It wasn’t Sturgis, but inner Southeast Portland, where more than 3,000 leather-clad bikers gathered. They weren’t there to rumble. Read this article and you’ll find that even the toughest-looking biker-brothers have a soft spot for sick kids ‚Ķ

Even organizers say they were surprised, and pleased, by the turnout for the 2006 Toy Run for Shriner’s Hospital.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The sun glints off acres of chrome as motorcyclists ‚Äì yes, leather-clad bikers ‚Äì gather by the thousands in a parking lot at SE 17th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard. A band, “Much More Country”, belts out a patriotic-themed tune a city block away from we stand, at the far end of the TriMet bus facility in S.E. Portland.

“Is a riot or rumble about to break out?” we wonder. We ask who is in charge. “Santa Claus, of course!” is the reply. A feeling of relief floods over us.

Through a sea of over 3,000 parked Harleys and other bikes, we’re led to a jolly, white-whiskered St. Nick. Santa is sitting on his ride, a purple Harley-Davidson Road King he calls “Barney”. He’s attended by three stylish lady elves.

Santa and his elves are the official ambassadors for the ABATE Toy Run for the Shriner’s Hospital.

“Ho, ho ho! Welcome to the annual Toy Run for the Shriners’ Hospital, my boy,” greets Santa. “This event has gone on for years, on the first Saturday in December. We love going to the hospital and giving the kids gifts. I love everybody that participates in this.”

Shriners’ Hospital spokesman Fred P. Swansoan stands among the bikers gathered to help kids at their facility.

Event aids Shriners’ mission
Fred P. Swansoan, a volunteer van driver for Shriners’ Hospital, is wearing his organization’s trademark red fez. “This event is truly the big deal of the year for us. Both the toys and cash generated by this event plays a significant role in our mission to help children with severe medical needs. Underneath those leather jackets and chaps, you’ll find folks with big hearts; people who care about kids.”

The chaplain intones the event’s blessing, saying, “We wish everyone who came here has safe rides, health, good spirits, and a long life.”

Participant John Kachur says this is a way bikers give back to their community.

A tall, burly biker, John Kachur, is getting ready for the ride that will take them up “Pill Hill” to the hospital. “This is a lot of fun,” he tells us. “What a great day to get out! Look at the bikes and the people.”

We ask why so many motorcyclists, like him, are participating. “The connection is, we care. Pretty much everybody has had a kid, or has known a sick kid at one time or another. This is a fun way to give back to the community,” Kachur says as he roars his Harley thunderously to life.

Because only a few of the thousands of bikes will actually fit in the parking area in front of the hospital, Girl Scout Troop 1561 in Gateway helps stuff toys the bikers brought to the rally point in a TriMet bus for delivery to the kids.

As the bikes rev up by the thousands, the percussive energy they radiate can be felt through one’s body as much as it can be heard.

The gate opens, and the bikers form a rolling parade out of the lot, heading north on S.E. 17th Avenue to Powell Boulevard, across the Ross Island Bridge, and up the hill to the Shriners’ hospital.

Four abreast, the thousands of bikers start their journey toward Dornbecher Hospital from their rallying point in inner Southeast Portland.

Changing the image of bikers
This event, we learn, is sanctioned by A.B.A.T.E. of Oregon, Inc. (“A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments”). Mike Friend, this year’s event coordinator suggested we talk with 16 year veteran of the event, Ed Dahl.

“26 years ago, ABATE was started by motorcycle clubs to lobby for cyclist rights,” Dahl explains. And, 26 years ago, twelve people decided to do something charitable. It has grown into this.”

More than just bringing toys, the Toy Run also raises funds that help the Portland Shriners’ Hospital buy specialized equipment, such as communication computers and power wheel chairs, and to provide van conversions. “We’re trying to give these kids things to help them become more self-sufficient.”

Part of the event is an annual raffle. This year’s grand prize was a new Harley. “In addition to the toys, we gave $45,000 worth of equipment to eight patients. And, we collected another $6,000, on the day of the run.”

What most people don’t see, Dahl tells us, is that the patents give them a gift list. “We do our best to fill the orders. The night before the Run, we go up to the hospital, wrap gifts, and have them ready for Santa.”

Just a cool photo of the bikers ready to make their ride up Pill Hill.

Yes, there is a Santa
Dhal recalls a boy at the hospital who said he didn’t believe in Santa. “When he opened his gifts, and found his wishes fulfilled, he looked up with big eyes and told us, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I do believe in Santa.’ Times like this will put a tear in your eye.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The good news: Neither deaths nor serious injuries were reported. But how wild was it out there? Take a look at these stories, for photos you won’t see anywhere else ‚Ķ

Our “storm tour” starts with the report of a live, power line down over a car in inner SE Portland at SE 32nd Ave. at Johnson Creek Boulevard

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While normal people stay in their homes, flashlights and canned food at the ready – the prediction of a major magnitude storm is an invitation to a reporter to gas up his car, charge up camera batteries, put on rain gear, and head into the night.

We start out in the peak of the storm on November 14, during the early evening hours. The journal of our tour of East Portland begins in inner Southeast Portland.

The occupant safely got out of this car, with the help of Portland Fire & Rescue, after live power lines fell on the car in inner SE Portland.

SE 32nd Ave. at Johnson Creek Boulevard
As a vehicle comes east, over the gully bridge on SE 32nd Ave., a power line falls on a car. We learn from rescue crews the motorist was safely removed from the vehicle.

However, the avenue remains closed for hours while PGE crews repair the downed lines and restored power.

11000 block of East Burnside

No, it’s not a giant Slinky toy ‚Äì that’s a high-voltage feeder cable that closed East Burnside St. between SE 102nd and 122nd Avenue for hours.

A 7.3 Kilovolt feeder line breaks free and shorts out on the pavement amid a shower of sparks. No one is reported injured in incident.

We’re told that the line broke free a couple of hours before we arrived, in the height of the afternoon peak traffic hour; quite a traffic jam occurred, as motorists were blocked from going eastbound on Burnside as they returned home from work.

After taking photos of the downed line, we meet Al Davis, a pizza delivery driver who made the mistake of trying to bring his stack of three pies east on Burnside from SE 108th Ave. “I knew I should have walked in from SE 113th Ave.,” he said. Asked why he was out delivering pizza on a stormy night, Davis shrugged, “Their power is out and they want a hot meal. The pizza will get through!”

SE 157th Ave and Halsey St.
We drive east on Halsey slowly to avoid branches, some of them hood-high, in the roadway. The night is suddenly split with blue-white light. Streetlights blink out and homes go dark. Electric power is arcing atop a utility pole as a tree sways into the lines.

The brilliant light doesn’t last long enough for us to get a photograph ‚Äì but ends with a spectacular shower of sparks that rain down over the EXN News Cruiser as we drive by.

As our eyes adjust to the deep darkness of a rainy night, we see the stormy sky illuminated with brilliant blue all around us, as power lines come loose and trees tumble.

15800 block of Glisan

Although the blinding arc from the energized power line taken down by the tree lights the area, it’s over before our camera cycles up for a photo‚Ķthe line, now lying sizzling on the ground.

We’re on our way to the 15800 block of NE Glisan St., on a call of a splintered tree and power line down. We arrive on scene and prepare to photograph this storm-caused problem. “Stay back,” an officer warns, “it’s still live I think.” As he speaks those words, the thick power lines come to life, sizzling with electricity, arcing and sparking both in the trees and on the ground. Within an instant, darkness again envelops us as we look at one another. The officer shakes his head and says, “Be safe, David.”

Driving during a storm that has knocked out so much power, one gets used to the acrid smell of burning fuse flares. Their brilliant glow illuminate otherwise darkened intersections with an eerie red-orange light, warning motorists that the traffic control signals are out.

SE 162 Ave. and Mill St.

“Thank God it was a south wind,” said the residents, looking at the uprooted tree that blocked most of SE 162nd Ave. at Mill St.

A tree, tall enough to block both southbound lanes and the center turn lane on SE 162nd Ave. at Mill St. lies in the roadway. “We’re sure glad it fell toward the street,” say the occupants of the small house where the tree once stood. “I’m kind of concerned about the others.”

This tree fall takes out power to three homes, but the remainder of this neighborhood still has power.

SE 32 and Lambert St.

A mighty Elm in Eastmoreland lost its grip and toppled over during the windstorm. Fortunately, it wasn’t tall enough to damage the home across the street.

Although there are occasional strong gusts, the wind starts to die down. The temperature drops by nearly 10 degrees within a half hour, signaling the front is moving through.

We take a swing back through inner Southeast Portland to see how the stately American Elms have weathered the storm in Eastmoreland.

It didn’t take long for us to find the call we’d heard earlier on the emergency radio ‚Äì a giant Elm has fallen across SE Lambert St. at 32nd Ave. It’s uprooted, lifting the concrete sidewalk and the neatly-trimmed turf like a carpet.

The branches of the tree are entangled with power, telephone, and cable lines. The wires are holding it like a marionette on strings. Surprisingly, even to the PGE crew evaluating the situation, the power remains on to homes in the neighborhood.

The crews arrive and carefully start to untangle the tree from the lines as they work into the night.

The next day … again at SE 32nd and Johnson Creek

The storm strikes again: Traffic is again snarled in inner SE Portland as a truck snags a drooping bundle of telephone lines and rips it from the utility pole.

On Friday, December 15, traffic is, once again, snarled at this intersection. A large bundle of telephone and cable-TV lines is drooping across SE 32nd Avenue – a situation caused when power lines went down the night before.

A delivery truck snags the bundle and ‚Äì “Can you hear me now?” ‚Äì snaps the line, causing it to whiplash into the parking lot of the Mini-Mart, and drape itself over a pickup truck.

The fire crew from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 20 is on hand to keep people away from the downed line. By the look at the cable ends, it’s going to be a long night for repair crews as they, wire-by-wire, reconnect the area’s telephone service.

Power restoration efforts
More than 200 Portland General Electric crews are on the job, according to PGE spokesperson, Ariana White.

“At the peak of the storm, about 250,000 customers were without service,” White told us. “As of 2 p.m. today (Dec. 15), nearly 144,000 are still out of service across our Portland.”

The areas of greatest damage were in Gresham and Southwest Portland, White says.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See what happens when a cat lover dedicates her studio’s open house to the care of feral cats ‚Ķ

Karen Kraus, executive director of Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon helps Dorothy Steele show off a “cat platter” which the artist is raffling off to help fund the spaying and neutering of feral cats.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
This time of year, many in Inner Southeast Portland’s creative community hold open houses and sales.

What is special about the event at the Dorothy Steele Studio on December 8?

“This year,” Steele told us without pause, “in addition to raffling off a ‘cat platter’, a percentage of our sales go to the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.”

Steele said she’s been making colorful cat- and nature-themed pottery for 25 years, 16 of them at her location in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

“I’m a real cat lover, and I’ve always done cat-themed pottery. And, I know that the Feral Cat Coalition volunteers do a great job of helping keep the population of feral cats down.”

The artist said her work has evolved into creating pottery decorated with impressions of plants native to Oregon. “I press them into the clay to make the design, and lots of vibrant color. My work is functional, food-safe, and you can use it in the microwave. Above all, it speaks of Oregon.” To learn more, see Steele’s Internet website: www.dorothysteelestudio.com.

Works of five artists are on display, and on sale, at the Dorothy Steele Studio in Brooklyn.

Reducing feral cat population
Steele introduced us to Karen Kraus, executive director of Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. “Spaying and neutering is important, because there is a cat overpopulation problem. It isn’t just in Portland; all across the country there are too many feral cats. Our program is for feral and stray cats who have a caregiver kind enough to feed them, but who understands that these cats shouldn’t reproduce.”

Kraus said they’ve spayed or neutered 3,000 cats a year, and have assisted with more than 27,000 cats since they started the program.

The organization holds two neuter clinics a month near the Rose Garden. If you care about a feral, stray, or barn cat, find out more by calling (503) 797-2606, or by visiting www.feralcats.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Read what Powellhurst Gilbert neighbors learned about their new park – and plans being put in place to mitigate fires on Powell Butte …

Portland Parks Bureau naturalist Mark Hughes and Portland Fire and Rescue planner Chris Brian talk about the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for Powell Butte.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Not long ago, neighbors in Powellhurst-Gilbert learned a lot about plans to improve Powell Butte, add amenities to their large neighborhood, and reduce crime.

Powell Butte Plans
Portland Parks Bureau naturalist Mark Hughes and Portland Fire and Rescue planner Chris Brian talked about the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

“The city started developing this plan in 2004,” Brian began. “This is a city-level plan to consider contingencies for dealing with problems caused by fires, floods and weather. We’re looking at the smaller piece, namely wildfires.”

Chris said the plan was being developed with a grant from FEMA to develop emergency wildfire plans for large, urban natural areas such as Powell Butte. “We’re working with the Parks Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services to address the issues in city.

“We’re trying to clean out woody growth that can fuel fires,” explained the Parks Bureau ecologist, Mark Hughes. “This is a three year project.” So far, he added, the project has involved primarily discussion and planning. Much of the clean-out work will be done during the summer of 2007.

Hughes said, as the parks ecologist for Powell Butte, he’s responsible for this large outer East Portland park. “I try to figure out what will make a healthy, sustainable park. Our goal is to develop grasslands and watersheds.”

Under a master plan developed in 1996, and a conditional use update three years ago, the 600-acre park is to have about 300 acres of grassland and 300 acres of forest surrounding the top of the butte.

The park ecologist said the butte is also a wildlife refuge. “It has 30 black tailed deer and a number of coyotes. About 160 species of birds live there, due to the diversity of grass and trees.”

Under the plan, Hughes assured that the forest will look the same. “The butte is infected with English Hawthorne and Himalaya blackberry,” continued Hughes. “Both of these non-native plants are tenaciously invasive. We’ll remove them as best we can. We need to change the grassland from non-native European orchard grasses to native. And, the master plan calls for planting Oregon Oak and Willamette Valley wildflowers.

“We’ve had three larger fires in six years,” Hughes commented. The first was 10 acres and looked like arson. The next year, a five-acre fire was touched off with a cigarette lighter. Later that summer there was a 45-acre fire on a hot, windy day. By better managing grass land, we can reduce fire danger.”

Powellhurst Gilbert HydroPark
Portland’s Water Commissioner Randy Leonard started the idea of turning fenced-off bureau lands into neighborhood parks. It was announced at this neighborhood association meeting that the newest park being planned for outer East Portland will be at SE 138th Ave. and Center St.

“We’re considering what amenities to put into the HydroPark,” said Portland Parks Bureau’s area manager Tom Klutz. “We’ll survey people who live around the park; they’ll have to contend with positive or negatives that come from the development of the park.

Crime issues in southern outer East Portland
“We’re seeing more graffiti,” said Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Preston. “Here members of the ‘EK’ gangs have been a problem. We’ve identified houses here associated with the gang. They are actively involved in the drug trade, cars thefts, burglaries, dope rip-offs.”

The sergeant suggested reporting any criminal activities and immediately cleaning graffiti as ways to help reduce gang activities.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The East Portland Chamber of Commerce continues to be “the voice for business in East Portland” ‚Äì read this and you’ll see why you should attend ‚Ķ

Meet the 2007 officers for the chamber: Norm Rice, First Class Properties, treasurer; Greg Zuffrea, BC Graphics, president; Ken Turner, Eastport Plaza, VP; Jill Critchfield, Pacific HR, Secretary; Dan La Grande, La Grande Public Relations, board member; Rich Sorem, Stewart and Tunno Insurance, board member; Pam Olson, Farmer’s Insurance Agent, Ambassador chair; Jeff Bennett, Warren Allen, LLP, board member and advisory council; Monty Knittel, Adventist Health, board member. Not available for this photo was board member Tim Brunner, Axis Design.

At their November meetings, the East Portland Chamber of Commerce announced its new board members, heard about transportation issues from PDOT’s executive, and gave a donation to Kiwanis.

Making Portland move

Portland Office of Transportation’s Sue Keil runs down the budget numbers for roads and forecasts street building and repair activities at a “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting in November.

What’s happening to our roads ‚Äì and why ‚Äì was the information brought to the chamber by Sue Keil from the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) on November 15.

Talking first about revenues, she said that funds supporting road maintenance, signals and streetlights come from gas tax and vehicle licenses, and are distributed by the state. Portland, Keil said, gets $197.7 Million in the 06/07 budget year. “The only growth has been from increased parking meter revenue.”

“Our budget isn’t growing,” Keil told the business people. “Revenue has slightly declined as a result of more fuel efficient cars. The tax is still fixed at $0.34 a gallon. However, the cost of cost of construction has increased substantially. And, health care costs have increased among our 750 employees.”

Of their budget, the PDOT executive said, about $50 Million that goes for general operations and activities.

“Transportation is the largest asset in the city ‚Äì it’s about $5 Billion worth of streets, sidewalls, curbs, signals and lights. The largest portion is pavement. And, the condition of a lot of our pavement is deteriorating.

The problem, Keil said, is a shortfall of $3,400,000 needed to keep pavement at its current condition. “To bring it up to the proper level would cost nearly $9.5 Million.”

Keil credited Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams ‚Äì the “traffic commissioner” ‚Äì for helping to structure requests for the city’s needs over the amount budgeted for maintenance.

This request for one-time general fund resources – a program to run through the end of 2008 – was detailed on a printout given to attendees.

Under the maintenance section, the request indicated $500,000 going for the Pothole Hotline repair pilot program.

Looking over the “Safety” budget items, we noticed that bicycle and pedestrian safety programs were budgeted at $900,000; yet vehicle safety improvements at “high crash intersections” was only $1,200,000.

We asked why, when vehicles pay for road improvements through fuel taxes, biker and walker safety issues were funded at nearly the same level.

Keil said that at budget meetings, the bicycle lobby attends in large numbers. If vehicle drivers and business people came to such meetings, she suggested, perhaps the budget allocation outcome might be different.

Chamber members help Kiwanis Camp

Kiwanis Mt. Hood Camp for Disabled Children and Adults director Todd Thayer is about to accept a check from Russellville Kiwanis president Jason Goodwill and East Portland Chamber Cabaret producer, Kevin Minkoff.

As you may recall, last year, members of the chamber performed two shows to raise funds for the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.

At another meeting, Past Russellville Kiwanis Club President, Jason Goodwill, thanked all the participants in the $1000 fund raising effort.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn why families with young children who discover Brooklyn Bay’s “Play after Play” sessions return again and again ‚Ķ

Kri Schlafer, Marc Otto, and Melanya Helene perform the short play, “The Most Wonderful Gift” at the Brooklyn Bay Performance Space.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The theater’s name, “Brooklyn Bay Performance Space”, conjures up images of a playhouse on the waterfront. It isn’t. The “bay” refers to an industrial work space, not a body of water.

And, some say the location – due south of the SE 17th Avenue flyover Powell Boulevard, at the end of a dead-end street in the Inner Southeast Brooklyn neighborhood – is nearly impossible to find.

But, week after week, parents of young children make their way through the industrial area to participate in a delightful, one-of-a-kind form of family entertainment.

Founder and artistic director Melanya Helene and her crew have transformed an industrial storage unit into a warm, intimate theater space.

When we visited Brooklyn Bay Performance Space on December 2, families were coming in to experience a session of “Play after Play”, featuring the story, “The Most Wonderful Gift”.

First, the play
“We start with a 20-minute performance,” Helene told us, “usually based on a folk tale. Our story, throughout December, came to us from the Middle East. Our method is kelmanworks, a performance style based on mindfulness and engagement with the audience.”

The lights dimmed, and the costumed players took the stage. The actors immediately engaged their audience members, particularly the children. The story of “The Most Wonderful Gift” was expressively told, enhanced with music and movement.

“We keep the play simple so the children can use their imagination to enter into the story with us,” Helene later said.

Engaging in “Original Play” the Brooklyn Bay actors interact directly with their young audience members.

Then, playtime
After the performance, the actors changed out of their costumes and set up large, clean gym mats. The kids and parents were instructed to sit around the perimeter of the mats.

“We play with the kids in a form called ‘Original Play’. It is based on non-violence and non-competition.” Helene developed this form of play, based on what she said she learned from Fred Donaldson.

Original Play looks like lively, energetic fun. But it isn’t a free-for-all. Children are invited onto the mats by the actors. The “playing” is free-form, physical (to the abilities of the child), and active ‚Äì yet, at the same time, done with an unspoken sense of discipline. “Actually, it is partially based on some forms of martial arts. But it is play, not competition,” Helene explained. “In a global sense, everything we do is about–in a word–peace.”

“The ‘play’ after our performance is a practice for us,” related Helene. “It allows us to be directly involved with them. We’re not behind a TV screen. We’re right there, and they interact with us.”

Worth the effort to find
“Play after Play” at Brooklyn Bay starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. We won’t attempt to give you directions! Call to make a reservation, and they’ll show you the way. Contact them at (503) 772-4005 or see www.brooklynbay.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See the massive pipe organ that got a real workout when this musical artist visited Hazelwood a few weeks ago …

Dame Gillian Weir played classical music on the concert pipe organ at the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist church with such skill, it sounded like an orchestra.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dame Gillian Weir, visiting Portland from England, is hailed as one of the world’s foremost musical artists. Her career as an internationally-acclaimed concert organist, performing worldwide at the great festivals and with leading orchestras and conductors, has established her as a distinguished musician.

A few weeks ago, Weir demonstrated her virtuosity and outstanding musicianship – as well as her personal charisma – as she performed at the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hazelwood.

Dame Weir, at the console.

“This organ,” she told us before presenting her program of ten selections, “is an absolute delight on which to perform.” Audience members showed their appreciation with their applause as Weir played works of Bonnet, Scarlatti, Bach and others.

The event, offered free to the public, was well attended. “Hosting concerts, like this one, is our way of connecting with the community,” a representative of the church said.

Watch our Community Calendar for other great concerts – often presented without charge – at various venues throughout East Portland!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Many victims found it hard to believe their homes were ransacked by juveniles who were not yet old enough to drive …

Using simple hand tools, cops say young punks busted into NE homes to steal.

Story and photo illustration by David F. Ashton
While investigating a string of residential burglaries, Portland’s East Precinct police detectives started seeing a pattern. The burglars generally forced entry through a door and stole small items such as portable electronics, credit cards and cash.

Detectives told us that they saw similarities among more than 100 residential break-ins that occurred along NE Fremont St., between Northeast 39th Ave. and Northeast 82nd Ave.

Based on information they developed, East Precinct detectives and officers from the Neighborhood Response Team executed a search warrant on December 5. They raided a home in the 5800 block of NE Prescott St. in connection with an ongoing investigation of residential burglaries in three separate precincts.

Suspected crooks not old enough to drive
In the case so far, police have arrested suspects 15-year-old Noah Hanning, 13-year-old Leighton Hanning, and 14-year-old Kyle Francis, and charged each with one count of Burglary in the First Degree.

These youthful suspected criminals fancied themselves part of a loosely-knit street gang known by the acronym “FDP”, which they told detectives means “F*** Da Police”. Cops said they used proceeds from their crimes to buy pot.

If you live in this area, and your home was hit in the last couple of months, call the East Precinct Property Crimes detectives at (503) 823-4802 and give ’em a hand.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Officials say the driver that struck her wasn’t speeding nor intoxicated ‚Ķ

82nd Ave. was shut down most of the afternoon on December 5 while authorities investigate the tragic accident that took the life of a child.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two girls, a three-year-old, being pushed in a stroller, and a five-year-old, walking with her 29-year-old mother, were crossing SE 82nd Ave. of Roses, heading east, across toward Boyer St. when the youngest girl was struck and killed on December 5.

On scene, Sgt. Walter Anderson, Oregon State Police told us, “The vehicle was traveling west on Boyer, making a left hand turn on 82nd Ave. It came into contact with the children. The three-year-old was deceased at the scene. The five-year-old was transported to the hospital with injuries. The mother was untouched.”

The stroller in which the 3-year-old was riding, and some of the family’s belongings remain behind the vehicle said to have struck the youngster.

Anderson said two nurses, in separate vehicles, stopped immediately after the accident. “They unsuccessfully attempted CPR on the 3-year-old. The 5-year old was taken to the hospital; a Spanish speaking trooper traveled with the girl and her mother.”

The Sergeant said it looked as if the five-year-old girl would recover; information later released said the girl was in serious condition.

Following up on the incident, we learned from OSP Sgt. Tom Worthy that Darrell Beffert, 54, of Clackamas, was the driver. “He stopped and cooperated with troopers and deputies.” According to witnesses, Worthy said, the mother and children were in the crosswalk and were crossing with the light. He added that Beffert was not intoxicated. No citations have been issued.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s accident investigators worked with Oregon State Police investigate this tragic accident.

“It all happened so fast,” said Marg Stewart, who said she saw the accident from inside the restaurant on the corner. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over seeing that little girl lying in the street. They tried to save her.”

The accident, a block south of SE King St., stopped all southbound traffic for the afternoon.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

We showed you the scene at which a man was murdered the night before Thanksgiving Day. Now, police think they know who committed the crime. If you help the cops find him, you could get a $1,000 reward …

Police looked for evidence on NE 148th Avenue after they found the body of a murdered man.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As you may recall, we ventured out on that blustery evening before Thanksgiving to see why police shut down NE 148th Avenue near midnight.

We found East Precinct officers responded to a call reporting a violent fight that evening. Officers arrived and discovered the victim’s body in a common area of the apartment complex.

Police officials now say an investigation has identified 29-year-old Garcia Sanchez as a suspect in the homicide on November 22; a warrant issued charges Garcia Sanchez with one count of Murder.

Garcia Sanchez is associated with a maroon-colored small import 4-door vehicle with no plates. The vehicle may be a Nissan and was last seen with a DMV “temporary” sticker displaying the date 10/31/06.

Murder suspect’s description
Garcia Sanchez is described as a 5’8″ 160-pound Hispanic male with brown hair and eyes. Garcia Sanchez has tattoos with the name “Gloria” on his neck, chest and abdomen. Garcia Sanchez is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ken Whattam at (503) 823-0696 or Detective Barry Renna at (503) 823-0255.

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).

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

A mid-day apartment house fire could have been worse, but see how the fast response from three fire stations limited the damage …

By cutting open the roof and quenching the fire from the attic, they kept the two-story unit from burning down.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even though the apartment building was set far back on the property, making it difficult to reach, fire crews still made short work of a fire that broke out around noon on December 6.

Portland Fire & Rescue stations 29 and 45 – aided by a Gresham Fire unit – raced to the 15200 block of SE Division St.

“There was a good amount smoke showing on the second floor apartment when we arrived,” Battalion Chief Dave Disciascio told us on scene.

Firefighters had to run long lengths of hoses to reach the burning building.

“It’s deep set on a flag lot,” Disciascio explained. “This made access very difficult. Our companies had to lay their hose a long way from Division St.”

The chief said they suspected the fire from the unit had spread to the attic. “Our firefighters quickly opened the roof and found fire. They got water on the fire and stopped it before it spread throughout the length of the building.”

We learned, unofficially, that the fire may have been caused by furniture or other flammables being placed too close to a heater. The fire remains under investigation.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

These death-peddlers thought they could hide their dope-for-sale in the battery of their vehicle. But, see what East Precincts Crime Reduction Unit cops found when they under their vehicle’s hood ‚Äì and in their motel room ‚Ķ

This wad of American cash, and dope, stashed in this car battery are sending two meth dealers to jail. (PPB CRU Photo)

Story by David F. Ashton
The night manager of the motel thought a couple of his lodgers looked and acted a bit sketchy. He did the right thing – and called the cops.

Not just any police came out. Portland Police’s crack East Precinct Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) showed up at the motel in the 9700 block of SE Stark St.

Based on the information from the manager, the CRU cops tapped on the door of the suspects in a motel room. CRU officers know how to legally coax crooks into conversation. While they chatted, the officers spotted a wad of cash ‚Äì $6,480 to be exact ‚Äì in the motel room. The suspects then gave officers permission to check out their vehicle.

Oh, so clever! These dope dealers rigged a batter to still give juice while it holds a big stash of drugs and cash. (PPB CRU Photo)

Battery turns out to drain dealers’ stash
CRU cops know all the tricks. They found the vehicle’s battery rigged with a hidden compartment. Inside the battery compartment, officers found approximately 2 pounds ‚Äì not ounces, but POUNDS ‚Äì of methamphetamine and $44,260 in cash.

They hooked up and arrested 25-year-old Cristobal Valencia-Santoyo and 24-year-old Juan Carlos Lopez-Valencia on one count each of Manufacturing of a Controlled Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Both claimed to be Mexican National residents and were given a new room at the Hotel Graybar ‚Äì the Multnomah County Jail.  ICE has placed a hold on both suspects.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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