Firefighter’s fast response ‚Äì and solid construction ‚Äì keeps new condos at NE 84th Ave. and Russell from burning up in a fiery ball of death ‚Ķ

By the time we arrived, minutes after it was reported, Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 12, with assistance from the crew from Station 2, start to clean up their gear.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Crews from Portland Fire & Rescue race into action when a multi-family dwelling catches on fire. They know a small fire can quickly turn into a major conflagration – especially when it is fueled by burning vehicle parked in a garage below the living area.

When the call came in about 5:30 p.m. on September 29, crews from three fire stations raced to newly-constructed, occupied condominiums located east of Nelson’s Nautilus at NE 84th Ave. and Russell St.

The owner of the garage to the right of the burned unit belongs to Pat Tilman, who was home at the time of the blaze, and said the fire could have been worse.

His building on fire
Pat Tilman owns a condo unit, next to the unit where the fire was reported. “I heard someone yelling that there was a fire,” he told us as we stood in the alley behind the beige siding-clad, two-story building.

“I heard fire engines coming. I came outside and realized the fire was in my building. Before I got to the back of my unit, the firefighters were already putting out the fire in the garage next to mine, and starting to chop my garage door open. I told them I could save them time by opening it for them.”

The fire was out; firefighters were clearing everything out of the burned unit next to Tilman’s. “It could have been worse,” he mused.

Firewalls save homes, lives
“We have a rows of condominiums joined together,” is how Portland Fire & Rescue Battalion Commander Dave Disciascio described the situation.

A fire bureau investigator looks over the burned car that was suspected to be the cause of the blaze.

“On the bottom floor, along the alley, we have single car garages. These garages are built with one-hour firewalls. This was a real good thing.”

Although fire investigators have yet to release a report, Disciascio told us it looked as if a car in one of those garages ‚Äì the one next to Tilman’s unit ‚Äì started on fire. “It pretty much burned up the car. But, the fire didn’t extend because of the firewall.”

Had it not been for the one-hour rated firewall, the battalion chief said, the fire would have been a tragedy, instead of an inconvenience.

Apartment and condo units built some years ago weren’t required to line the walls of their garages or parking spaces with firewalls. “If this fire, fueled by a burning car, would have started in an old building, we’d still be fighting it, and the blaze would be awfully spectacular, and perhaps deadly.  This fire is inconvenient ‚Äì it could have been tragic.”

¬©  2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Discover why a retired company president is leading a campaign to fully-fund Head Start programs. And, see a cute photo of Governor Ted Kulongoski reading to kids at the rally at Russellville …

Governor Ted Kulongoski read the storybook, “David Goes to School”, to the children in such a colorful and engaging way that, the kids at the Head Start program at Russellville didn’t pay attention to the reporters and TV gear at the “Ready for School” campaign stop.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“If we want to cut crime, reduce social services expense, and boost the state’s economy, fully-fund Head Start programs statewide.” This is the message delivered at a “Ready for School” campaign rally in Russellville on September 12 by business leaders, politicians, and the East Precinct police commander.

While Governor Ted Kulongoski appeared at the rally as a media drawing-card, Richard Alexander, the retired founder of Oregon-based Viking Industries, talked up the initiative effort.

“The statewide ‘Ready for School’ campaign is committed to making early childhood education available to all eligible children living in homes below the poverty level,” Alexander told us in a private interview. “Our organization is made up of concerned folks, none of whom stands to benefit — either financially or politically — from this effort.”

Those listed as initiative supporters range from liberal to conservative; and come from all sectors of the economy. “We’re a diverse group, but we all agree that early childhood education will improve the lives of many children. But more importantly, it will improve their lives as adults.”

Retired founder of Viking Industries, Richard Alexander, makes his case in favor of early childhood education before a well-attended press conference at the Russellville Head Start program.

Economic argument for Head Start programs
Early childhood education is a critical economic issue for Oregon, Alexander, Chair of the “Ready for School” campaign, explained. “Without a good education, children tend to do poorly in school. Many drop out of education along the way. Those who ‘fall’ along the way eventually get ‘caught’ in our social safety net. They are more likely to become incarcerated throughout their lives.”

During his remarks at a press conference held at the Russellville Head Start Center, Alexander said the research he’s seen is convincing:

“If a child isn’t reading at the third-grade level at the end of the third grade, the odds are high they will not be reading at ninth-grade level in ninth-grade. They are likely to drop out of school.

“Too often these kids go into the fourth grade and beyond, and decide that won’t be measured by academic standards. Mentally, they drop out of school. They get big enough to walk out in ninth grade.

“After that, if they drop out, the likelihood they’ll get in trouble with the law, or be incarcerated, goes up very sharply. As they grow into adults, they are likely to depend on long-term social services, including lifestyle-induced medical problems.”

Head Start breaks poverty cycle
Sadly, Alexander added, it is likely that the children of poorly educated individuals will repeat this cycle. “We’re trying to break that cycle. Things clearly don’t need to be this way.”

To back up his sentiment, Alexander produced the results of research studies demonstrating that a child who has been in Head Start is twice as likely to graduate college as one who didn’t. “That’s compelling. In addition to their having a more fulfilling life, consider the enormous economic savings to society.”

On the bandwagon

Oregon’s education superintendent, Susan Castillo, speaks up for early education programs.

State Superintendent of Schools Susan Castillo, spoke briefly, noting yet another benefit to the program: “Every dollar we invest in Head Start means fewer teen pregnancies.”

Governor Ted Kulongoski said he visited the outer East Portland Head Start facility in Russellville to draw attention to the need for early childhood education.

Governor Ted Kulongoski remarked, “We have a changing society. In this competitive global economy, change is the rule of the day. How do we give every child in Oregon an opportunity to compete in this economy?‚ĶInvest in education and skills training. Oregon’s niche should be to have the best trained, skilled, and educated workforce of any state in the country.”

Merkley cites a 17 to 1 return on investment
While not an official speaker at the event, Oregon Representative Jeff Merkley told us he attended to show his support.

“I’ve been championing full funding for the Head Start program. I’m glad the governor came to my district to support this campaign for early childhood education. It is really clear that when you invest in children, the returns for society are enormous. The young people have happier and more productive lives, pay more taxes and consume less social services.”

Merkley added, “Reports I’ve seen shows a 17-to-1 return on dollars invested in early childhood learning programs. This is well worth considering.”

The antidote to crime: Hope
We asked Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs why he was at this event.

“I support this new campaign for Head Start,” Crebs related to us, “because education and mentoring for young people are keys to reducing crime and the fear of crime.

“It’s all about hope. People who are educated tend to have more hope in their lives. People who have more opportunities are less likely to become involved in criminal activity. They’re more likely to be productive, tax-paying citizens.

“From my experience as a police officer, it’s clear to me that people who have the hope and opportunities that education brings, typically don’t get in trouble. The ones we see [in the criminal justice system] are the ones who have no hope.”

Behind the scenes: Ever wonder what is going in the room during a “photo opportunity” set up for person running for political office? The scene isn’t quite as warm and cozy as it looked on TV news.

For more information, see

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Let’s check in with the East Portland Chamber of Commerce and see how this energetic group is supporting local businesses ‚Ķ

East Portland Chamber of Commerce members surround Terri Stromatt and Rithya Tang (front row, center) of DNA Services of America at the ribbon cutting ceremony not long ago.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In addition to representing east Portland businesses on the city, county and regional basis and their “Good Morning East Portland” Wednesday morning networking gatherings, the East Portland Chamber of Commerce welcomes new businesses to the area.

Recently, we met Rithya Tang, principal of the Portland of DNA Services of America lab.

“Through DNA testing,” Tang told us, “we can conclusively identify biological relationships. Our genetics laboratory provides accurate and conclusive results of paternity tests, for example.”

Their company is located in the Hollywood area at 3939 NE Hancock St., Suite 209, Portland, OR 97212.

Scrambling through the brambles

Richard Sorem, Stewart & Tunno Insurance Agency, winds up for a swing on the 10th hole at Edgefield Manor’s hillside golf course at the Chamber’s “Bramble Scramble” Golf Tournament.

The chamber helps its members build their businesses by providing stimulating networking activities. On September 8, it was their annual golfing event.

The “Bramble Scramble” Golf Tournament, held at McMiniman’s Edgefield, brought both golf affectionate and duffers for a wonderful afternoon of golf and fellowship.

The best way to tell the story is in pictures!

Gail and Richard Kiley (Home Run Graphics) provide hospitality at the hole they sponsored.

Todd Grasle (BC Graphics) holds the ball with which he made a “Hole In One” ‚Äì the 9th hole is behind him.

Sue Eastman (SE Works) selling tickets ‚Äì lots of tickets ‚Äì to Jonathon Shorter (Adventist Health). By the way, he took home many of the great raffle prizes. “If you want to win, you’ve got to play,” Shorter says.

Event title and “Gold Sponsor” Richard Sorem, Stewart & Tunno Insurance Agency, thanks the group for participating.

Platinum Sponsor AJ Prasad, Town Center Bank, shares a few thoughts.

The Silver Sponsor was Adventist Health. Monty Knittel addresses the group.

EPCC Ambassador’s Chair, Norm Rice (First Class Properties) samples the food at the apr?®s-golf reception at Edgefield Manor.

Nancy Chapin (The Support Group) diligently adds up the golfer’s scores.

Third Place awards go to the Adventist Health team: Monty Knittel, Jonathan Shorter, Hannah Clegg and Carol Cate.

Second Place winners were Team BC Graphics; Greg Zuffrea is accepting the gifts and prizes for his teammates from Sue Eastman (SE Works).

First Place team was made up of Richard Kiley (Home Run Graphics), Shelley Belt, (Madison Vinyards a visitor and member of Prosser Chamber of Commerce in WA); Richard Sorem, Ran Manza (Stewart & Tunno Insurance Agency).

For more information about this great business group, or to find the location of their next free Good Morning East Portland Wednesday morning networking meeting, go to

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The fourth “Shop with a Cop” in East Portland event was led by Portland’s best known ex-officer, and Woodstock resident, Mayor Tom Potter. See what happens when he is joined by 50 cops from all over town ‚Ķ

Students Jose Carades and Alvaro Sanchez are assigned to Portland’s best known ex-cop, Mayor Tom Potter.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A week before school started, the parking lot of the Johnson Creek Boulevard Fred Meyer store, on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, was swarming with police officers early one morning. But this massive police presence wasn’t there to foil a criminal caper.

“We’re in our fourth year of the ‘Shop with a Cop’ program,” the event coordinator, Senior Night Sgt. Larry Graham, explained to us. “In addition to helping kids from outer southeast Portland, we’re helping kids from all over the city.”

At the “Shop with a Cop” event, Officer Nancy Poggi gets briefed by Sgt. Larry Graham.

Graham said this event epitomizes community policing in action. “The kids get the chance to bond with a police officer and see them in a positive environment. Many of the officers are here on their own time.” After working his graveyard shift, Graham again volunteered to help at the event.

The sponsoring organizations chipped in the funds to put $157 on each of the 100 gift cards used at the event. And, to make the money go farther, the Johnson Creek Blvd. Fred Meyer store reduced prices on back-to-school clothing and supplies for the event.

Officer Jim Gaither participated in the “Shop with a Cop” program. Here, he’s helping student Jacob Boyle. “I like being with young people and giving them a positive role model.”

Mayor Tom Potter, an ex-cop himself, participated in this year’s event. “I’ve heard about this great event, and wanted to participate this year,” he said. “I’m just here to help out and lend support. Our police officers are the real stars of this event.”

The Portland Police Bureau, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland, the ROSE CDC and Fred Meyer have helped nearly 400 young people get ready for school with this unique program.

Do they intend to do it next year? “You bet,” assured Graham.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Food, fun and friendship are the elements that drew hundreds of inner Southeast Portland families to Woodstock Park for a picture perfect afternoon of frivolity …

A walkway through Woodstock Park turned into a festival center, featuring booths set up by area restaurants, merchants, service businesses, and community service groups.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In 2005, neighbors in the Woodstock area were disappointed because the annual “Woodstock Festival” street fair didn’t take place.

“Our neighborhood association decided we wanted to do something,” said Ruthann Bedenkop, chair of last year’s event, and volunteer this year. “So, we created the Woodstock Family Picnic.”

Even though this year’s revived Woodstock Festival was a success in July, the August Family Picnic was “even better than last year. We have the same amount of booths, and great attendance,” Bedenkop said.

Folks who came out were treated to old-fashioned fun — like a cakewalk, martial arts demonstrations, and a whole day of great live music.

“Our neighborhood association feels it is important for people to come out and meet one another. Also, as an association, we want to give back to the community,” Bedenkop explained. “Working with lots of volunteers and businesses, together, we’ve created an event of which we’re all proud.”

The estimated attendance for the August 19 event was pegged at 1,000. “Watch for our date next year,” Bedenkop concluded, “We definitely want to do it again next year!”

Woodstock Family Picnic Photo Album

The cake they won at the picnic’s Cake Walk didn’t last long! Elliott Gareau, Kathleen Burns, Karynne Gareau and their friends made quick work of it!

When it came to fresh, hot, tubular treats, Dave Braman of Otto’s Sausages was busy serving ’em up, fresh off the barbecue.

Courtney Ford, Dawn Fillasen and Kailee Ford are having crafty fun at the Portland Parks and Recreation booth.

Jeff and Eileen Walter, known as the early American music duo, “Extra Measure”, play for the Woodstock Family Picnic. “I teach the fiddle,” Eileen says. “It’s like learning the violin, except more fun.”

Keeping cool on a warm day, while entertaining picnic-goers at the dunk tank, is picnic volunteer Eric Hupp.

Are Prudence and Ronan Leith getting a treat from Carman Miranda? Nope ‚Äì it’s Anna Zimmerman from Island Creamery.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

After nearly 7 hours, police patience pays off, as Washington County SERT officers take an armed outer East Portland man into custody …

For several hours, traffic on outer SE Foster Rd. came to a standstill, while police formulated a plan to take an armed man into custody.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A resident in an adult foster care home on SE 128th Ave, a block south of Foster Road, was having a very bad day on September 20, according to his caregiver.

That was when a 60-year-old resident, said to have mental health issues, allegedly pointed a gun at his caregiver. She quickly escaped, called police, and slipped out of a window to make her escape. Other residents and workers at the home were also safely evacuated.

“The call about the initial confrontation was called in at 11:50 a.m.,” is what Det. Paul Dolbey told us on scene.

Nearby, Gilbert Park Elementary and Alice Ott Middle School were put into “lockdown”. Traffic on outer SE Foster Road came to a standstill.

From a block away, neighbors could hear police officers “loud-hailing” the man, asking him to pick up the telephone, answer the cell-phone delivered to him, or just come to the door.

The troubled man was refusing to cooperate.

With Portland’s SERT unavailable, the team from Washington County drove deep into outer East Portland to assist with this standoff situation.

Because the Portland Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) officers were in training, the Washington Count SERT responded to the call. And, because East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs was out of town, SE Precinct Commander Derrick Foxworth took charge of the situation.

“In a situation like this, time is on our side,” explains Det. Dolbey. “We can take all the time we need to exhaust all of our communication efforts, and to carefully plan an entry if necessary.”

When school let out, only the students living north of Foster Rd. were allowed to walk home. Those living within the police-taped area to the south were held in a safe area until a parent could pick them up.

Rosanne Jackmond, waiting to return to her home in the cordoned-off area with her daughter Jasmine, spent hours in the Dairy Queen parking lot at the corner of SE 128th Ave and Foster Rd. “I’d rather be here ‚Äì and safe,” she explained. “We’re warm and dry in the SUV.”

Over the PA system, we heard a Washington County negotiator, and even a friend of the man who was holed-up inside the home, calmly asking him to give up and come out.

Late in the day, a loud bang rang out. “The bang was a ‘less lethal’ round the SERT team fired earlier to break out a window,” Darbey informed us, “to give them better visual access into the home.”

Able to walk to the police car under his own power, the man who caused the day-long standoff appears to be uninjured.

In custody
About 6:30 p.m., the SERT team rushed into the home. They challenged him; we’re told he did have a weapon. He gave up, was handcuffed, and was taken into custody.

“No one was injured,” Dolbey confirms. “We’ve had a successful and safe ending to a six-and-a-half hour standoff. Washington SERT and negotiation teams deserve credit. They did a great service for us here, today.”

Although Dolbey confirmed the man was armed when the SERT made entry, he said he didn’t know if criminal charges would be filed.

Riding in the back seat of this police car, the subject of the day-long standoff is taken to a nearby hospital for mental and physical evaluation.

“It is always a good day,” Dolbey concluded, “when everyone leaves the scene, uninjured.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

They weren’t bustin’ broncos at the East Portland Community Center; see how this course could keep youngsters from being busted up ‚Äì or worse ‚Ķ

Although off duty, Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer was on hand to welcome parents and kids to the first-ever ‘bike rodeo’.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If only one child is saved from being injured or killed by the lessons they learned at the first-ever “Bicycle Rodeo”, the hosts and sponsors say the event was worth the effort.

“We at East Portland Community Center,” Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer tells us, “are helping kids learn and practice safe biking skills.”

Checking kids into the rodeo are members of the Lloyd Lions Club. “Our clubs are committed to helping youth and youth activities,” says president David Bolton with a smile.

Cory Tipton of Shiloh Cyclery safety checks the bike Chris Powers brought to the event for his son Alex to ride.

Event provides good reinforcement
At the event, kids navigate around the skills course of tightly-spaced safety cones to sharpen their balance and braking ability. They also ride, with a Portland Police Bike Officer at their side, within a miniature chalk-drawn city, complete with stop signs and hazards.

“We all like to ride bikes a lot,” is what David Wilson tells us, as his son Brendon is riding the course. “Where we live, about the only place we can ride is on the street. I really want him to be safe, be skilled, and know the laws. We’ve done our best to teach him well, but this is good reinforcement from what he’s learned from us.”

Portland Police Bike Officer Heath Kula guides Brendon Wilson around the Bike Rodeo course, offering teaching and providing praise for a job well done.

“It is also important for youngsters to learn and know the rules of the road, traffic control signs and signals. I can’t think of a more tragic situation than for a careful motorist to hit a kid who puts himself in danger by not following these rules.”

Trauma nurses talk tough
Part of the Bike Rodeo was a table at which trauma nurses gave age-appropriate – yet startling – examples of why bike helmets save lives.

Providence Hospital trauma nurse, Dominique Clayton helps mom Julie Jacobs make sure her son, “JJ” has a bike helmet that fits properly. “If it wiggles, it is too loose.”

“You have to get the whole community involved,” says Providence Hospital trauma nurse, Dominique Clayton. “I’ve seen it for myself. Bike helmets save brains. Adults, parents and older kids need to be good role models by wearing bike helmets. When the younger kids see this, it becomes ‘cool’ for them to follow the rules and wear a helmet.”

The Bike Rodeo wasn’t all “schooling”. Participants were treated to ice cream, a hot dog lunch, and a backpack filled with back-to-school items.

“We are fortunate to have partners that believe in this project as much as we do,” says Chief Sizer. “This event was made possible with the support of the Portland Police Foundation, Bike Gallery, East Portland Community Center, Franz Bakery, Fred Meyer Stores, Ice Cream Express, Lloyd Lions Club, Shiloh Cyclery, Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, and Zenner’s Quality Meats.”

After getting up his confidence, and learning new skills, Brendon Wilson takes another ride around the Bike Rodeo course.

Looking to the future, Chief Sizer says to look for more Bike Rodeos. “This was a big success. We’re already planning for our events next year.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Following the unique tradition there, incoming David Douglas High School freshmen are greeted by upper-class student mentors, teachers, and administrators. But see why, this year, Mayor Tom Potter was part of the welcoming committee …

Mayor Tom Potter and district superintendent Barbara Rommel join some of the Scot “Link Team”, as they welcome, and gave the “wave”, to the largest class in DDHS history.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At David Douglas High School, the “new kids in school” are cheered, not jeered, by a school-wide welcoming committee on Freshman Orientation Day.

But this year was different. Mayor Tom Potter was there also, joining in the welcome of the new students to the state’s largest high school ‚Äì a campus housing more students than many Oregon towns have population.

Sharing a light moment outside the school are DDHS Principal Randy Hutchinson, Mayor Tom Potter, and Superintendent Barbara K. Rommel.

We asked the Mayor why he came to outer East Portland early on this particular morning.

“I’m the Mayor of this school district, too,” Potter told us, flashing a broad smile. “I’m here to draw the attention of East Portland people to the fact they have a great school district in David Douglas.  And, I’m asking the people here to vote for ballot measure 26-85, so we can really create the best future for our children.”

Mayor meets Link Crew

Mayor Tom Potter meets DDHS “Link Crew” members Thuan Huinh, Emily Yip, Samantha Cha, and Oile Dao.

On his way into the school, Mayor Potter met representatives of the school’s “Link Crew” He learned team’s mission is to ease the transition of grade-schoolers 9th grade.

“It is like a Big Brother/Sister program,” explained the school’s Principal, Randy Hutchinson. “Each Link Crew member takes eight to ten freshmen under their wing, especially the first week. The young kids can ask any Link Crew member for help and know they’ll get it.”

Hutchinson said Link Crew members aren’t necessarily the team captains and club presidents. “They are middle-of-the-road, ordinary students who have a drive to, and desire to, help others.”

“Let’s go in and meet the freshmen,” Potter said.

David Douglas’ challenges
On our way in, we spoke Barbara K. Rommel, Superintendent of David Douglas School District.

“Our biggest challenge,” Rommel told us, “is our enrollment growth. We’re anticipating 3% more students than last year — the largest enrollment in the history of David Douglas school system. In all, we’ve had a 25% increase since 1999. This is really stretching our classroom space. While other schools are closing, we’re working to create the space we need to keep class sizes manageable.”

Rommel said the Mayor’s visit demonstrates his commitment to education at all of the schools in the City of Portland. “And, with David Douglas being the largest high school in the state, it is really great to see our city’s Mayor here, welcoming the freshmen.”

Mayor Tom Potter addresses 800+ freshmen ‚Äì the largest single class in David Douglas High  history ‚Äì at their orientation.

The mayor’s introduction at the assembly was met with wild cheering. “Good morning everybody! What a good-looking group of people you are. You are so fortunate. You are attending, not only the largest high school in Oregon, but one of the very best. All of your teachers, staff members, and Link Crew members are here to help you succeed. Have a great year.”

Asked why he was coming out in support of David Douglas building program bond, the mayor responded, “Investing in students today pays all of Oregon back tomorrow.”

Building project underway

The school’s Principal, Randy Hutchinson, commented on our way out, “It’s is nice to see that he [Potter] has hung his hat on being an ‘education mayor’, and he’s paying attention to East County.”

The challenge for the school, Hutchinson told us, is “sheer numbers. Enrollment keeps increasing. It looks like our enrolment is about 2,900, and another 200 students at our alternative school.”

The growling of earth-moving equipment was punctuated with the blaring of back-up claxons as he pointed to an area east of the main building. “While other schools are closing and consolidating, this construction project will add twenty classrooms. We need them.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Although it lost county funding years ago, see how the Portland Metro Performing Arts Center keeps on helping youngsters learn a love of theater and dance …

Some of the young dancers getting ready to perform Glazunov’s “Four Seasons” before family and friends.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Looking rather like a warehouse, the building housing Portland Metro Performing Arts Center is, to say the least, unpretentious. But, within those walls, many a child has turned into a seasoned performance artist.

“We’re kicking off our new season,” Executive Director Nancy Yeamans tells us on September 9. “We’ve invited dancers here from all over Portland. These kids are great. They’ve learned the choreography for “Four Seasons” in an hour! Earlier today, we had the preschoolers participating in an art workshop.”

Center director Nancy Yeamans helping a young performer get ready for the performance.

Yeamans says Metro Performing Arts is important because it provides a teaching center for dance, theater and art instruction and performance opportunities. “There is no place like this on the east side. And, we’re here in the Gateway district, close to the freeways and bus lines, so we’re very accessible.”

A little extra practice always helps!

Specifically, Yeamans tells us, PMPA offers dance, music, theatre and visual arts classes, camps, workshops and performances, for kids from 6 to 14 years of age and all skill or experience levels. “New classes are starting, and registration stays open, on a space available basis.”

The PMPA studios are at 9933 SE Pine St. in the Gateway District, near Mall 205, a couple blocks north of Stark/Washington Streets.

To find out more about us visit their website at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why Mike Donahue of KOIN-TV, John Canzano of the Oregonian; and Brian “Wheels” Wheeler of the Portland Trailblazers spoke at this unique event ‚Ķ

Mike Donahue, KOIN-TV; John Canzano, sports columnist with the Oregonian; Lou Fontana, Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes; and Brian Wheeler, Portland Trailblazers radio play-by-play announcer, here pause for a photo at OBRH’s fundraising dinner.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In East Portland, seniors of means have a wealth of housing options. Some facilities resemble a resort, rather than a retirement home.

But for elders with thin pocketbooks, finding good, clean, safe housing can be difficult.

“Our facility gives seniors, with low to moderate income, a great place to live,” explained Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes Lou Fontana. We work with people who don’t have a lot of money, yet want a good place to live.”

The purpose of the dinner on Aug. 25, Fontana continued, was to raise funds to help reconstruct their outer East Portland facility, located just north of NE Weidler St. in the Gateway district.

“Our facility is getting too old to repair; it needs to be rebuilt,” Fontana explained. “Because we’re a non-profit organization that helps seniors of modest means, all of the money we take in has gone to operating our campus. We’re seeking donations to help us for our ‘rebuilding’ project, scheduled for 2008.”

When rebuilt, Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes will feature 350 housing units, up from the 114 they now operate.

Judging by the looks on patrons’ faces, and the savory aroma in the room as the meal was served, the dinner portion of the event was a smashing success.

The dinner – which featured television, radio, and newspaper personalities as speakers – helped draw patrons to the event, which also featured a multi-media presentation regarding the appeal, and silent auction.

“I’ve seen the good work these people do,” said KOIN-TV’s Mike Donahue, “and I’m happy to help support their work.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Neighbors in this quiet southeast neighborhood say they’re relieved to learn the thug that attacked Susan Kuhnhausen wasn’t a violent crook randomly on the prowl ‚Ķ

Police say this home on a quiet Montavilla street wasn’t the scene of a burglary gone wrong ‚Äì but instead, the location of an attempted murder-for-hire plot.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
When cops and detectives say little about a seemingly bizarre incident, it makes one wonder what information they’re holding back.

Previously we told you how, on September 6, Susan Kuhnhausen came home from her nursing job at Providence Medical Center and was attacked by an intruder, identified as 59-year-old Edward Dalton Haffey.

You learned then that 51-year-old Kuhnhausen put up a valiant fight that ended with her managing to disarm and strangle Haffey to death. Police said she acted in self-defense.

While reporting our story at the time, we wondered how Haffey got past the house’s alarm system. We noticed a sign, prominently posted in the front yard, that indicated that the residence was protected by a monitored alarm system.

And, when investigators checked the woman’s home, they didn’t find a broken window or a kicked-in door.

Murder for hire
Details only now being released indicate that Haffey had some help entering the house ‚Äì allegedly provided by none other than the victim’s estranged husband, 58-year-old Michael James Kuhnhausen Sr.

Michael Kuhnhausen was arrested on September 14, and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder – an indication that police detectives feel he had even more to do with the attack on his estranged wife than merely letting Haffey into the residence.

After Michael Kuhnhausen has his first appearance in court September 21, many new details in this surprising and sordid case should come to light.

Neighbors with whom we spoke on Sept. 15, who asked not to be identified, said they were comforted to learn the intruder wasn’t a “violent criminal, breaking into homes randomly”.

¬©  2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

After listening to outer East Portland neighbors, U.S. Congressman Ron Wyden and Oregon Rep. Jeff Merkley explain the “facts of life” in politics. You might be surprised at their comments ‚Ķ

Oregon Rep. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden came to the Hazelwood neighborhood to hear what’s on the minds of outer East Portland residents. They got an earful.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From universal health care, to concern about U.S. border security, Oregon Rep. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden heard many concerns when they held a town hall meeting at St. Therese’s social hall last month.

Arlene Kamura, chair of Hazelwood Neighborhood Association (speaking only for herself), urged, “on the state level, we need to invest in our young people and senior citizens. Nationally, we need better health care for everyone.”

Vice chair of the Centennial Neighborhood Association Ron Clemenson said, on his own behalf, that crime prevention is his own top priority here in outer East Portland. Border security was his concern for the nation.

Alicia Reese, chair of Woodland Hills Neighborhood Association, and a board member of the Parkrose School district, said her personal opinion was the state needed to focus on creating a system of equitable school funding. “Both on the state and federal levels, we need to stop creating unfunded mandates for schools.”

Bipartisanship: a reality
Several attendees drifted into making partisan statements; a few went engaged in rants against Republicans and the current federal administration.

Wyden explained, “Anything that gets done in Washington DC happens because there was a bipartisan effort. Both sides must agree. Take the cost of prescription drugs for example. I’ve been working with Olympia Snow, a Republican Senator from Maine, to lift the restrictions on importing medicines, and bargaining to bring down the cost of medicine.”

As another example, Wyden said that John Kyle, a Republican from Arizona, agrees with him that that they should look at recent, huge oil company profits. “And, I’ve worked with Senator Smith on legislation to protect Mt. Hood.”

Oregon Representative Jeff Merkley chimed in, “We don’t want this meeting to turn into a partisan battlefield. By working together, we move the State of Oregon forward.”

Next to state her personal opinion was the Chair of Argay’s neighborhood, Valery Curry. “I’m concerned about ethics in politics. It seems that lawmakers and officials make decisions for their own good, not necessarily the good of the people.” Curry also expressed her personal a concern regarding sex offenders. “Why can’t we put them away where they can’t continue to offend, permanently? It seems no one is watching them.”

Merkley responded that Oregon’s legislature passed a bill making certain sex crimes punishable by a 25-year prison sentence. “And, we’re exploring a lifetime tracking system for these offenders. By the way, Internet solicitation is not a crime, and we’re working to make it a crime; but this is a complex issue.”

Teena Ainsley arose and told the legislators about her experience of working in and around outer East Portland school systems for the past 53 years – and to give her personal view: “My concern is education. Here, [in outer East Portland] I see high-density low-income housing burdening our schools. Many of our students have special needs which are expensive to accommodate. When I look at my tax statement, I see I pay $1.74 for Mt Hood Community College. But I pay ten times more for PDC development. We’re not funding the schools in high-density, low- income housing areas.”

Several community members took up a harangue against the current federal administration’s foreign policy, especially the war efforts in the middle East.

The two legislatures listen, and respond, to comments made by neighbors from across outer East Portland.

Wyden of foreign policy
“I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee,” Wyden said. “We go into a room built and secured like a vault. I’m barred from talking about what I learn from those meetings. I can’t even respond when my 17-year-old asks at dinner, ‘so Dad, how about letting me know about your so-called intelligence committee’.

“We live in a dangerous world out there. There are many people who do not wish our citizens or our country well. The question is: How do we find the right mix of ‘soft power’ ‚Äì agreements and treaties ‚Äì with ‘hard power’ ‚Äì having to defend yourself?

“Had I known five years ago, on 9/8, what was going to happen on 9/11, I would have supported taking any action to prevent it.  I voted against going to war in Iraq. I’m glad Sadam Hussan is behind bars. But, he wasn’t close to being the biggest threat to our security. I would have ranked Iraq sixth. My side didn’t prevail.”

After talking about economic policies, prescription drug prices and a “fair flat tax” system, Wyden again brought up the need for bipartisan cooperation. “Senator Smith and I don’t agree on everything. But, we sit down ever Thursday, in the Senate dining room, and we work on Oregon’s agenda for the week: Health, schools, roads, crime, and such. That is the way it should be.”

Wyden tells the audience that Jeff Merkley is a great Oregon legislator. “Jeff is the ‘gold standard’ of state legislators,” he said.

While nothing was resolved, and most residents left the room with their opinions unchanged, almost everyone agreed that a discussion of critical political topics is healthy in a free society. And, this, we believe, is the purpose of a “town hall” forum.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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