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

Read, and learn about ordinary citizens who are taking a “bite out of crime” along the streets where they live ‚Ķ and why you should join them ‚Ķ

Block captains from the Madison South neighborhood — Geneva McArtor, Pal Mermwore, Paul Barton, Lisa and Frank Walsh — are joined by Lents neighborhood block captains John and Judy Welch (partially hidden by the arm of BOEC’s Laura Wolf), as they tour the Bureau of Emergency Communications, also known as the “9-1-1 Center”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most people agree that “community policing” is a good idea ‚Äì but few really understand the meaning of the term.

From the perspective of the Portland Police Bureau, it means interfacing closely with neighbors and businesses to help reduce crime, and the fear of crime.

“The other part of ‘community policing’ is us, the community,” is how volunteer Dave Smith, Coordinator, East Precinct Block Captain Program, put it to us.

“Part of making the streets on which we live safer is taking personal responsibility,” Smith continued. “The ‘Block Captain’ program trains ordinary people to help reduce crime directly in our neighborhoods.”

Being a Block Captain doesn’t mean one turns into a neighborhood spy or snitch, Smith told us. “We’re just ordinary citizens who are willing to ‘look out’ for our block and our part of our neighborhood. We simply are looking to prevent crime problems before they get a foothold.”

Not a “Trunk stocker”
Smith, a kindly-looking man with a quick smile, told us he didn’t set out to become the Block Captain Program Coordinator. After he retired, Smith said he asked to become part of the volunteer group who restock supplies in the trunks of East Portland officer’s patrol cars. “Commander Greg Hendricks said that if I wanted to volunteer for something, he had another job for me. They gave me a desk, even though I’m not a police officer, and put me to work.”

Specifically, Smith acts as the go-between for Block Captains and the Portland Police Bureau. Part of his volunteer position is the training of potential Block Captains. Also, he coordinates and hosts bimonthly meetings for East Precinct Block Captains.

Block Captain coordinator Dave Smith (second from left) listens to BOEC’s Laura Wolf as she explains the organization’s role in public safety.

Captains tour 9-1-1 Center
Some of the monthly meetings are field trips, at which the Block Captains are exposed to the inner workings of the public safety system.

At the last meeting a group of Block Captains visited the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), also known as the 9-1-1 Center in Lents.

The tour was led by Laura Wolf, public communications coordinator for BOEC. Wolf first gave the group an overview of BOEC’s mission and policies. A tour of the call center floor followed. Block Captains witnessed, first-hand, call takers receiving calls of all kinds–and saw how the dispatchers, on the other side of the large room, quickly sent police, fire or medical personnel to deal with those emergent situations.

Behind locked doors
BOEC is a high-security facility. We asked Wolf why these neighbors were granted a tour. “It is important to get the message out about what we do,” she said, “and how they are trained. Not only can the Block Captains pass the information on to their neighbors, they help the community be better prepared for an emergency.”

The concept Wolf stressed is to know the difference between emergency and non-emergency situations. “911 should only be used to report a fire, stop a crime, or save a life. There is a limited number of 911 trunk lines and operators. If you’re using 911 inappropriately, someone with a true emergency will have to wait on line ‚Äì it may cost a life.”

After the meeting, some of the Block Captains shared what they had learned with us.

John Welch from Lents told us, he enjoyed seeing how the call center works. “The tools they have are fantastic. At the same time you’re calling in, they are already sending the information to dispatchers by computers.”

Donna Dionne, an outer East Portland resident and president of the Midway Business Association, said she thought it was interesting to see how operators dispatched the calls. “I can see why one should call only in case of an emergency. Non-emergency calls bog down the system, and it could cost a life.”

Smith said this field trip, and his other programs, give Block Captains information they otherwise wouldn’t get. “Our meeting here at the 911 center helps them understand the issues involved with the 911 dispatchers. There seems to be some negative press when there is a misunderstanding or perceived rudeness by a communicator. But seeing the environment, the pressure, you can’t help but know our emergency communicators are working to make the community better.”

Next Meeting: Don’t be an ID theft victim
You don’t have to be a Block Captain to attend Smith’s meetings. The September session will be “Identity Theft: What it is, and how to avoid becoming a victim”.

“Identity theft has become the crime-of-choice for meth addicts,” Smith explained. “This crime can cause enormous financial distress for its victims. East Precinct Officer Barbara Glass is an expert in the area of identity theft.  She will explain how this crime is committed, and also offer advice on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.”

Block Captain Meeting is Wednesday September 27, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the East Precinct Community Room at 737 SE 106th Ave.

When we asked what message he’d like to convey to East Portland residents, Smith replied, “Get personally involved in public safety. Help reduce crime, and the fear of crime ‚Äì right where you live”.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Those wanting to go to the Airport Costco store on September 11th had to find another route; NE 139th Ave. was blocked for most of the day. See our exclusive photos …

Workers from Union Pacific look at the brand new truck, lying on its side, just outside Altec, at NE 140th Ave. and Sandy Blvd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Witnesses at the scene said it looked as if the driver was trying to beat a freight train across the tracks at NE 140th Ave. and Sandy Blvd., into the parking lot at Altec, but if he was, he didn’t make it.

Others guessed the driver might have been blinded by the rising sun as he looked eastward, and so didn’t see the westbound freight barreling toward him.

“We don’t know exactly how it happened,” Cpt. Mike Brouillette from Portland Fire and Rescue told us, on Monday, September 11th, “but what we had here is a brand-new truck being delivered to Altec. It came off of Sandy Boulevard, and went north over a private railroad crossing. The engine of a Union Pacific freight train tagged the back end of the truck. The truck twisted around and went over.”

As the truck came to rest, it broke the utility pole behind it. You can see the pole hanging at an angle behind the wrecked rig.

The driver was transported to Portland Adventist Hospital. “He had no real obvious injuries. The driver was standing up inside the cab when we got to him,” said Brouillette.

There were no reports of injuries to the crew of the Union Pacific freight train. But you can see the damage on the far, front corner of the engine.

By the time the freight train came to a stop, it had traveled west of NE 122nd Avenue. The accident is still under investigation, but no citations had been issued as of the posting of this report.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Portland firefighter Ed Hall was on hand to help with the rescue effort after the World Trade twin towers fell in New York City. See why he was honored in Pioneer Square five years later …

Before taking his place on the stage at the 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Ed Hall took a moment to reflect on how his experiences have helped him better train our firefighters here in Portland.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
On the morning of September 11th five years ago, 25-year veteran Ed Hall, firefighter assigned to Truck 2 at Portland Fire & Rescue’s training station, got a call from co-worker Dwight Englert asking Hall to work a shift for him so he could travel to New York City and help at the World Trade Center.

Instead of working Englert’s shift, Hall said he, too, wanted to be part of the rescue effort, and the two agreed to meet at PDX. At the airport, the pair met two additional Portland firefighters on their way to New York. The four were on the first plane allowed to fly.

“We didn’t know what to expect, or how we would help,” Hall said. “We offered to do what we could.” While the local public safety workers first looked askance at the Portland foursome, they soon appreciated the hard work and professionalism they brought to the effort.

Representatives from Portland Fire & Rescue stations around Portland gathered with other public safety workers and nearly 500 citizens on September 11, 2006 to remember those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center towers, and thank those who helped in the rescue efforts

Five years later
Mayor Tom Potter asked Portland Fire & Rescue to help organize a remembrance ceremony on September 11th; Hall was asked to join dignitaries on the stage set up at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Before he took his place on stage, he told us his story. “Looking back, it’s tough to put it into words. It is an event that will be part of our national psyche for a long time. There are different ways of looking at it. I prefer to look at it as what ‘went right’ as we helped out at this tragic event.”

Training to be the best
Hall says he believes Portland firefighters are some of the best-trained in the country. And, his experience in New York has helped him keep in mind what is important when he trains new firefighters coming to the bureau.

“When I talked to survivors, firefighters, and police officers at the World Trade Center, I heard the same thing. It was that public safety workers were so well-trained that they could act independently that really counted. They were able to refocus, and redirect their energies on the spot. When the towers collapsed, the chain of command was broken. But, these people thought quickly, and were able to make initial rescues.”

Hall said a firefighter’s probationary period lasts for a year. Ten months of that is intense training.

“We teach them how to perform many tasks, use a wide variety of equipment, and how to work as a team. But more than that, they learn how think actively and work safely. Ultimately, when people can put all of their knowledge and skill together in an unexpected circumstance, they really shine.”

When you see Portland firefighters at work, now you know that they are better-trained than ever, thanks to the experience Ed Hall gained as a 25-year veteran here, as well as his experiences on a fateful day in New York City.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

© 2005-2019 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.