See how serious home blazes caused at least one fire crew to race from one East Portland residence to another …

It took firefighters 30 minutes to put out this fire on SE 153rd Avenue. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

When duty calls, crews from Portland Fire & Rescue respond – sometimes going from one fire directly to another. Such was the case on February 23.

Outer Southeast fire
Four minutes after the call came in at 6:22 p.m., the crews from Engines 9, 45, and 73 arrive on-scene, in the 400 block of SE 153rd Avenue.

“The garage is fully involved in fire,” reports PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt.

He says the blaze started in the attached garage of a residence. “Hot coals from a fireplace ‘cleanout’, inside the garage, ignited cardboard boxes stored too close to the fireplace chimney. Embers from the fire got up into the exposed attic of the home.”

We learn from the neighbors that the family had occupied the residence for less than two months. The dollar loss from this fire has been set at $60,000.

“The family got out OK, there were no injuries,” says Oswalt. “But, there is a lot of damage to the home.”

Firefighters use an infrared detector to seek hidden flames in the walls of a home on NE 74th Ave.

Northeast blaze injures resident
Later the same evening, the fact that his burning home was a block away from Fire Station 19 may have saved the resident’s life.

Neighbors across the street say they didn’t see flames. “There was a lot of thick, dark gray and black smoke coming out of the house,” she adds. “It seemed like the fire trucks were here, instantly.”

“We’ve got a fire in a one-story wood frame house,” Battalion Chief Chris Babcock tells us on scene. “Engine 19, just a block away, was first in. Immediately, they entered the building to attack the fire. Once inside, firefighters encountered heat and heavy smoke conditions.”

Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman, Lt Doug Jones continues the story: “At the same time firefighting efforts were taking place, members of Engine 19 began to search the inside of the house for any occupants that may have been inside.”

Had it not been for the fast-acting crew of Engine 19, the resident of the burning house probably would have died in the fire. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

Within moments, Jones adds, they found an unconscious 55-year-old man on a bed in a back corner bedroom of the house. “They quickly carried him outside, where firefighters & paramedics began resuscitation efforts. He’s [the resident] being transported to Emanuel Hospital; he’s reported to have a pulse and to be breathing.”

The fire victim is later reported to be in critical, but stable condition.

“We had help from Engine 9,” reports Babcock. “They had just come from the fire on 153rd.”

A small dog found outside the residence was rescued and sent to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital.

This fire was extinguished very soon after fire crews arrived, officials say.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and is still under investigation by Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigators.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Even after police used a ladder to help a woman escape from a Brentwood-Darlington home, the man involved didn’t give up. See why SE 52nd Avenue was shut down while cops lobbed canisters of tear gas into that house ‚Ķ

SE Rex Drive, west of 52nd Avenue, quickly fills with public safety workers and vehicles, when it becomes obvious that a domestic disturbance is about to escalate.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Neighbors around the house in the 4800 block of secluded SE Rex Drive say the man’s behavior wasn’t typical ‚Äì in fact he was definitely acting abnormally on March 1.

At 3:45 pm, Portland Police Bureau Southeast Precinct officers respond to a reported domestic disturbance at the home.

When we arrive on scene, we learn there is dispute between a man and a woman. The man is holding the woman against her will.

Dramatic second-story rescue
“When officers arrive,” police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, “they learn the man threatened a female in the house with a knife; and she’s hiding in an upstairs room of the house.”

Officers work quickly to bring the woman to safety by putting a ladder up to the window, and then rescue her by pulling her through a second-story window.

It doesn’t take long from SE 52nd Avenue to turn into a parking lot filled with all kinds of emergency-response vehicles.

Makes threats instead of giving up
We note two fire engines in the area. “The man made statements he was barricading himself in the home, or was going to burn the home,” explains Schmautz.

Officers attempted to contact the troubled man, Schmautz says, but after he made several threats, officers activate the bureau’s Special Emergency Response Team (SERT).

SE 52nd Avenue, between SE Flavel Drive and SE Harney Avenue is shut down. “Public safety is our primary concern,” says a sergeant, in passing.

SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth (left) takes charge of the unfolding situation, and briefs Public Information Officer Sgt. Brian Schmautz on the status of the operation.

From all over the city, members of SERT roll on-scene. Soon, SE 52nd Avenue is filled with patrol cars and off-duty SERT member vehicles.

Officers “suit up” as a temporary command center is set up. They dress in Kevlar vests and camouflage jackets; check their weapons; and get ready for deployment.

SERT moves in
Using restraint typical of SERT operations we’ve observed; they don’t rush in shooting.

The heavily-armored SERT vehicle snakes its way south on SE 52nd Ave., turns west on SE Rex Drive, and moves into position near the house in which a man refuses to surrender.

Instead, the heavily armed team members quickly remove neighbors from surrounding homes and seal off the area. Then, they take positions surrounding the house. SERT K-9 teams suit up and take positions.

At the same time, trained SERT negotiators establish communication and endeavor to talk the man into surrendering.

At the Mobile Command Center, a huge RV-looking vehicle, SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth and the command staff listen to the negotiators and the SERT team leaders.

“If the negotiators believe that talking is fruitful, they’ll continue to talk as long as it is reasonable,” Schmautz tells us. “But when the suspect starts becoming irrational, or starts making statements leading them to believe he will cause harm to himself to the community by his actions, the commander will direct SERT to deploy gas and enter.”

Negotiations break down
As night falls on this particular rainy evening, the negotiators talk with the man, seen pacing in the house for more than an hour. But, talking doesn’t lead him to come out.

At 6:16 p.m., the sound of shells being fired can be heard ‚Äì it’s the SERT team, shooting tear gas into the house.

A few minutes later, “Pop, pop, pop” ‚Äì more shells are lobbed into the residence. “They’ll use enough tear gas or other less-lethal means to gain compliance as necessary,” Schmautz comments.

As night falls, bystanders’ eyes began to sting, as wafts of tear gas came from the house where a man was holed up.

Still, the troubled man doesn’t exit. For 40 minutes, more and more tear gas floods the residence. The man breaks a window, trying to escape the tear gas.

Finally, surrender
Just before 7:00 p.m., the man, later identified as 50-year-old Gaylon Amen, gives up and comes out.

“Amen apparently sustained some non-life threatening injuries when he broke out a window to escape the gas,” Schmautz tells us. “Amen is being transported for medical attention, and will be charged with one count of Menacing and one count of Assault in the Fourth Degree.”

Schmautz says police has little information about Amen, other than that “we’ve had some prior criminal contact with him. For whatever reason, he was having a severe episode. It could be a medication or a mental health issue.”

The police representative adds that their Domestic Violence Unit will work with the rescued woman to assure her future safety.

The mission accomplished, SERT members disperse.

Many police officers called up for this SERT mission were off duty. They stripped off their gear, got in their vehicles and returned home.

“A good mission,” a SERT officer commented to us, in passing. “Everyone’s going home safely, and perhaps this individual will get the help he needs.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why the commute into Portland — from Gresham, and points east — became a nightmare during the March 1st morning drive. The good moos: No cows were injured …

Hours after the mishap, big-rig tow trucks were still trying to right the toppled milk-carrying tanker trailer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Eastbound traffic on Interstate 84 was slow mooo-ving on March 1 because of a trucking accident.

At 5:55 am, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers, and investigators from the Traffic Division, were called to the scene of a non-injury collision on I-84 westbound near NE 122nd Avenue, involving an overturned milk truck.

Investigators contacted the driver of the truck, 36-year-old Francisco Macias. He told them he had been forced to swerve to avoid a car after it cut in front of him in traffic.

As he swerved, he struck an abandoned vehicle on the side of the roadway.  The jolt from the impact caused the load of milk to shift in the big tanker truck, with the milk’s momentum carrying the second tanker over onto its side, where it ruptured open.

The concrete Jersey Barriers on either side of the lanes contained the milk, making it easier to clean up.

Police allowed one lane of traffic to slowly make its way past the scene of udder desolation – backing up drivers past Troutdale.

On this morning, the “Milky Way” wasn’t in the heavens nor within a tanker truck ‚Äì the bovine product covered the freeway. Cats across east Portland were said to be near tears.

The milk was the property of the Milky Way Corporation of Sunnyside, Washington, but after the washdown and cleanup, they won’t be getting it back.  No one was hurt, and no citations have been issued.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland Mooos Service

Discover why the Parkrose School Board spent months researching and creating a “strategic plan”, before they went shopping for a new education boss ‚Äì and learn how you can meet the final two candidates ‚Ķ

Parkrose School District superintendent, Michael Taylor, says he’ll be leaving in June; but he’s excited about the process the Board’s used to find his replacement.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The unassuming single-story brick building on NE Prescott St. ‚Äì the location from which the Parkrose School District is managed ‚Äì won’t look any different after June 30.

But, on July 1, this $30 Million educational enterprise will be under the leadership of a new superintendent. That’s when Michael Taylor retires from that position.

Six-month process concludes
Just because the Parkrose School Board has taken six months to hire a new superintendent doesn’t mean they’ve been lollygagging or dragging their feet.

Instead, with help from certified facilitators, board members conducted 37 focus group meetings with representative groups from all segments of their community. They recorded 1,700 comments from among 260 Parkrose people.

The participants volunteered their time; no one was paid for their input. “Every cultural group was heard from,” Taylor said. “We listened to what they wanted for their kids’ education.”

The purpose of this process was to develop clear, concise “Mission and Belief” statements.

“I’m excited about this process,” Taylor told us. “This is one of the few districts that have taken the time and resources to develop a ‘strategic plan’ before they conducted the search for their new superintendent.”

This means, Taylor continued, that “we’ve focused on who we are [as a school district], and what we want from our educational system. Only then, did the board focus on finding the person to lead the effort.”

Taylor said it took the board’s design committee 18 hours to consider, rank, and then boil down the community’s comments. “From this input, we developed a mission or vision statement for the district.”

Mission Statement revealed
Taylor said their Mission Statement is in two segments: “What we believe education should be, and how we’ll know we’re successful.”

*Full text of this Mission Statement is at the end of this article.

The document begins, Taylor said, with this statement: “‘The Parkrose School Community provides a premiere education that unlocks the potential in each student.’ This speaks to the quality of education our community expects, and to our bringing out the potential in each student.”

The thing that came that came through, he elaborated, “was the emphasis on maximizing the potential for each individual student. It recognizes that there are many ways to achieve success. Our Board recognized that we need to recognize that our students come from diverse cultures, educational level backgrounds, and have varying levels of family support. Our students come from all kinds of families ‚Äì from the well-established, to the homeless.”

Risks required to achieve goals
To offer more, and varied, educational opportunities for students, Taylor went on, “the school district will need to incorporate new ways of teaching students. There is an inherent risk in introducing new programs and teaching methods.”

Right now, Taylor said, the School Board is sharing their Mission Statement with the community. “We’re asking, ‘If this is what we believe, and if this is how we measure success, what will this look like in our schools? What would that outcome mean to you?'”

Having Parkrose students pass state tests is only the first part of educational measurement, Taylor continued. “That is a given. From there, this is about the activities that help students grow into being successful, productive citizens.”

Taylor won’t pick successor
While he’s been deeply involved in designing the mission statement process, Taylor said he won’t be the one to choose the next superintendent.

“I’m staying a little more distant from the selection. I’m making sure we have good community and staff involvement and communication regarding this decision process.”

A superintendent search can often be difficult for a school board, we learned. “In some cases, while the Board gives policy direction, they’re not clear about specific targets and goals they’re after,” Taylor explained. “But, by clearly defining the goals for our schools before starting the superintendent search, they are able to succinctly communicate their desires to a candidate ‚Äì on a single sheet of paper.”

While interviewing candidates for the job, Board members used their Mission Statement to help them formulate their questions.

“During interviews, Board members asked the candidates not only how the district can better accommodate diversity, but also develop educational systems and programs that allow [students] different paths to success,” said Taylor. “The new superintendent will have the ‘Mission and Belief’ statements, as a yardstick. It becomes our measurement.”

Come meet the finalists March 8
Taylor said that the Board has chosen two final candidates, both of them from Oregon school districts: Dr. Karen Gray, Superintendent of the Coos Bay Schools; and Dr. Ivan Hernandez, Superintendent of the Fern Ridge Schools.

“Our Board has done background and site checks; they’ve completed their visitations,” Taylor told us. “We’ve asked the candidates to meet our community on March 8. By March 12, the Board will have made their decision.”

Two meetings will held on Thursday, March 8.

  • Morning meeting:
    Parkrose School District Office
    10636 NE Prescott
    Dr. Gray will speak from 8:00 to 8:45, followed by Dr. Hernandez speaking from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m.
  • Evening meeting:
    Parkrose High School community rooms (L 12-14)
    From 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., Dr. Hernandez will speak; from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m., Dr. Gray will talk.

Each candidate will present a short talk and then answer questions. The School Board wants to hear what you think, and will have feedback forms at both programs. We’re told coffee and other refreshments will be served.

Superintendent Taylor says that, other than taking a fly-fishing class, he hasn’t seriously considered what he’ll do after he leaves the district in June.

Taylor’s next move
“What’s next for Michael Taylor?” we ask. “A fishing trip?”

“It’s funny you’d say that,” he replied. “I have my first fly-fishing class tomorrow night. I’ve put it off for a year-and-a-half because of conflicts with school meetings.

“I want to make sure I finish what I’m doing here. So, I’m fully here until June 30. I’ve heard some proposals for part time work. My family is all here, so I’m staying here in the community.”

“If you have some spare time,” we playfully suggest, “Teena Ainsley, in the Parkrose ASPIRE program, could use your help‚Ķif you have an hour-a-week.”


Parkrose School District
Draft Logo Statement, Mission and Belief Statements
January 18, 2007

The Parkrose School Community provides a premiere education that unlocks the potential in each student.

We believe that …

  • The health of our community, our state, and our nation is fundamentally dependent upon the success of each individual student.
  • A student’s success is the responsibility of all members of the community.
  • Respect for the individual and for strong relationships are essential.
  • All students are capable of achieving high expectations.
  • We must meet students’ diverse individual needs, and provide a variety of pathways to success.
  • Taking measured risks is an essential part of our growth as a learning community.
  • Accountability in all aspects of education is crucial.

We will be successful when …

  • Each student will graduate, having completed a K-12 education, with the knowledge and skills they need to adapt to their future: “Knowing how to learn.”
  • Each student’s education is driven by an individual education plan that assures high expectations, and is based on student needs and aspirations.
  • Each student is provided with a wide range of learning opportunities, in and out of the classroom.
  • Each student’s educational experience is integrated with the community and its resources; and the school, the families, and the community work collaboratively for each student’s success.


© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Board members thought holding a special event might attract a few more residents to their organization. See how many people their shindig attracted …

Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association board member Bert Sperling (center) listens to concerns of homeowners at their open house social hour.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The expansive, clubhouse room looked rather empty a few minutes before 7:00 p.m., the appointed hour marking the start of Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s first open house event, on Thursday evening, February 15th.

The association’s president, Gretchen Sperling, told us they’d mailed invitations to every home in their area, for their event at Eastmoreland Golf Course Bar and Grill, hoping to attract new faces to their organization.

They didn’t all arrive at once, but over the next ten minutes, the room was well populated. By the time Sperling began her formal introduction, more than 45 people had arrived and taken a seat.

The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s president, Gretchen Sperling, gets their first open house event underway.

Speaks to a growing audience
“Our vision is to encourage more participation in our neighborhood,” Sperling began. “We’re inviting more people into the conversation.”

Around the country, she said, when people talk about livability, Portland usually comes to the top of the list. “One of the reasons this happens is because of our incredible neighborhoods. We have so many different ways to live together.”

She explained that the reason for holding this open house was that the neighborhood association’s board members wanted more input from the neighbors they serve. “Issues are getting so complicated, we aren’t comfortable making critical decisions ‚Äì without inviting more people into the conversation.”

Sharing Eastmoreland issues
Asked to inventory issues with which the association was currently dealing, Sperling discussed:

  • Maintenance of the garden ‚Äì the group is working to establish an endowment for the continuing care of the Eastmoreland Garden which welcomes people to the neighborhood right across from where the meeting was being held, at the Eastmoreland Golf Course Grill.
  • Concern and care for the tree canopy ‚Äì how a committee cares for the health of the lush canopy of trees, including tree inoculation and Dutch elm disease.
  • Railroad noise issues ‚Äì other neighborhoods are starting to participate in this issue. The 1955 injunction was upheld by a federal judge several years ago and now the Union Pacific is to comply with the terms of that agreement;
  • Reed College’s use of Parker House ‚Äì how the capacity of use was greater than the neighborhood would like to see. A hearing officer found in favor of the neighborhood; but the college is reapplying for conditional use permit.
  • Off-leash dog use at Duniway School ‚Äì dealing with the concerns of dogs running free, and the owners who don’t pick their pets’ waste.
  • Crime issues ‚Äì how it has increased in the neighborhood; police say it is coming from “fearless” meth addicts who come down Springwater Trail. “They have no fear, and break into homes even with people home. They’ll climb up trees and over flat roofs to gain entry in second stories.” Several second-story break-ins had recently been reported near S.E. Knapp Street and 35th.

Mike Fisher, VP; Bert Sperling, board member; former president John Reiersgaard, and Gretchen Sperling, association president, were four of many board members on hand to meet and greet their neighbors.

Although Sperling told us the event was to be an informal meeting, neighbors new to the association asked questions on a wide variety of topics, including why the promised Inner Southeast MAX line has not yet been built.

Ending the meeting, Sperling invited the crowd, now numbering more than sixty, to address their specific concerns individually with the committee chairs and board members present at the meeting.

“Come to our regular meetings each month, on the third Thursday, at the Duniway School library. But, you don’t even have to come to the meetings to be involved! There are many subcommittees that would like to have your participation.”

Diane Rynerson buys a tree walk map from Dan Dettmer, a volunteer on the Eastmoreland Tree Committee.

After the meeting, Sperling said, “I’m thrilled to see so many people show up, and show interest in our community. I’m tickled. I’m hopeful this will translate into better attendance at our monthly meetings. I’m cautiously optimistic.”

When March 22nd comes around, perhaps David Perkinson, whom we met as he looked over an exhibit showing the diversity of Eastmoreland trees, will be back. He told us, “My first meeting, although I’ve lived here for 16 years. Maybe I’ll come to another one.”

The large turnout surprised — and pleased — the neighborhood association’s board.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

What you don’t know about correctly using “Child Safety Seats” could actually kill your child. See what dozens of East Portlanders learned from a traffic cop ‚Äìalso a father ‚Äì about these life-saving devices ‚Ķ

Heather Hunt learns how to properly use Parker’s child safety seat from Portland Police Officer, and father, Brett Barnum.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As a cop assigned to the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division, Bret R. Barnum sees the result of vehicle crashes nearly every day.

“We’re the officers assigned to investigate wrecks,” Barnum tells us, “so we see, first hand, the difference well-used car safety seats make.”

Walking away versus carried away
Barnum illustrates his point by telling stories of two very similar crashes.

“A car was hit in a grinding T-bone [side impact] collision by an SUV going at least 30 MPH. The truck struck right where the child was sitting. When I arrived on scene, I found the child properly secured in with a seatbelt in a ‘booster’ seat. The result: The child walked away, without a scratch, completely safe and unharmed ‚Äì not even a bruise.”

Barnum looks down, speaks in a lower voice and says the outcome was tragically different in a very similar crash, also involving a young child in a booster seat.

“In this accident, the child in the booster seat was only secured by the lap belt, not the shoulder strap. She had severe internal abdominal injuries; we thought she wouldn’t live. Fortunately OHSU’s Dornbecher hospital was able to save her.”

Putting the ‘safe’ into safety seats
We caught up with Barnum at a Child Safety Seat Clinic in Oak Grove on February 10. “Over half the folks we’ve seen here have been from Inner Southeast Portland,” he says.

The purpose of the event, held in partnership with Alliance for Community Traffic Safety, is helping parents learn how to correctly use their safety seats.

Barnum is helping Heather Hunt, a Sellwood resident. “Parker’s grown into a new car seat. We wanted to get it installed correctly.”

Officer Barnum goes over the child safety seat checklist, making sure Heather’s baby, Parker Hunt, will be safe in his new seat.

The officer makes sure the checklist is complete, as he completes his visit with Hunt: “The seat is new; the owner’s manual is with it; it conforms to safety standards; it passed the ‘pinch’ test; and the safety belt can easily be secured to the seat.”

“Things I learned today,” Hunt tells us, “are the importance making sure your child’s safety seat is secure, so it can’t slide from side to side. And, I now understand the importance of having the baby’s restraints positioned correctly around his shoulder blades.”

As she drove off, Hunt thanked Barnum, saying “This was very, very valuable for me ‚Äì and Parker.”

Barnum takes one last look to make sure this young passenger will be safe in his new seat.

83% improperly installed
We learned from Barnum that Child Safety Seat Clinic technicians report finding that 83% of all seats are not installed properly.

“Had these people not come in,” Barnum says, “they’d still be out on the road, unintentionally risking the lives of their kids. These parents have the best intentions for protecting their children. But, with car seat technology rapidly changing, properly using them can be confusing.”

Most common problem seen
The most common problem, Barnum explains, is that the harness system, in the car safety seat, tends to be too-loosely secured. “There shouldn’t be slack in the straps.”

When the straps are too loose, he shows us, the child can be ejected out of the car safety seat into the car itself, at high velocity. “The crash force dynamics take a real toll on the children who are ejected.”

A parent’s prospective
“It is up to the parents to protect their little kids who can’t protect themselves,” Barnum says.

“I have two boys myself. When I go to a crash and see a child walk away from a severe accident because they are protected ‚Äì it can bring a tear to my eye. You look at them and think, ‘Thank goodness someone cared enough to do it right’.”

Learn more
Discover vital information about using child safety seats, and future clinic locations and dates at, or call toll-free: 1-800-772-1315.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Look at this and discover why energetic volunteers work hard to keep the Woodstock Community Center vital – and the doors open …

Joe Kaczyk brings Black Bean Fritters, courtesy of The Delta Caf?©, to the Woodstock Community Center Open House.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Times haven’t been easy for Friends of Woodstock Community Center recently. Time after time, the city has threatened to pull funding for the center, and shutter it forever.

Florence Dezeix plays a Celtic harp, filling the community center with the warm, lush sounds of merry melodies.

However, on February 10, the stately community center, once a city fire station, is full of life.

“There have been some “close shaves” for the center’s closing, acknowledges volunteer Terry Griffiths. “Indeed, some very, very ‘close shaves’,” Griffiths agrees.

“But today, we’re celebrating the fact that our community center is still open, thanks to the support and efforts of our neighbors. We’re here today saying ‘thank you’ to all of the neighbors who support us.”

Woodstock Community Center volunteers Randall Magahay and Terry Griffiths relax at the Open House.

Griffiths tells us this community center is important because it provides a place for the people of the Woodstock area to get together, take classes. “It’s a nice, intimate space, and close to home for a lot of people who walk here.”

Randall Magahay says he takes clock repair class on Mondays, and attends Wednesday yoga sessions. “It’s nice to do this right here where we live, instead of traveling far and wide.” As a volunteer, Magahay says he’s happy to give to the center. “I do landscape maintenance and plant growing, and donate to the plant sale.”

The kitchen counter is laden with treats. We see cupcakes brought in by Island Creamery, His Bakery scones, New Seasons’ offering of fruit and bread, Delta Caf?© fritters, and Papaccino’s coffee.

“We did this to help raise both awareness and funds for the community center,” comments one of the event’s organizers, Gary Bankston. “This is turning out to be a fun event for the whole neighborhood. We have an art show and raffle and silent auction here.”

Alison O’Donoghue exhibits her buttons and painting, sketches on her current work, and chats with passers-by.

Filled with arts and crafts
We moved into the Mirror Room, and found it filled with works of art. Proceeds from this art sale help support the community center, we’re told.

Artist George Heath offers his “sculptural cartoons” for sale at the Open House.

We meet George Heath. “I just create what comes to mind when I make my ceramics.” Asked what he calls his cheerful, colorful artworks, he first says, “Well, they’re called Earl, Bob, Ted ‚Äì and Bill! Hillary is yet to come.” He pauses, searching for a better answer to our question; then opts for the term, “sculptural cartoons”.

Making Valentine’s Day cards is Maile Baures (center), between her sons Adrian and Loic.

The basement has been turned into a children’s art workshop. Pink paper, hearts and other Valentine’s Day decorations abound, as kids make cards for family and friends.

Join the community
On the way out, Griffiths confided, “The Friends of Woodstock Community Center could use some help. We need a financial person to help us better our accounts.”

Another way one can participate is to can take classes at the center she said. “And, we always welcome volunteers. Of course, you can make a tax- deductible contribution to the Center via Southeast Uplift.”

Learn more by going to

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

From the Lion Dance, to arts and crafts, to inexpensive Asian food ‚Äì to young Woodstock students who “stole the show” with their performances ‚Äì see what happened at this colorful celebration ‚Ķ

Hello, kitties! This kitty-cat dance, performed by Kindergarten students at Woodstock Elementary School, charmed the crowd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Welcoming the “Year of the Pig”, celebrants packed Portland Community College (PCC) Southeast Center on February 19.

This pan-Asian celebration included greetings, arts and entertainment from Thailand, Japan, Korea, and Viet Nam, as well as China.

Making introductory remarks opening the Chinese New Year celebration is Wing-Kit Chung, Associate VP, Finance, Portland Community College.

Everyone, including Americans, is having a good time here today,” PCC’s associate vice president of Wing-Kit Chung, told us. “At PCC, we value the different cultures in Portland. Being aware of different cultures adds to the educational experience.”

Rosalin C. Wang demonstrates Chinese decorative knot tying.

Cultural education abounds
Some of the cultural activities included a class by Rosalin C. Wang, in which she taught kids and adults the art of Chinese decorative knot tying.

Wang, a published author, teaches a variety of art classes at libraries throughout the area.

Writing names in Chinese, Ping Khaw shows his skill as calligraphist. He’s written the Chinese version of “David” on the card he holds.

And, Ping Khaw demonstrated Chinese brush calligraphy. Many American names don’t directly translate into Mandarin.

When there isn’t a direct translation, he said, he chooses syllables in Chinese that mirror those in English. Many times, the Chinese version of a name is a pun, relating to the name to the individual.

Lion Dancers from the Minh Quang Group, based in Portland, kick off the event as they work their way through the crowd at PCC’s Southeast Center.

Lions charge crowd; no one is eaten
The celebration got underway with the greetings from civic and school officials – and the traditional Lion Dance.

The acrobatic young performers from the Minh Quang Group worked their way through the throng and back to the front. As part of their performance, audience members “feed ‘lucky money'” to the lions by tossing dollar bills on the floor. The lions lap up the cash.

The lions “roar” as they tower high about the crowd, ending the celebratory dance that kicks off the festival.

At the conclusion of the dance, the lion’s “head” dancer leaps on the shoulders of the “tail” dancer ‚Äì making the fanciful character stand nearly 15 feet tall.

Woodstock kids steal the show
Young performers from Woodstock Elementary School’s Mandarin Immersion Program entertained the large crowd of nearly 400 in the Grand Atrium of the PCC Southeast Center with a variety of dances and singing numbers.

Wearing colorful costumes, students – from kindergarteners on up – performed traditional dances, sang songs, and played percussion instruments.

Woodstock teacher Shen Yin was very busy, staging the young performers and organizing their props. She beamed with pride. “The students performed well today.”

We asked Yin why learning new languages benefits students who live in inner Southeast Portland.

“When children learn a new language,” Yin explained, “it helps them learn about new cultures; it helps create mutual understanding. Also, it makes them better able to learn things, in general. It helps their academics because it expands their thinking process,” she said.

Can’t eat with chopsticks? Not a problem! PCC’s Anna Villines demonstrates the art (and skill) of using chopsticks as dining utensils.

Festivities continue throughout day
In addition to a full schedule of entertainment and arts demonstrations, folks who attended the Chinese New Year celebration were treated to a low cost luncheon.

Jain Lo, Chinese fine artist demonstrates the ancient art of brush painting at the celebration.

Before we left, Wing-Kit Chung, said, “I’m very pleased. This is a very happy, successful event.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why firefighters rushed “Code Three” to this outer East Portland home. And, learn how its 93-year-old occupant escaped ‚Ķ

Even though firefighters arrived on scene promptly, the fire that ripped through this home did substantial damage ‚Äì nearly taking the owner’s life. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Before dawn, on February 19, the home of an elderly outer East Portland man went up in flames.

At 5:19 a.m., crews from Portland Fire & Rescue and Gresham Fire raced, “Code 3” — with lights and sirens — to a fire in a residence reported in the 13700 block of SE Center Street.

“I was up, getting ready to go to work,” a neighbor told us, “and saw an orange, flickering light outside. Really heavy smoke was pouring out of the roof.”

Four minutes after they got the call, firefighters pulled up to the wood-frame house.

“There was heavy fire involvement on the rear of the residence,” reported PF&R spokesman John Hill. The fire was so intense, it took [a longer-than-usual] 20 minutes until the fire incident was recalled [put out].”

Neighbors told us the man’s son lives in a small cottage behind the home. “I’m pretty sure he saved his father’s life,” a neighbor told us. “I saw him and his dad coming out of the front door. They were both coughing; they didn’t look very good.”

Looking at the charred remains of the home and singed, personal property sitting out front, most would agree with the neighbors who said they were amazed the owner survived the blaze.

Officials told us that the elderly man was transported to Portland Adventist Medical Center with smoke inhalation; the son, apparently recovered from the rescue of his father, refused transport to a medical facility.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If he hadn’t been whipping in and out of traffic on SE 82nd Ave., this wanted probationer wouldn’t have been caught with bindles of pills ‚Äì enough to be a “walking pharmacy”. You’ll only see his story RIGHT HERE ‚Ķ

Officers search this black Acura they say was driven by a man who tried to ditch them in the neighborhood. When he finally stopped here, he tried to escape on foot. He didn’t get far ‚Ķ

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
What makes a man speed off from a traffic stop, careen through southeast Portland neighborhoods, screech his car to a stop in front of a “troubled” house, and run until cops took him down?

Perhaps he was taking a “dose of his own medicine” ‚Äì police say he was holding enough pills to stock a pain clinic pharmacy.

A not-so-merry chase
It all starts, Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, when a cop on patrol tries to talk with the driver of a black Acura at SE 82nd Ave. of Roses and SE Bush St. on February 22. No major infraction, we’re told–just an illegal lane change.

But, the Acura takes off, circles through the neighborhood, gets back on 82nd Ave., blows through a red light at SE Holgate Blvd., and weaves between cars, driving in the center lane, near SE Foster Rd., and then heads west. From there, the driver cuts through a parking lot, and zigzags until he ends up westbound on SE Woodstock Blvd.

“We were set up to spike-strip his tires at SE 52nd Ave.,” Sgt. Craig Mendenhall tells us on scene. “But, he cuts across the street, comes to a sudden stop, facing the traffic–here in the 6100 block of SE Woodstock Blvd.”

Ordering the suspect to stop running didn’t work. Neither did a dose of pepper spray. A Taser shot encouraged him to comply. Paramedics from Portland Fire and Rescue Truck 25 are called to check him over in the back seat of the police car.

Suspected crook won’t quit
Instead of giving up, Mendenhall says, the suspect ‚Äì clad  in a red-and-green plaid woolen jacket ‚Äì takes off on foot. A patrol car “pits” [a controlled crash, using the heavy bumper on police cars] the passenger side, to keep it closed.

“The driver got ‘Tazed’ and pepper-sprayed as he attempted to flee,” Mendenhall relates. “Bottom line is he really didn’t want to get caught.”

Officers put the items taken from the suspect on the roof of this police car. They believed some of what they found was illegal, “street” drugs.

A “walking pharmacy”
As officers pat down the uncooperative suspect, they find why he was running from them. “Officers recovered what looks like street drugs and a big wad of cash,” Mendenhall says.

“We don’t know what kind of drugs they are, without testing. It could be meth ‚Äì they’ve been putting meth into pill form. We now suspect he is a street-level dealer. He had multiple bindles of, what look like, different kinds of pills. It looks as if there are about 20 pills in a bindle.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 25 pulls up, and medic/firefighters hop out with their kits. Police policy requires that anyone who was shocked with a Tazer be medically checked out. The suspected drug-running driver is checked while in the back of a cop car.

Attention turns to “troubled house”
“We suspect the driver or passenger knows someone who lives at the house where we’re stopped,” says Mendenhall.

As officers searched the Acura, neighbors walk up and watch the unfolding situation.

A woman, who asks not to be identified, gestures to the house, in front if which the suspect stopped. “This house has a real history,” she says, raising her eyebrows.

She was joined by a neighbor who lives across the street, on the north side of Woodstock. “If I’m not mistaken, this car was parked in front of my house this morning,” he comments. “I’ve seen it here more than once, lately.”

Both neighbors agree that the house in question has had a sordid history. “Not long ago, someone died of a drug overdose in the garage,” the woman recalls.

The man said, “Lots of people come and go from this house. Sometimes, there will be several cars parked both in the driveway and up on the lawn.”  He shook his head as he walked off and remarked, “Maybe I’ve lived here too long.”

Cops say this suspect, Dylan Pardue, has three outstanding warrants, is on probation, and his driver’s license is suspended.

Shouldn’t even been driving
Sgt. Schmautz verifies the suspect is 27-year-old Dylan Pardue. “He’s a local resident.”

Pardue is known to local law enforcement and justice community; Schmautz says he has three outstanding warrants, is on probation for identity theft, and was driving on a suspended driver’s license.

Now, added to this list, Pardue is charged with Attempt to Elude; Attempt to Elude on foot; Reckless driving; Reckless Endangering; Resist Arrest; Possession of Methamphetamine; Possession of Methadone; Possession of OxyContin; Distribution of Methadone; and, Manufacture and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Pardue’s passenger is released, after being questioned by police. “We didn’t have probable cause to take him into custody,” Mendenhall says.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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See what happens when grade school kids focus on being respectful to one another, during “No Name-Calling Week: ‚Ķ

Winner of Lane Middle School’s “No Name-Calling Week” essay contest, 7th grader Natasha Calamarchuk, reads her entry before an all-school assembly.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“Do students at Lane Middle School respect one another?” is the rhetorical question principal Karl Logan poses to students at an all-school assembly on January 26.

“Yes,” Logan continues, “but I’d like to see the day when students can walk the halls and never hear unkind words. Some day, we’ll be at a place at which every student feels safe, every day. This assembly, the culmination of ‘No Name-calling Week’, is a step in the right direction.”

Karl Logan, Principal at Lane Middle School, tells how words can be hurtful before an all-school assembly.

The principal tells why this special emphasis week is important, saying “It is a time to focus on and magnify how we look at, and treat, each other. Words do hurt, as much as sticks and stones. Many of you have come to the principal’s office because you have been hurt by words. When you name-call, you can’t reach out and pull words back before they hit the person’s ears.”

At the assembly, winner of this year’s essay-writing contest, 7th grader Natasha Calamarchuk, read her composition before the student body. After the program, we ask her why she put these thoughts into words. Her essay is reprinted at the end of this article.

“It is important, because it isn’t good to be called names,” Calamarchuk says. “Maybe people will use more appropriate words. It will help the school if we all better get along with one another.”

The annual event’s organizer, and the school’s librarian, Linda Campillo, tells us that activities during No Name-Calling Week include “throwing bad names into a trash can” at the entrance of school; creating posters, essays, and poetry about No Name Calling; and voting for each grade’s “best citizen”.

Shelli Vang and Amethyst Davis created the award-winning poster on the left; student artist Jessica Penaloza holds her award winning poster.

“Then they dressed however they wanted to for one day,” illustrates Campillo, “and nobody could make fun of them.”

Campillo says the idea for the week-long experience came from the book “The Misfits” by James Howe. “Several eighth-grade classes have been reading the book, and a small group of students also presented some scenes from the book in a video.”

Lucia Medina is also recognized for her poem, “Poison words”.

On our way out, Principal Logan commented, “This is the second year Lane has celebrated No Name-Calling Week, and many students have said they really enjoy the events. But, what’s most important is that it gives our young people the opportunity to see how their community would be, if people treated one another respect.”

Natasha’s Essay
Everyone has been called a name more than once. Name-calling can be very hurtful to people. It’s very mean! I think that some people say bad words just because they are bored with their own minds. Or maybe some people don’t have any friends and they try to act all cool. You know, no one ever got a friend by name-calling.

Bullying is also like name-calling. People get beat up, and they feel very sad. Same with name-calling. But you don’t get hurt on the outside ‚Äì just on the inside. I think the best way to stop name-calling is to make friends with the bully or person who is calling you names. So, if you are bullied, or called a name, you have two options: Ignore, or be a friend.
Natasha Calamarchuk, 7th Grade, Lane Middle School

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Many of you took our advice, and attended the last City of Portland Fix-it Fair of the season ‚Äì it was packed! But, if you didn’t go, see what you missed–and why you should plan on going next fall ‚Ķ

Lisa Peters, of the Portland Water Bureau, shows Mayor Tom Potter some of the water-saving devices being given away at the Winter Fix-it Fair.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We don’t take sole responsibility for the crowd that descended on Madison High School on NE 82nd Ave. of Roses for the last “Fix-it Fair” of the season on January 27.

But, we met many readers at the fair. They thanked us for alerting them to this unique, free event.

“At every table here,” commented Mayor Tom Potter, “they’ve told me this is the busiest of all Fix-It Fairs to date.”

Interest in the topics presented at the event, the Mayor said, is on the rise. “I think people are looking at what they can do around their house, and in their lives, to save money and help the environment. And, some of what they learn here can even save a life.”

East Portlanders pack the halls of Madison High, learning how to reuse, recycle, save energy – and money.

“I came here for the great classes, the information they provide,” said neighbor Robert Taylor. “I can’t think of any other city that sponsors a great event like this one!”

The “burger queens” from Burgerville USA make up hot-off-the-grill lunches, served free to the hundreds of participants attending the fair.

Yup, a free lunch
We talked with Gary Walen, who with his crew from Burgerville USA, were making lunch for those at the event. “Did you know we recycle our frying fat into bio-fuel? And, we use 100% “green” wind-generated electric power for our stores.”

Potter said of the restaurant chain, “These are the kind of Portland area companies who have taken a leadership role here.”

Participant Mary Borthwick, here talking with PGE’s John Karasaki about how to insulate her pipes and lower her power bill.

Insulating to save energy
Participants could be seen carrying long, black foam tubes throughout the fair. When we met John Karasaki at the Portland General Electric booth, we found out what they were.

“These tubes are really pipe insulation,” Karasaki said. “It is the correct size to go on the pipe that runs from the water heater to the fixtures which use it. They are easy to install, and save quite a bit of energy and heat loss to the air. We at PGE care about the wise and efficient use of energy.”

Sharing with area residents about the benefits of working with their neighborhood association are Ruth Hander, Madison South Neighborhood Association chair, along with board members Dawn Tryon and Tyler Whitmire.

Neighborhood association represented
“This is a great opportunity to network with neighbors and interact with citizens,” said Dawn Tryon of the “Save Madison South” neighborhood committee.

Neighborhood associations, Tryon said, are what give a “sense of community” to residents throughout Portland. “Here, we’re working with neighbors, and businesses — especially those along 82nd Avenue — encouraging a partnership to increase the quality of life in East Portland.”

Showing a sense of humor, Andrea Lewis of the “Re-Direct Guide” gives us her best “Vanna White” impression. “This guide is important because helps individuals make immediate changes in their lives that will help the environment.”

On the way out, we speak with the show’s producer, Jill Kolek, Office of Sustainable Development, City of Portland. “We’ve had a lot of people come out, perhaps 600 in all. Started out crowded right when we opened, and people have been coming through all day.”

The Fix-it Fairs, held three times a year, are “great because the more people we can empower to save energy, help the environment, be safe and live more efficiently, the better off we all are,” Kolek told us.

Look for Fix-it Fairs next fall
While the Fix-it Fairs are over for this season, Kolek said she hopes the city will continue to sponsor the events, starting again late next fall.

We asked Mayor Potter to comment on the future of the fairs. He told us, “We expect these fairs to continue. The whole idea is to get people to get involved. We’ll eventually get to a tipping point at which more people are interested in environmental issues than those are not.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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