More stories from April's issue of THE BEE!

OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science of Industry, Portland, Oregon, Legos, Lego Art, Nathan Sawaya, Yellow
Nathan Sawaya says that this sculpture, called “Yellow”, is his best-known work. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Lego ‘brick art’ now showing – at OMSI


Most kids, and some adults, enjoy creating three dimensional objects using Lego® bricks. But, it could be said that former Oregon native Nathan Sawaya is more than an enthusiast – that he has an obsession with the plastic blocks.

The result of Sawaya’s passion is now on display, through May 29, in his 120-sculpture exhibit The Art of the Brick, at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

He enjoyed playing with Lego bricks as a kid, Sawaya told THE BEE at the opening of his exhibition, which takes up two floors at the Inner Southeast science museum.

“But, about a dozen years ago, when I was working as a corporate lawyer in New York City, I needed an escape from the pressures of work,” Sawaya recalled. “Instead of taking in the nightlife, I’d seek a creative outlet and draw, paint, and sculpt with more traditional materials, using clay and wire – until I became curious to see if I could create large scale sculptures using Lego bricks.”

Eventually, he left the law firm and started building sculptures fulltime, and he has pursued that profession for the past ten years.

From his first well-known sculpture, called “Yellow”, up to a 20-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton – both now on display at OMSI – Sawaya remarked that his work reflects both a knack and a skill. “It’s something that I’ve developed through trial and error; by experimenting, learning, and finding a way to create what I can envision in my mind.”

He used about a million bricks to build all of the sculptures in the OMSI exhibition, Sawaya estimated. “Creating a life-size human form is going to have between 15,000 and 25,000 bricks in it,” he observed.

One of the most frequently-asked question of him, Sawaya said, is whether the bricks in his sculptures are glued together. “Yes, they are; especially with the large sculptures. They wouldn’t hold together for transport to exhibitions, otherwise.”

What does Sawaya hope visitors will take away from his exhibition? “An artist’s role is to inspire; I hope people who come to see these works leave a little bit inspired to explore their creativity in their own way.”

“This exhibition is important to our mission, because it’s a fun intersection of art and science,” smiled OMSI Director Nancy Stueber. “There’s the inspiration that comes from looking at the sculptures, but they are also a great platform to talk about physics and engineering – and even resilience, and sticking to it.”

The exhibition also features an interactive “scavenger hunt”, and a “Brick Lab” filled with Lego and Duplo bricks for experimentation and play.

As with all major exhibitions at OMSI, there is an additional charge, in addition to the general admission fee, to experience The Art of the Brick; for hours and ticket prices, see OMSI’s website: The museum is just north of the Ross Island Bridge on S.E. Water Street, just south of the Marquam Bridge on the east-side waterfront of the Willamette River.

Car into tree, Powell Boulevard, Portland, Oregon
While veering away from a converging car on Powell Boulevard, this Lexus was stopped by a street tree. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Powell Blvd mishap sends car into tree (tree wins)


Two cars were involved in a near miss on S.E. Powell Boulevard, just east of S.E. Chavez Boulevard (39th) at about 4 p.m. on March 10 – which led to a Lexus GS 300 smashing into a street tree in front of the Creston-Kenilworth Safeway Store parking lot.

An East Precinct officer at the scene told THE BEE that the two cars had been eastbound on Powell when one of them made a rapid lane change. The other car swerved to avoid the other, ran up the driveway ramp, and smashed into the street tree.

The 9-1-1 Center dispatched the incident as an injury accident, and the car’s airbags had deployed from the impact. The firefighter-paramedics with PF&R Engine 9 checked out those involved in the accident; the drivers were treated at the scene, and didn’t seek additional medical care.

“It was an accident; and, in this case of ‘car versus a tree’, the tree won,” the officer commented.

Portland, Rose Festival, Princess, Rose Festival Court, Franklin High School
Here’s this year’s Franklin High School Portland Rose Festival Court: From left, Erika Decklar, Mara McCarthy, Princess Keely Nguyen, and Tyteanna Hardridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Honor Roll student is Franklin High’s Rose Festival Princess


The announcement of each year’s Portland Rose Festival Court “Princess” selections signals that spring, and the city’s enduring festival, is once more about to begin.

The first Inner Southeast Portland school “Princess” announcement was made on the Ides of March – the 15th – at “Franklin High School (FHS) at the Marshall Campus”.

As students were filtering into the theater, FHS Principal Junita Valder told THE BEE that she was pleased about the amount of student participation in the competition this year.

“All of these candidates are an astoundingly amazing group of young ladies, and any one of them would represent our school in the best possible way,” Valder assured us.

Along with the introductions of Portland Rose Festival Foundation dignitaries and staff who were present, the FHS Theater Department’s cast of “Annie” performed the song-and-dance number “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from their winter musical – a fine production previewed in THE BEE’s February issue.

Unitus Community Credit Union Mentor Sandi Hess presented a memento to each of Franklin High’s four Princess candidates: Erika Decklar, Mara McCarthy, Keely Nguyen, and Tyteanna Hardridge.

Then, Principal Valder stepped up to reveal the selection: 16-year-old FHS Junior Keely Nguyen will be representing the Quakers during this year’s Portland Rose Festival.

Princess Keely stepped forward and said, “I’m looking forward to representing all of you at this year’s Portland Rose Festival!”

During the photo session that followed, Princess Keely told THE BEE, “I’m really excited and really thankful that I’m being allowed to represent my school, and I will not let them down. I’m really excited to start this journey!”

In addition to being an Honor Roll student, Princess Keely said she plays Varsity tennis, and has built her leadership skills in being an ASB Student Representative, and working with several school clubs.

Princess Keely has ambitious plans for her education and career. “I plan to attend a four-year university, and go to medical school. I’d like to become a pediatrician, and open a vegan bakery.”

Her favorite Portland Rose Festival event is CityFair. “And, I look forward to telling new friends about our great school; Franklin is a place where students don’t feel left out. It feels more like a community and a family, than a school,” she said.

Plan to cheer on Princess Keely at the Portland Rose Festival Queen’s Coronation on June 10 at 8:30 a.m., in Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, just before the beginning of the Grand Floral parade.

Cleveland High named its Princess after THE BEE was on its way to press. We’ll report on that ceremony in our May issue.

To learn more about the Portland Rose Festival, go online:

Car into pole, Bybee Boulevard, Station 20, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Firefighter-paramedics from nearby Station 20 freed the female driver, trapped in the Ford Expedition, after it drifted off Bybee Boulevard and smashed hard into a surprisingly sturdy utility pole. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

SUV drifts off Bybee and crunches into pole


Drivers headed westbound on S.E. Bybee Boulevard, near Westmoreland’s Fire Station 20 were shocked to see a full-sized Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer Premier Edition heading right toward them – in their lane – at 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14.

“The SUV slowly drifted over to the other side of the road, in my lane, went up the curb, and hit a [wooden utility] pole head-on,” a witness told THE BEE. “I stopped – and fortunately, so did those behind me!”

Witnesses estimated the speed of the nearly three-ton SUV, its front now wrapped around the pole, to be about 30 mph when it crashed. There was speculation that the driver had suffered a medical episode prior to the accident.

Firefighter-paramedics emerged from Station 20, a half-block away, blocked off Bybee Boulevard, and began to rescue the woman bystanders said was motionless in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.

A firefighter acknowledged that, for unknown reasons, the vehicle’s airbags had not deployed – possibly causing the driver more injuries – and somberly commented, “The patient is lucky to be alive”.

Later, looking over the incident report for THE BEE, Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said that the crash victim’s injuries had not proved to be life threatening. “And there is no reason to believe the operator was driving impaired,” Simpson added.

Tool Library, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Marv Dunn borrowed a hammer drill from the Southeast Portland Tool Library to make holes in his Sellwood home’s concrete foundation, as part of his seismic retrofit process. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast ‘Tool Library’ grows, moves, needs volunteers   


Sometimes a home improvement or repair, or a yard project, can be delayed or derailed for lack of necessary tools. And if a tool is for a one-time use, the expense may not be worth buying it. In such situations, the Southeast Portland Tool Library can come to the rescue, and fill almost any need.

The Southeast Portland Tool Library (SEPTL) serves twenty Inner Southeast neighborhoods, and stocks approximately 2,000 tools, most of which have been donated by individuals, although some have been given to the library by hardware stores.

Borrowers have a variety of reasons for using the tool library.  For some, it’s economizing; for others, it is such as described by one social media user: “The real advantage for me isn’t the cost of the tools, but the fact that I don’t have to store them.  Like, when am I ever going to need bolt cutters again?”

Begun seven years ago by Reed neighborhood resident Steve Couche, the library has just moved to a new location but serves the same neighborhoods.  Jim Benton, a Brooklyn neighborhood resident, is the current President of the Board of five, and describes the library’s growth: “The library has had gradual but steady growth, adding 957 members last year to the existing 6,000 members.” In 2011 when the library was just one year old, it had 2,000 members.

Marv and Ardy Dunn, a Sellwood couple who could be described as ranking high on the DIY scale, have found the tool library to be extremely helpful.

“I have a lot of my own tools, but SEPTL is useful for expensive or the more unusual tools,” says Marv. “I recently borrowed a hammer drill for retrofitting the house. It’s a concrete drilling tool, and drills and pounds like a woodpecker.”

The list price for a hammer drill is $378, but of course it was free to use when checked out of the Tool Library for a week. Late fees apply, which keep tools circulating and available.

There is no membership fee, but monetary donations and tool donations are gratefully accepted, and are tax-deductible when donated through Southeast Uplift, the neighborhood coalition.

To see a list of the tools, and for more information go online: 

As a nonprofit and completely volunteer-run organization, SEPTL currently needs more volunteers to stay open regularly. For example, on Saturday, February 25th, it was closed for lack of staffing.

People who are willing to be on the Board, or to sign up for a volunteer shift, are warmly welcomed.  SEPTL is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30-7 p.m., and (usually) on Saturdays, 9 a.m. until 12 noon.

The new location for the Southeast Portland Tool Library is 1137 S.E. 20th Avenue.

Pedestrian struck, 39th, Chavez, Powell, Portland, Oregon
A Portland Fire & Rescue lieutenant checks in with the victim, who is conscious as he’s being loaded into a waiting ambulance. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Pedestrian hit by truck in Creston-Kenilworth


It’s not clear why a man was standing in the northbound lanes of S.E. Chavez Boulevard (39th) near Francis Street, but just after 1 p.m. on March 11, he was struck by a red Ford pickup truck.

Firefighter-paramedics riding Woodstock Station Engine 25 arrived, provided emergency first aid, and helped prepare the man for ambulance transport to OHSU.

No one in the area could be found who’d witnessed the accident – except the truck’s driver, who was speaking with police officers.

Southeast Portland, Weather, snow, Oregon
It wasn’t quite a white Christmas in Inner Southeast, but the unexpected eight-inch snowfall of January 10 yielded Christmas-Card images – such as this one, here at THE BEE. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Wet 2016 followed by snowy and wet 2017

Editor, THE BEE

It was a wet year, just past – wetter than 2015 in Southeast Portland. THE BEE’s rain gauge in Westmoreland measured 51.89 inches of rain from January 1 through December 31, measured 4 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

That compares to 47.09 for 2015 – a year with a record-setting December rainfall total of 17.44 inches, meaning that 37% of the entire year’s precipitation fell in December of 2015 – and, even more notable, 6.7% of the whole year’s rain descended on us on a single day, December 7, when we were sloshed with 3.17 inches.

By comparison, 2016 was more normal, with rainfall distributed more evenly over the entire year. The wettest month was October, with 11.18 inches, flirting with a record for the month; November was number two, with 8.35 inches; number three was January, with 8.24 inches. The driest month was August, with .27 inches, most of which fell on August 8; but there was measurable precipitation in every month of the year.

Eight days in 2016 racked up over an inch of rain in Inner Southeast Portland – shown ranked by the totals recorded:

  • 1.97” on October 15
  • 1.37” on November 24
  • 1.25” on November 25
  • 1.18” on October 13
  • 1.13” on December 20
  • 1.08” on January 13
  • 1.04” on November 15
  • 1.02” on November 23

The wettest consecutive period this past year was October 13-15, when the three rain readings added up to a soaking 3.74”. The second wettest three-day period of the year was November 23-25, which totaled 3.64”.

There was no snow here in 2015, but 2016 started out with a half day of sticking snow, adding up to about an inch here, on January 3. Snow reappeared on December 8, closing school for two days; and returned to cause traffic havoc on Wednesday, December 14 – which led to an early arrival of the “winter break” at area schools, since the roads remained hazardous for the rest of the week. The snow events and their outcomes were very accurately predicted by the National Weather Service office at Portland Airport this time around.

2016 was the third wettest year in Inner Southeast since we started keeping daily rain records for the full year in 1998, and it appears we have had more rain recently than earlier in this period. The rainiest year we have recorded since we began this record-keeping was 2012’s 59.29”; the second rainiest was 2010, at 56.04”.

Although we have seen wetter weather in recent years, it’s worth noting that the year after our second highest precipitation total, we recorded only 28.89” in 2013. So, although the trend is wetter, there still seems to be no useful pattern or trend that predicts individual years.

Although January 2017 was far from the wettest first month of the year we have seen here – it totaled only 5.00” at our Westmoreland rain gauge – it brought us a once-in-a-decade heavy snowfall on January 10, measuring 8” of snow at THE BEE, ranging up to a foot elsewhere in the metro. It stuck around for a week before warmer temperatures melted it away. That 8” of snow amounted only to .47” of water, however. But the 1.62” of rain recorded on January 18 made it the second wettest day here since that December 7, 2015, 3.17 inch recording. Or it was, until we recorded 1.96” on February 5, and 1.81” on February 16!

Cold temperatures continued, with an icy day on February 3, closing schools and causing crashes across the metro area – including a 30-car smashup on I-5 near Tigard. The daffodils and other plants were showing clear signs of spring by then, but the end of winter was still over a month away. February turned gradually warmer but remained quite wet.

Spring arrived on March 20 – still wet! We will continue to monitor what has been an unusual weather year, so far, in Inner Southeast.

Eastmoreland mugging, arrest, Portland, Oregon
It was on this sidewalk – across from the Eastmoreland Golf Course Clubhouse – where the mugger grabbed and tried to kidnap a woman last June. Arrested on March 16 of this year was 27-year-old David Abraham Marcus (inset), on two felony charges, in connection with the incident. (Photo by David F. Ashton; MCDC booking photo)

Eastmoreland mugging suspect arrested


Last summer, when a man tried to abduct a woman near Eastmoreland Golf Course as she walked home from a visit to the Westmoreland QFC Market on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, the incident left neighbors on edge. It was reported on page one of the July 2016 BEE: “Attempted kidnap in Eastmoreland foiled by victim’s screams”.

Although the investigation started on June 22, 2016, at 12:20 a.m., when Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers responded to the attempted abduction at S.E. 27th Avenue and Bybee Boulevard, the case went cold.

The victim told police that she was walking eastbound on Bybee Boulevard and was approaching 27th Avenue when she was grabbed in a bear hug and a man started pulling her towards the Eastmoreland Golf Course parking lot where there was a vehicle with the door open – and with rope and duct tape clearly visible inside.

She fought off the mugger, screamed, and ran to a nearby house.

“Detectives conducted an extensive investigation, but did not immediately develop any leads until this week,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson in mid-March. “On Thursday, March 16, Homicide detectives arrested 27-year-old David Abraham Marcus in connection with this case.”

Marcus was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on March 17, at 1:09 a.m. on charges of Kidnap in the First Degree, and Attempted Rape in the First Degree. He remains in custody, in lieu of $270,000 combined bail.

Cleveland High School, auction, Portland, Oregon
CHS 2016 grad Emma Fox, with her dad Stephen, were looking over silent auction items. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Annual auction, and spy-themed dinner, raise funds for Cleveland High


With the hall decorated using a “007” spy theme, the Cleveland High School (CHS) Parent Teacher Association (PTA) held its annual gala auction and dinner at Southeast Portland’s Melody Ballroom, on Saturday evening, March 11.

Co-organizers Kristin Cole (CHS class of 1990) and Jill Stevens were pleased as the elegant facility filled with guests.

“This does take a lot of work, but when we see all the smiling faces in the community coming together in a positive manner, it really does make you feel good,” remarked Kristin Cole.

“We’re all here celebrating our children, our students of Cleveland High, and it gives one a good feeling to see everybody working together, and now having a good time,” Cole commented with a smile.

Jill Stevens estimated some 25 volunteers put the fundraiser together, and then an additional 25 volunteers helped out with it that night.

“What makes this all work is that we’ve had so many fabulous donations from businesses and people in our community!” Stevens added.

Through this evening, the pair said, their goal was to raise about $20,000.

CHS Principal Tammy O’Neill reflected to THE BEE, “This is Cleveland; having all the community coming together and helping out is something I’ve been getting used to.

“Whether it’s new families, or families who’ve lived here for three generations – it’s wonderful to see them all coming together, working hard, raising money, donating money, giving of their time to support public education and their kids’ education – it’s very much aligned with the values of the community,” O’Neill said.

The PTA auction raises funds that help “bridge the gap” in school resources – raising money for books, helping pay for field trips, and allowing teacher time to collaborate and grow school programs,” explained O’Neill. “And, the CHS Foundation is again holding a ‘Bidding Paddle Raise’ tonight that brings in funding for staff members – and once again this year, which is important, so we can maintain the programming we have been able to retain.”

While there were no spy-versus-spy antics at the dinner, many cocktails did appear to have been “shaken, not stirred”, before being enjoyed during the silent auction, dinner, and the live auction that followed.

Stolen car, crash, Holgate Boulevard
After fleeing police, the stolen car crashed on Holgate Boulevard in the Foster-Powell neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of KATU-TV-2)

Stolen-car joyride ends in Holgate smashup


Three people, evidently on a Sunday joyride, using a vehicle listed as stolen, caught the attention of an East Precinct officer just after noon on Sunday, February 26.

The officer radioed for backup and signaled the driver to stop near S.E. 80th Avenue and Center Street.

“Instead of complying, the suspect driver quickly backed up the stolen car, hit the front bumper of the police car, and then sped away southbound on 80th Avenue,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Not willing to risk others in the path of a wildly driven car, the officer called off the pursuit near S.E. 75th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard.

Although no longer being chased, the suspect sped away along Holgate, hit an occupied car, lost control, and then crashed into a parked van.

“The suspect, 39-year-old Jacob Daniel Ober, and his two passengers, were transported to Portland hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries; occupants of the other vehicle were not injured,” Simpson said.

At the hospital, Ober was given criminal citations for Unlawful Use of a Vehicle, Attempt to Elude by Vehicle, and multiple counts of Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run).

It turned out that Ober also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest and was given yet another citation to appear in court – at a later time, since he had been admitted into the hospital.

Police seek tagger responsible for ‘hate graffiti’ in Southeast

On Sunday March 12, Central Precinct officers responded to numerous reports of “hate graffiti” tagged onto cars, sidewalks, garages, and other property just north of Powell Boulevard in Inner Southeast’s Richmond Neighborhood.

Officers began responding to reports at approximately 8:15 a.m. along S.E. 33rd Avenue, between Division Street and Powell Boulevard. The responding officer noted several Nazi swastikas were painted onto cars, trees, fences, and other property. Some victims and neighbors were able to clean the graffiti off pretty quickly.

One witness reported seeing a white male with a backpack in the area prior to noticing the graffiti, but that person was not located.

At least six vehicles were damaged along with other property in the neighborhood. Sgt. Pete Simpson, Portland Police Bureau spokesman, told THE BEE, “Anyone who was a victim of vandalism and has not filed a police report is encouraged to do, so by calling the police non-emergency line at 503/823-3333. Furthermore, anyone with information about this incident, including any neighborhood surveillance video, is encouraged to share it by email:”

And, to learn more about the City of Portland Graffiti Abatement Program, go online:

Cleveland High School, improvised play, alternate endings, original, Acting Out, Portland, Oregon
Cleveland High School student playwright and director of “Acting Out” Shayla Bailey spends a moment with co-director Sawyer Jackson while the cast rehearses for this original, unique, improvised play. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cleveland thespians ‘Acting Out’ an original play


In April, the Cleveland High School “Company of Warriors” theater students will present an original play called “Acting Out”.

Written by student director Shayla Bailey, and produced with co-director Sawyer Jackson, it’s a fully-scripted “choose your own adventure” show, explained the author.

There are four possible endings for the play,” Bailey told THE BEE as rehearsal was underway. “The story revolves around a small-town theater group trying to put on a play.”

The situation: During technical rehearsal week, the director of this show-within-a-show falls ill, and a new director is brought in – after which the story turns farcical, and the cast turns to the audience, asking them to help choose a direction.

“Halfway to the second act, the audience votes again, which leads into a fantastic, fully improvised, play-within-a-play scene,” Bailey revealed. “So, at every performance, the audience has control over what happens to the characters.”

“Acting Out” opens in the Cleveland High School “Black Box Theater” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, and continues on the evenings of April 15, 21, and 22. Tickets are available at the door: $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.

Woman struck, hit and run, Division Street, Portland, Oregon
After a woman was struck and injured by a passing truck which did not stop, along S.E. Division Street, responding officers looked for evidence at the scene. (Photo by DAvid F. Ashton)

Hit and run driver strikes woman on Division Street


Having just parked her car westbound on S.E. Division Street, near 51st Avenue, at about 9 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, Andrea Saffaie-Castro stepped into the street – and was struck by a passing motorist.

The 48-year-old wife and mother was thrown against her car with such force, she dented her fender. The driver didn’t stop – or even slow down.

Her 12-year-old son, who was getting out on the curb side of the car, didn’t see his mother get hit and violently thrown, later said the woman’s husband and the boy’s father, Jason Castro.

“She’s been consistent the whole time, even with a severe hit on the head – she is adamant that it was a white truck, with a either a flatbed, or some kind of work vehicle,” Castro told reporters the following day.

His wife suffered multiple fractures in her pelvis, a head wound, and a concussion, Jason Castro reported, and she is still hospitalized at OHSU.

Portland Police investigated the accident, but found few clues at the scene; the incident remains under active investigation.

Shots fired, suicide attempt, grand jury, no true bill
Don Allan Perkins has recovered from the shooting incident, and is now receiving mental health treatment. (Photo courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

Brooklyn man recovers from shooting; Grand Jury clears officers

On Wednesday March 15, 2017, a Multnomah County Grand Jury determined that two Portland Police Bureau officers had been justified in their use of deadly force in the February shooting of 56-year-old Don Perkins, reported on page one of the March BEE (“Distraught man, with fake gun, shot in Brooklyn”).

Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson reported the outcome of the Grand Jury investigation, adding, “Perkins recovered from his injuries, and was civilly committed for mental health treatment. The officers involved in the shooting were Officer Roger Walsh and Officer Bradley Clark, both 11-year-veterans, assigned to Central Precinct.”

The investigation started on February 9, at 6:31 p.m., when Central Precinct officers responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding a 56-year-old man (later identified as Perkins) who was threatening to commit suicide. Officers arrived in the area and began to search for Perkins. Officers located Perkins in a van in the 3300 block of S.E. 22nd Avenue.

During the contact with Perkins, the officers saw that he possessed a handgun. As the officers were attempting to communicate with him, Perkins dropped something out of the van. Perkins reached for what appeared to be a handgun, which resulted in an officer firing a single shot at him. Perkins told the officers they were going to have to shoot him, and he moved back towards the gun, resulting in officers firing additional shots that struck Perkins.

Officers then safely approached Perkins and got him medical attention. He was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital for treatment to his injuries. The item Perkins dropped was later determined to be a realistic-looking replica firearm. A second replica handgun was seized as evidence from Perkins' van.

Through the investigation, detectives learned that Perkins was under the influence of prescription narcotics, and when police arrived, he attempted to force the officers to shoot and kill him as a method of suicide commonly known as “suicide by cop”.

Despite the “no true bill” from a Grand Jury, clearing the officers in the incident, Simpson told THE BEE, “Officer-involved shootings, fortunately, are a rare occurrence, and receive a high level of investigation and internal review.

“As part of the ‘use of force review’ process, the Portland Police Bureau will still conduct an internal review of the entire incident, and the case will go before the Police Review Board (PRB), which is comprised of community members, Bureau members, and representatives from the Independent Police Review Division.”

Fire on 63rd, Portland, Oregon, transient, runs away
Firefighter-paramedics spoke with neighbors, after the transient burst from the house on fire, and vanished down the street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Transient bolts from smoldering house on SE 63rd 


Over the past several months, the home at 7405 S.E. 63rd Avenue in the Brentwood Darlington neighborhood had been a problem for the neighbors. 

In September, 2016, the City of Portland responded to complaints and started case IVR Number 3865581, charging that the yard of the vacant house and street were “littered with vehicles in various states of disrepair”. More complaints followed, including an action in January.

When smoke started billowing from the now-spruced-up house, sporting a “sold” sign in the front yard – just before 7:00 a.m. on March 4 – neighbors called 9-1-1.

The Woodstock Fire Station 25’s Truck and Engine Company responded, as did Station 11’s Rescue Unit from Lents.

Apparently, the new “No Trespassing” signs prominently posted on the fence and house didn’t stop a female transient from breaking into the property.

“The woman was coughing and choking from the smoke inside the house, but ran away so fast, the paramedics couldn’t catch up to her,” a neighbor told THE BEE.

Firefighters at the scene said they extinguished the small smoky fire with hand-held “pump can”, and didn’t need to pull a hose to put out the fire.

The unauthorized lodger was last seen hot-footing it around the corner, and east on S.E. Flavel Street.

The cause of the fire and the estimate of damages haven’t been released by the Portland Fire Bureau’s Arson Squad.

Food Forest, edible forest, Ardenwald, Portland, Oregon
Teague and Melissa Cullen tell THE BEE they’re ready for a new growing season here, at what’s planned to be Inner Southeast Portland’s first “Food Forest”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

A ‘Food forest’ sprouts in Ardenwald


An open field on S.E. Sherrett Street near 35th Avenue in the portion of the Ardenwald neighborhood within the City of Portland has long been farmed – but urban growers Melissa and Teague Cullen now have a plan to turn it into what they’re calling the “Winslow Food Forest”.

“This lot, a little over a half acre, has been farmed since the mid-1990s,” explained Melissa, at the site.

The couple was awarded a lease by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability after responding to a “Request for Proposal” seeking a new tenant for the site.

For the Cullens, this is more than simply an experiment. “We’re going into our fifth year of being full-time urban farmers,” Melissa pointed out. “But, being relatively new at it, we are learning a lot, and always improving. Our focus on ‘Food Forestry’ is a way of growing food that mimics a woodland ecosystem. The food forest layers will include fruit and nut trees, along with berries, herbs, edible flowers, vegetables, and tuber crops.”

Right now, at the start of the growing season, the lot still looks relatively barren.

“Yes, it looks like sticks in the straw,” conceded Teague. “In the late spring and the summer, it will start to look like a cottage garden. This is a ‘baby food Forest’ right now; and will fully mature in eight years.”

The couple’s long-term aspirations are based on obtaining a ten-year lease with two options to renew, making it potentially a thirty-year lease.

“The garden will be productive in our first year, but after a few seasons it will really pop,” grinned Teague.

Melissa said their business model is that of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. “Members in our CSA get ‘shares’ of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers; and we also have a ‘Seedling Share’ program, in which we deliver plant-starts to our members.

“We’re providing tomatoes, cucumbers, vegetables, and herbs that everybody loves to eat, fresh out of the garden,” Melissa reflected. “But our main focus is growing perennial plants – such as fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, perennial herbs, perennial groundcovers and things that work together in an ecosystem, which is the theory behind food forestry.”

Right now, they’re topping out their two CAS programs at 20 members each. In addition, the couple offers workshops teaching food forestry principles. It’s a lot of work for a young couple with an infant child, but they say it’s worth the effort.

“The best part of this, for me, is having an intimate, personal relationship with so many different kinds of plants,” Teague said. “We grow 100 crops on less than an acre, versus one crop on hundreds of acres. It’s a much more intimate scale when you’re growing plants in that way.”

For more about this urban Food Forest farm, go online:  

Harney Street, head on crash, Brentwood Darlington, Portland, Oregon
Firefighter-paramedics work to free the driver from this smashed Honda Civic, as well as the two people in the Chrysler Pacifica it collided with, on S.E. Harney Street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Head-on crash on Harney Street hospitalizes two


In front of the former White Stag Sportswear headquarters, on S.E. Harney Street, two cars collided at 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 23.

East Precinct officers rushed to the head-on crash, just west of S.E. 52nd Avenue, and were followed seconds later by Woodstock Fire Station’s Engine 25.

Bystanders at the scene said they didn’t witness the head-on collision – but they did point out another, second, wreck just west of the first crash.

Seeing the first smashup unfold in front of him, and to avoid being involved in the first wreck, a driver had stopped quickly – and that car was rear-ended.

Engine 25’s firefighter-paramedics worked to free the trapped victim from a red Honda Civic. By the time the person was freed from the wreckage and strapped to a backboard, an AMR ambulance had arrived and transported the patient to a local hospital. 

Meanwhile, the other two firefighter-paramedics riding Truck 25 were evaluating two victims in a Chrysler Pacifica; one of them was transported to a hospital by ambulance, the other was treated at the scene.

This accident is still under evaluation by the police.

Benson High School, Sellwood, centenary, Rachael Lizio-Katzen Kurynny, Portland, Oregon
Rachael Lizio-Katzen Kurynny of Sellwood poses for THE BEE in her Benson Tech jacket. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Sellwood woman helps plan historic Benson High’s centennial 


Sellwood resident Rachael Lizio-Katzen Kurynny is the youngest Board Member of the Benson Polytechnic High School Alumni Association. A former Benson Valedictorian, she is also one of the few women on that Board, which is planning the school's Centennial Celebration this June 9 through 11.

“The Benson Tech Show (held February 16 and 17) has been reborn. We’re working hard to promote the historic technical aspect of the school, which was organized by Portland lumberman and innovator Simon Benson,” explains Kurynny. “The BPHSAA is advocating to ‘regrow’ the school’s diverse technical character – and its capacity as well, to 1,700 students by 2020.”

The three-day celebration will welcome families and friends, beginning with a picnic and tours of Benson High on Friday, June 9, and dinner and exhibits at the Oregon Historical Society on Saturday. On Sunday there’s a golf event and Classic Car Cruise-In at Colwood Golf Center, followed by a Champagne Brunch Cruise on the Portland Spirit.  Visit for tickets, and more information. 

As far as an increase in enrollment goes, Portland Public Schools Board Member Paul Anthony agreed, “Benson has been operating under an artificial enrollment cap for  a decade. Many people have been working . . . to increase or remove this cap. Last year, PPS finally committed to increasing Benson’s freshman enrollment to 365 students. We already know that the increase can be accommodated. [But] given the District’s current timeline, construction on Benson Tech would not start until the incoming freshman class will have already graduated.”

Anthony, who himself has three kids enrolled at the historic high school, explained, “Benson Tech opens doors for students who would not otherwise succeed in school or in the workplace. It provides opportunities that are unique in the District and in the state. It plays a vital role in our regional economy. I believe Benson Tech needs to be expanded, not limited without a coherent goal and plan.”

Benson’s “Grand Centennial Reunion” is designed to reconnect BPHS students and staff, and to support and celebrate the school’s technical training opportunities, and high graduation rate (89% in 2016). Benson currently offers classes in metal, auto, and construction shops, aviation, foundry, computer software and electronics, health occupations, architectural drafting, communications and film, as well as regular high school classes.

As part of that “communications” component, the 200-foot metal tower at the athletic field reminds the community that Benson has been home to a licensed radio station – KBPS/1450 AM – since 1923. That makes it one of the oldest non-governmental radio stations having only a single owner, in the world. Students routinely operate the station.

Powell Boulevard, hit and run, two crashes, Acura, Portland, Oregon
The driver of the Acura, the car on the right, drove away from his first hit-and-run smashup – but fled on foot after crashing the car a second time. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver sought in two hit-and-run crashes


The same suspect is wanted in connected with two different hit-and-run smashups that occurred on Saturday, March 4, at about 5:30 p.m. The incidents brought as many as twenty Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct units into the area of 82nd Avenue of Roses and S.E. Powell Boulevard.

“In the first crash, the suspect driver in an Acura was turning left, northbound on 82nd from Francis Street; and a Toyota was southbound on 82nd Avenue, said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “After the Acura crashed into the Toyota, the Acura driver then fled the scene.”

Officers responded to the area – but before they could find and apprehend the suspect driver, that same Acura, now being driven westbound on S.E. Powell, attempted to turn left, southbound on S.E. 80th Avenue – and collided head-on with a Honda, eastbound on Powell Boulevard.

Although no one was transported for medical care, the force of the impact set off safety airbags in both vehicles. 

This time, the Acura stayed put – but, “The suspect ran from the car,” Simpson remarked.

Officers set up a 17-unit dragnet in the neighborhood, from Powell Boulevard south to Holgate, and from 78th to 82nd Avenue.

“The suspect hasn’t been located, and these cases are still under investigation,” Simpson said.

One clue: the suspect driver has difficulty completing successful left turns. And, the Acura he was driving is in the hands of the police.

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