More stories from October's issue of THE BEE!

Crystal Springs Creek, culvert replacement, Bybee Boulevard, salmon, Glenwood Street, Station 20
By November, the rest of this culvert-removal project will be complete, and Bybee Boulevard will be back as it was – including the reopening the S.E. 23rd Avenue roadway loop. This photo shows the new Glenwood Street undercrossing for the creek; beyond it is Westmoreland Fire Station 20, and beyond that, S.E. Bybee Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Water again flows in Crystal Springs Creek at Bybee


There are still obstacles at the intersection of S.E. 23rd Avenue and Bybee Boulevard, but the great news for the fish that use it is that Crystal Springs Creek is again flowing beneath the roadway, and not through a long black pipe.

“The contractors met the in-water work window deadline – and yes, water is again flowing through the creek as it should be!” said Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Environmental Program Coordinator Ronda Fast.

Touring the project alongside Fire Station 20 with THE BEE in mid-September, Fast remarked that it was quite a job to remove the old 4½ foot wide culverts and the deteriorating wing walls on either side.

In the narrow six-week window, contractors didn’t have time to build forms and pour concrete, Fast explained. “Instead, they brought in pre-cast concrete U-shaped segments, and then hoisted tops onto them to form a box.”

The result is sure to please the salmon, Fast said. “These were the last two culverts that impeded fish passage along Crystal Springs Creek. Now that we have taken these two ‘problem culverts’ out, there is now unencumbered, unhindered fish passage between here and the Pacific Ocean.”

The next stage is to reconstruct the road, and the sidewalk, she said.

“There will be a new pedestrian railing running along between Glenwood and Bybee, and we’ll plant new street trees along that stretch of 23rd Avenue, as well as Bybee Boulevard and the Westmoreland Park frontage.”

All of the effort and expense is important, Fast said, “because this is the final one of the many projects that are bringing salmon back into the city – notably to Crystal Springs Creek.

“In the context of salmon recovery, this is the hub for salmon recovery in the City of Portland right now.”

Heritage Tree, American Chestnut, Chestnut Tree, Sellwood
One of Sellwood’s two “Heritage” American chestnut trees was cut back considerably in August, due to disease and old lightning damage. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Time and lightning claim ‘Heritage’ chestnut tree in Sellwood


A frequent sight on Sellwood “tree walks” has been a pair of towering American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) at S.E. 11th Avenue and Lexington Street. Both giants were listed as Portland Heritage trees, until August – when one was cut back halfway due to disease and lightning damage.

Homeowner Kim O’Hern, who operates the Chestnut Grove Montessori Preschool next door, revealed, “The tree was hit by lightning about twenty years ago, which started the process of decay.

“We had arborist Brian French test it for chestnut blight last year, and although the tree was blight-free, he recommended that it be topped off. We decided to leave the [remaining] snag for wildlife habitat. Woodpeckers have lived there for some time.”

O’Hern has lived in the house for five years, but says it was built in 1903. “We don't know much about the history of the trees, but we imagine they were planted about that same time,” she says. “The trunks are about 70 inches in diameter, but the southernmost tree had a large tear-away section where a small Buddha statue had been placed. The removed limbs are about 30 inches in diameter, and we're giving them away free. I’m saving one limb, and hope someone can help turn it into a bench for the preschoolers.”

Arborist French has studied the history of American chestnuts. In the early 1900s the species comprised nearly 10% of the East Coast hardwood forests. The trees provided dense lumber for telephone poles, furniture, and split-rail fences. Tannin in their bark was used to tan hide; and their large sweet nuts were eaten by people and wildlife alike.

However, in 1904 chestnut blight spores (Endothia parasitica) were accidentally introduced into the New York Zoological Park. The spores attack young chestnut trees when their bark begins to fissure, girdling and killing the tree. The blight spread from there, unchecked, by about 50 miles per year, and decimated this iconic species.

Although much research has been done to try to develop disease-resistant hybrids, so far there has been no cure. The American Heritage Tree Book reports that these Sellwood American chestnuts are believed to be the only ones in Portland.

Holgate Boulevard, cafe racer, motorcycle crash
Woodstock Fire Station 25 paramedics provided fast treatment for the downed motorcycle rider at the crash scene. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Speeding biker survives spectacular crash on Holgate


The roaring whine of a café racer – a lightweight, lightly-powered motorcycle – split the stillness of the evening in the Foster-Powell neighborhood on Tuesday, September 13.

According to witnesses, the rider was first seen crossing 52nd Avenue eastbound on S.E. Holgate Boulevard, gunned it and raced through a red traffic light at S.E. Foster Road, and continued on.

Justin Amrine said he was on his porch at his home at S.E. 66th Avenue and Holgate, enjoying a cool late summer evening, when he heard the motorcycle approach.

“I’ve been to race tracks, and I don’t remember seeing anything move that fast,” Amrine told THE BEE. “The motorcycle downshifted to a lower gear as he passed, and he hit the throttle.”

Moments later, Amrine heard a very loud crash. Running from his porch, he saw a northbound white Honda Accord EX – partway into the intersection at S.E. 67th Avenue, to let the driver see around the blind jog in the road.

“The motorcycle didn’t T-bone the Honda – it ripped off the front end of the car!” Amrine said.

The wrecked bike skidded, and slammed into the bushes against the wall of the Kern Park Flower Shoppe; the rider was lying in the street, face down, and not moving, Amrine reported.

Four people in the area said they had suspected that police had been pursuing the biker, but there seemed no firm evidence of it. However, officers did arrive at the intersection within a short amount of time – some said 30 seconds; others estimated their arrival at about two minutes.

An AMR ambulance pulled up to the scene just as Woodstock Fire Station Engine 25’s firefighter/paramedics arrived, and these first-responders began preparing the motorcycle rider, whom they found still alive despite the violent crash, for transport to OHSU Hospital.

When we asked, Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson did not comment on what might have led up to the crash – saying only, “The crash remains under investigation.”

But, what might surprise many who witnessed the collision was that Simpson told THE BEE, “The motorcycle rider, transported by ambulance, did not suffer any serious injuries. The driver in the vehicle was not injured.” Maybe the biker should try his luck on the state lottery.

Dahlia Fest, Dahlias, Nathan Payne, Oaks Park, Dance Pavilion
First-time entrant Nathan Payne shows his blue-ribbon winning entry, in the Oaks Park Dance Pavilion.

Longtime ‘Dahlia Fest’ moves north into Sellwood


For decades, the renowned and storied American Dahlia Society’s Portland Chapter has held an annual show, drawing floral enthusiasts from all over the Pacific Northwest.

But this year, the club decided to hold their 88th annual show at historic, nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood, on the weekend of August 27 and 28.

“We’ve held it at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in the past, but we’re looking for more exposure, so we moved it here,” explained the organization’s President, Larry Smith, at the festival – held in The Oaks’ Dance Pavilion.

“The idea is to get more people interested in dahlias and growing them,” Smith explained. “We want to expose new people to the species, to help us ‘feed our habit’ of growing and propagating dahlias.”

Asked why the dahlia is so popular in the “Rose City”, Smith responded, “Roses have a relatively short season where they’re in their prime. The dahlias, once they start blooming in late June into of July, keep on giving a good quality of flowers until the first frost.”

While dahlias don’t give off a romantic scent, as does the rose – unless you’re attracted to their offbeat scent – the blooms are lovely, Smith observed.

This show featured some 1,000 entries from about 50 participants, from as far south as Gold Beach on the Southern Oregon coast, and as far north as Everett, in Northern Washington.

Next year, the Portland Chapter looks forward to hosting the organization’s national show at the venue, Smith smiled.

If you’d like to learn more about this prominent local flower club, visit their website:

Brush fire, Springwater Trail, Grass Fire, McLoughlin Boulevard, cigarette
After dragging a water-filled line from his engine on the east side natural area, this firefighter from Engine Company 25 puts water on the grass fire along the Springwater Trail just west of McLoughlin Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Discarded cigarette suspected cause of Sellwood grass fire


Smoke rising from alongside the Springwater Corridor Trail, paralleling S.E. Ochoco Street near 18th Avenue, soon turned to flames on the Thursday afternoon of August 25.

When Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s Engine company arrived at 4:16 p.m., seven minutes after the grass fire was called in, they reported seeing an area of dry grass and brush ablaze – larger than 100 feet square.

With tinder-dry grass as fuel, and a stiff breeze blowing, Woodstock Station 25’s engine was called in, as were two “Brush Units”.

The Fire Bureau’s Brush Units are specially-equipped, high-clearance, four-wheel drive units built to attack fires in what they call the “urban-wildland interface” areas –especially, natural parks within the city.

Firefighters hauled in an extended water line, up the Springwater Trail from Engine 20 parked near McLoughlin Boulevard, to fight the fire from the south side; while Engine 25’s crew pulled in a water line from the north side of the natural area.

“Because we got a quick knock-down on the fire, it didn’t spread far beyond the point of origin – which we suspect was a discarded cigarette,” a PF&R lieutenant told THE BEE.

Lighthouse Lotto Deli, holdup, Powell Bouevard
East Precinct officers responded to investigate an armed robbery at the “Lighthouse Deli” on S.E. Powell Boulevard on August 31. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Armed trio hold up ‘lotto deli’ on Powell Blvd


Perhaps because it is hidden away in a strip mall set back from Powell Boulevard, the Lighthouse Deli, located at 3416 S.E. Chavez Boulevard (39th) became a target for an armed robbery crew, on Wednesday afternoon, August 31.

At 3:49 p.m., the trio of suspects strolled in the door, robbed the deli and its customers, and restrained some of the people inside the store as well before fleeing the scene, the deli manager told investigating officers.

At first, it was reported that shots had been fired during the robbery; but, according to police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson, there were no gunshots during the incident, and there were no reported injuries.

“Central Precinct officers and a Canine Unit looked for the suspects, described as three African American males in their 20s, wearing dark clothing,” Simpson said. The description seemed to fit the suspects of several similar robberies in the Portland region.

Anyone with information about the robbery, or anyone who witnessed the suspects fleeing the area, is asked to call the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503/823-3333.

Sellwood, Olde World Puppet Theater, No No Pinocchio, Festa Italiana, Pioneer Courthouse Square
The cast from Sellwood’s “Olde World Puppet Theatre” sets the stage – introducing their original story, “No, No, No, Pinocchio”, at the 2016 Festa Italiana at Pioneer Courthouse Square. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast’s Pinocchio plays Italian Fest downtown


Two decades after the troupe first appeared at Portland’s “Festa Italiana” in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Olde World Puppet Theatre – now located on S.E. Umatilla Street in Sellwood – once again this year presented the puppet play they created back then for the celebration, “No, No, No, Pinocchio”.

“We’re helping them celebrate their 25th year of the festival, and the 20th anniversary of the play that we originally wrote and produced for them,” smiled theatre co-director Stephen Overton, as he, partner Marty Richmond, and actors, prepared to present the play on the 95° afternoon of Friday, August 26.

The show ran at both the Portland and Seattle festivals for five years in a row, Overton remarked.

“This year, ‘Festa Italiana’ organizers called and asked us to bring the show out again,” he told THE BEE.

Thanks to help from the festival committee, this show is true to the original story, not a copy of the old Disney animated film.

“This gave us the chance to include a few old culturally-Italian jokes, and use Rossini’s music,” Overton explained.

The “Blue Fairy” in their play is far more than a fluttering spirit, he added. “She’s more like an Italian Godmother – she controls the whole thing – she’s a strong woman, so you don’t mess with the Godmother.”

After building the set in front of the audience, their fully-produced soundtrack provides voices for the three-foot tall jewel-like marionettes, with characters rich and deep. “We encourage the audience to boo the bad guys, and cheer the good ones,” Overton said.

With the audience shaded from the blazing afternoon summer sun, the show enchanted the Pioneer Courthouse Square audience.

Squatter house, boarded up house, fire, Westmoreland
Just after calling 9-1-1 to report it, Mike Quigley, a bystander, snapped this photo of the fire underway in the boarded-up house – which was already endangering the house next door. (Photo courtesy of Mike Quigley)

Westmoreland ‘squatter house’ fire threatens neighboring homes


A boarded-up dilapidated house – now owned by Southeast Portland Investors LLC, of Clackamas – is located at 5219 S.E. 18th Avenue, a half block south of McLoughlin Boulevard, in Westmoreland. It has a permit to be demolished, perhaps as soon as October 5th.

The fire that broke out there on Monday, September 12, may hasten its removal.

A little after 5:30 p.m. that afternoon, bystander Mike Quigley said he was driving up the street when he saw thick smoke, and then fire, as he approached the property.

“I called 9-1-1 first, and then took a picture of the fire,” Quigley told THE BEE. “I made sure [the dispatcher] knew the fire was very close to setting the house to the south on fire,” he added.

First at the scene, at 5:49 p.m., were Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s firefighters.

To get inside the house, firefighters had to first pull boards off the front and garage doors, and pry loose some of the boards had been nailed over the windows.

Additional fire trucks were called to the scene, for a total of 15 rigs, plus two Battalion Chiefs, all mainly due to the danger to the house directly to the south. Firefighters kept the blaze under control, and extinguished it before could damage any other structure.

So far, there’s been no official word regarding the cause of the fire or estimated damages, but neighbors who’d been watching it called it a “squatter house”.

“I hope the man that was living there got out okay, along with his dogs,” said a neighbor, who said she lived on the same block, but declined to give her name. Another neighbor said a man “had permission” to camp in the back yard of the boarded-up house.

There has been no official estimate of fire damage – but, given that the burned house was already slated for demolition soon by a developer, probably it would have to be “zero”.

Gas line break, SE Henry Street
With a portable gas leak detector in hand, a firefighter determines the volume of gas escaping from the ruptured pipe on S.E. Henry Street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Ruptured gas line brings firefighters to Brentwood-Darlington


A ruptured natural gas residential service line brought out Woodstock Station 25 firefighters, and other personnel, to 8038 S.E. Henry Street just before noon on Tuesday, August 23.

A contractor at the site told a PF&R lieutenant that he’d had indeed had the required “Underground Utility Locate” performed – and had the paperwork in his truck to prove it.

Nevertheless, while digging a hole for a fence post, the crew struck an unmarked natural gas line going from the street into the house.

Firefighters were ready to evacuate homes in the area, but the contractor was able to temporarily tape off the gas line. Nevertheless, crews stood by to provide fire suppression if needed.

Within twenty minutes, NW Natural Gas responders were on scene, assessing the damage, and preparing to repair the damaged pipe.

Reed neighborhood, Raymond Street, crash
Police commented that the Honda must have been traveling pretty fast, to have developed enough momentum on the short street to plant his car’s rear end so deeply into the tree’s trunk. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver ‘misses’ stop sign in Reed neighborhood, causes wreck


In the industrial area of the Reed neighborhood, S.E. Raymond Street is a short “stub” running between S.E. 28th and 26th Avenues.

But this short segment of Raymond Street was long enough for the driver of a silver Honda sedan to get up enough speed to “miss seeing” a stop sign – and cause a messy smashup in the intersection of S.E. Raymond at 26th.

According to witnesses, a woman was driving her Volvo 940 Turbo northbound on 26th Avenue, approaching Raymond Street.

The Honda was westbound on Raymond, entering the intersection at what witnesses said was a high rate of speed, and was struck squarely and soundly on the driver’s side.

Due to the force of the impact, airbags deployed in both vehicles.

One witness said that the driver the Honda got out of the car as quickly as possible, and started gathering personal belongings as if he were planning on leaving the scene.

The witness further stated that he and other witnesses encouraged the Honda driver to stay until first-responders arrived, to be “checked out medically for his own health and well-being”, and also to speak to the police officers that were soon on scene.

Meanwhile, Westmoreland’s Fire Station 20 crew was arrived, helping to extricate the driver of the smashed Volvo.

All the while, the Honda’s driver was loudly proclaiming that, because the stop sign’s pole was slightly bent to the side, and there were overhanging branches, he couldn’t see the traffic control sign.

However according to police officers at the wreck, speed just might been a factor.

The impact between the Volvo and the Honda spun both vehicles around 180° – so the Volvo was in the southbound lane facing south when it came to rest. The Honda had skittered across the intersection, before its back end smashed against a tree, hard enough that the tree protruded into the trunk by about two feet.

The driver of the Volvo was sitting on a chair when THE BEE arrived. However, she was soon transferred to a gurney, and then rolled into an AMR ambulance for precautionary transport to a hospital for a medical evaluation.

The driver the Honda wasn’t placed under arrest while we were there; he was still taking pictures with a cell phone as we left, trying to document the position of the stop sign that he insisted that he could not see.

Public Art, Sellwood Bridge, pylons, installation
Workers bolt a new Sellwood Bridge “public art” totem – still suspended from a crane – into place. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Totems installed at Sellwood Bridge Project


A clear sign that the new Sellwood Bridge project is finally drawing to a close was the unveiling and activation of the new traffic control signals at S.E. 6th Avenue at Tacoma Street. And, at the west end of the bridge, drivers can now turn south on Highway 43, without having to detour north to Terwilliger first.

But another sign of pending completion was an artistic finishing touch which began on Monday, August 22: The installation of the new public art steel pylons – or “totems” – on either side of the bridge’s east-end, leading into and out of Sellwood.

This art installation was the winning project for the “public art” component of the project, submitted by Mikyoung Kim Design in Boston.

“She was inspired by the geological strata in the Willamette Valley,” recalled Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) Public Art Manager Peggy Kendellen. “The core of the totems are stainless steel, with hand-applied layers of patina.”

The RACC is happy with the outcome of the $500,000 project, funded under the “1% for Art” program, Kendellen said. “The funding came to the City of Portland from a transfer through the Portland Bureau of Transportation.”

The less obvious point of the artist’s vision was to have traffic slow down as people drive eastbound on the bridge, “and help them realize that they’re coming into a neighborhood,” Kendellen pointed out.

Taking a moment for THE BEE from installing the totems was welder and art fabricator Samantha Nagmay. “Throughout the summer, we’ve been fabricating this art out near North Plains,” Nagmay told us.

There, they used a water jet cutter to shape the pieces of steel used for the sculptures, and then welded them together. “Then, we applied the patina, and covered that with an anti-graffiti coating, followed by a wax coating on top of that,” Nagmay said.

Although there are 11 of them lining the bridge at the east enbd, each side of the street is considered just one piece of art; the entirety of the sculpture is to be taken as a whole,” explained Nagmay. “When driving along Tacoma Street, one will see how they’re set at different angles, and observe dissimilar shadows, as if looking at geological strata.”

The artists returned the following day to install the bronze panels designed to finish each totem in colors of green and blue. Not only do these panels add color to each sculpture, they also hide the holes used for lifting and positioning these steel monuments.

Once it’s all in place, Nagmay commented, “It’ll be nice to see them as a whole, the way they’re supposed to be. It will be more exciting when both sides of the street are installed. People will get a better sense of it – kind of like a tunnel, giving you the feeling of the Oregon geological strata that the artist was looking for.”

Stolen van, arrest, teens, joyride, SE Flavel Street
After stopping a stolen van on S.E. Flavel Street, an East Precinct officer searches the driver, while the van’s passenger sits on the curb. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Joyriding teens busted on S.E. Flavel in stolen van


Early on Sunday, September 4, East Precinct police officers noticed a large white van being driven erratically along S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses.

An officer turned on the emergency lights, signaling the driver of the van to stop. But the driver did the opposite, and drove off.

After the van screeched around the corner, heading west on S.E. Flavel Street, another officer approached, heading east, and cut off the driver.

At 1:10 a.m., with the joyride now over, a young man and woman complied and got out of the vehicle. Officers noted that the van had been reported stolen, and that that the occupants were juveniles.

The driver was sixteen, and the passenger was fifteen years of age.

Because of unspecified items found in the stolen van, both youths were taken to the Donald E Long Juvenile Detention Center, before they were released to their respective parents the following day.

Ochoco Street, bridge, resurface, Johnson Creek
After the fluid sealant was spread, workers poured on fine gravel; the final step in the little bridge’s maintenance, shown here, was smoothing out the surface to finish the project. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Coating improves bridge on S.E. Ochoco Street, west of McLoughlin


Many who pass over the Johnson Creek while driving on S.E. Ochoco Street in Sellwood don’t even know they have crossed a small bridge.

Many drivers who use the bridge enroute to and from S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard did notice when they found it closed to traffic for much of the weekend of August 27th.

“Bridge deck improvements required the full closure of the bridge,” said City of Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesperson Dylan Rivera about the project.

With Ochoco closed at that point for the weekend, workers first cleaned the surface, then sprayed on an epoxy-like bonding agent, and finally covered it with a fine gravel and sand mixture.

“The closure allowed crews to resurface the bridge, and extend its working life,” Rivera added.

After giving the sealant time to cure, the newly resurfaced bridge reopened to traffic around noon the following day, and once again most drivers didn’t even notice it was there.

Eastmoreland, house fire, plumber, cutting torch, overhaul
This firefighter from Woodstock-based Truck 25 pitches burned and charred “overhaul” materials out of the burned room. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cutting torch sparks Eastmoreland house fire


After responding to a two-alarm commercial fire elsewhere in the city on August 25, the firefighters of Westmoreland Fire Station 20 in Bybee Boulevard had just gotten back to the station when they were called out again – this time to the report of a house fire in nearby Eastmoreland.

Moments later, the crew of Engine 20 arrived at the burning residence, on the corner of S.E. 30th Avenue and Rex Street at 12:46 p.m. Pulling up at the same time, 12:45 p.m., were both the ladder truck and the engine from Woodstock’s Fire Station 25 on S.E. 52nd.

Because resources were stretched thin that day, additional rigs came from as far away as Hillsdale’s Station 5 in Southwest Portland.

Firefighters made their way up to the second floor of the house, where they began extinguishing the fire. Because the flames appeared to have traveled up the wall into the attic, firefighters opened the roof to provide vertical ventilation – to let hot gasses escape – and to put out the fire.

It took the crews about two hours to complete the “overhaul” process of digging out and removing burned and charred materials.

Working in near 100° outdoor temperatures, one firefighter experienced heat exhaustion, and was treated at the scene.

“PF&R’s Arson Squad determined that this fire was unintentionally started by a spark from equipment used to cut a pipe in a wall,” Lt. Rich Tyler told THE BEE.

The estimated damage to the structure and the contents was set at $70,000.

Woodstock Farmers Market, storage shed, burglary, theft
Emily Murnen (left) and Peggy McCafferty smile because they are improving security at their Farmers Market’s equipment shed, sited on the Woodstock Key Bank parking lot. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Second burglary suffered by Woodstock Farmers Market


The Woodstock Farmers Market, open each Sunday midday from early June to late October, suffered its second storage shed break-in sometime after shoppers left the market on August 28th. Burglars used bolt cutters to steal thousands of dollars of equipment.

It was the second such burglary within the span of six weeks. The first took place after market day on the first weekend in July. At that time thieves stole a hand truck, tools, and a sound system. The more recent theft was of two heavy hand trucks and eight canopies used to shelter farm stands.

Emily Murnen, Market Manager since the market began six years ago, says the nonprofit had not experienced any problems until this year. 

The Key Bank video cameras on the lot don’t cover the corner where the shed is situated, so there is only speculation as to who the thieves might be. Some residents have wondered aloud if the break-ins might have been done by homeless people seeking shelter materials in anticipation of the City’s September 1 “sweep” of homeless camps from the Springwater Corridor.

Murnen reports that Insurance will cover some of the replacement costs but the deductible amount will prevent the nonprofit market from being able to replace its sound system. Murnen and Market Volunteer Coordinator Peggy McCafferty will be working with a locksmith to ensure greater security. A local wag has suggested keeping an alligator in the shed might be effective also.

Market hours are 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Sunday, in season. For a list of market vendors, recipes, and more, go online:  The market is served by Tri Met buses 19, 71, and 75. It will close for the winter on October 30th.

Mini Makere Faire, OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, FIRST Robotics Team 1432, robot
Showing off their robot are Alexandre Couchout and Caleb Eby of the “Metal Beavers” FIRST Robotics team, formerly based at Franklin High School. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Local ‘makers’ flourish at annual OMSI fair


Portland’s “maker culture” is composed of those folks who revel in creating new devices and technology, as well as tinkering with those that already exist.

That culture was again celebrated on September 10 and 11 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

During this late summer festival, called the “Portland Mini Maker Faire”, dozens of “makers” visited with thousands of visitors who came to see exhibits, hear talks, and witness demonstrations of arts, crafts, science, and engineering, with many hands-on activities.

“We’re in our fifth year of presenting this family-friendly event,” said OMSI Director of Events Andrea Edgecombe, as the Faire was in full swing in their north parking lot.

“It’s grown over the years, and this is our biggest and best one yet,” Edgecombe told THE BEE.

“This year there are than 115 ‘maker’ booths, with more than 140 makers here showing off everything from 3-D printing to skateboard jewelry, and ping-pong ball launchers to back-woods skills,” Edgecombe remarked.

Visitors watched demonstrations, and sometimes tried their hand at activities ranging from historic European martial arts and pirate gambling, to metal forging, to clay making, wood working, computer programming, leather making, and a variety of upcycled art projects.

This fair helps OMSI meet their mission because the chief focus is innovation and engineering. “The ‘maker culture’ also encompasses design and experimentation,” Edgecombe pointed out.

“And, it encourages the ‘scientific method’ of trial, failure, and trial until one succeeds at making something work; that’s an important part of the creating and making process as well,” she added.

From ancient metalworking to cutting edge electronics, sewing arts to outrageous steam-punk inventions, this year’s Mini Maker Faire did offer ideas and products to stimulate the creativity of any do-it-yourselfer.

Fred Meyer, bomber, DNA, Monte Robin Kaija Jr
New DNA evidence indicates that this man, 45-year-old Monte Robin Kaija Jr., is the person who made and detonated a bomb at the Foster Road Fred Meyer Store. He faces trial on several charges. (MCDC booking photo)

Real ‘Freddie’s bomber’ fingered


When 26-year-old Joshua Hines was arrested for making a bomb and setting it off in the Foster Road Fred Meyer store, on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, back in June, he proclaimed his innocence.

Hines was indicted based on “circumstantial evidence”, in a case brought before a Grand Jury where an indictment was handed up, according to Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Glen Banfield.

But the same subsequently-found DNA evidence that has now exonerated Hines, led to charges against another man in the case.

On August 31, Portland Police Bureau officers arrested 45-year-old Monte Robin Kaija Jr., who was booked in the Multnomah County Detention Center that afternoon at 3:33 p.m. on those same felony charges that had originally been leveled at Hines: Arson in the First Degree, Manufacturing a Destructive Device, and Possessing a Destructive Device.

As Kaija was being arraigned in court on September 1st on charges that – according to a probable-cause affidavit – he had “ignited a small pipe bomb in the ‘travel size’ section of the Fred Meyer Store”, the district attorney’s office simultaneously filed a motion to dismiss the case against Hines, and he was released from custody that day.

According to court papers, Kaija’s DNA was found on a piece of tape that he had used to build the pipe bomb, and – during an interview – he admitted to making the bomb and detonating it at the store.

Nonetheless, Kaija pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment, and remains in Inverness Jail in lieu of $70,000 in combined bail, while he awaits trial.

Assault, suicide, Brentwood Darlington
The second of two firefighters enters an upstairs window of the Brentwood-Darlington house. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brentwood-Darlington ‘assault’ call ends tragically


Neighbors near the intersection of S.E. 67th Avenue and Flavel Street, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, watched from doorways and yards as emergency first- responders raced into the area on Sunday evening, September 11.

First to arrive was an East Precinct police car, followed by an AMR ambulance, and then, by a truck from Lents Fire Station 11.

According to the 9-1-1 Center, they were responding to an “Assault with a Weapon” telephone call that was dispatched just before 7 p.m. In short order, a second, third, and finally a fourth police car pulled up near the two-story house.

Neighbors watched as Engine 11’s crew took an extension ladder from their rig, carried it behind the house, and extended it up to a second story window. Two firefighters clambered up, and disappeared into the upstairs window.

Eventually, the firefighters exited the residence through the door, took down the ladder, returned it to the truck, and drove off. The paramedics from the ambulance packed out their medical gear into their rig – and left without a patient.

Just as emergency first-responders rarely know the exact nature of the call to which they’re responding, neither do reporters. Later that evening, word came that a resident in the house had taken their own life.

There is always another option. A reminder that the Multnomah County Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 503/988-4888.

Metal man, television prop
This giant metal man leans over a garage roof at S.E. 79th and Raymond Street, near Marysville School. He was originally built as a television prop. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Metal man observed at S.E. 79th and Raymond


A two-story-tall metal man appeared suddenly at S.E. 79th and Raymond Street on the Fourth of July.

The impressive sculpture looms over a garage just east of Marysville School. Many people stop to exclaim over this “Iron Giant”, and take pictures.

The metal man is owned by Raoul Calderon, and is constructed of auto salvage, steel rebar, and wire mesh.

Calderon, who owns Rose Auto Wreckers at 8140 N. Commercial Avenue tells THE BEE, “The structure was built two years ago at the request of Universal Studios. The metal man was created at my business site by a local artist, and was featured in a ‘Grimm’ TV episode called ‘Highway of Tears’.

“Originally he had a lizard’s tongue, and was worshiped as a god by other lizards in episode 6 of season 4, in one of Grimm's last showings of the year. However, the statue lost his tongue when I moved him here.”

The 20-foot-tall figure has rusted during the intervening two years, but still retains its menacing shape, including giant springs in its thighs, and wide-spread clutching hands that lean on the garage roof. “We wired him to light up at night for special effects,” Calderon continues with a smile. “We hope to dress him up for Hallowe’en.”

The unique statue has drawn a lot of attention from parents walking their kids to and from school classes. When the metal figure is decorated for Hallowe’en, it should evoke some understandable shrieks and worried glances from Inner Southeast Trick-or-Treaters.

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