Person after person slipped money to Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies, but they weren’t trying to bribe these public safety officials. Go ahead! Read this article and find out what this was all about ‚Ķ

Serving the Searls family are Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies Scott McDowell and Jonathan Zwick, along with Red Robin crew members Krisi Davis, Stacey Schuurmans and Tiffany Radmacher, as Deputy Joshua Zwick supervises at the “Tip-a-Cop” event.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
On any other day ‚Äì and on any other occasion — slipping a sheriff’s deputy a few bucks will land you in jail for bribery.

But, at the Mall 205 Red Robin Restaurant on Sept. 30 – and other locations throughout the city and county – giving an officer a couple of extra bucks was a good thing on that day.

Official explains
“Deputies, command staff, and sergeants from Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office are waiting on tables,” is what Jason Gates, the new public information officer for Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office told us.

“We’re working hard, alongside the Red Robin staff, to help serve their patrons and, hopefully, get good tips. All the proceeds go to the Oregon Special Olympics. Even though we’re in uniform, all of us are here as volunteers, on our time off.”

“Tip-A-Cop” is an official fundraiser, Gates told us, for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the largest grassroots fundraising effort for Special Olympics.

Gates said that he and his co-workers like supporting organizations like the Special Olympics. “They do so much to help our disadvantaged youth. Also, it gives us a chance to do something for the community beyond our work. We love our community, and we stand ready do more than just enforce laws.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See why these volunteers work so hard to help keep their neighborhood clean …

John and Judy Welch, coordinators for the Lents Neighborhood Clean Up take a break from helping the metal-recycling dumpster.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
For years, Lents residents John and Judy Welch have worked to make their neighborhood a better place in which to live. So, heading the neighborhood “clean up” on October 14 wasn’t anything new to them.

“Why we do it is simple,” said Judy Welch, former chair for the neighborhood association. “These events get refuse and garbage out of the neighborhood. It looks better here when you drive through. When we make it easy for people to get rid of their junk, they do it. And, all of us can drive down our streets and feel more pride about where we live and work.”

Her husband, John, works at her side. “This time, we have 12 drop boxes,” John told us. “We’ve filled all of them ‚Äì and these drop boxes are 40 yards each. That’s a lot of yards of junk we get out of neighborhood yards.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

If you’re a small business person who’s “had it” with paying the city’s high “license fee”, Sam Adams wants to hear from you at a special Town Hall meeting. Read this, and plan to come ‚Ķ no reservations required ‚Ķ

Portland Commissioner Sam Adams listens to the concerns of a Portland business person. He wants to hear what you have to say about the city’s licensing fees at noon, on Nov. 2, at JJ North’s in Gateway.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Oregon law allows Multnomah County to levy a “business income tax” ‚Äì but the City of Portland is prohibited from authorizing a tax on businesses. So, the city calls their tax a Business License Fee.

“Portland’s small businesses are paying too much in their Business License Fees,” Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams told us. “I’m addressing this problem by working on license fee reform. I want to hear from East Portland business owners before I make a decision on a reform package.”

Town Hall set for Nov. 2
To facilitate the conversation, the East Portland Chamber of Commerce set up a meeting at which Adams will pitch his reform ideas and listen to citizens.

“This is an opportunity for businesses and residents in East Portland to talk directly with Commissioner Adams and let him know their opinions on the impact of business tax and license fees on our Eastside community,” said Ken Turner, chairman of the government affairs committee of the East Portland Chamber.Turner added, “We’re pleased that this significant session with Commissioner Adams is being is also supported by the Gateway Area Business Association, Parkrose Business Association, 82nd Ave. of Roses Business Association, and Midway Business Association.”

No reservations; come early
The meeting starts promptly at 12 noon on Thursday, Nov. 2 at J.J. North’s Restaurant, 10520 N.E. Halsey, in the Gateway District.

The full buffet lunch is $8.50. Reservations are not required, but plan to arrive early to be assured seating.

For more information about the chamber or its events see: or call (503) 788-8589.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

If you didn’t come and enjoy a complete dinner while being serenaded with live music at this benefit, see what you missed ‚Äì and how you can help this worthy cause ‚Ķ

Volunteers serving up the meals at the 7th Annual Benefit Turkey Dinner for Loaves & Fishes Center are Seth Young, Angie Boyd Stephen Pletka, and Randi Holberg.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
About to take our friends to dinner on October 8, we remembered it was time for the Benefit Turkey Dinner for Loaves & Fishes Center.

We headed over the East Portland Community Center and tucked into a traditional turkey dinner, with all the trimmings.

“You can have ‘seconds’ if you want,” our volunteer server, Jennifer Lewis, told us. We were hungry, and took them up on their generous offer. Our meal was made complete with servings of pumpkin pie for dessert.

We were joined at dinner by Bruce and Margery Davis who moved here in 1952. They told us fascinating stories about outer East Portland, long before it was developed, then annexed into Portland. That’s our wonderful, cheerful volunteer server, Jennifer Lewis.

After dinner, we spoke with the lady who sold us our dinner tickets.

“We’re having this turkey dinner as a fundraiser,” explained Tamara Rochester, Center Manager CherryBlossom Loves & Fishes, Meals-on-Wheels.

“All proceeds from this community event will go to help feed our seniors. Much of the food was donated, the balance of the food and supplies were provided, at cost, by their vendors.”

She said 25 volunteers cooked, served and cleaned up after serving 250 dinners. The effort raised about $1,500 for their organization.

“We love our volunteers,” Rochester said. “They are great. Many of our volunteers here today help us provide hot, nourishing meals to seniors in their home, and here, at the center.”

Serenading the diners with her keyboard styling on the piano is Kay Robbins. She told us, “I get pleasure for playing for those who enjoy my music. It makes it more festive. I can communicate the music I love with the people who come and enjoy the event at Loaves & Fishes.”

You can help
This center serves 225 seniors in their homes, and 120 more in the dining room, Rochester said. “We always are looking for drivers. But we can use kitchen help as well.”

To learn how you can help, contact the center directly at (503) 736-6325 or the citywide number, (503) 256-2381 or see their website

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Make plans to visit the Rossi Haunted Ghost Town this weekend
— for fun, thrills, and chills ‚Ķ

You’ll find plenty of creepy ghosts and spooks and ghouls in, around, and flying over Rossi Haunted Ghost Town this season.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the best annual Halloween events in outer East Portland is the Haunted Ghost Town at Rossi Farms.

The least scary part of the ghost town is buying your ticket. Dave Kuhn, Mary Brown, Christopher Allen and Vinicio Benois check guests who have come to be scared.

Supports a good cause
“This is our biggest fundraiser for the Drug & Alcohol Free Senior All Night Party,” Mary Brown, event coordinator, told us. “Lots of kids are involved. We have members of the Parkrose High Dance Team here again this year. And, drama students put on costumes and makeup to provide a scary-but-safe atmosphere.”

Last year, Brown told is, they raised $4,000. “We’re hoping for that much again. Saturday night drew more than 400 guests.”

Our ghostly gallery
We’re not going to spoil the fun by revealing all of the surprises, but take a look at these photos for a preview of the “fun” you can expect this year!

It’s “Thriller” time again ‚Äì and these dancers will give you the creeps!

Looks like Turkey Creek Tom and his gang died and went to ‚Ķ ?  From the looks of the dynamite bundle he just lit, our guess is he wants to take some new “friends” with him.

It’s Electra, the Electric Girl. In fact, we’re told every thing she has is charged!

Look out! This creepy quartet may scare the nightlights out of you! Remember their motto, “Touch nothing, and it won’t touch you ‚Ķ usually.”

It looks like one of ghouls escaped!

Rossi Farms Haunted Ghost Town
Come early, if you have young ones who may be easily frightened. The fun gets more intense later in the evening.

Come October 27, 28 and 29. It opens at 6:30 p.m. and runs until 9:00 p.m. (or so). Admission is $9.00 adults; $5.00 children under 12yrs. Rossi Farms is located at 3839 NE 122nd Ave. just south of NE Shaver St.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman surprised many people by taking on reform of the Police & Fire Disability and Retirement System during his spring reelection campaign. The commissioner spoke at both the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, and Parkrose Business Association promoting this measure …

Ken Turner, Governmental Affairs chair of East Portland Chamber of Commerce introduces Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman at last week’s “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has been barnstorming East Portland, asking voters to support a reform of the Police & Fire Disability and Retirement System.

Earlier this year, Saltzman surprised many people by taking on reform of the Police & Fire Disability and Retirement at the same time he was running for reelection. In February, we asked Saltzman why he’d take on an issue that, in the past has been a “campaign killer” for other elected city officials.

“I’m doing what I think is the right thing to do,” Saltzman told us back then, “for both the taxpayers and the welfare for police and firefighters. If the pension goes bust, everyone’s going to be left holding the bag. And I mean everyone ‚Äì our public safety workers and citizens. It is the fiscally-responsible thing to do.”

Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, here telling why he urges everyone to vote for Measure 26-68.

Solving a $1.64 Billion dollar problem
Working with a blue-ribbon panel, Saltzman and his staff have been working to find a way to start retiring a $1.6 Billion dollar unfunded liability in retirement fund. He credited Jeff Cogan, his chief-of-staff for managing the process.

“This unfunded liability can literally swallow the city’s entire budget,” he told members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce on October 18.

“What this means,” Saltzman continued, “is that the city has an obligation to pay this amount of money, but we don’t have the money to pay. If there were a rash of police or fire bureau retirements, or if because of a massive disaster our public safety works experienced a catastrophic loss, we couldn’t pay it.”

In addition to having this massive obligation hanging over the city’s head, the commissioner stated, it also lowers the Bond Rating for Portland. “This makes it more expensive for the city to borrow money.”

Vote required to change city charter
Changing our public safety retirement and disability system requires a change in the Portland City Charter, Saltzman explained.

If Measure 26-86 is passed by voters at the November election, then, starting Jan 1, newly hired workers will go into the state-wide PERS retirement system. “If we don’t do this, our obligation will balloon to $8 billion dollars within 40 years. Instead, as people on the current system retire, our obligation will diminish over time.”

Fixes ‘broken’ disability system
“When it comes to awarding disability payments,” Saltzman continued, “there have been some questionable decisions. Some workers, who don’t appear to be disabled, are ‘gaming’ the system. Now, there is a 99% disability approval rate.”

Because the current disability board is composed of active or retired police officers or firefighters, “we have, in essence, the fox guarding the henhouse.”

The board will be revamped from 11 members down to five. Their role will be to make policy, not make disability decisions, Saltzman added. “Instead, an evaluation of each claim will be made by an expert in the area.”

Unions, city agree to new plan
“These are dramatic changes,” said the commissioner. “The entire city council supports this measure.” Saltzman then quoted Mayor Tom Potter, “Police and fire representatives are supporting this measure in their own way.”

Dan Saltzman says he’s most concerned that this measure will get “lost in the background”, with so many measures on the ballot.

Measure to indirectly increases taxes for 26 years
Asked about the tax impact of the measure on citizens, Saltzman said homeowners will see their property taxes increase for the next twenty years, as existing pensions for retired police and firefighters are paid off. “Then, taxes will taper off. But, remember, in 40 years, our obligations will be paid off, and our public safety workers will have their pensions assured.

While there isn’t any opposition to the measure, “Our biggest concern is that this measure doesn’t get lost among the other measures on the ballot,” Saltzman concluded.

Web Only Extra: Chamber members mix things up at Vino Vixens

Erin Marie, owner of Vino Vixens and Sun Kiss Spa and Tanning hosts a fun East Portland Chamber of Commerce evening event.

On October 17, Wine flowed; guests noshed on cheese, shrimp and antipasto at a special East Portland Chamber of Commerce evening event.

“Vino Vixens is a unique wine bar with an intimate setting,” Marie told us. “This is the perfect spot to hold informal gatherings. And, Sun Kiss Spa offers a full line of treatments. Come see us!

To learn more about this great group, or her two businesses, go to

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Be careful driving corner of SE Johnson Creek Blvd. and 43rd Ave. – ghosts and goblins abound at their Halloween-decorated home …

East Portland’s “ghost hosts with the most”, Jeff and Chris Davis, invite guests who dare, to drive or walk past their spooked-out home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One look at their place, all decked out for Halloween, and it’s easy to understand how Jeff and Chris Davis turn their abode into an elaborate spook show. Turning their modest 1930’s-era home into a creepy Hollywood-like set required an abundance of imagination, lots of hard work ‚Äì and a $6,000 budget.

So much for “how”. We visited the Davis’ on their property at the corner of SE Johnson Creek Blvd. and 43rd Ave. to learn why they dedicatedly decorated for Allhallows Eve.

“We like Halloween,” said Jeff simply. “And, it is a lot of fun. It is mainly that we get to express ourselves.”

Chris chimed in, “There is a lot of creativity in all this. We’ve figured out ways to improve our display. It’s grown every year for eight years.”

Jeff said he attended a convention dedicated to Halloween events and decorations, and picked up new lighting and special effects used in their tableau of terror.

The Davis Haunted Grave Yard wouldn’t be complete, they said, without a cathedral ‚Äì so they built one ‚Äì complete with its own ghost.

New ‘cathedral’ towers over the graveyard
The couple proudly spoke of their largest set piece, a cathedral. The fa?ßade is built on the front of their garage and shop, towering prominently at the back of their driveway.

“If people look closely,” Jeff said, “They’ll see a ghost in the upper window.” The couple even came up with a method of making realistic-looking stained-glass windows. “But, everything packs down into a relatively small space,” Jeff told us.

Neighbors are entertained
“Our neighbors say they’re impressed, and say they love seeing what we come up with every year,” Jeff grinned.

“We get a lot of great compliments,” Chris added, “People come from all over to see our display. It seems as much fun for them as it is for us.”

As we were photographing the spook-making couple, neighbor Rick Denton walked up. “I really enjoy what they do. But then, I love this kind of stuff. Being a magician, I play with stuff like this. I know how much care and effort they put into their production. It’s wonderful.”

Jeff and Chris Davis stand with their friend who is “hanging around” for a while. They welcome visitors to look–but from outside the gates of their property.

Ghosts everywhere
This year, the Davis Graveyard features 40 individually-lit tombstones, six monuments, three animated features and projected special effects. A large, hooded monk figure is set up so he can talk to, and interact with, passers-by.

Hoping to turn their passion into a business, the couple is writing a book to help others learn how to make props and transform their own yards into elaborately Halloween-themed sets. Interested? See for more details

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Take a look and you’ll see why police are still trying to figure out how this wreck, which sent one man to the hospital, took place …

Two cars, a minivan, a SUV and a Tri-Met bus collided, shutting down SE 122nd Ave. just before rush hour.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The only things clear about this five-vehicle accident on October 17 were that the weather was sunny, and the bus was stopped.

“I was picking up passengers at my regular stop,” the Tri-Met driver told us, “heard smashing and crashing, and felt a bump when a car ran into the bus.”

Police on scene declined giving us information; drivers of the other vehicles refused to speak with us.

Witnesses to the bizarre pileup gave conflicting reports, saying that either the red BMW or the white Chevy had bounced the green Kia into the rear wheel of the bus. No one could explain how a black Lexus SUV was also damaged in the multi-car collision.

Although many people said they witnessed this accident, no one could say exactly who caused it, or why it happened.

The accident tied up the northbound lane of SE 122nd Ave. for hours while an officer from the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division sorted out the facts and took measurements, and East Precinct officers filled out paperwork.

One person, a man said have been in the red BMW, was transported to a hospital with minor injuries.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

We’ve reported on this special unit since it started as the “Tired of Tweekers” mission. See how this handful of police officers are still making outer East Portland streets safer every day ‚Ķ

The Portland Police Bureau Crime Reduction Unit’s acting Sgt. Mark DeLong and Officer Anthony Passadore show people at the Commander’s Forum an evidence bag containing illicit drugs taken from suspected drug dealers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What started two years ago simply as a crackdown on methamphetamine dealers and users in southern outer East Portland has become a full-time unit of Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct.

At the October Commander’s Forum, the “Crime Reduction Unit’s” (CRU) acting Sgt. Mark DeLong and Officer Anthony Passadore gave a well-illustrated progress report.

East Precinct’s CRU is comprised of officers who don’t take service calls. These cops are trained to spot individuals’ behavior which indicates they are involved in some kind of criminal enterprise.

Drugs, guns and money
“Our job is getting easier,” said DeLong, “because we see the same crooks over and over again. But, to keep them off balance, our officers go out at different times on different days.”

The officers say a suspect couldn’t answer a simple question because these balloons were stuffed in his mouth. We learned they are color-coded: Green for heron, white signifies heroin or cocaine, and pink is typically cocaine.

DeLong held up an evidence bag as he started his first story.

“We saw a person at a pay phone on NE 102nd. Nearby was a Honda Accord ‚Äì these cars are stolen all the time. This guy looked nervous when we pulled up and walked over to the car. I smiled and said, ‘Nice Car.’ He mumbled something; he couldn’t talk. We found out, after we encouraged him to spit them out, it was because he had balloons containing heroin and cocaine stuffed in his mouth.”

Making crime numbers drop
“We work to impact specific crimes that make the [crime statistics] numbers drop,” Passadore said succinctly. “We focus on drug-related crimes; people who sell or take drugs are usually doing other crimes. We’ve been especially trained to notice behavior that signals that something is amiss.”

“But we’re not a drug unit,” DeLong added. “We are a street crime unit.”

This photo shows some the cash, drugs and guns – including a sawed-off shotgun – which the CRU has taken off the streets of East Portland. (Portland Police CRU Photo)

Passadore recalls when they saw a suspicious couple in a car. “We asked if we could take a look, and found three pounds of marijuana in the car. At the man’s house, we found stolen handguns, including a Tech-9, money counting machine, and other stuff. In the process, we cleared four burglary cases. This guy was stealing from people in the community to purchase drugs and make more money.”

East Portland drug trends
The officers report they’re now seeing an increase of cocaine in outer East Portland. “Meth is still a problem,” Passadore said. “A big problem.”

The average heron user does two or three balloons a day, DeLong explained. “Some will do up to six. We’ve seen some addicts who inject it into their neck because they’ve blown out their arm and leg veins.”

“We’re constantly in the drug houses every day,” continued Passadore. “We’d like it if they all got treatment, but our job is to shut down their business. And, we have our work cut out for us.”

Houses of drug users, and especially “stash houses”, usually have violent crime associated with them. “We get ‘shots fired’ calls and respond to home invasion reports,” explained Passadore. “If we move drug houses out of an area, crimes drop.”

Solving, not moving, crime problems
While the CRU officers work to move crime out of East Portland, the officers say they alert law enforcement agencies in adjoining areas about criminals who may be moving into their area.

“We want to close them down,” Delong stated. “These people are not good neighbors. Their houses look, and smell, like a pig sty.”

Passadore said they work to do more than just disperse problems to other areas. “We break the bonds among people who steal, do drugs, live and ‘crash’ together. If we isolate the leaders, the amount of crime goes way down. When on their own, people tend to do less crime.”

A good example is a guy called “Moke”, Passadore said. “We ran him out of the A-Quality Motel in Powellhurst-Gilbert during the ‘Tired of Tweekers’ campaign. When we ran into him at 122nd and Powell, he was OK. He wasn’t out doing crimes. But he told us if he were back with his friends at A-Quality, he’d be doing crimes today.”

Gangs and drugs
Asked about the connection between gangs and drugs, the officers brought out a figure of Jesus Malverdie.

Officer Passadore introduces the group Jesus Malverdie, the “patron saint” of Mexican drug runners and dealers.

“He is the ‘patron saint’ of Hispanic drug smugglers,” explained Passadore. Although he lived long ago, he is thought of as a ‘Robin Hood’ character. The Hispanic drug culture adopted him as a good luck charm. If we see a photo or figurine Malverdie in a vehicle during a traffic stop, it isn’t ‘probable cause’, but is sure is a good indicator of drug trafficking. In drug houses, we see shrines with offerings of tequila, money, food, and drugs to him.”

Most gangs are in the drug trade to make money, and they make a lot of it by importing and distributing drugs, explained Passidore. “We engage lot of people in conversation. If someone is wearing gang attire, we’ll stop and talk with them. Some of them object, saying we’re targeting them because of their clothing. We say, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t announce yourself by wearing a gang uniform’.”

He continued, saying, “I’ll take a gun off the street ahead of a pound of dope any day. We try to seize guns from gang members.”

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs shows citizens photos taken at some of the more recent CRU busts. He told the group the only complaint he’s gotten about CRU officers is that they are ‘too nice’ on the street.

CRU crew trains patrol officers
The CRU was originally composed of officers with drug crime experience. “Now we bring mid-career and new officers into the unit,” Delong said. “We teach how to identify drug trends, how to interact with drug dealers, and how to spot criminal behavior.”

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs said part of the training CRU officers pass along is verbal skills. “I’ve actually gotten complaints from arrested suspects that our CRU officers are ‘too nice’ on the street. These people say our officers are ‘so friendly, I feel like I have to talk with them.”

Statistics tell the CRU story
The six officers and one sergeant who make up the CRU made 2,600 street contacts from June, 2005, through June, 2006, and seized:

  • Meth: 5,165 Grams, (11.3 pounds)
  • Marijuana: 203 pounds
  • Cocaine 9.3 pounds
  • Heroin 3.9 oz
  • Various prescription drugs: 400 pills
  • Firearms: 78 guns
  • Cash $195,785
  • Vehicles: 212

Want to learn more about how your police work to reduce crime, as well as the fear of crime, in our community? Look for the date of the next Commander’s Forum in our East PDX News Community Calendar.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

See how the hard work of neighborhood volunteers leveraged the city’s investment of $20,000 to make Portland’s newest city park worth at nearly $500,000 ‚Ķ

City and county dignitaries, parks bureau officials and neighbors gather as the ribbon dedicating Hazeltine Park is cut.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The project started as a “clean-up” of a vacant lot on SE Flavel Drive at Nehalem Street. The effort ended up producing a Portland’s newest city park.

“This is a special project,” explained Jeff Milkes, SE Services Manager for Portland Parks & Recreation, “because it was built as a coordinated effort between the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) and Portland Parks and Recreation.”

At the dedication ceremony on October 6, Milkes told us improvements done on this park would put the price tag at nearly $500,000. “But we built for $20,000 because we had so much volunteer effort, so many donated services. Working together, we’ve preserved it, forever, as a park.”

Taking a break from setting up for the park’s dedication ceremony, Dick Hazeltine stands next to the sign bearing his name.

The Hazeltine of Hazeltine Park
Helping to make the new park ready for the afternoon dedication ceremony, Dick Hazeltine stopped to comment on the park that bears his name.

“At one time, they had a community policing office here,” Hazeltine recalled. “When they closed that down, I nominated this land to be a city park, with hopes it would stay in public use. Today, we’re seeing the results of that.”

The modest neighbor, born six blocks from the new park site, said he was surprised to learn members of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association voted to name the park after him. “I’ve been involved with the neighborhood most of my life. This park is a symbol of what the county, city and neighborhood can do by working together.”

Terry Hazeltine, son of the park’s namesake and his wife, Dorothy being served at the park’s dedication buffet.

Neighbors picnic at the park
Before the official dedication, neighbors started filtering into the new park. The smell of hot dogs, BBQ chicken and other treats filled the air.

Grilling up hot dogs on one of the two, new steel grilles for which she lobbied is BDNA member Gale Kiely.

We talked with BDNA member Gale Kiely as she grilled hot dogs. “When the parks department asked what we wanted, I told them we needed a large, brick and stone barbecue pit. When they offered steel barbecues, we jumped at the offer. We’re cooking on them tonight!”

Portland “east side” City Commissioner, Randy Leonard, came by to congratulate neighbors on their new park.

As neighbors mingled and ate, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard stopped by the celebration. “Anytime we get something new that improves East Portland, I like being part of it. It’s fascinating how neighbors and the city worked together to make this a reality.”

Ribbon cutting completes opening celebration
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials from the neighborhood, city and county lauded the efforts that brought this park into existence.

Portland Parks’ City Commissioner Dan Saltzman welcomes neighbors to the opening celebration of the new park.

Portland Parks’ City Commissioner Dan Saltzman told us that, more important than having a new park, was “the spirit in which this park was developed. The neighbors approached us. We were happy to work with them. This is a good story.”

At the dedication Saltzman told the gathering, “It is a pleasure to come out today and see this park. And the story of how this land became a park is inspiring. We had more desires than resources. But, by working together, we’ve put something in place of which we can be proud.”

Thanking all the neighbors who made the park possible is Dick Hazeltine.

Dick Hazeltine thanked the volunteers for all of their efforts, and the Parks Department for their help. He pointed out the great western view the park provides.

As the cut ribbon fluttered to the ground, Hazeltine smiled and looked into the late afternoon that broke through the clouds, adding a warm glow to the celebration.

As you look this new park, located on SE Flavel Drive at Nehalem Street, reflect on the effort that brought it into being. And, if you live in the area, consider helping out at a “work party” the association holds on the second Saturday of each month, between 9 a.m. and noon.

To learn more, see

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Surprisingly, the neighborhood’s last two tree toppling events haven’t killed anyone or destroyed property. But you may be shocked to read the prediction of southeast Portland’s official tree inspector ‚Ķ

Eastmoreland resident Tim Clark looks at what remains of his American Elm tree that “failed”, taking out all utilities to neighbors on his street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The canopy of elm trees that line the streets of Eastmoreland provide a lush, cool green oasis on a hot summer’s day. When autumn rolls around, the turning leaves brush the streets with rich colors of red and yellow. And, in the winter months, the outline of the branches against the winter sky look like a blocks-long jig-saw puzzle.

But when these trees start to fail, huge limbs fall, crushing anything below them. Sadly, and perhaps frighteningly, such failures of these massive trees are sharply increasing.

On evening of September 20, Tim Clark and his wife were at their home on SE 28th Avenue, between Crystal Springs Drive and Lambert Street.

“I was inside, talking on the phone,” Clark tells us. “My wife steps outside to start her walk and calls to me, ‘Honey, quick! The tree is going to fall down!’ I went out, thinking a little branch was going to fall off the tree.”

100′ tree splits, darkens neighborhood
But, as they looked the elm tree on their lawn, Clark says they could see it was slowly splitting down the middle, making a deep cracking sound.

“I said ‘Run. Run as fast as you can.’ I saw squirrels, a cat and leaves flying as it crashed to the ground. I didn’t know how many other trees it was going to take with it ‚Äì or how many houses or cars it would damage. It was frightening.”

As it turned out, the half of the tree that failed came down, as Clark says, “in the perfect direction, into the street, missing a car by inches.”

Utility workers labor to restore electricity, telephone and cable service to this street in Eastmoreland.

However, the falling giant did snap a utility pole across the street, and missed that neighbor’s home by inches. Crews scrambled to replace damaged electrical feed lines, a transformer, and telephone and cable wires. “We had our lights back on by 10 p.m.,” Clark remembers.

Branches, extending off the standing half of the tree, fully shaded the second story of Clark’s two-story Colonial style home. “Our bedroom is right under those limbs,” Clark continues, “so my wife slept downstairs that night. I slept up there, but not very well, wondering what it would be like if it came down in the middle of the night!”

According to a city arborist, this was one of the largest elm trees in Eastmoreland. After it split, the rest of the tree was found to be unstable; it’s been condemned.

Other Eastmoreland elms split

Two city crews worked late into the night to cut up, chip and haul away the limbs that fell from this Elm on SE Tolman St.

Three weeks earlier, on August 31, about four blocks north, another elm failed. It was on SE Tolman, just west of Reed College Place.

“I came home a little after 6 p.m.,” is the report we hear from neighbor Shay Michael. “We were in our patio and heard what we thought was firecrackers. The cracking sound sounded louder and louder so we came out front and saw the street completely blocked by this fallen tree.”

Clearly visible from the side, one can see where the co-dominant stem on this elm failed. The branches completely blocked SE Tolman St. for most of the night.

This elm failure missed hitting a car parked in a driveway by less than a foot. Surprisingly, there were no injuries or property damage from this incident.

Why great elm trees fail
According to Portland City Arborist in charge of southeast Portland, Ned Sodja, many of these elm trees fail because they have have co-dominant stems. “In other words, it’s like each tree has two or three ‘trunks’ that grow together. But, they’re attached only weakly to one another.”

At the trunk, these “co-dominant stems” are hidden by what he calls “included bark” that wraps around the circumference of the tree trunk, hiding the stems from view. Splitting is not evident till failure occurs.

“Elm trees will always have failures,” continues Sodja. “This time of year, the trees have grown, and opened a full canopy. The summer heat dries out the trees. Then, the added weight of rain causes them to split apart at their weakest point and fail. This winter, if we have any icing, we’ll see more– many more–such failures in Eastmoreland.”

Predicts increasing elm failures, damage
As these trees age, they continue to grow, Sodja explains. As they grow, the weight adds more stress, pressure that tends to rip co-dominant stems apart. Expect to see more trees splitting in the near future.

“In these cases, the damage has been minimal. I’ve seen many vehicles and structures damaged by trees that fail.”

Sodja recommends that homeowners hire an arborist to inspect their trees and get an evaluation of their condition. “If it is on your property, and not the right-of-way, the expense is minimal compared to potential damage caused by a failing tree ‚Äì especially with the size of trees that are in Eastmoreland.”

At the least, the city arborist suggested homeowners start making their own visual inspection of larger trees in their yards. “Especially look at your trees after a big rain storm or wind storm. See any splits or changes? Hear any unusual cracking sounds? Feel any changes in the ground indicating the tree may become uprooted? These are signs of serious potential problems.”

Sodja to the rescue
Many of Eastmoreland’s mighty elms grow on the tree lawns. “If you have concerns about a tree in your right-of-way, call me. I’d rather come out and take a look than be called out to see the damage caused by a falling tree.”

You can reach City Arborist Ned Sodja at (503) 823-4440.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

Screams of laughter, that is. While this isn’t an East Portland event, take a look at this wild “Pirate Party” we attended in St. Johns recently ‚Ķ

On the Pirate Festival stage are instigators Kate Larsen, Shuhe, Cpt. Bogg, and Broadside Johnnie. Fortunately, we weren’t forced to “walk the plank”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Occasionally, we venture from the safe realms of East Portland seeking excitement and adventure. On September 23, we found it at the Pirate Festival at Cathedral Park in the St. Johns neighborhood.

Buccaneers Jenny Rideout and “Salty Ruby”, enjoying a day at the festival of all things pirate.

We were told that the “Brotherhood Of Oceanic Mercenaries”, a/k/a BOOM, and others, were behind this festival — at which cannons roared, cutlasses clashed, and chanties were sung, as attendees re-enacted “The Golden Age of Piracy.” (Learn more at

But, we had found out about it by way of our favorite scallywags, Captain Bogg & Salty. We’ve documented this band over the years as they’ve emerged as the ultimate pirate rock band for all ages. Perhaps you read about the Sellwood Park “library rock shows” for the kids a few weeks ago.

Dan Koslicki, Kristen Ferris and Luke Dempsey join up for some pirate fun.

Dressed in costume, Luke Dempsey and his pals looked they were having a great time at the festival. “I came here from Oregon City. It’s so much fun.”

“Captain Bogg and Salty is the reason I came today. I love ’em,” Kristen Ferris told us.

Dan Koslicki said “It is a great time to hear some good music, see some really — and I mean really — interesting people, while we get away from the ‘real world’ for a while.”

Those lucky enough to get a ticket got to step back in time for an interactive adventure aboard the War of 1812 American Privateer “Lynx”. Those who took the trip said that history came alive for them, on board this beautiful 122-foot Schooner.

Thryce Wycked Wenches were singing “You can’t be a pirate with all of your parts; it’s all fun and games till you lose a hand” ‚Äì and, other rather bawdy-but-delightful songs whose lyrics are better sung then printed. (See .)

Plying their wares and providing exotic (not erotic) entertainment are practitioners of “dance Orientale, Kiara and Namira Azar.

Captain Bogg told us, “The festival has turned out even better than we’d ever expected! We certainly intend to do this again next year!”

Last chance for pirate fun on October 22
If you missed the Pirate Festival, or their big library event in Sellwood Park, “weigh anchor” with Captain Bogg & Salty as they perform pirate jigs, galloping rock and mermaid lullabies one more time this fall at Midland Library.

Discover the tradition of pirate music as the band sings tales and tunes for buccaneers of all ages. Hey, these guys are fun, so plan on coming early to get a seat, even if you don’t have kids! Their show runs from 3 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 22nd. Space at programs is limited; seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis — at Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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