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December 2013 -- Vol. 108, No. 4
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.
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|Moments after the pickup truck was pulled back out of the building by a tow truck, Brooklyn Pharmacy owner Mike Dardis stood ruefully in what used to be the front doorway. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Brooklyn Pharmacy smashed
By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE
Two early morning telephone calls told Brooklyn Pharmacy owner Mike Dardis that November 14 would very much unlike any other day he’s spent there during the past 21 years.
“The first call, at 5:30 am, was from my alarm company,” Dardis told THE BEE. “A few minutes later, a 9-1-1 Dispatch operator called and said I’d really better come to the store, because a truck ran into it.”
When he arrived, Dardis was surprised and startled to see what he described as a “very large pickup truck” had driven across S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, plowed down a steel “No Parking” street sign near the curb, and smashed through his front door steel security gate. It stopped about ten feet inside his store.
“The police told me they thought the truck was going west on S.E. Kelly Street,” Dardis revealed, “And swerved across Milwaukie Avenue, before going into the store.
“But, for the life of me, I can’t imagine how it could get up such a speed, in such a short distance – maybe 40 or 50 mph? It was one of those big oversized pickup trucks. They pulled it out of here with a big tow truck.
“And, I use the word ‘was’, because the truck looked pretty much ruined – on its way to the junkyard.”
He didn’t get a look at the driver, Dardis said – who was already in an ambulance when he arrived. “The police asked the driver for his insurance, and they say it was expired.”
Due to the driver’s medical condition after his truck demolished a good section of the store’s front, he wasn’t given a Breathalyzer test on the spot. “They did say they’ll do a blood alcohol test when he gets to the hospital,” Dardis told us amidst the ruins in the front section of the only pharmacy west of 39th (Chavez) in Inner Southeast Portland.
Even though it was 90 minutes before his regular opening time, Dardis was already answering the ringing telephone back at his pharmacist’s station. “Yes, my computer is OK and it’s running. What prescription do you need filled?” he asked the caller. “I’ll have it ready for you by 11 o’clock.”
He came out front again, surveying damage so vast, it couldn’t all be captured in a single photo using a wide-angle lens.
Plate glass windows on both sides of the main front entry doors were shattered and pushed out, the doors had disintegrated – and the steel security gates lay on the ground looking like bent pipe cleaners.
“I left a message with Moe Unis of Portland Classic Piano; he owns the building,” Dardis said. “But, we need to start cleaning up the glass, both inside and outside the store.”
The force of the impact sprayed shards of glass along shelving gondolas, all the way to the rear pharmacy counter. Dardis picked up and put his original pharmacy license back where it was the previous evening; the explosive concussion of the shattering collision had shaken the building so hard it was knocked off a high shelf at the back of the store.
A feature that customers will miss when visiting the Brooklyn Pharmacy – the last independent drug store for miles around – is the remarkable display of historic pharmaceutical containers and texts.
Looking at one of the two destroyed displays, Dardis commented, “This antique display case is irreplaceable; now it’s all gone.”
He said that the four-case display was the work of curator John Kaegi, a retired pharmacist who loves preserving history and having it on display. “He asked me to take some of the unbroken bottles and put them in a box and he would get here when he could.
“We will try to salvage some of the antique pharmacy display, but I don't know if we'll be able to put it back together or not.” However, a small vertical historical display case by the side door seemed relatively undamaged.
With that, Dardis went back to work, getting ready to open his business for the new day. “It’s a shame. It happened in one blinding second, and now it’s all forever changed.”
Later that day, Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson looked up the incident for us. “This was a DUII crash. I don’t have the driver’s name, since he went to the hospital, but he was cited for ‘Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant’.”
Due to the early hour, no one – other than the tipsy pickup driver – was injured in the incident, officials said.
|ODOT crews – and company staff from the owner of the overturned truck and load, Stacy and Witbeck – look at the wreckage and begin to formulate a plan to remove the crashed truck. (Photo by Eric Norberg)
Overturned backhoe snarls McLoughlin traffic for hours
By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE
Before the news reached any media, the report of a backhoe on a tractor overturned on McLaughlin Boulevard under the Milwaukie Avenue overpass reached THE BEE from reader Henrik Bothe, just after it happened on Wednesday, November 6.
Although the excavator was securely strapped to its flatbed trailer, its boom arm was apparently raised slightly too high, and grazed the steel beam supporting the overpass that passes obliquely over the highway – which then gently scooped the entire rig over onto its side in the right-hand northbound lane.
“At first, we considered bringing in a crane to upright the truck,” said Kimberly Dinwiddie, Community Affairs for the Oregon Department of Transportation District 1. “Instead, two large tow trucks were brought in to move the truck and trailer.”
Throughout the day, northbound traffic on busy Highway 99-E backed up for miles, as vehicles funneled into one lane just north of 17th. For a while, traffic was even worse, as the road was completely shut down while crews removed removing the toppled truck and load.
It took all afternoon and into the evening to upright the rig; one of Portland’s most-used traffic arteries remained closed for most of the afternoon rush hour.
ODOT inspectors and engineers, Dinwiddie later reported, did find minor damage to the Milwaukie Avenue overpass, but reported it still to be structurally sound, notwithstanding dings and scrapes along the concrete abutment.
The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division also investigated the crash. “Investigators will not be issuing a citation in this incident,” said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “It was an accident.”
|The “soil nail gun” awaits repairs, while a GSI heavy-equipment operator carves the hillside contour below the Springwater Trail in the vicinity of Ross Island Sand and Gravel. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
“SoilNails” stabilize slide on Springwater Trail
By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE
Heavy rain and high Willamette River levels began to tear away the hillside supporting the Springwater Corridor Trail, beginning in March of last year, and have been taking a toll on the paved pathway.
“It’s here, below the Ross Island Sand and Gravel plant, between mileposts 1.5 and 1.75, that we started to see the hillside fall away,” reported Portland Parks & Recreation Construction Manager Dale Cook.
On-site to look at the progress of the repairs by GeoStabilization International (GSI), THE BEE learned from Cook that workers had narrowed the path to one lane, and covered the soil erosion area with plastic tarps to slow down the degradation of the asphalt pathway.
It took more than a year for the work to get underway. “The project started on October 7,” Cook said. “During that time, we were working on design solutions, and finding a contractor that can do this work.
“Another part of the job that took some time was obtaining permits from the City of Portland,” commented Cook. “We had to pull quite a few permits to get this work done.”
Calling the trail “Portland’s I-5 for bicyclists”, Cook pointed out that as many as 3,000 cyclists use the trail every day. “We’ve made a big effort to keep the trail open during morning and afternoon ‘commuting’ hours, as well as on the weekends.”
This meant that GSI workers had only between 9 am and 4 pm on weekdays to haul in and out soil, and to “nail” the hillside together.
First, the contractor constructed a “bench” level that is above ordinary high water. GSI contractors then use specialized equipment to install a “Launched SuperMicropile™” system down into the bank to resist landslide movement and to support a concrete cap.
“Then, on top of that cap, they start to form a bio-wall,” Cook explained. “They stack layers of gravel and dirt, held back by geo-textile fabric, which is tied back into the original slope. We then install plants in those ‘soil bags’, giving a green face to that stabilization project.”
Finally, to anchor everything into the slope, GSI workers will use a system provided by a branch of their firm called “Soil Nail Launcher, Inc.”
The soil nails are shot horizontally into the bank, under the trail, using air pressure. “In one stroke, the 18-foot-long feet ‘nail’ (it looks like a steel fencepost) is shot into the soil. Then, under high pressure, they pump grout into end of the perforated nail until the cement oozes into the surrounding earth.”
A GSI supervisor reported to Cook: “On the test nails, we’re measuring that they’re holding 300% over design capacity. This means we can expect them to hold very well.”
While the project had a construction deadline of November 15, more rain – and a broken part in the soil nail launcher – briefly delayed the project further, for at least an additional week, Cook said.
But, with completion, cyclists will find they have a safe, smooth ride through the slide area – and those viewing the zone from the Willamette River will simply see hillside foliage.
|Portland Police Officer John Fulitano discusses a map of the the tire vandalism crimes. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Southeast tire-slashing slowing – but not ended
By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE
The incidents of tire-puncture vandalism in Inner Southeast Portland area has slowed, but it continues. It’s a crime spree that started in May, isn’t over yet, and hasn’t been solved.
That’s what 26 community members learned at a special meeting held at the Aladdin Theater in the Brooklyn neighborhood on the evening of November 14.
Before it began, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Detective Division Sgt. Chuck Lovell spoke with THE BEE about why the meeting was taking place.
“The neighborhoods especially affected by this are Irvington, Alameda, and Brooklyn,” Lovell began. “There's been a huge community impact; and there has been a lot of interest in the community about the investigation – especial among those who are financially impacted by this.” There have been reports of this vandalism elsewhere nearby, including Westmoreland and Sellwood.
Typically, vandalism crimes are handled by district patrol officers, Lovell explained. “My detail – I run the Detective Coordination Team – specializes in property crimes. Generally, these are the type of crimes that are not investigated by detectives. But due to the sheer volume of these vandalism cases, we’ve been allocating detective resources to this.”
Detective Lovell said the key to solving this crime will most likely come from a citizen.
“I can’t tell you the number of crimes that have been solved because someone has come forward and said ‘I'm not sure if this is important to your investigation, but...’ – and it leads us to something else, or correlates with information we already have. It can be the smallest fact that might seem very benign, that becomes the most helpful to solving a case.”
Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Specialist Jacob Brostoff began the meeting at the Aladdin by introducing Portland Police Detective Division Commander George Burke, Detective Division Sgt. Chuck Lovell, and crime statistics specialist Officer John Fulitano.
Commander Burke began by saying, “I want to be up-front about this: As detectives, we naturally have a difficult time giving out information.
“But, we want you to know that we are not overlooking these types of crimes,” Burke remarked. “We want you to know what we are doing, at least in general terms. For example we have been working very closely with the precincts, and other organizations, to resolve this problem.
“Rest assured, a lot of [crime detecting tactics] you’re probably wondering about, we’re actually working on. But, we're still open to all suggestions.”
Burke turned the meeting over to Officer John Fulitano, who said, “I am not a detective, but I work with assembling crime data.”
Asked why the Brooklyn area didn’t originally show up on the tire vandalism crime map, Fulitano responded, “I take full responsibility for that.
“When we noticed this crime trend in the northern neighborhoods this summer, I did not set the [geographic] search [parameters] wide enough to take in Brooklyn. When one of your neighbors brought this to our attention, we expanded the inclusion area, and it became clear that Brooklyn was indeed a hot-spot for this criminal activity.”
By the numbers
There are 558 reported incidents, reported Fulitano. “If you factor in the estimated number of non-reported cases, this is a crime that has occurred more than 700 times. This isn’t someone breaking a window and reaching in the car and taking anything – that’s a different kind of crime, a burglary, called the ‘car prowl’. This is pure vandalism.”
There were 28 to 30 reports per week coming in this past summer, but by the first few weeks in October the reports dropped. “Few in Brooklyn have been reported since in November. But now, some of the neighbors have told me it happened to them, but they didn’t report it.”
Re-victimization of the same people has been running from 10 to 12%, an unusually high figure for a vandalism type crime. “That percentage ran even a little higher, during the height of the problem.”
It’s difficult to find evidence, without catching someone in the act, Fulitano said, “ because this is a very quick crime, like sleight of hand. Unless you're watching somebody actually do it, it’s hard to detect.”
The vandals disappear when a patrol car rolls down the street, he added, “That’s why it is so important for people and neighbors who see anything to report it.”
Considering that Brooklyn was one of the heavily-hit neighborhoods, Fulitano continued, “It's kind of nice that it has dropped off here, right?”
However, he added, this kind of criminal vandalism has been spreading up into the Foster-Powell neighborhood area.
“One difference is,” Fulitano pointed out, “That sedans of all makes and types have been vandalized more recently. However, for some reason, the Subaru family of cars, like the Subaru Forrester, seems to be the ‘vehicle of choice’ for vandalism.”
Asked by an attendee if this is a crime committed by teenage hooligans, Sgt. Lovell commented, “We don’t think so. This isn’t a weekend-only crime; most of the vandalism occurs during the week, during the late-night hours.”
Neighbors proposed numerous ideas for catching the vandals to the detectives, generally framed in the form a question. The detectives assured that these were all sound ideas, but at the same time, they would not comment on specific crime detection strategies and tactics, for fear of perhaps jeopardizing the case.
“The ‘big ask’ I have of all of you,” entreated Fulitano, “is to be our eyes and ears.”
Fulitano told about a visit to the area made by himself and his partner in plain-clothes. “I was in the Brooklyn neighborhood. We found eight of these tire-punctures – one neighbor even got vandalized on a vehicle in the street and another in their driveway.
“We were walking in the street, bending over, touching cars and touching tires! During the time we were there, not one person called 911 to report us.”
Fulitano put it to the group: “If you’re up at night and see suspicious activity – we're not talking about someone who’s walking their dog, but somebody who is walking in the street and not on the sidewalk, who is pausing by trucks and cars – please call 9-1-1. You don’t have to decide if it is significant – Dispatch will decide whether it is a priority or not to send a police officer.”
Lovell reported that the Police Bureau has changed its online crime-reporting form. “The page now asks, if the citizen has time for an officer to come out and look at the damage. We hope that by having a patrol officer or detective come out and inspect the damage, we can gather more information to help solve these cases.”
Crime Prevention Specialists Jacob Brostoff and Katherine Anderson, from the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, reinforced the message: “If you see something, say something”.
They also suggested:
- · Park your vehicle off the street and in a garage, if possible.
- · Enhance your exterior lighting: Leave porch lights on at night, add motion-sensor lighting to the garage, and add pathway or sidewalk solar lighting. Prune back trees or bushes that obstruct light.
- · If you have exterior video cameras, turn them toward the street to capture activity and people near vehicles parked on the street.
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you can remain anonymous. Leave a Crime Stoppers tip online at: www.crimestoppersoforegon.com/submit_online_tip.php – or text CRIMES (274637), and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip. Or, call 503/823-4357), and leave your tip information.
Police Tire Vandalism Statistics as of November 4:
558 Tire Punctures
47 Convertible-Top Slashings
47 Key-Scratched Vehicles
$300,000+ Total Estimated Damages – so far
|Colin Sharp, owner of Unheard Skateboard Distribution, stands with his children, India & Kiran, in front of the railroad overcrossing and at the site of the Brooklyn Street Skate Spot, just before both were demolished. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)
Brooklyn “Skate Spot” and pedestrian bridge demolished
By RITA A. LEONARD
for THE BEE
Skateboard enthusiasts are mourning the loss of their small, colorful do-it-yourself skateboard park at S.E. 16th Avenue and Brooklyn Street. On November 9th, some 100 skaters gathered for a New Orleans-style wake at the Brooklyn Street Skate Spot, recalling the camaraderie and fun of the charming little skate park built by volunteers and skateboard enthusiasts in 2010.
The site was designed and maintained largely by Colin Sharp, whose business, “Unheard Skateboard Distribution”, is located next door.
The skate park – whose opening was previously reported in THE BEE – was tucked under the northern base of the pedestrian bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, between S.E. Gideon and Brooklyn Streets. The park was begun by Sharp on unused land owned partly by the railroad, with some cement leftover from a home project.
The facility eventually received a temporary permit from the city – until the footbridge was to be removed, starting on November 12. The requirements of the MAX Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail project essentially doomed the skate park from the beginning, but skaters enjoyed the slopes while they could, and received many positive reviews.
Sharp tells THE BEE that since the skate park was eventually validated by a city permit, he hopes that a replacement skate park will be built soon at Powell Park to accommodate the displaced skateboarders. A City Comprehensive Master Plan for skateboard development, called “Nineteen in the Parks”, was created in 2005 to promote the creation of new skateboard parks in Portland. The site proposed for Powell Park would be located on the northern edge of the park, adjacent to Powell Boulevard.
While the future site (about 2,500 square feet) has been identified, and a general design has been drawn up, Sharp acknowledges that the committee will have to raise $40,000 before construction can begin. Sharp says that so far, the Powell project has raised about $8,000 – much of that from independent donors.
For more information, or to make donations, go online to the Portland Skate Park Alliance at: http://www.skateportland.org
Meantime, for pedestrians who were using that footbridge to get across the railroad yard, the structure was removed to make room for support columns along the new MAX light rail line – but pedestrian access across the tracks can still be made via the S.E. 17th at Powell Boulevard underpass, or by using the pedestrian/railroad crossing at S.E. 12th and Gideon Street.
A new footbridge is expected to be built at or near the site of the former structure, although at this writing, plans are not yet firm.
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