Ballots are now in the mail: If four City Ballot Measures in the May 15 election pass, the way Portland is run will change dramatically. Read this and become an informed voter‚

While the discussion was framed as a “community discussion”, Portland Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard didn’t mince words as they expressed their views of the May ballot measures to change city government.

See it on Cable TV Channel 30!
If you have Cable TV, you can watch, videotape or TiVo this discussion between Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard on Channel 30 at these times:

  • Thursday, April 26 at  6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, May 4 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 11 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Monday, May 14 at 9:00 a.m.

By V. M. Wells
For East Portland News Service

Efficiency versus concentration of power was the gist of the opposing arguments, when Portland’s Mayor Tom Potter and City Commissioner Randy Leonard debated a proposal to change the form of the City’s government.

The main focus was Ballot Measure 26-91; it amends the City Charter to change the form of government.

The meeting, held at Parkrose High School on April 16, was sponsored by East Portland neighborhood associations, Central Northeast neighborhood associations, Southeast Uplift, and Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods. It was moderated by David F. Ashton.

Mayor Potter’s says voting in favor of Ballot Measure 26-91 will increase efficiency in city government.

Potter, wearing a shirt open at the throat, opened his presentation by calling on the members of the audience to stand in silence and mourn the death of the shooting victims at Virginia Tech University.

Potter pitches change in city government
The proposed change, which would put the management of the city in the hands of a city manager, would “give citizens more control over city government,” Potter declared.

Speaking in the school’s Atrium Commons, Potter said the things that make Portland worth living in currently happen “in spite of the form of city government,” rather than because of it.

The mayor and each of the four other Portland City Council members now oversee the city’s bureaus and departments. Under the new proposal, to be voted on in May, a city manager, called a Chief Administrative Officer, named by the mayor, would have full jurisdiction over the city’s administration.

Commissioner Leonard tells the group that Ballot Measure 26-91 puts too much power in the hands of one person and reduces the democratic nature of city government.

Leonard: Too much power
Leonard, wearing a sport coat and tie, declared that the proposed City Charter would concentrate “too much power in one person.”

Each man praised the other for their hard, conscientious work. Leonard said, “I’m glad Tom Potter is mayor, I’ll vote for him if he runs for re-election.”

But, his opposition to the proposal arises, partly, over a section of the proposal giving the mayor authority over the City Auditor, who, Leonard said, should be independent, as the auditor looks for mistakes and dishonesty.

Leonard also blasted a proposal to change the civil service rules and remove protection from “a whole swath of jobs.” In some cases, he said, civil service protection would be lost by employees “six layers down” the ladder.

Potter: Make tax dollars well spent
Potter summarized his stand by declaring, “The form of city government should make sure tax dollars are well spent. You can make our city better by voting ‘yes’ on the ballot measures.”

Leonard said the Portland City Club has recommended defeat for the proposed change, while developers “have given thousands of dollars” to help the measures pass.

Nearly 100 people attended the debate hosted by neighborhood associations throughout East Portland at Parkrose High School.

Leonard: Don’t give power to one person
“We cannot afford to give so much power to one person,” Leonard declared.

As an example, he said the mayor would, in effect, choose the city’s manager.

Further, he said, the proposed city charter would let the mayor sell city property, including parkland, with the approval of two other council members. “The way it is now,” Leonard explained, “four of five votes are needed to make a sale.”

Questions; and some answers
Written questions for the two guests were delivered to moderator Ashton, who read them aloud.

In answer to the question, “Why would this change in city administration lead to more responsive government?” Potter responded, “The city will have only one boss. Now, we have five.”

Thousands of American cities have city managers, he went on, but Portland is the only remaining city with over 100,000 population that still uses the commission system of government. In this system, each commissioner manages one or more bureaus, as assigned by the mayor.

Although both Potter and Leonard spoke vehemently and vigorously in while making their points, the two did share some lighter moments as well.

Potter: Greater efficiency and accountability
“This change would shift the city from five administrators to one Chief Administrative Officer,” Potter said “Everything would be under one boss, who would be accountable.”

Potter added, “It would prevent much duplication and inefficiency.”

The mayor stated that a study group has found that duplication of effort and services wastes more than $10 million a year.

Leonard: Changes would overburden mayor
Leonard said the proposed charter changes would overburden the mayor who, he said, “works too hard now.”

“With this form of administration, we would have a chain-of-command, not a democracy,” he went on. “It wouldn’t be responsive to the citizens.”

Leonard commented that he and the mayor had similar backgrounds. “Tom chose police, I chose the fire bureau. Both operate with using a strong chain of command.” But, he added, he’d learned a lot from being a city commissioner‚ council members must heed the needs of citizens.

Potter answered that the change would make it easier for citizens to reach council members, who would retain legislative duties.

Leonard: Concerned about citizen access
Leonard said, on the other hand, Portland leads the country in neighborhood activism. That kind of activity, he said, cannot be legislated.

“If citizens don’t like the treatment they receive from the Chief Administrative Officer,” Potter responded, “they would still have the same access to a commissioner that they have now.

“Part of the job of a city is to make itself accessible,” Potter declared. A CAO would “clarify who is responsible.”

Further, Potter added, the CAO would be responsible to the mayor and he to the people. “Voters can defeat the mayor,” he explained.

Disagree about the Tram
To a question asking if this new form of management would have brought the OHSU tram in on-budget, Potter responded that it cost millions of dollars more than forecast because “different council members were in charge of the project at different times. Money would have been saved if only one individual would have been in charge.”

Leonard responded that, if the mayor had voted to stop developers as they “pulled a fast one”, the cost would not have ballooned.

Regarding the city’s budget, Leonard warned that a “cadre” of experts would be needed to sift through every part of the city budget, at a cost of at least $2 million.

Potter responded saying this cost would be more than offset by the greater efficiency of the new form of government.

The mayor said the change in the charter would “put the council members out in the community, instead of behind a desk” and they “would have more authority than they have now.”

After the debate, both Mayor Potter and Commissioner Leonard stayed to talk with citizens. Here, Valerie Curry, Argay; Mary Walker and Marcy Emerson-Peters, Parkrose, speak with the mayor.

Leonard: No checks and balances
But Leonard warned that the proposal has “no checks and balances”. He also said, if access to policymakers truly is desired, the city should be divided into districts, and each council member be elected from a district.

Referring to the civil service reform ballot measure, Leonard stated he believed Potter would not replace employees with handpicked friends “but he won’t be mayor forever.” A future mayor would have the right to replace managers with his handpicked people, he warned “and it has happened in New York, Chicago, and other cities.”

Closing statements reflect sentiments
In closing statements, Leonard said the proposed charter would hand all the administration and most of the executive decisions to the mayor. “That’s too much power for one man.”

In closing, Potter told the audience, “If you want your tax dollars to go further and be more effectively spent, vote for the change. It will make our city better.”

Randy Leonard listens to a citizen’s response to the debate.

Resources:

  • For arguments in favor of changing Portland’s city government system and structure, see www.reformcityhall.com.
  • For arguments against changing Portland’s city government system and structure, see www.toomuchpower.org.

Special thanks to Gail Kiely for photographing this event for East Portland News Service.

© 2007 East Portland News Service – All Rights Reserved

Find out why this internationally-known outer
East Portland firm makes sure each Portland firefighter has a
Multi-Tool‚ and why the firefighters are happy about it‚

 Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Luis Martinez says his Multi-Tool comes in handy almost every day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When
seconds count, how do Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters cut
wires, adjust rescue equipment, or make an on-the-spot repair? They
reach for their Leatherman Multi-Tool.

So maybe the Leatherman tool can’t cut victims out
of a crushed car quite like the Jaws of Life, or see in the dark as
does a thermal imager, but firefighters like Luis Martinez say they are
grateful to receive the handy pocket-sized tool‚ as a gift from the
manufacturer.

An awesome gift
“This
is an awesome gift,” Martinez tells us. “I use mine almost every day.
All the firefighters I know carry their Leatherman on their hip; this
is one thing that doesn’t sit in the drawer. Most guys have two‚ one on
their regular uniform, and one in their turnout pocket.”

Not only is it a tool well-designed for
firefighters, Martinez adds, “It’s great that a local company steps up
to help us, by donating them to the bureau.”

 

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allen
Oswalt; Battlion Chief 3 Chris Babcock and Leatherman Tool’s Roger
Bjorklund and Juli Warner get together for a photo, at the formal
presentation of the Multi-Tools to the bureau.

Firefighters a good source of product feedback
“With
new recruits coming into the bureau,” says Roger Bjorklund, VP
Marketing Leatherman Tool Group, “we know City budgets are tight,
especially to buy products like this. We wanted to make sure all of our
Portland firefighters were able to carry the Multi-Tool.”

Although firefighters aren’t involved in any formal
product research project, “They’re great at giving product feedback,”
explained Bjorklund. “They use the Multi-Tools so much; they’ve given
us good ideas about how to improve our products. We’ve all benefited
from the relationship.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See the “public art” they’re cooking up for the Lents I-205 MAX station‚ and learn why two kids were honored at this neighborhood meeting‚

Michelle Traver, public art coordinator with TriMet, and artist Kim Hablin answer questions regarding a collage‚ illustrating the art project being developed for the Lents I-205 MAX station‚ posed by the Lents Neighborhood Association board members at their general, monthly meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Part of the I-205 MAX project includes public art at the light rail stations.

The board and members of the Lents Neighborhood Association got a sneak preview at a collage being created by artist Kim Hablin for the Lents MAX station.

“This art will be mounted at the Ramona Street cul-de-sac, at the back entrance to the Lents MAX Platform,” Hablin said.

Artist Hablin tells why she selected the images in the collage, and listens to feedback from neighborhood association members.

Hamblin said she started by doing research on the Lents area, and seeking out images from the Oregon Historical Society and other places. “There is so much to learn. I like this area a lot. The people here are really looking forward to something good. Hopefully, the art I create will play a part in their goal of strengthening their community.”

The project is in the “final design” stages, said Hamblin. It will go into production in late April.

Kids honored for thwarting car theft
Instead of looking the other way, three young Lents residents, Cameron Bell Dylan Lewis and Kyle Logan helped police track down car theft suspects and recover a vehicle.

Here’s the story: on March 11, Lents Neighborhood Association board members were holding a retreat at Clint Lenard’s house.

“We took a break and went to the corner market for a soda,” association chair, Dewey Akers, told us. “Another of our board members saw a car‚ belonging to his associate‚ that was previously stolen parked outside the store. “We tried to keep the suspected thief in the store while we called 9-1-1, but the he bolted,” Akers continued. The board members enlisted the aid of the three young men to help police track and apprehend the criminal.

Portland Police Bureau Commander Michael Crebs tells about the special golden coins about to be awarded.

So impressed was Portland Police Bureau Commander Michael Crebs, he came to the neighborhood association meeting to honor the two young men.

Commander presents commemorative coins
“I’m here tonight,” Crebs began, “because when I see young people doing the right thing, I feel good inside. It is difficult doing ‘the right thing’ sometimes. You get peer pressure not to help the police. You guys did the right thing. You helped make the community a better place to live.

Rosanne Lee, Crime Prevention Program Coordinator for Lents, awards certificates to the young men.

Holding up a golden coin, Crebs continued, “These are very special coins. It is the Portland Police Bureau coin. It was created and minted to be given to police officers and citizens who do exemplary work. I’m giving each of you a coin. Your parents can be proud of you for doing the right thing.”

Cameron Bell and Dylan Lewis show off their coins and certificates as they pause for this photo with Commander Crebs.

Then, crime prevention expert, Rosanne Lee, presented the lads with certificates, inscribed: “The Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Program recognizes you for assistance to members of the Lents Neighborhood Association on March 11, 2007, in apprehending car thieves. You demonstrated that participating in community policing is for people of all ages.”

Kyle Logan gets his Portland Police Bureau coin from Commander Crebs.

The youngsters seemed pleased as they accepted the coins and certificates. But, their eyes really lit up when they were also awarded tickets to the Century Theaters at Eastport Plaza by the association’s board members.

Learn more about the Lents Neighborhood Association at www.ilovelents.com

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how generous East Portland business associations and individuals stepped up when it looked like this Mt. Hood Little League’s season was stolen from them just after it started …

Standing behind (literally) the Madd Hornets are Richard Kiely, Home Run Graphics LLC and Norm Rice, First Class Properties, two businesspeople who gathered funds to help replace the team’s equipment. Gail Kiely photo

Story by David F. Ashton
Just days after the Mt. Hood Little League season started, it looked like one of the teams, The Madd Hornets, made up of kids from inner SE Portland, would be benched this year.

Their coach, Dan Wilson, said he woke early on April 5 and found his 1992 Honda Accord had been stolen from his home. The vehicle was loaded with the team’s gear.

It looked like the Madd Hornet’s home field, Parker Field on SE 72nd and SE Harney St., would be silent this spring‚ the 9- to 12-year-olds baseball players couldn’t practice or play without their equipment.

Local businesses pitch in
The owner of a Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood commercial printing business, Richard Kiely of Home Run Graphics LLC, told us he couldn’t stand to see this team’s play canceled.

“I imagined the overwhelming disappointment these kids must be experiencing,” said Kiely. “It tugged at my heartstrings; I knew I had to do something.”

Kiely sprung into action. “I called several friends in business and told them I’d put up $250 if they’d match it to help out the team.”

As a result, on April 7, Kiely presented the team with checks from the Island Creamery ice cream store, East Portland Chamber of Commerce, realtor First Class Properties, and his business. The grand total: $1,000.

Others around the community were touched by the team’s loss; GI Joes, Big 5 Sports employees and Poulsbo RV donated equipment.

Wilson’s stolen car was recovered on April 8. Although it was clear that the thieves rifled through his vehicle, all of the baseball equipment was still inside.

Richard Kiely holds thank-you plaques and league hats he’ll distribute to the generous donors that were presented to them by the team’s coach, Dan Wilson. Gail Kiely photo

Spreading the wealth
The donated baseball gear was put to use at other teams throughout the non-profit baseball league.

The associations and businesspeople who donated cash agreed a good use of the funds would be to sponsor the registration fees for needy kids around the league. Some of the money will also be used to maintain their playing fields.

“My hope is that this generous support by the community will help the kids on the team realize that, while there will always be bad guys in the world ‚Äì the good guys outnumber the bad guys,” stated Kiely.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Meet the former Lent student who will care for trees; see Mayor Tom Potter accept a national award, and make a proclamation; and witness two other groups being lauded at this very green event‚

Working along with Lent School students, METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty helps plant one of the 100 new trees at the school.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There’s a whirlwind of tree planting and award giving on April 3; a citywide Arbor Day celebration is well underway when we arrive.

We speak first with our friend, Lent School (formerly called Lent Elementary) principal Linda Ralley, who sets the stage for us.

“This activity involves Lent students making an important improvement to the school grounds, the community, and the planet,” Ralley tells us, as we look over the 100 medium-sized trees just planted around the schoolyard.

“The lesson we hope the students take away from this is that we all need to work together for our common good. It is important they know this, whether they are in kindergarten or in sixth grade‚ we’re all part of this together.”

Arborist Terrill Collier says he attended classes in the building behind him, at Lent Elementary School.

Meet the “Lents Tree Man”
We next met Terrill Collier, of Collier Arbor Care. The company was founded by his late father in 1937, and is one of Portland’s oldest tree and shrub care companies.

“I went to school here at Lent Elementary,” says Collier. Glancing over his shoulder, he continues: “I went to school in that small classroom building. I grew up in this neighborhood and have lived here all my life.”

Collier says the school is the exactly the same as he remembers it from over 30 years ago‚ including the fact there are no trees anywhere on the expansive grounds. “While it’s a shame we had to wait this long to plant these trees, we’ve now done it with the help of hundreds of students. This is the start‚ this is the time to do it. Future generations‚ my kids, and their kids‚ will enjoy the shade of the trees.”

Collier says his company seeks out an Arbor Day project in their service area each year at which to volunteer. “It is a pleasure to work with kids. It is encouraging to see their enthusiasm. It is special for me. Today we’re helping by watering the trees, and we’ll take care of them through the summer. Our company is committed to making sure they get a good start and grow strong.”

500 students plant trees
Collier had lots of help with the Lent School tree planting.

“About 500 kids planted trees today, with the help of 60 Home Depot employee volunteers,” explains Neighborhood Trees manager Brighton West, with Friends of Trees.

It is important to get youngsters involved, West tells us, “Because, in this part of Lents, there aren’t a lot of trees. We’re trying to reforest Portland.”

Kicks off 30th Portland Arbor Day — and month
Zari Santner, director of Portland Parks & Recreation, welcomes everyone to the day’s formal program. “This [Lent School planting project] is Portland’s 30th Arbor Day Celebration. This effort is creating a new neighborhood arboretum‚ the sixth in Portland.”

Mayor Tom Potter proclaims April to be “Tree Month” in Portland.

Portland’s mayor proclaims
“Isn’t this an exciting day?” Mayor Tom Potter asks of the Lent students gathered in front of him. “You’re making your school more beautiful by planting trees all around it.”

Potter continues, “As Mayor, I get to issue proclamations. This means we honor people and events that help make Portland a great city. Here is my proclamation for this day:
Whereas‚ Portland, Oregon, known as the City of Roses, and the City of Trees, is one of America’s most livable cities;
“Whereas, this community’s livability and quality of life can be attributed, in part, to the extraordinary collection of trees along its streets and in parks and private property, including Lent School;
“Whereas, this important urban forest is the result of careful stewardship, and the commitment to the propagation and management of trees in Portland;
“Whereas‚ for the 30th year in a row, Portland has been recognized for its high quality arboricultural efforts by the National Arbor Day Foundation, designating Portland as a “Tree City U.S.A.”;
“Whereas‚ Portland, Oregon, celebrates trees year ’round, with continued planting, with special recognition on Arbor Day, April 3, 2007;
“Therefore‚ I, Tom Potter, Mayor of the City of Portland, the City of Roses and City of Trees, do hereby proclaim April, 2007, to be Arbor Month.”

Mayor Tom Potter holds aloft the award recognizing the 30th year Portland has been named a “Tree City U.S.A.”

City lauded for tree efforts
Paul Reis, Oregon Department of Forestry, Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager and Kevin Sander, National Arbor Day Foundation then present the foundation’s “Tree City USA Award” to Ed Washington, Chair, and Portland Urban Forestry Commission, commission members and Mayor Potter.

“This is a ‘pat-on-the-back’ for supporting trees here in the Portland Area,” extols METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty.

“By planting the trees, you are creating something, contributing to a better future for your area,” METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty tells gathered students. “I hope you remember this day until you are as ancient as I am.”

Next, Bob Naito steps to the microphone to present two special “Bill Naito Community Trees Awards”.

Individual Community Tree Award: Ed Kerns
The Outstanding Individual Community Trees Award, is presented to a man we’ve called “Springwater Ed” Kerns in our news coverage over the years.

A true modern-day hero, Ed Kerns is recognized for the efforts he’s organized along the Springwater Trail since 1995.

“Recognizing the uniqueness of Johnson Creek in 1995, when the Springwater Trail was built,” Naito proclaims, “Kerns realized the potential of educating students about the wonders of trees and plants. Using the trail as a tool to get students from Kelly Elementary and Marshall High School involved in the natural environment, Kerns created the Links Springwater Habitat Restoration Group.

“Since then, He’s work worked with more than 5,000 volunteers, 3,000 of them students. He’s planted over 25,000 trees and shrubs and maintained hundreds of acres of the natural environment.”

Humble, as always, Kerns tells the audience, “It’s true, together, we’ve planted over 25,000 trees and shrubs and cleaned up quite a stretch of the Springwater Corridor through the Lents Neighborhood. I coordinated most of that‚ but I, obviously, couldn’t do the hard, physical work that has been going on for 12 years. Credit must also go to the thousands of volunteers from dozens of schools around Portland, mostly around the Lents area. I want to let Lents kids ‘own’ their neighborhood. Thank you all.”

Group Community Tree Award: Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Tree Committee
You’re not required to love trees‚ especially the American elm‚ but it certainly helps to have affection for all things arboreal to be an Eastmoreland neighborhood homeowner.

Catherine Mushel, Chair of the Eastmoreland Trees committee; Dan Dettmer volunteer and creator of the Eastmoreland Tree Walk shirt, neighborhood association president Gretchen Sperling and Eastmoreland tree liaison Karen Williams show off their engraved Community Trees Award.

Naito next recognizes the dedicated volunteers who organize and work with the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) Tree Committee for their efforts.

“People say that Eastmoreland is a neighborhood that is defined by its trees,” Mushel told the gathering of 200 celebrants. “There is a long list of people who deserve thanks, including Don and Darlene Carlson, who started our committees. Our Eastmoreland neighbors, working with countless groups, like the Boy Scouts, have donated time and materials. They’ve helped us serve and protect our trees.”

Mushel recognized Friends of Trees, Save Our Elms, and the City of Portland Urban Foresters, volunteers Nancy Hutchins and Tom Brown, and the thousands of volunteer hours worked by neighbors and tree-lovers.

“For those who walk in the shade of our trees during the summer,” Mushel concluded, “and wonder at the size of our Elms in winter, we share your wonder, and we enjoy the shade of our trees. We appreciate your help. For all our volunteers, The Bill Naito Award is your award, also.”

Resources:

  • Learn more about Friends of Trees — “We’re always looking for volunteers and places to plant trees.” at www.friendsoftrees.org.
  • Interested in the National Arbor Day organization? See www.arborday.org.
  • Come enjoy their trees, or learn more about the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association at www.eastmoreland.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Don’t miss the first community parade‚ and first Portland Rose Festival parade‚ of the season. See how business people and neighbors are working together to create this brand new event, slated for April 28‚

(Front row) 82nd Ave. of Roses Business Association president Ken Turner works with volunteers: Kathryn Notson, S. Tabor Neighborhood; Paul Ellison, Bank of the West; Johnni Beth Jones; (middle row) Sharon White, PDOT; Sandra McDaniel, Montavilla Neighborhood Association; Alema McCray, president, Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association; are Marie Sworske; (back row) Sgt. Reed Hunt, Portland Police Bureau; Kevin Williams, PDOT, and Greg Bockman, Montavilla Neighborhood volunteer.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The first outer East Portland Rose Festival event, and in fact the first community parade of the season‚ as well as being 82nd Avenue of Roses’ first-ever street event‚ will take place on Saturday morning, April 28.

“The first Annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade kicks off at 9:00 a.m.,” Ken Turner, the business association’s president tells us.

“This event is a collaborative effort,” Turner continues, “involving several neighborhood associations, business associations, and many other organizations. Participants include bands, marching groups, Chinese Lions, the Keystone Kops, Royal Rosarians, Rose Court Princesses, Portland Corvette Club, clowns, and more.”

The Avenue of Roses Parade starts at Eastport Plaza, 4000 SE 82nd Avenue.  The parade will travel north along 82nd Ave.; then west onto SE Yamhill, disbanding at SE 78th Avenue. Presenting sponsors for the event are Eastport Plaza Shopping Center and Washman, USA.

Festivities continue after the parade, with a sidewalk festival hosted by the Montavilla East Tabor Business Assn. and Montavilla Neighborhood Assn.

To participate in the parade, or for more information, contact Ken Turner at (503) 771-3817.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See volunteers from “Jane’s Park Group” as they take the next step in Midland Park’s development.  And‚ learn why this project could help YOUR garden grow‚

Arlene Kimura, Velda Altig and Dorothy Drews work with other volunteers to plant a butterfly-attracting garden at Midland Park, just west of the library’s parking lot of SE 122nd Avenue.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When it comes to helping keep outer East Portland “green”, many folks agree that Linda Robinson would qualify for an award, for her volunteerism.

When we caught up with Robinson‚ and seven additional volunteers‚ on March 31, she was working at Midland Park.

“We are planting a Butterfly Garden,” Robinson explained. Burying insects and hoping they’ll grow, we asked?

No indeed: We learned that a “butterfly garden” is one that includes plants which provide both nectar for the adult butterflies, and also plants on which caterpillar-stage butterflies can dine.

The butterfly is more than a pretty insect, Robinson assured us. “Sure, one can see pictures of butterflies in a book, but it’s always better to see them live, and in nature. More importantly, they are pollinators. Pollinators are especially important here, now that our honeybees are having problems with colonies collapsing. And, our native bees are more important for pollinating.”

About Midland Park
It was a grant that funded the purchase of Midland Park’s land. “It was written in the grant that the park be created and maintained as an urban bird and butterfly sanctuary park,” said Robinson. “When we did the master plan for the park about 10 years ago, the butterfly park was planned. We’re fulfilling the plan.”

Looking around the area, one sees rocks and some open area‚ butterflies warm themselves up on the rocks before they fly off, we learn.

This is the garden’s first phase. According to Robinson, planting will continue in the southern area of the park. “We’re planting the more colorful perennial plants right now. Then, we’ll plant some Oregon Grape. We’re doing this over a three-year span. We don’t want to plant more than we can maintain.”

Volunteer project coordinator Linda Robinson helps the garden’s designer, Sharon Perala, of “As Seasons Change Landscape Design”, shows us the plan for the Butterfly Garden.

Meet the designer
Robinson said this kind of garden doesn’t “just happen”. The garden used the services of Sharon Perala, of “As Seasons Change Landscape Design”.

“I like contributing to the community,” said Perala. “I’ve volunteered many hours, as well as being a contractor of the Jane’s Park group.”

Perala says there were many challenges in designing the garden. “We wanted to attract butterflies, and to have as many native plants as possible. But then you have to consider crime aspects‚ we couldn’t place any large dense shrubs which would hide criminal activity. We couldn’t have areas that would become too weedy; the garden needs to be low-maintenance.”

A favorite of butterflies, she says is the Snowberry. “But, the berries are poisonous; with kids coming into the park, we can’t have toxic berries next to the libraries.”

Even with these restrictions on the plant choices, the garden today is looking good. Included in it are Red-flowering Current, Rosemary, dwarf Red-twig Dogwood, Corabells. And, butterflies use grasses as places to hide and feed.

Around the edge of the garden are Douglas Iris and evergreen iris. We’re told rhododendrons will be planted later.

“It is more satisfying to design a park than, say a someone’s back yard. Everyone can come and enjoy it, and it’s for the whole neighborhood,” Perala commented.

You can help
Do you enjoy gardening? Come help out with their next planting. Contact Robinson at lrobins@pacifier.com and she’ll let you know when you can join the volunteers at Midland Park.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

When you see these photos, you’ll wonder how the driver was able to wedge her car between a building and utility pole‚ sideways!

Everyone who saw it said they were amazed to see how the driver of this car managed to wedge her vehicle between the utility pole and building.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Reports start coming into 9-1-1 Dispatch shortly after 9:30 p.m., reporting a car‚ stuck sideways‚ at 4434 SE 25th Avenue, on March 10.

On scene, we’re told a driver heading east on SE Holgate Blvd. tried to turn left, to go north, on SE 25th Avenue.

“Officers on scene said she took the turn too fast, popped up over the curb and onto the building,” is the official word according to Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Brian Schmautz. He identified the driver as 23-year-old Erica Wiggins.

“On the first calls,” reports PF&R Lt. Allen Oswalt, “there were reports the car was on fire. When our personnel from Engine 23 arrived, they saw steam escaping from the car’s radiator, but there was no fire. In fact, they reported no injuries in the accident.”

Portland Fire & Rescue workers stand by in case natural gas fumes ignite after the accident.

Engine 23 crewmembers tell us it looked as if Wiggins’ car “drove over” a natural gas meter and its pipe feeding Premiere Manufacturing, located at that corner. They, and police, cordoned off a block surrounding the site to make sure any leaking gas would not ignite.

A NW Natural Gas emergency service technician checks for leaks, and turns off the gas supply. You can also see the skid marks leading up to the building and the impact point on the cement block wall.

As NW Natural Gas gets the service safely shut off for the building, Engine 25 and Truck 25 firefighters arrive. “Our personnel accompanied a representative of Premiere,” reports Lt. Allen Oswalt, “to inspect the inside of the building. They were checking both for gas fumes and the structural integrity of the wall that was hit. PGE crews also checked the utility pole and guy wire.”

Wiggins was cited for Reckless Driving, Schmautz says..

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

This story reads like an action-movie script. And, see why detectives say conflicting information leads them to believe this crime may be drug related‚

After the report of an armed home invasion, police mobilize SERT officers on SE 92nd Ave., three blocks north of the target house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A resident is taking a late afternoon nap. Suddenly, he hears the door crashing in. Shaking off the cobwebs of sleep, he somehow knows the home-invading bandits have guns, and figures it’s best to get out.

Clad only in boxer shorts, the victim grabs his cell phone, bolts out another door, and calls 9-1-1. He tells operators three armed men just busted into his house.

Even though the location is about as far south as one can go on SE 92nd Avenue while remaining within Portland city limits, cop cars arrive in a flash. Officers sprint from their cars and collar two suspected robbers as they stroll out of the house.

Portland Police Bureau Commander Michael Crebs heads into the “Mobile Precinct” to coordinate the operation.

One reportedly armed thug not found
With one armed bandit presumed to be still on the lam, officials activate the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT).

From across Portland, SERT officers roll up “code three”, and gather under the I-205 viaduct on SE 92nd Avenue. The precinct commander steps into the Mobile Precinct, and takes charge of the unfolding situation.

Not an action movie
While this tale may seem like the story line from a thrilling action-adventure movie‚ the scenario actually played out at 4:47 p.m. on March 11, in the 8500 block of SE 92nd Avenue at SE Clatsop Street. It disrupted the lives of residents for a four-block radius.

We arrive on-scene shortly after the call-out. Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Brian Schmautz filled us in on the developing situation.

Armored SERT vehicles arrive on scene.

“If there was a third individual,” Schmautz tells us, early in the event, “this person may have gotten out in the very short time it took us to set the perimeter [a dragnet of officers]. Either the third suspect bolted from the house, or is still inside. Because we’ve found two suspects armed with handguns, we’re not going to take a chance. Protocol is to activate SERT.”

SERT is activated, Schmautz explains, whenever the best information available alerts them that an armed person has barricaded him or herself in a building. The Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT), attempts to make contact. The commander makes the decision on whether, and if so when, to deploy SERT into the building.

This woman came up to police lines, saying she is a resident of the target house. She was not allowed past the yellow police tape that cordoned off the area.

Draw a tight dragnet
Police swarm the area, all activity coordinated by the police official in charge, East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs.

No one‚ for any reason‚ is allowed in or out of the quarantined area.

Neighbor Bob Hamilton shakes hands with an officer‚ and waits to go to his home just one block away‚ but located within the quarantined zone.

From where he stands with us at SE 92nd Avenue and SE Crystal Springs Drive, neighbor Bob Hamilton can see his house, a block away.

“I’ve talked with my wife. She’s OK,” says Hamilton. “It looks like the police have this really well organized. They’re doing what they have to do; they’re not letting someone run around the neighborhood with a gun.”

A TV reporter asked Hamilton if crime near his home frightened. “Not really,” he responds, “there’s crime all over Portland.”

Reports “extenuating circumstances”
Schmautz stays at the event, updating reporters with what little news becomes available.

We ask the police spokesman, “What, specifically, did the victim say that leads police to believe there were three‚ not two or four‚ assailants?”

“Our situation intelligence people from HNT talked to the resident,” Schmautz informs us; “and detectives are talking to the two captured suspects. There are some extenuating circumstances, we’ve learned.” He doesn’t elaborate.

After hours of “loud-hailing” fails to produce a suspect, SERT officers shoot tear gas grenades into the house.

SERT makes entry
Darkness falls on this drizzly evening. After hours of “loud-hailing” the house, the commander orders the SERT entry team to search the house.

We hear a “pop, pop, pop”‚ the sound of teargas canisters being lobbed into the house. Dressed in heavy body armor, SERT officers storm inside.

A room-by-room search produces no third suspect‚ only a dog, limp from inhaling teargas, is carried from the house.

Police say that this man, Reynaldo Chamizo-Zayas, was sleeping, when the home-invading robbers broke in his door, causing him to flee.

Situation still under investigation
No third suspect was ever located, either in or out of the house. Officials aren’t saying whether they still believe the report that there actually were three suspects involved in the home invasion.

Schmautz later states that the victim, 34-year-old Reynaldo Chamizo-Zayas, gave police detectives conflicting information about the crime. “Information obtained during interviews has led detectives to believe that this crime is drug-related,” he reports.

Owners of the house board up the door broken by the bandits, and the windows busted out by teargas rounds.

As clean-up efforts begin on the broken-into house, police continue to investigate this case.

In the wee hours of April 12, detectives book 31-year-old Jossean Rivera and 29-year-old Juan Aguilar-Fernandez in connection with the home-invasion robbery. Both are charged with one count of Burglary in the First Degree, and three counts of Theft in the First Degree.

Authorities say these two men, Jossean Rivera and Juan Aguilar-Fernandez, were caught red-handed with cash, guns, and stolen I-Pod in hand.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The principal knew the grocery store manager was about to present a gift to his school. But see just how BIG a check this southern outer East Portland received‚

West Powellhurst Elementary’s principal, Allen Browning, welcomes his young students back after Spring Break.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Streams of kids pour into the gym at West Powellhurst Elementary a few minutes before their assembly begins, in early April.

Principal Allen Browning confides, “I invited you here so that you can learn about the connection we’ve made between an area business and our school.”

The school buys supplies for many of the school’s events at their nearby Safeway store, says Browning. “And, they’ve also been a great supporter of our projects; they donate food and beverages for many of our events.”

No April Fools joke
Into the gym then walks Joe Quigley, manager of the Safeway store at SE 122nd Ave. at Powell Blvd. And, he’s holding a VERY large check in his hand.

“We’re presenting West Powellhurst Elementary with a check in the amount of $1,105.05,” says Quigley with a big smile. “This money came from the generosity of our customers, and the employees at the store. We have collection canisters at our check-out stands. Any spare change customers wanted to donate they placed in the canister.”

Joe Quigley, manager of the Safeway store that “adopted” the school, greets the student audience.

Quigley says he chose the school because of its proximity to the store. “Many of the students’ families shop with us. We had a couple of teachers at this school introduce themselves to me when I started managing this store. Our relationship has grown from there.”

The store manager explains that the store’s employees themselves decide who will get the funds from the “spare change” canisters for a ten-month period.

“It’s great. I’m excited‚ and enjoy seeing the kids,” exclaims Quigley. “After we made a presentation at the school last year, supporting breast cancer research, many of the students have come up to me to say hello. It is great to build this kind of connection with our community.”

Safeway’s Joe Quigley and Principal Allen Browning “show us the money” which was donated by the store’s shoppers and employees.

Funds support good behavior
Browning says the school buys a lot of small prizes for positive behavior support program.

“We also conduct fundraisers with our booster organization‚ we’re looking to replace some of our old playground equipment. But we also do field trips and assemblies‚ this money helps support that as well,” Browning adds.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

You, too, might be amazed at how much food these elementary school kids gathered to help feed the needy. Take a look, and see why they did it‚

The Russell Academy’s 1st grade class collected the most food for the needy. They’re joined by their teaching assistant (sorry, we missed her name), teacher Tammy Hess, and the school’s Food Services supervisor, Rena Mauldin.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Students at Parkrose’s Russell Academy of Academic Achievement celebrated National Nutrition Month throughout the month of March by learning good eating habits.

“In addition to the food education program,” explained Joan Opp, Parkrose School District’s food services manager, “we also wanted to contribute to the needs of our community.”

Russell Academy’s food service supervisor, Rena Mauldin, championed the notion of having a food-collecting contest among the rooms, Opp said.

“Our students asked why we’re doing this food drive,” continued Opp. “This gave us the chance to tell them that some people in our community don’t have enough food to eat. We’re sharing our food with their family.”

Collect a truckload of food
The idea caught on, and soon stockpiles of nonperishable foods were growing.

Tammy Hess’ 1st grade class collected the most. “They worked really hard to bring food for the drive to help food for hungry people,” she said.

A “beep-beep-beep” sound signaled that a large Parkrose School District truck was backing up to the school’s door.

“All of this food will be delivered today,” Mauldin told us. “It’s going to our ‘local’ food bank, Crossroads Cupboard, on NE 102nd. This food resource will stay here in Parkrose, helping Parkrose families.”

Helping move the food into the Crossroads Cupboard, Louise Tatro supervises Parkrose School District workers [behind] John Butler, Al Lanxon.

Warmed by kids’ “good hearts”
At the Crossroads Cupboard, we met the organization’s secretary–volunteer Louise Tatro. “I’ve been working with the food bank for 20 years now. It’s affiliated with Crossroads Christian Church.”

As the men unloaded the truck, Tatro exclaimed, “It is wonderful to get this food. Earlier today, in a two-hour period, we served more than 82 families. The families are large, which means we helped 200 people in total.”

Tatro said this outpouring of food‚ gathered by kids‚ warmed her heart. “It’s wonderful that grade school students do this. Some people think today’s kids are just ‘throwaways’‚ but they are, in fact, good kids. This shows they have good hearts and want to help. We really appreciate the help.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

They’ve been shooting this movie, starring Diane Lane, all over town. See what we saw “on location” in Eastmoreland‚

Many moviemakers try their best to keep citizens far away from their site. But, the producers of the forthcoming major film “Untraceable” welcomed neighbors to watch them shoot their movie.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Eastmoreland was turned into a Hollywood back-lot for three days during Spring Break, as the crew of the motion picture Untraceable moved into the neighborhood.

Spring Break traffic was slightly disrupted along SE 39th Avenue, because the street was lined with motion picture craft services trucks.

Although they were shooting in and around only one house, located on SE Carlton Street midway between SE 39th and SE 36th Avenues, trucks loaded with movie-making gear lined Eastmoreland area streets.

The production company hired “crossing guards” to direct traffic, keeping vehicles moving smoothly along SE 39th Avenue, while at the same time protecting crewmembers carrying equipment or rolling carts laden with gear.

Because they were shooting the movie in a home just west of SE 39th Avenue, the portable dressing rooms and food services were set up in the Holy Family Church parking lot.

Caravan moves in before dawn
A homeowner at the corner of SE 39th Ave. and Henderson St. stood in his yard, looking at the tents and trailers across the street in the Holy Family Church parking lot.

“They came in this morning about 5 a.m.; I was getting ready to go fishing when they showed up,” he told us on March 26, the first production day in Eastmoreland.

At the home in which they were shooting, tons of movie magic making gear gave the director the exact “look” he was seeking.

Production company makes friends
While many movie producers try their best to shoo “locals” away from their production areas, the Lakeshore Entertainment production team showed up demonstrating a remarkably affable attitude.

For example, a few days before the production moved into Eastmoreland, neighbors told us a public relations person went door-to-door, telling them that the crew was about to come to their neighborhood. “She gave me her card and cell phone number,” said a resident, “and said to call if there were any problems.”

And, instead of being chased away from the home being used as a set, neighbors were invited to watch.

A production assistant, who stood in the street in front of the house, answered questions. In addition to shooting on the Broadway Bridge, he said, the crew has also shot in Irvington. “The rain does get to you. You get wet. But it wasn’t as bad as the film I was working on in Chicago‚ man, that was cold.”

When the cameras are rolling inside, workers outside disappear for a few minutes.

All quiet‚ Action!
From inside the house, we heard some shout, “All quiet”‚ a call echoed by crewmembers around the property. Crew stopped their activities. The neighborhood fell silent.

Then, we could faintly hear director Gregory Hoblit call “Action”‚ and we watched the actors perform their scene. Finally the call “Cut” rang out, and workers started preparing the next shot.

About Untraceable
Here’s the story line: In a story set in the future, an FBI cybercop must race against time to track down a ruthless online predator.

The cast includes Diane Lane as Jennifer, Dan Callahan as Trey Restom and also features Colin Hanks, Billy Burke, Joseph Cross and Mary Beth Hurt.

This thriller, also known as “Urgency“, is a Lakeshore Entertainment production to be released by Screen Gems Production Co. The release date has not yet been set.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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