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May 2016 -- Vol. 110, No. 9

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 June
issue, with a deadline of May 26.
(The July issue has an ad and copy deadline of June 23.)


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Salmon Street fire, Station 25, Woodstock, fatality
Photo courtesy of Portland Fire and Rescue

Fire fatality in Inner Southeast

Firefighters of Woodstock’s Station 25 were dispatched to a house fire at 3318 S.E. Salmon Street at 3:21 a.m., early Saturday morning, May 7. Initial reports from 911 callers were that the house had heavy fire, and that there was possibly someone still in the home.

Ladder Truck 25 arrived along with Fire Engine 9 to find an older two-story home heavily involved with fire and smoke. Truck 25 crews attempted to rescue an 84-year-old resident who was still inside the home; they successfully pulled her from the house within minutes of their arrival, but unfortunately the elderly female had sustained serious injuries, and was pronounced dead at the scene. A second fire victim was found in the back yard after making it out safely, but had suffered serious smoke inhalation injuries and was transported to Emanuel Hospital.

Fire also extended to a neighboring home in very close proximity, but firefighters were able to limit this damage to just one side of that home. Interim Fire Chief Ken Burns commented, “All of us at Portland Fire & Rescue extend our deepest sympathy to the family, neighbors, and friends of our fire victim this morning. I am proud of the quick and dangerous work done here by our firefighters; I only wish we could report a better outcome. This is a sad reminder of how fast these tragedies can happen.”

Small bomb explodes in Fred Meyer on 82nd

On Saturday May 21, at 11:55 a.m., East Precinct officers responded to the Foster Road Fred Meyer store, at 5253 S.E.t 82nd Avenue of Roses, after a report that a small explosion had occurred in one of the aisles of the store.

Police Officers and Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters arrived, and were directed to aisle 13 where the explosion had occurred among small travel-size items were on display.

There were no injuries, and little damage to the store.

The Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit (MEDU) responded, and confirmed that the explosion had come as a result of a small explosive device.

Arson Investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue and the Portland Police Bureau took over the investigation, working closely with EDU bomb techs.

The store remained open, and police said there was no indication of any continued risk to the public.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503/823-3333.

Inner Southeast resident shoots at egg-throwers

On Thursday May 5, 2016, at 1:41 a.m., East Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 6000 block of S.E. Mitchell Street, after the caller reported firing a gun at people in a Ford Taurus in front of his house. The gunfire followed the car's occupants throwing eggs at his home.

Officers arrived in the area and contacted the resident, 68-year-old William Dean Thomas, and took him into custody without incident.

Earlier the same evening, officers took a phone report from Thomas about his home being egged. Officers learned that Thomas was outside cleaning up from the first egging when the second incident occurred.

Officers spoke with witnesses who told police that a red car was seen speeding away after the gunfire and people inside the car were heard laughing. Officers canvassing the neighborhood located evidence of gunfire, including a bullet hole in a neighboring home, near a child's bedroom.

Thomas was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charge of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Reckless Endangerment, and Discharging a Firearm in the City.

Thomas' handgun was seized as evidence and other guns in the home were taken as safekeeping.

What Thomas was reacting to was also a crime: Throwing eggs at another person's property is considered Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, a Class C misdemeanor crime. If the property sustains damage, charges can be raised to a higher degree of crime.

Anyone with information about the occupants of the Ford Taurus should contact the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503-823-3333, and reference case #16-141405.

Southeast Precinct prescription drug turn-in event successful

On Saturday April 30, 2016, the Portland Police Bureau White Collar Crimes Unit and the East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team hosted a prescription drug turn-in and shred event at Southeast Precinct.

This event was a partnership between the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Program, the Portland Police Bureau, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Portland Police Bureau's Sunshine Division, and Wells Fargo.

More than 400 people came to the event over the course of four hours and dropped off 7,000 pounds of sensitive documents for shredding, turned in 1,815 pounds of prescription medication, and filled five 50 gallon barrels with donations of food and clothing for the Sunshine Division.

Police and medical authorities say that keeping sensitive documents and prescription meds out of the hands of people who might misuse them is an important technique for preventing fraud and drug abuse.

Community members with unwanted and unused prescription medicine should dispose of it properly by taking it to one of the locations listed here:

Multnomah County, Homeless Shelter, Homeless Services, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, and the Portland Council Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Brian Ferschweiler, look over some of the food warehouse space that will become a dormitory shelter at the S.E. Milwaukie Avenue building in Westmoreland. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Homeless shelter, and services, coming to Westmoreland


For the last decade, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Portland Council has been operating its charity services from a 13,838 sq. ft. building, originally constructed in 1947 at 5120 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, just south of McLoughlin Boulevard.

The building, on the corner of S.E. Mitchell Street, and across Milwaukie from the north entrance to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, has had many uses, including a wholesale olive oil distributorship.

St. Vincent de Paul put the building up for sale, and in the week of April 11th, Multnomah County became its buyer.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury toured the facility with THE BEE, and discussed how the county proposes to use the building.

“As part of our ‘A Home for Everyone’ partnership, working to end homelessness in our community, we have been looking at properties all around Multnomah County that are for sale,” Kafoury began.

They considered favorably this property because of its proximity to transportation, closeness to services, spaciousness for a homeless shelter, and ready-made offices to provide services on-site.

“Another factor is that similar services had already been provided here, so people know where to go in this area,” Kafoury commented. “We thought the community would be amenable to a shelter here, where women and couples could come in out of the cold, so they would not be sleeping in tents on the street and in other areas.”

The space that has been serving as St. Vincent de Paul’s food distribution warehouse will be turned into a 100-person, dormitory style shelter, she said.

“There is currently an up-to-seven-month wait for a woman to get into a shelter,” observed Kafoury. “That is really unacceptable, because of the harm that is occurring out on the streets to women in our community. We also know the women who are homeless are also struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues; they need assistance trying to get into housing. That is why we would like to have support staff here as well.”

In this shelter, Multnomah County will own the building, and they’ll contract with a qualified service provider with a proven track record of working with the homeless, the addicted, and those with mental illness who have housing issues.

Asked if she believes a facility of this nature will be welcomed by area residents and businesses, Kafoury replied, “I also think that it’s fair that each area of county has a stake in this issue. The people sleeping along our streets are our friends and neighbors who've come upon hard times.

“They are not ‘others’ from someplace else,” Kafoury added. “All these people should have a place to sleep at night that is not very far away, and keeps them in the community from which they came.”

Indeed, when Kafoury appeared at the SMILE Board Meeting on April 20 in Sellwood, no objections were brought up by the Board or any spectators – just questions about procedure and policy.

Homelessness is an important issue to her personally, Kafoury said. “We have not done enough to get people into shelter for a long time in our community. For me to think that there will be 100 or more women able to sleep in this building at night – instead of sleeping on the streets – will help me sleep a little bit better at night.  I think this applies to all of our neighbors as well.”

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Portland Council, Executive Director Brian Ferschweiler told THE BEE that the organization is not “closing down”, but instead, is moving into a three-story 10,000 sq. ft. building formerly occupied by Elite Sante Fitness at 8101 S.E. Cornwell Street, a block west of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, and north of Johnson Creek Boulevard.

“We plan to maintain all of our programs from that location,” Ferschweiler said. “It’s a little smaller building, so we’ll need to efficiently use the space for our food resource services.”

It will take about four months for St. Vincent de Paul to transition their services to the new location; renovation for the new Multnomah County shelter space will then begin, most likely starting in August.

Wrong way, crash, fatal, McLoughlin Boulevard, Westmoreland, Michael José
Firefighter/Paramedics work to free a man, trapped in a car struck by an allegedly drunk wrong-way driver in the northbound lanes of McLoughlin Boulevard near S.E. Reedway in Westmoreland. (Photo courtesy of PF&R)

Wrong-way driver kills motorist on McLoughlin


In the early morning hours of Monday, March 28, a woman, later accused of driving while drunk – measured at three times the legal limit, court papers say – turned south on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard into the northbound lanes. From which street she turned is unclear, but most likely it was either from Holgate Boulevard or from 17th Avenue.

At 1:26 a.m., the Portland Police Traffic Division's “Major Crash Team” rolled out to the area of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard just south of Reedway Street, and found a crash that required closing the busy highway for hours.

Shannon Leigh O’Brien
21-year-old Shannon Leigh O’Brien is free on $255,000 bail, facing a trial on charges of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, in addition to DUII and Assault. The crash occurred on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in Westmoreland. (MCDC booking photo)

“Investigators learned that 21-year-old Shannon Leigh O’Brien was traveling the wrong way in the northbound lanes of McLoughlin, and apparently [realized it and] tried to turn around, when her car was struck by a northbound vehicle driven by Michael José, who then crashed into a tree,” reported police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

José suffered a critical brain injury, and his right hand required amputation – but he died from his severe injuries a week later, on April 3. From a medical standpoint, Ms. O’Brien fared better – suffering only from a fractured sternum in the wreck.

After her release from the hospital, O’Brien was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on charges of Assault in the Third Degree, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII - Alcohol).

On April 7, a Multnomah County grand jury indicted O’Brien on Manslaughter in the Second Degree, in addition to the other charges; her bail was set at $255,000.

According to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, O’Brien posted bail on April 6 and was released – but was placed on “Close Street Supervision” pending trial.

Sckavone Field, Portland, Westmoreland, closed for summer
Baseball teams hoping to play spring and summer games at Sckavone Stadium may have “struck out” for this season.

Sckavone Stadium “out” for the baseball season


Many of the teams which normally play baseball there hoped it was just an April Fool’s joke, when they learned on April 1 that Portland Parks & Recreation’s (PP&R) Sckavone Stadium, at the south end of Westmoreland Park, was to be closed for the season.

However, after a hefty electrical transformer that supplies the power to the field’s nighttime lights came loose, and fell off a light pole – and landed next to the concession stand – Parks Bureau officials said they had no choice but to close the Westmoreland Park ball field.

The Bureau brought out an engineering firm to assess the current status of the remaining transformers. “They found that the majority of them were in significant disrepair, and should not be trusted to stay in place,” said PP&R Public Information Officer Mark Ross.

“To address the issue, and with safety as our top priority, PP&R is closing Sckavone Stadium, and it may not be reopened until after the new stadium lighting project is complete,” Ross said.

The lighting repair project is funded already, thanks to the Portland City Council – but it won’t begin until August, and may not be complete until October.

Parks’ staff is looking for means to remove the pole-mounted transformers before the lighting project begins, so the field can be re-opened to save some already-scheduled games at the well-used ballfield.

“We clearly understand the impact closing this facility will have to inner east-side baseball programs,” Ross remarked. “As resources and site availability allows, PP&R staff will try to reschedule a few games elsewhere.”

Sinkhole, Milwaukie Avenue, Reedway Street, trolley rails
With the sinkhole excavated – observers discovered what may have been holding up the pavement as the cavity developed: On both sides of that excavation you see rusted, but still strong, steel rails. They are the remains of Portland’s century-old former trolley system! They won’t save the day again; they had to be cut off to make room for the repair. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Emergency repairs to sinkhole on Milwaukie Avenue

Editor, THE BEE

Late on Tuesday, April 19, the Portland Bureau of Transportation began getting calls about a sudden “cavity” forming around a manhole in the intersection of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Reedway Street in Westmoreland.

A crew was dispatched to examine the problem that evening, and at 8 a.m. the following morning PBOT shut down Milwaukie between Ellis and Knight for exploratory work by the Bureau of Environmental Services to determine what the problem was. Traffic was detoured to S.E. 17th.

A worker at the scene shortly afterward told THE BEE that the first investigation had shown that there was, indeed, nothing under the asphalt at that point, so metal plates were placed over the hole and a large vacuum truck was called in to remove water and debris from the cavity so a TV camera could be inserted to get a better look.

He said that it appeared that the cavity had been developing for some time, and that it had only been the asphalt surface that had supported traffic there recently – and the three days of record heat, concluding with an 89 degree reading on Tuesday, had softened the pavement enough that it had begun to sag into the open space underneath. A repair was required before the intersection could be reopened, because of the heavy trucks and TriMet’s Bus 19 which routinely use Milwaukie Avenue.

The worker also informed THE BEE that city workers had already determined that the pipe connecting a storm drain on the southeast corner of the intersection to the sewer at the manhole had collapsed and would have to be replaced, but that digging up much of the intersection might be required to make sure there was no other cause for the sinkhole, and to fully restore the street surface.

In midday, PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera, speaking at the scene, told THE BEE that the pit under the pavement was about 6 feet deep, 12 feet wide, and 17 feet long, in the northbound travel lane – and might have been accumulating for a number of years.

While workers in the hole continued to probe the cavity and examine areas in and around it, Rivera pointed out that two steel rails from Portland’s original trolley line ran right across the sinkhole, and probably even helped support the pavement. An old wooden tie lay just outside the hole on the pavement, another leftover from the lost trolley system. The rails were there because the city generally just paved over old rails when the trolley was discontinued.

After hours of excavation and repairs to damaged sewer lines, and determining that there seemed to be no hazard under the west side of the road, PBOT reopened the southbound lane of Milwaukie Avenue that afternoon at 4 p.m. for commuter traffic, and later on they temporarily reopened the northbound lane, with heavy metal plates covering the excavation.

The northbound lane was closed again the following morning at 8 a.m. for the completion of underground utilities restoration, and to further search for more cavities. More were found, including some under the west side of the intersection, so the road continued to be paved temporarily at night and reopened for more work in the daytime, until the intersection was completely repaired and repaved permanently.

In the meantime, PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera told THE BEE at press-time that the cause of all this underground damage at that intersection had not yet been firmly determined, but workers were still investigating. He told us that in the event it was found to be human-caused, the PBOT policy is to send the responsible person or entity a bill for the repairs. In this case, it would be quite a large one.

Sellwood Bridge, Portland
Soon, the low “work bridge” to the lower left, and the old Sellwood Bridge to the right, will only be memories. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Piece by piece, old Sellwood Bridge comes down


Those who came out for the old Sellwood Bridge’s farewell walk on the evening of February 25 were the very last neighbors to walk across the 91-year-old structure; contractors started ripping off the deck only hours later, preparing the bridge for demolition.

On a tour of the site with Multnomah County project spokesperson Mike Pullen in mid-April, THE BEE saw that the concrete sections of the old bridge deck and railings had been cut away, lifted, and carried to the west side of the Willamette, as the demolition proceeds from east to west.

“Demolition work has reached the mid-way point,” Pullen observed. “After the deck has been removed, welders are adding support beams, so the four truss span segments can be jacked and lowered safely. The reinforced steel truss spans will be removed one at a time, and lowered by crane to a barge. The first span is scheduled to be taken down in early June. It will take about two weeks to remove each span.”

The brief Sellwood Bridge closure on the weekend of April 16 was for hours, instead of the scheduled three days, as a contractor set up two cranes on the new bridge deck and lowered concrete forms that were used to build the deck. It reopened to traffic the same afternoon at 4:20 p.m.

And, it’s now about time for contractors to remove the sturdy-but-temporary east-side work bridge. “This project might be delayed for as long as thirty days, because of a goose nesting on a floating pile of debris below the work bridge,” Pullen said, pointing out the bird for us.

The project is still on schedule; Multnomah County expects to complete the project November 23. “The expenses are currently about $321 million, so we’re still just around 4% over the $307.5 million estimate,” Pullen told THE BEE as the tour concluded.

Mount Scott Pub, armed robbery, customers capture, Deshantin Najhee Motley
The door is open to patrons at the Mt. Scott Pub; but armed robbers keep finding the place less welcoming, thanks to its loyal customers. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Pub patrons pounce on and detain armed robber


Everybody may not have known his name, but they certainly had his number.

Instead of strolling out with a wad of cash, an armed robber took a beating, when he held up the Mt. Scott Pub, located at S.E. 72nd Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard, at about 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 17.

It isn’t the first time that an armed robber misjudged robbing that particular family-owned establishment; another gunman’s attempt also failed in November of 2011.

“East Precinct officers responded to the report of a shooting,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

When officers arrived, they found 25-year-old Deshantin Najhee Motley being pinned to the pub’s floor by several men, which made the arrest easy.

“Officers learned that Motley had entered the pub armed with a handgun, had walked behind the bar and pointed the gun at the bartender and demanded money. The bartender gave Motley an undisclosed amount of cash,” Simpson said.

But as Motley headed for the door, several bar patrons tackled him to the ground. During the struggle, Motley fired off a shot, narrowly missing one of the patrons. As the men held Motley down, one of the witnesses grabbed the gun, put it on the bar, and then later gave it to the officers as evidence.

Motley was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 5:06 a.m. the following morning, after receiving medical attention – on charges of Attempted Murder, Robbery in the First Degree (two counts), Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Felon in Possession of a Weapon. Additionally, Motley is being held on charges of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, and on a Parole Violation.

In lieu of combined bail of $760,000, Motley remains in jail at MCDC.

Speaking with reporters after the incident, pub owner Crystal Stockwell said she was glad that no one was injured in the incident. “We have a really good crew, both patrons and customers,” smiled Stockwell.

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