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February 2015 -- Vol. 109, No. 6

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!


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Sellwood Bridge, approach removed
Where once we all drove: With the east side approach section of the old Sellwood Bridge removed in December, construction began on the new east side approach. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

County confirms Sellwood Bridge spending overruns

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for
THE BEE

The construction of a major, high-volume river crossing in one’s own “back yard” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone in Inner Southeast Portland.

With our having covered for you years of planning committee meetings, documenting the “detour bridge” sliding northward, and learning about and sharing with you modern construction techniques that will make the new Sellwood Bridge both beautiful and safe, THE BEE has been granted exceptional and appreciated access both to information, and to the construction site.

In the past, when THE BEE has asked Multnomah County Project Manager Ian Cannon how the project was coming, he regularly responded that it was “on time and on budget”.

Now that reporters have uncovered the fact that the Sellwood Bridge project has, in fact, burned through all of its contingency funds, and may go over budget, many people seem surprised.

THE BEE asked Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen when the funding status of the Sellwood Bridge project became no longer “on budget”.

“By November, 2014, the project had used up all of the contingency funds,” Pullen said. “So, starting in November, we announced that we were very likely to go over budget on the project.”

Asked when and where it was “announced”, Pullen replied, “It was discussed in public, before the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, at their bi-monthly project update, during a December public board meeting. That’s probably when it was aired in public in the most detail.”

That information was also put up in the project’s website in December, Pullen added. However, it wasn’t on the home page; it appeared to be at the very bottom of the website’s “FAQ” page.


Sellwood Bridge, new arch
In the distance, on the west side of the lengthy project, the arch of the new Sellwood Bridge stands. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

During 2010, the Sellwood Bridge contingency fund budget was larger – it actually exceeded ten percent of the estimated costs.

However, in an effort to create an acceptable budget in 2012, the top governmental officials at the time – County Chair Jeff Cogen and Portland Mayor Sam Adams, and their staffs – made budget adjustments to accommodate an unanticipated increase in the project’s estimated cost of $30 million, and there was a shift of funds that trimmed the cost overrun contingency budget line to only four percent

“It looks like the Sellwood Bridge project will have a cost overrun of between zero percent and 3.5%, which means it could be up to $10 million above the current $307.5 million figure. We’re about 73% done with construction; the project is scheduled to be complete in November, 2016,” Pullen told us.

As many as ten categories have made the project exceed its budget, Pullen observed. “Some of the increased cost is from litigation or potential litigation from subcontractors on the project.”

Specifically, Pullen said, was a lawsuit filed by the general contractor, Slayden/Sundt, on behalf of subcontractor Malcolm Drilling Company, in May and June of 2013.

“The $1.6 million lawsuit is regarding work that was done at Bent 5, near the middle of the Willamette River, and near the east bridgehead at Bent 11. The contractors claim they should be paid additional funds for additional work that they did.

“Specifically, the disagreement is about which party is responsible for added costs,” Pullen said. “We’re trying to be good stewards of tax dollars, and only pay for what Multnomah County feels that it’s obligated to pay for.

“We have a claims dispute process for the project, and this has gone through about four of those steps in the process,” Pullen explained. “At this time, they appear to be going ahead with litigation. It could still be settled, or it could go to court, or it could be mediated.”

No other lawsuits that have been filed at this time, said Pullen. “But, about two years of construction remain. Of the about 180-some contractors on the project, this is the first lawsuit filed.”

While the price tag for the new Sellwood Bridge is likely to escalate, “Our hope is that the bridge will open to traffic in 2016,” Pullen concluded, on a positive note.



Bible Club, speakeasy
Guests entering the “Bible Club” across from the Sellwood-Moreland Post Office will be treated to a unique experience – like stepping into a time machine, taking them back to simpler, more elegant, and much less legal times. If you’re wondering why we don’t have a photo of the owner standing here – he didn’t want us to take one! It IS a speakeasy, after all. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Retro “Secret Speakeasy” comes to West- moreland

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Anyone who has visited the Westmoreland U.S. Post Office building has seen the house across the street – since 1986 until recently, the home of Schoendecken Coffee Roasters.

Rose City Coffee Company moved into the space after Schoendecken’s Nancy Duncan retired in May, 2013; but it moved out a year later, to a retail storefront at 7325 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue.

Now, with windows of the small Victorian style home papered over, and workers rushing around the structure, many neighbors have been wondering what’s to become of the commercially-zoned yellow house.

“It was originally going to be my own private bar,” entrepreneur Ricardo “Ryk” Huelga told THE BEE. As owner of and jewelry designer for Starlingear, he’s well-known in Japan as “Ryk Maverick”.

He’s designed lounges for others – in Los Angeles, and in other cities. “I’ve spent years collecting antique décor items from the 1850s to 1920s,” Huelga remarked; “But no other [club] owner has been willing to ‘go the distance’ I will go, to make an authentic design for a club like this.” 

Named after a probation-era speakeasy, his new establishment – the “Bible Club” – is a museum, where guests will be able to come and have a good drink.

“There will be no outside signage,” Huelga said. “If you don’t know it’s there, you would not know.” It could be the only bar in Oregon licensed by the OLCC without outside signage!

“In the upper window, there is an old 1920 shipman’s signal lantern – half green glass, half red glass.  If you see a green light, you’ll know we’re open to the public.” That will primarily be in the evenings.

“When you walk in, you’ll be stepping back in time,” explained Huelga.  “The cash register is from 1908. You’ll hear no ‘mixer guns’ used in making drinks behind the bar. When the bartenders aren’t making drinks, they’ll be hand-chiseling ice cubes from high-density ice.”

Patrons of the establishment won’t drink from ordinary bar glasses. “All of our beverages will be served in crystal. The lighting fixtures, picture frames – and the photos in them – are originals, not reproductions.”

Huelga said he’s willing to take extra steps to make this club a special destination – even down to replacing the hollow-core doors with solid doors, with period-correct hinges and knobs.

Things you won’t see in the club are televisions, illuminated signs – and people talking on cell phones! “We’re okay with people taking pictures and sending out a text message, but those talking on cell phones will be politely, but earnestly, asked to step outside. We want this to be a quiet place.

“It seems that, nowadays, the art of conversation is lost. There are very few places I can go for a drink and have a conversation, because of the high noise level.”

After growing up in the Portland area, Huelga said he moved to Los Angeles, where he built his business and stayed for about 25 years – far longer than he’d anticipated.

“But, after traveling all over the world, I wouldn’t have as keen an appreciation of Portland if I hadn’t been in L.A. I love the old homes and buildings in Portland. Keeping the historic look [of the new club] is important to me.”

Excusing himself from our interview, Huelga said he had to meet with his architect and head back to meet with city officials. “Keeping up with the city codes is difficult, while trying to keep this looking historical.”

With a maximum of forty to fifty seats, it is not intended to be a big place. “This is, for better words, a ‘passion project’ for me,” Huelga smiled.

Yes, you won’t see any banners or signs outside the house at 6716 S.E. 16th Avenue – but word is, you’re likely to see the “green light” in the upper window by some evening in mid-March.



Leslie Richard Souza, Woodstock, Plaid Pantry, robbery
35-year-old Leslie Richard Souza is in jail, facing multiple felony charges for the Woodstock convenience store robbery – where he was apprehended by a customer! (MCDC booking photo)

Plaid Pantry robber beaten down by Woodstock patron

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Perhaps the Woodstock Boulevard Plaid Pantry at S.E. 54th looked like an easy target to the early morning armed robber. He soon found out differently.

It was on Sunday, December 21st at 1:22 am, as winter was just beginning, when a man walked in to the Plaid Pantry store demanding money – and left the store with whatever he got. But he didn’t get far.

“East Precinct officers who responded to a robbery call to the Plaid Pantry, located at 5414 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, got an update while enroute,” recounted Portland Police spokesman Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The caller to the 9-1-1 Center reported that the armed robber had been followed out of the store by a patron. “The update told us that the suspect and customer were fighting – and that the suspect had a gun,” Simpson said.

“When officers arrived, they found the suspect being detained by the customer,” added Simpson. “Officers took the suspect into custody. They recovered an ‘Air Soft’ pistol, and other evidence from the robbery.”

While the gallant customer, not publicly identified, was transported to an area hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the incident, Robbery Detectives responded and began an investigation.

The suspect, 35-year-old Leslie Richard Souza, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 5:44 am the same day on one count of Robbery in the First Degree, two counts of Robbery II and Assault II charges – all felonies. In court, Souza was also charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon, another felony.

Currently, Souza is being held in MCDC in lieu of a combined bail of $1 million, and is also being held on parole violation charges.



Tilikum Crossing, transit bridge, test run
The first Portland Streetcar, here with driver Dee Grice at the controls, takes its first trip across the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Trains and streetcars test-drive Tilikum Crossing Bridge 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

After a delay of couple of days to fix minor electrical and signal problems, TriMet and Portland Streetcar, Inc., began the scheduled test runs of rail vehicles over the Tilikum Crossing Bridge – under their own power – on Wednesday, January 21.

As the sun broke over the horizon, a MAX light rail train slowly glided eastward over the bridge at a slow walk speed, as technicians and supervisors strode alongside, checking the progress. The train then came to a stop at the “OMSI Station”, before reversing and returning across the Willamette River.

“For the first time, TriMet operated an electrified MAX test train on the northern segment of the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project alignment,” exclaimed TriMet Public Information Officer Mary Fetsch.

“The successful test along the future MAX Orange Line verified the interface with the track, as well as the overhead catenary system that supplies power to the vehicles and signals.”

Then, just before 11 am that morning, a Portland Streetcar took its own first trip across the bridge. It, too, stopped at “OMSI Station” – then proceeded up toward the MLK Boulevard/McLoughlin/Highway 99E viaduct to switch tracks, after which then it, too, headed west back across the bridge.

Light rail trains and streetcars won’t be taking passengers for rides on this line until the project is completed. With that successful test done, the Tilikum Crossing remains closed to all traffic – including pedestrians – until service starts on the Orange light rail line on September 12th of this year.



Pipe bombs, Joe Reed

Pipe bombs tossed onto S.E. Flavel Drive from fleeing car

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

After getting a whiff of what he said smelled like “burning sulfur” coming from a plastic bag he’d seen tossed out the window of a car speeding past his house, Brentwood-Darlington resident Joe Reed remarked that he had no desire to explore the contents of the container. That was at about 5 pm on Tuesday, December 16.

Here’s how it came about: “I was out on my back porch, and I heard all of the sirens around the area – I didn’t pay much attention, because we hear it all the time,” Reed told THE BEE.

“I heard a siren coming down our street,” Reed continued. “A silver Honda just goes flying west on S.E. Flavel Drive. It gets close to the speed bump, it slows down just a little bit. The passenger in the car throws something out the window, and I can't see what it is.”

Walking up to the hastily-discarded gallon size plastic storage bag, Reed said, he saw in it a metal cylinder, about six inches long and two to three inches in diameter.

“Having worked for the TSA for eight years, I had a pretty good idea what was in that bag – a pipe bomb. And, I could smell sulfur, like somebody tried to light it. That’s when I backed away without touching it.” 

When a police car stopped nearby, Reed said he motioned the officer over, pointed out the bag, and made his concerns known about its contents.

“We both moved over on the other side of the street and started talking about what I saw,” Reed said.

Within minutes, other patrol cars flooded the area, blocking off S.E. Flavel Drive from 45th to 49th Avenues. Reed was told to go back into his house and “shelter in place” while officials began their investigation.


Neal Allen Panschow
This is how 43-year-old Neal Allen Panschow looked, as he was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. (MCDC booking photo)

“When [officers] later knocked on the door and told me all was clear, they also said they found two pipe bombs in the bag,” Reed revealed. “And, they said they found two additional pipe bombs just down the street, in another bag.”

Based on his training, Reed said that, if any one of the bombs had detonated, metal shrapnel could have ripped through houses in the area, and heavily damaged vehicles. “It is scary.”

Law enforcement officers had already been looking for 43-year-old Neal Allen Panschow, who they suspected was the one driving the possibly-stolen silver two-door 2002 Honda Civic that Reed saw speeding past his house.

“Panschow has an active warrant from Tillamook County, and investigators believe he has been driving the vehicle for the past few days and has led police on three pursuits in Clackamas and Multnomah Counties,” remarked Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“A home-made spike strip was used [by Panschow] to elude authorities during an incident in Clackamas County,” Simpson told THE BEE.

Earlier that day, Panschow’s vehicle had been spotted in outer East Portland, and then again, at 4:41 pm, by East Precinct officers in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

“The driver was weaving across the center divider and fog line,” Simpson said, “When they ran the license plate, it came back as a suspect in an ‘assault and elude’ in Lake Oswego. And, when the driver took off from the traffic stop at S.E. 60th and Duke Street, the pursuit began.”

Officers lost sight of the vehicle near S.E. 50th Avenue and Flavel Drive, Simpson confirmed, but were then flagged down by Reed.

After officers cordoned off the area, the Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit (MEDU) team members carefully scooped up the devices.

“MEDU is continuing to examine the devices,” Simpson said. “All indications at this point are that they are legitimate explosive devices.”

And there the matter lay, until about 4 pm on Sunday, December 21. That’s when East Precinct officers received information that Panschow was in the area of N.E. 79th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard – where officers were able to locate Panschow and arrest him.

With Panschow in custody, the Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit responded to check the area where he had been arrested. “MEDU technicians, assisted by a bomb-sniffing dog, swept the area and did not locate any active explosive devices,” Simpson said that afternoon.

Panschow was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 7:51 pm on the evening of his capture. However, his stay in the downtown Portland facility was brief. He was released to the custody of, and was transported to, Tillamook County – where he faces previous charges.

COPS WITH CANDY CANES FOR KIDS. At Llewellyn Elementary School in Westmoreland, as the students began to arrive in light rain for the last day of school before the Holiday Break, they were greeted by a couple dozen uniformed Portland Police officers – armed with bags of candy canes, and bestowing season’s greetings! It was the second year Llewellyn benefited by this Christmas event the officers perform for a few schools each year – an appearance requested by the school’s new Principal, Joe Galati. The kids, their parents, the officers, and Galati (that’s him, under the umbrella) all began December 19th on this fun note. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

REALLY PILING ON. Sometime late on December 11, gusty winds in Inner Southeast brought down multiple trunks of a tree that seemingly failed at the base – with most of them landing on the house at 7708 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. The photo was taken by Alisha Runckel, and was sent on to THE BEE by her husband, Blake. This is not their house; they live nearby on S.E. 17th. It does not appear that damage to the structure was substantial, but removing all those trunks certainly had to be an annoyance. (Courtesy of Alisha Runckel)

EMBERS IN DISCARDED ASHES CAUSE EASTMORELAND FIRE. The crew of Westmoreland’s Fire Engine 20, across from Westmoreland Park on S.E. Bybee Boulevard, could see thick smoke the moment their rig topped the Bybee Bridge at 2:49 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20, as they responded to what was called in as a residential fire. When firefighters arrived at 2756 S.E. Bybee Boulevard, they found a detached garage on fire. The blaze was quickly brought under control, and then extinguished. “The quick call to 9-1-1 likely kept this fire from spreading to the house,” commented PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons. “No injuries were associated with this fire.” Following up on the incident, PF&R spokesman Ron Rouse looked up the Fire Investigator’s report for THE BEE. “There is still no damage estimate listed. It does show that this fire was started by improperly-discarded ashes, in a bag, in the garage.” (Story by David F. Ashton; photo by Eric Norberg)


cops, candy canes, Llewellyn Elementary School
Tree trunks collapse on house
Eastmoreland fire, garage fire
Ron Wyden, town hall protest, protesters, disruption
Protesters unable to fit into Wyden’s Town Hall ringed the room, pressing their signs up to the windows. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Protesters block S.E. 82nd, disrupt Wyden “Town Hall”

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Typically busy on a holiday weekend, the Saturday traffic along S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses slowed to a standstill on Saturday, January 3rd, starting at about 1 pm, when a group calling itself “Hands Up Portland” set off northbound on a march.

Gathering near the McDonald’s Restaurant just south of S.E. Foster Road, many of the protesters made it clear they would not observe traffic laws as they walked, crossing through intersections against the traffic signals.

Some emboldened demonstrators showed little regard for their own safety, either, when they marched into the traffic lanes of S.E. 82nd, challenging drivers to stop or run them down.

“Officers contacted the group, and instructed protesters to use the sidewalk and clear the roadway for vehicular traffic,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “Two protesters refused to go to the sidewalk, and were arrested by police.”

Whenever police cleared an area, protesters taunted drivers by dashing back into the street, and slowly walking through major intersections. 

In front of Eastport Plaza, traffic again came to a standstill when marchers stopped traffic – some with the aid of vehicles – and brandished placards.

“Two drivers of vehicles associated with the protesters were given citations for failing to yield to emergency vehicles, and other violations,” Simpson reported.

Eventually, police herded the unruly group to their stated destination, a “Multnomah County Town Hall” held by Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden at the Portland Community College Southeast Campus at S.E. Division Street.

As many as 120 protesters rushed the door at Tabor Hall, some pushing aside other participants who came see Wyden give an award to an Eastmoreland World War II veteran [see separate story in this issue of THE BEE], and to speak at the 2:30 pm meeting.

Because most media, including this reporter, were prevented from entering Tabor Hall, due to what staff called “overcrowded conditions”, anecdotal reports had it that the protesters took over the meeting, showing no respect to the other participants.

After about a half hour of disruption, Wyden gave up, and reportedly met with a few attendees in a side room, away from the still-chanting crowd.

As THE BEE returned to the parking lot, officers asked us if we had learned why demonstrators were protesting. We consulted our notes. “Police brutality”, demands for $15/hour minimum wages, union rights, ecology issues, and demands that Oregon could be “sued by China under the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, were some of the diverse issues represented.

“Arrested for Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree were 36-year-old Katharine M. Moore and 51-year-old Malcolm J. Chaddock,” Simpson later told us.

Both Moore and Chaddock were booked into the Multnomah County Dentition Center (MCDC), but were released later that day on their “Own Recognizance”.

“There were no further arrests after protesters left the campus at approximately 4 pm,” Simpson concluded.

Wyden later said his Town Hall meeting would be rescheduled; but, despite the rowdy protesters, the scheduled honors presentation to Dario Raschio, a 100-year-old World War II Navy veteran who lives in Eastmoreland, did occur before the meeting ended in disarray.





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