Why do neighbors say they’re happy that this small house, just west of the Springwater Trail, was gutted by fire? Learn why, from our exclusive interviews‚

The fire burned so intensely, the interior of this bungalow was charred to the exterior walls.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Typically, people tell us they feel sad when they see a nearby home go up in flames, displacing the residents.

But neighbors of the home at 8740 SE Flavel Street say they’re overjoyed that the explosive blaze that started about 12:30 a.m. on July 26 burned so hot that it destroyed the front of the bungalow, and reduced the interior to cinders and ashes.

Neighbors say ‘good riddance’ to drug flophouse
Because those living near the burned home characterized the occupants as “violent participants in the hard-drug culture”, they ask their names not be used.

“Please don’t even say where our house is,” a lady begs us. “I’m still afraid of these people.”

Four different neighbors with whom we speak, during separate interviews, each tell us the house has been the center of drug activity for years.

“But ever since they [the current group] squatted on the property two months ago, it’s been really bad,” the most fearful neighbor relates. “They assaulted my pregnant daughter, kicked her in the stomach, and myself, and other people. They bashed my head on the concrete‚ all because we returned their dog. These are mean, vicious people.”

Neighbors‚ and official City of Portland housing inspection — say several people lived in the trailers parked behind the burned house we photographed from the Springwater Trail.

Lots of people, drugs
The official report says that two individuals safely escaped from the house.

When we check this fact, a man responds, “Two people? Heck, there were ten or twelve people living in there, all the time‚ and more, in the travel trailer behind the home.”

Another witness says she saw “at least a dozen people scattering from the burning house like rats from a sinking ship”.

Neighbors say the occupants are squatters, ranging in age from mid 20s to the 40s.

“What kind of drugs?” a man says, repeating our question. “All kinds of drugs. I don’t think they were picky.”

The fearful neighbor says, “A lady got assaulted the day after we did. She came to my house. She was so high, she was ridiculous. She had a meth pipe in her pocket. She said she was there doing drugs all day; they sell drugs.”

Yet another neighbor notes, “This house is ‘conveniently located’ just west of the Springwater Trail. It was like a drive-up drug stop for druggies on bicycles.”

Police and city investigate complaints
City of Portland records show an “Occupied Building Nuisance and Complaint” was filed on July 9 for “Trash & Debris, Junk, Garbage”. The house was scheduled to re-inspect the residence on July 25, the day before the house caught fire.

On July 10, a “General Housing Complaint” was filed with the City of Portland. According to official records, the file reads:

“OCCUPIED TRAILERS IN THE BACKYARD, PITBULL IS SEEN ON PROPERTY. VISIBLE FROM STREET, 15 PEOPLE IN THE HOUSE AND ABOUT 2 PEOPLE IN EACH TRAILER.”

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team Officer William Hoover confirmed that the now-destroyed house was the subject of police interest‚ over a period of time‚ for a number of reasons.

One neighbor says he walked through the charred ruins of this house. “It’s all gone now. They’ll have to tear it down,” reports.

Says children were taken from home
A man who says he lives “not far away” tells us DHS contacted him and asked him to take temporary custody of two children living in the house a few days before the fire. “Police have been here many times,” he adds.

“The police used to try hard to clean it up,” a witness volunteers, “but not so much lately. I think they changed the cops working in our area. We’re not sad to see them go. Hopefully, they’ll be out of the neighborhood now.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Discover why the city is spending $5 Million to “undo” a 1940s “creek improvement project” that experts say actually causes flooding and declining fish population, instead of preventing it‚

Bureau of Environmental Services director, Dean Marriott, pinpoints the built-up highlands which B.E.S. is now returning to wetlands.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Walking through a wooded area, just off the Springwater Trail near SE Foster Rd at SE 158th Ave., we hear the roar of heavy earth-moving equipment in the distance.

Bureau of Environmental Services director Dean Marriott is our guide, as we hike along Johnson Creek. “We’re walking into the Brownwood Site here along Johnson Creek. This represents the fourth restoration project we’ve embarked on,” he tells us.

“We’re undoing what was done in the 1940s,” Marriott explains, “in an effort to reduce flooding; WPA workers brought in a lot of fill material to straighten the creek. Their project made flooding worse.”

From creek to sluiceway‚ and back to creek
Fish don’t do well in rock-lined channel, Marriott comments. “When they altered the creek, they pushed it to the south in a rock-lined channel. It became a sluiceway, instead of a natural creek.

The new $5 Million restoration project, Marriott explains, will minimize future flooding. But more importantly, it will improve the health of the watershed, including fish habitat.

As we break through to the work area, we see a massive earth-moving effort underway. “We’re taking about 150,000 cubic yards of dirt and fill out of the historic flood plain, and recreating the natural landscape,” explains Marriott. “We’re replicating what nature intended. We’re restoring the back channels, meanderings, and crookedness of the creek. When we’re done, next year, it will look just the way Mother Nature intended it to look.”

Specifically, Marriott goes on, the project restores natural terrain features. The water will slow down and have areas that can flood without doing any damage, and recharge the groundwater.

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, and Lisa Libby of B.E.S., look at the creek restoration work done at the “Brownwood Site” in outer East Portland.

Walking Portland’s environmental talk
At the main work area, we meet Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams. “This is a major project to undo some anti-environmental work done by the WPA,” he confirms. “This is a major step forward; restoring the habitat for fish and wildlife, here on the East Powell Butte flood plain.”

Adams says that the $5 million cost of the project is well spent. “In spite of the fact that Portland has a ‘very green city’ self-identity, we still have major environmental issues to address‚ especially in this area of Portland. We still have two species of salmon that are endangered, because of the poor health of Johnson Creek.”

The commissioner says restoration projects like this are a “point of personal passion for me. I want to see Portland ‘walk its talk’ in terms of environmental responsibility.

“Beyond helping the environment, a practical benefit restoring the original ecosystem of the floodplain — above the more populated areas — is that it will prevent flooding in the commercial and residential districts downstream.”

J.C. Watershed Counsel grants $600,000
While touring the restoration site, we learn from the executive director of the Johnson creek Watershed Council, Michelle Bussard, that the group worked with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to develop a $600,000 fund for the project.

“This project really represents our values around the health and prosperity of our watershed. This is putting our money where our mouth is.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Whether you’re in the mood for a light-hearted comedy‚ or a touching story of family relationships‚ plan now to see “LUV” or “On Golden Pond”, presented by the Mt. Hood Rep., opening July 27‚

Portraying as Norman and Ethel Thayer, Jane Fellows and Tobias Andersen star in “On Golden Pond”; a moving story featuring universal themes of mortality, family relationships, marriage, and generations.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If you’d like to spice up your summer by enjoying three professional theatrical programs‚ you don’t have to brave the torn-up streets downtown, not to mention not having to fight for a parking space and spend a small fortune for tickets.

Instead, plan now to take in all three productions offered this season by the professional actors and entertainers from the Mt. Hood Repertory Theater Company. The productions are on stage from July 29 through August 19.

On Golden Pond
See how the lives of a tart-tongued retired professor and his wife‚ Norman and Ethel Thayer‚ change, when their peaceful country life is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of their grandson.

Norman revels in taking his youthful ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, but he finds he’s schooled in modern teenage awareness and slang in return.

Will Norman die from a heart attack? Or, will he and Ethel be granted another summer next year, on Golden Pond?

Come, and you’ll see how some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest actors‚ Tobias Andersen, Jane Fellows, and former Miss Oregon Beth McShane‚ bring this warm and moving 1978 off-Broadway hit to life.

On Golden Pond opens on July 27 and plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m., through August 19, 2007.
_____________________________________

LUV

This satire explores, in comedic terms, what “love” means to each of us: How much do you love me? How much should I love you? What will you do for me if you love me? What happiness (or pain or sorrow or heartbreak or joy) will loving you bring me?

Milt Manville meets an old college friend, Harry Berlin, after sixteen years. Milt is in an unhappy marriage to Ellen, and he wants Harry to fall in love with Ellen, so that he can then marry someone else.

Harry and Ellen meet, and do fall in love immediately‚ with unintended consequences. We’re warning you‚ from the scenes we’ve previewed‚ be ready for a comedy filled with non-stop, side-splitting laughter.

The script is great, but the comedic abilities of David Meyers (as Milt Manville), Liz Young (as Ellen Manville), and Patrick Wohlmut (as Harry Berlin) make this zany comedy sparkle.

LUV also opens on July 27 (in the Mt. Hood Studio Theater) and plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m.; Sundays: 2:00 p.m. through August 19, 2007.
____________________________

Down through The Decades: A Musical Revue
During the summer season on Sunday nights, the cabin “On Golden Pond” has new occupants!

Come see a seasoned group of veteran musical theatre powerhouse talent assemble with one goal in mind: to write the ultimate “musical theatre revue”. It’s like “A Prairie Home Companion” meets “The Big Chill” for a night at “The Tony Awards”.

This hilarious and gifted group of friends sing through the mega-hits and flops “down through the decades” of Broadway favorites.

Songs from George M. Cohan to Stephen Sondheim, from George Gershwin to Rodgers and Hammerstein‚ and several other composers thrown in‚ make this an evening of music and mirth you’ll long remember.

Down Through the Decades plays on two Sunday evenings, August 5th and 12th; curtain time is 7:00 p.m.

Buy your tickets now!
All these plays perform in The Mt. Hood Community College Theater Main Stage and Studio Theatres.

Plan now, and buy your tickets. Call (503) 491-5950, or buy online at www.mthoodrep.org

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Whether you’re in the mood for a light-hearted comedy‚ or a touching story of family relationships‚ plan now to see “LUV” or “On Golden Pond”, presented by the Mt. Hood Repertory Theater Company right now …

Portraying as Norman and Ethel Thayer, Jane Fellows and Tobias Andersen star in “On Golden Pond”; a moving story featuring universal themes of mortality, family relationships, marriage, and generations.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If you’d like to spice up your summer by enjoying three professional theatrical programs ‚Äì you don’t have to brave the torn-up streets downtown, not to mention not having to fight for a parking space and spend a small fortune for tickets.

Instead, plan now to take in all three productions offered this season by the professional actors and entertainers from the Mt. Hood Repertory Theater Company. The productions are on stage NOW through August 19.

On Golden Pond
Wait — please read this ….Based on seeing the movie, we considered not going to see the play. But, we discovered that this presentation is NOT a “live action version” of the movie. The MOVIE is slow and sappy.

This show sparkles. This On Golden Pond — the original Broadway play — is funny, snappy, sassy, fast-moving, light-hearted and delightful. The entire cast works magic on stage. When the show ended, audience members (including us) jumped to their feet to give a standing ovation — as if a chior director instructed church members to stand.

After the show, the comment most heard repeated by patrons was, “Wow! I didn’t much care for the movie, but this show is GREAT!”

The story …
See how the lives of a tart-tongued retired professor and his wife‚ Norman and Ethel Thayer‚ change, when their peaceful country life is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of soon-to-be their grandson.

Norman revels in taking his youthful ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, but he finds he’s schooled in modern teenage awareness and slang in return.

Will Norman die from a heart attack? Or, will he and Ethel be granted another summer next year, on Golden Pond?

Come, and you’ll see how some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest actors ‚Äì Tobias Andersen, Jane Fellows, and former Miss Oregon Beth McShane, Doug Richardson, William Barry and Tanner Ward as young Billy Ray, bring this warm and moving 1978 off-Broadway hit to life.

On Golden Pond plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m., through August 19, 2007. Highly Recommended.
_____________________________________

LUV

This satire explores, in comedic terms, what “love” means to each of us: How much do you love me? How much should I love you? What will you do for me if you love me? What happiness (or pain or sorrow or heartbreak or joy) will loving you bring me?

Milt Manville meets an old college friend, Harry Berlin, after sixteen years. Milt is in an unhappy marriage to Ellen, and he wants Harry to fall in love with Ellen, so that he can then marry someone else.

Harry and Ellen meet, and do fall in love immediately,  with unintended consequences. We’re warning you‚ from the scenes we’ve previewed‚ be ready for a comedy filled with non-stop, side-splitting laughter.

The script is great, but the comedic abilities of David Meyers (as Milt Manville), Liz Young (as Ellen Manville), and Patrick Wohlmut (as Harry Berlin) make this zany comedy sparkle.

LUV (in the Mt. Hood Studio Theater) and plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m.; Sundays: 2:00 p.m. through August 19, 2007.
____________________________

Down through The Decades: A Musical Revue
During the summer season on Sunday nights, the cabin “On Golden Pond” has new occupants!

Come see a seasoned group of veteran musical theatre powerhouse talent assemble with one goal in mind: to write the ultimate “musical theatre revue”. It’s like “A Prairie Home Companion” meets “The Big Chill” for a night at “The Tony Awards”.

This hilarious and gifted group of friends sing through the mega-hits and flops “down through the decades” of Broadway favorites.

Songs from George M. Cohan to Stephen Sondheim, from George Gershwin to Rodgers and Hammerstein‚ and several other composers thrown in‚ make this an evening of music and mirth you’ll long remember.

Down Through the Decades plays on two Sunday evenings, August 5th and 12th; curtain time is 7:00 p.m.

Buy your tickets now!
All these plays perform in The Mt. Hood Community College Theater Main Stage and Studio Theatres.

Plan now, and buy your tickets. Call (503) 491-5950, or buy online at www.mthoodrep.org

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

In a moment of inattention, this trucker did more than just disrupt traffic on SE Powell Blvd.; he shut down a neighborhood’s water service for a day. See why he’s really in hot water now‚

Portland Water Bureau officials Mark Behnke and David Shaff update Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard on the progress of the water main repair on S.E. Powell Boulevard.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The newest swimming hole in SE Portland suddenly appeared on July 17‚ but it wasn’t at a community center. It was in the middle of on SE 64th Ave., just feet north of SE Powell Blvd.

Police officials say 62-year-old David Kipp backed the flatbed trailer of his semi-truck into a fire hydrant at 10:45 am that morning, snapping it off.

Soon, water from the 8″ water main below the street started bubbling up, rupturing the pavement and eventually creating a large‚ and deep‚ hole filled with churning muddy water.

When we arrive to inspect the damage, crews have already shut off the water and drained the hole. We see Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who’s in charge of the Portland Water Bureau.

“In Portland, our fire hydrants don’t spout like a geyser when they’re hit,” Leonard tells us. Pointing to the hydrant, laying its side, he adds, “They’re made to break off cleanly, and a valve then shuts off the water.”

Fire hydrants, like this one, are designed to snap off cleanly and shut off a below-ground water valve. The system worked; but the stress of the impact broke the cast iron water main below the street.

But not this time. In this case, Leonard says, the team of water bureau responders told him the shock of the hydrant being struck on the surface transferred down to the cast-iron water main below, rupturing it.

“I didn’t come out to supervise, I love to learn how things work,” Leonard states. “I’m here to let the crew know I appreciate what they do. They aren’t going home tonight; they’ll stay here until the water is turned back on.”

The commissioner comments that the water bureau crews remind him of firefighters. “They respond fast, they are well trained to deal with these emergencies, and they are well equipped. They work under some really unpleasant conditions, to get the job done; and, they stay on the job, working continuously, until water service is restored.”

This Portland Water Bureau crew works into the night to repair the broken water main on Powell Boulevard caused by a careless driver clipping a fire hydrant.

More than the inconvenience this incident caused for the 29,000 motorists who drive on SE Powell Boulevard every day, and for the neighborhood that went without water for a day, the full financial consequences of this driver’s inattention are still being tallied up.

In addition to the ticket for “Careless Driving”, Leonard says the city will be sending the water main repair invoice to Kipp’s insurance company. “It’s going to be expensive, but the citizens shouldn’t be stuck with the bill.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Why do Multnomah County Jail inmates volunteer to strenuous work, in difficult conditions in hot weather? Find out why convicted crooks offer to help clean up their community right here‚

A county jail inmate helps the community by painting out graffiti on the columns under the Ross Island Bridge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Anyone who has been along the Springwater Trail has seen the graffiti on the pillars and abutments under the Ross Island Bridge‚ just down from the homeless refuge, “the caves”, under S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

“Graffiti is a precursor to other crimes,” says Multnomah Count Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Lt. Jason Gates. “It invites other inappropriate activities. By leaving graffiti up, it sends the message that community will tolerate crime. And, it takes away from the livability of the area.”

By organizing a graffiti paint-out crew, Gates explains, “We’re trying to send a message to the people who are committing these crimes that we’re reclaiming this area; we’re taking it back from them.”

Inmate Dwight Golden and MCSO Sgt. Tina Breiten prepare to lower more buckets of paint down to the worksite.

Crooks serve community
The volunteers painting out graffiti at this particular June 26 project aren’t from the neighborhoods or schools. They’re convicted criminals.

We learn from MCSO Sgt. Tina Breiten that not all county convicts are satisfied sitting out their sentence in their cell. Some inmates, like Dwight Golden, prefer to volunteer for work details‚ even when tasks are in hot, dirty, and difficult conditions.

Coming up for more paint supplies, Golden tells us, “I like being out here in the sun and fresh air. Panting out graffiti is good. It makes it look nicer. I’m glad to be on this work program today.”

Multiple benefits from inmate work program
Only non-violent offenders, Sgt. Breiten confirms, are allowed on the work details. “It gives them the opportunity to pay back to the community. It allows them to prepare to transition back into the public. Some of our inmates need to learn the most basic of job skills‚ like getting up in the morning and going to work.”

After scrambling down the steep bank, inmate Golden is ready to take more supplies down to the cleanup site under the Ross Island Bridge.

Both “good time” and “work time” cuts down the non-violent offender’s sentence, says Breiten. “This system gives us the opportunity to free up some jail beds for the hardened, violent criminals that come into the jail system.”

Inmate work crew projects also help reduce tensions inside the jail, adds Breiten. “Doing physical labor helps inmates to ‘work out tensions’ that otherwise build up when they’re just sitting, day in and day out, in the jail. Instead of thinking about their next crime, they’re thinking about becoming productive in our community.”

ODOT partnership
Portland’s spokesman for Oregon Department of Transportation, Dave Thompson, arrives on-site and tells us how the MCSO inmate crews helps the state highway agency: “When we can use inmate crews, it helps the workers, and improves the community at the same time. This is a great use of taxpayer money.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Some drivers grumble about the camera systems that automatically generate traffic tickets for red-light-runners. Here’s another reason you’ll soon be seeing such systems in outer East Portland‚

Witnesses say the driver of this silver Mazda (foreground) blew through the red light at SE 103rd Avenue, and struck the green Toyota Camry with such impact, it was spun around facing west on SE Washington Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
According to Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officials, automatic camera systems designed to catch motorists who speed through red lights will soon be installed in outer East Portland.

Between assignments, we heard a police radio call on July 21, saying a car was hit broadside at SE Washington St at SE 103rd Avenue. We drove over to take a look.

Witnesses told us they saw a silver Mazda, heading eastbound on SE Washington Street, shoot through the red light at SE 103rd Avenue at about 11:45 a.m.

“It looked like Mazda’s driver stepped on the gas,” reported Becky Holsted who said she was waiting for a bus as the event unfolded. “The silver car smacked right into the side of the Camry. It was going north on SE 103rd Avenue on a green light.”

Because one driver took a risk and blew a red light, another driver was sent to the hospital and his car was demolished. Police say this is a high price to pay for trying to arrive at your destination a few seconds earlier.

The T-boned Camry was hit so hard, it spun 90-degrees, coming to rest facing westbound in the eastbound lanes of SE Washington Street. The driver was injured; the side-impact victim was put on a backboard and rushed to Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

Cops say red-light cameras save lives
Preparing a story we’ll publishing soon about the new “red light cameras”, we spoke with Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division.

“The most serious crashes that occur at intersections are caused by someone running a red light,” Costello told us. These ‘turning and angle crashes’ are 2.5 times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes. Adding more cameras will further decrease these types of crashes,” said Costello.

In this area of the Gateway district, Costello said the city in the process of installing the red-light camera systems at SE Stark St. at 99th Avenue (19 red light crashes in the past year) and at SE Stark Street at 102nd Avenuie (due to 44 red light crashes).

“No matter how pressed for time you are, please stop for red lights,” commented the Portland City Commissioner in charge of PDOT, Sam Adams. “Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you and someone else. Red-light-running has very serious consequences.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Will the blistering heat wave continue? Learn what the meteorologist for the National Weather Service‚ located on NE 122nd Ave.‚ predicts for the next few weeks, right here‚

A sign of the times: The Bank of the West sign, at SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Division Street, indicates what everyone knows‚ it’s darn hot here!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On July 10, the expected cell phone text message from our brother arrives: “Hot enough for ya?”

We put this inane question to Kirk Kurchel, owner of Kurchel Heating and Air Conditioning, as he arrives at the Love Boutique on SE 122 Avenue to investigate why the novelty store’s air conditioning conked out. As he sets up his ladder, he remarks, “This weather makes me a very popular guy, it seems.”

“You think it’s hot out here‚  it’s hotter up there,” Kurchel tells us. In minutes, he climbs down the ladder and reports, “The AC unit isn’t getting power from PGE; one of the phases is out.” Store owner Donna Dionne tells us that PGE crews removed a barbecued squirrel from the transformer hours later; her air conditioner again quickly floods her store with cool comfort.

Beating the heat, kids in Powellhurst-Gilbert’s Raymond Park make good use of the water feature installed by Portland Parks & Recreation in 2005. A fully-dressed parent, sitting in the shade of nearby trees, says, “I’m about ready to join them!”

Las Vegas weather moves north
We ask Dan Keirns, meteorologist with the National Weather Service‚ located here in outer NE Portland‚ if Tuesday’s temperature record-breaking heat wave would continue.

“According to our records going back well over 100 years,” Keirns tells us, “at 102 degrees, we did set a new record high temperature for July 10.”

Our sweltering heat wave was due, Keirns informs us, to a large area mass of high pressure anchored over the Pacific Northwest. “Also, there was a condition we call a ‘heat low pressure’ that developed out of the Great Basin; this allowed us to share hot weather typical of Las Vegas. The pattern of high heat extended up into Canada.”

The sign at Division Crossing, on SE 122nd Avenue at Division Street, confirms our record-high temperatures.

As the weather system shifted, it allowed rain to move northward from the south coast, adds Keirns. “Our rain on July 12 was spotty; the most reported was a tenth of an inch. There were a few [storm] cells that made pretty good rain.”

‘Normal’ summer weather to resume
“The [hot weather] ridge is moving the east, and a trough of low pressure is moving in. We’ll be moving to more seasonal temperatures, around the 80 degree mark, throughout next week,” forecasts Keirns.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why the folks who live in this unique community love their traditions‚ like a July 4th Parade and potluck picnic‚

Many adults, and most of the kids of the City of Maywood Park, pose for their annual “community portrait”, taken before they parade through the neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
They don’t advertise their parade; people don’t camp out to hold their prized “spot” along the route. The citizens of the City of Maywood Park don’t hold their July 4th Parade to encourage tourism or improve their image in the world.

“We love our traditions,” comments the mayor of this small city, which is surrounded by Portland, snuggled in the northeast corner of the intersection of interstate freeways 205 and 84.

We can’t help it‚ we tell the mayor how much his city reminds us of television’s fictional “Mayberry USA“.

“In many ways, we are like the Mayberry that was depicted on TV,” Mayor Hardie says with a broad smile. “The City of Maywood Park is a nice, quiet, comfortable place to live.”

Hardie’s official proclamation for Independence Day is simple: “Have a safe, enjoyable day together.”

Another tradition on this day is the “Community Photograph” taken by professional photographer, Patrick Smith.

Mary Jo and Jeff Steffen — City of Maywood Park’s Citizens of the Year

Citizen of the Year named
As Mayor Hardie helps organize the photo, we meet Maywood Park’s “Citizen of the Year”, Jeff Steffen.

“I lived here with my parents in 1959,” Steffen says. “We lived on a wooded lot right over there,” he says, pointing to an area that’s now the I-205 freeway.

We learn Steffen was the city’s mayor at one time, and has served as the city attorney for “let’s say — a long, long time. Long before the city of Portland tried to annex us. It is a feeling of camaraderie I don’t think I’d get anywhere else. It truly has a small-town feel, while being surrounded by a big city.”

The City of Maywood Park parade is on the march!

Parade grows as it goes
It doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes for the parade, led by Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies in a patrol car, playing Susa marches over their PA system‚ to complete the route around the neighborhood.

As we’ve noted in past years, this is one of the few parades that end larger than they begin. Neighbors who aren’t satisfied simply to watch the parade go by join in the throng.

Following the parade, residents get together for an old-fashioned potluck barbecue; and later, for “safe and sane” fireworks.

“These traditional events are important,” Hardie explains, “because our people have a proud heritage in Maywood Park. We’re proud to be separate from the City of Portland. We feel it is important to gather several times a year to meet and greet one another. Our newcomers meet established families. Events like our July 4 Celebration gives us a strong sense of community.”

While it isn’t the biggest summertime event around, the City of Maywood Park’s Independence Day Parade and Celebration certainly feels like it has the most “heart”.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Members of the “Parkrose Posse” are out to get ya‚ to come to the 10th Annual Barn Bash, that is‚

Members of the “Parkrose Posse” hope to see you at 10th Annual Barn Bash!

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
On July 14, hundreds of folks will be dressing down and heading to Parkrose for the “10th Annual Rossi Farms Barn Bash”.

This great 21-and-over event, held every year at Rossi Farms, raises money for the Parkrose Youth Activities Fund. More than 30 area sponsors donate food, services, or money, to underwrite the event.

The $12 entrance fee buys an all-you-can-eat BBQ chicken dinner, cooked up by the Parkrose Lions Club‚ and they really know how to cook chicken right. The dinner is served from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

For entertainment, patrons can take in the Wild Western Action Show performed by Turkey Creek Productions‚ it’s a blast (or two!). These professional actors, dressed in authentic costuming, portray the rough-and-tumble activities one might see in Parkrose a century ago. There’s as much humor as action, in the scenes they present.

Also, in the barn, visitors may choose to dance to live country music provided by The Last Rodeo Band.

Sip premium craft beers donated by the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company at the no-host bar (you pay, but the cost is reasonable).

Check outer East Portland stores for tickets, or buy at the gate. The fun starts at 6:00 p.m., and it runs until midnight.

Rossi Farms is located at 3839 NE 122nd Ave. at NE Shaver Street.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

They say it looked like sticks of dynamite; read what authorities say they actually found in this home improvement store‚

As the crew of Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 12 prepares to leave, employees and shoppers head back into the Home Depot store on N.E. Glenn Widing Drive — after standing in the heat on Portland’s hottest July 10 in history.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Authorities speculate it was a prank that cleared the Home Depot store, just north of NE Airport Way, just after 4:00 p.m. on July 10.

But it wasn’t a laughing matter to the customers and employees of the store‚ made to wait outside, on the scorching parking lot pavement, for more than an hour‚ in 104 degree heat.

Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman John Hill said fire crews were initially sent out on a call about a fire in a bathroom. When they investigated, they found a “suspicious package there with, what looked like sticks of dynamite with fuses.”

After the bomb squad finds smoke bombs, not high explosives, police break down their safety perimeter around the store. In the background, workers take shelter from the blazing sun in the shadow of the closed CompUSA store.

After fighting their way through late-afternoon traffic, the Portland Police Bureau’s bomb squad investigated the potential bomb. Their conclusion: the sticks were, most likely, a commercial smoke bomb.

Officials say there was no danger of an explosion, and no one was hurt.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Police confirm that the vehicle which killed the boy was driven by his 21-year-old sister; but officials say they’re still sorting out exactly what happened‚

Late into the evening investigators from city and county agencies work to figure out why a 7-year-old boy was killed on a residential street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This case starts with a 5:00 p.m. call to 9-1-1, reporting that there is a fatal collision between pedestrian and vehicle in the 2700 block of SE 153rd Avenue, about a block south of SE Division Street, on July 12th.

Soon, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team investigators, the bureau’s Homicide Division, and an investigator with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Child Abuse team try, with limited success, to unravel how and why a 7-year-old boy is dead.

“Upon arrival, officers found a deceased boy, 7-year-old Denis Onofreychuk, in the driveway of a residence,” reports police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “Investigators believe the boy died after being hit by a car driven by his sister, 21-year-old Valentina Yarovenko.”

Initial statements by members of the family indicate that the collision occurred at, or near, the location where the child was found, says Schmautz. “Witness statements and physical evidence contradicted this information.”

At least one witness tells officers that the child was running next to, or perhaps hanging on, the car, as it was southbound on SE 153rd Avenue. Subsequent interviews with detectives, who use an interpreter for the interviews, help to bridge the perceived gap between the initial statements and the subsequent interviews.

On-scene, we attempt to interview several of the numerous people gathered nearby‚ but none of them will speak with us.

“At this time no one is in custody or being detained in connection with the investigation. An autopsy is scheduled, and detectives are continuing the investigation,” Schmautz adds.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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