More stories from April's issue of THE BEE!


Brentwood Darlington, flowering trees, Portland, Oregon
RURAL BEAUTY IN BRENTWOOD-DARLINGTON. With the first warm and sunny days of April, flowering plum trees on both sides of the street from S.E. 45th to 52nd Avenues south of Woodstock burst forth in a profusion of pale pink blossoms. Vistas of delicate pink trees lined both sides of S.E. Rural, Ogden, and Knapp Streets. “They don’t last long,” reflected one local resident watching the pink petals fall, “But they sure are pretty.” (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)
Motorcycle crash, fatal, Powell Boulevard, Portland, Oregon
Police close down S.E. Powell Boulevard to investigate a fatal motorcycle crash. (Photo by David F. Ashton)


Speeding motorcyclist killed in Powell Blvd crash

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A motorcycle rider lost his life when he crashed into a turning vehicle along S.E. Powell Boulevard in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood on Friday night, April 21, just before midnight. 

Based on information gathered from witnesses, investigators believe the motorcyclist was traveling fast eastbound on Powell Boulevard as he approached 37th Avenue – and smashed into a westbound truck that was just turning left to go south on 37th. 

“Officers and medical personnel determined that the male adult motorcycle rider had suffered traumatic injuries,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Christopher Burley. “The motorcyclist was declared dead at the scene. The operator of the motor vehicle remained at the scene and cooperated with officers.”

The intersection was closed until about 3 a.m. the following morning while officers from the Portland Police Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team conducted an investigation.

“Speed is believed to be a factor in this fatal traffic crash,” Burley later affirmed. The cyclist had not yet been publicly identified as THE BEE went to press.



McLoughlin Boulevard, Highway 99E, paving project, Portland, Oregon, Corinne Stefanick
ODOT’s Nicole Peirce spoke with SMILE President Corinne Stefanick about the paving project between Harold Street and the City of Milwaukie. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Long McLoughlin Blvd repair project underway

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

To keep motorists from being surprised when some lanes of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard are closed to traffic, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is doing their best to tell neighbors about their project to fix the thoroughfare.

At an April 4 open house held at the SMILE Station, ODOT representatives shared refined plans for what they call the “OR 99E Paving Project: S.E. Harold Street to S.E. Harrison Street”.

The meeting was timely because the project began, as expected, in April.

In April, May, and June, most of the work will be concentrated in the section from Tacoma Street south to Harrison Street, said ODOT Region 1 Community Affairs Coordinator Lili Boicourt. “In this part of the project, contractors will be constructing sidewalk ramps, but they also have some reconstruction to do, to dig down to the foundation and rebuild the highway.”

Where the highway needs to be rebuilt in the southern section, contractors will dig out about 30 inches of material down to two concrete panels below, put in geotextile fabric to bridge the gap that is failing between the panels, and refill it with rock before paving with asphalt, explained ODOT Region 1 Assistant Project Manager Jamie Miller.

“In addition to repaving the road, contractors will also be paving S.E. Frontage Road on the west side of the highway,” said Boicourt. “Travelers in this section will have single lane closures during the day (between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and nighttime lane closures (after 7 p.m.).”

The questions open house attendees Gayl Larson and Jan Gamby expressed as they looked over the charts and exhibits centered on the project’s timing.

“This will impact our quality of life for about nine months, just like having a baby,” Jan Gamby said. “Hopefully the highway will be better, and I’m happy about the Crystal Springs bridge that will help the salmon. But, we’re really interested in is how they’ll minimize the disruption to our neighborhood?”

“The work on the northern part definitely impacts me,” Gayl Larson commented. “Once I know the four summer weekends that McLoughlin northbound will be closed, I’m thinking about planning a vacation so I’m out of town to avoid the traffic that’ll be routed onto 17th and Milwaukee Avenues!” she said.

Starting late in June, contractors will start on the northern section opposite Westmoreland, when daytime single-lane and nighttime closures will begin, Boicourt informed. “They have a lot more work to do in that section because there is more reconstruction work to do that area to rebuild the highway.”

Replacing the Crystal Springs Bridge under the highway opposite Westmoreland Union Manor with a new box culvert will have to wait until the “in-water work window” in July and August, necessitating four full weekend closures in the northbound direction, from S.E. Tacoma Street to Harold Street.

“The paving is weather dependent; if we don’t have a good weather window in June, they will have to adjust the schedule until it is appropriate,” Boicourt said. “If we have a really cold, wet spring, it could put the contractor behind a little bit,” she added.



Bank robbery, Key Bank, Selllwood, Portland, Oregon
This branch of KeyBank is closed for the rest of the day; an officer writes up a report on the incident inside his patrol car. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Police seek Sellwood KeyBank robber

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

He didn’t flash any weapons, but the man who walked into the Sellwood Branch of KeyBank, Sellwood Branch located at S.E. 13th Avenue and Tacoma Street on April 4 at 1:13 p.m., made it clear he was demanding money.

“After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect left the bank without incident,” reported Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson about the robbery.

Responding officers checked the neighborhood but did not locate anyone matching the suspect's description, Simpson said.

The bandit is described as a mixed-race, black, or Middle Eastern, male – 6' tall, 180 pounds, with a beard and shaved head, wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact Portland Police Bureau Robbery detectives at 503/823-0405, or the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at 503/224-4181. Bank robbery is prosecuted as a federal crime.



Safe Routes to School, Portland, Oregon
Sellwood Middle School eighth-grader Alec Kimball shows his own route to school to CH2M consultant Kate Drennan. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Cleveland school cluster’ gets a say in road repair priorities

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

As the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) prepares to spend some of the money being collected through the “Fixing Our Streets” fuel tax passed last May, some $8 million of that revenue will be spent on “Safe Routes to School” projects citywide.

That’s what parents and students who live in the Cleveland School Cluster found out, at an Open House on April 4 at Hosford Middle School.

“What we’re doing here is getting more information from families about the routes students typically take to school, before we make capital infrastructure improvement decisions,” explained PBOT Traffic Safety Section Manager Dana Dickman.

“The information we get from community members will help us determine our priority routes. Then we will get more information from the community to determine what projects should be done on those routes, to make them safe for the kids walking and biking to school.”

These improvements could be smaller projects, such as adding a marked crosswalk on a busy street, or putting in curb extensions. “Or it may be a larger project, such as a new signal to help students cross an arterial highway, or a sidewalk infill project,” Dickman said.

The funding from the “Fixing Our Streets” tax has been divided by high school cluster, Dickman pointed out. “The funding formula splits it by looking at the number of students that attend the high school cluster, plus additional weighting points are added for Title I schools that serve low-income families,” she said – observing that both the Franklin and Cleveland school clusters host Title I schools.

“It is most important for us to hear from as many families as possible, because we need to spend this funding in a fairly short time period, and will be moving forward and selecting projects that will begin construction in spring, 2018,” Dickman said.

There is not yet have a way to participate in this way online, Dickman conceded, but PDOT is planning to add this capability to their website in May.

Find out more about these projects see the official PBOT website: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/625882.



Road rage, weapon, Harney Street, Portland, Oregon
A police officer takes the statements of both the truck driver and the motorcyclist after a roadway tussle on Harney Street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Road-raging biker threatened with gun on Harney Street

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

When the driver of a pickup truck and motorcycle scrapped on Tuesday afternoon, April 11, the situation had the potential to spin out of control as one of the drivers brandished a pistol.

It started on S.E. Harney Street near S.E. 45th Avenue – and ended across from the former White Stag headquarters building – with both drivers stopped at the side of the road, speaking with police officers.

“The driver of the truck called 9-1-1 and reported that a motorcyclist had slapped a side mirror on his truck,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Burley.

After that happened, the truck and motorcycle brushed each other at one point, Burley told THE BEE.

With a weapon in play, five Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers responded to the area.

“After the minor collision, the motorist stopped the motorcyclist and pointed his firearm at him,” Burley said. “But just before an officer arrived, the motorist secured his firearm.”

The officer got both persons’ statements, but was unable to locate any witnesses to the imbroglio to corroborate what had happened. As a result, “There were no injuries, and no citations or charges issued,” Burley concluded.



Portland Puppet Museum, Steven Overton, puppets, Portland, Oregon, Sellwood
The Portland Puppet Museum’s Steven M. Overton shows the mink stole and Bob Mackie gown that will be used in an upcoming touring production of “Avenue Q”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood’s Puppet Museum expands projects and influence; does commissioned work

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

As the Portland Puppet Museum in Sellwood celebrates its fifth year, artists and proprietors Steven M. Overton and Martin Richmond find themselves busy with projects well beyond simply creating new exhibitions.

“The exhibit open in May is called ‘Legends’; featuring historical puppets from United States, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, and India,” Overton said.

But, when folks come to visit the museum, they shouldn’t be surprised to see Overton and Richmond hard at work, refurbishing puppets and creating costumes for stage plays.

“We’ve started building puppets for Don Horn and Triangle Productions in 1995, and now, we’re creating characters for the musical show ‘Avenue Q’ that they’re bringing back to the theatrical stage,” Overton explained.

“Avenue Q” is a Tony Award winning show, with adult themes, that imagines what it might be like when magical Sesame Street characters “grow up” and find themselves in a very mundane world.

“One of the characters, Lucy, will be dressed in a genuine Bob Mackie dress lace overcoat that was found in a Sellwood vintage clothing shop,” Overton remarked. “Another character will be costumed in a genuine vintage mink stole.”

They’ve also recently designed puppets for Don Horn’s production of “Pageant”, a spoof on beauty pageants; and refurbished marionettes “The Colonel” and “Miss Judy” will also be returning in to the stage for their third season in Horn productions.

A unique project the duo has tackled, commissioned by Bruce Chessé, is restoring 14 two-inch high sugar pine heads used in the 1932 production of “The Mikado” in San Francisco. “It took me hours sewing each of the miniature Japanese wigs, working under a magnifying glass,” Overton recalled. “They’re going on display at the famous deYoung Museum.”

And, the pair’s puppeteering company will be touring this summer, after staying put at their home base for the past five years. They’ll be presenting their version of “Pinocchio” at the Seattle Italian Festival.

“Since we started the Portland Puppet Museum, it’s been used as a template for museums in Brussels and in Santa Cruz; so our little shop on S.E. Umatilla Street is now a trendsetting smaller museum, with a small performing arts building!” exclaimed Overton.

The Museum is still open four days a week, is still offering live shows, and is still hosting public workshops.

For more information, visit their website – http://www.puppetmuseum.com.



Carjacking, car stalls, Mt Scott, Portland, Oregon
Police officers canvas the area near Mount Scott Park and Community Center in response to the report of a carjacking. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Faking accident, bandit carjacks vehicle – which stalls

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A clever carjacker got away with a car, but he didn’t get far – the car broke down near Mt. Scott Park, on Sunday morning, April 2.

The incident began just before 10:30 a.m., when a pedestrian flopped down on the street near a gray 2017 Toyota Corolla that was driving along S.E. 72nd Avenue near Reedway Street.

The “injured” man told the Toyota’s driver that she’d hit him, and demanded to be taken to a hospital. “The man then instructed the driver to exit the vehicle while implying he possessed a weapon,” related Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley.

“The suspect attempted to drive off in the victim’s vehicle, however, the vehicle broke down a short distance from where it was originally taken. He took off on foot, and was last seen in Mount Scott Park.”

The victim wasn’t hurt, and her non-running car was easy to find, Burley added. Police dogs weren’t able to track down the suspect.

The carjacker is described as a white male, 5'7" to 5'9", 160 to 170 pounds, 26 -27 years old, with a "#" tattoo near his left eye. He was wearing a gray baseball cap, gray zip-up hooded sweatshirt, and light-colored blue jeans.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the carjacking should call the Portland Police Bureau Robbery Detail at 503/823-0412.



Metal artists, TED, mandala, Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon
Brooklyn metal artists Gustaf Sculptor and Richard Cawley, in front of the local artist collective where they work – the front of which is dominated by the huge mandala art piece they created for a local TED Talk. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn metal artists – making huge artworks to order

By RITA A. LEONARD
For THE BEE

Brooklyn metal artists Richard Cawley and Gustaf Sculptor, working out of an art collective at 2020 S.E. Bush Street, continue to produce creative metalwork art to order.

Their most obvious recent installation is the large sunburst mounted on the front of the building. Called “The Mandala”, the 20-foot-tall by 30-foot-wide sculpture was created last June for “TED XMt. Hood”, the local TED Talk franchise. Currently, the two artists are working on a 25-foot-tall metal chandelier commissioned for a library in Anchorage, Alaska.

Cawley explains the duo created the sunburst sculpture as artists-in-residence for a TED Talk on “The Mandala Manifestation”. “We were selected from among a group of ten artists who brought works to the event to describe their meaning and construction. We made it from welded steel and found objects, to represent the creative nature of Man’s art and thought.”

Describing the icons on the spectacular sunburst, which can be viewed at the corner of S.E. 20th Avenue and Bush Street, Cawley continues, “The Buddha represents self-realization, the sextant stands for exploration, and the pyramids indicate engineering concepts. The ‘brain shapes’ represent ingenuity, while open hands and the lightning bolts along the periphery symbolize artistic reach and energy.

“DaVinci's classic image of ‘The Vitruvian Man’ – a man positioned within the proportions of a square – symbolizes the creative culmination of both art and engineering.” Cawley’s work can also be seen online: www.atrichartsculpture.com

Gustaf Sculptor, meantime was displaying some of the elements under construction for that 25-foot-tall metal chandelier commissioned for a new library in Anchorage. “This chandelier was commissioned to be hung in a 40-foot-tall space in the new Loussac Library in Alaska. The sculpture is entitled ‘The Porthole of Perception’, and focuses on how we learn and process ideas and written information through books.

“The central part of the chandelier represents the neural pathways from the eye to the brain, with an eight-foot-wide decorative metal ‘eyeball’ looking down at library patrons.

“Branching out in 12 directions will be metal-sculptured images relating to literary works. These include The Pequod and whale from ‘Moby Dick’; a contemplative Buddha repurposed from parts of a grandfather clock; an Inuit ‘storyknife’; a songbird with musical notes across its wings; and an organic chemistry model of serotonin (a chemical that promotes stress relief and enhances tranquility of mind and body).

“The chandelier will provide both illumination, and an array of literary icons, to stir thoughts and impressions of library visitors.” And the references to Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” should make quite a splash.



The Sting, bar, Portland, Oregon, holdup, robber
Here’s an image of the armed robber, face obscured by a mask, sitting at the bar. (Surveillance photo)

Armed robber pummels pub patron on SE 82nd

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Police are on the lookout for an armed robber who pistol-whipped a patron in the doorway of The Sting Pub early on April 12 – after holding up the manager at gunpoint.

The tavern, located just north of S.E. Malden Court on 82nd Avenue of Roses in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, hadn’t been robbed in 16 years, Manager Kathy Trosell ruefully told reporters.

The incident started when bartender Melissa Huddleston noticed a man causing a ruckus around closing time. The man then rushed around, as she was about to call 9-1-1 to summon police – so wasn’t able to make the call.

The suspect had hit a customer on the head, ordered him onto the floor, then led Huddleston to a back room, where, at gunpoint, he demanded money. Returning to the bar, the thug demanded more money from the cash register.

What terrified her, Huddleston confided, was that when the thug left, he shouted, ‘I kill white people like you for a living; if I see anyone in this parking lot, I’m coming back and you are all dead.” However, with the suspect out the door, Huddleston called the police at 2:35 a.m.

The suspect was seen wearing a grey mask under a red hooded sweatshirt, and red sweat pants, and is described as 30 to 40 years old, light skinned, 6' tall, and around 200 pounds. Witnesses at a nearby business said the robber drove off in a white or silver car with a sun roof.

Anyone with information about the holdup is asked to call the Portland Police Bureau’s Robbery Detail at 503/823-0412.



Catalpa Tree, windstorm, tree down, tree removal, Reed neighborhood, Portland, Oregon
When a huge Catalpa tree at S.E. 37th and Steele fell in the April windstorm, it spanned Steele Street and the sidewalk. Neighborhood children, as you see, thought it was quite an event! Thankfully, no one was hurt. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Huether)

Southeast homeowners’ tree questions, after the windstorm

By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

In the recent severe windstorm, if you had a tree fall on your property you may already know the responsibilities that ensue. However, for those who have not yet experienced this misfortune, the following might be helpful.

First of all, obviously there is the need to get it cut up and out of the way. Even if it was growing on a public right-of-way or a parking strip, if it falls on your private property YOU are responsible for the cleanup.

Secondly, if a tree falls in a parking strip, the homeowner in front of whom the tree was growing is the party who must take care of it – this has been the case in Portland since the 1970’s. In an e-mail, Mark Ross – Media and Community Relations for PP&R – explains, “It’s fairly common for cities in western states to assign street tree maintenance responsibility to the adjacent property owner, rather than funding a city-wide street tree maintenance program.

“However, if a tree growing on private property falls into public property – the street – the city may respond (on a prioritized basis) in order to keep the right-of-way clear,” explains Ross. That was the case when a huge Southern Catalpa tree fell onto S.E. Steele just off 37th during the early April storm. City workers arrived to cut it up and clean the street and sidewalk.

If a homeowner thinks that a street tree is an immediate hazard he or she should immediately leave the area, and then call Portland Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry at 503/823-TREE (823-8733). Emergency dispatchers are available 24/7 at that number.

When a tree on private property seems to be an immediate hazard, the homeowner can remove it, but is required to apply for a retroactive Tree Removal and Replanting Permit within seven days of removing the tree. The $35 application fee is still required.

If a homeowner simply wants to remove a tree from the parking strip, what process must they follow? All street trees first require a permit for removal. Urban Forestry says that if a given tree is dead, dying, or dangerous, then it will be approved for a permit. Therefore, after receiving the approved permit from PP&R’s Urban Forestry division, such trees can then be removed. A fine will be charged if it is cut down without a permit.

And what about replacement trees? To protect the urban canopy, the city now requires that every tree that falls or is taken down must be replaced with a new one that meets city standards. Or, the homeowner must pay a fee in place of planting new trees, so that the city may arrange for trees to be planted in the same watershed.

For answers, call Portland Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry division at 503/823-8733, or go online – http://www.portlandoregon.gov/trees.



Chase Bank, bank robber, Fred Meyer, Johnson Creek Boulevard, Portland, Oregon
Here’s a bank photo of the bandit who robbed the Johnson Creek Boulevard Chase Bank branch on the afternoon of March 22. If you think you recognize him, call the police. (Surveillance photo)

Bank on Johnson Creek Blvd held up; robber in beanie sought

Although bank robbery is prosecuted as a federal crime, people keep attempting this high-risk road to riches.

At 2:10 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, an unidentified white male robbed the Chase Bank inside the Fred Meyer store at 8955 S.E Johnson Creek Boulevard and 82nd Avenue.

Police were unable to find him in the area, but they tell THE BEE they are searching for a white mail, near 50 years of age and roughly 5’9” tall. His weight is estimated at 165 pounds, and he was wearing a dark-green Carhartt beanie hat, green jacket, glasses, and large gold ring on his right hand

Anyone with information on this, CCSO Case # 17-7707, is urged to call the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Tip Line – by phone at 503/723-4949, or by using the online e-mail form at – https://web3.clackamas.us/contact/tip.jsp.  



Peace Pole, Rotary International, Portland Fire Bureau, Station 20, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
PEACE POLE PLANTED AT FIRE STATION 20. As part of regional Rotary International District 5100’s effort to place some 130 Peace Poles in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, the Southeast Portland Rotary Club sponsored one at Westmoreland’s Fire Station 20 on S.E. Bybee Boulevard at 1 p.m. on “Earth Day”, April 21. On hand for the ceremony were Club President Joel Fields, the Portland Fire Bureau Division Chief of Emergency Operations Tom Williams, several members of the club, and bystanders. For more on the club, click on the picture above. (Photo by Eric Norberg)
Woodstock, hit and run, Portland, Oregon
Judging by the condition of this Toyota, the vehicle that hit it and then fled likely also has substantial damage. (Photo by David F. Ashton)


Driver flees Woodstock hit-and-run

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Police and medical services were called to the intersection of S.E. Woodstock Boulevard at 57th Avenue on Tuesday, March 28, at 11:21 a.m., after a car collision.

According to a Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officer, a white Toyota four-door sedan was eastbound on Woodstock Boulevard. As it crossed 57th Avenue, a southbound red car raced into the intersection and slammed into the Toyota broadside, ripping the outer door panel off the car.

Stunned victims of the crash said the red car turned and sped off eastbound on Woodstock Boulevard and disappeared.

Although it was not thought to be a traumatic injury, one occupant of the Toyota was transported to the hospital for medical evaluation and treatment.

The hit-and-run car and driver remains on the loose – and should have substantial front-end damage. If you think you recognize the offending vehicle’s description, contact Police Non-Emergency at 503/823-3333.



House fire, 71st, rescue, Brentwood Darlington, Portland, Oregon
Medical personnel evaluate the occupant of the burning house on S.E. 71st, and provide first aid. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Firefighters rescue man from burning house on SE 71st

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

When a neighbor called 9-1-1, reporting thick smoke coming from the back of a house at 3111 S.E. 71st Avenue at 1:41 p.m. on April 3, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews from four different stations headed to the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

“I think the fire started in the utility room,” a neighbor told THE BEE, as firefighters were tending to the wheelchair-bound resident.

Even though the blaze appeared to be small – perhaps involving a clothing dryer -- firefighters followed protocol and training by pulling water lines from engines, while other crewmembers searched the house, making sure it had been vacated. 

“We got a good knockdown of the fire, and kept it from extending,” a fire lieutenant remarked. “We were concentrating on getting the resident out of the home.”

Paramedics tended to a burn on the resident’s leg, but the person did not require transport to a hospital for further medical care.



Pedestrian struck, 82nd, Avenue of Roses, Portland, Oregon
82nd Avenue of Roses was closed while officers investigated this pedestrian-involved accident. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Pedestrian hit after stepping into SE 82nd traffic

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

At 9:48 p.m., on Wednesday, March 22, East Precinct officers responded to a pedestrian-involved accident on S.E, 82nd Avenue of Roses, between Raymond and Liebe Streets.

Officers determined that a 1996 Chrysler Town & Country Van had struck the pedestrian, who had stepped into traffic from the west curb, near the IHOP Restaurant. It is unclear why he’d stepped into the street, but neither he nor the driver appeared to be impaired.

“43-year-old Andrew Everett Hennes is suffering from serious but not life-threatening injuries; was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital for treatment, and is expected to survive,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The driver, 44-year-old Billy Deshan Nelson, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators Simpson said – adding, “No citations were issued to either Hennes or Nelson.”



Shed fire, vagrants, SE 62nd, Fire Station 20, Portland, Oregon
The crew of Westmoreland’s Fire Station 20 pulls a water line to fight the shed fire. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Shed fire on SE 63rd blamed on vagrants

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Neighbors of a house at 7405 S.E. 63rd Avenue were concerned when they saw smoke and fire rising from behind the structure on the evening of April 13.

“Even though it’s boarded up, we see people coming and going from around there all the time, and we’re worried about what might happen,” remarked neighbor Cassie Andersen.

There are several other houses near this residence – which had a City of Portland “Nuisance Vacant Complaint” filed on it last August, and was last visited by inspectors in late January.

Andersen said she called 9-1-1 at 8:47 p.m. to report the fire, which brought several Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) rigs to the scene.

Because the fire was in a shed near the property line, neighbors behind it on S.E. 62nd Avenue also called in a report, which brought firefighters to that street as well.

“It looks as if vagrants started a fire, perhaps accidental, in an out-building shed behind the house,” commented a PF&R Battalion Chief. The crew of Westmoreland’s Station 20 quickly extinguished the fire, he added.

No one was injured in the fire, and it is listed as “under investigation”.



Cleveland High School, Powell Boulevard, pedestrian safety, Portland, Oregon
New pedestrian safety features have already been installed by ODOT at the intersection of S.E. 28th Avenue at Powell Boulevard, and more are planned in that area along Powell. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

New pedestrian safety work on Powell Blvd near Cleveland High

By RITA A. LEONARD
For THE BEE

Due to a history of pedestrian safety and traffic issues, the Oregon Department of Transportation is working on a safety project along a busy section of S.E. Powell Blvd (Highway 26) between S.E. 20th and 34th Avenues. The project is expected to help reduce rear-end and turning crashes involving motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, while minimizing traffic impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.

Although the construction work has recently slowed commuter traffic along the corridor, improvements in pedestrian crossings and turning limitations should result in safer access between Powell Park, Cleveland High School, and several nearby restaurants and businesses on both sides of Powell Boulevard.

The most obvious installations so far include a series of concrete center islands down the middle of Powell at S.E. 28th Avenue, crossed by pedestrian walkways. There are also several sets of pedestrian walk lights and “No Left Turn” signs at the intersection, causing some commuters to seek new access routes to nearby locations.

ODOT explains that three enhanced pedestrian signals (Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons, OR “RRFBs”) will be installed on Powell at 24th, 31st, and 34th Avenues, to alert drivers to the pedestrian crossings. Also making for safer crossings for bicyclists and pedestrians will be high visibility striping, and center islands. A new, wider pedestrian waiting area on the southeast corner of 26th and Powell will provide more space for those waiting to cross Powell Boulevard to and from Cleveland High School.

Further, a new truck apron on the southeast corner of 26th and Powell will allow large vehicles to turn without entering the pedestrian zone or encroaching on vehicle lanes.

New signals planned for the intersections of S.E. 21st, 26th, and 33rd Avenues will offer enhanced safety elements, including bigger and more visible signals and poles, as well as countdown and “audible countdown” pedestrian signals.

Other elements of the project include tree removals and trimming, improved street lighting, enforcement lights for public safety, sidewalk repair, and ADA ramps where needed, plus improved signage and more visible street names.

An informal Project Open House was held by ODOT April 5 at Catholic Charities, to discuss questions and updates on the project. The construction phase is expected to continue through winter of next year.

ODOT suggests that further questions or comments be directed to Dee Hidalgo, ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator, at 503/731-8237, or e-mail to Dee.Hidalgo@odot.state.or.us.



Grocery Outlet, shoplifter, SE Flavel, Brentwood Darlington, Portland, Oregon
When a suspected shoplifter got physical with employees and customers, police arrived at the Inner Southeast “Grocery Outlet Bargain Market” on S.E. Flavel Street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Shoplifter roughs up grocery store workers on Flavel

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

After a commotion at the Flavel Street “Grocery Outlet Bargain Market” in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, four Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers came looking for the suspect at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12.

One of the officers interviewed employees and customers inside the store, while the others fanned out across the area, trying to find the thief.

“It appears that when a suspected shoplifter was confronted in the store, the suspect started shoving an employee and other persons,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley about the incident.

“Employees and customers started chasing the suspected shoplifter, but lost sight of him in the neighborhood,” Burley said.

No one was injured in the scuffle, and reports are that the shoplifter, thus confronted, left the grocery store at S.E. Flavel and 71st empty-handed.




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