See the tree-planting ceremony that signaled the opening of once-fenced land, as the former Hazelwood Water District wellfield is transformed into a lush, public park …

The Portland city commissioner in charge of the city’s Water Bureau, Randy Leonard, welcomes folks to a tree planting ceremony, at the opening of the Hazelwood Hydro Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not long ago, the city block-sized parcel in the Hazelwood neighborhood was secured by a dingy, foreboding chain-link fence. Warning signs commanded that neighbors stay out.

But when we visited this site on September 28, at the former Hazelwood Water District well field and offices, the fences were down. Instead, the neighbors were invited in to enjoy a quarter mile walking path, doggy stations, picnic tables and benches.

The district’s former headquarters has become the new home of the East Portland Neighborhood Office.

“This is the most fun day I’ve had in politics,” the Portland city commissioner in charge of the Water Bureau, Randy Leonard, told us. “We took an asset that was already here, owned and maintained by the city, and opened it up to the community. The tree we’re planting today is a symbol of a new life for this park in the community. It is a cool thing.”

As members of the Villa Garden Club, community members and neighbors gathered around, Leonard told the group, “Last year, I came out here by myself, and looked at the property. I realized it was a waste of a city resource to leave it fenced off. We began talking with Richard Bixby about the possibility of EPNO occupying the building. It makes the building and property more secure.

“Today, the fences are down, the neighbors are encouraged to come in and use this. Over time, you’ll see curbs installed, there will be sidewalks, and the street will be paved.” A cheer went up. Leonard repeated himself for comedic effect, “Did I mention, the street (NE 117th Ave) will be paved?” Again the crowd cheered.

Leonard said he and his staffed were a bit concerned that some people might sneak through the trees at night and do “bad things” to the park. “The coolest thing about this is that the bureau’s Tom Klutz got huge rocks to block vehicle access from the Bull Run area!”

North wellhead to be removed
The head of the development project, the bureau’s Tom Klutz, said the wellhead and building on the north end of the property was never actually used. “The building and equipment will be removed by the first of November.”

A drinking water fountain will be installed. Sidewalks and handicapped ramps at the northwest corner of the park will make access more convenient, Klutz added.

Commissioner Leonard said the city will be keeping the southern well on the property in operation as a backup reserve for Portland’s water supply system.

Villa Garden Club plants ‘Patriotic Tree’
Dorothy Drews, president of the Villa Garden Club told us, “Our club is the largest and most active in the district. It was important for us to have a project that would be nationally recognized. Locally, to plant a tree for shade and beautify this park is a good thing. We’ll probably plant more, as space comes available.”

The observance conducted by the garden club included reading the poem “Trees”, and reciting the names of military service people from East Portland who are currently serving the county. The club, active since 1947, is sponsoring their Patriotic Tree as part of the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs national tree planting program, we were told.

Dorothy Drews introduces Hazelwood resident and parks advocate Linda Robinson.

“I support the efforts of this garden club,” said Linda Robinson, neighbor and parks advocate, after her introduction. “When they said they wanted to plant a tree here, I got excited. We wanted a tree that is native; a species too large to put in someone’s yard. We decided on the Big Leaf Maple. We’re planting it in the northeast corner of the park. With all these Deadora Cedars here, the maple would go well. Now, let’s go plant a tree!”

Linda Robinson and members of the Villa Garden Club plant the Big Leaf Maple tree at the park’s dedication.

One concern that day had been that there wasn’t enough dirt and water onsite to properly plant the tree. But as soon as the tree was dropped in the ground, workers from the water bureau arrived with additional soil and buckets of water to save the day.

Commissioner Leonard helps by watering the newly planted tree in Hazelwood.

Finally, a celebration wouldn’t be complete without refreshments, which were provided, this day, by the garden club.

Go see this fine new park for yourself. It’s located at 1017 NE 117th Avenue.

¬©  2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn about changes at the PDX Parking lot, area road improvements, and the possibility that the Port of Portland offices might move to outer East Portland, by reading this …

Port of Portland’s Dan Brame, showing Parkrose Business Association members where new parking facilities are likely to be built.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although it was opened just a few years ago, the short-term parking garage at Portland International Airport (PDX) is beginning to fill up, according to the Port of Portland’s Dan Brame — so they’ll build another.

“It reflects poorly on the airport,” Brame says as he addresses members of the Parkrose Business Association at their September monthly meeting. “In a survey we conducted, the main concern about PDX wasn’t security, but instead, problems with parking.”

In the near term, he adds, they’re considering increasing the parking rate from $14 to $18 per 24-hour period. “But, we expect raising the price will discourage only 200 cars a night.”

To address the tight parking situation, Brame says they’ll build a new parking garage immediately behind the current structure. This one will boast 3,500 spaces; 500 spots for rental car companies.

They expect start construction in next fall, and it should be ready to use in 2009.

Parking ‘valet’ to be installed
“With 3,300 spaces, it can be difficult to find a spot,” Brame continues. “When we get down to the last few spaces, finding an empty spot is challenging.”

To alleviate the problem, a new computerized directional system will tell drivers entering the “double helix” ramp how many spaces on each floor; and tell indicate where empty spaces are located.

“We’ve also installed a ‘pre-pay’ system,” Brame continues. “You can pay for your parking at a kiosk on the way to your car in the garage. If you’ve prepaid, you drive past the line of attendants, scan your paid ticket, and go.”

Port offices may move east
According to the port official, the top floor of the new parking structure may be constructed to house the Port’s headquarters offices.

“Downtown Portland, we have 300 employees who spend 70% of their time working on airport matters,” Brame tells us. “Engineering, Information Technology, and Human Resources all spend time a good deal of their time at PDX.”

In fact, Brame says workers annually spend 15,000 hours riding light rail back and forth from their current downtown offices. “When they are downtown, they aren’t connected with their prime customers ‚Äì the 14 million people pass though the airport.”

The new offices would provide 60,000 sq. ft. of space, into which about 100 workers would move. “The Port has made a commitment to sustainable building. It will have onsite waste water treatment and power generation, and will be built of sustainable materials.”

While the office is still on the drawing boards, Brame says the new parking lot construction has been approved.

Scott King, Port of Portland, describes some of the many projects that airport planners have been developing to alleviate traffic snarls near the airport.

Controlling ground traffic
As the airport gets busier, vehicle traffic to and from and surrounding PDX increases, says Scott King, also with the Port of Portland. “I know; I’m a local resident, and I live in the neighborhood.”

King says that PDX operates on a conditional use permit from the city. “It was updated in 2003, and we were told we had to do certain improvements. With the 2005 Oregon Investment Transportation Act in place, the Port submitted projects related to that fund. Other funding comes from the city.”

When the recent change allowing large-scale retail stores to be built at Cascade Station, King says more projects came on the map. “Most are low-impact in construction. But we also have a major projects, like one with a proposed ‘flyover’ ramp to ease freeway congestion.”

Of specific interest to attendees of the meeting was the concurrent proposal to widen Sandy Blvd. at 105th Ave.

Meet Commissioner Dan Saltzman in Parkrose Oct. 19
This month, the Parkrose Business Association welcomes Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who will speak on issues affecting the Parkrose area on October 19. The Member Moment will be offered by Terry Brier of Davey/Organicare.

Come at 11:30 a.m. so you’ll have time to meet these great folks. And, you’ll enjoy the best business lunch at town at Steamers Restaurant, 8030 NE Sandy Blvd. (east of NE 82nd Ave.); NO reservations required. For more information, check

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Earlier this year, the Portland Sea Scouts took first place honors at the regional regatta. Read this article and you’ll learn how one Gresham youth has grown, as a result of this distinctive program ‚Ķ

Sea Scouts Steven Adams, Andrew Hazell, and James Hoffman aboard their 44-foot motor life boat, VIKING.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In April, the Portland Sea Scouts participated in their annual Nor’Wester Sea Scout Regatta. The crews took part in 25 competitive events at the regatta, and the crew of one Portland vessel, CITY OF ROSES, was the overwhelming winner with 19 first places awards.

When we learned three of the Portland Sea Scouts’ craft were on public display recently, we decided to check in on the progress of the troop.

The Portland Sea Scouts crafts CITY OF ROSES and VIKING, on display at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion hotel.

On the dock, we became reacquainted with Andrew Hazell, a crew member of the Portland Sea Scout’s 44-foot motor life boat, VIKING ‚Äì sister ship of CITY OF ROSES.

With an air of authority one would expect of a naval officer, Hazell told us their ship, an former Coast Guard 44-foot motor life boat, was built in 1967. “The Coast Guard ran it until 1998. When it was decommissioned, we applied for the ship.”

It wasn’t a smooth sail, Hazell said. When they first got the VIKING, the starboard engine had a lot of problems. “The crew and officers hauled it out, and made all necessary repairs to put it in ‘ship shape’ condition.”

Gains discipline, respect and leadership
“I joined because I wanted to get on the water,” Hazell explained. “If you don’t own a boat, it is a rare opportunity to go on the water, basically for free.”

More than simply being a fun time on the water, Hazell said his Sea Scouts experience has taught him discipline, respect and leadership. “These concepts are integral parts of the program. The crewmembers dip the tanks, fuel the boat, check the oil, check the transmission. It’s not only learning to take responsibility for one’s self, but also for the boat and sharing responsibility with your crew members.”

Hazell said he’s grown as a leader during his four years in the program. “When I first came, I felt very unsure of myself and my skills. Over time, with training and learning skills, I feel confident, more able. Also, I feel a lot more confident in being able to talk to people.”

Sea Scout Andrew Hazell says he’s gained confidence from being in this program.

As an example, Hazell told us he’s joined the Speech and Debate Team at Gresham High School. “It turns out I love it. Now, partially thanks to the Sea Scouts, I can speak in front of people and state my views. I can reason out a position and present it.”

Community service
Each of the Sea Scouts maintains the shore of the Columbia River around their base. Also, to become a Quartermaster, every Sea Scout has to create and complete a community service project.

Oh yes, there is lots of boating
In addition to evening and weekend work parties, Sea Scouts enjoy boating. A lot of boating, Hazell told us! “Every year, we go on a long cruise and to the Regatta. We won first place every year! It felt great to be part of a winning team.”

Want to hit the waves? The Portland area Sea Scouts are actively seeking new members. Both young men and women, from those who have graduated from eighth grade this spring through high school age, are eligible for membership now.

For information on joining, and meeting schedules, call Pat Kelley at (503) 667-7835 days or evenings, or e-mail him at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Did you check out the Belmont Street Fair in September? If not, allow us to take you on this guided tour …

Many side streets along SE Belmont were closed, and turned into craft and entertainment midways as thousands of folks thronged.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the summer winds down each year, folks on SE Belmont Street hold their annual event — the Belmont Street Fair.

“Welcome to our yearly ‘party’ for Belmont,” is how John Barker, President of the Belmont Area Business Association, greets us.

John Barker, President of the Belmont Area Business Association, welcomes us to their street fair.

During this event, Barker tells us, merchants and crafters showcase their businesses in the area. “We promote Belmont as a great area to live, work, and play.”

A hot afternoon made it a great time for a cool treat like shaved ice!

This, their eleventh festival, draws nearly 5,000 visitors. They enjoy performances from local musicians’ performances and see the wares of many local craft vendors — all local.

Ding, ding, ding goes the Belmont Trolley, as it takes visitors up and down the storied Southeast Portland street.

“New this year,” Barker tells us, “is a display of futuristic alternative transportation. And, we also reach back to the past, by recreating the then-famous Belmont Trolley.”

Cookin’ up a heap of great-smellin’ barbecue is Bennie Blanton of ‘Wild Wild West’, an event and catering company located in the Belmont area (but serving all of greater Portland, Bennie assures us).

“I like the people who come here,” Barker concludes. “We seem to draw happy people who enjoy a fun, relaxed day strolling along Belmont St.”

Supporters Valerie Terrett and Trish Trout help at the Belmont Street Fair by selling T-shirts and giving helpful directions to attractions.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See the parking lot at SE 122nd Avenue and Division St. turned – for six hours only – into an auto show of most unique vehicles …

Old and new, the parking lot was turned into a festival-o-cars at southeast Portland’s PIZZA BARON “End of Summer Cruise-in”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From Mopars to foreign cars, motorcycles to roadsters, the parking lot in front of landmark Pizza Baron at SE 122nd Avenue and Division St. quickly filled with special-interest vehicles on Sept. 17 as the “End of Summer Cruise-in” got underway.

“Why pay to go to a roadster show?” asks Sherry Lankerson, as she and her husband Jack surf the sea of gleaming metal and glass. “There’s an amazing selection of cars here.”

Clay Lamb shows off his 1963 Plymouth Sports Fury to the “baron” of Pizza Baron, Bill Dayton. “Had one of these in High School,” Lamb says. “Found another one as an adult, so I bought it!”

Hundreds of spectators drift among the vehicles. “We were just passing by and decided to stop and look,” says Frank Paulis. “I can’t believe a show this great is free.”

Chandler Frey displays his MGTC roadster at the show. “You’re looking at the original paint,” he tells us. “But, I’ve got to wear pointed shoes to drive it! The pedals are very close together!”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

A new tradition in Brooklyn draws neighbors together at a delightful end-of-summer fling. Take a look at all they had going on …

Getting cool treats are Max Cristian, and Alex and Cindy Plous. They’re being served 25-cent ice cream treats by Brooklyn neighborhood volunteer Amanda Stuke.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Ice Cream Social we attended in Brooklyn not long ago wasn’t located in the New York borough ‚Äì it was right here in River City!

The chair of the Brooklyn Action Corps, Adam Tischler, described his southeast Neighborhood: “We’re a pretty small neighborhood. But we’re incredibly diverse. Our area, bordered by the railroad tracks and the Willamette River and two major roads, is like Portland in miniature. Homeowners and renters; well to do, and those of modest means, have chosen to live here.”

Chair of the Brooklyn Action Corps Adam Tischler draws tickets for kids door prizes at their annual family-friendly neighborhood event.

Tischler told us most of the association’s efforts are spent on serious issues like land use, crime prevention, and advocacy. “This event gets everyone together to meet one another. There’s a ton of stuff for kids to do here.”

Bringing neighbors together is important, he explained, because the neighborhood is in flux as more families move into it.

“Not your average Joe” Mishkin was in Brooklyn to clown, juggle, and twist balloons, much to the delight of adults and kids.

Kathy Orton, Brooklyn Historic Society, shows neighbors the building located on the street where they now live. “I’ve become addicted to it since I moved here in 1978. It’s just fun.”

“We’re all so busy,” Tischler continued. “This event gives people a chance to hang out, enjoy some simple pleasures like eating ice cream and barbecue with your neighbors.”

Cooking hot dogs is Mike James, who serves up big juicy hot dogs which are, almost too big for the buns. It was a fund-raising event for Loaves and Fishes.

Brandon Holder is being introduced to Ginger, a bull python by Michael McKay with the Zoo Zap team.

While Tischler admitted that the neighborhood association takes a chance on bad weather by holding the annual event on the first weekend after Labor Day, he said, “It gets better every year. You can’t beat it.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Rose Festival isn’t the only time 22 folks pile into long, narrow boats and paddle like crazy. Read on and see why 720 aqua-athletes pitted paddles at Sellwood Waterfront Park on a late summer day ‚Ķ

From the dock of Sellwood Riverfront Park, 33 teams of dragon boat racers vied for both local and regional honors.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The sun glinted off forty wet paddles as two more teams of dragon boat racers headed downstream from Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Rose Festival isn’t the only time 22 folks pile into long, narrow boats and stroke the river’s water in unison, to the beat of a drum or the call of their coach.  On Sept. 10, 720 aqua-athletes pitted paddles at the park as dragon boat races took place in Southeast Portland.

The event’s announcer, James Rinehart, told us that dragon-boating is a grand sport in Canada and Australia. “There, they build civic festivals around the dragon boat races.”

Missing from the long, narrow dragon boats, we noticed, were ‚Äì dragons! “The boats used at Rose Festival are different,” Rinehart said, “those are larger, heavier, and have the dragon carving on the prow.”

Queued to race

The Castaways limber up and queue up to step into a boat for their next race.

The racers’ boats are identical, and are supplied by the event. The paddlers, however, are very different from one another. The young and older, both men and women, make up the paddling teams.

“We are from all over the Portland area,” Said the spokesperson for “The Castaways” paddling club, Kerry Jeffrey. “What we mostly have in common is that we like dragon racing. Most of us met through the club.”

Castaways team (boat #3) casts off the Sellwood Riverfront Park dock. The boats head toward downtown Portland, then stage, and race upstream.

Although a paddling club may have as many as fifty members, Jeffrey explained, a paddling team consists of 22 crew members: 20 paddlers (they don’t row), a tiller to steer the boat, and a “caller” who keeps the crew paddling in unison, either with calls or by beating a drum.

Serious fun
Janna Brown, a member of the Wasabi Warriors Paddling Team, explained that riches aren’t to be won in dragon boat racing ‚Äì teams simply race for fun and glory. To help cover expenses, the Wasabi Warriors sell canned nuts bearing their team’s name.

Each of the paddling clubs set up their own encampment at the park, lead their crews in stretch and flexibility exercises, and study the race standings.

Snapdragons’ Gloria Jones and “BJ” check the listings to find their team’s standing and see the time of their next race.

Race officials embrace technology
We found the race officials at the south end of the park.

“We do our best to accurately stage, time, and record the outcome of each race,” said race director, Joel Shilling, looking up from his computer screens. “The paddling clubs take this very seriously; so do the officials.”

Shilling told us he started dragon racing twelve years go. “The Sellwood race is relatively new. This is our second year here; I think we’ll be back.”

Race director Joel Shilling works with a crew of volunteers to stage, time, and accurately record the results of each race.

In addition to the Portland-area paddling clubs’ competition, the culmination of a racing series, the Northwest Challenge, was also underway. “During the season,” Shilling explained, “we hold races in Oregon and Washington. We’ll find out who the regional winner is today.”

The portable radios crackled, as water-borne officials radioed that the competitors’ boats were in position. At the firing of a starter’s pistol, forty paddlers strain against the water to move their boat across the finish line first.

A camera at the finish line eliminates arguments over who won the race. In this race, the Sun Dragons beat team Wicked Kaldzone by a mere tenth of a second.

“We have, as our vision,” Shilling told us, “promoting fitness and friendship through paddle sports. These races give everybody the chance to see how much their fitness has improved over the summer paddling season. It’s a fun way to get in shape.”

Picture yourself here! Paddlers say they this is the most fun way to exercise!

Want to learn more? See their website at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Careless drivers do more than wreck vehicles. Look what happened when a reportedly-speeding truck blows a red light and nearly kills the driver and passenger of a van …

Witnesses say a large truck hit the Qwest van so hard, it skidded over 100 feet before stopping at the curb.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
“I was waiting to cross the street,” Sammy Harris told us, “and the driver of the big truck over didn’t even slow down for the red light. He slammed into the van so hard, the ladder and pieces flew off everywhere.”

The accident at SE 72nd Ave at Duke St. was more than a fender-bender. “This could have been a fatal accident,” reported the traffic officer on duty.

On October 4, about 2:00 p.m., a truck, reportedly owned by Metro Interiors, was going southbound on 72nd Ave. Witnesses said the big hauling truck was going fast — really fast — before it blew through a red traffic signal light at SE Duke St.

Sadly, that intersection wasn’t empty.

Unfortunately for the driver and passenger of a van, operated by Qwest Communications, they were – at that moment – eastbound on SE Duke St., through a green light.

Rescue workers had to use the “Jaws of Life” to remove the driver.

The Qwest van was struck on the driver’s side with a shuttering blow. The impact was so severe, the Qwest truck skids sideways, south from the point of impact, well over 100 feet according to our unofficial measurement.

Within minutes, Portland Fire & Rescue crews were on scene, using the Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life) to extricate the driver of the Qwest truck.

Another vehicle, a white Pontiac hatchback, was facing north, stopped on SE 72nd Ave at the red light at Duke. The big truck tore off the front, passenger side quarter-panel of the vehicle.

The driver of this vehicle says she’s lucky to walk away, or even be alive, after the two wrecked trucks skidded in her direction.

“It happened so quickly,” the shaken hatchback driver told us. “It’s like the big truck and the Qwest van split; they slid by both sides of me.”

The driver, who asked not to be identified, said she wasn’t injured. “I got out of my car and went over to the truck that got hit. I saw the woman in the Qwest truck. She didn’t look so good. I feel so bad for her and hope she’s OK.”

The impact of this large truck on both the Qwest van, curb and shrubs looks like it pushed the front axel backward two feet.

The driver of the big truck was cited for “Failure to obey a Traffic Control Device.” New privacy laws affecting hospitals prevent our learning the condition of the victims in this crash.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000
if you help police find his killer …

Police say this man, 57-year-old Ronald Lee McClanahan, was murdered in his home on SE 141st Ave. Can you help find his killer?

By David F. Ashton
Police say an otherwise nice Sunday, September 24, was the last day on earth for a Southeast Portland man.

East Precinct officers discovered the body of 57-year-old Ronald Lee McClanahan inside his residence at 3515 SE 141st Ave just before 8:00 p.m.

Police say McClanahan died from blunt force trauma and his death. Their ruling: homicide.

We don’t know much about McClanahan. He was said to frequented taverns and convenience stores within walking distance to his home, befriending many people he met along the way. Sometimes, he invited them back to his home.

Detectives need help in locating anyone who knew McClanahan or saw him prior to his death.

Burn a murderer, get a grand
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357).

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Thanks to help from the Portland Water Bureau, the East Portland Neighborhood Office is now meets in the Hazelwood Water District building …

Now, these chairs and committee leaders of east Portland neighborhoods can meet in their own space.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
For years, the low concrete block building at 1017 NE 117th Avenue was used primarily for storage by the Portland Water Bureau.

“I was looking at some of the Portland Water Bureau properties last year,” Commissioner Randy Leonard tells us, “and thought this building might make a good location for EPNO.”

For the EPNO, the timing can’t be better. Their lease on their cramped offices, located behind Portland Police East Precinct’s office, is about to expire. Leonard approached the EPNO’s leaders and made them a deal they didn’t refuse: A lease for $1 per year.

“Their move here helps the city, by keeping the building occupied,” Leonard explains, “and will keep down vandalism. With $1-a-year rent, their move here frees up approximately $8,000 [paid per their former lease] that can go directly into neighborhood programs.”

What’s next? Leonard’s water bureau staff is turning the property which surrounds the building into the city’s first “Hydro-Park” ‚Äì a Water Bureau property opened, landscaped, and prepared for public use. Check back next week to see how this project is coming along!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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 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

© 2005-2020 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.