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

Look at this, and you’ll discover why a professional club disc jockey spent an afternoon sharing her love of spinning disks with kids ‚Ķ

Leonetti, a professional club DJ, starts by showing kids how she hooks up a basic music system.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In night clubs, at banquets ‚Äì and event wedding receptions ‚Äì almost everyone has “rocked out” to tunes played by a professional disc jockey.

But, how does one learn how “play the hits” like a pro?

Your Midland Library brought in professional DJ, Leonetti, to show kids the ropes – or perhaps we should say wires and disks.

“I love music. It’s all about bringing the music,” Leonetti told us, as she set up her gear.

“Working the kids is great. Today, I’m glad to see we have several gals who came out!”

Leonetti said most folks are pleased to learn they can bring any kind of music they love when they DJ. “It doesn’t have to be hip-hop or rock. You can find a place to play any kind of music you love.”

DJ Leonetti asks what kind of music each of the kids like to hear – and would like to play.

“Today I’m showing them the basics,” Leonetti continued.

She introduced them to several music styles, told them where they can buy their music. And yes, showed a basic set up for DJing. The gear she brought was two turntables and a special DJ mixer.

“You need turntables ‚Äì record players ‚Äì that allow you to adjust the playback speed,” she told the youngsters. “This allows you to beat match; an essential in being a good DJ.”

Leonetti rocks out! “Yes, it is unusual for a woman to be a DJ, but we’re accepted by men in the field.”

Leonetti said she’s been DJing for six years, professionally for four. “I started because I love ‘house’ music. I’m a big Beastie Boys fan and worked with their DJ on an event ‚Äì he helped me get started. There is real camaraderie among DJs. While most of them are guys, they accept women DJs, too.”

What is going on at your library today? Check out our Community Calendar for unique and interesting events taking place here in outer East Portland.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how, from Wilkes in the north, to Powellhurst-Gilbert in the south, these two associations help neighbors “get the junk out” ‚Äì and raise some money, too ‚Ķ

This neighborhood cleanup, sponsored by the Wilkes Community Group, raised funds while ridding the neighborhood of refuse.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
More than just holding meetings, many neighborhood associations take action to improve the livability of their immediate area.

Last month, “Clean-Up Days” were sponsored by two outer East Portland neighborhoods.

In the Wilkes Community Group, November 4 was the day neighbors were invited to remove the trash, refuse, and debris from their yards at a morning- long event at Margaret Scott Elementary School, 14700 NE Sacramento St.

Ross Monn, chair of the Wilkes Community Group, here works with Gordon Scott to help “get the junk” out of the neighborhood.

“The first Saturday in November is a good time to get this done. It’s important to clean up the neighborhood,” community group chair Ross Monn told us.

“It keeps our yards from being filled with trash. And, it helps prevent illegal dumping by people who don’t know what to do with their refuse. We make it easy–and inexpensive–to keep the neighborhood clean. The neighbors feel good, and it is a good community outreach for us,” Monn added.

Helping neighbor David Parrish unload some rubbish is Wilkes Community Group’s Steven Johnson, chair of the Clean-Up event.

Event chair David Parrish reported that their four large dumpsters were filled as 63 people dumped their trashy loads. They were aided by eleven volunteers, and collected over $600 in donations. “No one is required to pay,” Parrish said, “but people are really happy to have a place to dump their junk.”

Because the Clean-Up Day was a joint effort with the Russell Neighborhood Association, their volunteers earned $200 of the total amount to support Russell’s budget.

Southern Clean-up efforts near 2 Million pound mark
On November 18, the Powellhurst-Gilbert and Pleasant Valley neighborhood associations joined forces to the clean out their areas, too.

Clean-up co-coordinators Glenn Taylor and Mary Wooley and her grandson Anthony help at one of ten sites spread among the neighborhoods.

“I did some calculating, and the numbers surprised me,” event coordinator and former PG chair, Glenn Taylor told us, “We’ve been doing two of these projects a year. Not counting today’s event, we’ve collected 1,880,000 pounds of trash, not including metal, over the years.”

On that day, the two neighborhood associations had twelve 40-yard dumpsters distributed among ten sites.

“This is a lower-income area,” Taylor reported. “It really helps people by giving them a way to get trash out of their yards. Actually, it helps the neighborhoods come together. They meet one another, and start to draw together.”

About forty volunteers pitched in to make this event, the largest in outer East Portland done by individual neighborhood associations, possible.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why neighbors were giddy watching a home on their street being decorated with a flashing disco dance floor, acrobatic elves, sultry dancers, and enough lights to overheat a commercial generator …

Neighbors said the film crew worked for two days to turn this typical Reed home into an outlandishly decorated abode.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In the typically-quiet Reed neighborhood, most neighbors would frown on a home being decked out with over-the-top ornamentation, 40 robotic spot lights, and an amped-up sound system blaring hip-hop music to celebrate the holidays.

But, for two days several weeks ago, what might be considered to be the world’s most overly-decorated home amused neighbors to no end.

“You’ve got to see this,” Charlotte Kotchik, a neighbor across the street from the location, tells us on the phone. “Their house is, well, ‘gorgeous’, in a special sort of way,” she says.

We follow her directions, and find the residential street, a few blocks east of Reed College, crowded with motion picture production gear, including giant lights, huge sound system, and “snow” cloth being rolled out. On the front lawn we see two stages, a DJ booth, disco lighting, and a low-rider sleigh being set up.

It appears as if the shoot is hours away; Mrs. Kotchik agrees to alert us when they’re ready to roll film.

Lights, Camera, Oops
Night has fallen. We get the call signaling us that the production is about to start. We head back to the film set. Four Portland Trailblazers dancers are outfitted with sultry Santa suits, four acrobatic break dancers are attired as elves, and the production crew scurries around making final electrical connections.

Suddenly, the bright-as-day set goes dark. The production pulled so much electrical current that the giant, industrial-size generator overheats and shuts down.

Reed neighborhood homeowners Ric and Carol Zittenfield agreed to allow their house to be used as a set for an Oregon Lottery commercial.

Meet ‘the’ neighbors
While technicians work feverously to restore the power, we meet the owners of the wildly-decorated home, Ric and Carol Zittenfield.

“Welcome to our humble tar paper shack,” Ric says with a twinkle in his eye. “A location scout drove by and asked if they could use our house to make a commercial. It’s for the Oregon Lottery,” he explains.

He tells us the crew arrived the day before the shoot to install the lights on the roof. “They’ve been hard at it since 9:00 a.m. today.”

Carol tells us they might appear in the commercial as actors. “It’s real interesting. I liked the acting. We did lots of takes inside the house earlier today.”

According to Ric, here’s the commercial’s story line: “We’re new to the neighborhood, and people on our street come over to plan how our homes will be decorated for the holidays. Each neighbor describes what decorations they propose for their home. When they ask us how we’ll deck out our home, we shrug, look at each other ‚Äì and it cuts to this,” he says, pointing to their now-other-worldly-looking abode.

The director and cinematographer get ready to “roll film” to capture what was said to be the final four seconds of their commercial.

Ready to roll
As the Hollywood-like lighting again illuminates the set, we meet Charlotte Kotchik, the neighbor who tipped us off about the shoot.

From their front porch across the street, she and her family have an ideal vantage point to see the production unfold. “This is wonderful. It has been fun to watch. The most fun is watching all the crew work.”

Lights! Roll camera! Action! With break-dancing elves, Blazer Dancers, a DJ and Santa’s helper in a low-rider sleigh, neighbors are treated to a brief ‚Äì yet intense ‚Äì holiday show.

The director calls for a rehearsal. The lighting flashes, the music blasts, and the dancers gyrate – perfect! Then, the camera rolls, capturing what should be a great ending to a very humorous TV commercial.

Now, when you see this Oregon Lottery commercial on TV, you’ll know it was shot right here in Southeast Portland, and laugh along with the good natured neighbors who helped to make it.

Hey, Ho, everybody!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Throughout the year, the Portland Metro Performing Arts Center helps youngsters learn theater arts. See how their performance of the “Odalisque Variations from Le Corsaire” was enhanced by the new tutus ‚Ķ

Two dancers admire the new costume worn by Meng Paulson as she prepares for the November 17th performance of Le Corsaire at Portland Metro Performing Arts Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Nothing lifts the spirits of performers more than great costuming. Thanks to a generous donation, Metro Dancers’ ballerinas are now dancing pretty.

“We’re excited, you bet!” exclaimed Nancy Yeamans, director of Metro Dancers and executive director of  Portland Metro Performing Arts Center. “These tutus are designed and sewn by the same costumer who creates them for the San Francisco and New York ballet companies. It is like getting a ‘black belt’ in ballet, when you get to wear a costume like this.”

The young dancers agreed, as they primped and readied themselves for the performance on November 17. “I feel so professional wearing this costume,” said a ballerina, as she pinned on her small hat.

Performing the Odalisque Variations from Le Corsaire at Portland Metro Performing Center, in their new costumes, are (back row) Nadia De LaTorre, Lorianne Barclay, Krista Bennett; (front row) Meng Paulson and Emily Sevy.

“The ‘Odalisque Variations from Le Corsaire’,” Yeamans explained, “is a ballet that takes place in an Arabian pasha’s palace. It is an exotic dance. An Odalisque was a lady idolized for her beauty. The ballet is special because it has a rich variety of movement.”

Coming up in December, they’ll be holding their Nutcracker Workshop. The center’s director said, “We do the entire Nutcracker Suite in three days. The kids love it because they can learn all the wonderful parts and variations. Parents love it because it takes place on three consecutive days, December 19 through 21.”

To find out more, see www.pdxmetroarts.org or call (503) 408-0604.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

At their fall concert, the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra brought proficiently played classical music to East Portland. Read and see who their guest artist was …

Travis Hatton conducts the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra as it plays the Overture to “Music For The Royal Fireworks” by G. F. Handel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Word about the world-class Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra ‚Äì a group that plays its concerts in Hazelwood ‚Äì has been spreading across the city. “They play wonderful concerts,” said Emma Blacklan as she arrived. “I drove here from Forest Grove.”

The orchestra, under the baton of conductor Travis Hatton, is a volunteer organization composed of musicians who “play for the love of music,” Hatton told us. “Many of their number are professional musicians who share their talent with us.”

The concerts are held in the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church on SE Market Street. But, these events aren’t religious meetings. “We love playing here because of the acoustics, and they support our work,” Hatton commented.

Wendy Edgar, the featured soloist, plays her viola at the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra’s fall concert.

Violist featured
Wendy Edgar, both a professional performer and teacher, was the featured soloist at this concert. Edgar was accompanied by the orchestra, as they played “Lyric Movement for Viola and Small Orchestra” by Gustav Holst.

The major work presented at their November concert was “Symphony No. 4 in D minor, opus 120” by Robert Schumann.

As word has gotten around about Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra concerts, the group plays to full houses.

Look for their spring concert listing in our Community Calendar. By the way, the concerts ‚Äì and parking ‚Äì are free! A very, very good price to hear the world’s greatest music, played live.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Two appalling accidents, two days apart, had nothing to do with rain or ice. But, the resulting injuries sent drivers to the hospital …

Portland Fire & Rescue crewmembers work to free the driver from her vehicle after it careens into a utility pole, snapping it like a twig.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The story of a wreck that closed down SE Foster Road on November 27 starts down in Clackamas County.

A few minutes before this crash, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Officer Deputies tells us, someone phoned 911 Emergency regarding a Kia, going north on I-205 near Johnson Creek Boulevard. “The car was swerving around the freeway,” says the deputy. “The call was relayed to us; we were trying to catch up with the vehicle, but weren’t chasing it.”

James Kosmecki and his daughter were coming home from school about 4:00 p.m. They were going east on SE Foster Road, and fall in behind the Kia. “The driver was mostly on the shoulder,” Kosmecki says. “My impression was it was going to make a right turn somewhere.”

Suddenly, the Kia veered into the right lane, then the center lane, then back again, almost bouncing off the curb. “I was about to call in the plate number for suspicious driving,” Kosmecki continues. “The car made it through the yellow light at 122nd Ave.; but I stopped. It looked like the driver picked up speed going through the light ‚Äì maybe doing 45 or 50. This person was driving like they were seriously impaired.”

A service attendant tells us he was looking east as the Kia whizzed past him at SE 122nd and Foster Rd. “She [the driver] jumped up on the curb and slammed into the pole and snapped it,” he says. “The truck stopped her. No reason at all for it that I can see.”

No support – the top of this utility pole dangles dangerously after the speeding car smashed out the lower portion.

The Kia sheared a power pole ‚Äì knocking out the lower eight-foot portion, leaving the top dangling, suspended dangerously from the wires above. The vehicle’s careening journey ends as it plows into the back end of a parked truck. Airbags deploy. Sheriff’s deputies are on scene moments after the horrific collision.

Some said the driver of this Kia, being prepared for ambulance transport to the hospital, is lucky to be alive.

Within minutes, a Portland Fire & Rescue crew from Station 29 swiftly works to extract a woman, said to be the only occupant of the vehicle. Her medical condition remains unknown due to new federal confidentiality laws.

“The driver is definitely impaired, but we don’t know the cause ‚Äì if impairment is due to intoxication or a medical condition,” a Sheriff deputy tells us at the scene. “The driver is not in any condition for a field sobriety test.”

Mechanical failure sends one to hospital

The injured driver in this accident is being stabilized before being loaded into the ambulance.

It was raining the evening of November 25, but slick streets didn’t contribute to this accident, authorities say.

Just after weekend traffic starts to peak on SE 82nd Ave. of Roses, drivers are routed east and west on SE Yamhill Street because of a grinding wreck.

This victim, hit by a loaded, out-of-control pickup truck, is sent to the hospital.

Authorities on scene aren’t talking. But a young man, who identifies himself as the driver of the truck tells us, “I was trying to move my stuff. My brakes gave out. I did the best I could, but I couldn’t stop. I tried to swerve out the way, but still caused the accident. I hope the other person is OK.”

The condition of the driver who was sent to the hospital is unknown.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

LAST WEEKEND! Take a look at some scenes from this great musical  ‚Äì and you’ll see why you needed to reserve tickets to see it  ‚Ķ

Peter Pan meets Wendy and her siblings.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
David Douglas High School Performing Arts Department’s production of “Peter Pan” gives us another reason to be enthusiastic about the arts in East Portland.

Here’s the story:
Set in old London, a young lady named Wendy Darling fascinates her brothers with tales of adventure, including swashbuckling swordplay. But, these youngsters become heroes themselves, in an even greater story.

One night, Peter Pan teaches the kids to fly!  They go over rooftops and through a star-filled sky to a place called Neverland. (Unretouched photo!)

Wendy and her brothers find a carefree land without adult rules. The feared Indians become friends with Wendy, her siblings and the Lost Boys.

But, they also face confrontation with Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty pirates. Who will win out?

The lingering question remains: What happens if Peter Pan “grows up” like normal kids?

A delightful show for children and adults
The sets used in this production rival those found at major theatrical shows. The show features professional-quality lighting and sound, operated by the twenty-member technical crew.

The David Douglas High Orchestra plays the overture to Peter Pan.

And, under the direction of Judy LeCoq, a cast of sixty – yes, 60 – actors, singers, and dancers will fill the stage, to the accompaniment of a chorus and thirty-member orchestra.

Get your tickets now …
Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, December 10 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $7 for seniors and students, and $10 for adults.

Howard Horner Performing Arts Center box office at David Douglas High School, is located 1400 SE 130th Avenue.

Call (503) 261-8270. The Box Office is open an hour before show times.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

If you have empty deposit-return bottles and cans, don’t throw them away! Help the Boosters help Parkrose students on December 2 ‚Ķ

Parkrose student athletes Tyrell Fortune, Curtis Lincoln, Santwan Eaden, Roman Monbleau, Tyree Fortune and Alphonso Williams help the Parkrose Boosters collect bottles and cans the first Saturday of every month.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Just a reminder … hang on to your deposit-return cans and bottles. Collecting these really helps the Parkrose Boosters provide for student needs throughout the year. They work hard to make it happen.

Your cans and bottles help support Parkrose students!

Their next collection is on Saturday, December 2, from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Parkrose Middle School, on NE Shaver St., across from the high school. Call Gail Volk to have large loads picked up, or to answer questions: (503) 253-7993.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

At the Wilkes Community Group meeting in November, several issues were discussed. But when staff from the OLCC stepped up to discuss why the soon-to-be-built Red Apple Bar and Grill’s license was granted, things began to heat up. Read and learn BOTH sides of the story ‚Ķ

At the site where the Red Apple Bar and Grill will be built on NE Sandy Blvd. near 162nd Avenue, owner David L. Thompson checks the plans for the facility he says will include family dining.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The larger-than-usual attendance at the Wilkes Community Group meeting on November 14 learned that the north runway for the airport will be extended by 10,000 feet.

Some cheered when they were told that the site, once considered for a composting plant, will be purchased by METRO as a green space. News of a successful neighborhood clean-up – generating four dumpsters of debris, and $600 in donations – was welcomed. And, chair Ross Monn announced funding for the Wilkes Holiday Decoration Contest.

But, the main item on the evening’s agenda was the chance to grill Dan McNeal, Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Metro License Manager, and Lora Lee Grabe, License Investigator, Metro Licensing Unit, about granting a liquor license for a new establishment.

The Red Apple debate
Monn began by telling the group it looked as if the Red Apple Bar and Grill won a liquor license and would be built on NE Sandy Blvd. just west of NE 162nd Ave.

Dan McNeal, Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Metro License Manager, and Lora Lee Grabe, License Investigator, Metro Licensing Unit, listen as Portland East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs addresses the Wilkes Community Group.

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs stated, “I had some concerns about the Red Apple. At first, I opposed the OLCC license. I then met with the proposed owners. I looked over their business plan. There will be no live music, and it will be built with windows looking out the front.

While his position is now neither for nor against the bar and grill, Crebs continued, “If was my choice, there would be no liquor establishments in the neighborhood. But, the OLCC makes the final decisions.”

Neighbors concerns expressed
As McNeal and Grabe stepped up to explained the OLCC’s licensure process, they were peppered with potential problems which the people at the meeting said the new establishment might bring.

An individual read off a litany of problems, ranging from armed robbery to arson, that she said had taken place at the proposed owner’s previous establishment ‚Äì of the same name ‚Äì that had operated in North Portland for over a decade.

Another person stated there are many children in the area, making this a poor location. “They are bringing a night club in a residential area. Why would a person want to set up a bar here? This will bring property values down,” he said.

“Who can walk to this establishment?” another person posed. “It is going to increase auto accidents. My daughter catches a bus across the street; I’ll have to reevaluate this.”

The OLCC’s Lora Lee Grabe, License Investigator, and Dan McNeal, Metro License Manager, tell Wilkes residents why the license for the Red Apple Bar and Grill was granted.

After a long discussion, Grabe summarized, “The OLCC can’t refuse this license application. Our investigation shows the license may be granted. Applicant doesn’t have significant violations at their prior premises. Looking at crime statistics over last two years, they don’t meet the tests to warrant restrictions nor deny the licensee.”

Owner to bring “nice, clean establishment”
Absent from the Wilkes meeting was the new owner, David L. Thompson. After assuring him we weren’t the news source who had written an article quoting him without speaking with him, he talked openly with us. While not barred from the meeting, he said he was told “there was no reason to attend.”

“The area around our North Portland establishment is going downhill,” Thompson began. “After twelve years of renting, we wanted to have our own place.” He said they started considering the property, on which they’re building, three years ago.

The new Red Apple Bar & Brill will be 2,100 sq. ft. facility. “We don’t have a theme, like a sports bar,” Thompson said. “We’re planning on running a nice, clean family establishment, focusing on food. We’ll open at 10:30 a.m. and close around midnight or so. There is a lot of business along Sandy Blvd.; we hope to attract a good lunch crowd.”

Like most establishments, they hope to also obtain a lottery license. “In order to have lottery, you have to have a liquor license,” Thompson said.

Speaks of previous problems
At the meeting, neighbors brought up the “old” Red Apple’s two OLCC violations. Thompson said, “It’s true. One was for loud music. So, we stopped having music.” The other, he said, was for a new bartender’s serving an underage, undercover enforcement agent. “In twelve years, we never had another problem; not one.”

“I don’t understand why some people are against us locating here,” Thompson said. “It is not our intention to be a determent to the neighborhood. Most of our customers will come from around here. We are going to be on top of it. This investment is what will become our livelihood ‚Äì and our future.”

According to the OLCC, liquor licenses are renewed yearly. If there are problems at this new establishment, you can be sure officials will get an ear-full. If not, perhaps some of its harshest critics may become new customers.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Through a combined effort of involved citizens, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard and the Water Bureau, a 50-foot high plume of water can again be seen rising above Reservoir #6. See all this, and a sample of Leonard’s poetry here ‚Ķ

Looking east at Portland Water Bureau’s Mt. Tabor Reservoir #6, we see the fountain spouting 50 feet into the air ‚Äì for the first time in a decade.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The event on November 18 was a reinstatement of an East Portland landmark‚Ķa statement about a city bureau’s new attitude‚Ķa poetry reading‚Ķ and a knighting ceremony, all rolled into one!

Portland Water Bureau’s Mt. Tabor Reservoir #6 ‚Äì just north of SE 60th Avenue ‚Äì is actually a giant reservoir split into two pools. The pools are divided by a concrete wall; each stores up to 37 million gallons of water. The pools were constructed with a fountain on each side.

We’re told freezing weather damaged some of the fountain installations that were originally built in 1911 as part of the reservoir system. Water Bureau Operating Engineers will manually turn off the fountain whenever severe winds or winter cold threaten.

Pageantry before (water) pressure
As the fountain was being readied for reactivation, Jay Fyre, Portland Water Bureau’s Southeast Operator, opened the gates, allowing an unobstructed view of the pool.

The Portland City Commissioner in charge of the water bureau, Randy Leonard, stepped forward to address the gathering crowd of about 200 neighbors.

Leonard told us, “What is important about this event is it shows the Portland Water Bureau is in the process of reclaiming its history, and finding itself and its roots.”

Portland Water Bureau Administrator David G. Shaff joined Leonard as the event began. Leonard said Shaff should be up front, because it was his birthday.

“It’s been a decade since this fountain ran,” Leonard began. “It is wonderful to reintroduce it to community. The Water Bureau has worked hard to restore trust and confidence in the bureau. Our historic traditions had been lost. Some have said this is ‘the new Water Bureau’ ‚Äì I’d argue with that. I’d say this is the ‘old’ Water Bureau that people respected for so long.”

The Commissioner thanked Friends of the Reservoir for their help. The group is said to be making monuments that reflect the city’s connections to the reservoirs.

Commissioner Leonard puts his feelings into words by sharing an original poem at the fountain’s re-commissioning.

Commissioner’s poetry
“I have a predilection for history ‚Äì especially history that helps explain who we are,” Leonard continued. “I looked for a poem about why people are connected to their water supply. I couldn’t find anything. So, I wrote a poem:

Mt. Tabor’s Fountain
The water falls to the lake so lone,
It gathers from the peaks about our home.

It begins its journey through majestic pipes,
With simplicity, captures nature’s immutable might.

We gather at its feet to watch its rebirth,
A glorious spouting from the magic earth.

It gathers again, to begin one last journey,
To the home if its people, the fortunate many.

Jay Fyre, Portland Water Bureau Southeast Operator, and Floy Jones, founding member of Friends of the Reservoir, open the valve that turns on a 50-foot high geyser in Reservoir 6 at Mt. Tabor. No pumps are required; the water pressure is supplied from Reservoir #5 located further up Mt. Tabor.

Reservoir friends pleased
“We’ve worked for years to save these Portland landmarks and wonderful engineering structures,” is how Floy Jones, founding member of Friends of the Reservoirs, put it to us, after she helped open the fountain’s valve.

Floy Jones, founding member of Friends of the Reservoirs.

“This is an important day, the culmination of requests we’ve made. It’s been a long journey to bring back the beauty and glory that has been part of these reservoirs for years.”

To her, personally, Jones continued, turning on the fountain signals that the Portland Water Bureau has taken a positive turn. “We went through an era in which there was a lot of mistrust of the bureau. I spent years of my life researching contracts and documents. It means we’ve turned the corner. In Randy Leonard, we have a leader who cares our water and history.”

Randy Leonard is “knighted” by Cascade Anderson Geller

The knighting of Sir Randy Leonard
As the water shot into the air in the background, Cascade Anderson Geller approached Leonard, ready to “knight” him.

She told the group, “This fountain is gravity fed; it takes no resources. It was designed and made during the movement, so many years ago, to combine utility and beauty. Restoring this fountain honors our ancestors who gave us these wonderful public works.

“I knight Commissioner Randy Leonard with stalks of yarrow ‚Äì it symbolizes courage and leadership throughout the centuries. I’m knighting him as ‘Champion of Portland’s Water System’.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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