Getting health care coverage for 117,000 uninsured Oregon children is a top priority, Gov. Ted Kulongoski tells school teachers and administrators …

Student Joana Rodriguez spends a few minutes talking with Gov. Kulongoski before he kicks off the “Covering Kids and Families Back-to-School Campaign” at Helensview School in northeast Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If Gov. Ted Kulongoski has his way, “every child in Oregon will be afforded medical and dental car, whether or not their family can afford insurance”.

This is the message Kulongoski delivered to a receptive group of school administrators and teachers at Helensview School in outer Northeast Portland on August 17.

Warming up the crowd, Kulongoski began, “Here we are, in a school; and to many of us, we realize that summer is passing. While I’m sad summer is about to end, it moves me closer to November 7 [election day]. But we’re here to talk about health care for all children.”

The governor said three major institutions charged with socialization: Families, churches, and schools. When families and churches play less of a role, schools play a larger role, he said.

“Statistically, we have more than 900,000 kids in Oregon under age 19. Over 500,000 of them are in our K-12 educational system. Educators can have an impact on children,” said the Governor.

Kulongoski tells the group, “‚Ķ like the line from the movie, ‘Cool Hand Luke’, ‘we have a failure to communicate’ that health care for kids is available.”

“Of the children in Oregon, 117,000, or about 13% of them under the age of 19, are uninsured. We’re trying to find how to provide health care for them. 60% of them are eligible for the Oregon Health Plan. There are the resources available. But, like the line from the movie, ‘Cool Hand Luke’, ‘we have a failure to communicate’ that health care for kids is available.

“When a youngster has a toothache, he or she can’t concentrate on school. Should they then become really sick, they end up in the emergency room.

“In our next state congressional session, we have scheduled to find ways to have health care for every child, from prenatal until age 19. In most cases, these kids’ parents are working. Their employer does not provide healthcare for them.

“A solution seemed to be a low-cost insurance program for employees. We have the plan, but with the rising cost of health care, it is too expensive for many working families. We will provide a public subsidy to see that they have access to health care.

“I’m committed to school-based health care centers. Some Portland areas centers are open during the evening and weekends.”

Statistics and goals
Kulongoski introduced Ellen Pinney, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, representing the Oregon Health Action Campaign, who presented data about Oregon’s uninsured.

“Since 2002, the number of uninsured children has increased from 10% to 13%. We have been able to find resources, but many are still not enrolled. Kids are twice as likely not to receive medical care as an adult,” Pinney stated.

Goals she presented included providing kids with a checkup up before school begins; taking care of small medical problems before they become major; and not making families choose between health care and putting food on the table. “Healthy kids learn better,” Pinney concluded.

A school nurse’s view
Bill Tomlinson told how, from his experience as a school nurse for 18 years, young students’ health problems do affect their ability to learn.

There are three main reasons, Tomlinson said, why many families who are eligible don’t enroll in free health care programs. “First, the application and reapplication process is complicated, and requires follow-through. Second, families don’t see kids’ health insurance as a priority. And finally, for recent immigrants, the concept of health insurance is foreign to them.”

The Tomlinson mentioned that Multnomah Educational Service District has two full-time people assigned to enrolling kids in state-sponsored health care plans.

“In Spanish, the word for ‘insurance’ is ‘security’,” Tomlinson concluded.

More comments
After these presentations, representatives from two families told the gathering how much they appreciated having health care provided for them.

The principal of East Gresham Elementary School, Todd Gestrin, claims his school signs up more kids for state-sponsored health insurance than any other Portland-area school.

Last on the program, Todd Gestrin, principal of East Gresham Elementary School addressed the group, “We’ve had the highest enrollment of any school in outer East County. It takes a whole community to take care of kids. When we hold ‘insurance sign-up nights’, we have families who will walk a mile to get there. Health care is not something first-graders can do for themselves.”

Kulongoski concluded the meeting by saying, “Teachers can’t talk about his, but I can. We have suffered from a very difficult time with declining state resources, and employers cutting back on health care. The state is trying to fill the hole.

“In the next legislative session, we have the ability to make a plan to invest in health care for students from preschool through university. See that the legislature makes the investment.

“If you get a good education, you can do anything you want, even become governor.”

To find out more, call 1-877-KIDS-NOW.

It was a media feeding-frenzy after the meeting as several reporters asked the governor to repeat his comments for them in short, easy-to-edit sound bites.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Police say this guy is yet another good example of how
drinking and driving don’t mix ‚Ķ

One wonders how fast this truck must have been going, to do this kind of damage.

It looked like the driver bulldozed through boulders to get his truck firmly wedged into the front of this apartment house in southeast Portland. You can see one boulder behind the passenger-side rear tire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On a relatively quiet afternoon in southeast Portland, it looked like a fellow tried going into the front door of an apartment, perhaps to lounge in the living room or get a snack in kitchen.

The only problem was – he was still driving his large pickup truck!

Police say they got a call just after 3:00 p.m. about a truck that ran into an apartment building on SE 68th Ave., just south of Foster Road, on August 22.

Police say this man shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of any vehicle — in his condition.

“We’ve arrested 41-year-old Michael Herrin for DWII and Reckless Driving,” an officer on scene tells us. “Driving while intoxicated causes so many problems,” he adds, “I wish people would stop and think before they drink and drive.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

As promised, here are more photos of this great annual celebration than you’ll find anywhere else ‚Äì including a pix of Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer’s ONLY visit to outer East Portland ‚Ķ

This chalk art welcomed neighbors to a Russell Neighborhood celebration on National Night Out.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
By all measures, the National Night Out for Safety was the best-attended outer East Portland event of its kind since its inception.

Participating groups held street parties, barbecues, parties-in-the-parks, and back yard gatherings.

Group leaders who held “official” events were supplied with packets containing crime prevention tips, safety gadgets and discount coupons from participating restaurants and stores. Local stores also provided prizes, food and supplies for several of the larger events.

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors
Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes

Lou Fontana admires some of the 100 vehicles attending their Cruise In. “We chose Saturday, because we wanted more people to attend. We’re expecting about 1,500 guests this year.”

At the grill are the not-so-famous Williams Brothers: Steve and Larry. Steve: “It is fun to see the guests come in and enjoy the hospitality.” Larry: “For a couple of bucks, we’re serving fresh, hot burger meals, right off the grill!”

Band members of “Drawback” rock out at this National Night Out Saturday celebration.

Lents
Reedway Place

Jim Barrett, President of Rose Community Development, and Nick Sauvie, ROSE director, welcome neighbors to their July 29 event. “ROSE Community Development is holding this block party at our Lents project. We look at this is a good way to build community and reduce crime,” Savuie says.

Organizers say 200 people came to immerse themselves in community – and partake of great food.

Mill Park
14000 Block of S.E. Taylor St.

July 29 event organizer Larry Markham and Duane Sanger are cooking up a feast for their street-party pot-luck dinner. “It’s important to get the neighbors together,” Sanger says. “When you get to know each other, you tend to look out for each other. It is a good thing.”

The folks on this Mill Park street enjoyed a relaxed afternoon of good food and conversation.

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors
Knott Park

Hoisting up the banner, and welcoming neighbors as they kick off their association-sponsored Night Out in Knott Park, are Mike Brown, James Woods and Allison Newman-Woods.

Some of the fun to be had in Knott Park included the fun and sillyness of our favorite East Portland clown, Steevie Weevie. Here, Jacob Brown gets a balloon hat from Steevie.

Mill Park
SE 114th Ave at Yamhill St.

In the foreground, you can see Carl Moody grilling up chicken for 200!  Standing behind him, organizer Todd Baker says they’re enjoying sidewalk chalk, a raffle, and other fun. Yes, htere was all this, plus, lots and lots of good food! By the way, the chicken was smothered in “Moody’s Madness” ‚Äì a locally made product. We are sorry we have to move on to other National Night Out parties — we’re told this was a great one!

Centennial
Parklane Park

Friends and neighbors gather in Centennial as their National Night Out gets started.

Patty Hicks, Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts and the Clemensons enjoy the beautiful evening in Parklane Park.

Wilkes/Russell
Wilkes Park

Wilkes and Russell neighborhoods band together to put on this premier Night Out celebration.

Wilkes Community Group Chair Ross Monn tell us, “Thanks to the help of our volunteers we’ve planned for a picnic for 300 people. And they all came! We’re giving away both children’s and adult’s door prizes.”

Cooking up sizzling burgers in Wilkes Park are volunteers Paul Capell, Rod Martin, and Bob Larsen.

Glenfair
GlenFair Park

Neighborhood chair Stephen Jenkevice welcomes 200 neighbors for an evening of fun, games – and yes, lots of great pizza.

Lotty Dotty was busy squeaking up balloons, including the sword for Timothy Holten.

Community Center
East Portland Community Center

Growing their celebration, this is their second annual event.  Here, staff member Jennie Birt gives a beauty makeover to Ryan Hodge. Hat and button making, fun with the library folks, and games added to the merriment.

Woodland Park
NE 101st Ave at Bell St.

Officer Jeff Dorn introduces Ranger, a 2¬? year old German Shepherd — the newest member to Portland Police Bureau’s K9 team.

Grillmaster Glen Heiner cooks up great grub for everyone who came by their celebration in Woodland Park. Organizer Laura Heiner tells us, “As a mom of four children, I want to do all I can to increase safety in our street.”

Parkrose
NE 113th Ave. near Freemont St.

Officer Searle on rides Jack, and Officer Pashley rides Norman, as they visit the celebration organized by Nancy Boxell. She says, “In the last year, we helped other drug people move out; stopped car prowls, burglary, and mail theft thanks to our phone tree. We have ‘night out for safety’ all year long!”

Crews from Portland Fire & Rescue came by to meet and greet people at nearly all of the Night Out celebrations — just as they do here in Parkrose.

Argay
Argay Park

Police Chief Rosie Sizer came to visit Argay’s celebration. She tells us, “This is my fifth party tonight. This event provides a platform for the community and the cops to talk to one another. It allows us to connect on a human level. Community-oriented policing is a cornerstone of my administration. I’m glad to be here!”

It didn’t take long for the TV cameras to appear and for reporters to interview Chief Sizer.

Organizer Valerie Curry works the ice cream stand. Her event attracted 250 neighbors.

Little Kyan Avery is shucking some great Rossi Sweet Corn that Rossi Farms donated, cooked, and served to hundreds of party-goers.

Rocking riffs provided by The Kooltones kept the celebration rocking.

Mill Park
SE 117th and Washington St

Organizer Nicole Barlow gives Julie Frangipani a Night Out for Safety packet. Barlow tells us, “This was my first time in charge. I’m pleased we had 20 people join in our potluck dinner. I do believe this event helps get crime off the street, so we can take our neighborhood back.”

Hazelwood
Along NE 134th Ave.

Pat Webster organized this neighborhood picnic. “We had a potluck dinner and dessert. We’re glad we can get together. NRT Officer Michael Gallagher snapped this photo for us.

Russell
12500 block of NE Knott Street

Charlotte Weeks, Marjorie Lusby and Kelli Davison smile at the success of the first Night Out in a long time for this Russell neighborhood. Lusby says, “”We’re delighted that fifteen families came by to join us. Next year, I’ll bet we have even more.

Lents
Lents Park

“We’ve stuck to what works for us,” says organizer Judy Welch. “Our ice cream social attracted more folks than ever!” Judging by the empty tubs of ice cream, it looks like dozens of neighbors had a great time.

Will we see you next year at a National Night Out for Safety?

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

1,500 hot dogs later, another great Lents Founder’s Day celebration comes to a close. See our exclusive story, told in photographs ‚Ķ

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the great things about Portland is all the different ways neighborhoods celebrate. The big party in Lents takes place in mid-August every year.

See for yourself what goes into making a great Lents Founder’s Day celebration:

Lents Softball Challenge

When the dust settled, at the August 19 Lents Softball Challenge, the final score was 16 points for the City Stickers vs. 20 points for the Lents Rebels (pictured here), after six innings of regulation play.

The City Stickers, a team made up of players associated with the City of Portland, played hard, and took the lead early in the game, but lost to the intrepid Lents Rebels.

Ken Turner, manager of Eastport Plaza and long-time Lents area booster, pitches a winning game for the Lents Rebels.

Sliding into home base, scoring another run for the Lents Rebels, is Tisha Henderson.

Lents Founders Day Parade

Everyone loves a parade, including the Lents Founder’s Day Parade on August 20. It starts out at the Wattles Boys and Girls Club and encircles Lents Park.

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams is warmly greeted by neighbors as he, once again, marches in this parade. Sam looks like he’s doing a good job “holding up his end” for the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association.

Lents Founder’s Day Celebration

Ray Hites, putting up his extensive Lents Historical Exhibit. Look for your opportunity to see this exhibit if you seek a great pictorial history of Lents.

After the parade, East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs talks with Robert Ross, a veteran of WWII, and his daughter Judy Welch, former chair of the Lents Neighborhood Association.

Over the years, this family ‚Äì Kathryn Lansing, John Lansing, Angela Lansing, Mary Lansing, Mark Urell, and Cindy Lansing ‚Äì have quenched the thirst of hundreds of Founder’s Day Celebration goers, giving away gallons of delicious, ice-cold Lents Lansing Linoleum Lemonade.

Among the volunteers serving up some of the 1,500 hot dogs that the New Copper Penny restaurant donated – cooked, hot, and ready-to-enjoy – are Gerardo Ambries, Aida Velazquez, Maria Ambries, and Adrian Ambries. This soon-to-be-satisfied guest is Gene Woodberry.

Knights of Pythias member, and volunteer, John Murchison fits Daniel Oliver with a new bike helmet.

Filling Lents Park with swinging big-band music is the Providence Stage Band, under the baton of Larry Morrell, conductor.

Backed up by the Providence Stage Band, Maria Blum belts out a happy tune on a hot day. Or, was it a hot tune on a happy day?

Congratulations, Lents, on producing another fine celebration!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Do you know these punks?  Turn them in and get $1,000 ‚Ķ

Parkrose High School principal Roy Reynolds says he’s pretty sure these two fellows aren’t students. He is sure that their midnight target-practice session cost the school thousands of dollars.

UPDATE: On Thursday, August 31 at 12:35 p.m,  Portland Police East Precinct detectives arrested 15-year-old Aaron Kinsey on one count of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree in connection with the August 11 vandalism at Parkrose High School.  Kinsey was taken into custody in the 4500 block of NE 111th Ave. and was lodged into the Multnomah County Juvenile Detention Center.

Story by David F. Ashton
Many positive things have happened since Roy Reynolds came to Parkrose High School a couple of years ago: Grades are up, attendance is better, vandalism is way down.

Reynolds gives the credit to the staff and great students who “come here to learn. This includes learning to really care about the school.”

Talking about the new school year about to start, Reynolds looks confident and enthusiastic as he tells us how the staff is getting ready for another great year at the home of the Broncos.

“But, I’ve got to tell you, David,” Reynolds says, with a serious expression, “Walking around, seeing the damage these guys did, it’s a bummer.”

Smashing spree
On August 11 at 2:16 a.m., Portland Police discovered windows of the high school, along with several outbuildings, were vandalized.

The school’s surveillance cameras recorded the suspects shooting at the windows with an unknown type weapon, possibly a BB gun or .22cal handgun, throwing rocks and eventually throwing a log through the window.  The suspects were caught on tape “celebrating” and laughing as they committed over $5,000 damage to the school.

Police describe “Suspect #1” is described as black male teenager wearing a black “skull cap”, a white long sleeve hoodie sweatshirt under a black t-shirt, baggy jean shorts, and white tennis shoes with dark laces.

They say “Suspect #2” is described as a white or Hispanic teenager, wearing a dark colored hoodie sweatshirt, dark baggy shorts, and dark tennis shoes.

Drain on school resources
“This damage just diverts resources away from programs that benefit our students,” Reynolds tells us, “into needlessly replacing windows We’ve carefully looked at the photos, and, at this time, we don’t believe either one of these guys are Parkrose students.”

Finger the punks, get a grand
Got information? Give Detective Scott Pitton, Portland Police Bureau at (503) 823-4802.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you remain anonymous.

Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357). The Case number is “06-26 HIGH SCHOOL VANDALISM”.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Still going strong after five decades, this church proves it has staying power …

On August 13, Senior Pastor Gary Lay, and his wife Tammy, led the congregation in a celebration of 50 years of service to the community at the Mill Park Baptist Church.

“It all started on July 29, 1956,” Lay said, “and we hope to serve the Mill Park Community for another half-century.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Known world-wide as Portland’s place for tranquility and meditation, see why The Grotto was cleared by police and remained closed for a day ‚Ķ

As many as 30 Portland Police Bureau officers cordoned off a large area around The Grotto, searching for a man said to be carrying a weapon.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One vehicle after another was turned away from The Grotto on August 18.

“Why are they closed?” asked the driver of a passenger-filled mini-van with Idaho license plates.

“There is a police action in the area, sir,” responded East Precinct’s Officer Shadron, his patrol car parked blocking NE Skidmore St. at Sandy Blvd.

Disturbed man disrupts gift shop
The afternoon-long police action started in a nearby home and moved to The Grotto’s gift shop.

“I had just started celebrating Mass when this took place,” said Father Jack Topper, the executive director of the facility. “A woman came into our gift shop, our employees told me. They said a man followed her in and was shouting at her. It was more of a verbal abuse thing. Our employee called the police and he took off.”

Father Jack Topper, executive director of The Grotto, tells news reporters that the only previous time the grounds have been shut down was during severe weather.

Topper said he didn’t know whether or not the man was brandishing a weapon. “I did see the woman in our parking lot. She was upset, and said she was sad that this situation was causing a problem.”

Dragnet for suspect begins

As officers fan out around The Grotto searching for suspect Robert Wimbish, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs talks with his officers as they plan their next step.

“It started as a domestic violence call off NE Skidmore,” was the word from Sgt. Brian Schmautz, spokesman for Portland Police Bureau. “The victim knew a suspect who showed up today, identified as 35-year-old Robert Wimbish. From what we’ve learned, he’s acting angry delusional, and perhaps has some mental health issues. We understand he hasn’t slept in days, and he’s been using controlled substances for quite some time.”

Police say this man, Robert Wimbish, threatened a woman in The Grotto’s gift shop. Their concern: he may have had a weapon with him.

Schmautz said, the while they hadn’t seen a weapon, the victim told police that Wimbish did have a weapon with him. “We’re trying to isolate where he is, and if he is a danger to himself or anyone.”

After several hours, the Portland Police SERT team was brought in to search a house in which officers suspected Wimbish was hiding.

Watchfully waiting
“I’ve seen several younger men coming and going,” is what across-the-street neighbor Jay Cowan told us. “This person looked like an older man than the others. There haven’t been any problems at the house that I’ve seen.”

When asked why the police hadn’t stormed the home where they thought Wimbish might be hiding out, Schmautz said, “It is her house. We don’t know if he is in there. Right now, we don’t know whether going in will help or hurt the situation.”

Taking no chances, SERT officers hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Officers from the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) assembled as their armored vehicle arrived. They approached the house, and then made entry.

Minutes later, Schmutze told us, “SERT has cleared the victim’s home and confirmed that the suspect has left the immediate area. Officers did seize one long-barreled firearm.” He added that Wimbish is currently wanted on a Multnomah County warrant, and faces additional charges because of this incident.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

In addition to growing 215 marijuana plants, officials say someone was stealing electricity to run the grow operation …

As firefighters clean up after putting out the blaze, police investigators move in to investigate this home they call a “pot factory”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The ranch-styled home, located in the southern Centennial Neighborhood at 3432 Southeast 156th Ave., looked like a typical, middle-class dwelling.

“No I didn’t suspect anything,” said across-the-street neighbor Ron Taylor. “Normally you’d like having quiet neighbors. It didn’t seem lived-in. We thought it might be an ‘investment’ home.”

Neighbor Ron Taylor said he didn’t suspect anything going on in the burned home, seen behind him.

Taylor said people would come and go once or twice a week. They’d take care of the front yard, come in and out the front door.

“Other than that, nothing seemed unusual,” Taylor told us, “until last night. My wife and I smelled some smoke. We attributed it to the Mt. Hood fires. It smelled like ‘old’ smoke.”

Pot farm afire
Fire officials suspect what Taylor and his neighbors smelled was overheating wiring or transformers in the structure. “But, we can’t be sure until the fire investigators have completed their work,” Lt. Allen Oswalt told us on-scene.

“When we got here, it was all fire and smoke,” Oswalt recounted. “We attacked the fire by going inside. In the dark and smoke, firefighters saw the pot growing operation, and became suspicious of booby traps. They pulled out.”

While the he Portland Police Explosive Unit was in route, firefighters continued to knock down the fire from the outside. No booby traps were located.

Lt. Allen Oswalt looks at some of the extensive damage at the rear of the home.

“It took only 10 minutes to actually put out the fire,” Oswalt continued. “The fire had a significant pre-burn time. There is deep charring through support beams in the attic. There isn’t much wood left in several of the support beams; the roof is sagging.”

Two rear bedrooms and the garage were dedicated to the marijuana-growing operation, according to Oswalt. “The way the bedrooms were set up ‚Äì there are no beds ‚Äì it makes it unlikely people were living here. There was some living room furniture and a TV.”

An fire investigator makes his way into the garage, filled with what police say are pot plants, lights, and a tangle of electrical cords.

Stealing juice
Firefighters noted the “creative electrical wiring ‚Äì large power cords that snaked through the home from the garage. When a crew from Portland General Electric was called in to shut off the power, they noticed thick electrical cables going out a side door, and into the ground.

Here’s some of the “creative wiring” uncovered by PGE workers. Someone tapped the home’s main power supply before it got to the meter.

“Theft of service is a crime,” Portland Police’s Sgt. Brian Schmutz told us. “Depending on the dollar value of the power taken, it could be prosecuted as a Class B Felony.”

Here are some of the more than 200 pot plants which fire and police officials found growing in this suburban home.

The final plant count for marijuana growing operation was 215 plants, according to police officials.  Investigators have no suspects in custody, and are not releasing suspect information.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why the new Lents International Farmer’s Market is drawing shoppers to SE 92nd Ave. and Foster Rd. on the last Sunday of each month ‚Ķ

Don Lief came down from Mt. Tabor to buy fresh produce. He met market manager Hilary DuBose and Tenino Farms’ Meagan Freed.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In past years, the Lents Farmer’s Market provided slim pickings. Typically, it consisted of one or two small stands ‚Äì if any ‚Äì on the corner of SE 92nd and Foster Road.

This year, “less is more”: Instead of operating every weekend, the market is held only on the last Sunday of the month. But, more than a dozen vendors are now on hand, selling everything from vegetables to fresh-baked bread.

New name, new vitality
“We’ve renamed it the ‘Lents International Farmer’s Market’,” project manager Hilary DuBose told us when we visited. “We’re doing this as a pilot project this year. We’ll see what works and what customers like. Then, we’ll put full energy into perhaps a larger project next season.”

As many as 18 vendors display their goods at the outdoor market. “We have a great variety of produce, cut flowers, African arts, Hispanic food, fresh eggs, potted plants, and a craft baker,” DuBose said.

This new version of the Lents Farmer’s Market was created in response to a neighborhood survey conducted last year. “The research showed that Lents residents have the least access to quality food sources,” DuBose continued. “We’re providing a new resource for healthy, affordable eating.”

Lissa and Russell Pfandler of Russell’s Bread bring fresh baked goods from their own wood-fired European-styled hearth oven located in Vancouver, WA. This home-based business offered their goods exclusively at the Hollywood Market until coming to Lents this season. By the way, he does bake fabulous breads and pastries.

“By stressing the ‘international’ aspects of the market, we’re trying to bring people together here in Lents,” commented Judy Welch, past chair, Lents Neighborhood Association, as she helped out at the market. “Having a place the community can come together to buy home-grown foods and home-made crafts is terrific. People are coming from all over to visit the market ‚Äì it isn’t just a market, it’s a great event.”

Jeff Rose, a neighborhood association board member and market volunteer told us, “I just bought a house here in Lents Town Center. I’m doing everything I can to promote good things like this. I’d like to see Lents regain the vitality it had in the past. We need neighbors to get back together and interact with one another. I see this as a positive step.”

Last market date:  September 24
Plan to spend some time at the Lents International Farmer’s Market on Sunday, September 24. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Is it truly International? Yes: Hmong, Hispanic, Turkish, and Mien farmers are represented.  You’ll also enjoy live music, prepared food, cooking demonstrations, and community-information booths.

The market is located next to Crossroads Plaza on SE 92nd Ave. at Foster Rd. There’s plenty of street parking, and additional free parking is provided by the Lents Masonic Lodge at 5811 SE 92nd Ave. WIC and senior coupons are welcome.

For more information, contact at http://lentsfarmersmarket@gmail.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Food, cultural exhibits and entertainment were attractions, but what really drew nearly 450 people to PCC SE Center was the prospect of becoming a homeowner …

Between Native American homeowners Norman and Julia Red Thunder is MAYA’s executive director, Nicole Maher, along with youngsters John and Joyce Nelson at the East Portland Native American Housing to Homeownership Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not many Native Americans are like the Red Thunder family: Norman and Julia Red Thunder have been homeowners for years. John told us, “By not having to pay rent, we have had big savings in the long run, and we own something.”

At the July 29 event, we found a number of representatives from financial institutions, real estate, and other resources to help Native Americans go from being renters to being homeowners.

“There is a long legacy to our community of limited access to home ownership,” explained Nicole Maher, the executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center, known as NAYA. “We believe that home ownership provides stable situation for families, youth, and our community. We need fair and equitable housing.”

In addition to the information, fry bread, being made by Tawna Sanchez, was another attraction to the homeownership fair.

Maher told us this is their first of such fairs, and they hope to make it an annual event. “There are 31,000 Native Americans in the greater Portland area,” she said. “People from more than 300 tribes live here. Yet, we have the lowest homeownership rate of any minority in Portland.”

Throughout the afternoon, business was brisk, as bankers, realtors and community agencies met with individuals and couples — showing them options for buying a home. Additionally, classes at the fair provided homebuyer assistance information and resources for renters with homeownership goals.

It appeared as if everyone who attended enjoyed the Native American meal prepared by volunteers, being served here by Jennifer Petrilla and Laura Booth.

But the afternoon wasn’t all business. Also featured were Native American dance performances, a guest drum, a free dinner, a kids craft corner, and raffle prizes. One lucky participant won $1,500 in down payment assistance.

For more information, contact the MAYA Family Center at (503) 288-8177, or see www.nayapdx.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

If music truly is the “universal language” ‚Äì see how Rich Glauber uses delightful tunes to tempt tots to read at the library ‚Ķ

Using the magic of music to make friends with kids, Rich Glauber brings his program to Midland Library as part of the Summer Reading Program.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Musician Rich Glauber travels the globe as a performer. Recently, he has appeared in Costa Rica, Israel, and Spain.

So, what was this classically-trained musician doing, sitting on the floor, in Midland Library’s activity room on July 18?

“I’m doing my favorite thing,” Glauber told us, “sharing the wonder and delight of music with kids.”

Glauber used a wide variety of instruments to draw the kids into his stories and play along with him.

Early in the program, some parents acted concerned when their little ones started sitting closer and closer to the musician. “It’s OK, we’re all having fun today,” Glauber said as he started into his next song.

It wasn’t long until both children and parents fell under Glauber’s spell. Because he brought a large number of percussion instruments, soon, listeners became performers as he played and sang original songs. Even parents were caught up in, and began to sing along with the youngsters.

Glauber’s program, “Music in Action”, was a bilingual presentation, part of the library’s Summer Reading Program.

For more information about Glauber, see www.richglauber.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Spend a day paddling on the “Columbia Sewer?” Read this article and see how we got a close-up look (and smell) of how Slough clean-up efforts have paid off ‚Ķ

Lynn Youngbarr, interim executive director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, prodded us to take a “closer look” by going for a paddle on this unique inland waterway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For decades, the Columbia Slough was the repository of raw sewage, rainwater runoff, and liquid industrial waste.

Thus, in years past, we’d covered the “Columbia Slough Regatta” from a distance‚Ķon land.

This year was different. At the July 30 event, interim executive director of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) Lynn Youngbarr suggests we take a paddle to get “closer” to the story.

“We’re celebrating this fabulous resource for residents of Portland and the whole region,” Youngbarr began, coaxing us into going for a canoe ride. “This is one of the most diverse natural areas in the whole state. The slough’s ecosystem ‚Äì here along the Columbia River from the Sandy River to the Willamette ‚Äì has both heavy industry and residential areas. Since we’ve taken steps to clean the Slough up, there is also an abundance of wildlife here.”

These are a few of the 500 adults and kids getting ready to paddle the Slough in nearly 250 non-motorized watercraft during the Regatta.

Youngbarr says the purpose of the Regatta was to raise awareness of the Slough. “I was born and raised here. For all the times I’d driven on Sandy and Airport Way, it never occurred to me to see what was under the overpasses. When I started working with the Council, I learned what a fabulous resource this is to the region. I think people come here to explore this interesting natural setting, within the city of Portland.”

Some of the Columbia Slough is naturally-occurring. Louis and Clark reported camping along the slough. But, they couldn’t stay more than a night before moving inland. They reported that the din of the birds and animals kept them awake!

For decades, Youngbarr tells us, it has been greatly impacted by human endeavor. The Slough is important because it prevents the low-lying areas along the Columbia from flooding. “It is now a carefully managed waterway.”

Long-time nature advocate, and Wilkes Community Group resident, Alice Blatt shows paddlers where to go. If you’ve ever seen “Alice Springs” on the map ‚Äì yup, it’s named after her!

We edge closer to the dock, located in the “Big Four Corners” site, said to be the fourth largest natural area in Portland. Individuals in kayaks, and families in canoes, look like they’re having fun. At the dock, we’re introduced to Ry Thompson, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Slough Group. He’s offered to be our guide.

Ry Thompson, was our intrepid guide as we paddled through channels making up the northern part of the Slough.

Handing me a flotation device to strap on, Thompson says, “This is truly a special place. It’s a hidden gem in the city of Portland. It is accessible to families ‚Äì people of all ages.  And, this is a great place to experience nature in one’s own back yard.”

We climb into a canoe and push off from the dock. Within moments, we feel safe and confident, even with our camera. Our guide was doing the paddling, and we were snapping photos.

Even though there were dozens of craft on the Slough, it didn’t seem crowded as we explored this inland waterway.

Feeling more confident, we pick up the second paddle and start rowing. Guide Thompson doesn’t mind we’re helping out.

As our strokes synchronize, we pick up speed. “At this rate, we’ll be able to see quite a bit,” he says.

Using a parasol as a sail, Cherry Ann and Wayne Low use wind power for part of their journey on the Columbia Slough.

“The Slough has a long history of industry and farming,” says Thompson. “Things used to be pretty bad, but things have turned around dramatically. It is much cleaner.”

We had expected to have our olfactory senses assaulted with nasty odors. However, there is no bad smell, even though we are cruising inches above the water.

The family Hume–Rebecca, Sarah, Linda and Richmond–explore a side channel of the Columbia Slough during the Regatta.

Our guide continues, “We’ve planted over a million trees and shrubs to keep the water cool. And, as we continue to reduce pollutants that come into the Slough, the water quality gets better and better.” However, he advises against swimming in the water just yet.

After what seems like only a few moments, we realized we’ve been out nearly a half-hour. “Time to turn back,” Thompson advises. “But we have time to take a look at this side channel.” We both paddle, and slip swiftly along the waterway.

Rob Dolphin was first introduced to the Slough as part of his job. Now, he says he’s “fallen in love with it” as he paddles by us.

One of the many people we meet along the way is Rob Dolphin, an employee of the Owens Illinois Glass Company located on the Slough at Johnson Lake.

“Part of my work assignment,” Dolphin says, pulling up along side, “is to work with environmental issues having to do withour plant. But, I became fascinated with the Slough to the point where I love coming out here.”

CSWC board chair Chuck Harrison glides up, and talks with us about the Slough.

Soon, we’re able to hold another on-the-water interview. This time, it’s with Chuck Harrison, the chair of CSWC.

“I work for an employer that has properly along the Slough. They wanted to be aware of what was going on at the Council, and also, to be a good steward to the waterway. What started as a job function as grown into a love of the water.” After the third Regatta, Harrison tells us, “I decided to get my own kayak. Now, I come out often just to unwind. Isn’t it relaxing out here?”

The most important thing for people to know, Harrison says, is that “it’s not as bad as people remember it being. As you can see, it’s beautiful here. You’d never know you are in the city of Portland, except for the planes flying overhead.”

Too soon, it was time to return to the dock, as this couple was doing, so others could enjoy their own canoe ride in the Columbia Slough.

Looking at the time, we notice we are a little overdue getting the canoe back to the dock, so others can enjoy the Regatta. As we both paddle, our craft slips swiftly through the water; we soon glide up to the dock.

Want to explore the eastern of the Columbia Slough for yourself? The canoe launch we used is located at 16550 NE Airport Way, but there are others available.

For more information, go online to www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=dccac.

And, to learn more about the CSWC, see www.columbiaslough.org.

Here’s a secret: If you don’t own a canoe, you can borrow one from the Council! It’s another good reason to check out the CSWC, and check into your Columbia Slough.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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