We’ve reported on this special unit since it started as the “Tired of Tweekers” mission. See how this handful of police officers are still making outer East Portland streets safer every day ‚Ķ

The Portland Police Bureau Crime Reduction Unit’s acting Sgt. Mark DeLong and Officer Anthony Passadore show people at the Commander’s Forum an evidence bag containing illicit drugs taken from suspected drug dealers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What started two years ago simply as a crackdown on methamphetamine dealers and users in southern outer East Portland has become a full-time unit of Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct.

At the October Commander’s Forum, the “Crime Reduction Unit’s” (CRU) acting Sgt. Mark DeLong and Officer Anthony Passadore gave a well-illustrated progress report.

East Precinct’s CRU is comprised of officers who don’t take service calls. These cops are trained to spot individuals’ behavior which indicates they are involved in some kind of criminal enterprise.

Drugs, guns and money
“Our job is getting easier,” said DeLong, “because we see the same crooks over and over again. But, to keep them off balance, our officers go out at different times on different days.”

The officers say a suspect couldn’t answer a simple question because these balloons were stuffed in his mouth. We learned they are color-coded: Green for heron, white signifies heroin or cocaine, and pink is typically cocaine.

DeLong held up an evidence bag as he started his first story.

“We saw a person at a pay phone on NE 102nd. Nearby was a Honda Accord ‚Äì these cars are stolen all the time. This guy looked nervous when we pulled up and walked over to the car. I smiled and said, ‘Nice Car.’ He mumbled something; he couldn’t talk. We found out, after we encouraged him to spit them out, it was because he had balloons containing heroin and cocaine stuffed in his mouth.”

Making crime numbers drop
“We work to impact specific crimes that make the [crime statistics] numbers drop,” Passadore said succinctly. “We focus on drug-related crimes; people who sell or take drugs are usually doing other crimes. We’ve been especially trained to notice behavior that signals that something is amiss.”

“But we’re not a drug unit,” DeLong added. “We are a street crime unit.”

This photo shows some the cash, drugs and guns – including a sawed-off shotgun – which the CRU has taken off the streets of East Portland. (Portland Police CRU Photo)

Passadore recalls when they saw a suspicious couple in a car. “We asked if we could take a look, and found three pounds of marijuana in the car. At the man’s house, we found stolen handguns, including a Tech-9, money counting machine, and other stuff. In the process, we cleared four burglary cases. This guy was stealing from people in the community to purchase drugs and make more money.”

East Portland drug trends
The officers report they’re now seeing an increase of cocaine in outer East Portland. “Meth is still a problem,” Passadore said. “A big problem.”

The average heron user does two or three balloons a day, DeLong explained. “Some will do up to six. We’ve seen some addicts who inject it into their neck because they’ve blown out their arm and leg veins.”

“We’re constantly in the drug houses every day,” continued Passadore. “We’d like it if they all got treatment, but our job is to shut down their business. And, we have our work cut out for us.”

Houses of drug users, and especially “stash houses”, usually have violent crime associated with them. “We get ‘shots fired’ calls and respond to home invasion reports,” explained Passadore. “If we move drug houses out of an area, crimes drop.”

Solving, not moving, crime problems
While the CRU officers work to move crime out of East Portland, the officers say they alert law enforcement agencies in adjoining areas about criminals who may be moving into their area.

“We want to close them down,” Delong stated. “These people are not good neighbors. Their houses look, and smell, like a pig sty.”

Passadore said they work to do more than just disperse problems to other areas. “We break the bonds among people who steal, do drugs, live and ‘crash’ together. If we isolate the leaders, the amount of crime goes way down. When on their own, people tend to do less crime.”

A good example is a guy called “Moke”, Passadore said. “We ran him out of the A-Quality Motel in Powellhurst-Gilbert during the ‘Tired of Tweekers’ campaign. When we ran into him at 122nd and Powell, he was OK. He wasn’t out doing crimes. But he told us if he were back with his friends at A-Quality, he’d be doing crimes today.”

Gangs and drugs
Asked about the connection between gangs and drugs, the officers brought out a figure of Jesus Malverdie.

Officer Passadore introduces the group Jesus Malverdie, the “patron saint” of Mexican drug runners and dealers.

“He is the ‘patron saint’ of Hispanic drug smugglers,” explained Passadore. Although he lived long ago, he is thought of as a ‘Robin Hood’ character. The Hispanic drug culture adopted him as a good luck charm. If we see a photo or figurine Malverdie in a vehicle during a traffic stop, it isn’t ‘probable cause’, but is sure is a good indicator of drug trafficking. In drug houses, we see shrines with offerings of tequila, money, food, and drugs to him.”

Most gangs are in the drug trade to make money, and they make a lot of it by importing and distributing drugs, explained Passidore. “We engage lot of people in conversation. If someone is wearing gang attire, we’ll stop and talk with them. Some of them object, saying we’re targeting them because of their clothing. We say, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t announce yourself by wearing a gang uniform’.”

He continued, saying, “I’ll take a gun off the street ahead of a pound of dope any day. We try to seize guns from gang members.”

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs shows citizens photos taken at some of the more recent CRU busts. He told the group the only complaint he’s gotten about CRU officers is that they are ‘too nice’ on the street.

CRU crew trains patrol officers
The CRU was originally composed of officers with drug crime experience. “Now we bring mid-career and new officers into the unit,” Delong said. “We teach how to identify drug trends, how to interact with drug dealers, and how to spot criminal behavior.”

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs said part of the training CRU officers pass along is verbal skills. “I’ve actually gotten complaints from arrested suspects that our CRU officers are ‘too nice’ on the street. These people say our officers are ‘so friendly, I feel like I have to talk with them.”

Statistics tell the CRU story
The six officers and one sergeant who make up the CRU made 2,600 street contacts from June, 2005, through June, 2006, and seized:

  • Meth: 5,165 Grams, (11.3 pounds)
  • Marijuana: 203 pounds
  • Cocaine 9.3 pounds
  • Heroin 3.9 oz
  • Various prescription drugs: 400 pills
  • Firearms: 78 guns
  • Cash $195,785
  • Vehicles: 212

Want to learn more about how your police work to reduce crime, as well as the fear of crime, in our community? Look for the date of the next Commander’s Forum in our East PDX News Community Calendar.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how the hard work of neighborhood volunteers leveraged the city’s investment of $20,000 to make Portland’s newest city park worth at nearly $500,000 ‚Ķ

City and county dignitaries, parks bureau officials and neighbors gather as the ribbon dedicating Hazeltine Park is cut.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The project started as a “clean-up” of a vacant lot on SE Flavel Drive at Nehalem Street. The effort ended up producing a Portland’s newest city park.

“This is a special project,” explained Jeff Milkes, SE Services Manager for Portland Parks & Recreation, “because it was built as a coordinated effort between the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) and Portland Parks and Recreation.”

At the dedication ceremony on October 6, Milkes told us improvements done on this park would put the price tag at nearly $500,000. “But we built for $20,000 because we had so much volunteer effort, so many donated services. Working together, we’ve preserved it, forever, as a park.”

Taking a break from setting up for the park’s dedication ceremony, Dick Hazeltine stands next to the sign bearing his name.

The Hazeltine of Hazeltine Park
Helping to make the new park ready for the afternoon dedication ceremony, Dick Hazeltine stopped to comment on the park that bears his name.

“At one time, they had a community policing office here,” Hazeltine recalled. “When they closed that down, I nominated this land to be a city park, with hopes it would stay in public use. Today, we’re seeing the results of that.”

The modest neighbor, born six blocks from the new park site, said he was surprised to learn members of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association voted to name the park after him. “I’ve been involved with the neighborhood most of my life. This park is a symbol of what the county, city and neighborhood can do by working together.”

Terry Hazeltine, son of the park’s namesake and his wife, Dorothy being served at the park’s dedication buffet.

Neighbors picnic at the park
Before the official dedication, neighbors started filtering into the new park. The smell of hot dogs, BBQ chicken and other treats filled the air.

Grilling up hot dogs on one of the two, new steel grilles for which she lobbied is BDNA member Gale Kiely.

We talked with BDNA member Gale Kiely as she grilled hot dogs. “When the parks department asked what we wanted, I told them we needed a large, brick and stone barbecue pit. When they offered steel barbecues, we jumped at the offer. We’re cooking on them tonight!”

Portland “east side” City Commissioner, Randy Leonard, came by to congratulate neighbors on their new park.

As neighbors mingled and ate, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard stopped by the celebration. “Anytime we get something new that improves East Portland, I like being part of it. It’s fascinating how neighbors and the city worked together to make this a reality.”

Ribbon cutting completes opening celebration
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials from the neighborhood, city and county lauded the efforts that brought this park into existence.

Portland Parks’ City Commissioner Dan Saltzman welcomes neighbors to the opening celebration of the new park.

Portland Parks’ City Commissioner Dan Saltzman told us that, more important than having a new park, was “the spirit in which this park was developed. The neighbors approached us. We were happy to work with them. This is a good story.”

At the dedication Saltzman told the gathering, “It is a pleasure to come out today and see this park. And the story of how this land became a park is inspiring. We had more desires than resources. But, by working together, we’ve put something in place of which we can be proud.”

Thanking all the neighbors who made the park possible is Dick Hazeltine.

Dick Hazeltine thanked the volunteers for all of their efforts, and the Parks Department for their help. He pointed out the great western view the park provides.

As the cut ribbon fluttered to the ground, Hazeltine smiled and looked into the late afternoon that broke through the clouds, adding a warm glow to the celebration.

As you look this new park, located on SE Flavel Drive at Nehalem Street, reflect on the effort that brought it into being. And, if you live in the area, consider helping out at a “work party” the association holds on the second Saturday of each month, between 9 a.m. and noon.

To learn more, see www.BrentwoodDarlington.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Surprisingly, the neighborhood’s last two tree toppling events haven’t killed anyone or destroyed property. But you may be shocked to read the prediction of southeast Portland’s official tree inspector ‚Ķ

Eastmoreland resident Tim Clark looks at what remains of his American Elm tree that “failed”, taking out all utilities to neighbors on his street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The canopy of elm trees that line the streets of Eastmoreland provide a lush, cool green oasis on a hot summer’s day. When autumn rolls around, the turning leaves brush the streets with rich colors of red and yellow. And, in the winter months, the outline of the branches against the winter sky look like a blocks-long jig-saw puzzle.

But when these trees start to fail, huge limbs fall, crushing anything below them. Sadly, and perhaps frighteningly, such failures of these massive trees are sharply increasing.

On evening of September 20, Tim Clark and his wife were at their home on SE 28th Avenue, between Crystal Springs Drive and Lambert Street.

“I was inside, talking on the phone,” Clark tells us. “My wife steps outside to start her walk and calls to me, ‘Honey, quick! The tree is going to fall down!’ I went out, thinking a little branch was going to fall off the tree.”

100′ tree splits, darkens neighborhood
But, as they looked the elm tree on their lawn, Clark says they could see it was slowly splitting down the middle, making a deep cracking sound.

“I said ‘Run. Run as fast as you can.’ I saw squirrels, a cat and leaves flying as it crashed to the ground. I didn’t know how many other trees it was going to take with it ‚Äì or how many houses or cars it would damage. It was frightening.”

As it turned out, the half of the tree that failed came down, as Clark says, “in the perfect direction, into the street, missing a car by inches.”

Utility workers labor to restore electricity, telephone and cable service to this street in Eastmoreland.

However, the falling giant did snap a utility pole across the street, and missed that neighbor’s home by inches. Crews scrambled to replace damaged electrical feed lines, a transformer, and telephone and cable wires. “We had our lights back on by 10 p.m.,” Clark remembers.

Branches, extending off the standing half of the tree, fully shaded the second story of Clark’s two-story Colonial style home. “Our bedroom is right under those limbs,” Clark continues, “so my wife slept downstairs that night. I slept up there, but not very well, wondering what it would be like if it came down in the middle of the night!”

According to a city arborist, this was one of the largest elm trees in Eastmoreland. After it split, the rest of the tree was found to be unstable; it’s been condemned.

Other Eastmoreland elms split

Two city crews worked late into the night to cut up, chip and haul away the limbs that fell from this Elm on SE Tolman St.

Three weeks earlier, on August 31, about four blocks north, another elm failed. It was on SE Tolman, just west of Reed College Place.

“I came home a little after 6 p.m.,” is the report we hear from neighbor Shay Michael. “We were in our patio and heard what we thought was firecrackers. The cracking sound sounded louder and louder so we came out front and saw the street completely blocked by this fallen tree.”

Clearly visible from the side, one can see where the co-dominant stem on this elm failed. The branches completely blocked SE Tolman St. for most of the night.

This elm failure missed hitting a car parked in a driveway by less than a foot. Surprisingly, there were no injuries or property damage from this incident.

Why great elm trees fail
According to Portland City Arborist in charge of southeast Portland, Ned Sodja, many of these elm trees fail because they have have co-dominant stems. “In other words, it’s like each tree has two or three ‘trunks’ that grow together. But, they’re attached only weakly to one another.”

At the trunk, these “co-dominant stems” are hidden by what he calls “included bark” that wraps around the circumference of the tree trunk, hiding the stems from view. Splitting is not evident till failure occurs.

“Elm trees will always have failures,” continues Sodja. “This time of year, the trees have grown, and opened a full canopy. The summer heat dries out the trees. Then, the added weight of rain causes them to split apart at their weakest point and fail. This winter, if we have any icing, we’ll see more– many more–such failures in Eastmoreland.”

Predicts increasing elm failures, damage
As these trees age, they continue to grow, Sodja explains. As they grow, the weight adds more stress, pressure that tends to rip co-dominant stems apart. Expect to see more trees splitting in the near future.

“In these cases, the damage has been minimal. I’ve seen many vehicles and structures damaged by trees that fail.”

Sodja recommends that homeowners hire an arborist to inspect their trees and get an evaluation of their condition. “If it is on your property, and not the right-of-way, the expense is minimal compared to potential damage caused by a failing tree ‚Äì especially with the size of trees that are in Eastmoreland.”

At the least, the city arborist suggested homeowners start making their own visual inspection of larger trees in their yards. “Especially look at your trees after a big rain storm or wind storm. See any splits or changes? Hear any unusual cracking sounds? Feel any changes in the ground indicating the tree may become uprooted? These are signs of serious potential problems.”

Sodja to the rescue
Many of Eastmoreland’s mighty elms grow on the tree lawns. “If you have concerns about a tree in your right-of-way, call me. I’d rather come out and take a look than be called out to see the damage caused by a falling tree.”

You can reach City Arborist Ned Sodja at (503) 823-4440.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Screams of laughter, that is. While this isn’t an East Portland event, take a look at this wild “Pirate Party” we attended in St. Johns recently ‚Ķ

On the Pirate Festival stage are instigators Kate Larsen, Shuhe, Cpt. Bogg, and Broadside Johnnie. Fortunately, we weren’t forced to “walk the plank”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Occasionally, we venture from the safe realms of East Portland seeking excitement and adventure. On September 23, we found it at the Pirate Festival at Cathedral Park in the St. Johns neighborhood.

Buccaneers Jenny Rideout and “Salty Ruby”, enjoying a day at the festival of all things pirate.

We were told that the “Brotherhood Of Oceanic Mercenaries”, a/k/a BOOM, and others, were behind this festival — at which cannons roared, cutlasses clashed, and chanties were sung, as attendees re-enacted “The Golden Age of Piracy.” (Learn more at www.boompirates.com.)

But, we had found out about it by way of our favorite scallywags, Captain Bogg & Salty. We’ve documented this band over the years as they’ve emerged as the ultimate pirate rock band for all ages. Perhaps you read about the Sellwood Park “library rock shows” for the kids a few weeks ago.

Dan Koslicki, Kristen Ferris and Luke Dempsey join up for some pirate fun.

Dressed in costume, Luke Dempsey and his pals looked they were having a great time at the festival. “I came here from Oregon City. It’s so much fun.”

“Captain Bogg and Salty is the reason I came today. I love ’em,” Kristen Ferris told us.

Dan Koslicki said “It is a great time to hear some good music, see some really — and I mean really — interesting people, while we get away from the ‘real world’ for a while.”

Those lucky enough to get a ticket got to step back in time for an interactive adventure aboard the War of 1812 American Privateer “Lynx”. Those who took the trip said that history came alive for them, on board this beautiful 122-foot Schooner.

Thryce Wycked Wenches were singing “You can’t be a pirate with all of your parts; it’s all fun and games till you lose a hand” ‚Äì and, other rather bawdy-but-delightful songs whose lyrics are better sung then printed. (See www.getwycked.org .)

Plying their wares and providing exotic (not erotic) entertainment are practitioners of “dance Orientale, Kiara and Namira Azar.

Captain Bogg told us, “The festival has turned out even better than we’d ever expected! We certainly intend to do this again next year!”

Last chance for pirate fun on October 22
If you missed the Pirate Festival, or their big library event in Sellwood Park, “weigh anchor” with Captain Bogg & Salty as they perform pirate jigs, galloping rock and mermaid lullabies one more time this fall at Midland Library.

Discover the tradition of pirate music as the band sings tales and tunes for buccaneers of all ages. Hey, these guys are fun, so plan on coming early to get a seat, even if you don’t have kids! Their show runs from 3 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 22nd. Space at programs is limited; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis — at Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

While she wouldn’t comment on police-related cases in the headlines, you’ll get to know Police Chief Rosie Sizer better from reading this article ‚Ķ

After her introduction by Ken Turner, Governmental Affairs chair for East Portland Chamber of Commerce, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer describes her long-term goals for the department.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland’s Chief of Police, Rosie Sizer, has been in the headlines because of high-profile cases and the Grand Jury investigations ‚Äì but most people know little about her.

At a recent East Portland Chamber of Commerce “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting, Sizer revealed her background, goals and concerns about public safety in east Portland.

Second-generation cop
Sizer started by telling the group she’d never imagined that, one day, she’d be the Police Chief. “I’m honored to serve in this capacity. I’m a second-generation Portland Police Officer.”

Her father was a police officer for 32 years, retiring as a detective, Sizer continued. “My husband was a Portland Police officer for 29 years, retiring as a deputy chief, then going on to be Multnomah County Sheriff for eight years. I’ve been on the force for 22 years. I have a deep commitment to the officers and the work they do ‚Äì and to the community we all serve.”

Shocked at her appointment
Throughout her career, Sizer said she worked hard at being a good cop. “I’ve never aspired to be Chief of Police. When it happened, I’m sure you saw my face register a degree of shock on the news footage. But I can’t think of a job where I can have more important impact on the place where I live, than to serve in this capacity.”

Relationship-building and leadership development goals
She has two primary long-term goals for her leadership, she said. The first is deepening the relationship between the department and the community, in all of its manifestations. Secondly, creating leaders from within the organization is vitally important.

About relationship-building, Sizer said one of the nicest moments her life was huge turnout of people, from all walks of life, when she was sworn in as Police Chief. “I’ve tried to model relationship-building throughout my career ‚Äì neighborhoods, social services, friends and family. When we build relationships with the community, it helps us provide the most impact on crime we can, with the limited resources we have.”

Talking about developing her staff, Sizer said, “It is hard to be a police officer. We hire good people. We are very selective about hiring our people. Giving the trust the community gives us, it is very important that we hire good people, train them well, and have high expectations for them.

I want to help officers aspire to leadership positions, whatever they may be. It may be a promotion; it may be giving their best in terms of problem-solving efforts and creativity.

When she retires, Sizer said, “it will be these two things that matter most.”

East Portland crime: Meth and ID theft
Sizer was the SE Precinct Commander for about two years before being promoted to chief, she said. “Like in East Precinct, we had a burglary problem. In 2004 we busted over 100 meth labs across Portland. Last year we had fewer than 30.”

Sizer admitted that the methamphetamine supply has been taken over by the Mexican drug cartels. “There is a lot of meth out there. It has been imported from ‘super-labs’ in Mexico and California. Unfortunately there is still a lot of meth in the community that is fueling property crimes.”

The police chief quoted statistics about how the East Precinct Crime Reduction Unit has “cleaned up” outer East Portland. “They make large seizures and arrest many people. It’s had real impact as measured by crime statistics. Across east Portland, Part I crimes, which includes burglaries and other thefts, are down by almost 25%.”

One concern is, she added, is whether or not people are less inclined to report being a victim of crime. “It could be,” Sizer added with a twinkle in her eye, “everything of value in outer East Portland that could be stolen, has been stolen. Actually, these reduced crime numbers are a pretty good indicator of a successful trend.”

Identity theft is a major crime problem, Sizer told the group. “This often starts with a mail theft or a car prowl. Nowadays, it isn’t about stealing your car, but getting access to any ID that may be left in the car. At all costs, safeguard your identity. Keep careful track of your credit and other identifying information.”

Chief Sizer said the bureau has been taking upwards of 500 ID theft complaints a month. “We cannot, to be perfectly honest, begin to investigate all of these complaints. We do have two units here in the eastern precincts staffed with officers who are ferociously working to get ID thieves.”

Chief Sizer tells members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce that low staffing levels are a real concern across the city.

Low staffing levels a concern
East PDX News asked if precincts in east Portland might see an increase in staffing.

“We are running shifts ‘thin’ throughout the city. This is largely due to officers retiring. About 25 years ago, we hired about 100 officers in a year. Now, they are retiring at the same rate. We’re having trouble keeping up in hiring. We’re trying to recruit. Know anyone? It is a good job.”

The number of officers on patrol, Sizer commented, is decided by using a “staffing formula for officer distribution. We’re pretty confident that it is an appropriate formula. But still, yes, we are very short of officers.”

Answering East Portland public safety questions
EPCC Marketing chair Dan LaGrande asked, “As business people, what can we do to support the police?”

Sizer replied, “On the individual level, really work to reduce the chance you’ll become a victim; a statistic. There are people who can help you by doing a security survey of both your premises and business practices to make sure you’re not vulnerable. There has been a real problem with ‘creepers’ who sneak in when you’re not looking and steal your checks or ID information. Also, you can partner with like-minded people and establish a network in which you can share information.”

In a political sense, Sizer added, it helps when citizens publicly support law enforcement and public safety. “It can be difficult to be in public safety these days. If you, as business people, can lend your support, it really helps. Please find your voice.”

EPCC Member Roy Stanfel asked if “catch and release” of criminals is frustrating.

Sizer replied, “It is very frustrating. It can be demoralizing. Our officers really believe in what they do. But, when they spend blood, sweat, and tears catching a criminal, who is then are released very quickly or not held at all, it is a disincentive.”

She said that officers on patrol help reduce crime. “Most criminals are not ‘long-term thinkers’. They’re not thinking, ‘If I get arrested, I’ll have to do 10 years. And what will I do when I get out?’ One car prowler told us he had a policy to quit and go home if he even just saw an patrol car.”

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman on October 18
Want to learn more about your city, and network with East Portland business people at the same time?

Attend the next “Good Morning East Portland” on October 18 and meet Commissioner Dan Saltzman. The networking starts at 7:30 a.m. at the meeting room in the main building at Cherrywood Village, 1417 SE 107th Ave., behind Adventist Medical Center. The meeting is free.

To learn more, see www.eastportlandchamber.com

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Based on what deputies found, meth is still being produced in outer East Portland, sometimes in a BIG way! Read this story and learn the details

They weren’t growing crops on this farm! The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says evidence found inside the barn indicates a large-scale meth factory was in operation.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Out in this area of unincorporated area of outer southeast Multnomah County, things are pretty quiet. Usually, the only things stolen are lawn ornaments.

But after seeing their electric bill jump to over $300, an area resident in the 7600 block of SE 162nd Ave. questioned whether or not their electric power was being siphoned off.

In the process of investigation a “theft of service” claim on October 11, Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies took down a huge methamphetamine lab.

A ‘look’ leads to a major bust
In an exclusive interview with East PDX News, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Lt. Jason Gates told us how this meth bust unfolded.

“At 1 PM on Wednesday, PGE notified our office they were going to check a property in the southeast corner of the county for power diversion, or electrical theft. Four MSCO detectives from our Special Investigation Unit detectives went with PGE officials to the site.”

Gates told us as detectives went on the property of the suspected power thieves; they met Shane Dupree Millim, who would later be taken into custody.

“Millim was cooperative, and gave us permission to search the property,” Gates related.

A shocking find
In addition to finding evidence of power theft, deputies were shocked to discover the largest suspected meth lab they say they’ve seen this year. They also found car body parts believed to be stolen from a Toyota 4-runner.

“We discovered chemical items, strong corrosives materials, flammable liquids and reactive solids generally associated to meth manufacturing,” Gates told us. “The indication is that this lab was producing meth using the standard pseudoephedrine reduction method.”

The precursors and the waste products indicate large-scale meth production, Gates stated. “There were enough materials to do multi-pound reactions. If they weren’t making large batches, the waste materials could have been collected from other, smaller labs.”

In addition, deputies also saw a set-up of laboratory-style glasswork typically used in meth production.

These signs were posted on the house and barn after the Haz-Mat team processed and cleaned up some of the chemicals found inside.

Deputies called in the Gresham/Multnomah County Haz-Mat team to assess the suspected lab, take samples for prosecution, and begin the cleanup process.

Lab busts down
“This is only the eighth lab we’ve closed this year,” Gates summarized. “This is significantly down from 2004 when we closed 60 labs.”

“Does this mean the meth problem is waning in outer East Portland?” we asked.

Gates responded, “The meth problem is alive and well, but we are having a positive impact regarding meth labs. What we face today is “super lab” meth coming in now. Most of it is from the Mexican cartels. They bring it here by the pound instead of the ounce.”

In addition to Millim, two other suspects–Patricia Ann Pyne and Billy Joe Allen–were arrested and released, pending a grand jury hearing.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Get paid for going to school? Yes! Take a peek inside Portland YouthBuilders – a school that turns dropouts into productive citizens …

Portland YouthBuilders students Soreyia San and Kasey Jones encourage Cassy Keck and Shaun Shaffer to consider the computer program at this unique high school.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“This school is amazing,” student Kasey Jones tells us shortly after we enter Portland YouthBuilders in Lents.

“This school is taught in a totally different way,” Jones continues. “For most kids who drop out, high school simply didn’t work for them. When students come here, and everything is set up so they will succeed if they try. Everybody is friendly and helps you so much, you want to come and learn to do new things. It is amazing.”

Jones, and his fellow student Soreyia San, are in Portland YouthBuilder’s Computer Technology program. “It’s great,” San tells us, “I like working with computers, and hope to have a computer career. With what I’ve learned, I think I can get good job that I like.”

School success for non-traditional students
“The most important thing for us is not ‘giving up hope’ on young people who have not succeeded at traditional high schools,” explains Sara Kirschenbaum, Admissions Coordinator for Portland Youthbuilders.

“We have a huge dropout rate across the city. Some of these young people do want to do positive things with their lives. With training, they are capable of getting good jobs, and helping the community. Many of our students, we believe, will become leaders in the community.”

One thing that sets this school apart from others, Kirschenbaum says, is that students earn $400 a month from the school. “In addition to structured classes and hands-on learning, they spend half their time involved in community projects, building low-income housing or computers and web sites.”

All students become AmeriCorps members, giving them an $1,800 scholarship if they successfully complete the program.

Construction and Computer Technology tracks

While checking out the school, potential students Tiffanie Lewis and Jasmine Miller take turns hammering nails into wood, giving them a hands-on way to consider if Portland Youthbuilders is right for them.

“We offer very small classes, caring teachers, and help getting a good job or starting college or an apprenticeship program,” Kirschenbaum continues. “Students can choose between learning building trades, or computer technology.”

The school is geared to older students — those between 17 and 24 years of age, the admissions officer tells us. “We attract a more mature group of students than you might find at a traditional high school. We treat all of our students as young adults.”

Students held to high standards
This school isn’t a “free ride”; much is required of students, Kirschenbaum assures us. “Our students are required to be drug-free, and are held to high performance and attendance standards. But, look at this great opportunity for a very low income young person, who doesn’t have a GED or diploma, is fluent in English, and is committed to taking positive steps in life!”

Interested? The school holds enrollment sessions every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Call (503) 286-9350 extension 254, check them out at www.pybpdx.org, or come by their campus at 4816 SE 92nd Ave. (across from Lents Park).

“Check out the program,” encourages Jones. “Look, you’re getting paid to get a diploma. What other place can you get educated, learn good skills ‚Äì and get paid at the same time? Come take a look and see for yourself.”

¬©  2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See the tree-planting ceremony that signaled the opening of once-fenced land, as the former Hazelwood Water District wellfield is transformed into a lush, public park …

The Portland city commissioner in charge of the city’s Water Bureau, Randy Leonard, welcomes folks to a tree planting ceremony, at the opening of the Hazelwood Hydro Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not long ago, the city block-sized parcel in the Hazelwood neighborhood was secured by a dingy, foreboding chain-link fence. Warning signs commanded that neighbors stay out.

But when we visited this site on September 28, at the former Hazelwood Water District well field and offices, the fences were down. Instead, the neighbors were invited in to enjoy a quarter mile walking path, doggy stations, picnic tables and benches.

The district’s former headquarters has become the new home of the East Portland Neighborhood Office.

“This is the most fun day I’ve had in politics,” the Portland city commissioner in charge of the Water Bureau, Randy Leonard, told us. “We took an asset that was already here, owned and maintained by the city, and opened it up to the community. The tree we’re planting today is a symbol of a new life for this park in the community. It is a cool thing.”

As members of the Villa Garden Club, community members and neighbors gathered around, Leonard told the group, “Last year, I came out here by myself, and looked at the property. I realized it was a waste of a city resource to leave it fenced off. We began talking with Richard Bixby about the possibility of EPNO occupying the building. It makes the building and property more secure.

“Today, the fences are down, the neighbors are encouraged to come in and use this. Over time, you’ll see curbs installed, there will be sidewalks, and the street will be paved.” A cheer went up. Leonard repeated himself for comedic effect, “Did I mention, the street (NE 117th Ave) will be paved?” Again the crowd cheered.

Leonard said he and his staffed were a bit concerned that some people might sneak through the trees at night and do “bad things” to the park. “The coolest thing about this is that the bureau’s Tom Klutz got huge rocks to block vehicle access from the Bull Run area!”

North wellhead to be removed
The head of the development project, the bureau’s Tom Klutz, said the wellhead and building on the north end of the property was never actually used. “The building and equipment will be removed by the first of November.”

A drinking water fountain will be installed. Sidewalks and handicapped ramps at the northwest corner of the park will make access more convenient, Klutz added.

Commissioner Leonard said the city will be keeping the southern well on the property in operation as a backup reserve for Portland’s water supply system.

Villa Garden Club plants ‘Patriotic Tree’
Dorothy Drews, president of the Villa Garden Club told us, “Our club is the largest and most active in the district. It was important for us to have a project that would be nationally recognized. Locally, to plant a tree for shade and beautify this park is a good thing. We’ll probably plant more, as space comes available.”

The observance conducted by the garden club included reading the poem “Trees”, and reciting the names of military service people from East Portland who are currently serving the county. The club, active since 1947, is sponsoring their Patriotic Tree as part of the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs national tree planting program, we were told.

Dorothy Drews introduces Hazelwood resident and parks advocate Linda Robinson.

“I support the efforts of this garden club,” said Linda Robinson, neighbor and parks advocate, after her introduction. “When they said they wanted to plant a tree here, I got excited. We wanted a tree that is native; a species too large to put in someone’s yard. We decided on the Big Leaf Maple. We’re planting it in the northeast corner of the park. With all these Deadora Cedars here, the maple would go well. Now, let’s go plant a tree!”

Linda Robinson and members of the Villa Garden Club plant the Big Leaf Maple tree at the park’s dedication.

One concern that day had been that there wasn’t enough dirt and water onsite to properly plant the tree. But as soon as the tree was dropped in the ground, workers from the water bureau arrived with additional soil and buckets of water to save the day.

Commissioner Leonard helps by watering the newly planted tree in Hazelwood.

Finally, a celebration wouldn’t be complete without refreshments, which were provided, this day, by the garden club.

Go see this fine new park for yourself. It’s located at 1017 NE 117th Avenue.

¬©  2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn about changes at the PDX Parking lot, area road improvements, and the possibility that the Port of Portland offices might move to outer East Portland, by reading this …

Port of Portland’s Dan Brame, showing Parkrose Business Association members where new parking facilities are likely to be built.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although it was opened just a few years ago, the short-term parking garage at Portland International Airport (PDX) is beginning to fill up, according to the Port of Portland’s Dan Brame — so they’ll build another.

“It reflects poorly on the airport,” Brame says as he addresses members of the Parkrose Business Association at their September monthly meeting. “In a survey we conducted, the main concern about PDX wasn’t security, but instead, problems with parking.”

In the near term, he adds, they’re considering increasing the parking rate from $14 to $18 per 24-hour period. “But, we expect raising the price will discourage only 200 cars a night.”

To address the tight parking situation, Brame says they’ll build a new parking garage immediately behind the current structure. This one will boast 3,500 spaces; 500 spots for rental car companies.

They expect start construction in next fall, and it should be ready to use in 2009.

Parking ‘valet’ to be installed
“With 3,300 spaces, it can be difficult to find a spot,” Brame continues. “When we get down to the last few spaces, finding an empty spot is challenging.”

To alleviate the problem, a new computerized directional system will tell drivers entering the “double helix” ramp how many spaces on each floor; and tell indicate where empty spaces are located.

“We’ve also installed a ‘pre-pay’ system,” Brame continues. “You can pay for your parking at a kiosk on the way to your car in the garage. If you’ve prepaid, you drive past the line of attendants, scan your paid ticket, and go.”

Port offices may move east
According to the port official, the top floor of the new parking structure may be constructed to house the Port’s headquarters offices.

“Downtown Portland, we have 300 employees who spend 70% of their time working on airport matters,” Brame tells us. “Engineering, Information Technology, and Human Resources all spend time a good deal of their time at PDX.”

In fact, Brame says workers annually spend 15,000 hours riding light rail back and forth from their current downtown offices. “When they are downtown, they aren’t connected with their prime customers ‚Äì the 14 million people pass though the airport.”

The new offices would provide 60,000 sq. ft. of space, into which about 100 workers would move. “The Port has made a commitment to sustainable building. It will have onsite waste water treatment and power generation, and will be built of sustainable materials.”

While the office is still on the drawing boards, Brame says the new parking lot construction has been approved.

Scott King, Port of Portland, describes some of the many projects that airport planners have been developing to alleviate traffic snarls near the airport.

Controlling ground traffic
As the airport gets busier, vehicle traffic to and from and surrounding PDX increases, says Scott King, also with the Port of Portland. “I know; I’m a local resident, and I live in the neighborhood.”

King says that PDX operates on a conditional use permit from the city. “It was updated in 2003, and we were told we had to do certain improvements. With the 2005 Oregon Investment Transportation Act in place, the Port submitted projects related to that fund. Other funding comes from the city.”

When the recent change allowing large-scale retail stores to be built at Cascade Station, King says more projects came on the map. “Most are low-impact in construction. But we also have a major projects, like one with a proposed ‘flyover’ ramp to ease freeway congestion.”

Of specific interest to attendees of the meeting was the concurrent proposal to widen Sandy Blvd. at 105th Ave.

Meet Commissioner Dan Saltzman in Parkrose Oct. 19
This month, the Parkrose Business Association welcomes Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who will speak on issues affecting the Parkrose area on October 19. The Member Moment will be offered by Terry Brier of Davey/Organicare.

Come at 11:30 a.m. so you’ll have time to meet these great folks. And, you’ll enjoy the best business lunch at town at Steamers Restaurant, 8030 NE Sandy Blvd. (east of NE 82nd Ave.); NO reservations required. For more information, check www.parkrosebusiness.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Earlier this year, the Portland Sea Scouts took first place honors at the regional regatta. Read this article and you’ll learn how one Gresham youth has grown, as a result of this distinctive program ‚Ķ

Sea Scouts Steven Adams, Andrew Hazell, and James Hoffman aboard their 44-foot motor life boat, VIKING.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In April, the Portland Sea Scouts participated in their annual Nor’Wester Sea Scout Regatta. The crews took part in 25 competitive events at the regatta, and the crew of one Portland vessel, CITY OF ROSES, was the overwhelming winner with 19 first places awards.

When we learned three of the Portland Sea Scouts’ craft were on public display recently, we decided to check in on the progress of the troop.

The Portland Sea Scouts crafts CITY OF ROSES and VIKING, on display at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion hotel.

On the dock, we became reacquainted with Andrew Hazell, a crew member of the Portland Sea Scout’s 44-foot motor life boat, VIKING ‚Äì sister ship of CITY OF ROSES.

With an air of authority one would expect of a naval officer, Hazell told us their ship, an former Coast Guard 44-foot motor life boat, was built in 1967. “The Coast Guard ran it until 1998. When it was decommissioned, we applied for the ship.”

It wasn’t a smooth sail, Hazell said. When they first got the VIKING, the starboard engine had a lot of problems. “The crew and officers hauled it out, and made all necessary repairs to put it in ‘ship shape’ condition.”

Gains discipline, respect and leadership
“I joined because I wanted to get on the water,” Hazell explained. “If you don’t own a boat, it is a rare opportunity to go on the water, basically for free.”

More than simply being a fun time on the water, Hazell said his Sea Scouts experience has taught him discipline, respect and leadership. “These concepts are integral parts of the program. The crewmembers dip the tanks, fuel the boat, check the oil, check the transmission. It’s not only learning to take responsibility for one’s self, but also for the boat and sharing responsibility with your crew members.”

Hazell said he’s grown as a leader during his four years in the program. “When I first came, I felt very unsure of myself and my skills. Over time, with training and learning skills, I feel confident, more able. Also, I feel a lot more confident in being able to talk to people.”

Sea Scout Andrew Hazell says he’s gained confidence from being in this program.

As an example, Hazell told us he’s joined the Speech and Debate Team at Gresham High School. “It turns out I love it. Now, partially thanks to the Sea Scouts, I can speak in front of people and state my views. I can reason out a position and present it.”

Community service
Each of the Sea Scouts maintains the shore of the Columbia River around their base. Also, to become a Quartermaster, every Sea Scout has to create and complete a community service project.

Oh yes, there is lots of boating
In addition to evening and weekend work parties, Sea Scouts enjoy boating. A lot of boating, Hazell told us! “Every year, we go on a long cruise and to the Regatta. We won first place every year! It felt great to be part of a winning team.”

Want to hit the waves? The Portland area Sea Scouts are actively seeking new members. Both young men and women, from those who have graduated from eighth grade this spring through high school age, are eligible for membership now.

For information on joining, and meeting schedules, call Pat Kelley at (503) 667-7835 days or evenings, or e-mail him at sss650@comcast.net.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Did you check out the Belmont Street Fair in September? If not, allow us to take you on this guided tour …

Many side streets along SE Belmont were closed, and turned into craft and entertainment midways as thousands of folks thronged.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the summer winds down each year, folks on SE Belmont Street hold their annual event — the Belmont Street Fair.

“Welcome to our yearly ‘party’ for Belmont,” is how John Barker, President of the Belmont Area Business Association, greets us.

John Barker, President of the Belmont Area Business Association, welcomes us to their street fair.

During this event, Barker tells us, merchants and crafters showcase their businesses in the area. “We promote Belmont as a great area to live, work, and play.”

A hot afternoon made it a great time for a cool treat like shaved ice!

This, their eleventh festival, draws nearly 5,000 visitors. They enjoy performances from local musicians’ performances and see the wares of many local craft vendors — all local.

Ding, ding, ding goes the Belmont Trolley, as it takes visitors up and down the storied Southeast Portland street.

“New this year,” Barker tells us, “is a display of futuristic alternative transportation. And, we also reach back to the past, by recreating the then-famous Belmont Trolley.”

Cookin’ up a heap of great-smellin’ barbecue is Bennie Blanton of ‘Wild Wild West’, an event and catering company located in the Belmont area (but serving all of greater Portland, Bennie assures us).

“I like the people who come here,” Barker concludes. “We seem to draw happy people who enjoy a fun, relaxed day strolling along Belmont St.”

Supporters Valerie Terrett and Trish Trout help at the Belmont Street Fair by selling T-shirts and giving helpful directions to attractions.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See the parking lot at SE 122nd Avenue and Division St. turned – for six hours only – into an auto show of most unique vehicles …

Old and new, the parking lot was turned into a festival-o-cars at southeast Portland’s PIZZA BARON “End of Summer Cruise-in”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From Mopars to foreign cars, motorcycles to roadsters, the parking lot in front of landmark Pizza Baron at SE 122nd Avenue and Division St. quickly filled with special-interest vehicles on Sept. 17 as the “End of Summer Cruise-in” got underway.

“Why pay to go to a roadster show?” asks Sherry Lankerson, as she and her husband Jack surf the sea of gleaming metal and glass. “There’s an amazing selection of cars here.”

Clay Lamb shows off his 1963 Plymouth Sports Fury to the “baron” of Pizza Baron, Bill Dayton. “Had one of these in High School,” Lamb says. “Found another one as an adult, so I bought it!”

Hundreds of spectators drift among the vehicles. “We were just passing by and decided to stop and look,” says Frank Paulis. “I can’t believe a show this great is free.”

Chandler Frey displays his MGTC roadster at the show. “You’re looking at the original paint,” he tells us. “But, I’ve got to wear pointed shoes to drive it! The pedals are very close together!”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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