The 3 a.m. fire at Portland Christian High School was perhaps the work of cowardly hoodlums, students surmise. David F. Ashton Photos

By David F. Ashton – April 3, 2006

The normally quiet of an early morning on NE San Rafael St. was shattered by the roar of fire engines and the wail of sirens early Monday morning. Firefighters sped along NE 122nd Ave. to answer a second fire call to Portland Christian School, within in the past two months.

Bureau officials say the 3 a.m. fire was at the school’s field house and coach’s office. The blaze, it appears, was started in two portable toilets located next to the grandstand structure, on the north side of building.

This fire was said to have caused $7,500 in damages. The fire about 60 days ago did $32,000 in damages to vehicles and buildings.

Officials say “racist and sexual graffiti” was emblazoned on the outside of a structure nearby the fire scene. Portland Police Bureau Bias Crimes Unit has been called in to investigate the case.

“The talk at school is that who ever did this probably doesn’t even know the meaning of a swastika. It’s the work of punks who want to seem tough,” is how a student who identified himself as Josh, put it to us, outside the school grounds that afternoon. “You notice that these cowards did this in the middle of the night – not when we’re out here.”

The culprit of this fire is subject to Felony Arson charges, officials say. Have information? Call Portland Fire & Rescue investigators at (503) 823-3791.

More on this story as it develops.

2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News – All Rights Reserved

A Wednesday afternoon joy-ride for a 21-year-old ended abruptly at 4:00 p.m. on March 29 in outer East Portland. Police say Jennifer Leeanne Cogswell‚Äôs fun ended when she was found at the wheel of a stolen, black Acura — and arrested.

Cogswell was nailed near SE Powell Blvd. and 122nd Ave. by the Portland Police Bureau’s Auto Theft Task Force. The vehicle was reported stolen out of Hillsboro and used in the commission of a burglary in the Hillsboro area earlier on Wednesday.

Cops are looking for a male riding in the vehicle with Cogswell who escaped and has not been found. He is described as a white male, 5’6″, thin and approximately 25-years-old.

Facing a charge of Unauthorized Use Of a Motor Vehicle and one count of Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Cogswell was lodged in the Multnomah County Detention Center.

2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News

Published March 24, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton


Leaders from all of the neighborhoods that border 82nd Avenue of Roses gather for the event. Photo by David F. Ashton

A light mist in the air didn‚Äôt stop 100 neighbors, business people and rose lovers from attending the Royal Rosarians‚Äô official recognition of 82nd Ave. being renamed “The Avenue of Roses” on March 22.

Joann Superstore Ribbon Cutting

Flanked by the Royal Rosarians, neighbors and chamber members, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams and East Portland Chamber of Commerce president Greg Zuffrea cut the ribbon signaling the opening of the new Joann Superstore at Eastport Plaza. Photo by David F. Ashton

The dedication was held at Eastport Plaza, in conjunction with the ribbon-cutting of the new Joann Superstore opening there. At the store opening, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams quipped, “My mom has been hoping for a new Joann‚Äôs here for so long, I gave her the manager‚Äôs number to call to find out when it would open.”

Adams continued, “This is a great company; you will be a success here. Thank you for your investment, and the jobs you are bringing to SE Portland.”

“We are pleased to be here,” Kevin Kneeshaw, Joann Regional Team Leader responded, “helping with the revitalization of the area. I did the easy part, siting the store here. But we have a great staff who got this store together to the community. As the store grows, we‚Äôll hire even more than our current 54 coworkers.”


Members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (, including president Greg Zuffrea, were on hand. The Chamber’s Holly Moss handed off the giant Golden scissors to Sam Adams and Zuffrea, photos were taken ‚Äì and the ribbon cut ‚Äì signaling the opening of this great new store.

Another rose in East Portland grows

At the Royal Rosarian‚Äôs official ceremony dedicating 82nd Ave. as the “Avenue of Roses” on March 22, Eastport Plaza manager Ken Turner, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, Marilyn Schultz, Royal Gardener of the Royal Rosarians plant the rose “We Salute You” as Eileen Curtis, Portland Rose Society, is ready to perform the official watering. Photo by David F. Ashton

The rose planting ceremony, presided over by Harvey Collier, Lord High Sheriff of the Rosarians, gave many their first opportunity to witness the dignified service.

“At the express command of Queen Caitlin,” Collier intoned, “it is our duty to present and plant this official rose today for the official dedication of 82nd Avenue being renamed the Avenue of Roses; and on behalf of Joann Superstore, and their decision to plant their business here on the newly named Avenue of Roses.”

Royal Rosarian Chaplain and Scribe, John Creegan, told the gathering that the groups official planting ceremonies pay tribute to “a particularly honorable place or event. We plant this rose in recognition of the men and women that have caused 82nd Avenue to be named the ‚ÄòAvenue of Roses‚Äô. We plant this rose as a living testimonial of the truth and honor, which is the sworn duty of our sir knights and dames to uphold.”

Marilyn Schultz, Royal Gardener of the organization, added, as she set the rose in the prepared soil, “By this planting, we show the high regard with which the Royal Rosarians hold for good works. We are planting the rose, ‚ÄòWe Salute You‚Äô, named in honor of the firefighters and police who lost their lives on 9/11.”

Eileen Curtis, Portland Rose Society, administering the Official Watering, said, “As I water the rose, let it be the start of many, many new rose gardens of that will bloom along 82nd Avenue of Roses.”

John Creegan, Royal Chaplain and Scribe gave the invocation. “They shall rejoice and blossom as a rose. The heavens shall declare the glory of God, and the ferment show His handiwork. In the presence of Him who created the flora of the world, and spread it out as a glorious carpet across the world, and in the presence of these Royal Rosarians and their friends we ask His blessing upon this queen of flowers, and this spot from which it shall spring forth in ever increasing beauty, fragrance and purity.”

Lord High Sheriff Collier ended the ceremony adding, “Around the world, Portland is known as the Rose Capitol of America. Around the globe goes our phrase, ‚ÄòFor you a rose, in Portland grows.‚Äô May a rose ever grow in your garden, and may a rose grow, forever, in your hearts.”

2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News

Published March 26, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton


In an effort to isolate the problem, a PGE engineer opens a massive switch at the Johnson Creek Substation just as a power serge comes through the system. The result is this massive arc. No one was injured. Photo by David F. Ashton

 Standing outside the fence at the massive Portland General Electric (PGE) electric power sub-station on SE Johnson Creek Blvd., at Flavel Drive., one can hear a loud, deep, resonant hum as the giant electric transformers pass electricity to homes and businesses throughout East Portland.

Throughout the afternoon of March 19, there was a quite different sound. Every few minutes, a low toned, resounding “thuang” noise growls from the power station transformers. “That‚Äôs the sound of a ‚Äòhit‚Äô somewhere in the system,” a PGE worker, who asked not to be identified by name, tells us. He says this means something, somewhere is shorting out Portland‚Äôs east side main, high-voltage power system.


A PGE Crew members uses test equipment, trying to locate the problem on the power grid that shut down Precision Cast Parts on March 19. Photo by David F. Ashton

In homes and businesses, from inner SE Portland to western Gresham, this “power anomaly” — as the electrical works describe it ‚Äì happens repeatedly, from early afternoon through the early evening hours. The lighting go brown, appliances groan to a stop, then the power goes completely out for a few minutes.

These repeated blackouts, followed by a power surge as the juice came back resulted in blown surge-protectors, but no real damage, at our home office. Because it is a Sunday afternoon, homeowners found the on-off-on power cycle more of an annoyance than anything else.

Cost to Precision Cast Parts: $1 million

We drive the few blocks to the Johnson Creek Substation late in the afternoon to learn more. Shortly after arriving, we meet two men who identify themselves to PGE crew as the Johnson Creek Precision Cast Parts (PCP) Information Technology and Plant Engineering managers.

“Our entire, nationwide computer network is down,” complains the PCP IT manager. “Every time we reset our network, another power glitch shuts us down. We‚Äôre a seven-day-a-week business.” The PGE crew listens sympathetically. But until they isolate the “fault”, they tell the computer manager, they can‚Äôt predict when it will be repaired.

Another “thowang” emanates from the substation. It seems the events are coming more frequently now; each one sounding louder.

“We‚Äôre working to catch up on orders,” says the PCP plant engineer, “and that means we‚Äôre scheduled to turn out as much as $1 million worth of parts today. We‚Äôve had to shut down the plant. This is serious, costly problem.”

Arcs and sparks

“Thowang” ‚Äì again, the power grid takes a “hit”, as the PGE workers call the event.

“We‚Äôve ridden the lines from Sellwood to Gresham and everything looks good,” crackles a report to the two-way radio of a PGE crew member standing near us. “The Midway Substation is OK. So is Sellwood. We‚Äôre looking at the Gresham end.”

A PGE worker disarms the inner electric fence at the power substation. He releases an immense, chest-high lever. The lever is hooked to a thick pipe that travels upward, operating a gigantic power switch located high atop the power station.

At 6:22 p.m., he pulls the switch ‚Äì “thwang” another power hit ‚Äì and the switch contacts arc with a blinding blue light that lasts for at least five seconds. The air crackles loudly as a colossal amount of current jumps from one open switch contact to another. We try to take a photo, but it takes six seconds for our camera to fire up; we catch a shot the final surge, as the switch contacts explode in an orange fireball. Molten metal showers the area, filling the air with a sent of both ozone and an electrical fire. The blast was so loud, it attracted onlookers from blocks around.

The workers are visibly shaken. But they, and the bystanders, are unharmed. “We took inner SE Portland off the grid from this side, just as we took a ‚Äòhit”,” he explains. “But their power is on; they‚Äôre getting electricity from the other end of the grid.” We‚Äôre comforted to learn PGE has built redundant fail-safe systems into our power grid.

Isolating the problem

As the smoke clears, evening is falling. We notice the mighty transformers are now nominally humming. They’re taking no more hits.

About 6:30 p.m., PGE crews isolate the problem ‚Äì a “jumper” power regulation device at SE 190th Ave. and Powell Blvd., Ariana White, PGE Communications Specialist, tells us. It was failing intermittently throughout the afternoon, she added, but the problem wasn‚Äôt identified until it completely failed.

“While we repaired the jumper power regulator,” White says, “we had to temporarily turn off service to some customers, resulting in phased outages from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Those without power for periods of time, during the repairs, numbered¬†8,000 to 10,000.”

2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News

Published March 20, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton

Seen here nursing a baby bird back to health, “The Bird Doctor”, veterinarian Pamela A. Burke will give free advice at the East Portland Bird Festival on April 8. David F. Ashton Photo

Veterinarian Pamela A. Burke is known in the greater Portland area as “The Bird Doctor”. From little tweety-birds to mighty Macaws, Burke‚Äôs passion is for winged creatures. On April 8, Dr. Burke will give free advice at the East Portland Bird Festival.

Asked why one should seek out the services of a bird “specialist”, Burke tells us, “We‚Äôre like any medical specialist. Because I‚Äôve spent my career caring for birds, I‚Äôm able to quickly diagnose problems and recommend treatments. Would you want horse vet trying to save your cat‚Äôs life?”

Dr. Burke says it takes specialized knowledge to do even simple procedures correctly. “Take a wing trim, for example. I only cut enough rachis feathers to provide a controlled descent to the ground. Cut too many feathers and the bird will fall like a stone and injure themselves. There is both art and science to trimming both wings and nails properly.”

2 keys to happy birds

“The two things that make the biggest difference between a sickly bird, and one that is happy and healthy is the environment and nutrition,” Burke explains “If their environment and nutrition are right, a bird will hardly ever get sick.”

Owning the ‚Äòright‚Äô kind of bird is so important, Burke tells us. “There are bird breeds for almost everyone.”

For example, Dr. Burke says people who want a talking bird frequently choose African Greys. “But these are very smart birds and won‚Äôt tolerate being put on a shelf. An Amazon might be a good choice for someone who wants a ‚Äòtalker‚Äô but doesn‚Äôt want to handle the bird.”

Want companionship without much handling? “Little ‚Äòtweety birds‚Äô like budgies or finches provide a lot of company and entertainment for older folks,” Dr. Burke explains. And, they can live from seven to nine years.”

People often ask her why feathered friends act as they do. “As much as we try to tame them, they are wild, not domesticated, animals. They have a lot of wild behaviors. I help birds‚Äô owners understand their needs.”

At the Bird Festival, Dr. Burke will also provide on-site avian clinic services like wing and nail trims, DNA sexing, and health certificates for a modest fee. A nail trim is just $10, for example.

Come learn about a wide variety of birds from their breeders at the Bird Festival on Saturday, April 8, 2006. Hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Come see it all at the Bird Festival!

At this show, put on by breeders across the Pacific Northwest, visitors said they were amazed to see the large variety of breeds being shown — more than they typically find at a “big” bird show!

From brightly-colored, lively finches — to large, talking macaws, the Bird Festival makes a fun, Saturday destination. Birds on display include Finches, Ringnecks, Parakeets, Cockatiels, Canaries, Love Birds, Cockatoos, Macaws, African Greys and Quakers.

Come hungry! Volunteers for David Douglas Softball League will be grilling up inexpensive hamburger and hot dog lunches as a fund-raiser!

Birds will be for sale, directly from their breeders. This free show is being put on by the breeders in the warehouse of Quality Cage Co., 5942 SE 111th Ave., Portland, OR. From I-205, exit on Foster Road. Go East (toward Gresham – Mt. Hood). Turn north at the light at SE 111th Ave. Go one long block and turn into the parking lot. Look for the “A” Frame signs!

For more information, see

2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News

Published March 26, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton

To raise money for their program, SE Police Cadets Nicholas Kienle, Eli Fernley, Channa Thol and Justin Brill — among others — taking freezing belly-flops and crawling to center ice before a Portland Winterhawks at the Rose Garden. David F. Ashton Photo

What sane person would lay down – on ice – at the Portland Winterhawks goal line and crawl on their bellies to center ice at the Rose Garden?

Southeast Precinct Portland Police Cadet Justin Brill says he considers himself a rational, but explains why he‚Äôs doing this irrational act: “The money we raise helps us support all of our activities at the SE Cadet Post. This isn‚Äôt fun; but we do whatever it takes to support our program.”

Portland Police East Precinct Cadets gather for a group photo before taking their icy slide. David F. Ashton Photo

East Precinct NRT Officer Michael Gallager adds that the group was disappointed that bad weather prevented the Cadets from making their icy “Polar Bear Plunge” canceled weeks earlier because of dangerous conditions on the Columbia River.

So, on March 10, before the hockey game, these youth take to the ice, belly first, dressed in T-shirts and swim gear.

“This is kind of crazy. But we are making good our pledges. I came into the program because I‚Äôm interested in being a police officer,” is how Cadet Nicholas Kienle explains why he‚Äôs taking the icy belly-flop.

Making good on his fund-raising pledges, Portland Police Cadet Channa Thol shinnies across the ice before a Portland Winterhawks at the Rose Garden on March 10. David F. Ashton Photo

On “Go!”, cadet Channa Thol drops to the ice and skitters to the arena‚Äôs center. Afterward, he tells us, “In the Cadet program, we learn the skills necessary to be a police officer. We don‚Äôt carry weapons, of course, but we learn how to patrol, do traffic stops, traffic control. We are proud to serve the community with hundreds of volunteer hours. These missions free up sworn police officers to directly protect and serve our community.”

SE Precinct Police Sgt. Kim Keist didn‚Äôt make the frigid foray, but was there to cheer on her Cadets. When she became a Cadet in the 70s, “it confirmed my decision to make law enforcement my career.” Keist explained that the annual pledge drive provides the funding for this unique program It helps pay for uniform, training and equipment for the youth, 16 to 21 years of age, who become Cadets.

“Our Cadets get invaluable experience,” the Sergeant adds. “Whether they are going into law enforcement as a career or not, the Cadet Program is a great environment in which to learn life skills that will serve them as they become adults.”

For more information regarding the Portland Police Cadet program, contact Officer Heather Rippe, (503) 823-2236.

2006 David F. Ashton – East PDX News

ublished March 24, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton

Neighbors packed in Parklane Church to hear Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard speak to outer East Portlanders. David F. Ashton Photo

It isn’t often when a Portland city official comes to meet with residents in outer East Portland. 50 people attended the joint Centennial and Powellhurst-Gilbert association meeting at Parklane Church on SE Main St. on Feb 18 to hear, and question, Portland City Council member Randy Leonard.

Commissioner Leonard starting by saying he didn’t support Mayor Tom Potter’s tax idea, because it would provide outer East Portland schools with lower benefits than those given the Portland School District.

“We have fewer City parks, east off 82nd Ave.,” Leonard said, “than in the rest of the city. We‚Äôre turning some Water Bureau properties into parks.”

By July 1, Leonard continued, EPNO will move into the Hazelwood Water District building. “And, we‚Äôll take down the fences, and put in a small park.” He added this park will have a small water feature.

Fire Station 45

Will Fire Station 45 stay open?

“[Centennial vice chair] Ron Clemenson is crafty,” Leonard said, as he pointed out that Portland Fire & Rescue‚Äôs Chief Dave Sprando and Gresham‚Äôs Fire Chief had been invited to the meeting and were in the audience. “I‚Äôve fought to keep it open. We need the fire station. I don’t care if the station is relocated. But we must have firefighters in the outer East part off Portland.” Both chiefs indicated keeping Station 45 open is a priority on which they‚Äôre working.

Powell Butte filtration plant

Asked about the impending federal mandate to filter Bull Run water to prevent Cryptosporidium from being in our water supply, Leonard said it wasn‚Äôt necessary. “Human beings and cattle are the sources. Our counts show zero. Spending $400 million to solve a problem we have is out of line. He said the city was filing a court challenge the filtration rule. “If we have to build one, it will not be on Powell Butte,” he added.

Crime and drugs

“Community policing is the responsibility of all bureaus,” Leonard said regarding crime. “We‚Äôre working on an ordnance to create a task force comprised of police, fire, housing, and nuisance, to target drug houses and places where other illegal activities goes on. We focus on them one at a time until we clean them all up.”

Portland Police East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs added, “So far this year, crime is down 19%. Our CRU (Crime Reduction Unit) hammers for consent searches; we‚Äôre training officers too recognize meth users, and drug houses.”

Neighborhood livability

The question was asked, “What can Powellhurst-Gilbert residents do, along with the help of the city, to become more proud of our area and reduce crime?

“My Chief of Staff, Ty Kovach, lives in Powellhurst-Gilbert,” Leonard replied. “He bought a ‚Äòchallenged‚Äô house and cleaned it up. Encourage your neighbors to start taking pride in their homes. Politely ask people to clean up their yards. Don‚Äôt give up; the city has tools to help clean up the worst yards.” He added that graffiti appears more frequently in places where people don’t care about their area.

Housing infill

Asked about infill housing, Leonard said, “This is a maddening issue. On one hand you have people with single family homes, balanced with more people moved into the area. We also need affordable housing. We’ve set up design standards so these new houses look more like classic Portland homes.”

2006 David F. Ashton, East PDX News

Published March 22, 2006 ~ By David F. Ashton

Explaining how first-time home-buyers can benefit from land trust programs is Kelly Caldwell, speaking to a group at the Holgate Street Library. David F. Ashton

Apartment dwelling families can easily pay $1,000 per month in rent. With houses costing upwards of $200,000, home ownership today seems, for many, an impossible dream.

However, one program, Portland Community Land Trust, is making homeowners out of renters.

Using this program, the Land Trust takes ownership of the land on which the house sits. “This reduces the purchase price to the new owner of the home by up to a third,” explained Kelly Caldwell to a group at Holgate St. Library. “We are helping families move into homes today ‚Äì and at the same time, creating a base of permanently affordable homes.”

Owners of a home purchased with help of the Portland Community Land Trust get their full equity, plus a portion of the appreciation value of the home when they sell it. The balance of the appreciated value returns to the Land Trust, allowing them reduce the selling price to the next buyer.

“In outer Southeast Portland,” Caldwell continued, “we have a buyer-initiated program. At the time of closing, we bring in funds to reduce the amount of the buyer‚Äôs mortgage.”

Comparing a land trust home sale to a conventional property, Caldwell informed the group their rate of return would be a bit lower. “Yet, the profit one could realize is still a significant amount of money, considering one gets no return from paying rent. If one can‚Äôt qualify financially to get into a home using conventional strategies, this makes sense.”

Interested? Learn more about Portland Community Land Trust by calling (503) 493-0293 or go online to

2006, David F. Ashton, East PDX News

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