More stories from May's issue of THE BEE!

Sellwood Community Center, budget cuts
Some of the two-dozen supporters from the “Friends of Sellwood Community Center” warmed up for their presentations before the only City of Portland Budget Hearing east of the Willamette River, at which four City Commissioners – including the city’s Mayor – were present. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood Community Center boosters protest funding-cut threat


Although Alice Ott Middle School is located 115 blocks east of the Sellwood Community Center, a large contingent of the Center’s supporters showed up at the City of Portland Budget Hearing at the school, on the evening of Tuesday, April 12.

Before this official meeting of the Portland City Council – at which Commissioners Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, late-arriving Nick Fish, and Mayor Charlie Hales were present – the Chair of SMILE’s Friends of Sellwood Community Center Committee, Gail Hoffnagle, told THE BEE why they were there.

“For the sixth time in ten years, the Sellwood Community Center is again on the funding ‘chopping block’,” Hoffnagle frowned.

“They say it is because the city would have to provide $80,000 in general fund money for it,” Hoffnagle explained. “Yet, the community center brought in $420,000 this year, and it has the most ‘participation per square foot’ of any Community Center of the city.

“It's a little odd that this is a Center that they want to close,” Hoffnagle went on. “It’s well used, well loved, and it’s been a cornerstone of our neighborhood for more than 90 years. And the city is making money on it! We hope our testimony and show of support will change their minds.”

Asked to comment, Eastmoreland neighbor and Portland neighbor Charlie Hales told THE BEE, “We ask all Bureaus to show us what they would do if they only got 95% of the money that they got last year.  It’s a good discipline to do that, even if it causes some anxiety when they come up with a list of what they would cut.

“That’s what has happened with Sellwood Community Center; the Parks Bureau put it on their list of cuts,” Hales said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t have funding for the Center.”

The Sellwood group was lucky enough to have their names chosen in the “testimony lottery” – and it was difficult for Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz and the other Commissioners to overlook the group, which was dressed in red T-shirts and was holding placards.

The Sellwood Community Center is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, by the way.

The final Public Budget Hearing will be in City Hall Chambers on May 12, from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m.; and is scheduled for City Council action on June 9.

Johnson Creek Boulevard, fatal, crash
Although his car was damaged when it rolled head-on into a utility pole on Johnson Creek Boulevard, the driver who died had not suffered any traumatic injuries, police say. (Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

Driver dies in minor crash on Johnson Creek Blvd


A passerby on S.E. Johnson Creek Boulevard called police at 5:14 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, reporting a single-car accident at 37th Avenue. Portland police officers found a blue-green Geo Hatchback Sedan had gone off the road and bumped into a utility pole.

“The driver was found in medical distress,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “Officers assisted medical personnel helping the subject, who was transported to an area hospital in critical condition.”

The Portland Police Major Crash Team came to the scene to investigate.

No skid marks lead up to the crash. “It appears as if the vehicle crossed the roadway and collided with a telephone pole,” Simpson said. “While it remains unknown if impairment played a role in the crash, it appears as if speed was not a factor.”

The driver, later identified as 54-year-old Gyula Hatos of the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, died at the hospital. Hatos wasn’t far from his home on S.E. Harney Drive when the accident occurred.

“At this point, the cause of death is undetermined as it does not appear that Hatos suffered any traumatic injuries as a result of the crash,” Simpson said. A medical condition may have been the cause.

Water pipe, inspections, Portland
One PWB crew member helps another suit up – before heading into a 60-inch diameter underground water main for an inspection. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Workers pique neighbors’ curiosity with pipe inspections


Westmoreland neighbors became curious when crews of workers blocked off a lane of S.E. 17th Avenue, 23rd Avenue, and S.E. Ellis Street, placing folding canopies over lifting rigs above maintenance shafts (you know these as “manholes”) in the roadway.

There were top-side workers, and also crew members dressed in yellow “bunny suits” covering them from neck to boot, with openings taped up. Before they were lowered into the maintenance shaft, the suited workers sloshed their feet in a large pan of what smelled like chlorine sanitizer. An ambulance vehicle, labeled “All Hazards Rescue”, was parked nearby.

When THE BEE asked what was happening, we received a terse-but-descriptive reply, “Inspecting a water main”.

To find out more, we contacted Portland Water Bureau (PWB) Public Information Officer Jaymee Cuti.

“Members of the PWB Engineering staff, along with specially-trained Maintenance and Construction and Operations workers, were inspecting what is called the Washington County Supply Line,” Cuti informed.

“We cannot disclose the specific location of our large mains for security reasons,” Cuti said. It’s a 14-mile-long, 60-inch diameter concrete cylinder pipe, which was installed between 1980 and 1984, that runs from Powell Butte to Southwest Portland.”

Because this is considered by OSHA to be “confined space entry”, the crew was equipped with oxygen level air monitors, ventilation, rescue equipment, and specially trained personnel on site, to oversee the entry and safe exit of these workers, Cuti told THE BEE.

Inspectors aren’t “swimming” in the big pipe, Cuti said; each section was “dewatered” before the examination.

“Once inside, crews are inspecting and documenting the condition of the interior concrete lining,” Cuti explained. “Along about a one-mile segment, they’re looking for defects, cracks, or exposed metal.

“Late March was a good time for such inspections and maintenance for this large transmission pipeline, because it’s off off-peak season,” Cuti said. “We are planning to inspect key portions of our major conduits annually over the next three to five years to assess the condition of our transmission/conduit system.”

After the inspection, the workers packed up and left, and there was no further work done, so apparently the huge pipes are in satisfactory condition.

Kona, missing dog, found dead, car theft, Portland
The owner sent out this photo of his missing dog on Twitter, hoping someone would find Kona and claim a cash reward.

Suspect arrested, indicted in Southeast car theft and dog death


A dog which was stolen along with the car it was in – while its owner briefly stepped away, on the warm afternoon of April 7 – was found dead days later, still inside the abandoned vehicle, on April 12.

Bill Robbins, the owner of Sweet Leaf Illusions at 8434 S.E. 82nd Avenue at Harney Street, opposite the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, near “Cartlandia” and the Springwater Trail, said he’d left his Great Dane-Lab mix, Kona, in a locked – but idling – car behind his business.

Robbins had left the black Hyundai Elantra running, with its air conditioner on, in order to help Kona stay cool while he went into the store to pick up a deposit. Minutes later, when he returned, the car and his dog were gone.

Moments later, at 4:27 p.m. that afternoon, Portland East Precinct officers responded to the store on the report of a stolen vehicle with the owner’s dog inside, said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Greg Stewart.

But, because Robbins didn’t have proof of ownership, or know the license plate number of the car – and because the vehicle was not registered to him – there was little that officers could do, other than broadcast the description of the missing vehicle and dog, Stewart said.

The marijuana dispensary’s surveillance video showed a man casually walking up to the car, trying the driver’s side door, then opening the rear door and unlocking the driver’s side door, and getting into the driver’s seat.

When the man entered, Kona playfully greeted him before he drove out of the store’s rear parking lot.

Robbins told reporters that he was in the store for only five minutes when he realized his car was gone. Although he recalled locking the doors, Robbins wondered if his dog might have accidentally unlocked the back door of the vehicle.

Even though Robbins and his friends put up fliers and posted about the theft on Facebook, offering a $5,000 reward for Kona’s return, there was no response for five long days.

But, on April 12, Robbins’ business received a call from a woman who said she’d seen the flier, and that the missing car was parked near S.E. 91st Avenue and Cooper Street, across from Kelly Elementary School. Police officers arrived there at 4:44 p.m. “The caller had found the vehicle and unfortunately, the dog was deceased,” Stewart said.

“The Forensic Evidence Division responded to process the vehicle and detectives have been assigned to this case,” Stewart added at the time.

“This dog has been with me every single minute of the day; he was the friendliest dog ever,” Robbins sorrowfully told reporters. “The guy [who stole my car] literally killed my dog; we need to get him arrested. I’m offering up to $8,000 as a reward to find whoever is responsible.”

It’s not clear if it occurred because of the cash reward, or as a result of tips from infuriated people who had heard about it, but police were able to make an arrest in the case at about 5:45 p.m. on April 14.

Detectives first thought they were looking for a man who went by the name Francisco Gomez Romero. That only briefly threw them off the trail.

“Officers and detectives arrested 34-year-old Francisco Vincent Gonzalez in connection with the auto theft investigation, where the car owner’s dog was left inside and ultimately died,” Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson revealed late April 14th.

Gonzalez was arrested outside a motel room at the Super Value Inn Motel, 5205 N. Interstate Avenue. And, despite the suspect’s apparent total disregard for the safety of the dog in the stolen car, it appears he owned a dog himself.

“Officers checking Gonzalez’ hotel room located a medium-sized dog inside that was turned over to Multnomah County Animal Control, and later was released to Gonzalez’ daughter. And, at the time of his arrest, Gonzales was in possession of a methamphetamine pipe,” added Simpson.

Francisco Vincent Gonzalez, Kathy Gutierrez, dead dog, stolen car
34-year-old Francisco Vincent Gonzalez, left, was arrested and booked on numerous charges, ranging from vehicle theft to Aggravated Animal Abuse. Arrested for helping her husband to try to elude capture was 33-year-old Linda Kathy Gutierrez, right. (MCDC booking photos)
Gonzales was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 11:34 p.m. that evening, on charges of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Theft in the First Degree (two counts), Aggravated Animal Abuse, and Possession of Methamphetamine.

“The hotel room was rented by Gonzales’ wife, 33-year-old Linda Kathy Gutierrez, who was arrested later at a different North Portland address,” Simpson observed; she was apparently known to police because of prior incidents.

She was booked into MCDC at 10:57 p.m. the same evening on one count of Hindering Prosecution. She was released on the morning of April 15 on her own recognizance.

BEE news partner KOIN-TV-6 was present at Gonzales’ arraignment on April 15, and reported that When Gonzalez appeared in court, Robbins had his chance to come face to face with the man who had killed his best friend.

“I’m just doing this for my Kona. Someone needs to speak for him,” Robbins said. “He wasn’t able to speak for himself, and I kind of let him down, so I’m trying to do this for him, and hopefully we can start to try and change the laws around here.”

Robbins said he was also disgusted to learn that Gonzalez himself was a dog owner. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “There’s people out there abusing animals left and right.”

Gonzalez’ charges include two counts of first-degree theft – and one count each of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, second-degree animal abuse, first-degree animal abuse, second-degree animal neglect, first-degree animal neglect, animal abandonment, and identity theft. He is being held in lieu of $135,000 bail.

An indictment was returned against Gonzalez on all these charges, as was an indictment against Gutierrez on the charge against her, on April 21st by a Multnomah County Grand Jury.

According to KOIN, Gonzalez’ neighbors said they knew something wasn’t right with him. “We’ve had problems with him, and it’s not just us. He’s been up to the neighbor’s house on the front porch and messed with them a little bit, and it was kind of scary,” said neighbor Mark Courville.

Prior to the Grand Jury, and at the request of law enforcement, the remains of Kona were transported to the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. A full forensic examination of Kona was conducted. A comprehensive report is still pending, but the preliminary findings are that there are no indications that Kona was subjected to any form of physical trauma prior to his death.

Robbins says that subsequent to the autopsy he took Kona’s body to property he owns in Southern Oregon, and buried his dog “in a place with a view of the Siskiyou Mountains.”

ODOT, Nicole Pierce, Harold to Harrison, repaving project, McLoughlin, Highway 99W
ODOT Region 1 Project Leader Nicole Peirce shows where the old Crystal Springs Creek Bridge under McLoughlin near Bybee Boulevard will be demolished, and replaced with a stronger, wider, fish-friendly culvert.

ODOT to repave McLoughlin – Harold to Harrison – in summer of 2017


At an April 7 open house at SMILE Station in Sellwood, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials revealed that Oregon Route 99E – more commonly known as S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard – will be repaved a little over a year from now. As part of that, it will actually be closed to traffic altogether, for up to four weekends, to replace a bridge at Crystal Springs Creek.

This major job – tearing out the old bridge between S.E. Tolman Street and Bybee Boulevard, and replacing it with precast concrete culvert segments, seven feet wider than the existing underpass  -- won’t take place until the summer of 2017, assured ODOT Region 1 Project Leader Nicole Peirce.

“The Crystal Springs Creek Bridge has rotting wooden piles; we were going to load-rate the bridge, keeping off heavy vehicles like trucks and buses, and did an ‘emergency fix’ a couple of years ago,” Peirce told THE BEE.

The bridge replacement is part of what ODOT calls the Oregon Highway 99E “Harold Street to Harrison Street Paving Project”. Contractors will grind, repave, and restripe McLoughlin Boulevard (which is what Highway 99E is, in this area), from S.E. Harold Street in Portland to just north of S.E. Harrison Street in downtown Milwaukie.

In the section from Harold Street to the south end of Westmoreland Park, the outside eleven feet of pavement on both sides of the highway will undergo full reconstruction.

“The pavement in that segment is really bad,” Peirce explained. “There are areas where the existing pavement was laid over some old concrete panels. At the edge of those concrete panels, the asphalt has little support, and is cracking and breaking up.”

Afour4-foot wide section in Milwaukie from Oregon Highway 224 to S.E. Ochoco Street will also require reconstruction, Peirce added.

The project, estimated to cost between $7 million and $9 million, will also include:

  • Upgrading approximately 25 sidewalk ramps on McLoughlin so that they meet ADA-accessibility standards
  • Repair joints and replace the membrane on the Johnson Creek Bridge.

Although the start of the project is further than a year away, Peirce said they were holding the open house to inform the public, and solicit comments.

“We will be doing other outreach activities once we have a contractor on board, and know more of the details of how things will actually go,” Peirce said.

Steele Street, T bone crash, car airborne
After being broadsided at an intersection, the Nissan Altima flew over the hood of this parked Pontiac Grand Prix GT before coming to rest in the yard of a Woodstock home. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

T-boned car soars; lands in Woodstock yard


Inattentiveness may have led the driver of a large SUV to not see a stop sign – and plow into a sedan entering a Woodstock neighborhood intersection, at 4:26 p.m. on April 15.

A witness said the white GMC Yukon SUV was northbound on S.E. 74th Avenue, and didn’t even slow down for the stop sign at Steele Street. The SUV broadsided a silver Nissan Altima that was westbound on Steele.

The impact caused the Nissan to careen over the hood of a Pontiac Grand Prix GT that was parked near the intersection, owned by Miguel Barber.

“I was playing video games and I heard the crash, even though we had our game sound turned up pretty loud,” Barber said. “We looked out the window and saw a car flying through the air, crashing through the fence, and smashing into a tree in the front yard.”

House resident Michael Pritchett said the crash “Sounded like an explosion. I’ve seen many cars fly through the stop sign at this intersection without even slowing down. It’s a narrow little street; but people drive here like it’s a freeway.”

The husband of the woman whose Nissan was hit was arguing with police about how the accident wasn’t his wife’s fault; however, it came out during the conversation that the car was not insured.

A Portland Police Bureau officer at the scene said, with an ambulance was having arrived, that the driver of the Nissan could have a precautionary transport to a hospital for evaluation, but not an entry into the trauma system.

The driver of the Yukon may be cited for Failure to Yield Right-of-way, the officer said.

Sellwood Middle School, brick chimney, remodel
At Sellwood Middle School, this tall brick chimney – which dates back to the concrete building’s construction in 1914, and is no longer in use – will be removed this summer, at the same time that many other improvements to the school will be made. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Sellwood Middle School begins improvements in June


Sellwood Middle School Principal Brian Anderson announces that the planned remodeling of the school’s historic building will begin immediately following the end of school in early June.

Funding from the 2012 School Improvement Bond has finally reached Sellwood, and the project team plans to complete the work this summer. No streets in the area should be closed, although there will be increased construction traffic in and around the school grounds, possibly into the evenings and weekends.

“The school will be closed all summer, including all offices,” confirmed Anderson. “Sellwood Middle School summer programs and office staff will be relocated to other sites, although the fields and/or playground should remain open.

“School registration will take place at the Portland Public Schools District Office, at 501 N. Dixon Street.” During the project, construction fencing will surround the school, including the asphalt walkways and the parking areas.

The history of the school dates back to1893, when construction began on a five-room wooden schoolhouse facing Umatilla Street. The school opened for use in 1894. In 1903, the schoolhouse expanded to eight rooms, and added indoor plumbing. The present concrete building was built in 1914 for primary students, while intermediate and upper grade students remained in the old wooden structure until it was torn down in 1926.

That same year, an addition to the concrete building was completed. In 1975 the school became known as Sellwood Middle School, housing sixth through eighth grade classes. Decorative details around the roof line include owls at the top of columns – a traditional symbol of wisdom.

The details of the new construction include roof-level seismic improvements, with re-roofing that includes new insulation, rooftop mechanical improvements, new roofing materials, and roof ladders. The tall brick chimney will be removed, and there will be new ADA drinking fountains and door hardware.

Anderson tells THE BEE, “The science classroom improvements will include new overhead electrical outlets, an accessible sink and eyewash station, added cabinetry, new science tables and chairs, and new flooring and paint.”

There should be no delay in the start of school in the fall; all work is to be done by then.

Franklin High School, remodel, update, Benjamin Franklin
The famed statue of Benjamin Franklin, after whom Franklin High is named, oversees the construction of the school’s new sports field and Gym/Bio-Med Building. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Franklin High: Fixing the old, building the new


Both inside and outside the historic Franklin High School buildings on S.E. Woodward Street, major changes are visible as the major renovation project continues.

“Some parts of the ‘heart of the project’, the original historic 1915 building, continue to be selectively removed, as necessary,” pointed out Portland Public Schools Bond Communications Manager David Mayne.

As he took THE BEE on a tour of that building in mid-April, Mayne observed that one of the key landmarks of that building, the staircase at the main entry, has been demolished, to make way for a new “Grand Entry and Staircase” that will take its place.

As we strolled through, we saw that many of the new load-bearing walls that run from below the ground level up to the roof were now in place, standing at odd angles to one another in large open spaces that will later become classrooms and teachers’ offices.

Looking into the hollowed out historic auditorium was breathtaking – much of the sloping floor on the main level had been removed – making the cafeteria below visible. The historic stage does remain for the time being.

Outside, near S.E. 52nd Avenue, the main-floor concrete slab has been poured for the new Performing Arts Building, and masons have stacked concrete block walls up to ceiling height.

“The new theater will have less seating than the old auditorium,” Mayne conceded. “However, the building will also now feature a new ‘Black Box Theater’, which will be used for more intimate productions.”

To the north, next to the reoriented track, the school’s new Gym/Bio-Med Building walls are now up above “Level 0” – the location of the weight room/locker rooms/bio-med classrooms. Workers are preparing to build the wall of Level 1 – for the new gymnasium, where all-school assemblies will be held; as well as the concessions center, and the Culinary Arts department.

“Overall, the project remains on budget and on schedule,” Mayne said. But considerable work still needs to be done, and THE BEE will keep you up to date on its progress.

Motorcycle crash, fatal, SE Powell Boulevard, U Haul
Damage to the box of the U-Haul truck was minimal, but the speeding motorcycle’s impact into its side killed the rider.

Motorcyclist dies in Powell Boulevard crash


The life of a motorcyclist riding on a beautiful morning was cut short at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 31st, when he slammed broadside, into a turning U-Haul box truck on S.E. Powell Boulevard near 48th Avenue.

A worker who was inside at Eastside Moving & Storage – a building which faces the crash site – said the collision sounded like “a fully-loaded storage container falling from a high rack onto the concrete floor.”

The truck suffered no noticeable damage; the motorcycle appeared to have struck the front corner of the box on the passenger side of the truck.

“Medical personnel arrived and began to treat the motorcycle rider for injuries, but he was non-responsive and died at the scene,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Officers shut down Powell Boulevard while the Bureau’s Traffic Division Major Crash Team began an investigation.

“Witnesses told police that the motorcycle rider was traveling westbound on Powell at a speed above the posted 35 m.p.h. limit, at the time of the crash,” Simpson later said.

Investigators determined that the driver of a 2016 Ford 16-foot U-Haul truck had been turning left, from eastbound Powell Boulevard into the U-Haul parking lot, on the North side of the street, said Simpson.

“The U-Haul driver remained at the scene and was not impaired by alcohol or drugs, and there is no indication that he was operating his cell phone or other electronic device,” Simpson added.

As THE BEE went to press, the motorcycle rider had only publicly been identified as a 37-year-old man; presumably family notifications were still in progress.

Brooklyn neighborhood, Portland, Oregon, sewer project
With S.E. 8th closed for the work, city construction workers get busy on the major sewer repairs in Brooklyn. The buildings of downtown are visible in the distance. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Sewer repair project causes detours in Brooklyn


Eastmoreland, Westmoreland, and Sellwood have recently suffered through it, and Woodstock has had some already, and will have some more. But right now it’s Brooklyn’s turn for sewer repairs.

In mid-April, Matt Gough, Community Outreach Officer for Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, announced that starting around May 9, sewer construction on Powell Boulevard would close the ramp from northbound S.E 17th Avenue to westbound Powell completely for nearly two months. Traffic will be detoured to S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard – but that detour will not affect pedestrians, bicyclists, or Southbound traffic on S.E. 17th Avenue.

“The project will replace &repair 4,508 feet of aging sewer pipe,” reported Gough. “The work will include installing 22 green street planters and planting trees to absorb rain and reduce stormwater runoff. The project will keep about 1.6 million gallons of stormwater out of sewers annually, increase sewer system capacity, and reduce basement backups. For more information, call 503/823-5352. To view a map of the detour, go to:"

But sewer repairs are already well underway elsewhere in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Landis Construction, the project contractor, brought in supplies and heavy equipment and has been working on S.E. 8th and 10th Avenues. After completing mainline sewer construction on S.E. 10th Avenue near Brooklyn Park, crews moved to S.E. 8th Avenue between Powell Boulevard and Franklin Street, setting up “Road Closed” signs before commencing work. Following mainline sewer construction, an additional crew was added to the project team to focus on completing public lateral sewer connections. 

All this work is part of the Lower Powell Green Street and Sewer Repair Project. On-street parking in the area is restricted near work zones – although sewer, water, and other utilities will remain in service. Construction hours are expected to run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, although there may be periods of inactivity due to weather, subcontractor schedules, and availability of materials. A city inspector will be on-site routinely, to assist with immediate needs.

Thomas Peacock, Gresham rape, Oaks Bottom
Thomas Peacock, 50, is back in custody for parole violation, in addition to a new sexual crime in Gresham. He was arrested near Oaks Bottom. (MCDC booking photo)

Gresham rape suspect arrested near Oaks Bottom in Sellwood


Police came to Sellwood to arrest Thomas Peacock, 50, of Portland, in the case of a sexual assault that occurred on the Springwater corridor near S.W. Highland Drive in Gresham on Friday, March 18th.

Peacock was identified as the suspect, reportedly with the assistance of a relative. Detective Fred Huffman said, “The Gresham Police Tip Line assisted with identifying Peacock as the suspect.”

Police learned that Peacock had an outstanding arrest warrant from the Oregon State Parole Board for the underlying charge of Homicide.        

Early in the afternoon of Thursday, March 24, Police received a tip that Peacock might be in the area of Oaks Park. Gresham Police Detectives and members of the East Metro SWAT Team responded to the area, and located Peacock near the entrance of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Peacock was taken into custody without incident.  

Peacock was booked into MCDC – the Multnomah County Detention Center – on an outstanding parole warrant, Rape in the first degree, Kidnapping in the first degree, Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the first degree, and Robbery in the first degree.

When he was arraigned in Multnomah County Court, it was revealed that a 22-year-old woman got a flat tire when riding her bike on the Springwater Trail in Gresham. She asked a man, now identified as Peacock, to help her change her tire, and was raped.

According to correction records, Peacock was a felon on parole.

Peacock pleaded not guilty to the charges on March 25, and remains in custody at MCDC, reportedly in an isolation cell on a Probation Hold, and in lieu of $1.255 million combined bail.

Wikman, Arleta Library, Carnegie Library, National Register, Historic Places
The Wikman Building, built by the Carnegie Foundation in 1918 as the Arleta Branch Library, just east of S.E. Foster Road on Holgate, has just been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

“Arleta Branch Library” building now on National Historic Register


For several years, Multnomah County officials considered what to do with the former Arleta Branch Library building, on Holgate just east of Foster Road, that they’d renamed the Wikman Building, and now was used as a program administrative office.

In community meetings, ideas were bandied about – ranging from turning “Carnegie Library” style structure into a community-run cafe, into a farmer’s market, or into a business incubator space.

However, on October 15, 2015, it was sold to private buyers for $260,000. 

Neighbors were concerned that it could be turned into another strip club or tavern – or might be torn down to make way for housing. But a better fate lay in store for it.

While the exterior of the building remains intact, new businesses have taken root inside the historic structure – Saint Frank’s Music retail music store, and Hallowed Hall.

“We’ve been really excited to be here,” said Deanna Phelps of Saint Frank’s Music. “We’ve had visitors who have been doing tours of old Carnegie libraries. They were excited to see the way the building has been preserved.”

At some later date, Phelps said she’d have THE BEE in for a tour of the building where, she said, there is now the largest live recording studio in the Pacific Northwest.

And now, as of March 15, this 1918 brick Colonial Revival-style building has new significance: It has been assigned record #16000088 in the National Register of Historic Places, which is maintained by the National Park Service, under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

“This is one of only three libraries in Portland that are individually listed in the National Register,” remarked State of Oregon Historic Preservation Office Historian Ian Johnson.

With its new owners, and with a unique creative use, this important building will continue to be an iconic structure in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood of Inner Southeast Portland.

Hogate Boulevard, collision, red light
ANOTHER ONE, AT A CRASH-PRONE CROSSING. The S.E. Holgate Boulevard at Milwaukie Avenue intersection has north-south light-controlled turn lanes, and traffic lights in all four directions. The view is not obstructed. Yet over and over, cars crash there. This time, at 9:53 pm on Friday, April 15, the collision spun two wrecked cars into the corner at Houndogs’ Bar and Grill. Engine 20, an ambulance, and two police officers responded. Although there seemed to be no serious injuries, from the way the two cars impacted, it seemed to us that someone must have run the light. (Photo by Eric Norberg)
Foster Road, fire, unattended candle
One resident was displaced after a pre-dawn fire ripped through the front rooms of this house at 4116 S.E. 67th Avenue. It was caused by an unattended candle.

Fast firefighters save house on S.E. 67th


While most people were just awakening for the day, on Wednesday, March 23rd, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews were rolling out at 6:07 a.m., responding to the report of a house on fire in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

“When the first crew arrived at 4116 S.E. 67th Avenue, they reported finding fire in the front room of the home,” reported PP&R Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

While some of the firefighters searched the residence, making sure all of the residents had gotten out, other crew members quickly extinguished the fire.

“No one was injured,” Lt. Rich Chatman later told THE BEE. “A fire investigator determined that this fire was unintentional, and was caused by a heat source – in this case a candle – that was too close to combustibles. Damage is estimated at $45,000.”

The American Red Cross, Cascades Region Disaster Action Team responded to the house to provide assistance to the displaced resident.

Multnomah County Fair, Oaks Amusement Park
Getting ready for this year’s event are “Friends of Multnomah County Fair” Photographic Superintendent Kim Walters; Board President Larry Smith; and 4-H Program Assistant, with the Oregon State University Extension Service, Courtney Lobo. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Coming Memorial Day Weekend: 110th Multnomah County Fair


Although the Fair isn’t until the last weekend in May, the volunteer board members of the Friends of the Multnomah County Fair are already hard at work getting ready for the three-day Memorial Day weekend celebration.

Long-time “Friends of Multnomah County Fair” Board President Rick Paul is now off managing the Harney County Fair in Burns, so long-time Board member, supporter, and award-winning back-yard gardener, Larry Smith has taken on the leadership duties this season.

“It ‘sneaks up’ on people, because we’re the only springtime county fair around,” Smith commented, during a meeting with Fair supporters at the host location – historic Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood – on April 20.

“Where the Road Ends, Fair Fun Begins” is the theme of this 110th annual Fair, Smith revealed.

 “New, this year, will be camel rides!” Smith smiled. “And, even though the Fair takes place in the spring, we’ll definitely have a lot of roses, spring flowers, and vegetables on display for judging. And we always have a good selection of crafts, arts, and cooking here.”

It’s easy to enter the competitions in the art, crafts, floral, foods, needlecraft, and photography categories; cash prizes will be awarded for the exhibits judged best, Smith said.  Special competition categories are available for youths (age 18 and under), senior citizens, and the physically challenged.

Smith added that he’d just reviewed the list of commercial exhibitors and food purveyors, and sees a “really good variety” of vendors this year. “We’ll have quite a bit of ‘fair food’, reasonably priced, compared to other fairs!”

Again this year, 4-H youths will be major participants.

“This year, 4-H entries at our Fair will be eligible for entry into the Oregon State Fair,” revealed 4-H Program Assistant with Oregon State University Extension Courtney Lobo. “So, small animals, as well as static [non-animal projects] exhibits, will qualify to go to the State Fair competition.”

The nonprofit Multnomah County Fair takes place May 28 through 30 – at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park, which is slightly older than the Fair itself. For more information, go online:

Ahad Muhammad, Melvin James Williams, gun bust on Powell Boulevard
28-year-old Ahad Muhammad, left, was charged with Parole Violation, and was jailed. 29-year-old Melvin James Williams, at right, was charged with Disorderly Conduct, but was released the same afternoon “on his own recognizance”. (Photos by David F. Ashton)

Fake guns, but real arrests, on 82nd at Powell


An attempted armed robbery in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven Store at the corner of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses and Powell Boulevard led to a foot pursuit by Portland Police (PPB) officers about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30.

“There were two guys, and one of them flashed a black gun, trying to rob guys in the parking lot,” reported Damien Williams, who said he’d been waiting for a bus across the street.

“One guy came [west] across the street, and over to the shopping center,” Williams said. “The other one was walking back and forth, between the Tic-Toc [Restaurant and Bar] and [Best Value Inns] motel.”

With calls coming in to the 9-1-1 Center reporting the pair of suspects, fully a dozen East Precinct police cruisers converged on the intersection. THE BEE was there to cover what happened next.

Responding police spotted the suspect on 82nd Avenue of Roses. “The man ran from officers and attempted to hide,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

As officers watched, the suspect ran across 82nd Avenue of Roses, and jumped a fence between the Berry’s Southeast Coin and Jewelry and an apartment building just to its west.

After cutting the lock of the fence gate, officers proceed cautiously, and found the suspect, later identified as 28-year-old Ahad Muhammad, trying to hide in fenced-off area.

“Muhammad was in possession of an Airsoft replica firearm in his backpack, and had a warrant for parole violation,” said Simpson.

After that suspect take-down, police units swarmed west, to the area of the L-shaped strip mall at 7901 S.E. Powell Boulevard, just south of the new WinCo grocery store, still under construction.

“Witness told officers that the second man, who also had a gun, had been ducking in an out of area businesses to avoid police contact,” Simpson said.

An employee of “Lotos Deli 2” came out and flagged down police.

“Officers located the second man, 29-year-old Melvin James Williams, and took him into custody; officers seized another Airsoft replica firearm from a nearby trash can and determined that Williams was the person seen displaying the gun earlier,” Simpson added.

Ahad Muhammad was booked into Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 2:04 p.m. that afternoon on a charge of Parole Violation. Muhammad remains in custody without bail.

Melvin James Williams was booked into MCDC at 2:01 p.m. on a charge of Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree. Later that afternoon, Williams was set free, without bail: “Released on Own Recognizance”.

George Armantrout, best seedling, daffodil show, Woodstock, Rhododendron Garden
Woodstock resident George Armantrout won the show’s ribbon for Best Standard Seedling. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Rhody Garden’s Daffodil Show included “Crackedpots Artists”


The free admission drew hundreds of visitors to the Daffodil Show and Early Rhododendron Sale at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens on April 2nd and 3rd. In addition to the flowers, on Saturday the 3rd there were also 27 curated artists from the “Crackedpots Artists” group, selling decorative upcycled art for urban gardens. These artists are committed to creatively reducing waste and shrinking landfills through their environmental art.

Artists spread tents across the parking lot, on S.E. 28th at the west edge of Reed College, and scattered displays throughout the garden – selling such items as gazing balls, wind chimes, metal flowers, insect-themed jewelry, and whimsical sculptures, all designed to add charm to garden vistas.

Betsy Ellen Soifer, a Rhododendron Garden volunteer and owner of “Recycle With Soifer” in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood, organized the artists for the show. “Our mission is to creatively look at trash,” she said. “Reuse is at the heart of what we do.” In keeping with this credo, posters were set up all along the garden’s paths, giving information and statistics on the benefits of recycling.

The Daffodil Show, which took place in the Shade House, featured about 700 specimens, nearly all from members of the Oregon Daffodil Society and daffodil hybridizers. Show Chair Steve Vinisky, owner of Cherry Creek Daffodils in Sherwood, introduced some of his new miniature hybrids. “There are currently over 30,000 different named varieties around the world,” he remarked. “Daffodils come in all shades of white and yellow; some with pink, red, and orange highlights. There’s always something new.”

The seven judges at the show were accredited by the American Daffodil Society. “We all go to Daffodil School,” explained Judging Chair Theresa Fritchle, Co-Secretary of the Oregon Daffodil Society. “There are 13 divisions of daffodils. Steve Vinisky won upwards of 20 ribbons, and Woodstock resident George Armantrout won the ribbon for Best Standard Seedling, after waiting six years for the bulb to mature! Best in Show was won by Portlander Aaron Myton for a glorious big white double bloom. It was hard to decide among the 22 finalists.”

Peggy Tigner, Treasurer of the Oregon Daffodil Society observed, “It’s exciting that the sun is out today. The weather is great, and people of all ages are here. If any BEE reader would like to join the Oregon Daffodil Society, call me at 1-541/466-3429, or President Margaret Pansegrau at 1-541/730-5829.” Tigner wore yellow daffodil earrings, and other ODS members wore sweatshirts with daffodil designs.

Down the path from the Shade House, Rhododendron Garden volunteers assisted shoppers purchasing colorful early blooming rhododendron plants and daffodils. Eastmorelanders Bob and Jan Schlesinger browsed among the rare specimens of narcissus and miniature daffodils, finally selecting some bright yellow blooms. It was a wonderful day to enjoy the many floral delights of spring.

SERT, armed man, 72nd Avenue
Along S.E. 72nd Avenue, SERT officers gather while crisis negotiators attempt to contact a man said to have fired off a gun outside his home and then gone inside with it. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Police defuse armed standoff on S.E. 72nd Avenue


Folks living near a house in the Brentwood Darlington neighborhood were on edge March 29, when an hours-long armed standoff there took place, bringing 32 police units into the neighborhood.

The Portland Police “Special Emergency Reaction Team” (SERT) and its Crisis Negotiation Team closed off S.E. 72nd Avenue between Cooper and Duke Streets after receiving a report that someone had fired a gun in the area at approximately 9:30 a.m.

East Precinct officers discovered that the subject had fired rounds from a military-style rifle outside his home, then gone back inside, where his girlfriend and two small children were situated.

“While there were no reports of injuries or damage, responding officers believed the person with the gun was inside the residence, and initial attempts to contact the residence proved unsuccessful,” said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“Officers learned that the man was distraught over some recent personal issues, which may have led to him firing the rifle outside his home,” Simpson reported. “After multiple attempts to contact people in the home went unanswered, SERT and the Crisis Negotiation Team were requested to respond to the scene to assist.”

After both special teams arrived, the subject’s girlfriend came outside to walk a dog, and was contacted by police. “Officers learned that no threats had been made towards her or the children, but that the kids were still inside the home,” remarked Simpson.

At about 2 p.m., the suspect, later identified as 28-year-old Michael Benjamin Dixon, surrendered peacefully to SERT officers, who took his firearm as evidence. “Officers checked the welfare of the kids, and determined they were just fine,” Simpson said.

Dixon was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 4:14 p.m. that afternoon on charges of Discharging a Firearm in the City (two counts), and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree. He was released the following day on his own recognizance, pending a further court appearance.

Shed fire, Brentwood Darlington, tower of fire
Firefighters worked on either side of a backyard shed on S.E. Bybee Boulevard, just west of 82nd Avenue – the scene of an unexplained explosion and “tower of fire”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Backyard fire leads to explosion and shed blaze


What was originally reported to Portland’s 9-1-1 center as “backyard garbage burning” turned out to be a fire that led to an explosion and flames shooting up across a lot line between two Brentwood-Darlington homes on the evening of Wednesday, April 20.

At 8:06 p.m., Lents’ Fire Engine 11 was the first to arrive at the location – 8116 S.E. Bybee Boulevard, a home on a “flag lot”, behind other houses that face the street.

Within minutes of arriving, the firefighters radioed to dispatchers asking them to “call a box” – that is, to re-dispatch the incident as a structure fire, to call out additional units to fight the growing conflagration that was belching thick acrid smoke into the evening sky.

A resident who lives on the cul-de-sac of S.E. 81st Place, the street just east of the fire, told THE BEE she’d been in her back yard and smelled smoke.

“I walked around to the front of my house and then, boom! There was a loud explosion and a ‘tower of fire’ that shot way up in the air, somewhere behind my neighbor’s garage!”

Two other neighbors and a police officer agreed they’d heard an explosion and saw fire “shoot up” from the back yard area behind the house on the flag lot, setting a shed on fire.

The flaming shed was about four feet from the back of a large, free-standing garage at 7117 S.E. 81st Place. Soon, the back of the building began to smoke and catch fire.

Woodstock’s Engine 25 rolled in, as did Gilbert Engine 29, followed by Westmoreland’s Engine 20’s crews. Four more units followed, with their firefighters joining those already on-scene to fight the growing blaze.

Crews simultaneously worked at the fire scene, and across the fence in the lot to the north, and in and around the garage to the east, in order to contain the fire.

By 8:32 p.m., firefighters had knocked down the flames and focused on putting out hot spots.

A Portland Fire & Rescue Arson Squad Investigator arrived at that point. As this issue of THE BEE went to press, there was still no information available about how the fire started, what caused the explosion that was heard by so many, and what the source was of the “tower of fire” that shot up into the sky.

But it was all quite spectacular, and brought in substantial fire resources from the surrounding area before it was extinguished.

car hits bike, broken bike
An officer carries off the broken bicycle. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

“Low sun” blamed in bike vs. car collision


Cloudless days and brilliant sunshine can make getting around hazardous, especially as the sun rises in the morning or sets late in the afternoon.

Emergency first responders were called to the intersection of S.E. 52nd Avenue at Knight Street at 6:47 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, after a bicyclist and automobile collided.

Witnesses said the red Ford Escort was traveling northbound on 52nd Avenue, and turning west on S.E. Knight Street as a bicyclist was starting across the intersection.

“The driver said he had sun in his eyes, and turned in front of the bicyclist,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart. “The bicycle rider hit the front of his car and went over, suffering a possible broken leg.”

The driver stayed at the scene, and information was exchanged. The bicyclist was hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery.

The point: Use extra caution when the sun is low on the horizon – whether driving, bicycling, or on foot.

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