He claims that music truly is the “universal language” ‚Äì see how Rich Glauber uses jokes and songs to tempt kids into the library ‚Ķ

Using the magic of music to make friends with kids, Rich Glauber brings his program to Sellwood Branch Library as part of its Fall Programs schedule.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Portland-area musician Rich Glauber travels the globe as a performer. Recently, he has appeared in Costa Rica, Israel, and Spain.

So, what was this classically-trained musician doing – first sitting on the floor, then dancing around the meeting room – at the Sellwood Branch Library on November 4?

“I’m doing my favorite thing,” Glauber told us, “sharing the wonder and delight of music with kids.”

Early in the program, some parents acted concerned when their little ones started sitting closer and closer to the musician. “It’s OK, we’re all having fun today,” Glauber said as he started into his next song.

It wasn’t long until both children and parents fell under Glauber’s spell.

Because he brought a large number of percussion instruments, soon listeners became performers as he played and sang original songs.

Glauber wasn’t sitting on the floor for very long. Soon, playing his Tango Accordion, he was more like the “Pied Piper”, leading both kids and adults around while they sang and did an eclectic dance.

Says libraries are ‘positive energy places’
As Glauber was getting ready for his show, we asked him why he liked performing in, of all places, libraries.

“The library is one of the last bastions of positive energy in the community. It is a place where the arts can live.” With funding problems, he added, it is difficult for schools to bring in special music programs.

“Look at these kids,” Glauber beamed. “From toddlers to young teenagers, parents and grandparents, they’re all here to enjoy the program. I look to put out positive energy into this positive place.”

At other locations, we’ve seen Glauber put on his energetic program. But, does he get anything back from his young audiences?

“Absolutely! I get energy from all these smiles I see here today. I totally get back more good energy than I give. People are moving and having fun. It is a small room, but we’ll all be moving and having fun. As you saw, we get the parents moving, too. The kids see the parents get involved, and it turns them on to participate, too!”

When he’s not trekking around the globe, Glauber shares his “Music in Action” around the Pacific Northwest area.

For more information about Glauber, see www.richglauber.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn why cops say meth addicts keep them busy busting crime; get an update on how cops are battling sex-on-the-street prostitution; and discover “common sense” ways you can protect yourself ‚Ķ

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs, SE Crime Prevention Specialist Katherine Anderson and SE Precinct Commander Derrick Foxworth lead off Public Safety Forum at Vestal School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
People interested in getting the real facts about crime in Southeast Portland got to learn the real truth at a Public Safety Forum held at Vestal School on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Commander Derrick Foxworth gives a statistical review of crime in SE Portland.

After introductions, SE Precinct Commander Derrick Foxworth started off by telling the audience of about 40 individuals that, overall, crime was declining slightly.

“But we still fight crime every day,” Fosworth said. “Property crime and identify theft are the most prevalent crimes. In terms of dollar losses, it’s a huge problem. We need to apply more resources to it. We have two officers working full time in SE Precinct on identity theft issues.”

NTR’s crime-fighting role
A specialized group of officers, called the Neighborhood Response Team (NRT), work to resolve chronic neighborhood problems, explained NRT Officer Brendan McGuire.

Officer Brendan McGuire explains how NRT members improve neighborhood quality of life.

“We partner with Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Crime Prevention Specialists and city agencies to work on problems,” McGuire said. “NRT officers have the time to work on issues like drug houses, problem liquor establishments, and dance clubs with noise issues, as well as work on relationships with the transient communities.”

Regarding property crime, McGuire told the group that, in the vast majority of violent crimes, the victim and the offender know each other. “Property crimes are more randomized. A whole community can be affected by offenders who don’t have any ties the neighborhood.”

An example of a recent success, McGuire went on, was solving a string of more than 30 burglaries in the Sellwood area. “NRT Officer Heidi Helwig, through the combined efforts of several agencies, found the perpetrators came from transient camps along Johnson Creek.”

Meth fuels SE Crime
Typically, when we find someone doing property crimes, they are also doing drugs,” began SE Precinct Detective Dan Andrew. “And that drug is usually methamphetamine.”

SE Precinct Detective Dan Andrew links crime in inners SE Portland to meth use.

Andrew said a meth addict has “more energy than three normal people. And, all that energy is directed toward finding ways to buy more meth.”

While some criminal gangs will rent a truck and clean out an entire house, the detective said most crimes are cat burglaries. “They’re very bold. They’ll sneak in a doggie door; find an unlocked door or window. Inside, they’ll take a wallet on the counter or grab a computer bag.” If they find credit cards, he added, they’ll run to the nearest store and buy merchandise or draw out cash.

Gambling tied to drug use
While the crook’s ‘main urge in life’ is to commit property crime to fuel their drug habit, Andrew continued, they’ll also commit burglary, fraud, theft and car prowls to support their gambling problems. “We’re seeing a growing number of drug users who are also avid gamblers.”

Crook’s shopping list
According to the detective, jewelry is the most popular stolen item.

“Next are laptop computers, I-Pods, Palm Pilots, and cell phones ‚Äì they’re small, popular, and easily sold for cash. They’re always on the lookout for checkbooks, wallets, or anything that might contain a credit card.”

Common sense protection
Andrew gave attendees several “common-sense” ways to protect themselves which he also asked us to share ‚Äì especially related to laptops and small electronics.

“Many people have their entire lives, including banking information, on their laptop or Palm Pilot. At home, take a moment to slide your laptop where it can’t be seen. Don’t leave your laptop or small electronic item, in your car. In fact, don’t leave anything that LOOKS like it could be of value in your vehicle.”

Far too often, Andrew reported, people at Reed College set down their laptop or other device to buy a cup of coffee. “Even though it may only take a moment, when they look back ‚Äì it’s gone!”

“Keep a list of serial numbers for your expensive portable gear,” advised Andrew. “We can’t prosecute a case, nor return items, without positive identification.”

The detective advised against giving out one’s Social Security number. “No one needs a child’s Social Security. Don’t give it doctors, dentists, or other service providers. Too often, when the information is discarded, a ‘tweeker’ is waiting to get it.”

Form a Neighborhood Watch group: “When you see individuals riding their bikes in the dark, or wandering slowly through the neighborhood wearing a backpack, they are probably up to no good. When citizens work with their police–crime, and the fear of crime goes down, and livability goes up.”

Prostitution not going down along 82nd Ave.
Because 82nd Ave. of Roses acts as a dividing line between Southeast and East Precincts, officers from both areas are continuing their ongoing battle against street prostitution there.

Reporting on prostitution trends is Officer Jeff Kaer.

According to information presented by Officer Jeff Kaer, a disturbing trend they’re seeing is younger females being prostituted. “We find girls as young as 14 years of age working the street.”

Drugs and gangs fueling street sex
Other troubling trends include finding more drugs and weapons during their missions. “More and more, we see prostitution being a gang enterprise,” Kaer revealed.

“We’re running into more gang members who use young girls to make them money. They are violent people, watching their girls work.” He added that the gang members don’t appear to be protecting the girls; instead, they’re protecting their illegal business.

Kaer made it clear that prostitution is not a victimless crime. “In addition to the drugs, gang involvement and violence, there are neighborhood livability issues. We continue to see used condoms and needles littering lawns and curbs on side streets within a couple of blocks of 82nd.”

Missions attempt to reduce street sex for sale
The officer told the group that police missions target customers, “johns”, as well as prostituted women.

“When we make arrests,” Kaer continued, “we make a Prostitution-free Zone exclusion. It takes time for the exclusion to go through the system to become activated.”

Their missions, he said, run for about two weeks. “A lot of the prostitution disappears. Then, we wait for the exclusions to take effect so that they are enforceable.”

In a recent mission, about 30 prostitutes were arrested. And, with female officers acting as decoys, they also arrested 54 “johns” in one week ‚Äì with 41 vehicles seized for forfeiture.

“When we can make an exclusion stick,” Kaer said, “out of 80 arrests, only seven were re-arrested.”

Help for prostitutes
Sadly, the officer commented, very few prostitutes will turn in their pimp, or try to escape the business. “We’ve taken some underage girls into protective custody, but their pimp’s hold is very strong.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Shoppers looking for great Christmas gifts found great buys at this annual event. See the story of a family, at the bazaar, who sell gifts they make entirely within their own East Portland home …

Peggy Zeller sells her holiday decorations at the annual David Douglas Holiday Bazaar.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
More than 100 tables of gifts filled David Douglas High School on December 2, as the 10th Annual PTSA Holiday Bazaar got underway.

One of the largest bazaars in outer East Portland, it featured local crafts, decoration, baked goods ‚Äì and a new section they called “100% DDHS”, showcasing the artistic talents of David Douglas Students.

Terri Jones sells professional, yet completely home-made, ceramic decorations at the DDHS Bazaar.

Crafty family business
One of the many 87 vendors we met was Terri Jones and her family.

“This is my first year here,” Jones said. “This craftwork lets me stay home with my son ‚Äì and still make some extra money.”

The business is a family affair. The entire production process is done right in their home. Instead of painting cheap, imported greenware, her husband, Wayne, casts every piece from liquid clay. “We have nearly 2,000 molds,” she says.

Artistic family Terri Jones with Nathan, and husband Wayne.

When it is ready, she paints and fires the ceramics. “My living room is our ‘paint station’ this time of year,” she added.

Look for Jones’ ceramics also at the Gresham Farmer’s Market, or contact them at meandmymarbles@yahoo.com.

Fund raising while community building
We met up with Karin Britton, president of the DDHS PTSA and chair of the decade-old event.

“As important as the funds it brings in,” Britton told us, “it also helps draw the community together. It gives us an opportunity to share crafts, companionship.”

But, the fundraising component is important, she adds. “Our event helps raise money for scholarships for our graduating seniors. We also widen it to include the entire school. Our goal is to make this a broader project.”

If you missed it, why not mark your 2007 calendar right now? Just jot down DDHS Bazaar on the first Saturday in December!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See alumnus Michael Allen Harrison’s personality and talent warm the Parkrose High auditorium as he comes “Back Home” ‚Ķ

Not often do school kids get to sing with an international recording star; Michael Allen Harrison seemed genuinely pleased to lead the Parkrose students in song.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many families and students began their holiday season enjoying the genius and flair of award-winning Michael Allen Harrison in December.

The Parkrose High Theater was bedecked with simple-yet-elegant trim, adding a picture-postcard look to the event.

This, the fourth such annual event, featured performances by Parkrose High School A Cappella Choir, and the elementary school choirs from Prescott School and Russell Academy.

First, the choirs presented both traditional and modern Christmas songs.

Playing one of the Christmas arrangements that has made him an internationally renowned recording artist, Michael Allen Harrison entertains in the Parkrose High Theater.

Then, as Michael Allen Harrison walked out to sit at the grand piano, the audience broke into a thunderous applause. He played medleys of his original songs, show tunes, and holiday favorites.

We have a winner! This audience member correctly “named those tunes”.

After his “Show Tunes” medley, Harrison held an impromptu “quiz”, awarding an audience member with a CD for correctly naming both the tunes and shows.

As the combined choirs came back to the stage, Harrison talked with the audience, gave away more of his CD recordings. His relaxed, upbeat interaction with the audience was warm and engaging.

The combined choirs sing Silent Night.

Under Harrison’s direction, the choirs sang the Christmas song “Silent Night”. He asked the students to hum during the fourth verse, in honor of his friend, “musical saw” virtuoso, Allan deLay. Harrison reminded everyone how deLay, who passed away this year, had given much to Parkrose students over the year.

Proceeds from the program will be used help further develop the award-winning PHS choral program.

Talking with the audience, Harrison demonstrates his abilities as a skilled raconteur, in addition to being a consummate musician.

A moment with Michael
We spoke with Harrison backstage, and asked him why he comes back to Parkrose High to perform with kids.

“This is where I grew up. I love Parkrose. Anytime they ask me to come, I raise my hand and say, ‘Yes, of course.’

“There are all sorts of special feelings you get from different venues. But nothing compares to the feeling of being in the place where you grew up.

“The connection I feel here is so strong–both to those I’ve known in the past, and the young students here now. They embrace me and make me feel welcome. They make me feel like I’m still their neighbor and friend. When I come here, I’m truly home again.”

For more information about Harrison, his projects, catalog, and his performance schedule, see www.mahrecords.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how many different agencies provided information about their services, at this unique event held by the David Douglas School District …

Families of students from the David Douglas School District learned about many different resources available to them at the Family Resource Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hundreds of students, and their parents, took advantage of the annual event provided by the David Douglas School District: The East Portland Family Resource Fair.

After touring the fair ourselves, we talked with the woman in charge of this year’s event, Catherine Nyhan, school counselor, of the Fir Ridge Campus, David Douglas Schools.

“We have 54 agencies, representing all kinds of services, here,” Nyhan told us. “They are here to meet, and help, members of our community.”

Nyhan said this annual event is important, because students, and their parents, can learn what community resources are available. “As winter sets in, this is a good time for them to be able to access information about energy conservation, housing, and food services.”

At the Fir Ridge Campus, Nyhan continued, about 82% of the students are on programs for free or reduced-cost lunches. “In other words, we are in a high-poverty area. They need a lot of help right now. We help families find the resources they need. When a student comes from a stable family, they tend to do better in school.”

Shanley McLaughlin, counselor at Ron Russell Middle School, is greeted by Fir Ridge Campus principal Ron Knight, on her way into the Resource Fair.

Resources help school counselors
Staffmembers from other schools in the area–like Shanley McLaughlin, a counselor at Ron Russell Middle School in Powellhurst-Gilbert–told us that this fair helps them discover ways to help their student’s families. “Each year that I come to the fair, I learn about services that will help our students do better.”

As we continued our tour on Nov. 30, we saw folks learning where they could get energy assistance, find free and low-cost food and clothing resources, avail themselves of counseling resources, find out how to access local community colleges, and more.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why this dance school is attracting both students and audiences to their programs …

CBA dancers Katrina Cunningham and Brooke Thornberry touch up their makeup, moments before they go onstage in “The Nutcracker”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For those hoping to read a review of Classical Ballet Academy’s production of “The Nutcracker”, here it is: It was wonderful!

The performance we saw, performed at St. Mary’s Academy, and delivered on its promise of presenting this holiday classic with professional costumes, extravagant sets, and original choreography.

“I thought it would be quaint,” Helen Hildebrandt told us following the afternoon performance early in December, “so, I took family, visiting from out-of-town, to see it. But we agree — the performance and staging was what you’d expect from a professional ballet company in any major city.”

Director says she loves Sellwood
Although she only opened the academy in 2004, Rigles said there are now 250 students ranging in age from 3 to 70 years. Several of her students have received scholarships for college dance programs. Last summer, ten students went to a professional dance program in Boston.

“The first classes I taught here in Portland were at the Sellwood Community Center,” Rigles said. “I wanted to start a school for people serious about ballet. The continuing support I’ve had from students and parents in inner Southeast Portland is why I chose to open the academy here.”

Behind the scenes
Rigles gave us unprecedented back-stage access, as her student dancers readied themselves for their performances.

“From September through December every year since I was three years old, ‘The Nutcracker’ has been part of my life,” Rigles told us as she adjusted a student’s costume. “I’ve danced all the different parts. It is something that is part of my life ‚Äì and now, it is part of my students’ lives, too.”

The costumes at CBA’s production of this holiday classic were charming and very professional. Here, young dancers make their final preparations to go on stage.

In every room backstage at St. Mary’s Academy, dancers were putting on their makeup and adjusting their hairstyles. Others were limbering up and stretching, getting ready to perform athletic ballet moves.

CBA’s Director, Sarah Rigles, gives her students a heartfelt pep talk moments before the curtain goes up on their performance of “The Nutcracker”.

A group of young dancers looked nervous as they stood in the hallway. Rigles gathered them around her and gave each of young ballerinas a small memento. “You have danced these parts so well, so many times,” she said sincerely. “You are prepared. I’m so proud of you. You’ll do really well. Now, have fun and do well.”

Parent volunteers lend a hand
As we reported on the students’ backstage preparation, we noticed many adults, calmly helping out. “We couldn’t stage a show of this magnitude without the help of our 150 parent volunteers,” Rigles told us, as she rushed past more than a dozen backstage assistants — prop and set managers and costumers.

As the show’s opening overture was about to start, we made our way into the audience. We were greeted by usher John Southgate, formerly an East Portland Development Commission manager, now Economic Development Manager of Hillsboro. “Even though we’ve moved to the west side,” Southgate said, “Our kids love this school. It is an honor to help out.”

Teaches more than dance
Taking their seats were the family of eastside attorney and Sellwood resident Pete Diamond. His daughter, Caroline, 7, was about to dance as a mouse in this show. And 4-year-old Phoebe had her turn onstage earlier in the day, when she performed in the academy’s scaled-down version of the show, “The Nutcracker Suite”.

“What they learn goes beyond dancing,” Diamond said. “It gives them confidence and poise. You can see how the kids ‘grow up’ through the program. Even if they stop dancing at some point, they’ve still gained a lot, in terms learning dance, and becoming more confident ladies and men.”

He added that all students get personal attention. “They connect with all their students, regardless of age, and help make even the youngest students feel comfortable performing on stage.”

Curtain time! Nearly every seat at the St. Mary’s Academy theater was filled as this holiday classic came to life.

The large, 650-seat theater St. Mary’s Academy was filled to capacity as the house lights dimmed and the production began. It was, indeed, a very good show.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Why do folks flock to outer East Portland’s only botanical park on the first Saturday in December, every year? Look at this and find out ‚Ķ

Diana Schmett and Kimberly Schmett, here shopping at the Leach Garden Christmas sale for table decorations.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When people think of Leach Garden, at the “end” of SE 122nd Ave., just south of Foster Rd, it’s images of spring, and summer walks through nature, that come to mind.

But savvy holiday do-it-yourself craftspeople also know the Garden as the place to pick up the things they need to make great decorations!

Volunteers pointed out to us Barbara Hamilton as being the one in charge. “I’ve had every volunteer position with Friends of Leach Gardens over 23 years,” she explained.

She went on to tell us that this event–their annual Christmas Holiday Bazaar–has been held on the first weekend of December for more than two decades. “It is a major source of funding for us. The Gardens has a small paid staff, and a lot of volunteers.”

Hamilton said it all started by simply providing pre-cut, fresh greenery. “People come and pick out anything they want to decorate. We sell it by the bag. It’s very reasonably priced.”

For the past few seasons, she added, they’ve added ready-made swags, wreaths, and table designs to their offerings.

Lee and Gregg Everhart, filling their bags with holiday greenery to make decorations, at Leach Garden.

Plus, the Leach Garden Gift Shop was doing brisk business, too. Shoppers checked out gift items ranging from gardening accessories to lavender soap products.

In addition to the raising of funds, Hamilton told us, “The event helps people see the variety of greenery we grow in the garden. It attracts folks to see Leach Gardens who have never been here before.

“Even in the winter, there is always something colorful and blooming here. We like people to come into the garden to see what we’re doing.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

It wasn’t Sturgis, but inner Southeast Portland, where more than 3,000 leather-clad bikers gathered. They weren’t there to rumble. Read this article and you’ll find that even the toughest-looking biker-brothers have a soft spot for sick kids ‚Ķ

Even organizers say they were surprised, and pleased, by the turnout for the 2006 Toy Run for Shriner’s Hospital.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The sun glints off acres of chrome as motorcyclists ‚Äì yes, leather-clad bikers ‚Äì gather by the thousands in a parking lot at SE 17th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard. A band, “Much More Country”, belts out a patriotic-themed tune a city block away from we stand, at the far end of the TriMet bus facility in S.E. Portland.

“Is a riot or rumble about to break out?” we wonder. We ask who is in charge. “Santa Claus, of course!” is the reply. A feeling of relief floods over us.

Through a sea of over 3,000 parked Harleys and other bikes, we’re led to a jolly, white-whiskered St. Nick. Santa is sitting on his ride, a purple Harley-Davidson Road King he calls “Barney”. He’s attended by three stylish lady elves.

Santa and his elves are the official ambassadors for the ABATE Toy Run for the Shriner’s Hospital.

“Ho, ho ho! Welcome to the annual Toy Run for the Shriners’ Hospital, my boy,” greets Santa. “This event has gone on for years, on the first Saturday in December. We love going to the hospital and giving the kids gifts. I love everybody that participates in this.”

Shriners’ Hospital spokesman Fred P. Swansoan stands among the bikers gathered to help kids at their facility.

Event aids Shriners’ mission
Fred P. Swansoan, a volunteer van driver for Shriners’ Hospital, is wearing his organization’s trademark red fez. “This event is truly the big deal of the year for us. Both the toys and cash generated by this event plays a significant role in our mission to help children with severe medical needs. Underneath those leather jackets and chaps, you’ll find folks with big hearts; people who care about kids.”

The chaplain intones the event’s blessing, saying, “We wish everyone who came here has safe rides, health, good spirits, and a long life.”

Participant John Kachur says this is a way bikers give back to their community.

A tall, burly biker, John Kachur, is getting ready for the ride that will take them up “Pill Hill” to the hospital. “This is a lot of fun,” he tells us. “What a great day to get out! Look at the bikes and the people.”

We ask why so many motorcyclists, like him, are participating. “The connection is, we care. Pretty much everybody has had a kid, or has known a sick kid at one time or another. This is a fun way to give back to the community,” Kachur says as he roars his Harley thunderously to life.

Because only a few of the thousands of bikes will actually fit in the parking area in front of the hospital, Girl Scout Troop 1561 in Gateway helps stuff toys the bikers brought to the rally point in a TriMet bus for delivery to the kids.

As the bikes rev up by the thousands, the percussive energy they radiate can be felt through one’s body as much as it can be heard.

The gate opens, and the bikers form a rolling parade out of the lot, heading north on S.E. 17th Avenue to Powell Boulevard, across the Ross Island Bridge, and up the hill to the Shriners’ hospital.

Four abreast, the thousands of bikers start their journey toward Dornbecher Hospital from their rallying point in inner Southeast Portland.

Changing the image of bikers
This event, we learn, is sanctioned by A.B.A.T.E. of Oregon, Inc. (“A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments”). Mike Friend, this year’s event coordinator suggested we talk with 16 year veteran of the event, Ed Dahl.

“26 years ago, ABATE was started by motorcycle clubs to lobby for cyclist rights,” Dahl explains. And, 26 years ago, twelve people decided to do something charitable. It has grown into this.”

More than just bringing toys, the Toy Run also raises funds that help the Portland Shriners’ Hospital buy specialized equipment, such as communication computers and power wheel chairs, and to provide van conversions. “We’re trying to give these kids things to help them become more self-sufficient.”

Part of the event is an annual raffle. This year’s grand prize was a new Harley. “In addition to the toys, we gave $45,000 worth of equipment to eight patients. And, we collected another $6,000, on the day of the run.”

What most people don’t see, Dahl tells us, is that the patents give them a gift list. “We do our best to fill the orders. The night before the Run, we go up to the hospital, wrap gifts, and have them ready for Santa.”

Just a cool photo of the bikers ready to make their ride up Pill Hill.

Yes, there is a Santa
Dhal recalls a boy at the hospital who said he didn’t believe in Santa. “When he opened his gifts, and found his wishes fulfilled, he looked up with big eyes and told us, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I do believe in Santa.’ Times like this will put a tear in your eye.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The good news: Neither deaths nor serious injuries were reported. But how wild was it out there? Take a look at these stories, for photos you won’t see anywhere else ‚Ķ

Our “storm tour” starts with the report of a live, power line down over a car in inner SE Portland at SE 32nd Ave. at Johnson Creek Boulevard

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While normal people stay in their homes, flashlights and canned food at the ready – the prediction of a major magnitude storm is an invitation to a reporter to gas up his car, charge up camera batteries, put on rain gear, and head into the night.

We start out in the peak of the storm on November 14, during the early evening hours. The journal of our tour of East Portland begins in inner Southeast Portland.

The occupant safely got out of this car, with the help of Portland Fire & Rescue, after live power lines fell on the car in inner SE Portland.

SE 32nd Ave. at Johnson Creek Boulevard
As a vehicle comes east, over the gully bridge on SE 32nd Ave., a power line falls on a car. We learn from rescue crews the motorist was safely removed from the vehicle.

However, the avenue remains closed for hours while PGE crews repair the downed lines and restored power.

11000 block of East Burnside

No, it’s not a giant Slinky toy ‚Äì that’s a high-voltage feeder cable that closed East Burnside St. between SE 102nd and 122nd Avenue for hours.

A 7.3 Kilovolt feeder line breaks free and shorts out on the pavement amid a shower of sparks. No one is reported injured in incident.

We’re told that the line broke free a couple of hours before we arrived, in the height of the afternoon peak traffic hour; quite a traffic jam occurred, as motorists were blocked from going eastbound on Burnside as they returned home from work.

After taking photos of the downed line, we meet Al Davis, a pizza delivery driver who made the mistake of trying to bring his stack of three pies east on Burnside from SE 108th Ave. “I knew I should have walked in from SE 113th Ave.,” he said. Asked why he was out delivering pizza on a stormy night, Davis shrugged, “Their power is out and they want a hot meal. The pizza will get through!”

SE 157th Ave and Halsey St.
We drive east on Halsey slowly to avoid branches, some of them hood-high, in the roadway. The night is suddenly split with blue-white light. Streetlights blink out and homes go dark. Electric power is arcing atop a utility pole as a tree sways into the lines.

The brilliant light doesn’t last long enough for us to get a photograph ‚Äì but ends with a spectacular shower of sparks that rain down over the EXN News Cruiser as we drive by.

As our eyes adjust to the deep darkness of a rainy night, we see the stormy sky illuminated with brilliant blue all around us, as power lines come loose and trees tumble.

15800 block of Glisan

Although the blinding arc from the energized power line taken down by the tree lights the area, it’s over before our camera cycles up for a photo‚Ķthe line, now lying sizzling on the ground.

We’re on our way to the 15800 block of NE Glisan St., on a call of a splintered tree and power line down. We arrive on scene and prepare to photograph this storm-caused problem. “Stay back,” an officer warns, “it’s still live I think.” As he speaks those words, the thick power lines come to life, sizzling with electricity, arcing and sparking both in the trees and on the ground. Within an instant, darkness again envelops us as we look at one another. The officer shakes his head and says, “Be safe, David.”

Driving during a storm that has knocked out so much power, one gets used to the acrid smell of burning fuse flares. Their brilliant glow illuminate otherwise darkened intersections with an eerie red-orange light, warning motorists that the traffic control signals are out.

SE 162 Ave. and Mill St.

“Thank God it was a south wind,” said the residents, looking at the uprooted tree that blocked most of SE 162nd Ave. at Mill St.

A tree, tall enough to block both southbound lanes and the center turn lane on SE 162nd Ave. at Mill St. lies in the roadway. “We’re sure glad it fell toward the street,” say the occupants of the small house where the tree once stood. “I’m kind of concerned about the others.”

This tree fall takes out power to three homes, but the remainder of this neighborhood still has power.

SE 32 and Lambert St.

A mighty Elm in Eastmoreland lost its grip and toppled over during the windstorm. Fortunately, it wasn’t tall enough to damage the home across the street.

Although there are occasional strong gusts, the wind starts to die down. The temperature drops by nearly 10 degrees within a half hour, signaling the front is moving through.

We take a swing back through inner Southeast Portland to see how the stately American Elms have weathered the storm in Eastmoreland.

It didn’t take long for us to find the call we’d heard earlier on the emergency radio ‚Äì a giant Elm has fallen across SE Lambert St. at 32nd Ave. It’s uprooted, lifting the concrete sidewalk and the neatly-trimmed turf like a carpet.

The branches of the tree are entangled with power, telephone, and cable lines. The wires are holding it like a marionette on strings. Surprisingly, even to the PGE crew evaluating the situation, the power remains on to homes in the neighborhood.

The crews arrive and carefully start to untangle the tree from the lines as they work into the night.

The next day … again at SE 32nd and Johnson Creek

The storm strikes again: Traffic is again snarled in inner SE Portland as a truck snags a drooping bundle of telephone lines and rips it from the utility pole.

On Friday, December 15, traffic is, once again, snarled at this intersection. A large bundle of telephone and cable-TV lines is drooping across SE 32nd Avenue – a situation caused when power lines went down the night before.

A delivery truck snags the bundle and ‚Äì “Can you hear me now?” ‚Äì snaps the line, causing it to whiplash into the parking lot of the Mini-Mart, and drape itself over a pickup truck.

The fire crew from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 20 is on hand to keep people away from the downed line. By the look at the cable ends, it’s going to be a long night for repair crews as they, wire-by-wire, reconnect the area’s telephone service.

Power restoration efforts
More than 200 Portland General Electric crews are on the job, according to PGE spokesperson, Ariana White.

“At the peak of the storm, about 250,000 customers were without service,” White told us. “As of 2 p.m. today (Dec. 15), nearly 144,000 are still out of service across our Portland.”

The areas of greatest damage were in Gresham and Southwest Portland, White says.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See what happens when a cat lover dedicates her studio’s open house to the care of feral cats ‚Ķ

Karen Kraus, executive director of Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon helps Dorothy Steele show off a “cat platter” which the artist is raffling off to help fund the spaying and neutering of feral cats.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
This time of year, many in Inner Southeast Portland’s creative community hold open houses and sales.

What is special about the event at the Dorothy Steele Studio on December 8?

“This year,” Steele told us without pause, “in addition to raffling off a ‘cat platter’, a percentage of our sales go to the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.”

Steele said she’s been making colorful cat- and nature-themed pottery for 25 years, 16 of them at her location in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

“I’m a real cat lover, and I’ve always done cat-themed pottery. And, I know that the Feral Cat Coalition volunteers do a great job of helping keep the population of feral cats down.”

The artist said her work has evolved into creating pottery decorated with impressions of plants native to Oregon. “I press them into the clay to make the design, and lots of vibrant color. My work is functional, food-safe, and you can use it in the microwave. Above all, it speaks of Oregon.” To learn more, see Steele’s Internet website: www.dorothysteelestudio.com.

Works of five artists are on display, and on sale, at the Dorothy Steele Studio in Brooklyn.

Reducing feral cat population
Steele introduced us to Karen Kraus, executive director of Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. “Spaying and neutering is important, because there is a cat overpopulation problem. It isn’t just in Portland; all across the country there are too many feral cats. Our program is for feral and stray cats who have a caregiver kind enough to feed them, but who understands that these cats shouldn’t reproduce.”

Kraus said they’ve spayed or neutered 3,000 cats a year, and have assisted with more than 27,000 cats since they started the program.

The organization holds two neuter clinics a month near the Rose Garden. If you care about a feral, stray, or barn cat, find out more by calling (503) 797-2606, or by visiting www.feralcats.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Read what Powellhurst Gilbert neighbors learned about their new park – and plans being put in place to mitigate fires on Powell Butte …

Portland Parks Bureau naturalist Mark Hughes and Portland Fire and Rescue planner Chris Brian talk about the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for Powell Butte.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Not long ago, neighbors in Powellhurst-Gilbert learned a lot about plans to improve Powell Butte, add amenities to their large neighborhood, and reduce crime.

Powell Butte Plans
Portland Parks Bureau naturalist Mark Hughes and Portland Fire and Rescue planner Chris Brian talked about the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

“The city started developing this plan in 2004,” Brian began. “This is a city-level plan to consider contingencies for dealing with problems caused by fires, floods and weather. We’re looking at the smaller piece, namely wildfires.”

Chris said the plan was being developed with a grant from FEMA to develop emergency wildfire plans for large, urban natural areas such as Powell Butte. “We’re working with the Parks Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services to address the issues in city.

“We’re trying to clean out woody growth that can fuel fires,” explained the Parks Bureau ecologist, Mark Hughes. “This is a three year project.” So far, he added, the project has involved primarily discussion and planning. Much of the clean-out work will be done during the summer of 2007.

Hughes said, as the parks ecologist for Powell Butte, he’s responsible for this large outer East Portland park. “I try to figure out what will make a healthy, sustainable park. Our goal is to develop grasslands and watersheds.”

Under a master plan developed in 1996, and a conditional use update three years ago, the 600-acre park is to have about 300 acres of grassland and 300 acres of forest surrounding the top of the butte.

The park ecologist said the butte is also a wildlife refuge. “It has 30 black tailed deer and a number of coyotes. About 160 species of birds live there, due to the diversity of grass and trees.”

Under the plan, Hughes assured that the forest will look the same. “The butte is infected with English Hawthorne and Himalaya blackberry,” continued Hughes. “Both of these non-native plants are tenaciously invasive. We’ll remove them as best we can. We need to change the grassland from non-native European orchard grasses to native. And, the master plan calls for planting Oregon Oak and Willamette Valley wildflowers.

“We’ve had three larger fires in six years,” Hughes commented. The first was 10 acres and looked like arson. The next year, a five-acre fire was touched off with a cigarette lighter. Later that summer there was a 45-acre fire on a hot, windy day. By better managing grass land, we can reduce fire danger.”

Powellhurst Gilbert HydroPark
Portland’s Water Commissioner Randy Leonard started the idea of turning fenced-off bureau lands into neighborhood parks. It was announced at this neighborhood association meeting that the newest park being planned for outer East Portland will be at SE 138th Ave. and Center St.

“We’re considering what amenities to put into the HydroPark,” said Portland Parks Bureau’s area manager Tom Klutz. “We’ll survey people who live around the park; they’ll have to contend with positive or negatives that come from the development of the park.

Crime issues in southern outer East Portland
“We’re seeing more graffiti,” said Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Preston. “Here members of the ‘EK’ gangs have been a problem. We’ve identified houses here associated with the gang. They are actively involved in the drug trade, cars thefts, burglaries, dope rip-offs.”

The sergeant suggested reporting any criminal activities and immediately cleaning graffiti as ways to help reduce gang activities.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The East Portland Chamber of Commerce continues to be “the voice for business in East Portland” ‚Äì read this and you’ll see why you should attend ‚Ķ

Meet the 2007 officers for the chamber: Norm Rice, First Class Properties, treasurer; Greg Zuffrea, BC Graphics, president; Ken Turner, Eastport Plaza, VP; Jill Critchfield, Pacific HR, Secretary; Dan La Grande, La Grande Public Relations, board member; Rich Sorem, Stewart and Tunno Insurance, board member; Pam Olson, Farmer’s Insurance Agent, Ambassador chair; Jeff Bennett, Warren Allen, LLP, board member and advisory council; Monty Knittel, Adventist Health, board member. Not available for this photo was board member Tim Brunner, Axis Design.

At their November meetings, the East Portland Chamber of Commerce announced its new board members, heard about transportation issues from PDOT’s executive, and gave a donation to Kiwanis.

Making Portland move

Portland Office of Transportation’s Sue Keil runs down the budget numbers for roads and forecasts street building and repair activities at a “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting in November.

What’s happening to our roads ‚Äì and why ‚Äì was the information brought to the chamber by Sue Keil from the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) on November 15.

Talking first about revenues, she said that funds supporting road maintenance, signals and streetlights come from gas tax and vehicle licenses, and are distributed by the state. Portland, Keil said, gets $197.7 Million in the 06/07 budget year. “The only growth has been from increased parking meter revenue.”

“Our budget isn’t growing,” Keil told the business people. “Revenue has slightly declined as a result of more fuel efficient cars. The tax is still fixed at $0.34 a gallon. However, the cost of cost of construction has increased substantially. And, health care costs have increased among our 750 employees.”

Of their budget, the PDOT executive said, about $50 Million that goes for general operations and activities.

“Transportation is the largest asset in the city ‚Äì it’s about $5 Billion worth of streets, sidewalls, curbs, signals and lights. The largest portion is pavement. And, the condition of a lot of our pavement is deteriorating.

The problem, Keil said, is a shortfall of $3,400,000 needed to keep pavement at its current condition. “To bring it up to the proper level would cost nearly $9.5 Million.”

Keil credited Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams ‚Äì the “traffic commissioner” ‚Äì for helping to structure requests for the city’s needs over the amount budgeted for maintenance.

This request for one-time general fund resources – a program to run through the end of 2008 – was detailed on a printout given to attendees.

Under the maintenance section, the request indicated $500,000 going for the Pothole Hotline repair pilot program.

Looking over the “Safety” budget items, we noticed that bicycle and pedestrian safety programs were budgeted at $900,000; yet vehicle safety improvements at “high crash intersections” was only $1,200,000.

We asked why, when vehicles pay for road improvements through fuel taxes, biker and walker safety issues were funded at nearly the same level.

Keil said that at budget meetings, the bicycle lobby attends in large numbers. If vehicle drivers and business people came to such meetings, she suggested, perhaps the budget allocation outcome might be different.

Chamber members help Kiwanis Camp

Kiwanis Mt. Hood Camp for Disabled Children and Adults director Todd Thayer is about to accept a check from Russellville Kiwanis president Jason Goodwill and East Portland Chamber Cabaret producer, Kevin Minkoff.

As you may recall, last year, members of the chamber performed two shows to raise funds for the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.

At another meeting, Past Russellville Kiwanis Club President, Jason Goodwill, thanked all the participants in the $1000 fund raising effort.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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