More stories from April's issue of THE BEE!

St Agatha School, Saint Patrick, St Patrick's Day Parade
Marching through Sellwood, it’s St. Agatha Catholic School’s 18th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade! (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood school again hosts St. Patrick’s Day celebration


Everyone in the community was invited, as always, to join the fun at Sellwood’s St. Agatha Catholic School’s 18th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade, held a few days before the actual date – Saturday, March 12.

Parking was scarce along the streets near the parish, as students, parents, and neighbors arrived to participate in the 5K Fun Run, then the parade, followed by an afternoon and evening of Irish-themed food, events, and entertainment.

As the one hundred volunteers set up the St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade, THE BEE caught up with Heidi LaValley in the Festival tent, which filled the whole street.

“What we’ve done in past years has been so successful, we’ve not made many changes,” LaValley acknowledged. “People who come love our authentic food – such as corned beef sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, and Irish sausage rolls. And, the kids enjoy the carnival games as well.”

It’s a lot of work for the group of volunteers who put it on, LaValley conceded. “But the best part, for me, is still seeing the community come together.

“At the same time, it’s also a fundraiser for the school. We hope to raise as much as $25,000 to help support music, STEM, arts education, and buying new books.”

As it has for many of the school’s St. Patrick’s Parades, the dark clouds gathered overhead, only to let loose a pelting rainstorm just as the parade stepped off for its tour of Sellwood and south Westmoreland.

The wind-blown precipitation reduced the number of participants somewhat, but the Sellwood Middle School Marching Band gallantly braved the inclement weather and provided lively music for those valiant enough to make the blocks-long trek through the streets and back to the school.

Then, as if on cue, the showers decreased and stopped, just as the drenched parade celebrants returned to the festival.

In the school’s kitchen, chef Brian Quinn was back, working with his culinary volunteers to prepare food for the festival. “Today, we’ll be serving 400 sausage rolls, a couple hundred pounds of corned beef, and about 15 gallons of shepherd’s pie.

“It’s amazing, because we do all this with the help of our great volunteer staff of only seven people,” Quinn remarked with a smile.

The St. Agatha’s Catholic School Principal, Chis Harris, beamed as the Festival got underway.

“Of all the schools with which I’ve been associated, this is a unique experience: To see a school doing a true community event like this,” Harris said.

“More than a fundraiser, it is first, and foremost, a community event. It’s our way of reaching out to businesses and our neighbors, and having a really fun family experience, bringing everyone together. We're really excited to be able to, once again, host this festival – and have a wonderful day.”

Precision Castparts, toxic emissions, testing
Although there are air cleaners visible outside “Precision Castparts Company Structurals”, neighbors say they’re concerned about high levels of nickel and other potentially toxic chemical elements that they understand have been found near the facility. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Neighbors seek answers about Precision Castparts’ possible toxins


Potential toxic pollution around the art glass manufacturing facility in the Brooklyn neighborhood has grabbed most of the headlines in the last few weeks. As reported elsewhere in this issue of THE BEE, those fears appear to be unfounded at present.

But to the southeast, residents of Inner Southeast’s Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood say they are concerned about another manufacturer – Precision Castparts Company Structurals (PCCS), located on S.E. Johnson Creek Boulevard.

With heightened concerns about potential for toxic materials in the air, Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) board members have been striving to make their voices heard – especially now, when PCCS is up for relicensing by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Multnomah County and the Southeast Uplift coalition of neighborhoods convened an “Air Quality Community Meeting” on the evening of March 15 at Lane Middle School.

“The county is involved because, since toxic air issues became apparent in late January, we have been helping members of the community get organized around their local schools,” said Multnomah County spokesperson Julie Sullivan-Springhetti. “We’re helping bring neighbors, parents, and families together, to get their questions answered about all the things they're seeing in the press and hearing about.”

Browsing exhibits set up in the school’s cafeteria before the formal meeting was nearby neighbor Amy O'Connor. She expressed the sentiments of many her neighbors who spoke with THE BEE that evening.

“I'm trying to get an understanding of what’s going on, from a health impact standpoint,” O'Connor said. “As a parent of young kids, I’m really frustrated with the DEQ. It’s a major concern for anybody who lives in this neighborhood: Potential cancer health risks. I want to know what DEQ is going to do to protect my health.”

BDNA Chair Eric Wikoff set up at a table in the school’s cafeteria along with his Board members.

“Our neighborhood is directly involved with air quality issues,” Wikoff told THE BEE. “Several of the detected ‘high metal zones’ are in our neighborhood.”

Wikoff said many residents have expressed concern that the DEQ has not been protecting the health of neighbors in the area for as long as a decade.

“One of our concerns is the flawed model of toxin ‘self-reporting’,” Wikoff said.  “We feel that the DEQ should be more active in measuring the emissions in certain locations – Precision Castparts in particular. We have had some history with the company, after their heavy industrial accident. Unlike that occurrence, since then, they’ve had a couple of incidents that did not cause a ‘reverse 911 call’, notifying neighbors of a potential toxic exposure.”

Neighbors aren’t out to shut down PCCS, Wikoff remarked. “We want to build trust with Precision Castparts; they are a huge employer in this part of Portland. But they also need to be accountable for potential environmental hazards to the neighborhood.”

In the meeting that followed a open house, some in the audience appeared to be shocked to learn that last permit issued to PCCS by the DEQ was more than five years ago – but the plant is allowed to continue operations because the existing permit is “still enforceable, and still carries the weight of law” as one state official put it.

“We have some moss-study data across the city, and it shows higher levels of nickel near Precision Castparts,” acknowledged Oregon DEQ Air Toxics Coordinator Sarah Armitage.

“But we also know that moss does not tell us what people are breathing,” Armitage added. “To understand what is in the air, we need to put in air monitors.”

As pointed out in the March article in THE BEE on this topic, the DEQ uses primarily computer software to create models of potential toxic air zones. The same general technique is used by the National Weather Service to predict weather nowadays.

Based on these models – and the new data brought to light by the U.S. Forest Service moss studies – the DEQ sets up full spectrum monitors,” Armitage explained. “We move these monitor units from spot to spot, where they capture more than 150 pollutants. Our knowledge about Southeast Portland is very recent.”

While no timetable has been given, DEQ is planning on doing air toxic monitoring around the Precision Castparts, Armitage said. We have been investigating the best locations for monitors. And, we’re looking for additional equipment and staffing to do that. We have many other monitors running right now, so it is an issue for us, finding the equipment to do this.”

The outcome of air quality monitoring near PCCS will be relevant to their relicensing, Armitage said. “We consult with the health authorities first, figure out what it means, and then plan to take steps in that area. We don't know that yet, and have yet to do the monitoring.”

As the evening’s program began, officials with State regulatory and health organizations came to the stage in the school’s gymnasium and introduced themselves, and gave a brief overview of their involvement with the situation.

Oregon DEQ Acting Deputy Director Joni Hammond introduced herself to the audience of some 200 people as a “DEQ scientist and mom”. She assured that the agency would be installing air monitors around PCCS “soon”, and added that the firm says they intend to install new air filtering equipment soon as well.

Oregon Health Authority Director Lynne Saxton said they were working with a team of scientists and physicians to analyze health risks; their mission is “Promoting health and preventing the leading causes of death, disease and injury in Oregon”.

Illustrating his brief talk with projected maps, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station Director Dr. Robert Mangold recapped information about their moss study.

When the floor was opened to questions and comments, lines formed behind microphones in the seating area of people ready to speak.

From the stage, Sarah Clark, with South Portland Air Quality told of their organization’s demands regarding PCCS and other industrial sources of toxins.

“We want transparency, and to ensure neighborhoods’ right to know, including a specific inventory – including quantities – of hazardous air pollutants.”

She also listed, in part,

  • Information about emission controls at each facility
  • An examination of the best pollution control technologies for each industry
  • Third-party validation of emission controls
  • Information about industrial disaster preparedness plans

Before the formal meeting, Southeast Uplift Board Chair Robert McCullough, also Chair of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, commended BDNA for their efforts. “They work on a variety of projects; this one is most important. This neighborhood association doesn’t require much support, they are a ball of fire.” 

He added, “In the 35 years that I've been working through my business, I've relied on data sets generated by the regulatory organizations. They are quite useful. Traditionally we’ve had much better cooperation with the DEQ than we have with this issue.”

During the meeting, McCullough addressed DEQ Acting Deputy Director Hammond directly. With an uncompromising look, he intoned, “We’ve asked to see the base data on the moss studies. I really want to see the base data – the original spreadsheets, not blobby diagrams. Know that when Southeast Uplift doesn’t get a reply to an ‘Open Document’ request, we have the resources and determination to sue in court.”

BDNA Vice Chair Jennifer Kristiansen stepped up to the microphone and read a lengthy resolution put forth by the neighborhood association insisting on air, water, and soil testing, reports, and mitigation.

Many attendees told THE BEE they were leaving the meeting feeling dissatisfied with vague promises of toxic testing monitoring and changes in the future.

Hammond said, “We are launching a new rule-making process to begin moving Oregon toward a system, as in Washington and California, that accounts for public health risk, and regulates industry based on those standards.”

Neighbors say they hope the changes will come soon, to answer questions about being safe in their homes.

Crosswalk enforcement, 82nd and Division, Portland, bullying, pedestrians, drivers
It didn’t take long on this particular day for Traffic Division officers to fill their ticket books with citations for drivers who didn’t watch out for those on foot. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Drivers cited for bullying pedestrians at major S.E. intersection


For several years, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) have conducted crosswalk “safety education and enforcement” action stakeouts at locations where pedestrians are frequently injured or even killed.

But, for the first time ever, on February 17 the two Bureaus set up their gear at the corner of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses and Division Street – one of the busiest intersections in all of Southeast Portland.

That intersection is part of what PBOT calls a “High Crash Corridor” because of the high number of fatalities and injuries.

“From 2004 through 2015, there were 24 pedestrian crashes at or near S.E. 82nd Avenue and Division Street, and two pedestrian fatalities,” recounted PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera.

Many people cross these roads mid-block, instead of using the crosswalks at the intersections, Rivera observed. Approximately 26,100 vehicles travel on S.E. 82nd Avenue near Division each day.

“Crossing midblock at locations without enhanced crossing features can put people on foot, and those behind the wheel, at risk of a crash – especially if the roadway has multiple travel lanes, high traffic volumes, and high vehicle speeds,” Rivera said.

They’d hoped to educate, warn, or ticket jaywalking pedestrians making mid-block crossings, but no pedestrians were cited during this particular safety education and enforcement action.

However, watching the operation – and people crossing the street, in a crosswalk, with the traffic signal – made clear the danger pedestrians face every day at that intersection from drivers who show disregard for those on foot.

With every change of the traffic signal, PPB Traffic Division officers – mostly riding motorcycles – spotted and pursued drivers who had blithely whizzed past pedestrians legally crossing the thoroughfare.

Those on foot, in crosswalks, dodged cars and trucks – primarily making turns – in every quadrant of the intersection.

“I don’t know if it’s just today, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many ‘near misses’ at an intersection,” a Traffic Division officer exclaimed – before again rolling out, lights flashing, after another driver who’d just zipped past a pedestrian.

During our 90 minutes of observation, officers issued a number of citations:

  • Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device - 11
  • Seatbelt - 1
  • Careless Driving - 1
  • Driving While Suspended - 3
  • Driving Uninsured - 1
  • Unsafe Operation on Sidewalk - 1
  • Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian - 1
  • No operator’s license - 1
  • Speeding - 1
  • Cell phone - 3
  • Seatbelt - 1

In case you didn’t know, “When vehicle drivers make a turn at an intersection with a signal, they must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians when they are less than six feet from the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning (ORS 814.010),” reminded Rivera.

Sellwood Park, tennis courts, Douglas Fir, tree falls, wind
A 75-foot-tall Douglas fir lay across a Sellwood Park tennis court, after toppling over amidst rain and strong winds during the night of March 2nd. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Storm topples tall tree onto Sellwood Park tennis court


One of the two lower tennis courts, over the hill on the far southwest side of upper Sellwood Park at the end of S.E. Grand Street, was put out of action when a 75-foot-tall Douglas fir tree toppled over, early in the blustery morning of Wednesday, March 2.

The weight of the mighty 55-to-60 year-old tree, measuring 26” in diameter, smashed to the ground the steel chain link fencing on both side of the court complex.

“This tree experienced root failure,” confirmed Portland Parks & Recreation Public Information Officer Mark Ross.

“Mother Nature was completely responsible; and it was an impressive situation in that the tree was blown uphill into the park, rather than downhill into Oaks Bottom,” Ross told THE BEE.

The Bureau’s Urban Forestry experts later reported that the failure was due to super-saturated soil and heavy wind.

“A neighbor on the west side of the tennis court told PP&R staff it happened between 2 and 6 a.m., saying he and his wife were on their front porch earlier, and the trees were ‘moving like crazy’,” Ross related.

It may take a while before the tennis court is back in operation. “The work order has already been generated, and the fence crew has it on their docket to get done ASAP. However, there is still a large log to remove, and the area is quite muddy.

“Thus, crews are waiting for things to dry out a bit before we send a crane/loader in to haul the rest of it away,” Ross told THE BEE.

Franklin High School, Rose Festival, Princess, Abby Freimark, Chris Frazier
The 2016 Portland Rose Festival Franklin Princess, Abby Freimark, accepts a bouquet of roses from FHS Vice Principal Chris Frazier. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Franklin High’s Rose Festival Princess announced


The announcements of Portland Rose Festival Court members are a sign to many that springtime is just around the corner.

On Thursday, March 10, a late-afternoon assembly at Franklin High School (FHS) – currently located on the Marshall Campus -- provided the opportunity to meet their 2016 Princess.

Before the program got underway, Portland Rose Festival Foundation President Frank Chinn spoke with THE BEE about the historic Festival. “What I most look forward to is the way our city ‘comes to life’ as the Festival gets underway. It’s much more than just all the activities that are planned; it’s great seeing the interaction of people in our city with the Rose Festival.”

And, the Rose Festival Court isn’t a “beauty contest”, Chinn reminded. “This program honors outstanding young women. This competition judges poise, public speaking ability, and the substance of what each entrant has to say.

“Other factors involved include community volunteerism, school involvement, and the contestants’ grade point averages, as part of the criteria as well,” Chinn added. “It’s about being the whole human: Demonstrating diligence, perseverance, intelligence, and compassion.”

FHS Vice Principal Chris Frazier was helping get the stage ready for the announcement.

“It’s always an exciting tradition – one that recognizes a Franklin High student who has worked hard, excelled, and participated in this program,” Frazier said.  It is a long standing tradition that Franklin is able to support each year.” 

Unlike in previous years, and contrary to tradition, the student selected to represent Franklin in this case was already known.

“Franklin started out with three well-qualified applicants,” explained Portland Rose Festival Association Special Events Assistant Marissa Frost. “All of them went through to the second step, the orientation. Due to scheduling and activities, however, two of the prospective Court members decided to not participate in the judging.”

After two high-energy, lively musical song-and-dance numbers from the school’s recent dramatic production of CHICAGO, Portland Rose Festival officials introduced themselves.

The 2016 Portland Rose Festival Franklin Princess, 17-year-old Abby Freimark, was escorted to the stage, and received a memento from her Unitus Community Credit Union Mentor, Jackie Carter.

“It’s such an honor to be the Portland Rose Princess for my school,” Princess Abby smiled.

She told how, as a child, her parents took her to the Starlight Parade every year, because it is generally held on the weekend of her birthday. “For the first seven years of my life, they told me that this parade is for me, and all the Princesses on the floats were waving to me,” Princess Abby reflected.

“And now, I believe that there is nothing better than being one of those Princesses who herself can make a five-year-old in the crowd watching the parade feel special,” Princess Abby said.

With that, Princess Abby was escorted to the throne traditionally used in the Franklin ceremony, and given her tiara and robe.

After the ceremony, Princess Abby told THE BEE, “The most important thing about representing the Quakers is to show what we call our ‘Quaker pride’. We have our new slogan, ‘Franklin Strong’, and that’s something I’m going to carry with me throughout the journey.”

As she mentioned in her speech, her favorite Rose Festival event truly is the Starlight Parade. “It’s a wonderful part of this Festival that brings people from all over the world together, in our city, to witness its exuberant energy.”

Princess Abby’s favorite place in Portland is a viewpoint located near Sellwood Park, above Oaks Bottom. “I love walking through the park and then making my way over to the peaceful bench that overlooks all of the city.”

She plans to attend Western Oregon University, and become a high school teacher or administrator. Princess Abby’s educational aspirations will be helped by a $3,500 scholarship provided by The Randall Group, “valid for any accredited college, university, or trade program”.

You are invited to come and cheer on Princess Abby at the Queen’s Coronation on Saturday, June 11, starting at 8:30 a.m., at Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum – just before the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade begins. For tickets, event registration, and more information, visit the official Portland Rose Festival Foundation website:

Cleveland High School, Rose Festival, Princess, Kaytlin Gaines, Brette Ramsay.
2016 Portland Rose Festival Cleveland High School Princess Kaytlin Gaines poses for photos with fellow court member Brette Ramsay. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cleveland High greets its 2016 Rose Festival Princess


Workers took time off from rebuilding the Cleveland High School (CHS) stage and refinishing its auditorium on the afternoon of Friday, March 11, to allow the hall to fill for the presentation of this year’s Portland Rose Festival Cleveland Princess.

“This is an amazing opportunity for all the young ladies to participate in an event where they get to represent the school, and their community,” remarked CHS Vice Principal Katy Wagner, as students, staff, and family members arrived in the auditorium. “This gives our students the opportunity to step outside their own element within the school.

“Both of our Court members are good representatives of the Cleveland Warriors,” Wagner said. “They are both incredibly active in the school community, and in their Portland communities; either of them would make a fantastic ambassador of our school.”

As is the school’s tradition, the two Cleveland Court members, Kaytlin Gaines and Brette Ramsay, made their way from the back of the auditorium, down the aisle, and onto the stage to enthusiastic applause.

After Portland Rose Festival Association officials were introduced, 2015 Portland Rose Festival Cleveland Princess Naomi Tsai took the stage to talk about her experience in the past year as the school’s envoy.

“I am so honored to have been able to represent Cleveland,” Princess Naomi began. “Thank you so much for giving me that opportunity; I hope I made you all proud.

“Being on the Portland Rose Festival Court was an amazing journey, and an unforgettable experience,” said Princess Naomi. “From the people I met, to the places we went every day, the year was packed with activities and went by fast.  I learned so much, including how to talk to an audience, how to dress, how to present myself, and – most importantly – which fork to use for dessert!”

Vice Principal Kevin Taylor stepped up to make the announcement that the 2016 Portland Rose Festival Cleveland Princess would be Kaytlin Gaines.

“Thank you all for giving me this opportunity,” Princess Kaytlin said to the assembly. “I will be representing you to the very best of my ability.” 

Princess Kaytlin was showered with gifts from the CHS PTA, the student body, and Unitus Community Credit Union Mentor Tia Chenault.

After the ceremony, Princess Kaytlin spoke with THE BEE. 

“Before Cleveland, I went to Arleta Elementary School, and then da Vinci Arts Middle School.

“My experience of Cleveland is that it offers so many opportunities for its students,” Princess Kaytlin said. “The school sets you up to do absolutely amazing things, why it is such a good school to attend.”

What she looks forward to most, Princess Kaytlin said, isn’t the glamour of the parades or the travel. “For me, it’s working with a mentor. Having a mentor can really help set you up for progressing in life.”

Asked how it feels to be named this year’s “Warrior Princess”, she said, “It’s amazing. I’m so excited to be able to represent my community.”

The new Cleveland High Portland Rose Festival Princess says she plans to attend a four-year university to study kinesiology and sports medicine. The $3,500 scholarship provided by The Randall Group, “valid for any accredited college, university, or trade program”, will certainly help Princess Kaytlin reach her goal.

Princess Kaytlin added that she hopes the Cleveland community will come and cheer her on, at the Queen’s Coronation on Saturday, June 11th, starting at 8:30 a.m., at Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum – just before the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade begins.

For tickets, event registration, and more information, visit the official Portland Rose Festival Foundation website:

Crash, 72nd and Woodstock, sun angle
The low angle of the sun in the west might have contributed to this smashup, a witness said.

Vehicles collide on Woodstock boundary


Perhaps it was the low angle of the western sun on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, at 6:12 p.m., that contributed to the collision between a car and truck, right where Mt. Scott-Arleta and the Woodstock neighborhoods meet.

Witnesses said a gold Honda Accord EX had been westbound on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, approaching 72nd Avenue – and a blue Ford Ranger XLT pickup truck was headed east on the same boulevard. There’s a stop light at that intersection.

Those who said they’d seen the accident disagreed about which driver had had the right-of-way.

One witness told THE BEE that the east/west traffic control signal had turned red just as the driver of the pickup truck attempted properly to complete a left hand turn to northbound 72nd Avenue. This witness guessed that the woman driving the Honda might not have seen the traffic light, because the sun was low on the horizon.

The other witness, standing on the opposite corner, said the Honda had the green light, and the pickup truck driver turned in front of her. 

The driver of the Honda remained in her vehicle until Portland Fire & Rescue’s Lents Station Engine 11 paramedics eased her out of her car, and onto a waiting ambulance gurney.

She wasn’t entered into the medical Trauma System – meaning that she appeared not to have sustained a significant injury – and was evaluated inside the ambulance for at least fifteen minutes before being transported to a hospital for medical evaluation. The driver of the pickup truck was up and walking around, and appeared uninjured.

Either way, there was a collision, and two insurance companies would soon be involved.

An officer who responded to the crash deemed it “an accident”, with no citation issued, and facilitated the exchange of information between the drivers.

JCWC, Johnson Creek Watershed Wide Event, Sami Laraway, and Jaja, Zuzana, and Misa Tichy, Springwater Trail, Tideman Johnson Natural Area
Sami Laraway, and Jaja, Zuzana, and Misa Tichy, dig in the dirt to place native plants between the Springwater Trail and Johnson Creek at the Tideman Johnson Natural Area. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Hundreds of volunteers return to clean up Johnson Creek


All along Johnson Creek, from Inner Southeast Portland to east of Gresham, on March 5th volunteers helped the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) in its annual effort to clean out and plant native species along the creek’s banks.

For three hours, hundreds of volunteers raked, pulled out weeds, and put in new plants, at several locations along the waterway.

Large groups turned out at both Tideman Johnson Park in Milwaukie and at Westmoreland Park, as the JCWC “Watershed-Wide Event” got underway for the year.

“At this site today, we are planting native plants,” explained Marianne Colgrove, of the Friends of Tideman Johnson Park. “We’ll be putting in about 500 plants along the Springwater Trail, just off S.E. 45th Avenue and Johnson Creek Boulevard.”

Colgrove reminded that their group of volunteers has been improving the park regularly since 2008.

“Usually, for our monthly events, we have a small but dedicated crew of volunteers,” Colgrove said. “Today, we have about 50 people out here, including volunteer groups from Starbucks, Reed College, and lots of individual volunteers.”

Several JCWC Board Members dug in alongside the volunteers. Half an hour into the work party, it looked as if the cadre of volunteers would certainly plant the hundreds of native species plants brought in for the day’s project.

“Here, and in other places along Johnson Creek, the natural areas are being well cared for,” commented Portland Parks & Recreation City Nature East specialist Susan Hawes, Stewardship Coordinator for the Johnson Creek Watershed

“This annual event is important for several reasons,” Hawes said. “One is that it brings out a lot of volunteers who've never been to these places along the creek before. It introduces those who come out to their local parks. As they get to know these natural areas, we hope they’ll continue to help take care of them.”

And, with a staff of only some 15 Parks Bureau co-workers, Hawes said, they really can use the help. “We would not be able to get all of this done without volunteers. These areas would not be nearly so well-cared-for without these community members taking an active role in their stewardship.”

THE BEE next visited another large contingent of volunteers, busily pulling weeds, raking, and spreading wheelbarrows full of mulch in Westmoreland Park.

Under the direction of Mary Ann Schmidt from the Crystal Springs Partnership; Ronda Fast, of the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and Katie Songer, a Johnson Creek Watershed Council staff member, the area around this important tributary was being groomed for spring.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for people to get together, as a community, to take care of these mostly-public shared spaces,” remarked JCWC Executive Director Daniel Newberry, as he checked in at the worksite.

“What's really amazing is that we get people who live outside our area to come and volunteer,” Newberry said. “I just talked with a family who lives in White Salmon, Washington, who came back to Portland for this event because they grew up here.”

Newberry’s message to those helping: “This could not happen without you. It really makes a big difference, and people taking care of their own green spaces is why Portland is such a livable area!”

To find out more about the nonprofit Johnson Creek Watershed Council, visit their website:

Pedestrian struck, 52nd and Flavel, Brentwood Darlington
Witnesses, a police officer, and a TriMet bus driver were all on hand to help a woman who was hit in a crosswalk at S.E. 52nd and Flavel on March 4th. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Car hits pedestrian in Brentwood-Darlington crosswalk


On the cold, clear evening of Friday, March 4, a late-model Cadillac sedan struck a pedestrian, who’d been walking in a crosswalk with groceries in hand, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

East Precinct police officers and Portland Fire & Rescue paramedics responded to the intersection where witnesses said a young female had been crossing S.E. Flavel Street at 52nd Avenue when she was struck.

The Cadillac was said to be heading southbound on S.E. 52nd Avenue, turning east to Flavel Street, when the accident occurred.

The victim was not entered into the medical trauma system, and thus was evidently not seriously hurt, but was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment.

The driver stayed at the scene. It has not been disclosed whether he was cited.

Wet parks, playing fields, closure, Duniway Elementary School
This field, at Duniway Elementary School, a PP&R-permitted location, was closed for at least two weeks in March, until the soggy area dried out. The same was true for most Portland Parks fields throughout Inner Southeast, due to our wet winter this year. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Soggy Portland Parks fields off-limits to sports players


How much rain have we had this winter? Let us count the ways.

Our many showers and downpours since November have made the ground soggy enough to cause Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to close their athletic fields for at least two weeks – and counting, as THE BEE went to press.

This closure impacts grass fields at Portland Parks & Recreation sites, and events which PP&R had permitted at Portland Public Schools facilities – such as the sports fields at Duniway Elementary School in Eastmoreland.

“The heavy rain has also hampered the ability for PP&R maintenance crews to care for the fields,” said the Bureau’s Public Information Officer, Mark Ross, on March 11.

The closure was expected to continue until Friday, March 25, at the very earliest, but the week preceding that date was forecast to be wet.

All people who have been granted permits for events on PP&R athletic and ball fields during the closure period would have their money refunded, Ross said. “Fields will also be closed for drop-in use during this period.”

Bear, vest, stolen red vest, suspect arrested, Ross Island Bridge
Here’s the display bear figure, shown wearing its red vest in happier days. Reportedly, for the bear, happy days are here again – with the return of its stolen vest, and the arrest of the thief. (Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

Bizarre theft “bearly solved” – at the Ross Island Bridge

Editor, THE BEE

On Friday, March 18, at about 5:20 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to 902 S.W. Yamhill Street downtown, “The Mont Bell”, on the report of a larceny.

Workers at the store told officers that a male, thought to be in his 20's, described as 6 feet tall and slim, and possibly with a beard and brown hair, had stolen a custom vest from a stuffed bear figure the inside of the front of the store. 

The following morning, shortly before 10 a.m., Central Precinct received a call from a citizen that the suspect in this incident was crossing the Ross Island Bridge. Officers responded to the area and located the suspect near the bridge; it was not clear from the police report whether the suspect was wearing it, or merely carrying it. Officers were able to arrest the suspect and return the vest to the bear.

Arrested was Migual Farnca, a 35-year-old male, who was booked into the Multnomah County Jail for “Theft II”. There is no information why this particular vest had been targeted in the brazen theft.

Stolen car, pursuit, methamphetamine, arrest, release by judge
27-year-old Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr., left, the driver of the stolen car, was booked on numerous charges, including three felonies; his passenger, 26-year-old David Alexander Mellis, at right, was charged with two felonies, including drug possession. But both were “released on their own recognizance” by a judge on the following day. (MCDC booking Photos)

Red-handed Harney Drive car thieves caught, booked… released


Two car theft suspects were released from custody mere hours after Portland Police Bureau PPB officers chased them down in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood after they bailed out of a stolen car.

On March 14, at 9:23 p.m., a PPB Canine Unit officer attempted to stop a 1994 Toyota Camry being driven in the area of S.E. Harney Drive and Flavel Drive.

Officers checking the car learned that the car had been reported stolen on March 8, in North Precinct, revealed Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“The driver and passenger both got out of the car as it was still moving, and ran in different directions,” Simpson said. “The car continued to roll, before coming to rest against a parking sign.”

Officers quickly captured the passenger, identified as 26-year-old David Alexander Mellis.

But it was a longer pursuit for K-9 “Billy” and his partner, who tracked the driver – 27-year-old Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. – for about 21 blocks northeast of the bail-out site. Sanchez was finally located in a garden shed, in the yard of a home in the 7600 block of S.E. Carlton Street; he chose to surrender when confronted by the police dog, and then was arrested.

Sanchez Jr. was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 11:44 p.m. that evening on charges of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Attempt to Elude by Vehicle, Attempt to Elude on Foot, Unlawful Entry into a Motor Vehicle, and Reckless Driving.

The passenger, David Mellis, was booked into MCDC at 11:10 p.m., on charges of Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, and Possession of Methamphetamine.

After their arraignments the following morning in Multnomah County District Court, Sanchez and Mellis spent only hours in jail; without making a public explanation, the judge ordered them “Released on Own Recognizance” – without any bail – on March 15.

Bloodmobile, Holy Family School, Miki VanHouten
Inside the Red Cross Bloodmobile, during a visit to Holy Family School, are donor Dave Robinson – and donor coordinator Miki VanHouten, at right. As is evident here, VanHouten’s homemade cookies are a popular reward for donors. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Giving blood in Southeast Portland


On a rainy late winter day in March, thirty-nine people came to give blood in the American Red Cross Bloodmobile, parked outside of Holy Family School, on S.E. Flavel Street just off Cesar Chavez Blvd. (S.E. 39th), in Eastmoreland.    

The bloodmobile has been coming to Holy Family for nearly fifteen years. Many of the donors know that one unit of blood has the potential to help three people. But the stories told to THE BEE from donors to explain why they give their blood provide more personal insights into what motivates the act of helping others.

“I’ve been giving blood for many years. I used to go downtown but I’ve been giving here for a year. My doctor said ‘if you’re able, it would be a good idea. It causes the spleen to activate new platelets’,” says Dave Robinson, Holy Family parishioner.

Dave Bergman has been giving blood for ten years, and he reveals that his wife had a kidney transplant. “She had a need for blood then; so I know it is something that’s needed, and a good thing to do.”

Julie deSousa is a second-generation donor; her late father was a longtime donor. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and finally decided to do it because it makes me feel close to him.” She was at the site for the first time, and a little nervous, but was encouraged by the good reports of people who had just finished giving. 

Holy Family parishioner Miki VanHouten coordinates the donor giving, and bakes dozens of cookies that people enjoy when they are finished giving blood. Sitting in the foyer of the school, VanHouten checks donors in. She says she took over the coordinating job from Paula Jansen, who ran it for several years before moving out of state. Jansen and her mother started the homemade cookie tradition.

VanHouten began coordinating two years ago, after the sudden death of her husband. “John was a frequent and committed donor for platelet pheresis” [a special type of donation, which results in platelets becoming a vital element in cancer and organ transplant treatments].

A year after he passed, she decided she could be the blood drive coordinator. “It’s a relatively painless way to help a lot of people.” Watching her check people in, and connect with friends and neighbors, it is clear that it is an enjoyable commitment for her.

The reasons for giving blood are usually altruistic, but a “perk” is to have homemade peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies as an immediate tangible reward. And donation in the neighborhood location beats driving all the way to North Portland to the Red Cross headquarters.

“We have a strong core of regulars. We have been told we are one of the most successful donor sites in the Portland area,” says VanHouten. All of the volunteers belong to the Holy Family Parish, and many donors are also from the church, although it is open to the public, and some from the community just find the location convenient.    

The Red Cross Bloodmobile returns to park at Holy Family once every two months. VanHouten makes it possible for donors to get the same time of day for their ongoing donations. “We have about forty people in a day. But we need, and can always take, more.”

The next bloodmobile donor day at the Holy Family location is May 10th. However, the Bloodmobile makes regular forays into Inner Southeast at various locations in many neighborhoods – some of which are listed regularly in the BEE “Events and Activities” calendar.

To donate blood, or to get more information about doing so, make a toll-free call to: 1-800/733-2767.

DUII, 82nd, car into light pole, Brentwood Darlington
This Honda crashed into a light pole, after leaving the traffic lane on 82nd Avenue and smashing through a fence near S.E. Flavel Street. The driver was determined by police to be intoxicated. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Drunken, reckless driving ends in 82nd Ave smashup


Traffic slowed to peer at a single-car wreck that brought emergency first-responders to S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses a half-block south of Flavel Street in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. It happened on the evening of Tuesday, March 8.

A southbound silver Honda Civic LX had veered off the west side of the road and jumped the curb. The car crossed the sidewalk, and tore through a steel chain-link fence. A parking lot light post was what finally stopped the vehicle.

Portland police from East Precinct were dispatched at 8:47 p.m., as was Portland Fire & Rescue Lents Station 11.

As an early-arriving ambulance drove off without a patient inside, a PPB Traffic Division officer arrived and began conducting a Field Sobriety Evaluation on the driver of the vehicle.

“Guman Singh Bharati, 47, was arrested for DUII and Reckless Driving,” later said Portland Police spokesman Sergeant Peter Simpson. The vehicle was towed away, and traffic gradually returned to normal on the Avenue of Roses.

Duniway Elementary School, Battle of the Books, Flaming Cyclones, team
DUNIWAY “BATTLE OF THE BOOKS” SUCCESS. Joanna Valliere tells THE BEE, “I'm one of the coordinators of Duniway Elementary School’s ‘Battle of the Books’ program, and want to share the news that our top team, The Flaming Cyclones, is one of four teams (out of 58 total) from our region that will be competing in the statewide competition on April 9 in Salem. This is only our second year offering this program, so we are especially excited about their success. Team members are all 5th graders – Eliza Buerk, Braden Hausafus, Cole Delaney, and Hayden Spurgeon” – all shown here, in the photo she provided.

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