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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Some folks say we should give our kids healthier foods. See how this Centennial-area school is growing fresh snacks for students‚ and neighbors‚ to enjoy‚

budding arborists Alex Pereira, Jack Ollenbrook, and Wiliam Ollenbrook help Patty Hicks, Centennial Neighborhood Association board member, prepare the soil in which grape plant starts will be set.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Thanks to the work of a school, volunteers and a neighborhood grant, a “feast for those on foot” will soon be growing along the fence at the Franciscan Montessori Earth School, just off SE Division St. on 148th Avenue, in the Centennial neighborhood.

“We’re calling this the ‘Eatable Schoolyard/Eatable Sidewalk,’ Project,” explains the groundskeeper, Marc Boucher-Colbert.

Talia and Kaya Koida-Jeffrey help Marc Boucher-Colbert dig the holes for the new grape plants.

“The idea is to promote a sense of community. In a couple of years as people are walking by, they’ll be able to reach out and grab a healthy snack. And, students will be able to come over and graze of a few grapes, too. We’re joining together with our community to promote healthy eating,” says Boucher-Colbert.

He says he first got the idea when he learned of an “Eatable Schoolyard” project in California. “We have so much property here‚ and a kind of ugly chain-link fence. It made sense to grow some grapes!”

They’re growing six varieties of table grapes, both red and green seedless varieties. The plants, provided by a nursery in Molalla, were chosen because they thrive in Portland’s climate.

Marc Boucher-Colbert says six varieties of seedless table grapes will grace the school’s sidewalk.

Neighborhood coalition funds project
East Portland Neighborhood Office’s Richard Bixby is on hand to watch the planting.

Bixby explains how it was funded, telling us, “The city has provided for a neighborhood grant program this year. It supports community-building projects like these. The grants are approved for projects that are designed to gather people together, around a common effort, to improve their community.”

Franciscan Montessori Earth School
holds ‘Earth Carnival’

Duncan Tharp and mom Teri at the Toilet Bowl Toss.

“Welcome to our Franciscan Montessori Earth Day Carnival,” greets Edie Chomajan, chair of the event.

“We have all kinds of things here. Our carnival games are all earth-preservation minded. But the main focus is on having fun,” Chomajan adds. “We chose this theme because we are the Franciscan Montessori Earth School‚ a great way for us to tie in with one of our founding themes.”

Megan and Roy Wagner enjoy the tunes of banjo player Paul Silveria.

The Burgerville kitchen crew is Trevor Stanner, Kristin Knight-Stanner, manager Joe Tharp, Christina Duplantis. Back working the grill is Steve Cox.

The aroma of Tillamook Cheeseburgers, hot off the grill, signals that Burgerville is partnering with yet another non-profit organization. “What we’re doing is providing meals today,” Joe Tharp manager of 92nd & Powell Burgerville says, “and donating all the proceeds back to the school.”

Dewayne Hatcher and daughter Sarah have fun at the Coin Toss.

In addition to providing Earth-Day-themed fun, Chomajan says the event is great way for students, families and the community to come together.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Individuals from Parkrose neighborhoods, businesses, and schools are hatching a “Master Plan” for their community. Learn why they’re doing it‚ and what they hope to accomplish‚

Leading off the Parkrose Community Workshop, Parkrose Neighborhood Association Chair Marcy Emerson-Peters welcomes the diverse group of outer NE Portland citizens who came to have a part in planning their area’s future.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While the participants of the Parkrose Community Workshop, held at the high school on April 24, came from all walks of life, they all agreed that to succeed in the future, the community needs to plan, now.

Welcoming people to the well-attended meeting, Parkrose Neighborhood Association chair, Marcy Emerson-Peters told the group why she’s involved: “I grew up here and returned to Parkrose after school.”

Because residents and business people believe Portland’s planning bureau hasn’t made a real plan for the future of Parkrose, Emerson-Peters said it is up to community members to plan for their success.

“Do we need all the porn shops? Do we need more motels? Do we need businesses that bring in family-wage jobs?” Emerson-Peters asked. “We’ll discuss these questions, and more, tonight.”

Portland Planning Bureau’s Barry Manning introduces the PSU study team.

Supported by Portland Planning Bureau
Barry Manning, Portland’s East District Planner, has helped-along the group’s process.

“I got involved in the Parkrose Vision Committee,” Manning told us. “The idea is to figure out how to make Parkrose a more successful place. Sandy is the main street of Parkrose. We’re working to discover how this area can best meet the current, and future, needs of its citizens.”

Manning enlisted the aid of Portland State University students. “They are providing technical analysis to help the community move forward.”

Wearing their green T-Shirts, PSU Masters Degree planning students listen as Todd Johnson, far right, tells how they’ve worked with the Parkrose Vision Committee and describes the activities planed for the workshop.

Student planners pitch in
Todd Johnson was the spokesperson and lead facilitator for his fellow students in PSU’s Urban and Regional Planning educational track. He, as well as the other five team members, completing their Masters degrees.

“Our ‘final assignment’ is to conduct an urban planning project in the Portland area,” commented Johnson.

He said the group of Masters-degree candidates was looking for a project that required multiple disciplines and talents. “Our group has diversity of skills, talents and interests. This community lent itself to this kind of project. It is a good fit.”

Presentation is followed by planning tasks
During a brief PowerPoint presentation, members showed the group their statistical research findings.

  • Demographics – Neighborhood population has grown an average of 2% a year over the past two decades. Age distribution indicates residents of Parkrose are slightly younger than in other areas of Portland. The median annual income is slightly lower in Parkrose; about $34,000, versus $40,000 in most other neighborhoods.
  • Economics‚ Much of the commercial property along the main business corridor, NE Sandy Blvd., is priced between $10 and 15 dollars per sq. ft. This rate is lower than in St. Johns or Alberta ‚Äì and much lower than in the Hollywood district.
  • Transportation‚ Streetscapes have been improved, as investment in turn lanes and other features have been added. The average daily traffic count is 12,000‚ not much higher than other major Portland boulevards.
  • Main Streets‚ Sandy Blvd is considered a “main street” ‚Äì this allows for business development. The area is public-transportation-friendly.
  • Truck Solume — Along the Columbia corridor, Sandy Blvd. isn’t considered a main freight route, as is NE Airport Way or Marine Drive. Yet, a significant amount of truck freight moves along Sandy Blvd.

Neighbors, business people and other interested citizens sit around tables in small groups and ponder three questions regarding the future of Parkrose.

After the presentation, the workshop attendees participated in a small-group exercise, answering three questions:

  1. What would bring you to Sandy Blvd. more often?
  2. Ten years from now, what would you like other people to think of Sandy Blvd.?
  3. What three things would make Parkrose better?

The participants’ answers were aggregated; then attendees ranked each concept by importance.

Earl DeKay (four generations of his family have been educated in Parkrose schools) and Joe Rossi look over the “Parkrose Assets Map” being used in the planning project.

Also, participants were asked to write and post comments on an “asset map” of Parkrose‚ and along a hallway-long panorama of Sandy Blvd.

Results unveiled on June 5
Johnson told us the final result of the project will be a document. It will include goals and recommendations for the use of the Parkrose Vision Committee members.

If you are interested in discovering their findings, come to Parkrose High School on June 5 at 7:00 pm.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

With homes now ringing Powell Butte, wildfire management at this natural park is more critical then ever. See what officials are doing to reduce the danger, and to improve the natural habitat‚

Mart Hughes, Portland Parks and Recreation, shows Powell Butte neighbors Jim Kreipe and Tom Rush the plans to improve the native habitat and reduce the risk of wildfires on Powell Butte.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With its great views of downtown Portland, the Columbia River, and Mt. Hood, Powell Butte is a great place to hike, ride bikes, and to ride on horseback.

But when a fire gets started, the rugged terrain makes firefighting difficult‚ even for 4-wheel drive “brush rigs”.

“We’re here talking about the work we started September,” says Gay Greger, a public relations staff member of Portland Parks & Recreation. “This is part of a three-year FEMA grant that targets Powell Butte, the Willamette Escarpment (Willamette Bluffs and Oaks Bottom area), and Forest Park.”

This project, Greger continues, allows the bureau to consider the ecological health of Powell Butte. “At the same time, we’re reducing the risk of wildfire. This is for both the butte itself, and the natural resources it represents. We also take into account what this means for the neighbors that live adjacent to the butte.”

Along with the staff from the parks bureau, Portland Fire & Rescue representatives are also on hand at that April 21 open house.

The next step, Greger adds, is for the bureau to finalize its project list. “Based on the feedback we get today, others we receive through the comment period, we’ll start implementing these projects this summer.”

Tamra Dickinson, co-president, Friends of Powell Butte looks at both the progress and plans made for Powell Butte.

Butte ‘Friends’ enthusiastic
It’s great seeing so many people caring about Powell Butte, and coming to see what’s happening,” co-president of Friends of Powell Butte, Tamra Dickinson says.

“We’re concerned about wildfire. Beyond that, there are other important things to be accomplished, like removing non-native species of plants, and habitat management. It’s really important that we keep views open. It’s is really a great thing for Powell Butte.”

Details the plan
Mark Wilson, project manager for the FEMA Wildfire Hazard Reduction Project for the greater Portland area, is also on hand.

Wilson point out that the project has multiple goals:

  • Reduce wildfire hazards;
  • Reduce populating of non-native plants, focus on flammable plants;
  • Improve wildlife habitat;
  • Maintain scenic views; and,
  • Maintain grass over existing and proposed water facilities.

“Part of this work we’re doing is creating a project that is maintainable over time,” Wilson adds. “This is a 50-year project; we’re taking the first steps today.”

Join the Friends of Powell Butte. They meet every third Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the old Powell Valley Water building‚ now the home of Human Solutions‚ at 123rd and Powell Blvd.

Read more about the project online by going to:

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why we’re surprised that “Flawed Genius” is playing in SE Portland‚ instead of a large, downtown theater‚ and why you should plan to attend this weekend,

The “Flawed Genius” portrayed by Barnaby King isn’t a baggy-pants comic‚ instead, he takes his audiences on an emotional journey that is entertaining and oddly moving.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After traveling the world, and presenting his one-man show at festivals across Canada, Barnaby King — a most unusual entertainer — has come to settle in Portland.

Barnaby is a clown. Please read on‚ he doesn’t blow up balloons or do birthday parties!

We meet Barnaby in a rehearsal studio as he prepares to present his show, “Flawed Genius”, this weekend in SE Portland.

“When most folks think of a clown, they envision baggy-pant, pie-in-the-face, pratfall-taking circus clown,” begins Barnaby.

“Circus clowns performances are geared for huge spaces; thus they broadly play out larger-than-life gags. My performance is theatrical. It is based partly on a Native American concept of clowns: Facing all directions of one’s self at the same time and laughing at the beauty of one’s own ridiculousness.”

This English chap says he heard about an instructor in Toronto, Canada, who was teaching this concept. “Susan Morrison helped me develop this show, based on European clowning.”

Barnaby, an entertainer described as “The thinking man’s clown”, emotes at his magical piano.

In this show, he continues, he conveys emotions most people don’t wish to express. “Through this show, I hope to help audience members get in touch with what it means to be human. I share this in a unique and intimate way.”

Because he draws “on the moment”, Barnaby says each show is different and unique. “I want to inspire people; move them in some way.”

After his Canadian tour, Barnaby says he came to Portland, and met Molly, the love of his life. “We’re being married this fall.”

See “Flawed Genius” May 11-12
In his show, you’ll see Barnaby with the full sized piano that he plays and climbs over, and from which he extracts the battered paraphernalia of his life. The show runs two days at Performance Works Northwest, 4625 SE 67th Ave, just off SE Foster Rd. Tickets at the door; show time is at 8:00 p.m. For ticket information, call (503) 777-1907.

To learn more about Barnaby, his show and workshops he leads, click HERE.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Wonder why southbound traffic on I-205 was at a standstill, midday, on May 5th? The victims are still wondering, too. Read their story here‚

These two cars were too damaged to drive‚ and a man was sent to the hospital‚ because, on May 5, police say that one person was driving recklessly.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Imagine traveling south on I-205, just after noon, on a delightful sunny Saturday.

You’re driving in the inside lane, allowing motorists to enter and exit the freeway as you pass under the E Burnside St. viaduct.

From nowhere, a speeding car cuts off traffic, and smashes into your vehicle‚ sending it spinning into the guardrail.

When you come to a stop, you’re dazed and injured.

Portland Fire & Rescue medics stabilize Brandon Shaver‚ a victim of the accident‚ before transporting him to the hospital for an evaluation.

“I didn’t know how badly I was hurt,” Brandon Shaver, driver of the car into which the speeder smashed, told us after he got out of the hospital this week.

“It was scary,” adds his wife and the vehicle’s passenger, Carmen Hunt Shaver. “One minute you’re going along, and then, smash! A car is crashing into you.”

Traffic on I-205 is backed up across the river into Vancouver, as rescue crews clear the crash site between E Burnside and SE Stark Streets.

Says “Asleep at the wheel”
As we watch Brandon being whisked away in the waiting ambulance, we notice a young man being questioned at the scene.  He is taken away in handcuffs.

“The driver charged with the accident,” says Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Brian Schmautz informs us, “is 22-year-old Kiroll Zibrov.”

Police say Kiroll Zibrov claimed he was sleepy — but Portland Police Officers take him in in cuffs, arrested on a charge of Reckless Driving.

According to accident reports, Schmautz says, “Zibrov’s speed is estimated at 80 mph; he was driving all over the road. He lost control of vehicle, swerved and skidded into the victim’s vehicle. It is noted that he told officers he fell asleep while driving.”

Zibrov is under arrest for Reckless Driving, Schmautz adds.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Get a glimpse of the “first day on the job” in Parkrose — for Portland’s fire and rescue workers — by taking a look at this one‚

Directing a stream of water at flames at Portland Fire & Rescue’s “burning room” are newly-minted firefighters Chris Ivester and Stephen Scott.

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
“Is there anybody here,” firefighters call, as they enter the pitch-black, smoke-filled room on the third floor of an apartment building. They’re looking for fire victims. They pause, silencing their respirators, to listen for a response.

Today, there is no real structure fire. We’re watching‚ thanks to infrared cameras‚ recruits McKenzie Handley and Matthew Jensen drill on the third floor of Portland Fire & Rescue’s training tower, located just north of NE Sandy Blvd., on NE 122nd Avenue.

Although you can’t recognize them from their images in this infrared photo, firefighter recruits McKenzie Handley and Matthew Jensen are feeling their way around a blacked-out room, practicing rescue techniques they learned in the classroom.

Firefighters hired job-ready
For most people, the first day on a new job is the beginning of a career-long learning process.

But, when Portland Fire & Rescue hires a firefighter, they’re bringing on a recruit who already has attended a six-month training academy, practiced firefighting and emergency rescue drills hundreds of times, and has passed the academic portion of their training.

At another area of this complex, south of the “Towering Inferno”, the “burn room” is ablaze. Recruits Chris Ivester and Stephen Scott quickly quench the fire.

“They’ve just graduated from our Training Academy,” Training Lt. Charles Keeran informs us. “This is their first day at Station 2. We’re doing some simulated fire calls to test their skills. We’re evaluating how well their training has prepared them for working in live situations.”

Ivester, Scott, and their teammates performed well on this drill. But soon, Keeran initiates another scenario: Momentary confusion ensues, but the drill is successfully carried out.

“But, like on the first day you’re on any new job,” explains Keeran, “you’ve got to work out some of the kinks. We practice and drill until procedures become second nature.”

Firefighter Paramedic Specialist Krista Schade (looking down as she takes notes) evaluates the recruits’ performance moments before they go into service on their very first day as firefighters.

Evaluations aid learning
Firefighter paramedic specialist Krista Schade is working with the soon-to-be firefighters. “I’m doing their evaluations. We’re getting ready to go into operation.”

Schade tells us that her role in these exercises is to take detailed notes on the drills. “Afterward, we review their performance. They get immediate feedback about what they did well, and also on the skills on which they need to improve.”

We asked how much longer it would be until these hard-working recruits would be considered to be PF&R Firefighters.

Keeran smiles and answers, “About thirty minutes. When they pass this evaluation, we’ll put the rig in service, and they’ll be available to respond on calls.”

Taking a breather, Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Stephen Scott wipes his brow and says, “Working for the bureau is amazing. There is lot to learn‚ I love this work. I hope it’s like this for the rest of my career.”

Do you have what it takes? Contact Portland Fire & Rescue to learn if you have “the right stuff” to make their team. Click HERE to learn more!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Read how — when the real driver of the car that killed a bicyclist on SE Foster Road refuses to take responsibility — police arrest them both‚

A 58-year-old bicyclist’s life ended here, in the 11500 block of SE Foster Road on May 4. Two women who police say were both in the car that struck the cyclist each claim the other was driving.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

They’re both continue playing a game of “she did it”.

Police say one of two 28-year-old outer SE Portland women is responsible for ending the life of 58-year-old Jerry Alvin Hinatsu about 4:00 p.m. on May 5.

While they have their suspicions, authorities are still trying to determine for sure just who is responsible for the biker’s death.

When we arrive on scene, details of the accident are sketchy. The crumpled bicycle is near the driveway of the Franz Bakery Outlet Store. The victim lies nearby, his body covered with a yellow tarp.

A Portland Police East Precinct sergeant tells us there are few details.

As he talks, a patrol car drives past us, heading west, on SE Foster Road. A woman in the passenger’s seat is covering her face with her hands so we can’t photograph her. The patrol car disappears from view as it passes SE 111th Ave.

Officials say 28-year-old Sara Lance got out of the Honda after the accident; it then drove away, making it a hit-and-run felony. Officers now say they suspect Lance may actually have been the driver at the wheel when the cyclist was struck.

We ask why, if she is a witness, she’s hiding her face.

The sergeant says, “Right now, there’s a lot we don’t know about the case.”

The story unfolds
According to police reports, we learn cyclist Hinatsu is struck as he’s riding west, illegally pedaling the wrong way in the eastbound bike lane. He’s not wearing a helmet, either.

The 1991 Honda Accord that strikes and kills Hinatsu stops briefly, one individual gets out, and the car takes off.

“It may not have even been the driver’s fault at all,” comments Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Catherine Kent. “But when a driver leaves an accident scene, they’re committing a crime.”

Police say 28-year-old Cynthia Amaya may simply have been the passenger, at the time of the deadly accident; but she sped off after the impact, and someone ditched the car in Hillsboro.

“She did it”
Later, officials reveal 28-year-old SE Portland resident, Sara Ann Lance, got out of the Honda at the scene, before it fled. After intense questioning, she implicates her roommate, 28-year-old Cynthia Marie Amaya, as the driver at the time Hinatsu was struck down.

Police look for the Honda, hoping to find forensic evidence. It is later found in Hillsboro, abandoned.

Friday afternoon rush hour traffic backs up in every direction as police investigate the fatal accident on SE Foster Road.

“What we have are two women who are pointing the finger at each other,” Kent later explains.

On May 11, we check with Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Lt. Mark Kruger for an update.

“Amaya and Lance are still both charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Not Discharging the Duties of a Driver, Hindering Prosecution and Evidence Tampering in the case,” Kruger tells us. “Both women were lodged at Multnomah County Jail, but later released on their own recognizance while the investigation continues.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Subtly infused with popular music, this abbreviated adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic swirls with activity. See our exclusive photos of this show, which ends on May 12‚

In this modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s 1595 play, Romeo Montague (Tyree Harris) and Juliet Capulet (Jacquelle Davis) endure a brief and troubled romance.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783 brings to life William Shakespeare’s story concerning the fate of two young “star-cross’d lovers” in their current production, Romeo and Juliet.

The work, one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays, is considered to be the archetypal love story of all time; this version was adapted by the Parkrose High School theater instructor, Ms. Zena. Click HERE to read our full story about this production

Juliet asks Nurse (Mikki Boyt) to help her learn more about Romeo.

The hotheaded Tybalt Capulet (Austin Crumbley), the cousin of Juliet, lies mortally wounded in the arms of his mother, Lady Capulet (Meghan Hodge), after losing a sword fight to his rival, Romeo.

Music and movement accentuate dramatic effect
Zena’s terse editing of the multi-hour play makes this version move smartly along ‚Äì yet none of the emotion of this poignant tale is lost.

Unlike many modern adaptations, the actors speak their parts using Shakespeare’s language. “The difference is,” Zena says, “this adaptation ‘gets to the point’, so the scenes move along.”

From the opening moments, the stage comes alive, swirling with activity and intrigue, as Romeo first sees Juliet at a costume ball.

The soundtrack created by the troupe‚ featuring a variety of modern music‚ truly enhances the dramatic effect of the dialog.

Believing Juliet has poisoned herself, her father, Montague (Sterling Arkills), and Nurse prepare her for burial.

Juliet awakens from her sleeping potion in the family crypt, only to find her new husband, Romeo, has taken his life. Overcome with grief, she then follows him in death.

Limited seating available

Because of this unique seating arrangement, each performance will be limited to 150 audience members. Don’t miss out on “culture-made-fun”‚ call (503) 408-2621 to reserve your tickets today.

Romeo & Juliet
May 11 and 12

Tickets $5 for all patrons
7 p.m. curtain

“Black Box Theatre”
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver Street (at NE 122nd Ave.)

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Come to Midland Park’s 3rd Annual Plant Sale on May 20, and you’ll be buying one of the fine-quality native plants raised by these enterprising 4th Grade students‚

Ventura Park School fourth-grade students Shaina Grace, Jesse Cetz, Andrew Eblen and Tanya Pezchenko are just a few of Ronnda Stapleton’s students who raised and tended these plants for sale on May 20 at Midland Park.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Walking into their greenhouse, we are amazed to see all the beautiful native Oregon plants raised and tended by students at Ventura Park School.

“The thirty students in my fourth-grade class have raised and cared for these plants,” explains their teacher, Ronnda Stapleton.

“This project helps our students learn to take ownership‚ to take care of‚ something that is not theirs,” explains Stapleton. “We will be selling these plants at the Midland Park Native Plant sale.”

The teacher said her students started working on this project in January. “The money they raise from the plant sale will go to support their Oregon Trail Trip. And, it will help us beautify our school’s courtyard.”

Native Plant Sale at Midland Park is May 20
The Jane’s Park Group is bringing in top quality native plants, we learn from volunteer Linda Robinson. “Some were purchased bare root, then nurtured; some were dug up from volunteers’ yards, and a few were donated by the Portland Parks Bureau.”

Robinson adds that informational displays and literature will be available about native plants, naturescaping, urban wildlife habitat and more. “The sale helps raise funds for events at the park, including completion of the new butterfly garden,” says Robinson.

The sale runs on Sunday, May 20 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at Midland Park — just behind Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It’s Fun-O-Rama time again in Gateway! Get ACCURATE information about the May 19 parade and community fair right here‚

GABA board members show off their new street banner promoting the May 19 Gateway Fun-O-Rama.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Once again, it’s time for the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) May frolic!

The GABA Golf-O-Rama is scheduled for May 12th at Glendoveer Golf Course.  Proceeds from this fun tournament‚ featuring players from the neighborhood and business, plus government dignitaries‚ helps fund college scholarships for local high school seniors.

It wouldn’t be a Fun-O-Rama Parade without the antics of the Gateway Keystone Kops. See them at the Fun-O-Rama Parade on May 19.

May 19 parade draws thousands
The Fun-O-Rama Parade attracts thousands of people, who line NE Halsey Street to view the procession of professional and home-made floats, custom and classic vehicles, clowns, marching groups and dignitaries, lovely Portland Rose Festival Princesses ‚Äì and the antics of Gateway’s own Keystone Kops.

On May 19, the Fun-O-Rama Parade will begin at 10:30 am.

This year, it starts further east than in past years, assembling at St. Therese Church (NE 132nd Ave. and Halsey Street).

It will travel west on NE Halsey Street. At the “split”, the parade travels westward on the eastbound side of Halsey, disbanding at NE 106th Ave.

Portland Police East Precinct Cadets help out at the Community Fair at 111th Square, by fitting and distributing bike helmets for kids.

Community Fair follows parade
On the same day as the parade, the Community Fair at 111th Square also takes place. It runs from noon until 3:30 pm at NE 111th & Halsey Street. This fair provides entertainment by singers, jugglers, martial artists, and even Ronald McDonald.

Gateway area businesses, neighborhoods and non-profit organizations get to show their wares and demonstrate their services to the community.

The association’s “Citizen of the Year” is given a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office jacket. Receiving it, with his name embroidered on it, is Fred Sanchez.

Sanchez GABA’s ‘Citizen of the Year’
At the Community Fair each year, the association honors an individual as their “Citizen of the Year”. This year, relentless Gateway booster, Fred Sanchez will be saluted.

Leading up to his salutation, Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto awarded Fred Sanchez a Sheriff’s jacket, and commended him on his exemplary service, at last month’s association meeting.

“‘Exemplarily Service’ are the first two words of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Motto,” said the Giusto, as he helped Sanchez don his custom-embroidered green jacket emblazed with these words above Sanchez’ name.

Come meet the members
After the Fun-O-Rama, consider dropping by and meeting the members of the Gateway Area Business Association. They meet on the second Thursday of the month; networking starts at 11:30 am, typically at JJ North’s Buffet, 10520 NE Halsey Street.

Guests are always welcome, and reservations are NOT needed. To verify meeting time and date and location, and learn the guest speaker, be sure to check their website:

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why this East Portland neighbor works to reduce the number of wild cats roaming Inner SE Portland‚ and learn about the May 12 “Fur Ball” right here‚

Christy Lee, a certified veterinary assistant, puts a feral kitty cat under anesthesia before it is spayed, at the free Feral Cat Coalition clinic.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On this Saturday morning, it’s raining (pardon the expression) cats and dogs, as we seek out the confidential location of the spay/neuter clinic operated by the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.

We’ve written about this unique organization in the past. People who feed stray cats voluntarily participate in this trap-neuter-return program.

Secret clinic locations
We locate the one-day clinic hidden away in an industrial district of Portland, and meet a volunteer coordinator for the program, Carma Crimins, a Woodstock neighborhood resident.

“The goal of the program,” Crimins begins, “is to reduce suffering for existing feral cats, and prevent births and suffering of future generations.”

She leads us in to where the organization’s 24-foot mobile hospital is parked. We learn it is designed specifically for spaying/neutering feral cats, has three separate rooms: A surgery suite with room for three veterinarians to operate simultaneously; a prep area, complete with sink and autoclave; and also an anesthesia room.

One Sunday a month, the mobile hospital operates in Portland. Other weekends, it travels to other communities that sponsor their program.

“The reason we keep the location secret,” explains Crimins, is that we don’t operate a ‘drop-in’ program. We only want to deal with individuals who demonstrate a commitment to do what we request.”

What they don’t want, Crimins added, is for people dropping off cats at the clinic, thinking that, somehow, someone will find the stray cat a good home. “This isn’t an adoption service.”

To trap a cat
The program’s services are specifically for feral cats being fed by caregivers. The caregivers trap the cats, bring them to a clinic, and return the cats to where they are being fed with a commitment to keep feeding the cat on a permanent basis.

“Typically, the cats we see here haven’t ever been touched by humans; and they never will,” clarifies Crimins. “We lend humane, ‘live traps’ to the caregiver, and show how to use them. These traps are simple, and don’t harm either the cats or the people.”

On this day, 96 cats will be seen‚ each of them from the Inner SE Portland area. “In Woodstock, and further east, is an area rich in feral cats,” Crimins tells us. “And, there are a lot of good-hearted people who care for them enough to bring them‚ and take them home again.”

Performing a spay operation in their mobile surgical unit is Marla McGeorge DVM.

In the cat M.A.S.H.
We have about 30 volunteers operating the day-long clinic, in addition to the four vets and four vet technicians. Caregivers bring in the cats inside cages or traps. A blanket is put over the cage to keep the cat warm and reduce anxiety, we’re told.

Then, one by one, they’re taken into a feline version of a Mobile Army Surgical Unit. The mobile hospital gleams of stainless steel and smells antiseptic.

After being anesthetized, the cats are checked over, are spayed or neutered, and receive distemper and rabies shots.

As they sleep, get the full feline “day spa treatment”. They’re flea-combed and sprayed, treated for ear mites and other minor medical conditions, and each has his or her right ear tipped for future identification. Cats that appear to be suffering, as determined by a veterinarian, are tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus; all which test positive are euthanized.

Volunteer coordinator Carma Crimins watches as Suzanne Tate helps a spayed kitty recover from her operation.

In the “recovery room”, we see a dozen volunteers, stroking, warming, and watching over cats as they wake up.

As she caresses a drowsy kitty, Crimins tells us she’s been involved with the coalition for five years. “Over the years, I’ve brought in hundreds of cats. Now, I started help other people get their cats in to the clinic.”

No more unwanted cats
Crimins says she’d like to live in a world in which every cat is wanted. “What we’re doing today will eliminate the suffering of hundreds of kittens this year, and prevent thousands of unwanted and homeless kittens down the road.”

No other programs in Portland provide this service, Crimins says. It’s supported by volunteers and donations. “When you donate to the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, 92 cents of every dollar goes to fulfilling our mission of spaying/neutering, and community education.”

Ninth Annual Furball May 12
One way you can support the organization is by attending their annual “Furball”. This year, it’s on May 12 at the World Forestry Center. This year’s theme is “Night on the Nile”. To donate to the event, to volunteer, or for more information, contact Karen Kraus at

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

© 2005-2020 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.