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April 2015 -- Vol. 109, 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 16.
(The June issue has an ad and copy deadline of May 21.)


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NOW -- subscribe securely, online -- by clicking

But, if you would rather not do it online, you can E-mail or telephone 503/968-6397. The 12-issue annual subscription rate is $14 per year for addresses located in Multnomah County, Oregon; and $24 for anywhere else in the U.S.(it's based on the differential postage rates for our class of postage). For international rates, inquire via that e-mail address just above!

Daily news!  The all-new daily PORTLAND TRIBUNE website  is updated throughout the day, every day, when news breaks out.  Click the banner at left to keep up to date on the banner news throughout the Rose City!

THE BEE has a second website -- it's searchable for past stories.  The content for the current month is similar to this one, presented in a different format.  To visit the other website, click the banner at right!
This 2010 photo shows mentor Rebecca LohKamp speaking in the basement lab in Southeast Portland where FIRST Robotics Team 1432 now meets and where it develops its latest robot for regional competition each year, such as the one next to her. In the background are some members of the team, and other team mentors. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Burglars strike Southeast’s Robotics Team 1432


The former Franklin High School FIRST Robotics Team, “Mahr’s Metal Beavers”, whose dismissal from the campus for reasons never satisfactorily explained were the subject of a past BEE headline story that drew reader response from around the world, has suffered a new setback which may undermine its opportunity to compete this year.

“Sometime between Wednesday night [March 18] and Friday afternoon [March 20], someone broke into our shop through an exterior window,” said long-time team mentor Rebecca LohKamp.

“Our driver station in our only PLATT box, our driver laptop with all of our code (we unfortunately don’t have a backup), the only good laptop charging cord, our good multi-meter, and our wired dayglow Xbox controller for driving the robot, were all stolen.

“We’re supposed to compete in six days. The kids are devastated and doing all they can to repair the problem. It’s a very tragic day for FRC Team 1432.”

LohKamp said it is not unusual for break-ins to happen in the area, which is on S.E. 84th in basement space donated by the Knights of Pythias, but they thought their facility was securely locked at the time.

“They used a crowbar to break the steel security grate over the window, and pried it off,” team mentor Rebecca LohKamp told THE BEE on Sunday, March 22. “I was heartsick; the kids have more than 1,000 hours of work into this robot.”

The Metal Beavers have been working to build a robot to meet this year’s FIRST Robotics challenge – to design a robot to lift items you would find in your home. But these machines run on controllers and computers containing complex code – both items that thieves stole from Team 1432, after breaking into the basement lab.

“My first thought was, ‘how are we going to run the robot?'” Team Captain Ian Mittelstaedt told a KOIN-TV reporter, adding that the stolen gear would not be worth very much money to the thieves. However, the stolen computer contained priceless data and code.

LohKamp said the robotics team from Lake Oswego immediately loaned them a laptop computer. “So, we’ll have a computer to run our robot in competition. And other teams have loaned us other equipment we need for troubleshooting.

“But, our team members spent six months writing the programming that controls the robot, LohKamp added. “Now, our team has just four days to recreate the code. We’ll still compete, but it lessens our chances of scoring high enough to get into the regional competition.”

The stolen computer also contains all of their team’s grant and foundation information, LohKamp said. “I’ll have to start from scratch, to find out which grants we’re eligible for, and the requirements for applying.

“This is just heartbreaking,” LohKamp told THE BEE, “but this is not going to finish our team. Raising the money to replace all of our equipment will be challenging; but we’ve survived many setbacks over the years.”

Even more distressing to her, personally, LohKamp said, was that the thieves also stole her own computer, on which she had archived her family’s history.

“I’m heartsick. These are audio recordings of my father, who recently passed away, and my mother who died last year – telling stories about our family. My aunt, who also died this year, also contributed to our family history,” LohKamp said, with anguish in her voice. “There are also countless photographs.”

Otherwise, the old computer is virtually useless, with little resale value. “And, there is no personal identification information, like Social Security Numbers or any other data. It’s of absolutely no value to them. But to me, what I’ve lost is priceless – with no way it can be replaced

“Please give it back,” LohKamp said, directly to the thieves, through the medium of the press.

The burglars pulled foam packing out of a very heavy-duty, bright yellow plastic case. “It’s very recognizable; Platt Electric had only 62 of the cases made, exclusively for robotics clubs, and they each have a big PLATT logo on it.”

If you see this case showing up for sale, or have any information on where the stolen equipment may be, you are asked to call the Portland Police “non-emergency” number, 503/823-3333.

The nonprofit and now-independent team, which still includes Franklin High students among its members, also accepts donations on its website:

Sellwood Park, tree down, windstorm
Next to Sellwood Park, a tree toppled across S.E. 7th Avenue at Lexington Street, witnessed by the reader who contributed this photo to THE BEE. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Immel)

Surprise tempest sweeps through Southeast, topples trees


Forecasters promised heavy rain for the weekend of March 14 and 15, and it came to pass – the two-day total was around three inches. Then, on Saturday night, the National Weather Service began to warn of high winds on Sunday.

Wind speed picked up to about 20 mph by 8 am, and held relatively steady until just before 1 pm. Then the velocity picked up to about 35 mph, with gusts exceeding 55 mph registered about 3 pm.

Throughout Inner Southeast Portland, stately trees, towering over streets, sidewalks, and yards begin to fail. Some tree’s trunks and main branches gave way. Others, with weak root systems, embedded in the rain-soaked soil, topped right over, exposing their root balls.

Sellwood neighbor Rachel Immel told THE BEE that she witnessed a large tree topple over at the corner of S.E. 7th Avenue and Lexington Street, and fall into Sellwood Park.

“I saw the tree go down rather elegantly,” Immel reported. “It went down with less noise than I would have expected, after the first crack of the breaking trunk.”

Few others apparently witnessed trees splinter or fall, but the results caused traffic problems and power failure, not to mention property damage, throughout the region.

On S.E. 11th Avenue near Tenino Street, the root system of a good-sized tree failed, causing it to fall around a red Kia two-door parked in the street. Amazingly, though, the two largest boughs fell on either side of the car, leaving it relatively unscathed.

Other cars and structures didn’t fare as well; some neighborhoods were without power, telephone, and TV cable service for hours or even days.

The storm ended by late afternoon. Here are a few of the photos we took, and which residents took and shared with THE BEE.

Westmoreland, tree fall, car crushed, windstorm
A Toyota sedan parked on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland was crushed by heavy branches blown down from a flowering pear tree. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Ides of March greeted by big winds, downed trees


March 15th proved to be a wet and unusually blustery day – with trees, limbs, and petals coming down all over town. The combination of wet soils after upwards of three inches of soaking rain, plus a blossom-heavy load of flowering spring branches, caused mayhem for many neighbors on that windy afternoon.

If you were lucky, only smaller twigs and fir cones littered your yard. In areas like parks – more open to the windy gusts – larger branches and entire trees came down across sidewalks, vehicles, and public areas.

The high water table at Johnson Creek Park tends to rot out tree roots quickly. While muddy creek waters roiled on either side of the park peninsula, a large deciduous tree with few taproots crashed to the earth, branches tangling with an adjacent park tree near the picnic tables.

In Westmoreland, a maroon Toyota sedan parked at the curb in front of the Plaid Pantry at 7210 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue was crushed by a large limb falling from a flowering pear tree. Passing cars edged around the heap of limbs that had shattered the rear window and crumpled the roof and right side.

Eastmoreland burglary, burglar caught by citizens
In custody, after being tackled by alert Eastmoreland neighbors, is the burglary suspect. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Eastmoreland neighbors chase and tackle suspected burglar


What transpired in the Eastmoreland neighborhood, on the afternoon of March 6th, gives bona fide meaning to the oft-used phrase “community policing”.

The sound of a home burglar alarm, shrieking out its warning around 4 pm, drew the attention of at least two neighbors to the house at the corner of S.E. 30th Avenue and Tolman Street.

“I saw a guy walking out of the driveway, against the hedge, obviously coming from the house where the alarm was on,” neighbor Joel told THE BEE. “He walked quickly, and I called to him, ‘Hey excuse me’, and he took off running.”

The chase was on, Joel said. “I'm not in that good a shape, it took me most of block to catch up to him. He really wanted to get away.”

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he also saw a young man coming from the apparently burgled house, and took off up the street, dog in tow, after the suspect. “He looked a little out of place,” the neighbor later said, as police led the suspect away in handcuffs.

“I grabbed him by the backpack and had to wrestle him to the ground,” Joel said. “He kept struggling like he wanted to get away. I know someone called for the police, but it seemed like a long time until they got here.”

Other neighbors, watching the commotion from their homes, called the 9-1-1 Center, and gave operators a play-by-play description, including an alleged “getaway car” cruising nearby.

The neighborhood crime-fighting volunteers pointed out to officers that a watch, now on the ground, had not been on the suspect’s wrist when they were chasing him.

When asked by THE BEE if, upon reflection, he’d potentially put himself in danger, Joel replied, “I don’t think so. With the help of other neighbors, and three of us holding him down at the end, I think we were pretty safe doing it.”

The other neighbor observed, “This is a case where the whole neighborhood came out and documented, participated, and stopped this crime.”

Official records show police took 25-year-old Zachery Wayne Summers into custody that afternoon.

Summers was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 9:31 pm that evening on charges of First Degree Burglary (Class A Felony), Criminal Mischief, and Theft, with a combined bail of $60,000.

As of this writing, Summers remains lodged at Multnomah County Inverness Jail, also on a “County Hold”, with additional bail set at $5,000.

Sellwood Bridge, arches, lift with cranes
A pair of cranes lift a new Sellwood Bridge steel segment, weighing in at 150 tons, from a barge on the Willamette River. (David F. Ashton photo)

East-side steel rises on new Sellwood Bridge


The first of the new steel arch spans were plucked off barges and lifted into place on the east end of the new Sellwood Bridge project starting on Tuesday, March 10.

“Some of these arch segments, lifted into place by large cranes, weigh up to 300,000 pounds each,” remarked Multnomah County’s project spokesman, Mike Pullen.

By the end of the week, three segments were put into place; a fourth arch segment was installed the following week. “The east and center arch spans are be installed sequentially, to load the weight evenly between the two spans,” Pullen explained.

Weekend bridge closure in April
Starting at 7 pm on Friday, April 17, through 6 am on Monday, April 20, the old Sellwood Bridge will be closed to all traffic.

“During that time, workers will prepare the new west approach to be used, which will transition onto the detour bridge,” Pullen said. “This will allow construction of the ramp from the bridge to northbound Highway 43.”

Woodstock car crash, police pursuit, bent car
Firefighters rip apart this car, mangled in a high-speed crash on Woodstock Boulevard, to rescue the injured passenger, described by the parole violating driver as his fiancée. It seems unbelievable that both occupants survived this one. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brief Woodstock police pursuit ends with car into tree


“The cop certainly had a good view of what happened,” remarked Todd Budding, who lives on Woodstock Boulevard, several houses east of where the speeding car careened into and snapped a wooden utility pole, before it came to rest in a crumpled heap against a tree.

“I’d just finished watching a movie, and heard our cat at the door,” Budding told THE BEE. “When I opened the door to let her in, I saw this car [westbound] on Woodstock, going like a bat out of hell, with a cop car behind it – lights lit up like a Christmas tree.

“As fast as it was going, I knew there was no way it would make the curve,” Budding said.

At S.E. 69th Avenue, as area residents well know – but as speeding drivers tend to find out to their dismay – Woodstock Boulevard makes a sharp zigzag before proceeding westward. That’s why residents on that block have large boulders along the front of their property, and more than one speeding vehicle has landed upon those rocks.

In this case, a utility pole slowed the speeding older-model Acura; but it was the tree in front of a house that brought it to an abrupt halt.

It was 12:41 am on Saturday, March 21.

“The guy got out of the car somehow, and was screaming, ‘My fiancée is stuck in there! She has something in her mouth!’” Budding recalled. “The cops drew their guns and told the driver to stay put.”

Woodstock’s Station 25 responded soon afterward, and paramedics checked over the driver while he lay in the street, before hoisting him onto an ambulance gurney.

Meantime, the firefighters on Truck 25 used their pry bars and leverage tools to release the trapped passenger, and prepare her also for ambulance transport. Witnesses said the passenger was alive, but looked injured.

Before long, a Portland General Electric Eagle Crew pulled up to assess the damage to the pole and the power lines.

“An East Precinct officer observed an older model Acura traveling approximately 70 to 80 miles per hour on Woodstock Boulevard near S.E. 78th Avenue,” later said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart.

“The officer attempted to catch up to vehicle, which ran a red light at S.E. 72nd Avenue,” Stewart said. “At that point the officer attempted to stop the vehicle.” But he didn’t – a very short distance further on, a pole and a tree did it for him. The officer notified dispatch, and started the fire and ambulance response.

Both the driver and his passenger were taken to an area hospital, Stewart confirmed, but the driver was treated and released to the custody of police officers. “The passenger, suffering serious injuries, was admitted to the hospital.”

Multnomah County Detention Center records show that the driver, 34-year-old Joshua James Reinhold, was booked in at 6:47 am that morning on charges of Felony Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, and Reckless Endangering, with a combined bail set at $10,000.

It appears Reinhold will remain custody, however, and without bail – on an additional charge of Parole Violation.

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