More stories from January's issue of THE BEE!


Holiday Express, Oaks Bottom, Oaks Park
As the sun sets, the SP&S 700 locomotive idles while passengers disembark. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Holiday fun again comes by rail – and steam engine

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

On a cold, clear evening, the sound of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP&S) 700 locomotive’s steam whistle can be heard for miles, as it takes revelers aboard the “Holiday Express” for an excursion along Oaks Bottom.

“It’s hard to believe it, but this is already our 10th year of running the Holiday Express excursion trains,” reflected Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation Vice President Ed Immel, during the first weekend of operations this year.

Passengers check in at a large heated tent at Oaks Bottom Station, in the parking lot of historic Oaks Amusement Park. While awaiting their departure, many visitors browse tables laden with railroad souvenirs, and purchase a snack or cup of hot coffee or cocoa.

Then the conductor calls “all aboard”, and riders are taken through Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge northward to the Springwater Trail gateway and the Oregon Rail Heritage Center near OMSI, before the return trip back to Sellwood. 

The SP&S 700 steam locomotive originally went into service in 1938, and spent most of its time pulling trains between Portland and Spokane on the Empire Builder line, Immel told us. Today, it’s one of three historic locomotives owned by the City of Portland and maintained by Immel’s ORHF.

“Depending on how you look at it, the 700 is the third or fourth largest steam engine in the world that is still operating,” Immel added. “Not many cities have the opportunity to showcase a massive piece of historic engineering like this.”

About 150 volunteers help out during the 72 December “Holiday Express” runs, over its three-week schedule. “Again this year, we have people who come from as far as the [San Francisco] Bay area and Seattle to help out,” Immel said.

Even though each excursion could accommodate more riders, Immel told THE BEE that they limit each train to about 200 guests, giving families plenty of room for their journey in the heated, Christmas-light-illuminated historic railroad passenger cars. 

This year, organizers established “demand pricing”, providing lower-cost tickets for runs at traditionally less-popular times and days. “So far, it looks as if our ridership will exceed our best year, 2012, based on tickets sold and reservations,” Immel smiled.

Many volunteers say the best part of the trip is watching kids faces light up when Santa Claus comes strolling through the railcar. 

“It is true that the Holiday Express is a fundraiser for our non-profit organization,” Immel affirmed. “Our volunteers don’t mind the cold weather and hard work because they say it’s so much fun watching people have a good time, take a train ride, and get close up to massive steam locomotives like these.”

As another excursion pulled out of the station, Immel mused, “How many people, in their daily lives, get to have others joyfully waving at them and expressing gratitude for what they’re doing?”



Bureau of Emergency Services, 9-1-1
Kelly Martinez, a Bureau of Emergency Communications call-taker, dispatches a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office call.

BEE EXCLUSIVE
Behind the scenes at our 9-1-1 Call Center

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Be it a holiday, weekend, overnight, or midday, some of the 130 employees at the City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) are on duty, often serving people who are having “the worst day of their life”.

These staff members go to work in a specially-built, high-security facility that’s been in Southeast Portland since 1994 – a far better experience than the previous two decades they spent in a concrete-reinforced bunker, buried thirty feet underground!

To get a feel for the work, Inner Southeast Portland resident, and BOEC Telecommunicator, Kelly Martinez obtained permission for THE BEE to sit beside her during a two-hour rotation at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office dispatch desk.

“Before I came here, I did transcription and word processing for an educational laboratory,” Martinez confided. “I wanted a challenge in my work life, and I found it here; I’ve been with BOEC for 23 years now.”

The desk at which she works features four large computer monitors, a computer keyboard, and a call recording and playback device. She listens for radio calls coming in on her headset, and taps a foot pedal to speak by radio with deputies.

The interview paused as Martinez took a radio call, quickly pressed a series of keys, typed the comments in the computerized form, and read it back, confirming her receipt of the transmission.

“This is my favorite dispatch position,” Martinez said. “But, we rotate ‘desks’ every two hours. Sometimes we’re answering calls coming in from the 9-1-1 telephone system. And, we rotate dispatching police, fire, and medical calls – or working on the Service Desk, or answering non-emergency calls.”

As new information flashed on one of her monitors, she paused to dispatch a deputy to a mid-county address.

“In a way I miss the swing-shift hours,” Martinez resumed. “During call taking, the day shift doesn’t have as much activity. Going into the afternoon and evening, there are more ‘interesting’ calls coming in.”

She remarked that she has not yet assisted the giving birth to a baby over the phone, but she’s come close to doing so on several occasions.

Two critical skills necessary for working as a BOEC telecommunicator, Martinez told us, is being able to multitask, and being a fast and accurate typist. “You have to be able to talk while you type numbers and letters. And, it’s really important to know the geography. You have to know where officers are, and know where to direct them to go.”

We asked if there is a particular temperament or personality-type best suited to the job; Martinez thought for a moment and replied, “We are all so different here. 

“You need to be calm under stressful situations. And, it’s also necessary to work well with the public. As a call taker, we are here to provide excellent customer service.”

Finally, she said, an important learned skill is “not to get wrapped up emotionally in the callers’ predicaments.”

Overseeing the bank of telecommunicators taking 9-1-1 calls from the public, during our visit, was BOEC Communications Operations Supervisor Kris DeVore.

“One thing that people wonder about is why we ask them questions when they call in,” DeVore said.

“Our staff has a passion for what they do; they want to get emergency responders to the right place, at the right time,” DeVore explained. “The questions we ask of callers help us deliver emergency services as quickly and as accurately as possible.”

BOEC provides call-taking and dispatch services to the Portland Police Bureau, Portland Fire & Rescue, Gresham Police & Fire Departments, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Troutdale Police, Fairview Police, Corbett and Sauvie Island Volunteer Fire Departments, and Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services. It receives about 940,000 calls a year.

“The most important thing to know about BOEC is that we’re staffed with people who truly care about what they're doing – that is, getting help fast to people who need help,” DeVore said.



Pedestrian struck, Woodstock
Paramedics tended to the pedestrian, struck by a vehicle at the signal-controlled intersection of 46th Avenue and S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. She was not believed to be seriously hurt, but was taken to a hospital by ambulance as a precaution. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Pedestrian injured at Woodstock Blvd intersection

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

An evening in Woodstock ended unfortunately for a woman who had been crossing S.E. 46th Avenue, just north of Woodstock Boulevard on Friday night, November 28.

A witness reported that a silver SUV, eastbound on S.E. Woodstock, was turning north onto 46th Avenue at the Delta Café, when the accident occurred. Police and firefighter/paramedics were called to the scene at 6:39 pm.

The silver Honda Odyssey remained stopped in the signal-controlled intersection while paramedics assessed the pedestrian’s injuries. Police said the driver of the vehicle cooperated in the investigation.

After the victim was loaded into the ambulance, a paramedic commented that the patient was a “discretionary entry” into the medical system, and her injuries were not severe enough to be listed as a “Trauma Entry”.

There were no arrests made at the scene, according to PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart, and at press time, no records were available to him to indicate if a citation had been issued.



Classical Ballet Academy, Sellwood, Nutcracker
Soloist dancers from Sellwood’s Classical Ballet Academy in this year’s production of “The Nutcracker”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood student dancers perform in downtown “Nutcracker”

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

After practicing their roles for weeks, the cast of dancers from Sellwood’s Classical Ballet Academy tried on their costumes at a dress rehearsal for their upcoming production of “The Nutcracker”.

“Our audiences will see passionately imaginative and exhilarating choreography during these two productions,” exclaimed Artistic Director Anna Rigles.

Both the traditional production of “The Nutcracker”, as well as an alternative production called “Cracked” – featuring contemporary music and contemporary, modern, and jazz dance numbers – are based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”.

The two different shows appear on the stage of Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall from December 19 through December 21. For more information and tickets, go online to: http://www.classicalballet.net.



Brooklyn, Powell underpass, Jean Senechal Biggs
Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Manager Jean Senechal Biggs requests input for signs to be posted near the PMLR Powell Blvd. underpass. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Transients and graffiti at Powell underpass concern Brooklyn

By RITA A. LEONARD
for THE BEE

The Portland Milwaukie MAX Light Rail Project has completed redesign and construction of the S.E. 17th Avenue Powell exit and entrance ramps, and the Powell Boulevard underpass, and added brighter lighting.

Since completion however, Brooklyn residents have noticed increased transient camping and graffiti along the north and south sidewalks.

A November 20th meeting of the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association focused on how to handle these and other problems.

Main speakers for the evening were Crime Prevention Coordinators Jacob Brostoff and Teri Poppino (503/823-0540), and Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Manager Jean Senechal Biggs (503/823-7211). The trio came to discuss safety issues and concerns regarding the north and south sidewalks bordering the Powell Boulevard underpass.

Brostoff said the redesigned line-of-sight sidewalks now allow pedestrians and bike riders to see further along the path to decide whether they feel safe there. Teri Poppino addressed concerns about transient camping and grafitti along the underpass, conceding that it is a difficult site to patrol. While camping within the city limits is illegal, it is a low priority with police.

A number of heated exchanges between speakers and guests indicated Brooklynites’ strong feelings. There were calls to meet with the City Council or get TV news media involved. Neighbor Darryl Phillippi said he had cleaned grafitti from the area over the past ten years, and that due to winter weather, more transients are now sheltering under the overpass. “I've got hundreds of pictures on my computer detailing these problems,” he said. “We want to know what can be done.”

Poppino asked for calm and reason, outlining discretionary limits to the problem. Jean Senechal Biggs invited neighborhood input for signs to be posted at each end of the underpass. Residents requested signage for “No Camping”, with a telephone number to call police for non-compliance. Brostoff said 9-1-1 is for police emergencies, and for non-emergencies such as reporting illegal camping, the number to call is 503/823-3333. The neighborhood could also request extra patrols but, he added, transients all over the city are seeking winter shelter.

“The light rail project included neighborhood input in the design for the underpass,” said Brostoff, “and what you’ve got is what now exists.” He suggested that the Brooklyn Foot Patrol could visit the underpass regularly. BAC Board Member Katie Light is reorganizing the volunteer Brooklyn Foot Patrol, and developing a Neighborhood Block Watch program. Those interested should contact her at 503/841-0315 or e-mail her at: katie@katielighthomes.com.

In other matters discussed at the meeting, BAC Chair Eric Whelan urged neighbors to keep abreast of new housing developments to assure proper compliance with Portland building codes. He reported that Brooklyn’s new Police liaison is Officer Anthony Zanetti, who will be invited to BAC meetings. Whelan warned residents that some package deliveries are being stolen from front porches locally.

Marie Phillippi and Don Stephens displayed some 15-year-old Historic Brooklyn banners that are now being replaced. Marie said the old ones are being snapped up as souvenirs for between ten and twenty-five dollars, as a fund-raiser for new banners. Call 503/241-4540 for information.

The BAC is pursuing adding more banners in the neighborhood. “Thanks to the Greater Brooklyn Business Association for donating $1,000 to this almost-$4,000 project,” remarked Phillippi.

The Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association meets monthly. Learn more online at: http://www.brooklyn-neighborhood.org.


PPS transfer policy changes proposed

Portland Public Schools is considering changes to the school transfer policy to make it more equitable, and to help strengthen programs at all neighborhood schools.

After changes were considered by a citizens’ committee, the Superintendent made recommendations to the School Board, which is scheduled to vote on them on January 13.

A key change would be ending the neighborhood-to-neighborhood lottery system and using only a strengthened petition system for students to transfer to a neighborhood school outside the neighborhood in which they live.

Also proposed is conducting a review of all focus option schools, including Dual Language Immersion programs, ACCESS Academy, and Metropolitan Learning Center – and changing the lottery for focus option schools to increase access for low-income families.  After low-income applicants have been approved, siblings of children already in that school would continue to receive preference.

Students who must transfer to a school for special education services may be allowed to stay at that school through the highest grade.

Citizen views are solicited through a brief survey online at: http://www.pps.net



Matrins Street, fire
Behind the Mt. Scott-Arleta house, firefighters douse live embers. (Photo courtesy of Dick Harris, PF&R)

Fire chars house on S.E. Martins Street 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

A fire, said to have kindled outside a house at 8036 S.E. Martins Street on November 15, became a more serious matter when it spread to the interior walls of the structure.

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters from Woodstock Station 25 were joined by other crews at 13:06 pm at the residence, and arriving responders found flames coming from the back of the house.

“While some firefighters attacked the fire, other crews were simultaneously checking in the house to make sure all occupants were out,” reported PF&R spokesman Ron Rouse.

“Crews were able to knock down the main body of the fire, but full containment took longer, as the fire was actively burning inside the walls and in the attic space,” Rouse added. “Firefighters cut a hole in the roof of the house to release toxic and flammable fire gases.

“There were no injuries during this incident, and a fire investigator was determining a cause and making a damage estimate, which have yet to be released,” Rouse concluded.



Police changes, Portland, Oregon
Pointing out the priorities of PPB East Precinct Commander Sara Westbrook, Acting Captain Robert King addresses the “East Precinct Involved Citizens” group. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

East Precinct Police Captain previews Bureau priorities under new Chief

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

At the November 11 meeting of East Precinct Involved Citizens (EPIC), the group in attendance – comprised of people from all of the neighborhoods served by the Precinct – heard about goals for the Bureau citywide, as well as locally.

“The Portland Police Bureau is in a little bit of transition, as well as East Precinct,” began East Precinct Acting Captain Robert King.

“Chief Michael Reese made his announcement that he will retire come January; and Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea was named as his successor,” King said.

This is good for the Bureau, King added, saying that a nationwide candidate search can be protracted, and that O’Dea is well-qualified for the position.

“O’Dea was very clear, from the day he was named as Chief Reese’s successor, that he has four very specific areas on which he wants to work,” King shared.

Number 1 – Implementation of the Department of Justice settlement
“This is an 88 page agreement that outlines the details of how we are going to conduct business in the Police Bureau, and our relationship with the community,” King said. 

One of those changes outlines how, when a police officer is involved in a “use of force” incident, it is investigated by the supervising sergeant, and that report is reviewed by the lieutenant on duty.

“Then, as Captain, when the report arrives at my desk, I again review the available information, and I conclude whether or not the officer acted properly, and if the sergeant supervised the situation properly, and I make sure that the lieutenant is making a thorough review of our ‘use of force’ policies,” King explained.

“This [review strategy] gives us insight into every single encounter with citizens, where force is used.”

Number 2 – Financial responsibility
“This means having sound fiscal stewardship for the Police Bureau,” King said. “With budget dollars being stretched tightly, it’s more important now than ever that we manage the money that we do have effectively.”

Number 3 – Hiring a more diverse workforce
“We’re serving a diverse community and we want our organization to reflect the community that we serve.  This means diversity in our hiring, and diversity in our promotional processes, is a goal for the Chief.”

Number 4 – Community outreach and engagement
“When many of us were hired in the early 1990s, the idea of Community Policing really took root here in Portland. The new Chief says he wants to ‘breathe life’ back into that concept, and really work on building trust between the police and the community. There are communities with which we have great report relationships; there are some communities where that is not necessarily the case. We are moving forward to improve the quality of relationships with everyone we serve in the community.”

East Precinct Commander Sara Westbrook has also set goals for the year, King went on.

In addition to responding to calls for service, the Commander has asked officers to be more proactive in community safety.

“One of the specific areas [of concern] is distressed properties,” King said. “In many neighborhoods, squatters in vacant houses can become crime hubs. Another is homeless people who cause disruption in public parks.”

To address these “quality of life” issues in East Precinct neighborhoods, which include Woodstock and other neighborhoods east of S.E. 39th (Chavez Blvd), Commander Westbrook has asked her supervisors to create missions, or details, rather than having officers simply responding to radio calls for services, King said. “And, what’s also important to the Commander is that there is a continuity of communication between the three shifts.

“The result is we want everyone to feel safer, and actually be safer, here in our community,” King concluded.



Garthwick, tree falls on house
The homeowner’s son-in-law gazes at the huge tree that fell into her house. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

88-year-old tree falls on Garthwick house

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

A long-time resident of the Garthwick community at the south end of Sellwood was surprised when she heard a cracking and splintering sound outside her stately home on Sunday, November 30.

When THE BEE arrived at the house, on S.E. Exeter Drive near St. Andrews Drive, it was evident that the sounds she’d heard occurred when a enormous tree in her front yard was uprooted by high winds and fell onto the house.

Two of the homeowner’s daughters came out, and said no one was injured. One told us, “I think that tree is about 88 years old. During its life, while we lived here at home, nine kids were climbing on it, and swinging from the branches.” 

A son-in-law walked around the tree, and pointed out the modest root structure; it appeared proportionately quite small for such a large tree.

“In addition to the family who grew up here, our five kids played on the swings and climbed the tree as recently as last summer.”

Amazingly, its branches seemed to part as it fell, resulting in very little noticeable structural damage to the home, despite the spectacle.



OMSI, scientists, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Savanna Tucker shoots “volcanic ash” into the air, as Stephen Solovitz, Washington State University at Vancouver Professor of Mechanical Engineering, tells why that ash can travel widely. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Scientists meet the public, monthly, at OMSI 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

The work of most scientists occurs in a laboratory or some other setting, far away from the eyes of the public.

But, on the second Saturday of every month, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) changes this by bringing science “up close and personal” to their “Meet a Scientist” program, at which local scientists share their research and knowledge with hands-on experiments and discussion. 

“We have been holding these for about a year now,” said OMSI Senior Educator of Life Sciences Sean Rooney. “But lately, it’s really taken off.”

Drawing from a group of eighteen scientists, Rooney said that four or five professional researchers and experimenters come to each “Meet a Scientist” Saturday.

“It’s fun to see visitors get involved with the demonstrations and experiments that the scientists bring with them,” Rooney said. “It gives people the opportunity to chat with these scientists, and ask them questions about their field of study.”

These events are not themed. “For example, this month, November, there are presentations on solar technology, volcano ash plumes, an epidemiologist talking about disease outbreaks, and even a scientist talking about the science of bedbugs,” revealed Rooney during our visit.

“Meet a Scientist”, held from 1 to 4 pm on the second Saturday of each month, is included with an OMSI membership or with general admission.

For more information, go online: https://www.omsi.edu/search/node/Meet%20a%20Scientist



Troubled man, Brentwood Darlington, man with knives
Portland Police Bureau Crisis Negotiators arrive, and take charge of the situation. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Police coax suicidal man to safety in Brentwood-Darlington

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

What started as an early morning burglary report, turned into an hours-long standoff on Thursday, November 13, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

On that morning, at 6:12 am, East Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 7100 block of S.E. 81st Place – a short, dead-end cul-de-sac off Bybee Boulevard.

Officers didn’t find any burglar there; but they did come across an adult male outside a home, standing on a vehicle, threatening to stab himself with two large knives.

While an officer talked with the distraught man, other responding officers quietly evacuated nearby residents, offering them shelter against the freezing wind in an off-duty TriMet bus brought in for the situation.

“Officers talked with the man, who was experiencing a mental health crisis, until Crisis Negotiators could respond,” Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told us.

Although PPB SERT officers were called to the scene, police command staff showed restraint by keeping them back, and moving other officers away from the immediate area, while conversation continued with the man holding knives.

And, command staff asked that an ambulance at the scene be moved into the subject’s view, as negotiators offered medical care to the individual.

The man, sitting on a vehicle in 34° weather, refused to budge many times – while assuring officers he would not act violently against them.

Finally, the six-hour standoff ended when the 53-year-old man surrendered to SERT officers. “He was transported to a Portland hospital for a mental health evaluation,” Simpson said. “He suffered minor self-inflicted cuts during this incident.”

A neighbor, Roberto, was one of several people on S.E. 82nd Avenue watching the scenario unfold. “Look at all the police there,” Roberto said to us as he waited for a bus. “If he only has knives, why don’t they rush him, or shoot him?” 

After the situation was over, THE BEE reported his question to Sgt. Simpson.

“Today's actions were a perfect example of everything going right,” Simpson replied. “That is: A man so desperately needing medical and mental health assistance will now receive it, thanks to the patience and professionalism of the officers at the scene.

“The Bureau’s first priority in situations like these,” Simpson added, “is to resolve them peacefully, while protecting officers and the general public.

“Sometimes, a large police presence is needed to secure an area simply to safely allow negotiators to talk with a person in a mental health crisis, and to give them time to de-escalate.”



Woodstock Boulevard, T-bone wreck
This wrecked Honda was moved to the curb, after being hit by a delivery truck in the intersection. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver’s mistake leads to Woodstock Blvd smashup

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

A forceful side-impact crash occurred on Woodstock Boulevard, when a delivery truck ran into the side of a silver Honda in the intersection of Woodstock and S.E. 72nd Avenue on Thursday, November 20. But it was not the truck driver who was to blame. 

Police Officers and paramedics were called to the intersection at 1 pm to find the passenger side of the Honda four-door completely caved in.

Witnesses said the driver of the Honda was westbound on Woodstock Boulevard, and turned south on S.E 72nd Avenue, into the path of an eastbound delivery truck.

The driver of the delivery truck was uninjured, and damage to the vehicle was minimal; it was released from the scene after exchanging information.

Officers at the scene said the driver of the Honda was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. “Most likely, she will be cited for ‘Failure to yield right-of-way’,” the officer told THE BEE.


Portland Community College, Southeast Campus
Micah Smith learns how to fly an airplane using a computerized simulator, with the help of PCC Flight Instructor Candidate Chris Thatcher. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

PCC celebrates Southeast Campus on 82nd Avenue of Roses

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Although canopies were set up in the new campus “quad” against possible rainstorms that didn’t materialize, it was a festive day at Portland Community College (PCC) Southeast Center not long after the autumn start of classes, as the college held a “community party”.

“We’re celebrating the completion of what we’re now calling our ‘Southeast Campus’,” explained PCC Public Relations Manager Kate Chester.

PCC President Jeremy Brown added, “At long last, we’re able to bring a full menu of offerings – in terms of technology, courses, facilities, and services – to our students and staff at Southeast. Instead of a two-building ‘center’, there’s now a feeling that this is a real college campus.”

The transformation came about, thanks to the voter-approved bond measure in 2008, Chester told THE BEE.  “This campus has grown to include a brand-new library, and a student commons – as well as a new administrative office complex that used to be the old German-American Society building!

“Now, students can come to this campus and have all of the classes and services they need to get their Associate Degree right here,” Chester continued, “which means they don’t need to travel and take some classes at other campuses.”

The day-long event was called a “celebration”, Chester pointed out, “Because our ‘middle name’ is ‘community’.  Today, we have a variety of different community entertainers, including music and dance, for example. And, we thank our community for supporting PCC, and allowing us to give back to it, in terms of higher education.”

The music playing in the “auditorium tent” provided the soundtrack for the celebration, as instructors and students gave demonstrations of some of the skills and topics now taught at the Southeast Campus.

Find out more about the Portland Community College Southeast Campus at their website: http://www.pcc.edu/about/locations/southeast



Drug Turn In, Southeast Precinct
Retiring City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Coordinator Katherine Anderson takes a bag of medications at the “drive up” Drug Turn-in event. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Portland Police host their final prescription drug turn-in

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

After hosting several prescription and over-the-counter drug “turn-in” events in Southeast Portland since 2010, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), and City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) Crime Prevention, have held their last one, at the Portland Police’s Southeast Precinct.

“This is our last event in partnership with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Nationwide ‘Drug Turn-In Day’,” confirmed ONI Crime Prevention Coordinator Jenni Pullen.

“The DEA succeeded in having regulations changed – and will now permit hospitals and pharmacies take back medications, on-site,” Pullen said. 

“So, the DEA will no longer host drug turn-in days, because people in our community should now have more opportunities, on a regular basis, to safely dispose of outdated or unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” Pullen told THE BEE.

Another part of the effort, Pullen said, has been to encourage residents to clean up their medicine cabinets, and get rid of prescription medication, and expired medications and preparations.

“Don’t’ leave them sitting around for teenagers to get a hold of and potentially use. Also, don’t flush them – help keep our waterways clean!” Pullen added. “Bring them in, and they will be disposed of in a filtered incineration process.”

However, not all hospitals or pharmacies will be participating, Pullen conceded. “But people in Southeast Portland will still have places to drop them off,” she said. “We will continue to have Prescription Drug Drop Boxes in our police precincts indefinitely, available Monday through Friday, during business hours.”

In Inner Southeast Portland, Pullen recommended dropping off the medications at the same location of the last formal turn-in event – Southeast Precinct, 4735 E. Burnside Street. “It’s open Monday through Friday, during regular business hours.”

Here’s what can be dropped off:

  • Prescription medications and samples
  • All over the counter medications,
  • Vitamins,
  • Pet medications,
  • Medicated ointments, and,
  • Liquid medication in leak proof containers.

NOT accepted at the drop-off sites are “Sharps” and medical waste; Thermometers; Syringes; IV bags; bloody or infectious waste; hydrogen peroxide; aerosol cans; inhalers; and EpiPens.

By the way, after that last formal drug turn-in event, Pullen asked THE BEE to thank the community for their participation. “A total of six boxes of drugs, weighing 35 pounds each, were turned in. We thank you!”



PhylO, sculptor, Brentwood Darlington
This amusing “birdhouse apartment complex” stands in front of 7036 S.E. 57th Avenue, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

“Lizard sculptor” still at it, in Brentwood-Darlington

By RITA A. LEONARD
for THE BEE

Among the various artists living and working in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood is a man named PhylO – profiled previously in THE BEE for his 12-foot-long wood carving, “Lenny the Lizard”.

Lenny, made from a large fallen tree limb, is mounted in the front yard at 7036 S.E. 57th Avenue. “A while back, someone stole his legs, so I now call him ‘Sammy the Snake’,” says his creator with a smile. “His body is rotting away, so his days are numbered, but I’ve already added other carvings to his diorama. The neighbors seem to like them.”

Although he says he is more of a drawing and tattoo artist, PhylO has embraced wood art for the past couple of years. “I used to work in a ‘pallet rebuild’ shop,” he reports. “I learned a lot about different woods there.”

Since creating Lenny, he has added a multi-story birdhouse diorama next to the lizard in an adjacent cedar tree. He even has a green lizard sculpture fastened to his chimney. “There used to be a flicker that would come and peck at the metal up there, and make an awful racket,” smiles the artist. “I put that lizard up there, and he never came back again.”

Each birdhouse in the multi-story complex has an amusing bird-related name. There’s the Talon Salon (Beak & Nail Polish Repair), the Toucanbell Taco House, and an outlet for Kentucky Fried Worms. At the top is a MaCawnold’s with golden arches and a sign “Billions of Bills Served”. There's also a pet shop, diner and feed store, a couple of lighthouses, and owls of all kinds.

The StarDucks, on a former birdbath, comes with waterfowl, and the whole complex is connected with spiral staircases and bridges. PhylO has plenty of other plans in the works.

“There are real birds that live here, too,” he reveals. “Some finches live in the ‘Tweety and Sylvester’ house, and I feed them seeds. A couple of squirrels have made a home in the MaCawnold’s Drive-In, filling it with leaves and straw. I see people out here all the time, pointing and taking pictures.

“As a biker, I think some of the neighbors used to be afraid of me,” he muses. “But when they found out I have a sense of humor, everything changed. There used to be a five-year-old neighbor girl who came over to talk to Lenny all the time, waving goodbye to him when she had to go home. 

“Overall, response to the artwork has been gratifying. I’ll continue to put new stuff up when the old stuff wears away.”



Bath Salts
Paramedics tend to a person needing immediate medical attention after reportedly ingesting a synthetic drug – “bath salts”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Police, ambulance come to aid of “Bath Salts” user in Southeast

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

When the call for emergency first responders went out at 9:14 p.m. on the evening of Friday, November 7, an AMR ambulance was dispatched to the 7-Eleven store at the corner of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses and Flavel Street.

The 9-1-1 Center dispatcher also called for a Portland Police East Precinct District officer to respond to the scene of a man having a “medical issue”.

When the on-duty police sergeant was updated that the medical issue involved was that the subject had ingested “bath salts”, he called dispatch: “Because of what’s happened in the past, let’s send a couple of more units.”

In this case, “bath salts” – that’s how they’re typically labeled for sale – are part of family an illicit man-made drugs to related to “cathinone”.

An amphetamine-like stimulant, cathinone is found naturally in the khat flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

“Our officers do see ‘bath salts’ calls on occasion,” Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told THE BEE.  “These calls almost always require both police and fire units to respond, as the user is often psychotic, in addition to having other immediate medical needs,” Simpson said.

In this case, however, the subject appeared calm and nonviolent; paramedics were able to provide medical care without difficulty. 

“In the case of ‘bath salts’, when the package says ‘Not meant for human consumption’ it is absolutely the truth!!” exclaimed Simpson.


“Discarded smoking materials” blamed for Inner Southeast house fire

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Neighbors, noticing black smoke rising from a Creston-Kenilworth home on S.E. Francis Street on the morning of Wednesday, November 24th, alertly called 9-1-1.

At 10:50 am, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) stations responded, and located fire in the bedroom, with thick black smoke filling the rest of the house.

“A concern was that neighbors reported seeing a resident go back inside the burning house after a pet,” recounted PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

Some of the firefighters searched the house for residents, while others began fighting the fire.

“The resident was found outside, however, and there were no injuries associated with this fire,” Simmons said. “The fire was contained to the bedroom, and was extinguished.”

Later, a PF&R Fire Investigator determined that the blaze was caused by “improperly discarded smoking material”. Damages from the fire were estimated at $55,000.

“In case of a fire, get out and stay out,” Simmons cautioned. “Going back into a burning home for any reason can be deadly.” Let the pros handle it.




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