Superintendent Barbara Rommel, David Douglas Schools.

“By 1993,” explained the district’s superintendent Barbara Rommel, “we needed additional classrooms.” Voters approved a $20 Million bond measure that funded building classrooms on existing schools, and paid to renovate others.

But the kids kept on coming. In 2000, voters approved a $40 Million bond to refurbish a once-shuttered building, and build a new middle school. It funded new classroom space at many buildings, including the high school.

But, enrollment continued to increase.

2006 adds a ‘school’s worth’ of students
“Last year, we had a 4% increase,” Rommel continued. This translates into 400 new students, she said. “In many districts, this number represents the population of an entire school.”

Because families with older students have been moving into the district, David Douglas High teaches 2,900 students. “To accommodate the increase,” Rommel explained, the school board used some ‘reserve funds’ to build an additional wing of classrooms at the high school.”

Challenges of changing demographics
Over the last five years, the superintendent told us, they’ve seen a dramatic increase in kids eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. “David Douglas has the highest level of poverty represented by that factor of any of the fifteen largest school districts in Oregon.”

Another challenge to DDS educators is the influx of newcomers to the district. “Currently, about 25% of our student population needs ‘English as a Second Language’ assistance. Those students represent over 46 different languages or dialects spoken in the home,” Rommel said.

“B” grade doesn’t translate into votes
Asked for her analysis of the fall election results, Rommel told us, “Our polls said residents give us a “B” ‚Äì a pretty good grade. So, residents feel we’re dong a pretty good job. My personal feeling is it [that ‘no’ vote] was an economic statement. I think residents were saying, ‘We just can’t afford it’.”

The FFD board was disappointed, Rommel said, “but they are pragmatists. They both understand ‚Äì and share ‚Äì the concerns of the community.”

The school board, she continued, has a dual responsibility: To be fiscally responsible with the public’s dollar; and to make sure students get a full range of educational opportunities. “An example is our music program. Students begin their instrumental music in grade school; we have full time, certified music specialists in every elementary school. As students move up the grades, the performance level of these students allows them to go into music as a career. But, our main mission is still ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’.”

Kindergarten a key to success
What helps their students do well is the kindergarten program, Rommel said. “We have full-day kindergarten for every student in our district. Since the state only funds a half-day program, the board makes up the rest the support from general funds.”

Kindergarten students in Mrs. Leah Robinson classroom get a full school day of literacy-based education.

The result: 70% of the students meet educational objectives. “The increases in learning are strongest among students who come in with some kind of learning risk factor. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunches, ESL assistance, or special education students ‚Äì all of these at-risk groups showed remarkable gains, from being in this program.”

Condemns consolidation concepts
Last fall, Mayor Tom Potter briefly floated an area-wide school consolidation plan.

“A consideration is looking for efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Rommel responded to the notion. “Bigger isn’t necessarily better. I don’t believe most parents want their children being bussed across the metropolitan area to fill an empty school.”

Looking at the efficiency aspect, she said DDS has a fewer-than-average number of administrators; business-level and support level services are run very lean. “Look at the Chalkboard Projects’ Open Book; it shows that we manage the district in a very thrifty way.”

Rommel added that the district is almost the perfect size. “We’re small enough to retain contact with our community; yet large enough to offer a wide range of elective subjects and extracurricular activities.”

Funding the district’s future
We asked bluntly, “OK, so what’s the plan?”

“This is a dilemma,” Rommel candidly responded. “One of the options is to look at increasing class size.”

Another option, she explained, is to shuffle classrooms. “For example, a number of high school classes are being held in the Children’s Service Center. When the new high school wing is finished, we can relive pressure on crowded elementary schools by using that building for classes, even to the point of making a small primary school in that building.”

Others suggest using “modular classrooms” at existing schools. “These trailers are an expensive fix, and don’t make a good educational environment. And, with the increased school populations we’re seeing, we need every square foot of playground space we have.”

Other possibilities are to eliminate the full-day kindergarten program ‚Äì a step that would free up 10 classrooms. “It would break my heart. We’ve documented the tremendous good that the full-day program does for students. It makes them successful learners from the start, reducing resources spent on remediation.”

ABC’s of school funding
Puzzled why districts, other than Portland Public Schools, successfully raise funding, we asked why it is so difficult in outer East Portland.

“There are no industries, and little business, in the district,” Rommel explained. “The entire burden for education falls upon the homeowner and residential property owner. If you have a good industrial base, those businesses shoulder part of the responsibility ‚Äì it reduces the amount homeowners must pay.

“In Beaverton, for example, a 47 cents-per-thousand levy raises $195 Million. In DDS, a $1.12 -per-thousand levy raises only $45 Million.”

State funding possibilities
To find out if state aid might be available, we talked with a man who was educated in the DDS school system from 3rd grade through the high school level, Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley.

“The schools are bustin’ at the seams with more children poised to come in. The district has a substantial challenge to find classroom space,” agreed Merkley. “Our families [in the school district] are working incredibly hard. They are squeezed too tightly to afford a property tax increase.”

Merkley said the state legislature recognizes that this is significant problem for fast-growing school districts that have a low prosperity basis. “One of the ideas we’re exploring is to see if ‘system development charges’ can be used to help build new schools.”

Another concept, the “Kansas Plan”, is up for discussion, said the state legislator. “It is a brand new idea. It allows districts with lower tax base to get a matching grant from the state government. The match would be 2-to-1 in David Douglas. But I don’t know if that will have the support of educational organizations.”

You can help: volunteer
We asked if parents and interested citizens might directly help DDS schools. From the schools themselves, we learned they can.

Rommel answered, “Just go to any neighborhood school to the office, say ‘I’d like to volunteer’.”

Principal Browning added, “We get many supportive comments from parents. Parents, you are welcome to help out in our school! We’d love for you to become part of your child’s education.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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