If you couldn’t be at the Grand Opening, not long ago, see what you missed. And, learn what makes this housing development rather unique in East Portland.

Representing the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, Lori Chance presented Heights at Columbia Knoll owners with an official welcoming scroll. She proclaimed, “This is a wonderful and beautiful facility. We’re thrilled to have you as part of the community. We welcome you to East Portland!”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For many youngsters and teenagers today, the ancient looking Georgian-style building set on the knoll at the corner of SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Sandy Blvd. just looked like a creepy haunted house.

Prior to 1983 that building ‚Äì the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children ‚Äì served polio victims; and later young burn victims and those needing orthopedic care for sixty years. While many uses for the ten-acre site were floated, a residential development called Heights at Columbia Knoll finally got the nod from the city.

Visiting the Heights at Columbia Knoll’s grand opening are Betty Dominguez State Housing Dept; Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten, Bill Parsons, Portland Development Commission (PDC) chair, Andy Wilch, housing director at PDC.

Ribbon cutting starts an all-day party
After year of building, the project officially opened its doors on June 9 with a grand celebration featuring speeches, music, food and fun.

As East Portland Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors stand ready for the ribbon cutting, Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten said he admired the use the developers made of this location.

Their event started with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Portland’s commissioner in charge of housing, Erik Stin told eastPDXnews in an exclusive interview, “This is a sign that the neighborhood is becoming revitalized. What we have here is a ‘community’ within a neighborhood. There are seniors, very young in day care, and low income people at this facility. I love it that people of all generations can live in one place. It is such a gorgeous spot; it will become one of Portland’s favorite places.”

Portland Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, dignitaries and guests gathered as the “official” ribbon is about to be cut by one of Heights at Columbia Knoll’s owners, Mark Miller.

Not fully satisfied, Miller, readied to a second ribbon for cutting made of blue tape. “We use this blue tape to mark things the contractors need to fix. They’ve done a great job and, by cutting the blue tape, we’re letting them know how much we appreciate their workmanship.”

After the ribbon cutting, Miller told us, “For seniors, this kind of housing development is unusual. It allows people 75 to 90 seniors to live in a luxury style, even if their means are 60% of the median income. Lower income seniors, on fixed income, can have some very fine housing and common elements.”

In total, the development will house 208 seniors and provide 118 family units.

Reception provides hospitality for all

EPCC Ambassador Chair Holly Moss stands with Heights at Columbia Knoll’s first senior residents, Vic and Madeline Bloomquist, as they pause for a photo with son, Wes Crank, before enjoying a banquet catered by the facilities food service staff.

Throughout the senior housing building, the staff of Heights at Columbia Knoll arranged entertainment and activities for all who attended.

Master magician Adam the Great entertains with his comedy magic, performed up-close, at guests tables.

An ice carving serves as the centerpiece that graces the grand buffet table at the Heights at Columbia Knoll grand opening.

In their main dining room, full-course hot dinner was served to all of their guests. It was clear, all who attended this grand opening had a grand good time.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Through the hard work of its dedicated volunteers, see how Zenger Farm’s building program is progressing ‚Äì and learn more about their unique urban farm summer camp program for kids ‚Ķ

Zenger Farm board members Michelle Peterman and Eileen Brady are two of many volunteers who work to make this unique urban farm into a showplace teaching facility. Read on, and learn why Zenger is so important to them.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Those who have followed our reporting know of our fascination with Zenger Farm.

For those who don’t, Zenger is a combination of a working, urban farm, community garden, wetland reclamation project ‚Äì and agrarian learning center for kids.

Teaching kids were food comes from
Why do hundreds of folks, and their companies, volunteer to improve Zenger Farm and keep it running? The best answers come from their volunteer board members:

“I’m passionate about kids and food,” is how Michelle Peterman explains her interest. “I want kids to learn how they get their food. Ask kids where their food comes from, they typically say, ‘from the grocery store’. Kids learn how to make better choices about the food they eat, when they know where their food comes from.”

And, as another Zenger Farm board member, Eileen Brady, puts it, “You know your doctor and dentist, but do you know your farmer, fisher, and rancher? These people are producing the food we put in our bodies. We had 2,000 kids at the farm last year. We’d like to get every child in Portland to, at least, touch the soil on a farm. As we increase transparency from farm to table, it helps people build connections between their health, nutrition, and ecology. It strengthens the urban/rural partnerships and regional food economy.”

Farm reception is good

Melissa Peterson, owner of Wild Plum Catering (www.wildplumcagering.com) serves up tasty dishes for friends of the farm at a June reception. The hit was her Vegetable Strudel with roasted eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, fresh herbs, local goat cheese. “Summer is just a great time for cooks who love farm-fresh vegetables,” she says.

We caught up with Zenger Farm’s director, Wisteria Loeffler, at a spring reception during June. Hundreds of adults and kids swarmed over the nearly-completed farm house renovation.

The Cole Family Band plays traditional tunes, filling the air with music during the spring farm reception.

“As the growing season begins,” Loeffler tells us, “This is a fun event; opening the farm to the families and friends of our supporters. We’ve been under construction for a couple of years and we’re about ready to move into our next phase.

Farm Summer Camp about to begin

Do kids like coming to learn about agriculture at Zenger Farm? Frances McClain and Lilly Rogers certainly do!

The theme of the 2006 Zenger Summer Day Camp series is “Connecting kids to the food they eat”.

Kids will have the unique opportunity to:
> Spend a week on a working urban farm learning where their food comes from;
> Get their hands dirty working in the Kids’ Garden and helping our farmer tend her fields;
> Pick snacks from heirloom fruit trees and harvest vegetables for lunch;
> Learn how to make nature journals and go on a field trip to a farm outside of the city to see how other farmers grow their food
> Make lunch, with help from a professional chef, from ingredients they harvested themselves. A nutritious snack and lunch is provided everyday

Spaces are filling fast! Call now to reserve your child’s spot.

Session 1
Boys & Girls, ages 6-8
Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday, July 17 – Friday, July 21

Session 2
Boys & Girls, ages 9-12
Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday, July 31 – Friday, August 4

The cost is $200/session. Note: A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. The camps are located at Zenger Farm, 11741 SE Foster Road.

To Register, or for more information, or to register your camper today, contact Sara Cogan, Education Coordinator, at (503)282-4245, or sara@zengerfarm.org..

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See the man for whom the David Douglas High School’s Horner Performing Arts Center was named oompah out tunes, playing a classic Sousaphone ‚Ķ

Starting the evening’s program, backed up by the East County Symphony Orchestra, Mary Lou Cosby’s professional and cultured voice sings the National Anthem.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hundreds filed into David Douglass High School’s Horner Performing Arts Center on June 9 to hear the East County Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Concert.

The nearly sold-out house on June 9 was treated to marches, romantic tunes, country melodies, selections from “My Fair Lady”, swing music and even spirituals.

The man behind the building
What many people don’t know is that the individual for whom the theater is named plays each concert, sitting in the back row of the band!

Dr. Howard Horner toots out the bass line playing the Sousaphone at the summer concert of the East County Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Howard Horner was David Douglas High School’s first Principal. The respected educator went on to become the Superintendent of the district before retiring. Horner is credited with establishing the district’s conservative financial approach ‚Äì one that has allowed it to survive the lean funding years, without cutting programs.

A firm believer in arts education, Horner wanted to see the school have a first-class performing arts center. After it was constructed, and the school district’s officers named it after Horner.

At a break in the concert, we asked Horner why he was sitting in the back row of the orchestra. “I love to play the Sousaphone, and this is where we sit! I like playing this kind of music. And, I keep coming back because they tolerate me!”

Horner says he’s been involved on the orchestra since its inception “That’s back quite a number of years. It was founded by Harold Webber 26 years ago. Our current director, Jack Mahoney, is excellent. He’s a fine person, and very good with music and people.”

While the orchestra is comprised mainly of senior-citizen musicians, Horner told us they also have young people playing specialty instruments. “But, one of our clarinet players is 92 years old; many of us are on the high side of 70.  This is a good opportunity for seniors to play and enjoy music.”

Be watching for the Winter Concert of this fine East Portland musical organization.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

The final concert of the year showed off the talents of four Parkrose High choirs. But see how it looked when all four choirs were joined by graduates from past years!

Take the Parkrose High Concert Choir, add the Treble Choir, the Debonaires, and A-Choir ‚Äì then ask choir program graduates from past years to join in on stage ‚Äì and you’ve got one mighty choir singing “River in Judea”!

Story and photo David F. Ashton
Parents, students and community members were treated to a 19-song concert at the Parkrose High School Theater.

Choir Director Lesley Ann Bossart (above) conducted the school’s four choirs as they sung tunes ranging from spirituals to classical music at the on June 6.

Near the end of the program, emotions ran high, as the school bade the departing seniors farewell.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Why did the smell of sweat, dirt and gunpowder, and the sound of gunshots, screams ‚Äì and laughter ‚Äì fill the late afternoon air in Parkrose throughout the first week of June?  Here’s why ‚Ķ

Parkrose High School student actors Marie Still, Brandon Wilcox, Madison Cook, Jonathan Wheatfall, Anna Moellering, and Tyree Harris act in the film, “The Tail of Nick Rose” to be premi?®red at the Rossi Barn Bash on July 8th.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Why the commotion at Rossi Farms? Students from Parkrose High School’s video production and drama classes were working together on an end-of-year project: The class’ new short film, “The Tail of Nick Rose”. This film will be premi?®red at the Rossi Barn Bash’s Theater on the Haybales on July 8.

“Working on this movie has been a great experience,” Ms. Zena, Parkrose High’s theater instructor, told us. “We’ve have 40 kids out here shooting this film all week. I think the kids were shocked how difficult it is to shoot a movie — even a short film like this.”

Zena explained that her student actors are used to working on stage. “When doing a film, there isn’t the continuity. It has been a good learning experience for them.”

Soundman Taylor Ward and director/camera operator Evin Carr get ready for their next take while shooting “The Tail of Nick Rose”, to be premi?®red at the Rossi Barn Bash on July 8th.

Joe Rossi smiled as he watched the action taking place at the “Wild West Show” set on his farm. “I’m excited about this year’s movie. I always wanted to include the school in this project. The students rewrote the story, and made it their own. It tells how old-time Parkrose was invaded by bad elements from Portland.”

And how does the story end? Come out and see it, while you enjoy the best all-you-can-eat BBQ chicken dinner around, grilled by the Parkrose Lions; see a live-action wild-west show; dance to country music ‚Äì and enjoy the first showing of this movie, at this year’s Rossi Barn Bash!

“Turkey Creek Tom” Mannen shows actors how to safely handle the guns used on the Rossi movie set. Mannen is the leader of Turkey Creek Productions ‚Äì the group who puts on the Wild West Action Show at the Barn Bash.

Rossi Barn Bash
Benefiting Parkrose Youth Activities Fund

Saturday, July 8
6:00 p.m. until Midnight
Still only $12 each (must be over 21)
At Rossi Farm, 3839 NE 122nd Ave (at Shaver St.)
Tickets at the gate, or in advance at Rossi Farm Store

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how a church teamed up with community organizations to put on a fun fair for their neighbors …

The Flood family – Paul, Julie, Kelly, Katie and Timothy – say they came to the Pilgrim Community Festival in Lents because they only live a block away. They were busy making crafts.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
People looked like they were enjoying one of our nice June Saturdays at the Pilgrim Lutheran Church Third-annual Summer Festival.

“This year, we’re calling a Community Festival,” explains the church’s pastor, Jeanamarie Fiumefreddo. “We’ve added two sponsors: Rose Community Development and Active Living by Design, to help put on this festival.

This fair has both fun and free food! This is Jessica Fiumefreddo, serving guests lunch.

Fiumefreddo said this festival is important, “Because it helps neighbors get to know one another and build relationships. We build ‘community’ one relationship at a time. And, when we get to each other, we can better take ownership in our community whether we are renters or owners.”

Look for their Healthy Living in Lents festival planned for this Fall.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Read why Portland Police detectives believed the bandit who held up The Cash Store on SE Powell at 32nd Ave. had been a very, very bad boy – and how they caught him …

Far from his Hillsboro home, police say Adam G. Trainor’s crime career ended 70 blocks east of The Cash Store at SE Powell Blvd and 32nd Ave. he robbed at gunpoint.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The slender-built man in is middle twenties got out of a green, Honda coupe, pulled the hood of a dark sweatshirt over his head, and strode into The Cash Store at 3234 SE Powell Blvd.

He’d come in for some fast cash on June 17, under the bright, early-afternoon sunlit sky ‚Äì but he wasn’t about to sign for a loan.

He flashed a gun; the clerk gave him money. As the robber hit the door, the clerk called 9-1-1, knowing this criminal transaction had been caught on video.

The report of the broad-daylight robber crackled across the police radio. The Honda was first spotted near SE 60th Powell. It sounded as if the alleged robber slid around a police roadblock. More squad cars joined in the pursuit.

“He stacked it up at 115 and Division,” was the excited call of an officer. We rounded the corner and spotted a half-dozen patrol cars with lights flashing. One of the patrol cars had come to rest on the side lawn of a home, blocking any escape for the green Honda stoped parallel to a back yard fence.

A real-life CSI officer from Portland Police gathers forensic evidence at The Cash Store at SE Powell Blvd. after the robbery police, who accuse him of being a “serial bandet”, say Adam G. Trainor,  robbed them on June 17.

Serial robber nabbed
Portland Police spokesman Det. Paul Dolbey confirmed that sequence of events, and also that Adam Gerard Trainor, 25, was arrested for allegedly sticking up The Cash Store using a gun.

“He didn’t give up without a fight,” Dolbey told us. “Trainor decided to fight with our officers. They used a Taser on him to take him into custody.”

Noting Trainor’s method of operation, Portland Police detectives saw similarities to recent gunpoint robberies in Washington County. A young man matching Trainor’s description allegedly previously held up a Subway shop and Hair Masters salon in Sherwood ‚Äì and Beaverton’s Honeycut & Company hair salon ‚Äì within the past weeks.

Sherwood Police Detective Dwight Onchi told us he traveled that evening to Portland’s Justice Center for an interview. “Trainor confessed to the Sherwood robberies. And, he admitted he needed money because he was a heroin addict.”

District Attorneys from both Multnomah and Washington Counties are expected to present the reports and statements to a grand jury for possible indictment.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Read why Portland Police detectives believed the bandit who held up The Cash Store on SE Powell at 32nd Ave. had been a very, very bad boy – and how they caught him …

Far from his Hillsboro home, police say Adam G. Trainor’s crime career ended 70 blocks east of The Cash Store at SE Powell Blvd and 32nd Ave. he robbed at gunpoint.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The slender-built man in is middle twenties got out of a green, Honda coupe, pulled the hood of a dark sweatshirt over his head, and strode into The Cash Store at 3234 SE Powell Blvd.

He’d come in for some fast cash on June 17, under the bright, early-afternoon sunlit sky ‚Äì but he wasn’t about to sign for a loan.

He flashed a gun; the clerk gave him money. As the robber hit the door, the clerk called 9-1-1, knowing this criminal transaction had been caught on video.

The report of the broad-daylight robber crackled across the police radio. The Honda was first spotted near SE 60th Powell. It sounded as if the alleged robber slid around a police roadblock. More squad cars joined in the pursuit.

“He stacked it up at 115 and Division,” was the excited call of an officer. We rounded the corner and spotted a half-dozen patrol cars with lights flashing. One of the patrol cars had come to rest on the side lawn of a home, blocking any escape for the green Honda stoped parallel to a back yard fence.

A real-life CSI officer from Portland Police gathers forensic evidence at The Cash Store at SE Powell Blvd. after the robbery police, who accuse him of being a “serial bandet”, say Adam G. Trainor,  robbed them on June 17.

Serial robber nabbed
Portland Police spokesman Det. Paul Dolbey confirmed that sequence of events, and also that Adam Gerard Trainor, 25, was arrested for allegedly sticking up The Cash Store using a gun.

“He didn’t give up without a fight,” Dolbey told us. “Trainor decided to fight with our officers. They used a Taser on him to take him into custody.”

Noting Trainor’s method of operation, Portland Police detectives saw similarities to recent gunpoint robberies in Washington County. A young man matching Trainor’s description allegedly previously held up a Subway shop and Hair Masters salon in Sherwood ‚Äì and Beaverton’s Honeycut & Company hair salon ‚Äì within the past weeks.

Sherwood Police Detective Dwight Onchi told us he traveled that evening to Portland’s Justice Center for an interview. “Trainor confessed to the Sherwood robberies. And, he admitted he needed money because he was a heroin addict.”

District Attorneys from both Multnomah and Washington Counties are expected to present the reports and statements to a grand jury for possible indictment.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Not only did the truck driver melt down his own 18-wheeler, police say his carelessness also smashed four other vehicles. One would expect this kind of freeway carnage to leave dead bodies strewn across the concrete, but instead …

The stench of burning rubber, heated metal and roasted cargo hung in the afternoon air long after the 5:00 p.m. crash of the 18-wheeler.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Commuters using I-84 found their typically-slow, 5:00 p.m. drive home slam to a standstill on June 22. And, Parkrose neighbors and business people were surprised to look up and see a giant plume of thick, black smoke belching from the area where the Banfield Freeway crosses over NE 122nd Avenue.

Thought an airplane crashed
Marcy and John Bradford were walking their German Sheppard south, along NE 122nd Ave. “We were under the bridge (I-84 overpass) and heard an explosion,” Marcy told us. John added, “We thought a small plane trying to land at PDX airport had crashed-landed onto the freeway or hit a home and exploded. When we came up on the other side, though, we saw thick black smoke and flames from a big-rig truck.”

The explosions also caught the attention of people at Rossi Farm, two blocks away, at NE Shaver St.

Eyewitness to the inferno
An eyewitness to the narrow escape of the flaming truck’s driver was Jeff Schumacher, a driver with Jet Delivery Air Freight. His truck had broken down on the I-84 exit ramp at 122nd Ave.

While off to the side of the exit ramp, looking into the engine of his stalled truck, “I heard a big explosion, and looked up to see an 18-wheeler hit a light pole along [the west side] of the freeway. It slid along guardrail and caught fire. Just before the overpass, the driver got it stopped, jumped out, and ran about 30 feet before the cab exploded into flames.”

After burning for about ten minutes ‚Äì the rig’s cab engulfed in flame ‚Äì Schumacher said the second fuel tank must have been “boiling” under the tractor. “When it blew, I ducked and took cover. It shook the ground.”

Portland and Gresham fire crews respond
“When crews arrived on scene, they reported a tractor-trailer fully engulfed in flames,” reported Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allen Oswalt. “The first crew to arrive had to attack the fire from the eastbound lanes. To be safe, both sides of the freeway were completely shut down.”

Empting each fire engine’s 1,000 gallon tank in turn, firefighters doused the inferno. Just before the sixth fire engine’s tank ran dry, crews were able to connect a 2-inch hose to a hydrant more than two blocks away.

The fire was initially attacked with water carried on the fire engines, but that supply is limited, and a hose was stretched 700 ft. to the closest hydrant to provide water for a prolonged fire attack. “The fire in the truck was brought under control at 5:35 p.m.,” Oswalt told us. In all, 35 firefighters were called to battle the fire, in six engines from both Portland and Gresham.

Surprisingly, no life-threatening injuries
Four people were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, and was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

The fire burned so intensely that after the second fuel tank boiled and exploded, the only recognizable features of the tractor were its exhaust pipe and frame.

Cause of the carnage
Police say the driver of the now-charred big rig, 57-year-old Richard Shoemate, was to blame in the spectacular crash–for driving too fast, following too closely, and not being prepared for heavy, slow traffic as he headed westbound on I-84.

“Portland Police Traffic Investigators determined Shoemate was at fault,” Portland Police Bureau’s Det. Paul Dolbey confirmed for us, “when the semi-truck he was driving collided with a vehicle ahead of him. In total, five vehicles were damaged in the collision.”

Shoemate was cited both for “Following Too Closely” and “Careless Driving”, for his role in the collision.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Not only did the truck driver melt down his own 18-wheeler, police say his carelessness also smashed four other vehicles. One would expect this kind of freeway carnage to leave dead bodies strewn across the concrete, but instead …

The stench of burning rubber, heated metal and roasted cargo hung in the afternoon air long after the 5:00 p.m. crash of the 18-wheeler.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Commuters using I-84 found their typically-slow, 5:00 p.m. drive home slam to a standstill on June 22. And, Parkrose neighbors and business people were surprised to look up and see a giant plume of thick, black smoke belching from the area where the Banfield Freeway crosses over NE 122nd Avenue.

Thought an airplane crashed
Marcy and John Bradford were walking their German Sheppard south, along NE 122nd Ave. “We were under the bridge (I-84 overpass) and heard an explosion,” Marcy told us. John added, “We thought a small plane trying to land at PDX airport had crashed-landed onto the freeway or hit a home and exploded. When we came up on the other side, though, we saw thick black smoke and flames from a big-rig truck.”

The explosions also caught the attention of people at Rossi Farm, two blocks away, at NE Shaver St.

Eyewitness to the inferno
An eyewitness to the narrow escape of the flaming truck’s driver was Jeff Schumacher, a driver with Jet Delivery Air Freight. His truck had broken down on the I-84 exit ramp at 122nd Ave.

While off to the side of the exit ramp, looking into the engine of his stalled truck, “I heard a big explosion, and looked up to see an 18-wheeler hit a light pole along [the west side] of the freeway. It slid along guardrail and caught fire. Just before the overpass, the driver got it stopped, jumped out, and ran about 30 feet before the cab exploded into flames.”

After burning for about ten minutes ‚Äì the rig’s cab engulfed in flame ‚Äì Schumacher said the second fuel tank must have been “boiling” under the tractor. “When it blew, I ducked and took cover. It shook the ground.”

Portland and Gresham fire crews respond
“When crews arrived on scene, they reported a tractor-trailer fully engulfed in flames,” reported Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allen Oswalt. “The first crew to arrive had to attack the fire from the eastbound lanes. To be safe, both sides of the freeway were completely shut down.”

Empting each fire engine’s 1,000 gallon tank in turn, firefighters doused the inferno. Just before the sixth fire engine’s tank ran dry, crews were able to connect a 2-inch hose to a hydrant more than two blocks away.

The fire was initially attacked with water carried on the fire engines, but that supply is limited, and a hose was stretched 700 ft. to the closest hydrant to provide water for a prolonged fire attack. “The fire in the truck was brought under control at 5:35 p.m.,” Oswalt told us. In all, 35 firefighters were called to battle the fire, in six engines from both Portland and Gresham.

Surprisingly, no life-threatening injuries
Four people were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, and was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

The fire burned so intensely that after the second fuel tank boiled and exploded, the only recognizable features of the tractor were its exhaust pipe and frame.

Cause of the carnage
Police say the driver of the now-charred big rig, 57-year-old Richard Shoemate, was to blame in the spectacular crash–for driving too fast, following too closely, and not being prepared for heavy, slow traffic as he headed westbound on I-84.

“Portland Police Traffic Investigators determined Shoemate was at fault,” Portland Police Bureau’s Det. Paul Dolbey confirmed for us, “when the semi-truck he was driving collided with a vehicle ahead of him. In total, five vehicles were damaged in the collision.”

Shoemate was cited both for “Following Too Closely” and “Careless Driving”, for his role in the collision.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Not only did the truck driver melt down his own 18-wheeler, police say his carelessness also smashed four other vehicles. One would expect this kind of freeway carnage to leave dead bodies strewn across the concrete, but instead …

The stench of burning rubber, heated metal and roasted cargo hung in the afternoon air long after the 5:00 p.m. crash of the 18-wheeler.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Commuters using I-84 found their typically-slow, 5:00 p.m. drive home slam to a standstill on June 22. And, Parkrose neighbors and business people were surprised to look up and see a giant plume of thick, black smoke belching from the area where the Banfield Freeway crosses over NE 122nd Avenue.

Thought an airplane crashed
Marcy and John Bradford were walking their German Sheppard south, along NE 122nd Ave. “We were under the bridge (I-84 overpass) and heard an explosion,” Marcy told us. John added, “We thought a small plane trying to land at PDX airport had crashed-landed onto the freeway or hit a home and exploded. When we came up on the other side, though, we saw thick black smoke and flames from a big-rig truck.”

The explosions also caught the attention of people at Rossi Farm, two blocks away, at NE Shaver St.

Eyewitness to the inferno
An eyewitness to the narrow escape of the flaming truck’s driver was Jeff Schumacher, a driver with Jet Delivery Air Freight. His truck had broken down on the I-84 exit ramp at 122nd Ave.

While off to the side of the exit ramp, looking into the engine of his stalled truck, “I heard a big explosion, and looked up to see an 18-wheeler hit a light pole along [the west side] of the freeway. It slid along guardrail and caught fire. Just before the overpass, the driver got it stopped, jumped out, and ran about 30 feet before the cab exploded into flames.”

After burning for about ten minutes ‚Äì the rig’s cab engulfed in flame ‚Äì Schumacher said the second fuel tank must have been “boiling” under the tractor. “When it blew, I ducked and took cover. It shook the ground.”

Portland and Gresham fire crews respond
“When crews arrived on scene, they reported a tractor-trailer fully engulfed in flames,” reported Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allen Oswalt. “The first crew to arrive had to attack the fire from the eastbound lanes. To be safe, both sides of the freeway were completely shut down.”

Empting each fire engine’s 1,000 gallon tank in turn, firefighters doused the inferno. Just before the sixth fire engine’s tank ran dry, crews were able to connect a 2-inch hose to a hydrant more than two blocks away.

The fire was initially attacked with water carried on the fire engines, but that supply is limited, and a hose was stretched 700 ft. to the closest hydrant to provide water for a prolonged fire attack. “The fire in the truck was brought under control at 5:35 p.m.,” Oswalt told us. In all, 35 firefighters were called to battle the fire, in six engines from both Portland and Gresham.

Surprisingly, no life-threatening injuries
Four people were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, and was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

The fire burned so intensely that after the second fuel tank boiled and exploded, the only recognizable features of the tractor were its exhaust pipe and frame.

Cause of the carnage
Police say the driver of the now-charred big rig, 57-year-old Richard Shoemate, was to blame in the spectacular crash–for driving too fast, following too closely, and not being prepared for heavy, slow traffic as he headed westbound on I-84.

“Portland Police Traffic Investigators determined Shoemate was at fault,” Portland Police Bureau’s Det. Paul Dolbey confirmed for us, “when the semi-truck he was driving collided with a vehicle ahead of him. In total, five vehicles were damaged in the collision.”

Shoemate was cited both for “Following Too Closely” and “Careless Driving”, for his role in the collision.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Why are a bus-load of kids from the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood taking over the streets of the Hollywood district? Tune in to this fun article …

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Unlike many years when it has nearly been flooded out, the June 7th Portland Rose Festival Fred Meyer Junior Parade was met in 2006 by balmy spring weather. The sunshine brought out thousands of people to watch this, the largest children’s parade in the nation.

Many kids are decked out in colorful costumes as they ride floats, bikes, unicycles – and almost anything else that rolls and can be pulled along the 17-block route.

But, what really makes this a great parade are the marching musicians. This year, Ron Russell Middle School was well-represented by its Dance Team and Marching Band. The crowed enjoyed seeing these youths as they danced and played down the parade route.

Hopefully, we’ll see this great band in next year’s parade!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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