From Gresham to inner SE Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers work to clean and keep up the 26 miles of Johnson Creek. Read this article and see why their work is important … and how you can help …

Jeff Uebel, Chair of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, shares a moment with the organization’s executive director, Michelle Bussard, in the silent auction room at their annual meeting.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
From Gresham to inner SE Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers work to clean and keep up the 26 miles of Johnson Creek.

The leaders of the effort to restore the creek say their acts continue to pay off in measurable ways.

“We can quantify the result of our programs,” Michelle Bussard, Executive Director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC), tells us, “with scientific measurements: The improvement in Johnson Creek’s water quality, and an increase in fish counts. Beyond this, we’re also gratified to see also see the ways land owners, with property along the creek’s bank, better steward their property.”

We are checking the progress of the JCWC at their annual open house and silent auction. “We invite the community in our watershed to come in and look at all the wonderful work we do as a result of the community’s investment in our work,” Bussard tells us as we glide through a room with banquet tables laden with exquisite dishes, like poached salmon, mounds of hummus, and salads.

In another room, in which patrons are bidding on a wide variety of items up for silent auction, we speak with Jeff Uebel, JCWC’s chair: “The proceeds of our silent auction support the on-the-ground work in the watershed.”

Uebel says they’ve expected to raise $5,000 ‚Äì funds they’re able to leverage with matching and in-kind contributions.

The Foghorn Duo keeps the atmosphere lively at Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s annual open house and auction.

How contributions pay off
Two of the group’s major projects this year, Bussard tells us as we look a large, colorful maps in their project room, have provided big and positive payoffs.

“First is the work we’ve done at Eastmoreland Golf Course,” Bussard continues. “We’ve removed invasive species in Johnson Creek, especially the Yellow Flag Iris. It crowds out the native plants. And we done really significant wetland restoration there.”

The other really big project, Bussard points out, was their “In-stream, Watershed Event” mounted in July. “Our objective was to remove trash, do a reconnaissance of the banks, and remove fish passage barriers.” 60 people worked on this project at four different sites.

“At these and smaller projects, it is very gratifying to see the stuff we’re able to pull out of the creek, and to see all that we are able to learn about its condition,” Bussard enthuses.

Importance of their mission
As their keynote speaker, Metro Chair David Bragdon, checks in, and as guests fill the facility, Bussard talks about JCWC’s mission. “It is all about the community investing in being good stewards of this watershed. It is about valuing this resource, Johnson Creek, in perpetuity. Ten years ago, the creek was decimated in many ways. Today, because of the work done by the community, organized by the council and our partners, we’ve seen some really positive changes.”

It is important, Bussard adds, to recognize their “partners” in their efforts to improve the creek’s hygiene. “We can’t do anything without the help of the cities of Portland, Milwaukie, Happy Valley, and Gresham ‚Äì and the two counties.”

Your invitation …
Metaphorically speaking, Bussard asks east Portlanders to consider “getting your feet wet” with the council. “We’re a fun group of caring people. Whether you’re an intern in our office, or you want to be involved in a volunteer group doing invasive removal and riparian plantings, there is no end of opportunities in which you can get involved here. There are so many ways individuals with many interests and areas of expertise can help.”

So here’s your invitation: “Let us take you on a tour of the watershed,” Bussard entreats. “You will be amazed when you travel the 26 miles of Johnson Creek’s main stream, and venture out around its tributaries. The treasures that exist are unimaginable. We really enjoy showing and sharing these treasures. Come join us.”

Find out more information by calling (503) 652-7477, or visit www.jcwc.org on the Internet.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

While they long for a permanent home, founders of the Ladybug Theater still play to full houses in Sellwood, and spark imaginations …

Michele Earley and her son, Matt Pipes start the show with Baby Bear in their production of “The Three Little Pigs”.  Wait!..Baby Bear? “He wanted to be in our show, and the kids agreed it was a good idea,” Earley explained.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many of Portland’s professional “Equity” actors started their careers sharing the stage with a ladybug. So did National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro.

No, they weren’t doing scenes with insects, but with Ladybug–the hand puppet who is the mascot of the famous Portland children’s Ladybug Theater.

Introducing kids to theater
Back in 1959, the Ladybug Theater was formed, performing for two decades at the Oregon Zoo in a building shaped like, you guessed it, a ladybug.

“There is nothing like it anywhere,” the theater’s director Michele Earley, told us. “We have audience participation in every show. But more importantly, kids learn that theater isn’t frightening.”

Pat Carter, Tyler Mapes, and Renee Carter said they had been looking forward to seeing the Ladybug Theater’s September production.

Because children who come to Ladybug Theater shows are encouraged to use their humor and imagination, Earley said, they are more likely to attend, or even participate in, live theater.

Kids also learn theater manners and etiquette. “In a TV generation, it is important for kids to learn how to behave in a public setting. We help young parents learn how to teach their children how to enjoy live programs and theater.”

According to Earley, all of their shows are created in-house. “We start by making a scenario; an outline for how the storyline will progress. Then the actors take the scenario and create the play and story.”

Ladybug without a home
Earley was upbeat as she and her son, Matt Pipes, prepared for their September 13th show. But, she admitted that not having a permanent home for the theater was difficult for her.

“After the Zoo, we were in Multnomah Village for three years, and then at Oaks Park for 15 years. But, for the past six years, we’ve been ‘homeless’.

“This means we can’t do larger, family shows on weekend dates. But, we’re keeping the Ladybug Theater tradition alive by doing smaller shows here at the SMILE Station, at S.E. 13th and Tenino in Sellwood. This is the building of the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League neighborhood association; they let us use it. Thank You SMILE!”

Young actors consult Pig about the roles they are about to play

It’s showtime!
As opening music played, about 50 parents and kids filtered into the hall. Older kids sat in front of the puppet stage.

As Pat Carter came in with her son Tyler, she said, “We’re here because we like puppet shows. The interactive programs put on by the Ladybug Theater helps him learn — not just be entertained. He starts preschool later this week ‚Äì so we won’t be able to come for a while!”

Earley and the kids get into the show, talking with none other than Ladybug.

The lights were dimmed. Soon, everyone’s attention was on Ladybug’s introduction. Another production of the Ladybug Theater was underway.

Don’t miss these shows on October 11-12, Ladybug Theater presents “The Three Silly Goats Gruff and the Troll is Enough”. This show features silly fun and lots of audience participation.

October 18-19 and 20-25, see their Hallowe’en tradition, “The Ghost Catcher”, featuring Boo Hoo Ghost. This show is rated “Absolutely NOT Scary”!

See the shows at the SMILE Station, 8210 SE 13th Street, 1 block south of Tacoma in Sellwood. Showtime is 10:30 am; tickets are $3 each. Call (503) 232-2346 for your reservation, or more information

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ‚Äì East PDX News

Read this and see why some of the top P.I.R. drag-racers’ jaws drop when this former Datson 1200 silently slinks up to the starting line ‚Ķ

John “Plasma boy” Wayland, the owner of this 100 mph electric dragster, says petro-fueled racers snicker when his battery-powered car rolls up to the line ‚Äì until smokes them at speeds of over 100 mph.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We’d never seen a “cruise-in” like this before, at the Village Inn restaurant in the Gateway/Mall 205 area. And this car show ‚Äì featuring a dozen electric cars ‚Äì was drawing quite a crowd.

“We created this event,” John “Plasma boy” Wayland, explained to us, “to raise public awareness about electric cars. We’re showing that electric cars aren’t a fantasy or a dream. They’re real, right here, right now.”

Wayland rhapsodized about the benefits of driving vehicles that don’t run on fossil fuels. “We run on American-generated electrons. I drive an electric car almost exclusively. Why use gas or diesel when you can hum around on electricity?”

This 1921 Milburn, an electric car made in the USA, looked like a horse-drawn carriage, but had been modified to run on batteries instead of horsepower.

Electron-fueled drag racer
Wayland motioned us over to his “modified” 1972 Datsun 1200 Sedan.

“When we go to PIR or Woodburn and roll out to the drag race starting line, a lot of people are surprised to see an electric car,” Wayland told us with a sly smile breaking over his face.  “Jaws drop when we run it. We pull up to a standard, fuel-gulping car on the line as they smoke their tires. We glide up silently ‚Äì and then smoke OUR tires. At the green light, my car pulls its front tires off the ground for the first 50 feet.”

After winning a race, Wayland said one of two things happen: Either the opponent is so embarrassed they lost to an electric car, they slink off and go home. Or, they come over, and shake hands, and want to learn more about electric-powered vehicles.

Wayland loves showing off his “ampere-sucking” drag racer while he talks up electric vehicles as a good alternative to gas-powered transportation.

Wayland rattled off his drag racer’s statistics: “The old Datsun had a 69 hp, 4 cylinder engine. Now it is a electronic, wheel-standing electric drag car that does the quarter-mile as fast as a Dodge V-10 Viper. Doing 0 – 60 in 3.2 seconds, it’s pretty quick. In the eighth-mile, no one can touch it. It hits 106 in the quarter mile. Top speed? Unknown!”

An all-electric driver
“This isn’t my regular car,” Wayland confided. “We drive two electrics and one hybrid. Look: Most people do most of their driving in town. Doesn’t it make sense to stop polluting, stop supporting foreign oil producers, and use the great technology that’s now available?”

Want to learn more? See Wayland’s website at www.plasmaboyracing.com, the national site at www.nedra.com, or the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association. www.oeva.org, a non- profit statewide association.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The smiles you’ll see on this family’s faces tell the story. Read this story and learn how a group turns low-income renters into homeowners ‚Äì but makes participants work long and hard for the privilege ‚Ķ

Celebrating one of sixteen new homes in Lents is (back row) Steve Messinetti, executive director Portland Habitat for Humanity, new “sweat equity” homeowners Thomas and Luda Le, Bill Goodale; (front row) homeowner’s kids Jasmine and Taylor Le and Carol Goodale. The Goodales are the Le’s Habitat for Humanity “family supporters”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The day for moving in to their new home has been a year in the making for the Le family. And, “making” isn’t a figurative term. We’ve followed the activities of the Le family as they’ve lifted walls, hammered, and painted their home at the newly-completed Portland Habitat for Humanity project.

The coming winter season, foreshadowed by wind-blown rain at the project’s Sept. 14 dedication party, made the Le family all the more eager to cozy into their brand new town home, just off SE 82nd Ave. of Roses in the Lents Neighborhood.

A home built with love
Thomas Le smiled and invited us into his family’s new home on SE Lambert St. He told us he’d been accumulating his “sweat equity” by working on his and other Portland Habitat for Humanity projects since 2003.

“This home is built with love,” Le told us. “A lot of volunteers went out of their way to help us build our new home. Our children will have a place to call home; they’ll have their own rooms. I think it helps children do better in school when they know they have a home of their own.”

“It was fun and exciting,” Thomas’ wife, Lyudmila, confided. “I did hammering, putting up walls, and painting. I feel real ownership. I think we will have a better family life here.”

Young Taylor Le welcomes us into his family’s new home.

Opportunity, not a hand-out
When we came upon Steve Messinetti, Executive Director Portland Habitat for Humanity, he reminded us that only a year ago, the two of us were standing together in a vacant field. “Within days, sixteen families, 65 people, will be moving into their decent homes here. It was made possible by 30,000 volunteer hours, and generous donations of individuals and firms.”

The organization’s mission, Messinetti reminded us, is helping hard-working, but struggling, families move out of substandard housing and into a decent home. “Even more important, they’re buying the home and investing in their futures ‚Äì and the futures of their children. So, the kids that move into this house will have financial stability, and eventually, equity that gets passed on to them.”

It works like this, Messinetti said: All Habitat families put in 500 hours of “sweat equity” toward their home, and purchase their home at cost with a zero-interest, 1% down payment mortgage. Their mortgage payments, based on 25% of their income, pay into a revolving “Fund for Humanity” used to build more homes in the Portland area.

Messinetti said they’re planning to build more houses in the Lents neighborhood; they’re currently negotiating for property. “And, we also received a commitment from the Portland Development Commission to fund the buying of more land in Lents over the next three months, to build ten more houses this coming year. We will build wherever we are able to get affordable land in a decent community.”

Dinner in the rain

Large tents, filling the development’s driveway, kept celebrants dry at the project’s dedication and dinner.

The rain showers and chilly wind didn’t dampen the dedication ceremony for this new housing development. The local owners of Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurants, “Waterloo Restaurant Ventures”, paid to have huge tents erected in the project’s driveway.

During his brief remarks at the dedication ceremony, Messinetti told the assembly this project came in on time, and $10,000 under budget.

A full, three-course dinner was served, under tents, by the franchise owners of Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and the restaurants’ employees and managers.

More than 200 people, including new homeowners, friends, Portland Habitat for Humanity volunteers, sponsors and donors tucked into full-course hot dinner provided by Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

“Why this generosity?” we asked of Barry McGowen, the CEO “Waterloo Restaurant Ventures”.

“We’re a locally-owned company,” McGowen told us. “We believe it’s important to give back to the communities our restaurants are rooted in. Habitat for Humanity executes their mission well; they bring decent homes to people in our community. I, and the thousand team members we employ, understand this. We’re honored to be part of this great program.”

Habitat for Humanity volunteers Bob Bothman and his wife Jacquie.

At dinner, we sat with Habitat for Humanity volunteers: Civil engineer and retired director of ODOT Bob Bothman and his wife Jacquie. In addition to Portland-area projects, the couple told us they also work each year on projects outside the area, most recently in Kirgizstan, New Orleans, and New Zealand.

Ray Hites, board member of Lents Neighborhood Association

A familiar face present was that of Ray Hites, board member of Lents Neighborhood Association. “In the past, I worked with Habitat for Humanity projects in Portland,” Hites said. “When they came to Lents, I couldn’t pass up to opportunity to help out. It makes homeownership affordable to good people. Given that many people here are low income, I think encouraging more home ownership helps make the neighborhood more stable. Home owners have an investment in the neighborhood.”

New homeowner Thomas Le speaks at the Habitat for Humanity dedication.

Thomas Le was chosen to speak at the dedication ceremony. “I’ve finished [my sweat equity hours], but I still put in a little more time to help others. This is good program. This is wonderful: People, gathered together, with open hearts, building communities. I don’t see this very often. Even though we have different backgrounds, we all help each other like a big family.”

If you are interested in becoming part of the Portland Habitat for Humanity “family”, or would like to become a homeowner under their program, find out more at www.pdxhabitat.org; or call them at (503) 287-9529.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Celebrate a library’s birthday? Look at this article and see GIANT lions invade the main reading room. And, you’ll discover why this mid-county library touches so many lives ‚Äì and how things might change of the library’s bond measure fails ‚Ķ

Midland Library’s 10th anniversary celebration got underway with the help of two fanciful lions from the Northwest Lion Dance Association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The reading room is normally very quiet. But today, a ceremonial drum pounds out a desk-shaking rhythm, waking dozing library patrons from their dreamy reveries on September 16 at Midland Library.

Children gasp and adults smile as two giant, fanciful lions dance their way from the entrance of the library, through the stacks and around the computer tables toward a stage by the ceiling-high windows facing Midland Park.

This joyous chaos, courtesy of the Northwest Lion Dance Association, marks the opening of the library’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Molly Raphael, director of the Multnomah County Library System, came to welcome patrons to this branch’s birthday celebration.

Library director welcomes all
The Director of the Multnomah County library system, Molly Raphael, takes the stage, and tells the throng that it was on this date that the newly rebuilt Midland Library branch was reopened 10 years ago. “The building more than tripled the space of this branch,” she says. The original branch ‚Äì and its entire parking lot ‚Äì would easily fit within the new building, she adds.

The director tells the group that Midland Library is, at 24,000 sq. ft., the largest and the second-busiest branch in the system.

“This branch is a valuable community resource,” Raphael tells us after her brief remarks. “It is located at the crossroads of east Multnomah County. It brings in people from all over the area. And, it brings people together, of diverse backgrounds, to participate in programs and attend community meetings.”

In addition, Raphael adds, it is also a partner to the schools. “Many students come in after school. We have many programs that reach out to young people. And, we offer many great family programs as well. We also serve our older citizens by helping them learn computer skills and other activities.”

Cake and crafts

Before crafting their own crowns in the activity room, Gateway-area residents (and library patrons) Naomi, Amanda, and Hannah Whitlock are enjoying Midland Library birthday cake and punch.

Overseeing the birthday cake cutting ceremony, Branch Manager Carolyn Schell is bubbling with enthusiasm as she tells us, “We’re having a wonderful time commemorating this building’s reopening. Here, we celebrate the diversity of our neighborhoods. This event shows that everybody is welcome to the library.”

Throughout the afternoon, visitors enjoy multi-cultural performances which include a Vietnamese Dance Team, Ballet Popotle performing Mexican folk dancing, and the band Americanistan presenting music from the Middle East. Along with the entertainment, kids enjoy craft time: making crown-like hats to wear and take home.

Sara Cunningham helps Tyler build a birdhouse at one of the Jane’s Park Group tables, in Midland Park behind the library.

Jane’s Park Group celebrates park
A group of neighbors, “Jane’s Park Committee”, helps take care of Midland Park, located behind the library and parking lot. Volunteers, including Boy Scouts from Troop 828, help kids build their own birdhouses.

In addition, committee members display information about the park, and community groups are on hand to drum up support for their efforts.

Girls can hammer too! Gregory Zolp looks on as his daughter, Ashley, builds her very own birdhouse.

Funding concerns
We buttonhole Raphael about what might happen if bond Measure 26-81, a five-year “serial levy”, doesn’t gain voters’ approval.

“Over half the county’s library system funding comes from the current levy, which is about to expire.”

We learn this measure isn’t a new tax, but a vote for continuation of an existing property tax that supports library operations and maintains services.

“Let me put it this context,” the director continues, “think about what would happen if you woke up and found you had just 45% of your income in your house. With less than half of our household income, you’d have to change the way your family lives. This would be a pretty dramatic change. We’ll work with the community, but I can imagine libraries closing, or, or at least, having hours drastically reduced.”

We ask Raphael might happen, specifically, to the Midland branch. “It remains to be seen,” she replies.

If passed, Measure 26-81 will levy $0.89 per $1,000 of assessed value. This means a home assed at $150,000 pays $133.50 per year.

The Midland Library is located at 805 SE 122nd Ave., a block south of SE Stark Street. Be sure to visit Midland Park, located behind the library’s parking lot. For more information, call the library at (503) 988-5392 or visit the library’s website at www.multcolib.org.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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 www.ready-for-school.org.

¬© 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 www.eastportlandchamber.com.

¬© 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

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