Read why hundreds of folks volunteer to restore Johnson Creek, and the surrounding watershed …

Welcoming members and guests to their first annual meeting is Michelle Bussard, Executive Director, Johnson Creek Watershed Council.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The tables were set, displays erected, and the staff of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council welcomed members and guests to their luncheon at the Eastmoreland Golf Course clubhouse on May 18th.

“We are having our inaugural annual meeting,” Michelle Bussard, Executive Director, Johnson Creek Watershed Council told us. “It will be featuring the ‘State of the Watershed’ report. And, this event celebrates all of our stakeholders and communities throughout the watershed’s area.”

Specifically, Bussard told us, the report is like snapshots, depicting a decade of change along Johnson Creek. “More than 100 projects are up and going along the Creek. These include projects designed to help fish passage, to wetland, upland, and riparian restoration.”

The most important mission of the organization, Bussard went on, is to bring the Johnson Creek ‚Äì a stream that runs from Gresham to its confluence with the Willamette River near Milwaukie, back to the condition in which salmon and other native fish will thrive. “Moreover, when the fish thrive, people who live near Johnson Creek, or visit it, will be able to enjoy its beauty and health.”

Noah Jenkins, an AmeriCorps member assigned to the Council, demonstrating a “stream table” at the Johnson Creek Watershed Council meeting. “This provides a demonstration of how streams get created and meander over a period of time.”

The organization claims over 5,000 volunteers who have contributed countless hours of time. Other people have donated in-kind services, equipment and materials. “For example, Howard Dietrich and Nancy Bishop have provided our creekside office space for the past ten years. Our volunteers allow us to greatly leverage the funding we receive on a 1-to-5 basis.”

For more information, see their website at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News ~ Published May 29, 2006

See why the “third time’s a charm” for this event that raises money to “fill in the funding gaps” in the school district’s funding ‚Ķ

Checking into the event is Michael Taylor, Superintendent, Parkrose School District.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Looking ahead to the time when money from the Multnomah County I-Tax would dry up, the Parkrose Educational Foundation had an idea two years ago: Create an event that would generate money to support programs of the school district.

To “try out” the concept, the first two events ‚Äì an auction and dinner ‚Äì were held at Parkrose High.

But this year’s event, held on May 13, was definitely an upscale shindig; it was held at the Holiday Inn at the Portland Airport, and it included a full dinner ‚Äì from salad to desserts ‚Äì and a silent and live auction.

Allison Newman-Woods, the chair of the event, told us 150 people attended, and snapped up 140 donated items during the event.

Third time a charm
“The need to augment funds to ‘fill in the holes’ is the mission of the foundation,” John Dipasquale, president of Parkrose Educational Foundation, told us at the event. “It looks like people are having a good time. It’s important they tell their friends about the good time they had and will bring them next year. We hope to raise $10,000.”

About 150 people came to enjoy the third Auction and Dinner benefiting the Parkrose Educational Foundation.

When the counting was done, the school district’s Mary Larson told us, “The third time was a charm; we raised nearly $22,000.”

Russell Academy’s Principal Rose, signaling he’s about to raise another silent auction bid.

Newman-Woods told us just before publication, “We grossed over $35,000 and netted $21,575.84. The funds earned at the auction will allow the Foundation to offer $10,000 in grants to the schools in the Parkrose School District.”

Speaking on behalf of the Special Appeal to benefit the Gateway Project, a student participant, Crystal Belcher, tells how this special program has helped her stay in school and consider further education.

Special Appeal: The Gateway Project
Last year, Dipasquale said, their “special appeal” brought in $4,000, which was used to repair well-used musical instruments at Parkrose Middle School. “It restored their band program. This year, the appeal will be for our ‘Promising Futures’ program at the Gateway Project.”

Bob Grovenberg told us about Promising Futures, saying, “We’re trying to raise enough money to hire a part-time person who will work with kids in our Gateway Project. This program supports homeless students. We focus on high school juniors and seniors, moving toward continuing their education.”

By the time they get to be juniors and seniors, Grovenberg explained, homeless kids stop thinking about continuing their education. “Thus, they go to work in minimum-wage jobs. They are pretty much stuck at that level when their support goes away.”

He went on, telling how most kids in the Gateway Project come from families in which their parents are undereducated and under-skilled. “Our focus is on these kids, helping them keep looking down the road so they can have a different ‚Äì and better ‚Äì life than their family has.”

To help the attendees get a better understanding of the Gateway Project, a participant, Crystal Belcher, told the group, “I’ve been in and out of school. And, I was kicked out. I’ve moved 16 times since the middle of September. At this time, I’m homeless. I work in the morning and take school in the afternoon.”

Belcher told how the Gateway Project helps students get basic needs like toiletries and school clothes. “They help us with drug and alcohol treatment at school. In the future, I look forward to having a regular home. It means a lot to me. Without the program, I wouldn’t be going to school; my future wouldn’t look very good at all.”

Ready to make another bid!

In all, $10,025 was raised for this special project.

You can help
Want to learn more about the good work done by the foundation? Contact them at (503) 408-2108 or see for more details.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how your return-deposit bottles and cans and help the Parkrose ‘Can Clan’ help kids in outer East Portland ‚Ķ

On May 6, we found these young men were hard at work with the Parkrose Boosters. Why? As Jeffrey Simon told us, “to help raise money for our football program next year.”

Story and Photo by David F. Ashton

It’s easy to pitch or ditch your return-deposit cans. But, here’s a better idea! Save them, and take them to the Parkrose Middle School on NE Shaver (just west of NE 122nd Ave.), on the first Saturday of every month!

The Parkrose Bronco Boosters operate this can drive all year long, to raise money for the activities like the Senior All Night Party. Some of the money also goes to scholarships, we’re told.

Have a big pile of cans? Contact the Boosters through Parkrose High School ‚Äì they’ll arrange to come pick them up!

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News Click Here to read more East Portland News

What kind of trash? You name it! Read and learn why the Spring 2006 Neighborhood Cleanup helped make neighborhoods more livable …

Neighborhood volunteer Pat Castle “pitches in” by helping to unload some of the rubbish collected on May 6.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The park-and-ride lot on SE 122nd Ave. at Burnside St. looked like a yard sale gone wild on May 6, as communities making up the East Portland Neighborhood Office (EPNO) collected junked appliances and worn-out furniture, scrap metal, blown-out tires, and dumpsters full of yard debris.

The event “officially” started at 9 a.m., but cars and pickup trucks were lining up earlier than that.

Taking a break from his duties, John Welch and Bob Earnest of Hazelwood NA look over some of the trash and debris collected during the EPNO Spring Clean-Up.

“I’ve been doing this for the last three years,” said Lents resident and volunteer coordinator John Welch. “The turnout was down a little bit this time. It could be because several neighborhoods sponsored their own clean-up days.”

But, when we arrived before noon, we saw huge dumpsters, filled to the brim. “We’ve already hauled away two 40-yard dumpsters, and we’ve filled three more. We’ll probably end up filling 14 dumpsters this year,” Welch told us.

Many volunteers make the work light: Neighbors for most of the outer East Portland neighborhoods came to help citizens move their refuse into the waiting dumpsters.

Neighbors lend a hand
Helping unload the junky cargo were volunteers from nearly all of the thirteen neighborhoods in EPNO’s coalition. Rain or shine, these folks dedicate a day, spring and fall, to this project.

Adds quality of life
Asked why this effort was worth the work, Welch said, “It’s a good thing to help keep the neighborhood clean. It gives people the chance to get rid of their trash and refuse. This means junk and trash doesn’t get illegally dumped. It adds to the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

Richard Bixby, executive director for EPNO gave special thanks, saying, “Our dedicated volunteers’ and sponsors’ support make this neighborhood effort possible. We also thank Metro, Portland Office of Sustainable Development, and Flannery’s Drop Box Service.”

Want to find out more about EPNO? See their web site at or call (503) 823-4525.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News Click Here to read more East Portland News

See what folks in northeast Portland thought about their 10 minutes with Tom Potter …

Margaret Erickson, Marcy Emerson-Peters and Valerie Curry talk with Tom Potter at Beal St. NW.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton

While many citizens of Portland question some of Mayor Tom Potter’s plans and programs, his “10 minutes with the Mayor” program continues to be a success.

After speaking with Mayor Potter on May 6, Valery Curry of Argay told us, “The fact we were able to get the Mayor’s ear on issues important to our residents is good. We talked about the deterioration of the neighborhood and the crime that’s moved in.

Asked about a specific issue, Curry said speeding on residential streets continues to be a problem. “For more than 10 years we’ve been trying to get help. Mayor Potter said he was surprised that PDOT has not been able to respond to this one single thing for us in a decade. He says he will take steps in that direction.”

Parkrose Neighborhood Association’s chair, Marcy Emerson-Peters, said the face-to-face meeting with the mayor enabled their group to express their issues. “I told him about our concerns about crime and prostitution on Sandy Blvd.”

She added that it isn’t just business people who want to clean up Sandy Blvd. “Neighbors both live and shop here. We’d like to see Parkrose re-established as a good area, so we can attract more quality businesses here.”

Did she feel listened to?

“The Mayor says he’ll talk the matter over with people in City Hall,” Emerson-Peters responded. “He’ll says he’ll take specific concerns to the appropriate bureaus and help find out information and resources we need.”

Business people speak out
Wayne Stoll, president of the Parkrose Business Association, also paid a visit to the Mayor at Beal St. NW (located at 10721 NE Sandy Blvd.).  Stoll said he discussed a wide range of concerns, from street improvement to city zoning, with the mayor. “He seemed to listen. At least, we’re being heard.”Margaret Erickson, co-owner of Beal Street NW, the location of the May 6 event, was upbeat about her time with Tom.

“I enjoyed having ability to talk with him about things that are concerning us. He was very receptive. Best part was that he actually listened to what we had to say. He didn’t talk at us, he really listened, and his people took notes. I don’t think mayors normally do that kind of thing.”

Erickson said she told the mayor how businesses and neighbors were doing their best to help Parkrose be seen “in a little different light; that we’re a good area to come visit. My basic complaint was that there are a lot of people and businesses who, using their money and influence, can go to the planning commission and get things done. As a small business person, we don’t have that option.”

What the mayor says he learned
“What I get to hear,” Potter told us, “are things I never get to hear sitting at my desk downtown. On Sandy Blvd., some of the businesses out here are having problems. There is some prostitution and drug-dealing in the area. Traffic problems, like speeders: All of these things add up to making neighborhoods less livable.

“We record every issue described to us. We send these concerns along to every Portland City bureau, and ask them to respond to me ‚Äì not just the neighbors.”

Asked what surprised him that he heard at the meetings, the mayor said, “I’ve heard comments that some of the people down at City Hall have been rude. I’m checking in on this. We didn’t have any specific names today. But we will look into it. We’re trying to improve the “customer service” residents get from their city. You don’t achieve customer service with rude treatment.

“The upside is they are very pleased with the police, other than they say there are not enough officers out here. It was a good conversation.”

With a smile, Mayor Potter turned away and said as he sat down at a table, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, David, I’m looking forward to having some great barbecue here at Beal Street NW.”

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

You will be enlightened, when you read this jurist’s candid comments on courthouses, crooks, and business cases ‚Ķ

The Honorable Thomas M. Ryan, Multnomah County Judge, frankly shares his views to members of the Midway Business Association. Club president, Donna Dionne is in the background, listening intently.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton

Business people in southern outer East Portland are staying connected with their community when they come to meetings of the Midway Business Association.

The action-packed May 9 meeting got off to a good start as Midway’s president Donna Dionne, Love Boutique, discussed housing and commercial development in the area; noting the number of lots that are being split. She also told the group about the hazardous waste collection (seen elsewhere here on East PDX News) a special women’s self-defense class being offered by the Community Center.

State of the courts
Guest speaker Judge Thomas M. Ryan talked with the group. Ryan said he was a public defender until he was named a Judge Pro Tem since 2004.

“This means I wasn’t elected, I am an employee, hired by a judge, to hear cases of all kinds. There are 38 elected judges in the Oregon Circuit Court. But the Oregon legislature budgeted ten additional judges pro-tem [“for the time being”] to help move cases through the court system.”

There are five locations where Multnomah County has courtrooms. “My office, at the Main Courthouse at SW Salmon and Main St., is 80 years old. The building has outlived its usefulness,” Ryan said.

The chamber he occupies has suffered from a broken sewer pipe: “at one time, there was two inches of raw sewage on the floor.”

Not all judges have a courtroom. One county judge holds “settlement conferences” before cases come to trial. “She resolves many cases; this frees up an enormous amount of time and resources.”

Making a case for a Gresham Justice Center
“To serve most of East County,” Ryan explained, “there is a one-room courthouse in Gresham. It is in bad shape. Would like to see some of the county’s excess property sold; with the proceeds used to build a Justice Center with four courtrooms, expandable to six. This concept would provide ‘one-stop’ service, allowing people will be able to file paperwork there ‚Äì instead of having to drive to downtown Portland.”

While some criminal procedures would be held at the Gresham location, criminal trials would still be held in downtown Portland, where the court has “holding facilities”.

Judges’ role in crime prevention
What is the court’s role in community safety?

“We help keep the community safe by dispensing a fair, firm, and practical application of the law,” Ryan said. “Judges find the facts, apply to the law, and give the result ‚Äì the verdict. We enforce state laws as well as city, county and, yes, even TriMet laws.”

He also reported that judges supervise probation. “Each judge has several hundred probationers under their watch.”

Drugs, crime and jail beds
More than 75% of the people coming through the courts because of crime admit to using methamphetamine (meth), Ryan told the group. “Here in East Portland, meth is a real problem that extends far beyond family court. Jail beds are part of the solution for meth-related burglaries here.”

And, we’re doing better in terms of the number of available jail beds, commented the judge. “Downtown and Inverness are fully opened. Wapito isn’t. The county decides how many beds are open at any given time.”

Ryan said many judges find useful the STOP [“Success Treatment Opportunity”] program run by the courts. “It isn’t for dealers. But first-time offenders get treatment, are regularly [drug] tested and appear in court. If they are clean, stay clean, work their program, then can eventually have their case dismissed.  One ‘slip’ doesn’t ace them out.”

Judges’ tools
Ryan advocated for using a wide variety of judicial “tools” when working with criminals. “We need work release programs, in addition to drug treatment. Punishments need to be fair, firm and swift ‚Äì but also smart. You can’t just lock ’em up and throw away the key. This wouldn’t be fair to county taxpayers. Community Court works well for small-time offenders.

“At the same time, we do our best to see there aren’t any more victims created by a given defendant.”

Business law 101
There’s a lot of business litigation, Ryan said. “Last year, 7,245 cases filed, not including evictions, were filed. This doesn’t include torts, slip-and-fall cases, or litigation arising from car wrecks.”

Some times the speed at which cases travel through the system ‚Äì or the lack of speed ‚Äì can be frustrating. “The court has only partial control till after the case is filed. Most cases have to be filed within two years. So, we encourage litigants to mediate and arbitrate. Cases dealing with amounts of less than $50,000 must go first to arbitration.”

If one party doesn’t approve the result of the arbitration, they can still go to court, the judge said; “But if you don’t ‘improve your position’, you’ll pay the other party’s court costs.”

Visit the Midway Business Association
Guests are welcome. Stop by on June 13 ‚Äì you never can tell what you’ll learn! The group meets at noon at Bill Dayton’s Pizza Baron, on SE 122nd Ave. at Division St.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News Click Here to read more East Portland News

Learn why this unique organization provides mental health care services to people who need it most – regardless of their ability to pay …

Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts hears some of the success stories of the organization from NW Catholic Counseling Center’s director, Sr. Barbara Kennedy, and development director Trish Trout–as they celebrate 20 years of helping people.

Story and photographs by David F. Ashton

It is easy to understand why an individual who’s lost a job, faced major health challenges, or has had problems dealing with teenagers, seeks counseling. The problem is, when people are at their limit, they usually can’t afford the help of a high-priced mental health professional.

As we’ve reported in the past, even folks who are down-and-out can get professional psychological therapy at NW Catholic Counseling Center.

“We’re here to thank our sponsors for 20 years of support,” is how the Center’s director, Sr. Barbara Kennedy, described the April 29 festivities which we looked in on at Riverside Golf & Country Club. “We also look forward to provide twenty more years of hope and healing to everyone in the community.”

“This is a fantastic organization,” commented Multnomah County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts, who was present for the celebration. “When people find themselves stuck in difficult situations and need to redirect their life, they can come here. People at the Catholic Counseling Center really care, and provide service for the love of helping others.”

The Center’s development director, Trish Tout, told us the organization was founded in 1986 as a grass roots organization. Referring to the evening’s activities, she told us, “We’re having a silent auction, wine tasting with seven different wineries, and the preview of a new video that tells the story of the Center.”

Roberts added, “The best part is, they provide mental health services to the community without tax dollars. Because of this, they control their operations. There aren’t politicians telling them how to operate this great center ‚Äì a group of professionals who have helped thousands of people, especially here in outer East Portland.”

Trout agreed. Looking over the crowd of nearly 200, she said, “We’ve come a long way. And, we’re so happy our supporters, friends and former clients.”

At Catholic Counseling’s event, Gateway community leader Fred Sanchez shares a moment with “Father Jack” Mosbrucker, grand marshal of the 2006 GABA Parade.

The group did raise funds to help the Center operate ‚Äì nearly $20,000 came into the Center’s treasury. “This is really a ‘friend-raiser’ as well as a fund-raiser,” Trout commented.

Kennedy summed up the organization’s mission: “We help make people’s lives better. We help them have better marriages, relations with their children and, overall, a better future. We look forward to serving our community for a long time to come.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

If you want one of those “secret places” that only the locals know about, check this one out at SE 122nd Ave. and Holgate St.

Read the rest of this entry »

See why when a speeding motorcycle rider T-boned an SUV, the result was death …

An officer from Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division uses a laser/GPS measuring device to carefully document the accident that took the life of a motorcyclist who police say was racing another bike.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Warm spring days and evenings bring out fair-weather motorcycle riders. Unlike full-time riders, these occasional bikers often misjudge their skill ability.

Such was the case on May 9 when 33-year-old Scott A. Jones, authorities say, was racing his 1,200 CC Suzuki motorcycle against the rider of a Harley-Davidson on SE Division St.

Grinding crash described
“We just came out of the little store,” says witness Juan Juarez, “and we heard two bikes really winding up, coming up from 122nd. It was like a movie. The guy on the Suzuki T-boned this red truck. Smashed right into the side of it. He didn’t look so good.”

Marla Hooper also saw the crash. “I don’t know how they [the racing motorcycles] could get going so fast in a couple of blocks. A red truck pulled out to turn left [westbound] on Division ‚Äì the next minute one bike smashed into it. The Harley was in the center lane; he just kept going. I don’t even know if he saw the wreck.”

At the scene, Sgt. Dan Costello, Traffic Division, Fatal Investigations Team confirms, “We had two motorcycles racing east on Division from 122nd Ave. A Ford Explorer at 125th and Division St. come to a legal stop, looked both ways, and started to pull out on to Division going westbound.”

Death results from crash
Costello tells us that no drugs or alcohol were suspected in the crash. “It was simply a speed contest; it was a race. The driver of the Suzuki, I call it a ‘pocket rocket’, ran right straight in the middle of the Explorer.”

Jones, the diver of the Suzuki, was unconscious and unresponsive at the scene, Costello reports.  Jones died while en route to Emanuel Hospital.

Although highly maneuverable, a “pocket rocket” like this 1,200 CC Suzuki provides the rider little protection when t-boned into a car or truck.

Speed Kills
Investigators from the PPB Fatal Investigations Team determined Jones’ excessive speed was a factor in the collision.  No charges have been made, as the case is still under investigation.

Investigators would like to speak with the individual Jones was racing at the time of his collision.  The second motorcycle was described a Harley-Davidson with extended handlebars and blue, ground-effect lights.

Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Barry Busse at (503) 823-2103.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Strike 1: Live without a working smoke detector. Strike 2: Leave a big pot of cooking oil on the stove – set to high temperature – and leave the room …

Now renting? We think not. The two-alarm fire, caused by a careless cook, gutted this apartment building, chasing 21 people out into the cold, spring night.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Just before 1:00 a.m. on May 7, most people in the apartment building on SE 124th Avenue, just north of Division Street, were deep asleep. Little did they know they would soon be leaving their homes – in the dead of night, with only the clothes on their backs – never to return.

However, one “chef” in the building decided the midnight hour was a good time to do some deep-fat frying.

Unattended pot of oil explodes into flames
Authorities would not disclose the name of the early-morning cook. They did say that the occupant of the first-floor unit poured three or four quarts of cooking oil in a cooking pot, put it on an electric stove, turned the left front burner to the “high” setting, and walked away.

Our readers have seen in the past what happens when a “turkey fryer” gets overheated and the grease boils over onto the heat source ‚Äì instant conflagration.

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lt. Allan Oswalt told us that, within minutes, the fire “flashed over” and the apartment unit was ablaze.

Blaze lit the night
“I’d drifted off to sleep, watching TV,” said neighbor Andy Andersen, “when I started smelling smoke. I heard people screaming, ‘Fire! Get out!’ I looked out my window and saw kids, women and men running out of the building as the fire department pulled up.”

Down the block, Cheryl Smythe told us, “Our dogs started barking because of the commotion outside the apartment building. When we looked outside, the fire lit up the neighborhood, almost like daylight.”

The fire burned so hot, the steel support for this lighting fixture melted as if it was plastic.

Second alarm called
Oswalt told us that a “second alarm” is typically sounded ‚Äì this brings extra firefighters and equipment to the scene ‚Äì for any multi-family dwelling or commercial building fire. “We want to make sure it doesn’t get away from us.”

Within four minutes of getting the call, the quiet of the early-morning hours was disrupted as 61 fire personnel with nine fire engines and four trucks had responded.

Oswalt said there was “heavy fire involvement in the complex of 10 units, 9 of which were occupied at the time.”

21 people left homeless
Authorities said 16 Adults and five children were displaced due to the damage caused from this fire.

“Instead of leaving them standing out in the cold,” neighbor Anderson observed, “it wasn’t long until a TriMet bus pulled up, letting the people from the burning building get out of the weather.”  Red Cross was called in to help in find lodging for the displaced occupants.

Building a “death-trap”‚Ķ?
By 2 a.m., the fire was out; but nine families were homeless; all of their possessions destroyed or damaged by fire or smoke.

A look inside the stairwell of the building that burned due to carelessness in the kitchen.

Authorities firmly stated the building was not a “death-trap”; no code violations have been filed as of publication date. Investigators imply blame the fire on the inattentive late-night cook ‚Äì calling it a fire due to “misuse of material.”

However, fire inspectors did find that air-handling ducts in the building contributed to the spread of the blaze throughout the building. Further, inspectors noted the smoke detector in the unit where the fire started failed or was non-operative.

“We can’t say it too many times,” warned Oswalt, “Smoke detectors save lives. We’re glad no lives were lost in this fire, but look at the tragic situation this fire caused to so many people.”

2006 by David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Nearly every bureau from the city and county set up an exhibit. Was this event a waste of time and money? See for yourself …

Dustin, Misty and Meg Steppers look at an aerial map of Lents to find their home, while visiting the Lents Resource Fair.

At his exhibit, Tim Liszt with PDC shows Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams crime mapping software, available online.

Sampling the food is Mary Davis (“Mmmmmm”), cooked by chef Kjeld Peterson

Story and photographs by David F. Ashton
That there wasn’t a parking spot available for blocks around Lent Elementary School in SE 97th Ave. on April 29 said something. A few people groused about having to walk some distance to the event, on this cool, sunny day.

But, tight parking was just one sign that the second-annual Lents Resource Fair was a success.

This Fair brings together representatives from PDC, city bureaus, elected officials and area non-profit organizations to celebrate the community and provide information on resources available to people who live, work and do business in Lents.

Long-time Lents neighborhood advocate, Judy Welch, checks neighbors into the Fair.

Ray Hites, helping out at an exhibit for the Lents Neighborhood Association.

“We heard about this event and it looked interesting,” says Lents neighbor, Misty Steppers. “We’ve only lived in the area for about a year. It was a good opportunity to make connections with community resources. It is also a good way to meet neighbors.”

“This Fair is good because it gets folks [from various city bureaus] downtown out into the community,” explains Byron Estes, Sr. Development Manager in charge of the Lents area at the Portland Development Commission. “It is about connecting all the resources of the City of Portland to people here in the Lents area.”

Andrew Abei of PDOT local improvement district administrator listened to neighbors complaints about area roads; Barry Manning, Portland Planning Bureau’s district liaison was on hand to share the bureau’s future vision of the city.People cruising the gymnasium full of tables got information regarding home ownership opportunities, park improvements, street repair, and the I-205 MAX light rail line that is planned to connect Lents to Gateway, Clackamas Town Center, and Downtown Portland.

The PDC-sponsored event each year brings out elected officials and representatives from Tri-Met and city bureaus including Environmental Services, Parks, Transportation and the Fire Bureau.

Additionally, area non-profit groups participate, including Zenger Farms, Rose Community Development Corporation, Mt. Scott Community Center, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Lents Neighborhood Association, and many more.

Maryanne Petioj is being fitted for a bike helmet, helped out by here dad, Ivan, and Charlie Van Domelen, Knights of Pythias. The Knights donated the helmets.And, kids seemed happy to learn about the Portland Fire Bureau through a variety of activities, to learn about watershed health through the Bureau of Environmental Services educator program, and to locate their homes using an interactive computer program.

Will there be a Lents Resource Fair next year? “You bet,” says Estes.

© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Learn how turning the calendar back 100 years at the Portland Water Bureau is part of Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard’s plan to shift this bureau’s focus from “water, and only water” to also being a land steward ‚Ķ

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard tells Friends of Powell Butte why he’s adding bureaucracy within the Portland Water Bureau to insure its properties are maintained, or turned into parks.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Note to current and future mayors of Portland: If you want a Portland city bureau to eschew change and stay the same ‚Äì don’t put it in Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard’s portfolio.

Anyone who has had to deal with the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) in the past has probably come away with a bad taste in the mouth ‚Äì and it’s not caused by our tasty Bull Run water. A citizen requesting simple information might be told to file a Freedom of Information Request. At best, one would get a curt answer. In meetings, PWB representatives were said to be downright rude.

Last July, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard was assigned the PWB. Within months, heads rolled; only one top employee still works for the bureau. We caught up with Leonard as he met with the Friends of Powell Butte on April 20.

Leonard’s Powell Butte connection
Leonard told the Friends of his personal connection to Powell Butte – hiking, biking and enjoying the wonderful, unique view of the city it provides.

“I came to a meeting between Friends of Powell Butte and the Water Bureau about four years ago,” began Commissioner Leonard. “I came to listen to a proposal to put a filtration plant here on the Butte. It was a pivotal experience. I was far less than positively impressed with the attitude of those representing the bureau. This experience has never left me.”

He went on; saying he “got the angst many of you have felt, over the years, in that one, single meeting.” Leonard said he told Dan Saltzman, the city commissioner in charge of the Water Bureau at the time, “I will fight putting a filtration plant on Powell Butte. Put it anywhere between Bull Run and Portland ‚Äì but I’ll fight to keep it off the Butte.”

Change in the air – actually, water
Leonard said the PWB developed a culture that could be summarized as, “We deliver water, nothing else”.  But now, the bureau is broadening its scope and becoming more “user friendly” and accessible he asserted.

“I’ve instructed workers at the bureau to volunteer information when asked,” Leonard said. “There’s nothing to hide here. Make it easy for citizens.”

Harking back 100 years, Leonard said the PWB was then “a premier bureau of the city, building and operating fountains and parks on land it owned. Somehow, most of the burden of maintaining the lands and fountains has fallen on the Parks Bureau.”

Neighborhood office and “Hydro Park”
The first thing Leonard did when he was assigned the PWB was ask for a summary of property owned by the bureau.

Last fall, he offered the use of the underused former Hazelwood Water District office building to the East Portland Neighborhood Office. At the same time, Leonard proposed the city’s first “Hydro Park” at the Hazelwood site. “Why have this perfectly good building sit empty ‚Äì and the land be fenced off ‚Äì when we can put it go good use for East Portland neighbors?”

Leonard pointed that developing the Hazelwood property was the first time, in a century, that the PWB has developed land for public use and enjoyment. He added that other Hydro Parks are being considered on bureau owned property.

Leonard makes a point about how he manages the Water Bureau.

PWB: Maintain what you own
In every budget cycle, the Portland Parks Bureau struggles to for funds to maintain and improve parks. “The PWB owns Powell Butte,” questioned Leonard, “so why aren’t we maintaining it?”

Under the new plan, the Water Bureau will pick up the tab for maintenance of Powell Butte. No workers will be displaced, they will merely change bureaus. In some cases, the PWB will transfer funds to the Parks Bureau to fund maintenance of their properties.

Water Museum planned
The PWB is planning to build an interpretative center and a water museum on Powell Butte. “We are looking for something that connects Portlanders with their water system. We’ve lost a ‘connection’ what it really means to have Bull Run water. It was created by people with great foresight so long ago. It provides us with what many agree is the best municipal water supply in the world,” the commissioner stated.

Leonard was asked why he feels so strongly about having a “water museum” at Powell Butte.

“All of Portland’s main water supply flows through Powell Butte; this is the logical site,” Leonard explained. “But many people don’t understand why our water supply is unique and should be protected. There is constant pressure to log Bull Run and develop it or allow grazing. We need to remember why, from the days of Benjamin Harrison, that no humans, animals, or developments are allowed near Bull Run.”

Leonard went on, saying Portland needs a consistent water resources education program, and educational facility. “If we educate people about our water supply, we’ll have citizens in the future who will be willing to fight to keep Bull Run water intact.”

Asked about a proposed third dam on Bull Run, Leonard said he was against it. “Why destroy thousand-year-old trees to gain water we’ll sell to suburban communities? Do we really need the income so badly we’d be willing to potentially ruin this resource?”

Bureau budget items indicate changes ahead
The new PWB budget includes money to restore three worker cabins at Bull Run. Also, work may be done on the main building at historic Dodge Park. “120 years ago, the bureau managed its land, as well as supplied water. We’ve created a unit in the PWB that will manage the bureau’s property.”

Why create new positions in city government?

“The bureau owns hundreds of properties,” Leonard responded. “Commissioners come and go. So, we ‘institutionalized’ this change of policy by creating the new section. Tom Klutz is in charge. These workers understand their unit’s only function is to manage and develop open spaces.”

Additionally, the commissioner said they’ve added a staff position within the bureau to provide educational outreach.

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