More stories from August's issue of THE BEE!

Johnson Creek, bridge, fifty foot fall, man survives
Firefighter-paramedics move the fall victim onto a backboard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Man tumbles fifty feet from Springwater Trail bridge – and survives


It’s not clear if he fell or jumped, but a 50-year-old man dropped from the north belvedere of the concrete bridge over Johnson Creek, just west of the McLoughlin Boulevard Springwater Corridor Trail overpass, on Thursday afternoon, July 14.

Apparently most of those on foot or on bicycle along the trail didn’t notice when the man went over the side, and fell about 50 feet into the creek bed below.

The call came in to the 9-1-1 Center at 6:43 p.m., bringing Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s engine crew first to the location, followed by nine additional emergency-responder units.

When THE BEE walked in from S.E. Ochoco Street, two men were standing in the area. One of them said he had called for help when he saw the man jump from the bridge. The other witness disagreed, and said it looked like the man who fell was simply trying to walk on the bridge’s steel railing.

To reach the victim, firefighters rigged a rope line from the top of the ravine, permitting crewmembers to climb down and begin medically stabilizing the fall victim.

Due to the steepness of the ravine, the firefighters called for their bureau’s “Technical High-Angle Rescue” crew from the downtown Station 1; but Clackamas Fire District 1’s similar team arrived significantly sooner, and started setting up their hoisting rig.

After he was secured to a backboard by firefighter-paramedics, the man who fell could clearly be heard speaking with his rescuers.

While Clackamas Fire’s team hiked up the trail with their gear and started setting up their tripod-like hoisting system, the crew of Woodstock Fire Station’s Engine 25 arrived, having turned off McLoughlin Boulevard west onto S.E. Clatsop Street. That crew hiked in along Johnson Creek, a less-steep route out of the ravine. 

With the patient secured in a Stokes basket, seven firefighters carried him out to an ambulance, waiting on the Clatsop Street side of the incident.

Reportedly, the man suffered serious injuries and was taken to OHSU Hospital as a trauma system entry. His name and condition have not been disclosed, in accordance with federal privacy laws.

Brooklyn Drugs, customer robbed
Inside Brooklyn Pharmacy, officers interview the robbery victim as they begin their investigation. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brooklyn Pharmacy robbers lead police to Parkrose area


After picking up one or more prescriptions at Brooklyn Pharmacy, on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue near Powell Boulevard, just south of the Aladdin Theater, a customer walked out, only to be confronted by two robbers on Friday, July 1, at about 6:15 p.m.

“Officers spoke to the victim, and learned that one of the suspects implied that he had a gun, as he robbed the victim of a phone, cash, and prescription drugs,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Simpson described the two suspects as African American males, 16 to 22 years old, 6'0" to 6'2", with medium builds.

As THE BEE arrived, there were two officers inside the pharmacy, speaking with the victim – but we observed that no other police units seemed to be canvassing the area. Instead, we learned they had all raced eastward.

Based on information that police had used cell-phone “pinging” to trace the stolen phone to an intersection in outer East Portland, reporters headed for the Parkrose area.

As many as 26 police units were concentrated in the outer East Portland neighborhood of Argay Terrace, just east of Parkrose. A number of officers were scattered along N.E. Shaver Street, a residential road that parallels Sandy Boulevard.

In that area, Simpson told reporters, “[Central Precinct] Officers in Brooklyn worked with the victim to trace the phone to the area of N.E. 125th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. A possible suspect was spotted running into the neighborhood.”

Although officers, including a K-9 Unit, searched the area for hours, officers apparently came up empty-handed. It has not been disclosed what the stolen prescription was for; it could have been something as simple as blood pressure medicine or a decongestant.

The investigation continues, and anyone with non-emergency information about this case should contact Robbery detectives at 503/823-0405.

Dana Beck, Brooklyn Post Office, bioswales
Postal agent Dana Beck stands, sailboat in hand, at one of the six new BES bioswales installed near the Brooklyn Post Office, just south of Powell Boulevard. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

North Brooklyn suddenly awash in bioswales


As part of the “Tabor to the River” program by Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, the “Lower Powell Green Street and Sewer Repair Project” has led to residents in the Brooklyn neighborhood receiving 22 bioswales of various sizes this summer.

These curbside “rain gardens” are planted with wetland plants and grasses – with the idea of their absorbing and diverting stormwater runoff away from the newly-updated sewer system.

However, the bioswales, installed along the curbs, reduce neighborhood parking, and have proven to be an inconvenience to many residents who are without driveways.

In June, six new bioswales were installed within a block of the Brooklyn Post Office, on the eastbound exit to S.E. 17th from Powell Boulevard. One of these is even sited alongside a previously-constructed bioswale (2012) that earlier had removed a portion of the Post Office parking lot. “We’re awash in new construction here,” jokes postal agent Dana Beck. “Did you come in on one of the swells?”

Beck, long a fixture at the Sellwood-Westmoreland Post Office branch, is now stationed in the Brooklyn office – and is a well-known historian of Inner Southeast Portland, is the perennial Master of Ceremonies at SMILE’s “Sundae in the Park” on the first Sunday each August in Sellwood Park, and is a frequent contributor of history articles to THE BEE.

Postal patrons also joke about the proliferation of bioswales, suggesting they arrived at the Post Office branch by boat or in swim gear, but many local residents say they are dismayed by the inconvenience. 

Although Brooklyn neighbors were forewarned of the plan, actually encountering these large concrete “green street planters” seems to many to be both surprising and irritating. The neighborhood already encounters much curbside parking by visitors to concerts and other events at the nearby Aladdin Theatre, but the bioswales have multiplied the problems.

With parking only allowed on the south side of nearby S.E. Pershing Street, some homeowners there say they will now be forced to park their vehicles blocks away. At least, they might be splashing through fewer big puddles in rainy weather, as they trudge to and from their cars.

Armed robber, stolen, chewing gum
Because 19-year-old Bilombele Alex Mwenbatu is accused of using a pistol to steal his chewing gum at a Powell Boulevard convenience store, he faces felony robbery charges – and no longer has the gum.

Gum-grabbing armed robbery suspect jailed


Employees realized that this July 4th was going to be one to be remembered, when a young man – a handgun in his pocket – walked into the Plaid Pantry store at 2110 S.E. Powell Boulevard just after 11 that morning and stole chewing gum from a display rack.

“When the employee started to call 9-1-1 for help, the suspect displayed the firearm and left the store,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The suspect, later identified as 19-year-old Bilombele Alex Mwenbatu, didn’t demand any money or valuables; he was apparently satisfied with just the stolen chewing gum.

“Officers located a person matching the robber’s description, right around the corner from the store,” Simpson said, adding that as he was taken into custody, they recovered a replica firearm. It is not clear if he was engaged in chewing the gum at the time.

At 3:49 p.m. the same day, Mwenbatu was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on one charge of Robbery in the Second Degree, a Class-B Felony.

Facing a judge in Multnomah County Court, the stick-up charge stuck – when Mwenbatu was arraigned July 5.

Mwenbatu remains lodged in Inverness Jail, in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Ammonia Leak, McLoughlin Boulevard, Sellwood
Across the alley from Alpine Food Distributing Inc., firefighters plan how they’ll track down an ammonia leak inside the building. (Photo courtesy of Clackamas Fire District 1)

Ammonia leak south of Sellwood brings HazMat response


Emergency first responders from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) and Clackamas Fire District 1 were called to a business just south of Sellwood, and east of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, at about 10 a.m. on July 8 – because of escaping ammonia gas.

The response zeroed in on Alpine Food Distributing Inc., at 2400 S.E. Mailwell Drive in Milwaukie – a large regional food distributing company that provides frozen, refrigerated, and packaged foods and ingredients.

Most industrial-sized freezers are chilled by vapor-compression refrigeration systems using gaseous ammonia as the coolant medium.

“Firefighters secured the area, and alerted neighboring businesses to shelter in place while they assessed the situation,” Clackamas Fire Public Information Officer Micah Shelton told THE BEE.

Westmoreland Station 20’s fire engine company was called in, as were firefighters from other areas.

“Dressed in specialty suits, Hazardous Chemical technicians were able to make entry three separate times to finally locate and isolate the leak over the course of eight hours,” Shelton said. 

Once the leak was plugged and the facility ventilated, the incident was over. “There were no ill effects to the neighboring community,” Shelton reported.

Reds Bar and Grill, Foster Road, robber, no victims
An armed robber had every intention of successfully staging a late-night holdup at this Foster Road tavern, but couldn’t find anybody inside to rob, and so retreated into the night. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Masked and armed tavern robber finds no victims


An armed robber apparently timed his intrusion at Red’s Bar & Grill, at 7025 S.E. Foster Road, intending to maximize his take – bursting through the door just after the 2 a.m. closing time, early Wednesday, July 6, and shouting, “Hands up!”

But, there were few patrons left in the bar to raise their hands. In fact, not even a bartender was present at that moment.

“When the suspect realized there was nobody behind the bar to rob at the time, he ran out and left without getting money, or anything of value,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “Officers checked around the area, but did not locate anyone matching the suspect’s description.”

The suspect was described as an unknown race male, 5'10" to 6'00" tall, skinny build, wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, a bandana over his face, blue jeans, and armed with a handgun. All tricked out, but nobody to rob.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked contact Robbery detectives at 503/823-0405.

Public Alerts, phone Alerts, Portland, Multnomah County
PBEM Operations Manager David Blitzer and Director Carmen Merlo demonstrate the added capabilities of the upgraded PublicAlerts call system. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Emergency planners urge cellphone users to sign up for alerts


From the backyard of her home in Sellwood, as well as in her office at Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) in outer East Portland, Planning & Preparedness Manager Jonna Papaefthimiou works to help keep the city’s neighbors safe in an emergency.

“In our back yard, we store one of 48 Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Nodes (BEECN) boxes, ready to be deployed in case of a major emergency, when communications are down,” Papaefthimiou remarked.

One of the projects she’s working on is getting the word out about PBEM’s expanded “PublicAlerts” calling system. This system sends recorded alerts by telephone when the public needs to take action to remain safe – such as staying inside, evacuating, or boiling water.

“As a PBEM duty officer, I carry a pager; and I’m one of the people who could be called upon to deploy the community emergency notification system, PublicAlerts, in case of a disaster. Now we’re working to get more people to use the system,” Papaefthimiou explained.

In the PBEM Command Center, Papaefthimiou was joined by Bureau Director Carmen Merlo and other emergency response officials.

“We previously had a system similar to this,” Merlo said. “However, the new PublicAlerts system has important features, such as being able to register people in ten of the most commonly spoken languages in Portland.

“The other new capability is the ‘Additional Needs Registry’, for individuals who have mobility, hearing, or sight issues – so we can provide assistance to them during emergency situations,” Merlo added.

And, the updated system allows the user to register multiple locations in addition to their home address – such as at work, and at schools, churches, and clubs they frequent.

The alert system only has access to published and unpublished landline numbers. “More and more households have given up their landlines with a preference for a mobile phone,” Merlo commented. “We have no way of getting those people emergency information and telling them to take protective action, unless we can reach them directly.”

So, get on board! It’s free to sign up for PublicAlerts, and they don’t give out your phone number or call you unless they’re sending you an emergency notification. Visit today, to sign up to receive future safety messages, on ALL your phones.

Road rage, trucks collide, forced off road, Reed College
After a reported relationship breakdown, the driver of one truck rams another, near Reed College – on Sunday morning, June 26. (Photo courtesy of Caitlin Stauffer)

Raw relationship leads to road rage near Reed College


What was originally reported to the police as a two-vehicle accident on the Sunday morning of June 26 turned out actually to be a “Disturbance”, at 7:19 a.m.

As many as five police units came to S.E. 28th just south of Woodstock Boulevard to sort out the Sunday morning commotion.

“I was on a walk with my dog when I saw three police cars and an ambulance at the scene,” said BEE reader and Westmoreland resident Caitlin Stauffer.

“Two larger pickup trucks were rammed side-by-side into a guardrail at the curve just south of the intersection,” Stauffer reported. “It looked as if the vehicles would have continued into Eastmoreland Golf Course, if it weren’t for the railing.”

Stauffer said she also saw a shirtless man being attended to by ambulance paramedics. “He seemed to be in handcuffs.”

Looking at the report, Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart confirmed that one truck ran into another at the intersection.

One driver rammed the other, the report indicated, because the second driver was seeing a woman with whom the first driver had a relationship. “The person who did the actual ramming was injured, so he went to the hospital,” Stewart said.

It took several days for the city to repair the crumpled guardrail, which was twisted completely across the sidewalk, after the two pickups were hauled away.

Wet first half of year here also turned warm

Editor, THE BEE

With the first half of the calendar year completed on June 30, THE BEE recorded a precipitation total of 24.70 inches in that period.  There was only one day in which an inch or more was recorded – the 1.08” recorded on January 13 – but January’s total was 8.24”, which accounted for almost exactly a third of the rainfall in the first six months of 2016. 

March was the second wettest, at 6:32”; then February at 4.56”.  We’ve had over an inch in every month so far through June.

The highlights of the first half this year were led by the inch of snow that persisted all day on January 3, followed by freezing rain that night and a silver thaw past noon the next day until it all melted off.

Also notable was Portland breaking its official record for the most rain in a winter, December through February – starting with the whopping 17.44 inches tallied last December, fully five inches over the previous record for December here – when the season added up to 25.27” by February 19, more than a week before the official end of the season as defined by the Weather Bureau.

Then we broke heat records in April, with our earliest-ever 80+ reading on the 7th, at 85 degrees, six degrees above the previous record for the date, and preceding a surprisingly warm month overall. And, our earliest-ever 100 degree reading occurred on June 1, beating Portland’s old record by nearly three weeks.

So, in Southeast Portland, is the first half’s rainfall in any way predictive of the second half? Looking back over the past two decades of our daily readings taken in Westmoreland (measured at 4 p.m. daily), we’d have to say no.

For example, the first half of last year was a bit dry, at 17.42”, yet the annual total wound up at 47.09”; in 2014, the first half measured 26.14, and the annual total was 46.01”; in 2013 it was dry all year, with 15.37” at the halfway point, and 28.89” total; and in 2012, it was wet all year with 33.41” in the gauge as of June 30 and 59.29” at year’s end.

However, at this point, we expect a normally wet fall and winter ahead – mainly because we have no reason not to! Yet, our summerlike spring was followed, in July at least, by a springlike summer. So our weather remains a bit unexpected this year.

DUII, Flavel Drive, crash
A Traffic Division officer performs a Field Sobriety Evaluation on the driver of a Toyota, badly damaged in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood by a poor turn that smashed the car into a curb and damaged a wheel.

Fuddled driver wrecks car on SE Flavel Drive


Portland East Precinct officers were dispatched to the intersection of S.E. 45th Avenue and Flavel Drive a little after 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, July 15, but the reason for the call was at first unclear.

When officers arrived, they found one vehicle, stopped across S.E. Flavel Drive, with the passenger side front tire flattened and front end damage visible to the car. 

No other vehicles were present. A closer inspection of the curb told officers that the driver was southbound on 45th Avenue, and was attempting to turn east on Flavel Drive, when he lost control and smashed his Toyota into the curb.

Although the incident was called in at 5:12 p.m., officers didn’t arrive until ten minutes later, giving the driver and two passengers standing outside the broken down car time to move the vehicle before police arrived.

After a Field Sobriety Evaluation, the driver was taken into custody. “Hey, can you get my car back home?” the driver asked of his male passenger. (Our own private observation: Not on that wheel, you won’t.)

Tacoma Street, pavement, grind
The Sellwood business district along S.E. Tacoma Street was closed off to traffic while the pavement surface was ground away. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Surprise resurfacing closes SE Tacoma Street


With two days’ advance warning, sections of S.E. Tacoma Street, between the Sellwood Bridge and 17th Avenue, were closed during business hours from July 14 through 17.

The closures were to allow crews to grind 2.2 lane miles of pavement in preparation for paving two weeks later, according to the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). 

“Both grinding and paving are being coordinated with the Sellwood Bridge closures to alleviate heavy traffic delays,” explained an unsigned press release.

“I was surprised we didn’t have more notification about grinding down S.E. Tacoma Street,” remarked Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance Past President Tom Brown.

Although PBOT sent a press release to the media in advance, Brown said the he himself had received notification from the Bureau only on the morning the street grinding began. “I didn’t know about it until I saw the trucks show with the grinding equipment this morning,” frowned Brown.

Although PBOT had promised “Access will be maintained for businesses and residents during the project”, Brown pointed out that large sections of the Sellwood business district were closed to all vehicle traffic on Friday, July 15.

“I realized there would be an impact to traffic with the Sellwood Bridge being closed for four days,” Brown commented, “but this, on top of it, came as quite a surprise to all of us.”

Bybee Bridge, crash, rollover, Highway 99E, McLoughlin Boulevard
Police, fire, and ambulance first-responders work together at the scene of a roll-over accident on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard under the Bybee Bridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Distracted or impaired driver causes McLoughlin wreck


A roll-over wreck on southbound S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard at the Bybee Bridge backed up traffic along the highway on Sunday evening, July 10.

About 7:30 p.m. that evening, police and fire personnel arrived at the two-car smashup.

Nosed into the concrete Jersey barrier was a silver Honda Civic DX, where it had come to rest on its roof.

The driver of the other car in the wreck, a black Toyota, told THE BEE, “I was [southbound on McLoughlin], pulling off in the right hand turn lane just under the bridge and just caught a glimpse of the car coming up behind me – really fast.

“There was another car in front of me,” the female crash victim said. “There was no place I could go. The Honda smashed into the rear driver side bumper and fender of my car – and then flipped and rolled, beside us.”

The back end of her car’s bumper was torn off, evidence of the glancing blow. No one in her car was injured, she said.

A witness to the smashup, also driving south on McLaughlin, told police that she had just called the 9-1-1 Center, reporting an erratically driven car weaving through traffic. “Her head was down, as if she was looking at something,” the woman said of the errant driver.

The witness said she couldn’t tell if the driver was using a cell phone or texting.

Firefighter-Paramedics from nearby Westmoreland Fire Station 20 arrived mere moments after the crash. With AMR paramedics, firefighters helped remove the driver of the smashed Honda and packaged her for transport, after which an ambulance took her to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Further information about this crash and what was found in the subsequent police investigation was not yet available as THE BEE went to press.

Gas main break, Northwest Natural, gas, stump grind
A Northwest Natural Gas worker checks gas accumulation levels below the pavement.

Reed neighborhood gas leak forces brief evacuation


Homes and businesses within a block of S.E. Center Street, between 26th and 28th Avenue, were evacuated Wednesday afternoon, July 6, when a Northwest Natural gas line was breached near the north edge of the street.

The crew of Woodstock Fire Station’s Engine 25 was first to arrive, followed shortly by Lents’ Engine 11.

“The crew first on the scene reported hearing a loud whistling sound from the ruptured natural gas line,” said PF&R Lieut. Brian Cummings at the scene.

“Safety is our number one concern, which is why we do the evacuations before anything else,” Cummings told THE BEE. “Then, we make sure that our firefighters are safe, as we start monitoring with our gas detectors and pulling our water protection lines.”

A quick check determined that a 1½ inch gas line was broken. “We believe, at this time, it was by a company doing some aggressive stump grinding near the street,” Cummings revealed.

For nearly an hour, gas whistled from the ruptured pipe, filling the air with the “rotten egg” smell of the odorant – called mercaptan – added to natural gas, which otherwise has no smell.

Arriving shortly after the fire crews, Northwest Natural personnel worked closely with firefighters to devise a plan to safely stop the leak.

While fire crews stood by with a pressurized water hose line in case of fire, a gas company worker – dressed in a “flash fire” suit – made his way to the vented pipe, and shut down the flow of natural gas.

By then, most of the nearby businesses had closed for the day, but the evacuated residents were glad to be able to return to their homes.

Sellwood Community Pool, Ann Jensen, swim team, coash
Portland Parks & Recreation’s Sellwood Pool Swim Team Coach Ann Jensen enjoys her mornings teaching kids how to swim, before she leaves for her summer internship at OHSU. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood swim team coach interns with healthcare study


It’s hard to miss the infectious smile of Portland Parks & Recreation Sellwood Pool Swim Team Coach Ann Jensen, when she’s on duty.

A neighborhood resident since she was five years old, Jensen said she’s been swimming at the neighborhood pool since her family moved to Sellwood.

“I took swimming lessons here, was on the Sellwood Swim Team, and now this is the fifth season I’ve worked here!” Jensen grinned.

As the swim coach for the Sellwood Summer Swim Program, Jensen said she’s at the pool every weekday morning and, with the help of other coaches, works with the 110 kids in the program.

“Along with our other coaches, we plan the workouts and activities, getting our kids ready for swim meets during the summer, where they compete against teams from other pools at community centers throughout Portland,” Jensen told THE BEE.

She’s glad for the summer job – home from college in Minnesota, where she’s studying sociology and anthropology, with an emphasis on public health.

But, when she leaves the Sellwood Pool, Jensen heads “up the hill” to OHSU, where she’s involved with an internship. “I’m working with a research study in the infectious disease department, as a volunteer study coordinator. I work with patients, and I help them with other aspects of the research study.”

These two summer jobs do have a common thread, Jensen said. 

“My time working at the pool as a lifeguard and an instructor has given me the confidence to speak and communicate well in a variety of settings – be it in a clinic, in an office at the hospital, or here at the pool,” Jenson remarked.

While she’s getting professional experience at OHSU, she still loves her job at the local pool. “I often talk with people who tell me that they’ve been swimming here since they were children, and now they’re bringing their grandkids here.

“It’s a really neat place for people to connect and enjoy the summer, here in the Sellwood community,” Jenson concluded.

Safeway, Woodstock, trash fire
Quick action from several Inner Southeast fire stations quickly contained a trash compactor fire at the Woodstock Safeway store on the day after Independence Day. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock Safeway trash fire quickly quenched


A column of thick foul-smelling smoke began to rise from behind the Woodstock Safeway store at about 7:30 in the evening on Tuesday, July 5.

While on the way, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews learned from dispatchers that the fire was in the large trash-compacting unit just outside the store’s loading dock.

Woodstock Station 25 Engine and Truck Company was joined by Westmoreland’s Station Engine 20 firefighters – both firehouses regularly shop there – with an assist from Lents Station 9 firefighters.

Both inside the loading dock, and by opening the unit outside, firefighters were able to quickly put out the blaze. The cause of this fire is under investigation.

Home Invasion Robbery, suspect killed, Brentwood Darlington, Portland, Oregon
Walking along S.E. 64th Avenue, an officer continues to look for evidence. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast home invasion robbery ends in shooting death


A man who has come to be called a home invasion robber was shot and killed just before 1 a.m. early Thursday, July 14, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

East Precinct officers were called to the residence, on S.E. 64th Avenue, midblock between Harney and Tenino streets.

PPB Homicide Detectives and Criminalists were investigating the crime scene for hours that morning.

“Preliminary information indicates that the homeowner was the victim of a home invasion robbery involving multiple suspects,” revealed Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“One of the suspects was killed inside the home, and the others fled the area,” Simpson said, later identifying the dead man as 30-year-old Anthony Lazarides.

Simpson said that the homeowner is a 45-year-old man who suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to one of his hands. “He was treated and released from a Portland hospital, and has cooperated with detectives,” he said. 

A neighbor confirmed to reporters at the scene that he was questioned about a gun holster and bullet found on his property, but said that neither the holster nor the bullet belonged to him or his son.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years, and things have just gotten worse,” commented neighbor Harry Dombrowski to THE BEE.

“There are some really good, in fact wonderful, people living here,” Dombrowski said. “But others are flat-out criminals. We used to be able to run them off. But now they say, ‘Look out! We own these streets now’. It’s getting scary.”

Homicide detectives are asking for the public's help in identifying associates of Lazarides who may have been involved in the robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Mark Slater at 503/823-9319,

Carol Smith, Portland Public Schools, resignation
The same day a report was issued about policy deficiencies in Portland Public School drinking water testing protocols, Superintendent of Education Carole Smith resigned. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Report rebukes PPS water-testing policy; Smith resigns


With school set to resume in a month, some parents still seem to be concerned about the possibility of lead in their child’s school drinking water – a story covered in the July issue of THE BEE.

The report of an investigation undertaken by the Stoll Berne law firm, commissioned by Portland Public Schools (PPS), revealed “a lack of clear policies, protocols, and communications procedures relating to lead in water, and other water quality issues in the schools.”

On July 18, the PPS Board of Education released the report it had commissioned in June, after elevated levels of lead in drinking water were reported at several schools elsewhere in the city in May 2016, although testing appeared to clear the Inner Southeast schools of lead hazards in drinking water.

According to the investigation, key findings included:

  • Infrastructure and maintenance has been a lower priority than direct educational services, due to budget constraints.
  • Since 2001, lead in water has not been viewed by the PPS Board or Administration as a significant issue in local schools.
  • PPS lacks clear policies or protocols in place for testing for lead in drinking water, or keeping track of which sources have been tested, or for remediation of sources that have been.
  • PPS administration does not have a clear reporting system internally for water issues, and does not have systems in place to communicate with parents, the public, or the media, relating to those issues.

With the release of the report, Board Chair Tom Koehler said that the District “must use this report as a tool to move forward and address the lapse in policies and protocols around water and other environmental health and safety issues.”

PPS Superintendent of Education Carole Smith also provided a five-page response to the investigative report in which she offered recommendations for operational and organizational improvements to address the areas of concern outlined in the findings.

As the July issue of THE BEE went to press, Superintendent Smith had just announced her retirement in June of 2017 – when her contract was to expire.

But, on the same day the Board released these findings in the Stoll Berne report, Smith decided to accelerate her retirement, and gave a 90-day notice of resignation from her post – adding that she intended to use her “extensive accumulated leave” during the interim period.

“In order to accomplish the significant work that lies ahead, I believe it is critical for the board to figure out how to work together with each other as a governing board and in partnership with the superintendent,” Smith said in her letter.

“It is with this understanding and significant concern that I have decided to retire from Portland Public Schools now. I encourage the Board to identify an interim Superintendent as soon as possible,” Smith wrote.

As THE BEE went to press, the PPS Board had not yet announced an interim Superintendent.

Nehalem Street, Portland, house fire
Firefighters make their way out of the Nehalem Street house – the fire out, but the home still filled with smoke. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Morning fire wakes family on SE Nehalem Street


Smoke wafting through the house at 5918 S.E. Nehalem Street alerted the family inside on the morning of July 19, causing them to evacuate and call for help at 9:34 a.m. that morning.

From the Woodstock Fire Station, Truck 25’s crew arrived first at the Brentwood-Darlington home, followed by partner Engine 25 three minutes later.

“During their size-up of the situation, first arriving firefighters reported seeing heavy smoke coming from the eaves at the back of the house,” Battalion Chief Bill Goforth told THE BEE at the scene.

The fire fight was quickly over; within seven minutes the blaze had been extinguished. The family of four – and their dog – safely evacuated the house.

“PF&R Arson Squad investigators came to the scene, and their report indicates that they believe the fire started close to the bathroom area,” said Fire Bureau spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman. “The loss has been set at $40,000; and the cause still under investigation.”

Volunteers from Red Cross Cascades Region Chapter came to assist a male and female adult, two children, and their dog, with temporary lodging and other assistance.

Comments? News tips? Click here to e-mail us!

Note to readers: At some point, this, our original Internet website, will be replaced at this web address by our new website, as part of the Community Newspapers group. At that time, you will still be able to access this older, but still operative, website, if you save this address: Right now, it leads you to our new website. Eventually, it will lead you back to this old one! Both will be up to date and current, and you'll still have your choice of which one to visit!