More stories from August's issue of THE BEE!

Milk Carton Boat Races, Westmoreland, casting pond, Royal Rosarians, Rose Festival, Portland, Oregon
Westmoreland neighbor Benji Lightheart-Faletra gives his all, as he paddles his craft – named “Meat Lug” – across the historic Westmoreland Casting Pond. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Milk Carton regatta rides Westmoreland Casting Pond


Probably it was the record 101 degree heat on Sunday, June 25, that caused the number of entrants and observers to dip – but the smaller-than-usual crowd had a great time, when the 2017 Portland Rose Festival Milk Carton Boat Races took to Westmoreland Casting Pond.

A total of 27 craft – created from used milk cartons and jugs – were registered, and were used by different members of the same racing teams.

“This is a wonderful celebration, the launching of summer, and at the tail end of the Portland Rose Festival,” smiled Royal Rosarian Chancellor of the Exchequer Kimberly Bown at the event. “It’s so fun seeing both the young and old race on the pond – and noting which craft hold up to the rigors of racing!”

Although the Milk Carton Boat Races are still sponsored in part by the Oregon Dairy Farmers, it languished last year, causing the Royal Rosarians to step up and host the event. 

Events like this are important to the Royal Rosarians she said. “That is, enhancing and contributing to public service in Portland. This event epitomizes that; it’s family fun and family-friendly – it’s just a great day!

“We hope that we can continue hosting the event; we’re always looking for sponsors to keep it a free event, but it does take a certain amount of money to put on,” Bown observed. It is considered Inner Southeast’s main Rose Festival event each year.

hit and run, police car hit, spun into school fence, Brentwood Darlington, Flavel, Portland, Oregon
After the damaged police car was pulled out of the playground at Marcus Whitman Elementary, the school’s tangled fence remained. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Red-light-running driver hits police car…then bolts


Two East Precinct police officers, riding together in a “partner unit”, were patrolling their district in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood early on Monday, July 3, when they were called to a disturbance at the 7-Eleven Store on the corner of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses and Flavel Street.

As the patrol car was headed eastbound on Flavel Street at 4:17 a.m., crossing through the intersection of S.E. 72nd Avenue on a green light, the 2017 police Ford SUV Interceptor’s rear end was clipped on the driver’s side by a silver car heading south on 72nd.

The car that struck the police cruiser ended up on the sidewalk in the intersection, but the police car spun, as it moved east on S.E. Flavel Street, until crashing through a steel chain-link fence surrounding the playground of Marcus Whitman Elementary School.

The two female occupants of the offending vehicle which ran the red light exited their smashed car and ran south on 72nd. They were both detained by a third officer who had also been responding to the call on 82nd Avenue and was nearby.

One of the officers in the damaged police car was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital for treatment to an apparently-minor injury. The other was taken to the hospital by a Sergeant for a precautionary exam. Both were treated and released.

Later that morning, a Portland Public Schools maintenance worker told THE BEE, “The police car was down in the playground, and there were other police cars all around the area.”

Following the crash investigation, the driver of the offending car, 24-year-old Laquonda Fuller-Hudson, was issued citations for Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run), and Reckless Driving, and then was released on her own recognizance pending her court appearance on the charges.

Methodist Church, Woodstock, Sellwood, challenge, two pastors, Selwood Faith Community, Portland, Oregon
Eilidh Lowery, left, and Amanda Bollman are the new Co-Pastors at Trinity United Methodist Church on S.E. Steele at Chavez (formerly 39th) in Woodstock. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Changes spark innovation at Sellwood and Woodstock Churches


Church congregations are aging and uncertain about the future, and as a result many shrink and slow down, and some even have to shut their doors permanently.

But not all clergy are discouraged by these daunting challenges. Some are inspired to reinvigorate these houses of worship. 

Experimental models in the United Methodist Church are currently being developed in both the Woodstock and Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhoods.

The changes at Trinity United Methodist Church, at the corner of S.E. Steele and Cesar Chavez Boulevard (formerly 39th), are the result of the departure of Rev. Sandy Storment, who retired at the end of June after five years. Now the church has two young women as co-pastors – Eilidh Lowery [her first name is pronounced “AY- lee”] and Amanda Bollman. Their innovative model is to partner and share resources with the Methodist Church in Sellwood.

Before transitioning to Trinity United, both young pastors were employed at the location of the former Sellwood United Methodist Church Parish. The church building at S.E. 15th and Tacoma in Sellwood was sold five years ago to a Russian congregation, and the Sellwood Methodists began using the parish house, which the church retained, as their place of worship.

The Sellwood Methodist church became an experimental house of worship. In this case, the sanctuary is literally a house, and Lowery and Bollman report that many call it the “house church”.  Its formal name is the Sellwood Faith Community (SFC).

For four years Lowery was the minister of this non-traditional church, which continues to hold services in the house’s living room or on its shaded driveway during scorching weather.

People gather for a potluck and pray, sing, take communion, and have baptisms over a meal. Lowery’s husband, Rev. Jeff Lowery now heads up this “house church”. The Lowerys also live there, with their twelve-year old daughter.

Dick Swanson, longtime Trinity United church member, is optimistic about the experiment of having co-pastors and of being a partner church with the Sellwood Faith Community. “I am excited about anything innovative. The focus should always be how we serve ourselves and reach out to others.”

Swanson observes, “Trinity United will maintain its name; but together, the Sellwood and Woodstock churches are called the ‘Southeast Portland Parish’.”

Commenting on the partnership between the Woodstock and Sellwood churches, Lowery says, “We are coming together under a big umbrella. It is an old Methodist tradition for clergy to ride from church to church to share resources. We want to reclaim some of that model.”

Lowery and Bollman have just started their ministry at Trinity United, having begun in the first week of July. Lowery is full time, and Bollman works fifteen hours a week.  Both women are very enthusiastic about their experiment. “People are spiritually hungry,” says Lowery. “People in the neighborhood are seeking to have conversations about the big things in life.”

In addition to being part-time co-pastor at Trinity United, Bollman will also be youth minister at the “house church” in Sellwood, and Jeff Lowery will be Minister of Music there.

Swanson remarks that Trinity United in Woodstock will maintain its long tradition of service to the community. He says the church is a safe and very welcoming place for everyone. The church is well-used for outside groups, such as multiple recovery groups as well as the site for special events and community gatherings.

A Vietnamese congregation meets at 2:30 Sunday afternoons, and it is the longtime site of an Indoor Park for children, and the home of the Blooming Garden Preschool.

For more information, and to read Eilidh Lowery’s blog, go to

Pole problem, driver, hit, bicyclist, Goodwill parking lot, 52nd Avenue, Woodstock, Portland, Oregon
The struck bike rider was secured in an ambulance, ready for a ride to a hospital for medical evaluation. Her injuries didn’t seem to be serious. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver, with pole problem, strikes bicyclist in Woodstock


A bicyclist was struck along S.E. 52nd Avenue at Martins Street, at 2:26 p.m. on Friday afternoon, July 7.

Portland East Precinct officers and Portland Fire & Rescue paramedics from Woodstock Fire Station 25 responded to the scene, and found a woman down in the street.

According to witnesses, the woman had been crossing the street on her bike, when a Land Rover Discovery SUV pulling out of the Goodwill Store parking lot bumped into the biker.

Witnesses reported that the driver of the Land Rover commented aloud that, “she had hit a pole in the parking lot; that she always ends up hitting the same pole when she goes there”. It was unclear how this unusual pole problem in the parking lot had led to her then bumping a bicyclist in the street.

Although the bicyclist was taken to a local hospital by ambulance, witnesses told THE BEE that it had been a relatively low-speed collision, and pointed out that the bicycle in the street didn’t look badly damaged. The rider has not been publicly identified, and her condition has not been revealed, per federal privacy laws.

Officers at the scene, who were still investigating the matter, said it was unclear if the SUV’s driver would be cited in the crash.

McLoughlin Boulevard, pavement buckle, heat, Westmoreland, Highway 99W, Portland, Oregon
After breaking up the damaged pavement and digging out underneath it, ODOT contractors prepared to refill the up-heaved southbound section of pavement, just north of the Bybee Bridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Heat blamed for McLoughlin ‘buckle’, traffic jam


Early summer heat was blamed for causing the southbound lanes of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard to buckle upward like a mini ski ramp, just north of the Bybee Bridge on Monday, June 26.

The high temperature on June 24 in Westmoreland was 98 degrees (a record) – and June 25, Sunday, was even hotter at 101 degrees, which tied the record for the date. Monday, with overcast, drizzle, and thunder, reached only 78 degrees – but apparently the pavement was already failing from the previous two days of heat.

Throughout Monday afternoon, and during the evening drive time, traffic backed up as it was diverted into the turn-out alongside Westmoreland Union Manor, and snaked back onto the highway through the traffic light at the west end of the Bybee Bridge.

“What we know was that this was caused by the very warm temperatures,” said Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Region 1 spokesman Don Hamilton.

“The heat caused a concrete panel, under the top coating of asphalt, to expand,” Hamilton told THE BEE. “It expanded enough to push up at one end.”

ODOT contractors worked that afternoon, and throughout the night, to excavate the section down to the base, and refill it and repave it by morning. The same stretch of road will be completely rebuilt and repaved again, as part of this summer’s ODOT McLoughlin reconstruction project currently underway.

Officer rammed, Douglas Lentz, Portland, Oregon
Although released from jail mere hours after his alleged reckless driving spree in Southeast Portland, 33-year-old Andrew Douglas Lentz still faces multiple serious charges in court. (MCDC booking photo)

Wild driver rams pursuing officers on Foster Road


After several Portland Police East Percent officers took notice of a red 1989 Jeep Comanche pickup, which was careening around Lents neighborhood streets early on Friday, July 21, one of them attempted to stop the reckless driver near S.E. 100th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard at 3:39 a.m. that morning.

But, even after an officer “lit up” the vehicle – turning on bright blue and green overhead lights, and activating a siren – the driver kept on going.

“During the pursuit, officers deployed several PIT [‘Pursuit Intervention Technique’] maneuvers, in an attempt to stop the driver and vehicle,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Christopher Burley.

“Officers used spike strips and successfully flattened some of the vehicle's tires; but still, the subject was able to drive out of subsequent PIT maneuvers, until being boxed-in near S.E. 72nd Avenue and Foster Road. At that time, the subject rammed two police vehicles, injuring an officer,” said Burley.

The suspect ultimately gave up, and was taken into custody – while medical personnel gave aid to the injured officer, who was transported to a hospital by ambulance for treatment of minor injuries, before being released.

The suspect, 33-year-old Andrew Douglas Lentz, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 8:20 a.m. that morning on charges of “Attempt to Elude by Vehicle”, “Reckless Driving”, four counts of “Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree”, and “Fail to Perform the Duties of a Driver – Property”.

After his arraignment later that same morning, Lentz was released from jail by the judge without the need to post bond. The judge’s stated reason: Pretrial Release Services.

Evelyhn Hamilton, screenplay, Joe Kurmaskie, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
Sellwood author Joe Kurmaskie has written a book and a screenplay on WWII “bicycling heroine” Evelyn Hamilton. (Courtesy of Joe Kurmaskie)

Sellwood author’s WWII screenplay optioned for the movies


Sellwood author Joe Kurmaskie, also known as “the Metal Cowboy” for his many bicycling adventure books, has now branched out into a new medium. After three years researching the history of fellow cyclist and WWII heroine Evelyn Hamilton, he has written a screenplay about this remarkable woman which now has been optioned by Alsea Entertainment.

The documentary film, as written as his screenplay, forms the backstory and companion piece for Kurmaskie’s upcoming book, “Lightning In a Saddle”, projected for publication in 2018.

Kurmaskie does much research online, and he first saw Hamilton in a group photo of women bicyclists from the 1920s and ’30s. While most of the women in that picture had long dresses and parasols, Hamilton (1906-2005) was dressed in more contemporary clothing – similar to bike riders today.

He was fascinated, and began to dig up information on her – combing through old films, photos, news articles, and interviews to gain an understanding of this “emancipated warrior of cycling, who literally held the fate of the world hidden in her handlebars”.

He'll continue to give presentations locally and nationally to raise interest in Hamilton, he says. Later this year, he'll complete his research during a trip to England.

Over time, Kurmaskie learned much about this determined woman. Although the fastest person on two wheels, she was never allowed to compete against men, even though she won England’s “Sporting Life Trophy” in 1925. She and her husband then bought a bicycle shop in London; but Evelyn most wanted to prove herself in competition.

Banned from competing against British men, she went to France, but was barred from the Tour de France as well. Subsequently, she became a lover to Europe's largest bike manufacturer, Claud Butler, who supported her to become the most decorated cyclist in the world. Over the following ten years, she won 500 races in six countries, and shattered the record of 1,000 miles in ten days by completing the job in an astonishing 82 hours!

On the eve of WWII, when the German Army invaded France, Evelyn was performing there as a circus bicyclist. Instead of fleeing, she took on the identity and job of a dead bistro owner, in support of the French Resistance. She used that position to spy on the Gestapo officers dining in the bistro – passing information on to Charles de Gaulle, and to Winston Churchill through her London bike shop.

She carried coded messages about troop movements and other war secrets concealed in her handlebars. In the evenings, she took a tandem bike out to pick up downed pilots, disguised them in women’s clothing, and pedaled them to safety. Learning about all this prompted Kurmaskie to write a screenplay and book about this remarkable woman.

As mentioned, that screenplay has been optioned by Alsea Entertainment; one of the Alsea producers grew up in Beaverton, and hopes to film some scenes in the movie here in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Kurmaskie is finishing up his historical nonfiction book of the same name, projected for publication next year.

In April, Kurmaskie gave a free presentation at the Multnomah County Library about this woman, who “fought fascism, sexism, and her own ambitions, to become a war heroine and a beacon of humanity.”

He remarks to THE BEE, “While piecing together her history, I discovered and wanted to reveal her story, and its relevance to today’s fights for equality, social justice, and democracy.”

No date has been set for the filming.

Brushfire, wildfire, Springwater Trail, McLoughlin Boulevard, Ross Island Bridge, homeless, Portland, Oregon
Extending over the side of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, a firefighter riding the boom of PF&R Truck 1 shoots a stream of water onto the fire below – on the hillside above the Springwater Trail. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brushfire below Ross Island Bridge burns homeless camp


When the call went out at 9:58 p.m. on Friday night, July 21, that a brushfire was burning beside the Willamette River and below McLoughlin Boulevard at S.E. Franklin Street, Portland Fire & Rescue command staff were concerned that the blaze would get out of control.

The tall dry grass in the area burned quickly and the fire began spreading, as a light summer breeze pushed the fire northward, ever nearer to the Ross Island Bridge.

Firefighters from several area stations were dispatched, but a PF&R Wildland Fire truck and units from Downtown Station 1 was first to arrive and start fighting the fire.

Because there are no hydrants below the bluff, crews needed to pull their water lines across the highway from the corner of S.E. Franklin Street, so police temporarily closed McLoughlin Boulevard to all vehicle traffic to protect the hoses. 

“Fire crews were able to stop the fire while it was still relatively small, keeping it to an area of about 50 by 50 feet in size,” later reported PF&R spokesman Lt. Damon Simmons.

“We’ve seen small fires in the area; there are a lot of homeless camps between McLoughlin and the Springwater Trail,” said Brooklyn resident Elise Waterston as she watched the firefighters at work.

The cause of the fire has not, as THE BEE went to press, been officially released; but Simmons did report that a homeless camp was burned, adding, “No injuries were associated with this fire.”

KeyBank, holdup, robbery, armed, Woodstock, Portland, Oregon
The note on the Woodstock KeyBank door directed customers to the Sellwood branch, following the July 7 holdup. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Daylight bandit hits Woodstock’s KeyBank


The man didn’t flash a gun, when he entered the KeyBank branch, at S.E. 46th Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard an hour after it opened.

But, he soon made it clear he was there to make an unauthorized cash withdrawal, just before 10:00 a.m. on July 14.

“Employees told officers that the suspect presented a threatening note to the teller demanding money,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Burley. “After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect left the bank without incident,” he added.

As many as a dozen police units swarmed the area, looking for a suspect described as a 40 to 50-year-old white male, 5'6" tall, 150 pounds, with dark short hair and a goatee.

PPB Robbery Detail detectives worked with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to investigate this robbery,” Burley pointed out; bank robbery is investigated as a federal crime, since bank deposits are federally insured, and are prosecuted on the federal level.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact Portland Police Bureau Robbery Detail Detective Brett Hawkinson at 503/823-1080 or via e-mail at, or contact the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) at 503/224-4181.

Bullseye Glass Company, Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, BECon
Bullseye Glass Company co-owner Lani McGregor pauses for a photo with conference attendees Jaroslav Svacha and Alzbeta Suvova from the Chech Republic, Katja Henkenjohann from Germany, staff member Geraldine Sandberg, and co-owner Daniel Schwoerer. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brooklyn’s ‘Bullseye’ hosts international glass artists


Although this year’s “BECon”, a biennial international kiln-glass conference hosted by Bullseye Glass Company, was successful by all measures – in the back of the minds of owners Daniel Schwoerer and Lani McGregor lingered a concern, as it concluded on June 24.

“We were hoping to announce being granted our ‘chrome allowance’ from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) at our conference this week, but the bureaucracy seems to move slowly,” Schwoerer sighed at the closing evening gala held at their Brooklyn neighborhood plant.

“It’s been 16 months now, and all of these people – users of this class – have not been able to get our chrome-green glass, which represents about 20% of our output,” Schwoerer told THE BEE.

But, for the nearly 200 attendees of this year’s conference coming from seemingly all corners of the globe, the meetings, workshops, and trip to Portland was enjoyed by all.

“The topic of the conference is kiln-formed glass – the category of glass working materials for which Bullseye is internationally renowned,” McGregor explained. “We pick a theme for the conference, and invite experts to speak to on the topic presenting either conceptual information or technical discussions.

“This year, the theme was ‘Transformations’; kind of a ‘green theme’ – and reflective of our past year as well.”

In addition to a tour of the factory, which was actively making glass during the closing ceremony of the conference, it also featured a dinner – served in the Bullseye warehouse.

“We call it a ‘Lehr-B-Cue’, because the hot dishes, including ribs and chicken, are cooked in one of our lehr annealing ovens,” Schwoerer smiled.

Three days after the conference closed, on June 27, DEQ finally approved Bullseye’s request for an allowance to use chromium in their manufacturing process, and again begin to manufacture their original green art glass.

This approval came after the company spent about $1 million to install filters, leak detection technology, and undergo state and federal emissions testing and documentation for their operating procedures

“While some of our competitors think otherwise, we think Portland, Oregon, is the right place to make the best artisan glass in the world, while maintaining the highest standards of public health and safety!” Schwoerer said.

Drunk driver, construction, backhoe, crash, injury, McLoughlin Boulevard, Sellwood, Milwaukie, Portland, Oregon
After a “highly intoxicated driver” plowed into this construction work area, traffic on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard came to a standstill. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Extremely intoxicated driver veers into McLoughlin road crew


Preparing for the comprehensive paving project in now underway, Oregon Department of Transportation highway construction contractors were working late on Tuesday evening, June 27, installing curbing on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard at Umatilla Street.

Southbound traffic on McLoughlin Boulevard was, at the time, funneled down to one lane; and, although illuminated signs were flashing and flaggers were warning drivers to slow down, one car sped into the scene, swerved, struck an operating backhoe, and bounced against the center concrete barrier where it ground to a stop. 

With the car wedged up against the barrier, Woodstock Fire Station Truck 25 arrived and extricated the driver from the rear passenger’s side of the vehicle.

Two ambulances were called to the scene, and both the driver of the car and the backhoe operator were separately transported to local hospitals.

“The driver of the car, 30-year-old Emily K. Kralj, indeed crashed into a backhoe and had to be extricated from her vehicle,” confirmed Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Christopher Burley.

“She was cited for ‘DUII-Alcohol’ and ‘Reckless Driving’; Kralj’s alcohol impairment and speed appear to be factors in this crash,” Burley told THE BEE. “Kralj’s preliminary Blood Alcohol Content was 0.274 (the legal limit is 0.08),” he added.

Kralj was apparently not seriously injured, and was released by the hospital; the driver of the backhoe remained hospitalized for treatment of “non-life-threatening” injuries.

The reconstruction of McLoughlin Boulevard – State Highway 99W – continues, particularly at night and on the weekends, between S.E. Harold Street in Westmoreland and Harrison Street in downtown Milwaukie, for the rest of the summer – and drivers are advised to use caution, and to slow down in the work zone area.

Snakes, reptiles, corn snakes, Meng Vue, OMSI, Woodstock Library, Portland, Oregon
In a special Woodstock Branch Library appearance, OMSI’s Meng Vue holds a five-foot- long corn snake – a favorite pet snake known for its docile nature, reluctance to bite, and ability to catch mice and rats. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

In Woodstock: Snakes in the Library


On a recent warm summer afternoon, twenty-four children and seven adults sat on the floor of the Woodstock Library community room – there to listen to Meng Vue, Outreach Educator from OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, near the Ross Island Bridge – who was talking about reptiles. But what the children, who ranged in age from three to eleven, most wanted was to pet them!

Vue began by getting the attention of the children with a five-foot python named “Monty” that he held for the children to see. He explained that Monty was too “touchy” to be touched. It was not clear if the pun was appreciated. Vue then introduced a game designed to teach the difference between amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles:  Each child was given a card with a different animal on it, and told to match it with those five animal categories on a Velcro board.

That exercise led to a focus on reptiles. “What do you call the science of reptiles?” Vue asked. One child answered, “reptilology”, and was told that the “ology” part was correct; then a second child correctly stated “herpetology”.

Vue explained that reptiles are cold-blooded, lay eggs, and are covered with scales that are smooth, to some degree – but not slimy. Each child was given a cloth bag with a rubber reptile, a piece of string, measuring tape, and a weight measuring scale.  Everyone measured his or her rubber reptile, took its weight, and spent some time feeling it, or flopping it around if it was a snake.

Then came the anticipated time came to see the real reptiles. Vue uncovered their cages and took them out, one by one, returning each one to its box before taking out another. 

The children were told that “Mrs. T”, the box turtle, folds up her hands and sticks them inside her body when scared.  “Box turtles live a very long time – so sometimes one hundred years – so if you get a turtle, it’s quite a commitment,” cautioned Vue.

The OMSI instructor went on to explain that “Violet” the gecko doesn’t climb up walls, as do some geckos. “But, she does have a hundred teeth that are replaced every three or four months! At OMSI we feed her crickets,” he said.

The children enjoyed petting the various reptiles, especially the last one, which was a corn snake. “They live in the southeastern [and central] part of North America, and are very popular as pet snakes.  They are very easygoing.” 

Even though corn snakes resemble the venomous copperhead, they are harmless and even beneficial to people. They are constrictors, which use their five-foot length to hold onto prey – most often mice and rats – and suffocate them before consuming them. These are called corn snakes because they are frequently found in farm corn storage bins, where pesky mice and rats can eat the harvested corn.

The children spent the last fifteen minutes of the special hour at the Woodstock Branch Library petting the corn snake before leaving – to make room for the next group of children and adults.

Some local library events for all ages are included in the monthly Events and Activities section of THE BEE. For even more, go online – – and use the search program there.

Aaron Dennehy, DUII, utility pole, crash, Brentwood Darlington, Portland, Oregon, MCDC
Officials say 38-year-old Aaron Dennehy was arrested and charged with DUII, after he smashed into a Brentwood-Darlington utility pole – and then unsuccessfully attempted to flee the area. (MCDC booking photo)

Drunk driver smashes into Duke Street pole, then flees


Electric power was disrupted in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood after midnight on Monday, June 26, when a car smashed into a utility pole on S.E. Duke Street at 68th Avenue.

A witness called the 9-1-1 Center, sending Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers to the area – to find no vehicle, but only a badly damaged utility pole.

“The witnesses reported that a driver of suspect car was attempting to drive away,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “Officers arrived in the area and contacted the driver in the suspect vehicle, approximately two blocks from the initial crash location. Officers developed probable cause that the driver was impaired by alcohol, and he was taken into custody without incident.”

The driver, 38-year-old Aaron Dennehy, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of “Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII)”, “Reckless Driving”, and “Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run)”. 

Throughout the night, and into the morning hours, Portland General Electric crews worked to repair the damaged pole and power lines, and after sunrise electricity returned to affected homes and businesses in the neighborhood.

Mike Abbate, Portland Parks Bureau, Free Lunch and Play program, summer program, Portland, Oregon
Feeding hungry children is an important part of the Free Lunch + Play program, says PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Parks Bureau holds ‘Summer Kickoff’ at Mt. Scott Park


Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) held what they called a “Summer Field Day Celebration” midday on July 10 to kick off their “Free Lunch + Play” programs at Mt. Scott Park, in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

In the park, some kids were playing in supervised group activities, others were participating making crafts, and yet others were learning the basics of golf.

“We’re doing this event today to highlight this program, because 57% of young Portlanders qualify for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, which means that during the summer months, nearly 50,000 Portland children face hunger daily,” remarked PP&R Director Mike Abbaté.

“Our ‘Free Lunch + Play’ program supports families, by offering nutritious meals and recreational activities during the summer recess,” Abbaté told THE BEE, as a brief program got underway to honor major contributors.

The Parks Commissioner, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, joined Abbaté for photos and a brief press conference.

Asked by THE BEE about the cancellation of the very popular summer program long offered in Brooklyn Park, Fritz responded, “We’re really focusing on the places that can’t do without it; the less affluent neighborhoods. We appreciate when neighbors try to keep their programs. We are finding great turnouts at the sites that we do have; [and where] the children are able to find a way to those. So, concentrating in those areas makes more sense.”

At noon, the kids lined up to have their hands washed, then took plastic-bagged lunches. Then, they sat at long rows of picnic tables to enjoy their free summer luncheon meal.

“Portland Parks provides a terrific and steady part of our activities on a daily basis,” said parent Christian McKee. “We appreciate having the summer lunch available, and really enjoy participating in the activities that they offer.”

Free Lunch + Play sites in Inner Southeast Portland are now located at Creston Park, on S.E. Powell Boulevard – and in Mt. Scott Park, on S.E. 72nd Avenue.

These programs are offered Monday through Friday through August 25, and offer sports, games, and arts and crafts.

For specific times, addresses and other information, see the PP&R Free Lunch + Play webpage:

TriMet, bus shelter, crash, Andrew McLaughlin, Powell Boulevard, Portland, Oregon
28-year-old Andrew McLaughlin faces multiple charges, including DUII, after smashing his truck into a bus shelter and concrete barrier on Powell Boulevard. (MCDC booking photo)

Inebriated driver smashes TriMet bus shelter…and saunters away


While an East Precinct officer nearby watched, a white truck sped eastbound on S.E. Powell Boulevard – and smashed right into a TriMet bus shelter and a concrete barrier at S.E. 50th Avenue. It was at about 12:30 a.m., in the very early morning of Thursday, June 29.

“The driver got out of the vehicle and started walking away from the crash, along with a passenger who also got out of the vehicle,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

A tow truck was called to move the smashed truck out of the roadway, while officers sauntered after, stopped, and talked with the driver. They determined that he was alcohol-impaired, Simpson remarked. 

28-year-old Andrew McLaughlin was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run), and Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (two counts).

“The passenger, who was also intoxicated, was taken to a sobering facility,” Simpson said dryly.

Woodstock, fire, barbeque, explosion, 42nd Avenue, Harold Street, Portland, Oregon
Firefighters from Lents Fire Station’s Engine 9 doused a “flamed out” barbecue grill, and a smoldering deck and eaves, in Woodstock on July 8. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

BBQ explosion singes Woodstock deck and siding


It had seemed a delightful afternoon for a backyard barbecue on Saturday, July 8, but at 6:07 p.m. Woodstock neighbors heard what they described as an explosion, behind the home at 5505 S.E. 42nd Avenue.

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters had been fighting a small grass fire below the bluff overlooking Oaks Bottom earlier, which had required dispatchers to redistribute units in order also to fight this fire.

Not long after the call went out, Lents Station Engine 9’s crew arrived, and reported back seeing heavy smoke coming from the back of the house, and from the roof vents as well.

While the initial “size-up” was being called in, Woodstock Station Engine 25’s firefighters also pulled up; followed by four additional crews – one of them from University Park Station 4 on the west side of the Willamette River.

Heading around back, the firefighters found that a barbecue grill had “flamed out”, exploding into a blaze on the rear wooden deck of the home, singeing the siding and roof eaves of the house.

By 6:30 p.m. the crews had put the fire out, and were focused on wetting down the areas of the house that had been exposed to the flames.

“People should make sure their barbecue grills – especially gas-fired ones – are cleaned, before they are used – every time,” advised a firefighter heading back to his rig.

A damage estimate has not been made public by fire investigators.

Injury crash, reckless driver, pulled off side panel, Brentwood Darlington, Portland, Oregon
The side door panel of the Toyota is still hooked to the bumper of the Chevy pickup truck – which witnesses say backed up after the crash, as if to flee the scene. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Hot-dogging’ driver sends two to hospital in 52nd wreck


Brentwood-Darlington neighbors are sympathetic; it is difficult to see oncoming traffic or pedestrians when driving west on S.E. Flavel Street when the sun is low in the sky.

But, witnesses say, sun-blinding had nothing at all to do with the wreck that occurred on Friday, July 21, at 6:25 p.m., when a full size Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck swerved into an oncoming Toyota Solara SE.

“The pickup either turned around, or came out of the driveway of the second house [to the east of S.E. 52nd Avenue], on S.E. Flavel Street – and was heading west,” said witness Jim Baird. “The guy was kind of hot-dogging it. He really hit the gas and ‘lit up’ his tires, and started to fishtail – and ran right into the [eastbound] car.

“It looked like he was trying to take off; he put it in reverse, and when he backed up, he pulled the side panel off the car!” Baird added.

Several East Precinct police cars rushed to the scene, as did the crew of Engine 25 from the Woodstock Fire Station. Two ambulances joined the response.

Both the driver of the Silverado and the driver of the Toyota were prepared for transport, then taken to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.

“From what we’ve learned, it looks like the driver of the Chevy pickup will be cited for at least one traffic violation,” an investigating officer told THE BEE, as we went to press with this issue.

Liliana Morrisey, Franklin High School, Z Man, talent show, Portland, Oregon
Shortly before her graduation from Franklin High, senior Liliana Morrisey accompanied herself on piano as she sang her original ballad, “Can’t Take it Back”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Singer-songwriter represents FHS Quakers in competition


The atmosphere in the auditorium was electric, as the best high school talent from across Portland gathered for a dress rehearsal of the Z-Man Scholarship Foundation’s “Talent Within” contest, shortly before the end of school for the summer.

“We’re all excited about the top-notch acts this year – each of whom won their respective school’s talent competition, and was then excited to move on to our contest,” remarked organizer Portland Police Bureau Sergeant Hank Hayes that evening.

“This started five years ago. The Z-Man Foundation has historically provided academic scholarships to college preparatory high schools for students,” Hayes told THE BEE. “But in addition to scholastics, we also wanted a way for students who are interested in the performing arts to participate.”

In addition to the prestige of performing in this area-wide show, the first place winner also receives a $5,000 scholarship from the foundation, Hayes said.

Showing her Quaker Pride at this year’s competition was Franklin High School senior Liliana Morrisey, who accompanied herself on piano as she sang an original ballad called “Can’t Take it Back”.

“It was already amazing that I won the talent contest at Franklin, competing against eleven other students who were all really talented,” Morrisey grinned to THE BEE backstage.

“I’ve been working on this song over the span of three years,” Morrisey reflected, explaining that she finally felt it was ready for performance. “What’s helped me have the confidence to perform has been the Franklin community, and having my friends show up to cheer me on.

“Now, being able to compete at the Z-Man Scholarship Foundation ‘Talent Within’ show is an incredible experience, and great way to end my senior year!” 

This fall she’ll be studying psychology at Oregon State University. “I hope my dad lets me take my keyboard with me, so I can keep working on my music in my dorm room,” Morrisey added, with a twinkle in her eye.

Although participants from Madison, David Douglas, and Wilson took top honors in the citywide Z-Man competition, Morrisey represented the Quakers well. Find out more about the Z-Man Scholarship Foundation online –

Fatal, crash, pedestrian, Powell Boulevard, 50th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team arrives at the scene of a deadly pedestrian vs. vehicle crash on Powell Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Pedestrian killed while jaywalking on Powell Blvd


In the short block of S.E. Powell Boulevard, between 50th and 51 Avenues, a pedestrian was struck at about 12:45 a.m., very early on Wednesday, June 14.

The pedestrian reportedly made an unexpected movement in front of an oncoming vehicle while crossing Powell southbound, not at an intersection, according to police.

The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team arrived when the driver of the vehicle involved contacted 9-1-1 to report the crash, stayed in the area, and cooperated with the investigation.

Both officers and medical first responders tended to the pedestrian, who they believed to have life-threatening injuries; in the process of transporting the victim by ambulance to a hospital, the person died. His or her identity has not yet been publicly disclosed.

The Traffic Division officers said that the driver of the vehicle didn’t appear to be impaired, and no citations were issued.

Armed robbery, 82nd, bar, pursuit, arrests, Jesus Mezick, Jamaar Abdul Smith
Arrested in Los Angeles for felony robbery and other charges was 27-year-old Jesus Mezick, at left. Also now in custody is 33-year-old Jamaar Abdul Smith, at right, who likewise faces felony robbery charges in connection with this crime. (MCDC archive booking photos)

Pub robbery on 82nd leads to SERT call-out and arrests


This story started just as the evening was ending about 2:30 a.m. early on Friday, July 7 – with an armed robbery at the 82nd Avenue Bar and Grill, on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, near Raymond Court.

“Officers responding to the armed robbery saw a vehicle being driven out of the area of the robbery at a high rate of speed,” later reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “The driver crashed in the area of SE 112th Avenue and Boise Street, and the two occupants ran from the crash scene.”

“I don’t know how they did it – but somehow, the guys in the silver Pontiac Grand Prix managed to smash up the car, and flip it up sideways on a tree – then run like crazy away from it,” remarked neighbor Harold Andersen later that morning.

Shortly after the crash, police Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) members gathered on S.E. Holgate Boulevard in the parking lot of “The Voice of Hope Christian Church”, near S.E. 105th Avenue, prepared to go after two armed robbery suspects.

“The SERT officers [were called in because] the two robbery suspects were described as being armed with a knife and a handgun during the robbery,” Simpson said.

Going street by street, and yard by yard, SERT members and East Precinct officers scoured the neighborhood looking for the suspects that Simpson described as “one white male and one black male, both shorter in stature.”

At 7:29 a.m. police believed they’d captured one of the suspects, but that individual was soon released. At 8:01 a.m., the search was called off, with no arrests.

But later, during the course of the investigation, PPB Robbery Detail detectives identified two suspects, one of whom they believed traveled to Southern California following the robbery. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for 27-year-old Jesus Mezick on Robbery in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, Theft in the First Degree, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

And, on Sunday, July 9, members of the United States Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Mezick on the warrant. Mezick was booked into the Los Angeles County Jail, awaiting extradition to the State of Oregon. 

Detectives also obtained a search warrant for a residence near S.E. 88th Avenue on Reedway Street, after learning that the second suspect in the robbery lived there. SERT served a search warrant in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 13.

During the service of the search warrant, 33-year-old Jamaar Abdul Smith was taken into custody, and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 12:01 p.m. on July 13 on charges of Robbery in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, Theft in the First Degree, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

After his arraignment, Smith was returned to custody at MCDC, in lieu of $510,000 bail.

Portland Metro Rotary, Eastmoreland Golf Course Clubhouse
METRO ROTARY MOVES TO EASTMORELAND. Portland Metro Rotary recently moved its Monday 6 p.m. meetings to Eastmoreland Golf Course Clubhouse from Downtown – and, under the Presidency of “Handyman Bob” Strong, on July 17 presided over cash awards by and for the nonprofits with which it was involved in its third annual “Spring Fling” fundraiser. In the presentation shown above: From left, Don Jensen, President of Elks Youth Eye Services received a check from Scott White, of the Milwaukie-Portland Elks; Cassie Trahan, of A Village For One (which helps young teens formerly used in sex trafficking) received a check from Heidi Pa, President of the Soroptimist International of Lake Oswego/West Linn. At right are Judy Penny, Spring Fling Chairperson, and Kris Akins, President-Elect for Portland Metro Rotary. (Photo by Eric Norberg)
Armed robber, Clackamas, Kern Park, K9, Portland, Oregon
Near Kern Park, a PPB K9 team prepares to search for the armed robbery suspect. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

SERT manhunt captures suspected armed robber in Foster-Powell


Although the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communication sent out a “shelter-in-place message” to residents in the Foster-Powell neighborhood in the early morning of Thursday, July 20, many residents said they didn’t get the word.

One of them, looking at the intense police activity along S.E. 67th Avenue at Center Street, was Mildred Goings – who mused, “And to think I slept with the windows open last night. What’s going on?”

What ended up in this East Portland neighborhood had begun at 4:37 a.m., when Clackamas County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) deputies responded to investigate an armed robbery outside of an apartment near S.E. Courtney Road, on Linden Drive, in Oak Grove.

“Deputies learned that the victim was familiar with the suspect from previous social contacts,” said CCSO spokesman Sgt. Dan Kraus. “After a brief encounter, the suspect drew a firearm and stole property from the victim, then left the scene in a dark-green sport utility vehicle.”

An investigation led CCSO deputies to locate the suspect vehicle in the area of S.E. 68th Avenue and Rhone Street in Inner Southeast Portland; Portland Police resources were called in at 6:40 a.m. to conduct a search of the area.

Nearly sixty responding Portland Police Officers cordoned off the blocks of S.E. 67th and 68th avenues, from Center to Rhone Streets.

Members of the PPB Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiation Team staged on the north side of Powell Boulevard in the parking lot of Kellogg Middle School.

At 7:50 a.m., both the large and small SERT armored vehicles drove out of the staging area, traveled south on S.E. 70th Avenue and west on Center Street to 68th Avenue, and one proceeded to 67th Avenue at Kern Park.

From there, SERT personnel – given cover by officers in the armored vehicles on each street – proceeded north, and methodically searched yards, house-by-house.

Shortly before 9 a.m., SERT officers captured the suspect, and took him into custody in mid-block on S.E. 67th Avenue.

“The firearm believed to have been used by the suspect in the robbery was located by an alert citizen, and has been recovered by the police,” Kraus later reported.

Because of the suspect’s age, Kraus said that name will not be released, but did say the suspect has been lodged with juvenile authorities. “CCSO violent-crimes detectives continue to work on this investigation, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses; additional arrests are possible.”

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