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April 2016 -- Vol. 110, No. 8

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read this special retrospective!


The next BEE is our May
issue, with a deadline of April 21.
(The June issue has an ad and copy deadline of May 26.)


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Old Sellwood Bridge, bridge farewall, bagpiper
A bagpiper led the long procession one last time across the old Sellwood Bridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Old Sellwood Bridge: Candle-lit farewell


Compared to the colorful, clamorous, and rambunctious grand opening party for the new Sellwood Bridge held two days later on February 27, the opportunity to take one last walk across the old bridge on the evening of February 25 was serene and emotionally evocative, for those who took the stroll – and there were many who did.

The Sellwood Bridge has been deeply woven into the fabric of the community since it opened to traffic on December 15, 1925, superseding the ferry John F. Caples which connected Sellwood to the west bank of the Willamette River for 21 years.

On the day the original bridge opened, bands played, politicians made speeches, and neighbors held a parade across the new steel span.

The throngs that gathered at the eastern foot of the bridge when it closed for vehicular traffic promptly at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 25th, were eager to take one last walk across the bridge – but the mood was more thoughtful and reflective than celebratory.

When Multnomah County officials and neighborhood leaders hatched the idea of opening the bridge for one last stroll, they had no idea if the event would draw a crowd.

But it did. Former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts, with megaphone in hand, addressed the gathering multitude soon after the last motorized vehicle cleared the east end of the bridge and the bridge was closed.

“What a fine sendoff this is for the old Sellwood Bridge!” began Roberts.

“Just think of the history that this bridge has witnessed from its place over the Willamette River: Floods, boat races, houseboat construction, new condos, eagles in flight, lighted Holiday boats at Christmas, low tides, and high winds. Our old bridge has seen it all,” Roberts said. “It has served this community, as it aged in place. We could drive on it, walk on it, bike on it, jog on it, and most of all, we could always depend on it.

“For 90 years, the Sellwood Bridge has been our loyal and dependable friend,” added Roberts. “Tonight, for one final time, we will all celebrate and bond together, as we say goodbye to this nine-decade landmark that has symbolized this community. This is a moment in history. Enjoy it. Record it. Share it. And above all, remember it. Goodbye, our good and faithful friend.”

A bagpiper led off the procession of well-wishers who walked the deeply rutted pavements, mostly in darkness, between the few streetlights remaining on the old span. The darkness added to the ambiance, enhancing the view of downtown Portland.

We heard second and third generation Sellwood residents sharing stories passed down to them from their parents, about how the bridge helped the community become a thriving part of the metropolitan area.

Young people spoke with reverence about the bridge as well.

“I’ve traveled across this bridge for 25 of the 26 years of my life,” reflected Jonathan Thompson, as he walked the return leg back toward Sellwood.  “This is a truly iconic bridge. I decided to come out, because I wanted to ‘kiss it goodbye’. I feel this is my bridge.”

There are no official crowd counts, but estimates rose as high as 2,000 people, sharing Thompson’s sentiments as they made their way west to Highway 43, and back over the old Sellwood Bridge one last time, in the darkness and the cool evening air.

Old Sellwood Bridge, new Sellwood Bridge, celebration, on deck
The old Sellwood Bridge stands empty at left, awaiting its fate in demolition, as thousands come to celebrate the opening of its sturdy and wide replacement. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

New Sellwood Bridge opens with huge party


After the 90-year-old Sellwood Bridge was given a solemn sendoff two nights before, the Inner Southeast community was invited to a celebration on and for its replacement, on Saturday afternoon, February 27.

The four-hour long shindig kicked off at noon, with most people coming from the Sellwood side of the Willamette River. The displays, vendors, and entertainment were located from the center of the new bridge deck down toward the west side.

“What a great milestone this is for us today,” exclaimed Multnomah County Sellwood Bridge Project Manager Ian Cannon. “I’m hugely excited!”

Cannon recalled that the project started in earnest in 2003, after inspections showed big cracks in the west side ramp support structure of the old bridge. “The Community Advisory Committee required an almost-four-year process, from 2006 to 2010; some very patient people helped along the way.

“We started construction in 2011 – and here we are, getting ready to open it to traffic,” Cannon added. “But, we're not quite ready to ‘put our feet up’ and relax; there’s a lot more work to be done on and around the new bridge before the project is done.”

Revelers streamed up toward the center of the bridge in the first hour of the party, spending time at exhibits set up by non-profit organizations, local companies, and governmental bureaus. Soon, lines formed in front of the food vendors, who offered everything from huge “Bridge Burgers” to ice cream and freshly roasted peanuts.

“This bridge will help meet the needs to the greater community in improved transportation to and from our community,” remarked current SMILE President Corinne Stephanick, as she helped organize some of the exhibitors.

Kids were invited to build “jelly bean bridges”, using toothpicks as trusses. Families enjoyed the cool-but-dry day as they strolled across the bridge, taking in the sights.

Before the formal remarks from the stage began, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said she was “almost overwhelmed” by the level of community support at the grand opening. 

“We're not done yet, but so far it’s been worth all the effort we put into the project,” Kafoury told THE BEE.  “We’ve shown that by working together with the federal, state, and local governments – plus community partners – we can deliver a huge infrastructure project, solving many problems by working together.”

During a 45-minute ceremony, various of these federal, county, and city leaders took turns praising the success of the bridge project.

During her remarks, Kafoury said, in part, “I believe that this bridge stands as a shining, albeit today dusty, example of an accomplishment that is nothing short of amazing. Today this bridge is state-of-the-art, designed to withstand even that dreaded Cascadian Zone earthquake.”

New Sellwood Bridge, grand opening, celebration
A throng of revelers head from Tacoma Street out onto the new Sellwood Bridge – toward the center of the February 27th grand opening celebration. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Following the conclusion of the speeches, the crowd pushed in on both sides of a red ribbon stretched the width of the bridge. With giant scissors in hand, Kafoury’s daughter Anna Blosser cut the ribbon, signaling the official opening of the new Sellwood Bridge.

The parade that followed included a “Parade of the Decades”, featuring vehicles from each of the nine decades that the old Sellwood Bridge was in service. Folks marched westward from the east side, accompanied by the Sellwood Middle School Band, the Transcendental Brass Band, and the LoveBomb Go-Go Marching Band.

Milburn Electric, Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Chair, Parade of the Decades, new Sellwood Bridge, grand opening, celebration
In the “Parade of the Decades”, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury rides in a Milburn Light Electric. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Featuring many historic cars and dignitaries, the parade headed west, as simultaneously a stream of folks headed east into the celebration -- occasionally causing the bridge’s first traffic jam.

As the parade wound down, Portland Fire & Rescue fireboat “the David Campbell” started up its massive pumps, throwing streams of red, white, and blue, from its water cannons. The colorful streams soared high above the deck level of the bridge.

“This is, like, the bestest day ever,” grinned three-year-old Lian Gunderson. “I can’t wait to get old enough to ride my bike across the bridge, by myself!”

As you have just seen, on this one and only opportunity to party on February 27th on the new Sellwood Bridge before it opened permanently for traffic on Tuesday morning, March 1, there was a big crowd, and lots to see, hear, and do.  Here, courtesy of Pamplin Media's Alvaro Fontan, is a brief video of what went on that afternoon, at the Sellwood Bridge celebration!  Click the link at right to view it!

New Sellwood Bridge, March 1, first day open, first traffic accident, closes bridge on first day
The off-course pickup truck got stuck between barriers on the Sellwood Bridge multi-use path. The multiple uses for this path do not include vehicles. (Photo courtesy of Multnomah County)

Odd wreck stalls new Sellwood Bridge on first day open


According to announced plans, the new Sellwood Bridge was to open to vehicles at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1.

“The contractor finished removing the ‘jump span’ that connected S.E. Tacoma Street to the old bridge, reconnected it to the new bridge, and prepared the new bridge to receive traffic, a bit early,” said Sellwood Bridge project spokesman Mike Pullen.

Mike told the press he expected the new bridge would actually reopen ten hours ahead of the original schedule, on Monday evening, February 29 at 8 p.m.

In fact, however, when THE BEE arrived at 7 p.m. that evening, the barricades had been removed and traffic was already flowing across the new bridge.

With the news out that the new bridge would be open for the Tuesday morning commute, many motorists, glad not to have to detour across the Ross Island Bridge, headed for Sellwood – and found a massive traffic jam on the new bridge starting at about 7:30 a.m. on March 1.

Traffic on the bridge was shut down after a Toyota pickup truck popped up on the bridge’s only current path for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“After driving several hundred feet westbound down the narrow six-foot wide path, the driver wedged the truck between the concrete barrier and the steel railing, completely blocking the path,” Pullen said.

“The driver had to drive up onto the sidewalk from the road [to do this], so this was not a case of someone misreading a traffic sign,” Pullen added.

No injuries were reported, but the driver reportedly fled the scene on foot.

The bridge construction crew members removed sections of barrier and picked up the truck with a forklift, opening the bridge again at about 8:00 a.m.

Concerning the driver of the off-course truck, Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson later looked up the incident for THE BEE.

“She was not cited, and the vehicle was towed. Responding officers felt that the totaled vehicle was punishment enough,” Simpson said.

Bullseye toxic fears lessened by new test results


Reports of possible toxic chemical elements in the air and soil, hinted at in samples of moss collected by the U.S. Forest Service Northwest Research Station, distressed residents around Brooklyn’s Bullseye Glass Company, as reported in the March issue of THE BEE.

Seven area residents filed a class action lawsuit against Bullseye Glass Company early in March. The 18-page lawsuit accuses the art glass manufacturing firm of using “the neighborhood’s air and backyards as a dumping ground for the arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and other toxins it sends up its smokestacks.”

The suit also claimed that Bullseye Glass has been polluting the neighborhood since it opened in 1974 with “a wide variety of chemicals to color or process the glass” and alleges that prolonged exposure to the toxins “are potentially profound”.

But, in a report released jointly on March 9 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and the Multnomah County Health Department (MCHD), it was revealed – as suggested in the prior BEE article – that residents in the area are at a low risk of any adverse health issues from this source.

Results from analysis of soil samples, study of cancer rates, and urine tests, all indicate that Inner Southeast Portland residents remain at low risk of any health problems from exposure to heavy metals in emissions from the glass manufacturing company, the report said.

DEQ collected 67 soil samples in three areas around Bullseye Glass:

  • 15 at CCLC;
  • 22 at the employee parking lot at the Fred Meyer corporate headquarters; and,
  • 30 at Powell Park.

All were taken at the surface or slightly under the sod – some at Powell Park were from the mulch in the children’s play area – and were tested for arsenic, cadmium, total chromium, chromium 6, lead, cobalt, and other heavy metals.

The results of the tests:

  • Arsenic – At background levels in most samples from the Powell Park and Fred Meyer locations, and averaged below Portland-area background levels. It was found at slightly above background levels, but still not at levels of concern, at the CCLC day care.
  • Hexavalent chromium – Levels of hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6, varied at the three locations. Concentrations were low at Powell Park, and not detected at Fred Meyer, but averaged above DEQ screening levels at CCLC – although they were still below federal screening levels.
  • Cadmium and lead – While some of the locations showed modest levels of lead and cadmium above background, concentrations averaged below all screening levels. No contamination was detected in Powell Park mulch samples.

“Our dose and risk calculations for arsenic and chromium 6 indicate that metals in soil are too low to harm the health of people living and working in the area, including children attending the day care center,” said David Farrer, toxicologist in the OHA Public Health Division's Environmental Public Health Section.

“Ongoing emissions from the Bullseye facility are not resulting in harmful impacts to soils around the facility,” said Keith Johnson, manager for the DEQ's Northwest Region Cleanup Program.

“The data released today are very reassuring, but our work is not done,” said Lynne Saxton, OHA Director. “We will continue to gather and report data going forward.”

Saxton said the investigation of air toxics from the glass company over the past several weeks has opened doors to “long overdue changes in public policy.”

DEQ Interim Director Joni Hammond said the agency will make a “full analysis” of 30-day air monitoring that began on February 12 near Bullseye Glass in Brooklyn and Uroboros Glass in North Portland, along with analysis of soil samples collected near Uroboros.

In addition, Hammond said, “We are launching a new rule-making process to begin moving Oregon toward a system, like Washington and California, that accounts for public health risk and regulates industry based on those standards,” Hammond said.

Bible Club, speakeasy, reproduction, gold leaf ceiling, Ryk Maverick
Bartender Jessica Braasch and Head Barkeep Nathan Elliott serve patrons in an authentic speakeasy setting at “Bible Club PDX”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Westmoreland “speakeasy” opens; serves food and spirits with charm


It’s been a year-and-a-half in the making, but “Bible Club PDX” – first reported to you on the front of THE BEE in February of last year – has finally opened for business.

The yellow house, for years the home of the Nancy Duncan’s small-batch coffee roaster “Schondecken”, across from the Sellwood-Westmoreland Post Office on S.E. 16th, has been completely transformed into Portland’s most unique lounge.

Stepping into the “Bible Club” is like being transported back in time to a prohibition-era speakeasy. And that’s the whole idea. Although it’s just recently opened, it looks as if it has been there for decades.

Its proprietor and creator goes by the name of Ryk Maverick, an artist who’s well-known, especially in Japan.

“In Japan you get a really good appreciation for small spaces,” Maverick told THE BEE hours before opening on March 11. “I was talking with my buddy about creating a club, and one of the ideas that stuck was to create an authentic replica of a prohibition-era speakeasy.

“It is the artist in me that wants to make the details perfect,” Maverick mused. “It’s like a living painting or sculpture. But, in making it this authentic, I must be an artist with obsessive compulsive dysfunction!”

And indeed the place is a genuine work of art. The interior looks nothing as it did when it was a coffee shop. His crew stripped the interior down to the studs. “The trick was to make it look as if it had been here for 80 years, but nobody knew about it.”

Details include the “imperfect” plastering on the walls, flathead style screws on the bathroom door hinges, and yes – 24-carat gold-leaf ceiling tiles!

“I mean what person installs a 24-carat gold-leaf ceiling?” Maverick remarked, jokingly questioning his own sanity for the expenditure. “Every 24-inch ceiling panel took 70 sheets of 24-karat gold leaf to cover it. That’s a lot of gold leaf – but look at the result.”

Their hemp linens are genuine antique, from the 1850s to the 1920s. All of the cocktail shakers, all the implements – including the jiggers, measuring cups, and fancy mixing spoons – are original antiques, not reproductions.

The cups, saucers, and plates came from a church that had purchased them new – back in the 1920s.  The back bar is from the 1920s, originally built in Indiana, and arrived in Portland by way of Nashville. In the corner is an old-fashioned cabinet radio, softly playing period-authentic music.

In the back bar area, he pointed to an unusual two-basin sink. “The only other one like it is in the Pittock Mansion; this one came from a 1910 mansion being demolished in Pasadena, California.

“Now that it’s come together, I absolutely love it,” Maverick beamed with pride. “If I were not able to open to the public, I’d love it just as much – and have it as my own private bar, and perhaps a showroom for my other business.”

The establishment serves classic cocktails, such as the “Corpse Reviver #1” and the “Tipperary”, hand-made with care. The food served is turn-of-the-century modern American French, but using Pacific Northwest ingredients.

The final question we asked him – “Why ‘Bible Club’ as the name for the place?” – made Maverick grin mischievously.

“During Prohibition, they started naming clubs ‘Real Estate Office’, ‘The Store’ – names that were totally innocent and innocuous. Folks would say, ‘Hey, I’m going to The Office’ – cultural code-words for a place to imbibe. So, it was a cheeky name for our club.”

As word gets out about Bible Club PDX, the forty-seat period tavern will likely draw a crowd. “We are setting up a reservation system; walk-ins can sit at the bar,” Maverick explained.

The club, directly across the street from the Post Office at 6716 S.E. 16th Avenue in Westmoreland, a half block north of Bybee Boulevard, is currently open Wednesday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. You’ll be able to tell when they’re open – a green light will be burning in the upstairs window of the otherwise unmarked building!

Because of their limited space, you may want to call ahead for reservations: 971/279-2198 – or you can check their website at:

Reed College, fire, faculty house
Flames shoot out from the Reed-College-owned house, after firefighters cut open the roof to vent smoke and heat. (Courtesy of PF&R)

Fire rips through Reed College faculty house


Fire tore through a 1892 Victorian-style house owned by Reed College in the morning of Monday, February 22.

Portland Fire & Rescue dispatched the call at 8:50 a.m. that morning to the two-story house located at 3836 S.E. Knight Street, facing César Chavez Boulevard (formerly S.E. 39th). Woodstock Fire Station Engine 25 arrived two minutes after the dispatch, immediately followed by the Westmoreland Station’s Engine 20.

“When crews arrived, they saw smoke coming from the eaves of the house, which indicated that the fire had extended into the attic,” said fire department spokesman Lt. Rich Tyler that morning.

“Firefighters entered the house to make sure everyone had gotten out, and then began putting the fire out in the attic, Tyler said. “Crews also went inside the house, and to the roof, cutting vertical ventilation holes to let the heat and smoke out.”

While watching fire crews working at the site, Reed College spokesman Kevin Myers spoke with THE BEE.

“The Reed Institute (the legal name of the college) owns the property,” Myers said. “We use this building as faculty housing; it is divided into two apartments, one on the upper floor and one on the lower floor.”

Reed College, fire, faculty house
Inside the second story of the old house, with the main fire extinguished, firefighters probed for hidden embers. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

It took about an hour for firefighters to get the fire under control; but crews were at the scene until early afternoon, putting out hot spots.

“The two occupants in the house got out safely, and no injuries were reported,” Tyler said. “Two cats were located and safely removed. PF&R investigators are currently seeking the cause of the fire.”

After the Bureau’s Arson Squad issued its report, Tyler told THE BEE that the fire was determined to be “Electrical Failure”, due to “knob and tube wiring” – a type commonly used from about 1880 until the 1930s, in which single wires are held away from the structure by ceramic insulators.

“The fire’s origin was in the ceiling of the first floor bathroom at the back of the house,” Tyler said. “Flames traveled from the back to the front of the house up between the first and second floors. ‘Balloon frame construction’, common at the time it was built, provided a pathway for fire up into the attic.”

Investigators set the estimated loss at $115,000 for structure and contents.

“We are really grateful that no one was injured during the fire,” Reed’s Myers commented. “We feel badly that our professors suffered a loss of property. At the same time, we’re glad that nobody was injured.”

Bees, swarm, Eastmoreland, safe removal, beekeeper
WHO Y’GONNA CALL…? When Eastmoreland neighbors noticed a swarm of bees coming down S.E. 34th, which then landed and gathered on a bush at number 7040, their first call was to a beekeeper. Their second call was, naturally, to THE BEE – and we came to document the safe removal to a new hive of all the tired bees. The beekeeper, shown brushing bees into a bucket above, did use face protection – but did not even bother with gloves, which no doubt reflected his toughness as a former Marine, advertised by a sticker on his pickup. We admit we did not approach him closely enough during this tricky operation to learn his name. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

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