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June 2018 -- Vol. 112, No. 10

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read this special retrospective!


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Sargent's Motorsports, Gas main, leak, danger, Lents, power outage, Southeast Portland, Oregon
NW Natural Gas supervisors devise a plan to shut of the natural gas spewing from a ruptured gas main. (Courtesy of Gary Sargent)

Gas line break in Lents blacks out Inner Southeast

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Construction contractors, drilling a horizontal hole across S.E. Foster Road at 102nd Avenue, hit a natural gas main at 5:17 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15.

While usually something like this is just a localized incident, this particular underground industrial accident blacked out Inner Southeast Portland all the way to the Willamette River.

Responding Portland Fire & Rescue officials called it a “significant” gas line rupture, and ordered evacuations from businesses and homes along Foster Road, from S.E. 101st to 104th Avenue that evening.

Gary Sargent, Sr., and his crew at Sargent’s Motorsports, on the northeast corner of the affected intersection, watched the incident unfold, took some pictures – and soon, they were told to run for their lives.

“We were getting ready to close up for the day when it happened, just starting to bring in our motorcycles on display in front of the store; my nephew said he smelled natural gas,” said Sargent the following day. “We have an evacuation plan – and then I also smelled it; I thought natural gas was somehow leaking here in our building, and we all got out.”

In front of the store, and looking across S.E. Foster Road, his view of what was happening was distorted by a shimmering diffraction in the air, caused by natural gas belching out of what turned out to be a 4 inch main, buried below the pavement near his property line.

“This wasn’t just a ‘leak’, as some have reported, but a tremendous volume of natural gas billowing from the ground,” Sargent recalled.

Soon Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Lents Station Engine 11 was on hand, along with NW Natural Gas workers. “After they used a meter to measure the gas concentration in our building, they said it was a ‘potential bomb, ready to go off’ – and they quickly moved us more than a block to the north,” Sargent said.

With their personal vehicles all parked within the spewing gas cloud, none of his staff could leave until they were given the “all clear” at about 9 p.m. that evening.

What Sargent didn’t find out until later, was that a PF&R Battalion Chief had called Portland General Electric (PGE), asking them to shut down the massive electrical substation across the street, out of fear that just one spark could cause a disaster.

“The electrical outage began at 7:26 p.m. because any kind of spark from the equipment could have ignited the natural gas,” explained PGE spokesperson Steve Corson. “No sparks were seen at the substation, but if a fuse had tripped, or a switch had operated, it could have created a spark.”

Some five miles west of the incident, 36,000 residents and businesses in portions of the Reed, Eastmoreland, Sellwood, Brooklyn, Creston-Kenilworth, and Westmoreland neighborhoods lost their electric power just as the sun set. Traffic signals went out along S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, from the north end of the viaduct near OMSI south to the Clackamas County line.

While the TriMet MAX Light Rail Orange Line kept running – it’s powered by its own independent circuit – elevators and station lighting went out at the Bybee Boulevard MAX Station.

Why was so much of Inner Southeast affected by this? “Shutting down that substation had a cascading effect, because it routes electricity to several major electrical distribution ‘feeder’ lines; and each ‘feeder’ serves from hundreds to thousands of customers,” explained Corson.

There hasn’t been an official reason given why almost two hours passed before the request to cut the power came in. Corson surmised, “Gas leaks are cumulative over time; and as time went by, the gas concentration may have increased in that area.

“Many customers were back on in an hour; power was restored to the westernmost affected neighborhoods an hour and ten minutes later, and most power was back on by 10 p.m.,” Corson said, adding that at about 8:30 p.m., a NW Natural Gas crew had managed to seal the broken gas main.

Sargent recalled, “They waited a while for the gas to dissipate, and then allowed us back into our shop, after they’d checked it, at about 9 p.m.

“Those three hours were a frightening time,” Sargent recalled, “But fortunately, our family business was okay.”

How did this accident occur? “A person from the contracting company said they were driving a pipe under the road, from south to north,” recounted Sargent. “Apparently, these directional, horizontal, under-street drilling rigs can ‘steer’ the pipe. In this case, I was told as it neared the northern curb, the drilling shaft went up dramatically [by itself], and ruptured the gas main.”



Tom Dwyer Automotive, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
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Bank vandalism, window smash, May 2, Woodstock neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon, KeyBank
Before it could open for the day on May 2, workers were replacing shattered plate glass windows at the Woodstock KeyBank branch. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Vandals shatter windows of three banks in Woodstock

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Alarms at three Woodstock area banks started sounding at 4:13 a.m. on May 2, when a band of “several” hooligans began smashing windows at Chase Bank, KeyBank, and US Bank, on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard.

Clearly not wanting to be identified with their vandalism, the male hoodlums covered their faces with bandanas and had hoodies pulled up around their faces, according to a witness, as they picked up the largest rocks they could find, and hurled them through the banks’ windows.

“Limited preliminary information indicates all three incidents appear to be related to one another,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Burley at the time. “All three banks sustained vandalism a year ago on May 1, but it has not been determined who was responsible for that attack; or, if it’s now connected to these incidents.”

The same morning, windows were also broken at a US Bank branch on S.E. Chavez Blvd (formerly 39th Avenue) just north of Hawthorne Boulevard; Burley said it’s also not known if this vandalism was related to the three cases in Woodstock.

Managers at the three Woodstock banks declined to discuss the damage, or to disclose the dollar cost of the vandalism they had suffered.



Mortuary Collection, filming, horror movie, Sellwood, Oaks Pioneer Church, Southeast Portland, Oregon
After the director yelled “Cut!” – and in a horror movie, you’re never quite sure what THAT’S going to mean – cast members and crew streamed out of Oaks Pioneer Church, which on that day was used for filming the movie “The Mortuary Collection”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Mortuary Collection’ movie films in Sellwood

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

To those who travel by Oaks Pioneer Church near the foot of S.E. Spokane Street in Sellwood, passing many people attending an event there – weddings are popular – is an almost everyday sight in the springtime.

But, on April 29, the television production rigs parked along S.E. Grand Street, along with the lighting equipment, indicated a different kind of event was taking place.

Officials from Trapdoor Pictures, Los Angeles-based production company specializing in narrative horror and dark fantasy content for film, television, and the web, were at work there, and were not available to speak with THE BEE.

However, some actors departing the church said they were involved in filming a production called “The Mortuary Collection”.

In a Kickstarter fundraising campaign started on December of 2014, the movie is described this way: “An eccentric mortician spins four twisted tales of madness and the macabre in a sleepy New England town where nothing is as it seems.”

Reportedly, the four stories in the film include “a Slasher Film, a Monster Movie, a Ghost Story, and a Psychological Tale of Madness.” None evidently involve a lovely wedding at the picturesque Oaks Pioneer Church!

It appears this movie won’t be for the faint-hearted. Its slogan is: “Every corpse has a story...”



Train Day, Portland Train Day, ORHC, Oregon Rail Heritage Center, Spokane, Portland and Seattle #700, steam locomotove, 80th birthday, ORHF, Southeast Portland, Oregon
“Instead operating model railroads, we come here and work on the real thing,” says Randy Woehl, a crewmember from the Spokane, Portland and Seattle #700’s locomotive team – standing in from of the birthday guest of honor on this day. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Train Day’: Locomotive’s 80th Birthday Party

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC) hosted its 3rd annual “Portland Train Day” on Saturday, May 19. The centerpiece was celebrating the 80th “birthday” of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle #700 steam locomotive, which was lodged in a service bay for its latest 15-year boiler renovation.

“Portland Train Day” joined other similar celebrations around the nation, commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, said Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation Executive Director Greg Fitzgerald.

Although it was a ticketed event this year, thousands of people still made their way to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, situated under the S.E. MLK Jr. Viaduct, just east of OMSI.

“We expect to have about 5,000 people here today to look at our working locomotives, to be amazed by the model train layouts running, to go on train rides, to enjoy live music, to dine at food carts, and to make a day of it,” Fitzgerald grinned.

“The purpose of the ORHC is not only to take care of and operate the steam locomotives housed here, but also to educate people about how rail has affected the history of the Pacific Northwest,” Fitzgerald told THE BEE.

The organization does not just look at the past, but it’s also about the future of rail transportation, he said. “Here, we’re situated between three rail lines – the Union Pacific, the Oregon Pacific, and the TriMet MAX Light Rail Line,” Fitzgerald pointed out.

About 50 volunteers were on hand, including the crews who work on the locomotives. “The best part of this for me is seeing all the kids come through here and enjoying the trains,” Fitzgerald said.

Other than on “Train Day”, visiting the ORHC occurs year ’round, is free, and it’s open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. To learn more, see their website at http://www.orhf.org.



Beautiful trash, painted street cans, trash can art, Woodstock neihborhood, Stakeholders, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The trash can at left is located in front of Papaccino’s Coffee Shop; the one at right is on the sidewalk south of BiMart. Both of them, and the other eight, add cheer to Woodstock Boulevard. (Photos by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Woodstock now boasts beautiful trash cans

By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

Have you seen the beautiful trash cans yet?

What? Beautiful trash cans?

Yes. Ten commercial-sized aggregate concrete trash cans along Woodstock Boulevard between S.E. 42nd and 47th Avenues have been painted by Travis Czekalski and Jon Stommel of “Rather Severe” – the same muralists who painted the full-wall designs on Cloud City Ice Cream, the Delta Café’s west wall, and Red Fox Vintage’s east wall.

The trash can painting project was proposed and organized by the Woodstock Street Art Project Committee, a project of the “Woodstock Stakeholders” begun in 2015.

The Woodstock Stakeholders began as a committee of the Woodstock Community Business Association, but is now a fully independent 501c3 public charity group of commercial property owners along Woodstock Boulevard. It was the idea eight years ago of Angie Even, a former Woodstock resident and business proprietor, and still owner of the Grand Central Bakery property.

Each year the Stakeholders donate money and write grants for the beautification, enhancement, and maintenance of the Woodstock Business District.

For this project, the Stakeholders bought six new trash cans, replacing ones that were not in good condition. The decorated cans are on corners that do not have TriMet receptacles; TriMet declined to have their cans painted.

The beautified cans were painted in place, which required a lot of bending and flexible body moves on the part of the artists.

The painting was funded with money from a grant from Venture Portland ($3,000) and funds and donations from the Stakeholders ($4,540).  The neighborhood feels itself enhanced by this decorative and fun project. Angie Even advises that people can follow the project, and see more photos on Facebook at: Woodstock Street Art Project.

The Woodstock Stakeholders are also behind another project for the beautification of the business district and neighborhood: The seventh annual Woodstock Community Cleanup was on Saturday, June 2nd, 9:30-11:30 a.m. If you missed it this year, volunteers are always welcome for the first Saturday of June cleanup, and a free lunch for participants follows it.

For questions about the Stakeholders, e-mail: woodstockstakeholders@gmail.com. And to donate funds for the beautification of the Woodstock Boulevard area, send checks to:  Woodstock Stakeholder Group, 4410 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., #250, Portland, 97206.



Multnomah County Fair, Oaks Amusement Park, Oaks Park, Sellwood, Souttheast Portland, Oregon, egg judging
In 4-H shows, the egg is judged before the chicken is. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Friends’ continue making Multnomah County Fair a hit

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The 112th annual Multnomah County Fair opened its three-day run on Saturday, May 26 – and again broke its own attendance records.

Families from all over the region came to historic Oaks Amusement Park for a day of safe and inexpensive family fun. They came to see the craft and garden exhibits, 4-H Club presentations, and critters – and to enjoy the carnival rides.

Across the nation, attending the local county fair is still a must for families. And, thanks now to a group of volunteers, that tradition in Multnomah County has continued uninterrupted since 1906.

Grand Ronde, Naomi Robertson, Polish Rabbit, Onsie, Best in Breed, Multnomah County Fair, Portland, Oregon
Coming all the way from Grand Ronde – in the Coast Range, west of Salem – with her family, to have her bunny judged, was Naomi Robertson. She won: Her Polish rabbit, Onsie, was chosen “best-in-breed”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

You see, when the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners “washed their hands” of their own fair in 1994 – apparently hoping no one would notice – a nonprofit group called “Friends of Multnomah County Fair” took on the responsibility of continuing the annual event.

“The County Commissioners even ‘gave away’ their fairgrounds to Metro, leaving us without a home,” recalled the group’s President, Larry Smith. “Fortunately, the fair has been welcomed with open arms by nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park – and they continue to be wonderful partners!”

While local county officials may now consider the Multnomah County Fair to be anachronistic, it’s still relevant in society today, Smith assured THE BEE.

“There’s been a resurgence of people growing gardens, being involved in photography, art, and needlecraft, as well as taking pride in their cooking and baking,” Smith observed. “The county fair is where they can show their skills. And, we’ve seen a marked increase in families creating crafts together, too.”

But one of the chief reasons the “Friends of Multnomah County Fair” has continued to keep this fair going is to promote youth opportunities, remarked Smith. “The 4-H Club programs are again beginning to thrive, providing wonderful opportunities for young people to develop their potential – learning things that will help them throughout their adult lives.”


Larry Smith, Friends of Multnomah County Fair, Oaks Park, Sellwood, Memorial Day Weekend, Southeast Portland, Oregon
With the help of dedicated volunteers, our own county fair still thrives each year at Oaks Park, led by “Friends of Multnomah County Fair” President Larry Smith. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

After touring the fair on the grounds of Oaks Park, many families went on to enjoy the carnival rides there – ranging from those for toddlers, up to the thrill rides – such as the newly-installed “Adrenaline Peak” roller coaster.

With a resurgence of “county fair fever”, as chronicled recently in traditional and social media, the number of local volunteers has grown. “Having new people interested in helping in various capacities to put on our future county fairs promises a bright future for our fair!” Smith said. “Throughout the year, as many as 75 volunteers help in different capacities; and about a dozen volunteers are involved in it year ’round.”

And, as early as the first week of June, the Friends of the Multnomah County Fair leaders were meeting to begin planning the 2019 Multnomah County Fair. To keep up with what’s happening with your own county fair, you can go online anytime – https://www.multcofair.org.

Sellwood Medical Clinic, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
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