More stories from July's issue of THE BEE!

Gas main break, Sellwood Bridge
Natural gas shrieks, as it escapes from the broken four-inch main line, struck by a backhoe at 6th and S.E. Tacoma Street in Sellwood. The high velocity of the gas, normally transparent, resulted in a vapor haze perceptible here at upper left.

Major gas main break shuts Sellwood Bridge traffic


All Sellwood Bridge traffic briefly came to a halt on Monday afternoon, June 8, at 1:41 pm, when a backhoe operator working in the northwest section of the intersection of S.E. 6th Avenue at Tacoma Street hit ruptured a major natural gas underground pipe.

Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s crew were first on the scene, later joined by Hawthorne Station 9 firefighters six minutes later.

They didn’t need their electronic gas detectors to find the broken line. “As we walked up to it, at a half block away, the sound of the escaping gas was so loud, we couldn’t hear each other, even over our radios,” a firefighter told THE BEE.

From a block away, the gas was escaping with such velocity it shrieked, whistled, and howled. Natural gas is normally invisible, but the high velocity gas vapor was visible – shooting some 30 feet above the excavated hole.

“We’ve evacuated nearby businesses and homes,” reported PF&R Battalion Chief Kevin Shanders. “Because of the light breeze, and because it’s in the open, the gas is quickly dissipating as it escapes from the four-inch natural gas main.”

School buses taking groups of kids to and from historic Oaks Amusement Park were delayed, and then escorted around the area on S.E. Spokane Street.

Northwest Natural Gas workers approached the pit with caution. After retrieving tools from their rigs, they returned to the gas line. At 2:21 pm, there was a dramatic reduction in the noise level, signaling that the workers had managed to shut off the flow of the gas.

Before the evening rush hour began, the ruptured line was sealed, and the Sellwood Bridge was reopened to traffic.

Kilt Irish Pub, holdup, suspects arrested
KILT bartender Angela Helmick told THE BEE nothing like this holdup had ever happened previously during her four years of bartending experience. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Arrests made in Woodstock armed robbery


While most residents were sleeping on Friday, May 24th, at 3:30 am two employees at KILT Irish Pub, Woodstock’s newest restaurant, had pistols thrust in their faces.

The business, at 4336 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, was robbed of over $5,000.  The robbery took place when two men broke through the glass door on the east side of the building and entered the restaurant, which had closed just an hour before.

The suspects are described as two white males, who at the time of the crime had bandanas over their faces.  One was wearing a black hoodie, the other a red one. Each wore a hat.

Tyson Miltenberger, owner of KILT, described the scene. “Both Danny, our DJ, and Angela, our bartender, said that the criminals were shaking really badly and appeared to be scared during the crime. They cleaned out both tills, employees’ tips, our DJ’s laptop, his hard drive with thousands of songs, and the iPad he just bought.  Then the two robbers ran south on S.E. 44th Avenue.”

While detectives were responding to the robbery, a man living in the 4900 block of S.E. 71st Avenue called in to report that he had just been robbed at gunpoint while walking from his house to his car.  That crime was at 3:15 am, a mere fifteen minutes earlier than the KILT holdup.

Three weeks after the robbery, a detective with the Portland Police Bureau told THE BEE that they had made arrests, but as of yet there were no indictments, and none of the material loss has been recovered. The suspects, not yet publicly identified, remain in custody on other outstanding warrants. 

The police believe these suspects were also responsible for robberies at the Commodore Lounge Grill downtown, and at the Daily Double in East Portland. They also say they think the pair are also responsible for the “sidewalk robbery” at S.E. 71st and Woodstock Boulevard just before the KILT robbery.

Miltenberger, who opened KILT several months ago, is thankful that Woodstock is, overall, a safe neighborhood, and he sees it as one of the most “up and coming” parts of Portland.    

“The main thing is having a sense of community, and neighbors helping neighbors.  If anyone sees anything suspicious, call the police. I’m so glad that nobody was hurt [in this incident], but I feel the worst for our employees, that had this happen to them,” he remarked.

Duniway School, end of year parade, Eastmoreland
Reed College Place was filled with young marchers on June 6th for the annual Duniway Neighborhood Parade. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Kids’ parade celebrates end of school in Eastmoreland


For many of the students of Duniway Elementary School, the annual June Neighborhood Parade is like a field trip, but without leaving Eastmoreland.

This colorful, end-of-the-school-year procession, this year held at 2:10 pm on June 6, was again organized this year by Duniway parent Heather Austin, parent of two students at the school, who told THE BEE that it was worth the effort on her part, and by the other volunteers, teachers and staff.

“After all, everyone loves a parade, including myself,” Austin smiled. “Everyone is in a great mood here today. All the kids are excited, the spectators are eager, and the weather is perfect. What more can you ask for?”

In addition to the 630 marching students, each classroom had its own theme, celebrated with signs, banners and costumes.

The Duniway Marching Band was tuning up. “We’re so proud of our band,” Austin said. “They played and marched in the Portland Rose Festival Junior Parade yesterday. It’s great to have them leading our parade.”

Everyone was also excited to see and hear Dan Arrayan’s Sellwood Middle School Marching Band “bookending” the parade at the end.

Just then, the Duniway band stuck up a tune, and the parade set off northward led by Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s crew. The line of kids moved north on Reed College Place, crossed it and turned south at S.E. Bybee Boulevard, and then back to the school – all kept safe by Portland Police Traffic Division motorcycle officers.

As the procession returned to the school grounds, one of the teachers revealed the secret of getting the excited kids to return to their respective classrooms: Popsicles!

The Duniway Neighborhood Parade is a sure sign that school is out, and summer is just around the corner.

     Kitchen alarm brings firefighters to Brooklyn

A fire in a fourth-floor kitchen set off sprinklers and an automatic fire alarm at 7:19 pm on Saturday, June 20th, at the Sacred Heart Villa retirement community, 3911 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Center Street, in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

A fire engine crew was dispatched, but while enroute, additional information prompted the incident commander to upgrade the call to an apartment fire response, which added crews to assist with a potential fire.

Upon arrival, firefighters found water flowing from the sprinkler system, which had been set off by a fire in a kitchen on the top floor. The blaze was quickly extinguished, but an elderly occupant was treated for smoke inhalation. 

PF&R spokesperson Lt. Tommy Schroeder commented, “While Portland Fire’s primary mission is life safety, property conservation is also a very high priority.

“So the fire crews then turned to reducing damage from the residual sprinkler water in the building, by using industrial squeegees and water vacuums designed for the purpose.”

Cop book, Portland Police, book for kids, Woodmere Elementary School
Co-authors Woodmere Elementary teacher Molly Thoman Walker and PPB Youth Services Division Officer Dave Thoman autograph the new Police Bureau children’s book, along with new Portland Police Bureau Chief Lawrence O’Dea III. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Updated “cop book” unveiled at Inner Southeast school 


Almost five years to the day after “The Portland Police Bureau: A Kid’s Guide to What We Do” was published, the second edition of this children’s book was unveiled on April 29 at the school where it began: Woodmere Elementary School, on S.E. Duke Street.

The book is used by Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers when they visit classrooms or give tours. After kids read it, the officers give it to the children to keep.

PPB Youth Services Division Officer Dave Thoman and his daughter, Molly Thoman Walker, who is still a teacher at Woodmere Elementary, have now “re-launched” their book with an updated version.

“Over the past five years, both our uniforms and vehicles have changed,” Officer Thoman told THE BEE. “It’s been a popular outreach tool for officers. So, we re-published the book with new photos and illustrations.

“And we’ve found,” Thoman added, “that for some kids, this will be the only book they can call their own.”

At the book-signing that afternoon, PPB Chief Lawrence O’Dea III was ebullient.

“I think this is absolutely awesome,” O’Dea remarked. “This book is really helpful to bring police officers together with hundreds of smiling children.”

Also there was Woodmere Elementary School Principal Rene Canler, who commented, “It’s really great to have a strong, positive connection between the police and our school.”

“And there’s a special connection – because our teacher, Molly Walker, and her father, ‘Officer Dave’, are the co-authors of the book!” Canler added.

After signing many books, Officer Dave commented, “I just love these kids so much. How could it be anything but awesome, getting to see all these kids? It's great to get to hang out with them for a little while. I’m glad we have an updated way to help us communicate how we serve our community.”

Inner Eastside, Portland, Oregon
It may not look trendy, but statistics say it is. (Courtesy of Portland Tribune)

City mulls policy for trendy area north of OMSI

The Portland Tribune
Special to THE BEE

Portland’s Inner Eastside “industrial sanctuary” has been a raving success in attracting new jobs throughout the Great Recession.

Now the city is finalizing a 20-year land use and development plan aimed at keeping the new jobs coming, without pricing out old-line companies which the sanctuary was designed to nurture.

That could be a tall order.

Portland’s Inner Eastside has become trendy in recent years, attracting distilleries, software, food, and design companies – neatly sandwiched amidst light-industry and warehouse operations. This summer the district takes a leap forward, with new MAX and trolley service, plus the opening of Tilikum Crossing bridge. Those will improve pedestrian, bike, and transit access to and from downtown, bringing more gentrification pressure.

There are two main bones of contention in the 213-page Southeast Quadrant Plan – the culmination of two years’ effort by planners and community stakeholders. The main one, says senior planner Troy Doss, is how much rezoning should be allowed to accommodate newer companies flocking to locate there, without hurting existing industrial businesses.

There’s also opposition to planners’ proposal to bar OMSI from building residential towers on vacant land near its waterfront science museum.

Walking a fine line
The Inner Eastside, 588 acres between the Willamette River and 12th Avenue and between the Banfield Freeway and Ross Island Bridge, gained about 1,000 new jobs during the Great Recession, and roughly 1,000 more since the recovery. The city hopes to attract 9,000 more by 2035, but the current zoning won’t allow that, Doss says.

The main issue facing the city’s Planning and Sustainability Commission is whether to allow more flexible zoning on about 200 acres zoned for industry, which would permit some employers shut out by current zoning.

“We have had to turn multiple tenants away,” Michael Tevis of Intrinsic Ventures testified before the Planning and Sustainability Commission recently.

In 2006, the city tried such flexible zoning on 48 acres between Southeast Water and Third avenues, and it was a smashing success.

The Southeast Quadrant Plan also lays the groundwork for new zoning surrounding two new MAX stops on the Inner Southeast MAX Orange Line that opens in September. The stop near OMSI stands to set primarily employment-related zoning, and the Clinton Street stop would have a mix of housing and other uses. The plan also calls for new parking spaces, new traffic signals, and one-way streets to foster freight movement, and improved flow for biking and walking.

Property owners want in

The draft of the Southeast Quadrant Plan released a few months ago called for retaining “islands” of pure industrial zoning to protect existing tenants. But in the intervening months, many property owners in those areas clamored to be included in the more flexible zoning, called the Employment Opportunity Subarea Overlay. So now the prevailing sentiment is to allow it on all the industrially zoned land.

“We’re seeing it work,” Doss says. “Why not allow that tool district-wide?”

But the Central Eastside Industrial Council, a stakeholder group representing inner-eastside interests, fears that could lead to too many office and retail uses. Those fetch higher rents than industrial space, and could drive up rents and land prices.

“That’s our primary concern, that there would be a squeezing out of industrial users,” says Debbie Kitchin, Central Eastside Industrial Council President. The group wants to assure the area doesn’t lose its stable of blue-collar jobs, she says.

The council also worries an influx of retail, office and residential uses will create conflicts with old-line industrial businesses. Many depend on freight deliveries, and were attracted to the district’s quick access to Interstate 5.

Real estate brokers and developers told the Planning and Sustainability Commission last week that few tenants needing freight truck deliveries look for space now in the district. They say there’s no space available for newer kinds of businesses that want to locate in the district, because of the limited industrial zoning.

Holst Architects, which has been in the Inner Eastside for 30 years, is “bursting at the seams,” Doss says, because it’s limited to 3,000 square feet of office space under current zoning.

Doss argues that adding the more flexible overlay zone should ease the shortage, thus diminishing the potential for price hikes that might render the area unaffordable for long-term tenants.

OMSI development
City planners worry more about potential gentrification if OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, builds riverfront housing. OMSI leaders urged the Planning and Sustainability Commission to retain that flexibility, which would be taken away under the draft Southeast Quadrant Plan.

Paddy Tillett, a prominent Portland architect representing OMSI, said allowing residential towers as part of a mixed-use development near the new MAX stop would provide more light rail riders, and would bring ’round-the-clock activity to the riverfront area. Other close-in urban transit stops around the country would not bar residential uses, he said.

Doss and many stakeholders don’t see midrise multifamily towers fitting in with the industrial sanctuary. Children living in condos or apartments would have to cross a heavy rail line and a MAX line to get to school, Doss says. Residential land costs the most and has the greatest potential to drive up land prices, he says. “I would say it eats away at our employment land capacity more than anything.”

Others argue the riverfront site might make prime student housing for Portland State University and OHSU, a few minutes away by bike when Tilikum Crossing opens. Doss says it’s more likely to wind up as higher-end housing, and in an area lacking other urban amenities.

In contrast, the Portland Housing Bureau is expected to seek affordable housing near the Clinton Street MAX line, which is in a residential area. The city recently expanded its urban renewal district in the Inner Eastside to provide more subsidies for development in the vicinity.

The Central Eastside District Council wants to limit office and retail to a total of 3,000 to 5,000 square feet per site, Kitchin says. “If we can keep the retail and general office to 5,000 square feet or less, that would head off some of the possible gentrification,” she says.

City planners favor allowing up to 5,000 square feet of each at each site. Doss calculates that if every Inner Eastside site developed with 5,000 square feet of retail, that would fill 2.5 blocks of an area with more than 500 blocks.

“That’s not a lot,” he says.

A new anti-gentrification coalition also is pressing the Planning and Sustainability Commission to incorporate its 11-point program in the Southeast Quadrant Plan. One of those 11 policy proposals is requiring an “impact analysis study” that would evaluate the potential for displacement of residential and business tenants before the zoning is changed.

“I didn’t hear any talk about provisions to make sure that housing is affordable,” or that businesses aren’t displaced, says Cameron Herrington, the anti-displacement coordinator for Living Cully, who testified at last week’s hearing. “It’s not too late at all to ask those questions about the Central Eastside Plan.”

Truck crash, truck hits pole, Duke Street
Witnesses told THE BEE they were surprised the driver of this truck survived the crash, at S.E. Duke and 82nd Avenue of Roses. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Truck smash injures driver at Duke and 82nd


For no apparent reason, a large pickup truck veered off S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses at Duke Street in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, and smashed into a utility pole at 1:13 pm on Tuesday, May 26.

The white Ford F250 “King Cab” pickup truck was driving southbound, according to a witness. “I was stopped, heading eastbound on Duke Street, waiting to cross 82nd; the driver was going pretty fast,” the witness added. “The truck kept drifting further off the road, and ran right into the pole, almost directly head-on.”

The intersection was shut down for two hours while Portland Fire & Rescue paramedics helped the injured driver out of the truck’s cab, and prepared him for transport to a local hospital.

A Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officer at the scene said he believed that the male crash victim was not deceased, but did appear to be seriously injured. The extent of his injuries is unknown.

Officials have not yet revealed if they suspect the driver was impaired, distracted, or asleep, when the crash occurred.

Hosford Middle School, Principal, Kristyn Westphal
Kristyn Westphal, who will be the new Principal at Hosford Middle School when school resumes in the fall. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

New Principal named at Hosford Middle School


On July 1, Kristyn Westphal became Hosford Middle School’s new Principal, succeeding Interim Principal John Hinds. Mr. Hinds is a retired Portland Public Schools administrator, who will move on to other special assignments for the school district as needed.

To introduce BEE readers to Ms. Westrphal:  After earning an MA in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her teaching career in New York City in 2005. Since moving to Oregon two years later, she has taught high school English at all grade and ability levels.

During her administrative career, she supported students earning recovery credit at Portland Evening Scholars. In 2012 she became curriculum Vice Principal at Grant High School, where she worked with counselors, teachers, parents, and students, using the Restorative Justice approach to discipline.

She tells THE BEE that she supports teachers by helping every student excel, through creating partnerships with families and community, and by removing obstacles – so that teachers and students can focus on learning.

Ms Westphal adds that she works to build effective school/community relationships in racially and socioeconomically diverse schools. She remarks that she believes that students need to be co-creators of their own learning, with a wide variety of opportunities in academics, athletics and the arts. 

And she tells us she gets excited about rigorous studies, and effective supports that push students to achieve beyond their perceived comfort zones.

Herself a member of a bilingual English/Spanish-speaking household, Ms. Westphal says she values dual language immersion, and hopes to nurture the strong and diverse programs that currently exist at Hosford.

She plans to continue building partnerships with the community, seeking to improve “curriculum alignment” with the academic programs at Cleveland High School, so that students can enter, “ready to engage on a sound path toward college and careers”.

Three car crash, McLoughlin Boulevard
With ambulances on the way, medical personnel monitor the status of the crash victims, while traffic on McLoughlin Boulevard near S.E. 17th in Westmoreland is at a standstill. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Three-car, two-injury rear-ender slows McLoughlin Blvd traffic


Traffic in the southbound lanes of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, just south of the Milwaukie Boulevard overpass, slowed to a stop while emergency first responders attended to a three-car crash on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9 at 1:55 pm.

THE BEE arrived before medical emergency first responders. An AMR supervisor called for two ambulances to transport those injured in the three-car rear-ender.

With two persons injured in the accident, the road was closed as ambulances made their way to the crash site by driving north in the southbound lanes from S.E. 17th Avenue.

While the damage to the three vehicles didn’t appear severe, none of them proved drivable after the accident. So, traffic again came to a standstill as a procession of wreckers came to haul away the damaged cars.

Official information about the cause of this crash isn’t yet available, but an officer at the scene told THE BEE that he understood that the first car stopped abruptly because of congested traffic, and the other two vehicles collided with each other and with the stopped car.

Bruun Construction, TriMet, Lafayette Street, Union Pacific, MAX, overcrossing
Lorentz Bruun Construction’s operations are carried on by the founder’s son, Kelly Bruun, and grandson’s Mark Bruun, Kurt Bruun and Erik Bruun – shown here atop the new footbridge they’ve built for TriMet across the Union Pacific Brooklyn Yard at S.E. Lafayette Street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Maker of Brooklyn’s new footbridge has long history in Southeast


Since 1946, when company patriarch and namesake of Lorentz Bruun Construction started the company after emigrating from Norway, this family-owned Inner Southeast Portland firm has prided itself on building high-quality projects.

Mark Bruun, third-generation executive of the firm, invited THE BEE to see the progress of the TriMet MAX Orange Line Lafayette Street Pedestrian Bridge in the Brooklyn neighborhood on May 12. In their offices, we were greeted by the company owner, Kelly Bruun, and met two other sons involved in the family business, Kurt Bruun and Erik Bruun.

Lorentz Bruun Construction was one of the local contractors hired by TriMet to build Orange Line Light Rail projects, including the Lafayette Street Pedestrian Bridge and the Bybee Station.

“TriMet came to me and said they wanted to put a bridge across the railyard; that they were going to replace the old one,” Kelly said. “But, they wanted to take my construction yard [adjacent to the site, for the bridge project]. That’s the only place we have to grow, stage materials, and someday expand our steel fabrication shop.

“They brought out a drawing of what they had in mind,” Kelly continued. “It was an ugly concrete bridge, made of pre-stressed concrete beams. It had long switchbacks for bicycles and handicapped access. Since we’re headquartered here, I didn’t want visitors to our building to see this concrete monstrosity going across the railyard.”

Instead, he suggested an open web-truss-style bridge. “As you can see, the new design will be a positive attraction for our neighborhood,” Kelly smiled.

History traced back to Oregon Trail
Being early settlers here, the Bruun family has earned the right to have strong feelings about the area.

“The great grand-daughter of Rev. Clinton Kelly, the family of Lorentz’s wife, settled in Inner Southeast Portland in 1846, when it was still the Oregon Territory,” Kelly remarked. “When my father met my mother, she lived on S.E. 42nd Avenue, a couple streets south of Woodstock Boulevard. My father and mother married shortly after he emigrated and moved to the Portland area.

“I grew up living in Eastmoreland, attended Duniway Grade School, and graduated from Cleveland High School – and just never left here!” Kelly Bruun said.

He started pulling nails out of concrete form boards at age 11, and continued to work for his dad through high school, and even while he attended Oregon State University, where he studied to become an engineer.

“At the time, my father was building the Kidder Hall Library,” Kelly recalled. “I was able to help oversee these two projects going on while I was in college.” Nowadays, it would be called participating in a student internship program. “But I think, for my father, he considered it more like fortuitous free labor!”

After he got his degree, and following two years working for another construction company, Kelly went to work in the family business.

“Education was very important to my father,” Kelly commented, as he pointed to a photo of his dad helping to erect Reed College’s original entrance monument – which his father donated to the school. It includes a time capsule, detailing the Bruun family’s history in the area.

As a youngster, Mark, his eldest son, also scraped and painted concrete forms, as did his two other boys. After earning undergraduate and masters degrees in engineering, contracting management, and geology, all three sons eventually joined the family firm.

“Like my father, I was skeptical about having my sons work in the business at first,” Kelly said. “But, I’ve got to tell you, since they have come on board, the company has grown exponentially.

“They are the third generation of the company,” Kelly said, and then added with a twinkle in his eye, “We have the fourth generation on the way!”

The Brooklyn-based business these days employs about 100 workers, and as it has for over half a century, continues to help build Inner Southeast.

Powell Boulevard, crosswalk mission, Sharon White, traffic tickets, pedestrian safety
After a motorist narrowly misses running down two Cleveland High School students in the monitored crosswalk, a PB Traffic Division officer pulls out westbound on S.E. Powell Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Motorists hurtling past pedestrians get an array of tickets on Powell


Increasing numbers of crashes involving vehicles with pedestrians and bicyclists along Inner Southeast sections of S.E. Powell Boulevard prompted another “Crosswalk Enforcement Action” on Wednesday, May 27.

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division motorcycle officers were lined up on Powell, on either side of the crosswalk just east of S.E. 24th Avenue. The warning signs were posted along the street to advise motorists that the enforcement action is ahead. You would think that would cause people to slow down and be careful, but sixty tickets say they don’t!

During these “actions”, a City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) employee acts as a decoy, first showing her intention to cross the street when traffic clears, and then crossing to the other side. On several occasions, Sharon White, PBOT’s “designated walker”, had to step quickly, or duck back, to avoid being hit by a speeding vehicle coming through the crosswalk.

“This is a way of reminding drivers about Oregon traffic safety laws,” remarked PBOT Communications Manager Dianne Dulken, who was observing the enforcement action.

Powell Boulevard is one of the City’s ten “High Crash Corridors”, Dulken pointed out. “So, while we are making safety improvements on these streets, working with the Police Bureau, we are also working on safety education, and enforcement.”

Here’s the rule: Drivers of motor vehicles must stop, and stay stopped, for pedestrians wanting to cross the street at any corner – whether or not it is marked – or at any marked intersection, Dulken reminded. “It’s important to keep in mind that every intersection is a crosswalk.”

And, Oregon law adds that the driver must stop for a pedestrian until they cross out of the lane in which they’re driving, as well as the adjacent lane, before traveling on. “It’s really important for people to know that every intersection is a legal crosswalk, which means people who are walking have the right of way,” she said.

“Pedestrians do need to indicate that they are about to cross the road,” Dulken instructed. Step off the curb and wait; “then, walk out and make sure the drivers see you. This especially applies to crossing multi-lane streets, such as Powell Boulevard!

“Pedestrians should look before they enter each lane, to make sure that vehicles are going to stop for you,” added Dulken.

Activists at a “slow down protest”, held after a bicyclist lost his leg in an accident two blocks away on May 10, called for speed limit reductions on all highways in the city, including S.E. Powell Boulevard. Dulken responded to this suggestion: “We have a complex transportation system that serves many needs simultaneously.  We have classified some roads. The busier ones are called arterials; these are throughways, and are especially important for emergency responders.

“We also have a great network of neighborhood streets,” Dulken went on. “Some of these are ‘Neighborhood Greenways’, which are posted at 20 miles an hour for everyone's comfort and safety.”

This particular Pedestrian Crosswalk Enforcement action generated 60 citations and two warnings:

18 Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian,
7 Passing a stopped vehicle at a marked crosswalk,
2 Driving While Suspended (violation),
1 Driving While Suspended (Misdemeanor),
1 Careless Driving,
2 Failure to obey a traffic control device,
3 No operator’s license,
1 No proof of insurance,
4 Driving uninsured,
14 Operating a vehicle while using a mobile communication,
1 Failure to drive within lane,
1 Operating without proper fenders or mudguards,
1 Expired registration tags,
1 Obstruction of vehicle windows,
1 Speeding,
2 Failure to register vehicle

1 Fail to stop for pedestrian
1 Fail to obey traffic control device

The purpose of this lesson was to make this point: Drive – and walk – safely!

Brooklyn Action Corps, BAC, elections, Brooklyn neighborhood
Newly-elected or re-elected BAC Board members are, from left: Lynn Beadling, Don Stephens, Matt McComas, Mark Romanaggi, Joanna Jenkins, Eric Wieland, and Mike O’Connor. Not shown is Stacy Johnson. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn Action Corps elects new Board, turns to local issues


Once a year in May, under the rules of the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), the city’s 95 recognized neighborhood associations elect a new Board. For the Brooklyn neighborhood, the meeting and the election took place at the Sacred Heart “Meals On Wheels” room, on the corner of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Center Street, on May 27th.

It was at the “Brooklyn Action Corps” (BAC) meeting that this election took place, with three positions remaining unfilled. Those elected or re-elected included: Lynn Beadling, Don Stephens, Matt McComas, Mark Romanaggi, Joanna Jenkins, Eric Wieland, Mike O’Connor, and Stacy Johnson.

With that business done, the meeting turned to neighborhood projects and issues. The May 9th Brooklyn Neighborhood Cleanup fund-raiser was pronounced “even better than last year”. The funds raised will support Brooklyn’s summer Movie In the Park – which this year will be the original “Wizard of Oz” – and September’s neighborhood Ice Cream Social.

Speakers from Sutton & Godwin Architecture (SGA) presented updated plans for the proposed “Sacred Heart Church Fellowship Hall”, including increased parking, benches, and landscaping details. Suggestions were solicited for alternate roof line designs. The placement of a street-level ADA-accessible entrance was explained, along with better access to the Food Bank through the old garage from Sacred Heart's former preschool.

Presentations followed about accessory dwelling units (ADU's), construction updates on the Ross Island Bridge and the MAX Orange line, and issues related to the planned city Right To Dream Too (R2D2) homeless camp near OMSI (see June BEE).

Kol Peterson, owner of Caravan, the tiny house hotel, spoke about the rising popularity of ADUs. He described “family flexible housing” as a means to add income and offer possible downsizing options for families wishing to get more use out of their property. “With an additional 70,000 people predicted to come to Portland by 2040, there's a huge demand for affordable housing,” he said. There was much interest in the May Tour of Portland's ADUs, with more tours and updates planned for November.

A representative from the Oregon Dept. of Transportation reported that rehabilitation of the Ross Island Bridge (built in 1926) had been pushed forward. Old paint is scheduled to be sandblasted from the west end of the bridge in June and July, with work occurring mostly underneath the structure. Few traffic delays are anticipated.

Jay Higgins from TriMet was present, and announced that pedestrians will not be allowed on the Tilikum Bridge until after the September 12 Grand Opening. “We’re still working on safety training for drivers and School Safety Rides,” he conceded. “However, the Tilikum Bridge will be included in the Providence Bridge Pedal, scheduled in August. We also continue to fine-tune local traffic-light configurations, and address Brooklyn's parking and cleanup issues related to the Orange Line.”

Mike O'Connor said that the Gideon’s Orchard BAC concept had run into a snag. The attorneys for the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition refuse to give their blessing to the project, due to a perceived liability issue about soil contamination, and despite TriMet’s agreement to clean up the site, at S.E. 17th and Pershing Street.

“Now TriMet says we have to find a new organization to sponsor our liability insurance by July 1, or we will lose the opportunity to build the limited infrastructure that the site needs. We are currently reaching out to alternate sponsors,” O'Connor said. He later met with representatives from the “Portland Fruit Tree Project”, which hopes to provide sponsorship, although that would not include management of the orchard.

The May BAC meeting ended with a spirited discussion on the city’s plan to re-site the “Right to Dream Too” (R2D2) transient homeless site, now located on Burnside Street downtown, to a city-owned property near OMSI and the Rail Heritage Museum.

Concerns ranged from fear of increased crime and a reduction in environmental quality, to safety issues for campers close to railroad tracks. A representative from Southeast Uplift said the organization “feels it’s not appropriate to take a position on the matter”.

More neighborhood input was suggested for future meetings on this subject. “This is just one piece of a more-comprehensive city strategy,” said one woman. “As a society, it seems we’ve failed the homeless population, on a social justice level.”

Franklin High School, arts, show, last performance
The Franklin Dance Ensemble performs “Tradiciones”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Lively “final” show plays at old Franklin High Theater


The final performances of the “Arts Alive!” shows, held on May 29 and May 30 in the Franklin High School (FHS) Theater, gave the aging auditorium a grand farewell.

“These shows are really something, because this is one of the craziest shows that’s ever been presented here!” exclaimed FHS Dance Instructor Julana Torres. “We’re giving this room a good sendoff.”

The performances – the third edition of the “Arts Alive!” shows – were entertaining, colorful, and lively. “I wish the ‘Arts Alive!’ shows could be five hours long, so everyone could have a chance to witness all of the talent we have at our school this year,” Torres reflected.

Franklin High student-performed dance, theater, and music performances highlighted the shows, running over two consecutive evenings.

“We have more than 300 students participating in performing arts, now,” Torres said. “About 200 of those students are involved in this showcase.”

When she started at the school three years ago, hers was a half-time position, Torres recalled. “Since then, the position became fulltime, and we went from just one to three art teachers – a drama instructor, choir classes, and a full film production class.”

Arts education gives some students, who don’t adapt well to learning traditional subjects, a creative outlet – and reason to come to school, remarked Torres.

“And, arts education helps all young people, no matter what their backgrounds, to build self-confidence and learn to be accountable,” she added. “Most of the students won’t go on to have a career in the arts, but it expands their horizons, and gives them an appreciation of the hard work that’s involved.” 

Torres said any list of her “thank-you’s” would be incredibly long, thanks to the support she’s received from parents, volunteers and teachers. “I especially thank [Theater Instructor} Josh Forsyth, for sharing my visions and standards in excellence. Because of his unwavering support and dedication to the show, it was amazing.”

Looking forward, Torres said, she and her students are looking forward to their time at the Marshall Campus, starting next school year, while Franklin High is heavily updated. “They will have a real dance room there, complete with a sprung wooden floor. I think our dance program will grow and become even stronger.”

When the final curtain went down, it was a poignant moment for current and past students, as well as their families, knowing that the room would be reconstructed into new learning spaces when the school is renovated. But, there was also joy, knowing that when Franklin has been renovated, they’d be moving into a new Performing Arts Center there.

Siezure, crash, truck into building, truck drives over car
A pick-up truck, whose driver suffered a seizure while driving on S.E. Division Street, ran right over a small Toyota sedan and smashed into business at 10th and Division. It took four people to remove the unconscious driver whose foot was stuck on the accelerator. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Driver with seizure plows over a car and into a store – but no injuries


An apparent driver medical emergency led a GMC pickup truck to cross oncoming traffic at S.E. 10th and Division Street on Wednesday, May 27 – then drive right up over the hood of a sedan parked at the opposite curb, then smash into a business.

The incident was apparently caused by the driver suffering a sudden seizure at about 3 pm. Even after the truck was embedded in the building, the unconscious driver’s foot was still stuck on the accelerator, spinning the tires.

His front seat passenger, his wife, tried frantically to turn off the ignition, but couldn’t reach it. Witnesses told THE BEE that it took four men to pull the driver off the gas pedal and out of the truck, thus providing access to the ignition switch so it could be turned off. Although the spinning and smoking tires laid down lots of rubber on the sidewalk, luckily no fire broke out.

Police and Fire rigs responded, and a tow truck soon arrived. Police advised employees at the business – Independent Publishers Resource Center – to leave the building before the tow truck dragged the pick-up out of the front of the building. Officers had been concerned that the structure could settle and partially collapse as the truck was removed, possibly causing injuries. However, it did not.

An employee told us, “The landlord is in there right now with a construction guy, assessing structural damage. Our whole office is buckled, but the glass didn’t shatter. The police told us, ‘If that little Toyota hadn’t diverted the truck, it probably would have crashed right through the front window and straight through the building.’ We’re all still planning on coming back to work tomorrow, though.”

The owner of the Toyota sedan, Alan Akwai, had been getting a haircut next door. He heard the crash, saw the smoke near his sedan, and went out to investigate. He was able to raise his hood and check out the engine. Although his car body sustained some damage on the passenger side, remarkably it was still drivable, and Akwai motored away. The tow driver dragged the pick-up around the corner onto S.E. 10th Avenue, to allow traffic to resume on Division.

Drivers nearby were inconvenienced for about half an hour, but those at the scene marveled that no one had been seriously injured. “This could have happened anywhere,” commented one onlooker. “We were just lucky the little car diverted the truck, and that no one was hurt.”

Plant sale grows Lewis School PTA’s finances


Threatened thunderstorms were chased away by the springtime winds, and weather smiled on the annual Meriwether Lewis Elementary School Plant Sale, on Saturday, April 25.

“It’s a combination of a plant sale, artisans selling their handmade wares, and crafts for kids,” said the school’s PTA Fundraising Coordinator – and Westmoreland bookstore owner – Julie Wallace.

“I’m not sure how many years we’ve done this; at least seven or eight,” Wallace said.

“It’s wonderful to have the support of our business community, as well as those who provide plants,” Wallace told THE BEE. “‘Toast’ restaurant is selling pancakes for the kids, and we have sausages on the grill provided by Otto’s Sausage Kitchen. This makes it fun for everyone.”

The estimated $5,000 that was realized from the fundraiser go into the PTA’s general fund, Wallace added. “This lets us help our school in so many ways – like replacing our falling-apart play structure, for example!”

Garden Club sale still keeping Eastmoreland green


Again this year, the volunteers of the Eastmoreland Garden Club Unit #1 held their annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale – this year, on May 9.

Although three other plant sales – all within a one-mile radius of this one – started their sales at 9 am, posted signs made it clear that this particular sale started promptly at 10 am. So buyers patiently waited, as volunteers set out about 1,000 perennial plants.

“These primarily come from our members’ gardens,” explained the organization’s Ways and Means Chair, Elspeth Tanguay-Koo. “We do purchase a small selection of unusual plants from local nurseries, to fill out our selections.”

The annual sale, put on by their 34 members, permits them to help in several ways, Tanguay-Koo pointed out. “Most of the $5,000 we hope to raise today goes back to the community, support food security, horticultural, and gardening education programs.”

As the digital clock struck 10 am, we stepped aside as customers rushed in.

Lewis Elementary School, plant sale, Julie Wallace
Taking a brief break from their busy morning at this year’s Lewis Elementary Plant Sale are three of its organizers: Laura Troxel, Genevieve Benner, and Julie Wallace. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, ENA, plant sale
Eastmoreland Garden Club Unit #1 Mother’s Day Plant Sale organizers Elspeth Tanguay-Koo, Sande Greenwald, Sally Campbell, Judy Battles, and Judy Hayward say they’re ready for the customers! (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Broken pole, hit and run, large truck, Holgate Boulevard
An Engine 20 firefighter checks for possible dangers, after a big rig snapped off a power pole on Holgate Boulevard – and simply drove off. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Big rig busts Holgate Blvd pole, flees scene


Riders waiting for a westbound TriMet bus on S.E. Holgate Boulevard near 36th Avenue were surprised – and nearly run over by a big rig truck – mere minutes before 6 pm on Tuesday, June 9.

According to Portland Police, a westbound tractor-trailer rig jumped the curb, hit a wooden utility pole located inches from a bus stop, and snapped it off at the base like a twig.

Witnesses said splinters went flying, and the top half of the pole, under tension from the wires above, swooped backward, nearly striking a person near the bus stop.

Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told THE BEE, “The tractor trailer left the scene after striking the pole. There is no indication that it was ever located.”

Westmoreland’s Fire Station 20 and Woodstock’s Engine 25 crew, and AMR ambulances, were called to the scene. However, PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons later said, “There were no injuries reported in this incident.”

Due to the location, Portland General Electric wasn’t immediately able to replace the pole; the top “arm” of the broken pole still hangs from the wires at the accident scene.

Smouse house, Ted and Ruby, Love Art Gallery
Ted Newton and Ruby Campbell – who is holding “Tia” – say they’re ready to move on, in this, their hand-built tiny “Smouse”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood’s “Smouse House” shown, then heads for coast


After several years of operating the “Love Art Gallery” on S.E. 13th Avenue at Spokane Street, on a site now cleared for construction of an apartment house, Ted Newton and Ruby Campbell decided it was time for a change.

Instead of taking a vacation, or starting a new hobby, Newton and Campbell decided to close their business and simplify their lives.

By “simplify”, the couple did more than hold a garage sale. They started paring down their worldly possessions to what would fit in a mere 180 square feet – the size of the “tiny house” Ted and his friends built in their home’s driveway.

They call it a “Smouse”, Newton said with a smile and twinkle in his eye.

Sitting in the newly-completed tiny dwelling, during their June 13th “Open Smouse”, Newton told THE BEE he started building the 8 foot wide, 20 foot long and 13 foot high “dream house” last August.

“About a month into it the project, I had it framed,” Newton recalled. “But I slipped off a ladder, fell about two feet, and broke my ankle and my shoulder.

“It didn’t slow down the project at all,” Newton said. “Our friends came out and help, and we made new friends that came in help as well. It actually got done faster, and maybe even better, than I could’ve done alone. As it turned out, at sixteen people have helped us build our ‘dream house’.”

By selling off their “extensive collection of heirlooms and art and things”, Ted said he and Ruby disposed of their excess belongings, and used the proceeds to build and furnish their Smouse.

“The objective here is to simplify our lives,” Newton said. “The lighter the load, the better.”

Although their Smouse is not aerodynamically designed like a travel trailer, Newton said it is certainly roadworthy. “We are going to take it to Cloverdale, Oregon, near Pacific City. We have friends who have twenty acres there, and we’ll become caretakers for them on their property.”

Soon, Ted and Ruby will be off on their next great adventure. Bon Voyage!

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