More stories from June's issue of THE BEE!


Near the U.S. Post Office on Bybee in Westmoreland, afternoon traffic on May 15th was seriously impacted by a crash that disabled both cars in the intersection of S.E. Bybee Boulevard at 15th.
Near the U.S. Post Office on Bybee in Westmoreland, afternoon traffic on May 15th was seriously impacted by a crash that disabled both cars in the intersection of S.E. Bybee Boulevard at 15th. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cars collide at Sellwood-Moreland Post Office

By DAVID F. ASHTO\
For THE BEE

It’s unclear how two cars collided at S.E. Bybee and 16th, at the Sellwood-Moreland Post Office intersection on Wednesday afternoon, May 16th, but the damage to the vehicles seemed pretty severe. At 1:15 p.m. Central Precinct officers and emergency medical responders were dispatched to what was characterized as an “injury crash”.

Eastbound traffic on Bybee Boulevard kept moving, but PPB vehicles and the two wrecked cars occupied the westbound lanes, in front of the Windermere Real Estate building.

A Nissan Sentra SR sedan suffered passenger side impact damage; the passenger’s-side air bag had deployed, and the front wheel was broken off at the axle. The other vehicle, a Subaru Solterra EV SUV, exhibited a damaged front end, and it appeared that its steering wheel airbag had popped open.

“One of the vehicle’s occupants was medically evaluated at the scene, but declined an ambulance ride to a local hospital for treatment,” an officer told THE BEE. Until tow trucks arrived to remove the two wrecked cars, traffic bound towards Sellwood and 13th Avenue via Bybee Boulevard was disrupted for a time.



On the main floor of Sellwood’s SMILE Station, guests relax and enjoy refreshments as they take in the upgraded and remodeled community meeting space.
On the main floor of Sellwood’s SMILE Station, guests relax and enjoy refreshments as they take in the upgraded and remodeled community meeting space. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Now repaired from the water damage that completely destroyed it, the new lower level Hainley-Leipzig Meeting Room at SMILE Station in Sellwood is finally ready to host parties and meetings downstairs.
Now repaired from the water damage that completely destroyed it, the new lower level Hainley-Leipzig Meeting Room at SMILE Station in Sellwood is finally ready to host parties and meetings downstairs. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘SMILE Station’ hosts Grand Reopening after repair, remodel

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Tables covered with white linen were set out on the front lawn of Sellwood’s SMILE Station, and the sound of a ukulele playing from the building signaled that there was a party going on at the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League neighborhood association’s headquarters, on Saturday afternoon, May 11.

It was the “SMILE Station Reopening Open House”, at the end of winter storm repairs and a grant-funded remodel. The public was invited to see the result, as the community meeting space was again ready to host civic meetings and events.

In the driveway, tables holding plants beckoned the guests. “This isn’t a ‘plant sale’ – these are being provided, as a gift, to attendees of the open house by the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance,” informed the business association’s President, Tom Brown.

Inside, guests toured the remodeled main floor – made more spacious with the raised ceiling. Most also ventured down the internal stairs to take in the restored office and new community meeting space on the lower level.

As reported in THE BEE at the time, on January 18, not long after the main floor remodel began, the record-breaking Portland ice storm caused a pipe to burst in the upstairs wall and flooded the first floor. A torrent of water washed down the stairway as well, flooding the basement level, and all but wiping out the previous year’s renovations down there.

“It was a crushing blow to everyone,” admitted SMILE Director of Operations Christine Timberlake. “Thanks to insurance and generous donations from the community, and the good fortune of having our contractor already engaged in work on the building, SMILE was able to begin repairs almost immediately.”

By the end of April, the work was completed, and the building was back up and running.

“During our ‘Grand Reopening’, we saw an estimated 100 guests come through the Station doors to explore the new spaces and learn about the building's history and future,” Timberlake, generally known as Chris, reported.

“SMILE Board member Tracy Fisher supplied the delicious pastries and refreshments at the Open House, and flowers and decor were contributed and arranged thanks to Board Member [and former SMILE President] Elaine O'Keefe,” said Timberlake.



Prior to the announcement of new construction, the Creston Park facility was largely graffiti- and trash-free, as requested by its builders; but now ready for replacement, it has become relatively the worse for wear. The new replacement skatepark will feature a 6-foot bowl and a large cover, the first of its kind in the PP&R system.
Prior to the announcement of new construction, the Creston Park facility was largely graffiti- and trash-free, as requested by its builders; but now ready for replacement, it has become relatively the worse for wear. The new replacement skatepark will feature a 6-foot bowl and a large cover, the first of its kind in the PP&R system. (Photo by Skeet Starr)

Creston Park’s crowd-sourced skatepark set for professional overhaul

By SKEET STARR
For THE BEE

Portland has seen several do-it-yourself skateparks appear. When, in 2020,a spine [skate obstacle] mysteriously appeared on Creston Park’s dilapidated tennis courts, it was covered at the time by THE BEE. Hardly anyone seemed shocked to see it there.

Four years later, the Creston DIY skatepark boasts over 25 permanent concrete obstacles, each created and funded by the skate community – without city sanctioning. The city has long seemed to turn a blind eye to DIY skateparks. For example, one has been up and running under the east end of the Burnside bridge for 33 years! At Creston, however, PP&R has decided that the crowd-sourced skate facility will be scrapped and replaced by a brand-new 15,400-square-foot PP&R skate facility.

“Logistically, building at Creston was a nightmare,” said local skater and early Creston DIY builder Vincent Ly. Ly and his crew started adding to the site after seeing videos of the newly- erected spine on the south end of the court. Creston’s clandestine builders had to either drive their cars into the park by night, or wheel all their supplies in by hand.

What’s more, most of the original tennis-playing surface was soft, damp, and largely unskatable. Once it became clear that the ground beneath the tennis flooring was covered in asphalt, builders began the painstaking task of removing the tennis surface by hand. “It was brutal,” Ly remarked.

Eventually the builders of Lents’ “Feral Cat Cove” unofficial skatepark lent a hand, as well as experienced skaters from the now-defunct Shrunken Head Skateboards. According to Ly, one of the initial building crews had masonry experience.

Despite the difficulties, builders knew the site was a good one: Good shade trees for the hot summer months, protection on nearly all sides from winter winds, and a central location. “We just kept goin’ at it, knowing the potential of the spot, and its prime location.”

Portland Parks and Recreation considered many factors when deciding where to place their next capital project. Creston’s courts are low-lying, to minimize the noise from their use; will not require much disruption of the urban canopy; and, of course, there is established interest in having a skatepark there.

What truly set Creston apart from other prospective skatepark locations, though, was an absence of red tape – as PP&R spokesperson Mark Ross explained in an email to THE BEE: “When [the city] looked closely at the potential of placing a covered skatepark at Powell Park [or at Glenwood Park], we quickly realized that such a project would very likely initiate the need for a complicated and time-consuming land use process.”

However, Creston’s “multi-use” status means that PP&R will be able to maximize its whole expenditure ($5 million) on concrete and rails, without further spending on having to bring the park up to code. The new construction will also offer the opportunity to finally make the nearby public pool more ADA-compliant.

Sentiments among the skate community are mixed. Ly acknowledges that “DIY isn’t forever,” and that “getting a skatepark at the city expense is a success story…it’ll be good for the community, more people will definitely skate there.” On the other hand, some feel PP&R should adopt a more hands-off approach. One skater remarked: “They asked us what we wanted in the park, but we already put it there!” As in the case of most DIYs, if Creston hadn’t been selected for the new project site, it could later have been razed.

Over the course of several community feedback sessions, as THE BEE has reported, PP&R has tried to incorporate the legacy of the DIY effort into their sanctioned park. Ross explained that “Community participants have been clear that they want a skate experience that leans toward the ‘street style’, with a nod to DIYs.”

On May 16 and 17 PP&R closed the informal skatepark to carry out geotechnical drilling, signifying the start of the project. Actual construction will begin next spring, after a “permitting and bidding” process.



Cleveland High School’s Director of Bands Gary Riler conducts the award-winning Cleveland Wind Ensemble.
Cleveland High School’s Director of Bands Gary Riler conducts the award-winning Cleveland Wind Ensemble. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cleveland High School musicians win state awards

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

With the success of the school’s musical groups and individual musicians, it’s been a good year for them all, remarked Cleveland High School (CHS) Director of Bands Gary Riler in mid-May, who nonetheless remained humble about his role in their success: “As I am about to finish my 35th year of teaching, I continue to learn and grow as a professional and a person.”

As we listened to the CHS Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and the Wind Ensemble perform pieces they’d prepared for the state competitions earlier this year, we were amazed by the virtuosity of these high school musicians.

Apparently the judges at these festivals and the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) felt the same.

In March, at the Warner Pacific Invitational High School Concert Band Festival, two of their bands – the CHS Symphonic Band, and the CHS Wind Ensemble – were rated “superior”, qualifying them to go on into OSAA competition.

At the State Chamber Music Contest on Friday, April 26th, held at Mt. Hood Community College, out of the 15 schools competing, CHS musicians won a first place award, two second place awards, three third place awards, and three fourth place awards.

Then, on April 27, at the 2024 OSAA Solo – taking place at Portland State University, at which 19 CHS soloists performed – two took first place in their categories, two were awarded third place, two more fourth place, and one sixth place.

Not only that, during the OSAA State Band Championships held on May 11th in the LaSells Stewart Center of Oregon State University, the Cleveland Wind Ensemble placed third in the state!

After that last success, Director Riler mused, “I finally have a moment to reflect on a day that was full of amazing moments, and a first. So much of the credit for our successes goes to an amazing group of students and parents who have been so supportive of our vision.

“Cleveland High School bands now have accomplished things at the State Band Championships that have never been achieved by any PPS school, thanks to this shared vision,” Riler went on. “It is an absolute privilege and blessing to be work with these amazing student musicians, and to have the support of their parents.”

Now it’s summer vacation – but there’s even more promise for the future, when school resumes in the fall at Cleveland High.



Here’s the Hyundai Elantra, which evidently impacted the side of a Toyota RAV4 in heavy rain on S.E. 45th at Rural Street. Two men were trying to push it out of the traffic lane; it appeared that one or both vehicles had been totaled in the mishap, and both were towed.
Here’s the Hyundai Elantra, which evidently impacted the side of a Toyota RAV4 in heavy rain on S.E. 45th at Rural Street. Two men were trying to push it out of the traffic lane; it appeared that one or both vehicles had been totaled in the mishap, and both were towed. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Rainy smashup totals cars in Woodstock

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A heavy downpour of rain apparently contributed to a collision between two SUVs at 2:35 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7th, in the Woodstock neighborhood. East Precinct officers shortly afterward arrived at the crash, at S.E. Rural Street at 45th Avenue.

Indeed, as THE BEE also responded, the rain was coming down with such intensity that it was difficult to see, even with windshield wipers running at fast speed.

Near the intersection was a Hyundai Elantra – it looked as if the front end had been torn off – stopped southbound on S.E. 45th; and a half-block downhill there was a Toyota RAV4 SUV showing considerable side damage.

As it turned out, no one was seriously hurt in the crash; but the two vehicles had to be towed away, and one or both appeared to be totaled. Since there were officially no injuries, the officers simply provided traffic control, and left the matter of how the accident happened and who might be at fault for the insurance companies to figure out.



Shoppers poured in to the Annual Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale on May 11th to browse and buy some of the 2,000 plants available for purchase.
Shoppers poured in to the Annual Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale on May 11th to browse and buy some of the 2,000 plants available for purchase. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Plants galore fly out the door, at ‘Woodstock Plant Sale’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

“Incredible!” That’s how Sandy Profeta, the organizer of the Annual Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale succinctly reacted to this year’s successful fundraiser.

Again this year, on Saturday morning, May 11, garden enthusiasts were lined up outside the gate down the block waiting for it to open at 9 a.m.

“New this year, our entire Plant Sale is up in the parking lot of Diane S. Sykes, Attorney at Law, PC – directly next door to the Woodstock Community Center,” Profeta pointed out. “It makes it so much easier than trying to it set up in front of the Community Center, and it was much easier on all of our volunteers.”

The Community Center did provide a place for respite for the plant sale volunteers, however. Papaccino’s provided coffee to keep them energized, and Papa Murphy's came by with pizzas to bake for lunch. And, we’re told that Community Center Administrator Gail Budde provided treats, too – including some of her famous chocolate chip cookies –for the fifty volunteers who helped out.

“We had 56 plant donors from homes in Woodstock, Eastmoreland, Westmoreland, and Tigard – plus from four nurseries,” commented Profeta. Specifically, Symbiop provided native plants and Happy Bee Garden Center furnished 10 flats of annuals – as well as Portland Nursery and One Green World, both of which provided gift cards.

“We estimate there were about 2,000 plants; and, we didn’t have more than 3% left over,” Profeta told THE BEE afterwards. “This year’s sales grossed $9,258.60!”  That’s a remarkable new record for this annual fundraiser.

“The proceeds of the sale helps pay for janitorial services, and support efforts to keep the grounds maintained, as well as funding supplies, for our Community Center – which brings people into Woodstock from all over the city.”

Now, take a quick look at how a neighborhood plant sale raised over $9,000 this year – in this exclusive BEE VIDEO

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Many officers converged on a street behind “The Heist” food carts to take a shoplifting suspect, for whom they had a warrant, into custody.
Many officers converged on a street behind “The Heist” food carts to take a shoplifting suspect, for whom they had a warrant, into custody. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Police confront prolific shoplift suspect in Woodstock

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

For some time, retail merchants in the Woodstock Boulevard shopping district, centering around 45th Avenue, have been plagued by one prolific shoplifter in particular.

On Wednesday, May 1, at 6:28 p.m., eleven Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers – including three K-9 Teams – were dispatched to the area when the sticky-fingered suspect again showed up.

“Officers responded to reports of a chronic shoplifter at a business in the 4500 block of S.E. Woodstock Boulevard,” confirmed PPB Public Information Manager Mike Benner to THE BEE. “Although the individual hadn’t stolen anything yet that day, officers determined he had an outstanding warrant, so they tried taking him into custody.”

The suspect took off running to the northeast but only made it three blocks. “Officers caught up with him on Knight Street near 47th Avenue, and took him into custody,” Benner added; identifying the individual under arrest as Nathan K. Young.

While he was taken into custody on a warrant, it’s possible Young wasn’t arrested. According to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, no one by that name had been booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) since August of 2023.

Nevertheless, merchants and PPB officers will be keeping a close watch on the suspect’s future behavior. It’s all part of a recent crackdown in north and east Portland on organized retail theft and shoplifting.



Participation was strong at this spring’s “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day”, held in Inner Southeast Portland. Document shredding was also provided this time.
Participation was strong at this spring’s “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day”, held in Inner Southeast Portland. Document shredding was also provided this time. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Drug Take-Back Day’ returns – adding document shredding, too

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Energized by the success of the similar event held by the Portland Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) last October, the Portland Police Bureau participated in this spring’s “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” on April 27th.

For four hours, the City of Portland’s “Safe Blocks Program” and the Portland Police Bureau partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to hold the event again at the former PPB “Southeast Precinct” station – back when there was a Southeast Precinct – the Penumbra Kelly Building, in Inner Southeast Portland.

The public was invited to bring in all kinds of unused or expired medications – including tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs, as well as over-the-counter medicines.

“Providing this service is important, because it helps people learn how to properly dispose of their drugs, both prescription and nonprescription medications,” explained the day’s coordinator, OVP “Safe Walks Program” Coordinator Rocio Garcia.

“Removing these medications helps keep them out of reach for children – or anyone for whom they were not prescribed or recommended,” Garcia told THE BEE. “And, by disposing of them properly, it keeps these chemicals out of the landfills – where they could find their way into our groundwater system.”

The rain sweeping across the area that day didn’t slow the steady stream of cars dropping off both discarded medications and documents for disposal, during the four-hour drive-through event.

Document shredding added back in
“What’s new this time around is that we brought back document shredding, because of the community need and demand for this service,” Garcia pointed out. “It’s important because – when these papers are shredded – criminals can’t access the personal information that may be in them, for identity theft and fraud.”

After it was over, Garcia reflected that another great result of the day was that people bringing in discarded pills and papers also brought their donations for the PPB’s Sunshine Division – and filled both of their donation bins with about 390 pounds of food.

“Also, we collected nine boxes – about 202 pounds – of discarded drugs,” informed Garcia. “I just love this event so much. It really is what our Safe Blocks Program is all about: Community building, by collaborating with other public service agencies to provide safety solutions for the community, and encouraging people to give to those in need!”



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