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November 2017 -- Vol. 112, No. 3

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!


The next BEE is our Thanksgiving/December
issue, with a deadline of November 9.
(The PRE-CHRISTMAS/Jan issue has an ad and copy deadline of December 7.)


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THE BEE has a second website -- it's searchable for past stories.  The content for the current month is similar to this one, presented in a different format.  To visit the other website, click the banner at right!

Eastmoreland, home fire, explosions, power line down, Portland, Oregon
Firefighters steered clear of the live electrical power line that drooped down across the sidewalk. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Eastmoreland home rocked by ‘explosions’ and fire


Eastmoreland neighbors reported hearing a loud explosion that rattled their windows on Saturday evening, September 23, at about 9:30 p.m. Then they noticed a house nearby, on S.E. 32nd Avenue and Bybee Boulevard, was on fire.

“The explosions shook our house, and we live more than a block away,” remarked Mia Johnson, as she and her family watched Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews at work.

Woodstock Fire Station 25’s Truck and Engine companies were first to arrive, radioing back to the dispatcher that they saw flames, and that an electrical power line was down in the street. A minute later, Westmoreland Station 20’s engine pulled up.

Not long into the firefight, water from a firehose caused the energized downed power line to arc, pop, and ignite – briefly illuminating the area with a bright whitish blue light.

“Firefighters found fire on the first and second floors and in the attic of the two-story house, as well as in home’s garage,” later reported PF&R spokesman Lt. Damon Simmons. “The house’s occupants were outside when fire crews arrived; however, one adult male was transported to the hospital for evaluation.”

While some firefighters laddered up the exterior of the structure, others attacked the fire from inside the house.

By 11:10 p.m., the blaze had been extinguished, but firefighters went on to spend hours looking for hot spots.

The report of initial explosions prompted exceptionally close attention from fire investigators, but the cause of the fire was determined to be “improperly discarded smoking materials; with a loss valued at $65,000.”

As for what prompted the original calls to 9-1-1, the official report on the fire comments, “Other than the initial reports of explosions, there was no further information or evidence of such.”

However, when the fallen powerline later arced on the ground during the fire, the flash and very loud bang could be perceived at some distance, and it may be that the powerline had already burned off the house and noisily had begun to arc before the fire itself was readily apparent to neighbors.

Baby delivery, Sellwood, 911, telephone, home delivery, Portland, Oregon
Here together: Sellwood’s Sara Andersen, sister Keira Andersen admiring baby Celia, and dad Andy Loso, along with BOEC Senior Dispatcher Caitlynn Brown, who came to the rescue on the phone at a critical moment. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

911 operator helps Sellwood couple deliver baby


It was a happy reunion, of sorts, on the morning of October 3. Portland Bureau of Emergency Communication (BOEC) 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Senior Dispatcher Caitlynn Brown met face-to-face with the parents of the baby she remotely helped deliver to a Sellwood family in late August.

Also at the gathering were representatives from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R), including Station 20’s Captain Caleb Currie, who arrived at the location just as the child entered this world.

Brown described how, near the end of her overnight shift, she wasn’t feeling well, and was on a “Call Taker” station, when her earpiece signaled her to pick up the line at 7:33 a.m. on August 29.

Of the 8,000+ calls taken each year, only a couple a couple of them are for emergent pregnancies, and Brown acknowledged that in her two years with the Bureau, she’d not handled any of these emergencies.

“My training kicked in, I went into ‘baby delivery mode’, and because of our preparation, the outcome was successful,” Brown smiled.

The mother, Sara Andersen, said she had reservations at a birthing center, but the birth unfolded quickly. “It wasn’t my choice, but we could see it was going to happen in our home’s bathroom.”

Her husband, Andy Loso, called the 9-1-1 Center, and was connected to Senior Dispatcher Brown.

“Andy’s not a ‘medical person’, and was kind of squeamish, honestly,” Andersen commented. “It ended up, he played the biggest role, and I’m really proud that he was able to do that. He did really well, and didn’t faint. And listening to the call again, and hearing how calm he sounded, I’m quite amazed.”

Born to the couple was a 6 pound, 2 ounce baby girl.

“This is a very big moment our family’s life, a very stressful moment,” admitted Loso. “I just had to make sure that I did the right thing, and calling 9-1-1 was it. I put my trust and faith in the operator’s instructions, and went with it – and, in doing that, I think I did okay; obviously it turned out well!”

Turning to Brown, he added, “I’m totally impressed by your expertise and poise during the call; by the way you helped us, I’d have guessed you’d have helped deliver a hundred babies.”

Brown responded, “We’re normally working with people on the ‘worst days of their lives’, and it’s wonderful to have helped out on what turned out to be your family’s ‘best day of your life’, and seeing your healthy baby here today.”

During most of the reunion, baby Celia Anderson slept in her mother’s arms, but nevertheless, her radiant little face remained the focus of attention.

When it was time for PF&R’s Captain Caleb Currie to take questions, he smiled and said, “We arrived after the delivery; they did all the work!”

Compared to many of the tragic incidents to which firefighters are called, Currie said, “This one was way better! To play a very small part in that, and to be part of this system, gives energy to our crews – making this one of the events that makes our job feel really worthwhile.”

Celia’s big sister, Keira Andersen, told the gathering that she didn’t care if her new sibling would be a boy or a girl. “Right now, she’s very tiring for all of us, but I’m very glad that she’s here, and I think my baby sister is very [she paused to think of exactly the right word] cute!”

At the end, Brown commented, “It’s a great experience, something I’ll remember forever, and it’ll be one of the highlights of my career here at BOEC. I’ve become a member of the ‘Stork Club’.”


Lady Gaga, Ginos, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon, O'Flaherty
Here’s a smartphone photo of Lady Gaga (center) and Audrey O’Flaherty in Gino’s in Sellwood, on Friday evening, October 13. (Courtesy of Dan O'Flaherty)

Lady Gaga visits Sellwood – reportedly likes the vibe

Editor, THE BEE

Friday the 13th of October proved to be a lucky day for frequent BEE photographic contributor Dan O’Flaherty and his wife Audrey. O’Flaherty, whose striking photos often are taken somewhere near the Sellwood Bridge (see page 2 of our September print issue), and who is Vice President of Sales for TRALE, Inc., the West Coast office of which is at 196 S.E. Spokane Street, ended the week with an evening at Gino’s, S.E. 13th at Spokane.

It was there that they spotted a familiar face – a superstar singer who had headlined a Super Bowl halftime show, and who had recently joined Tony Bennett for a hit album of pop standards: Lady Gaga, the wry professional name of New York City native Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, described by Wikipedia as a “Singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer.”

O’Flaherty told THE BEE the following morning, “Lady Gaga was at Gino’s last night, sitting in the corner spot at the bar, right as you come in. Audrey of course, when appropriate, went right up to her and started chatting. (We had just watched her new documentary the other night – called 5’2” – so we felt we knew her.)

“They talked about how Audrey should resume trying to master a musical instrument, and she was very sweet. We went back to our spot, three feet away, and I watched her write notes and have a couple of Spanish coffees. When she got up to leave, she put on huge sunglasses and a big hat, and walked right to Audrey and reiterated, ‘Just pick up the flute and keep playing. Go five minutes one day, six the next…’ and she chatted with us a little longer, gave us both a big hug, and then left with her three companions.”

O’Flaherty sent us a smartphone photo of Audrey with Lady Gaga, and also a composite of Sellwood photos posted by the Lady herself on her Instagram account shortly after leaving Gino’s. He has no idea what she was doing in Sellwood, but observed that one of her Instagram photos was taken in front of what a friend of his identifies as a recording studio on S.E. 13th, so perhaps she was in the neighborhood professionally. He said, from her posted comments on Instagram, “she really likes the vibe here in Portland.”

Oaks Park, roller coaster, Looping Thunder, new coaster, dismantled coaster, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
Carefully, piece-by-piece, the crew from WBF Construction Services dismantled Oaks Park’s “Looping Thunder”, which perhaps may yet thrill riders at a new home. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Looping Thunder’ goes silent at Oaks Park


When it opened 21 years ago, having made the trip from Italy, where it was built – as reported at the time in THE BEE – the Looping Thunder roller coaster was the first real “thrill ride” at historic, non-profit Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood.

But, when this year’s Oktoberfest celebration ended, Looping Thunder went silent – except for one last ride, on September 25, to give park employees, and the crew that diligently maintains their rides, one last unforgettable ride.

“It’s given millions of 45-second rides since its inaugural run in 1996,which was my second year working here; I grew up with this ride,” recalled Oaks Promotions and Events Manager Emily MacKay. “During my breaks back then, I’d ride it all the time!

“But now, it’s time to ‘retire’ it, and replace it with something new,” MacKay told THE BEE.

She wouldn’t go into great detail about the replacement ride, about which their CEO was in Germany making final arrangements in early October, but we did get a few hints: The new ride will be another roller coaster, and it will be located in about the same space as the old one being dismantled.

“It will be a little larger, and 30 feet taller, and will have three inversions instead of one – and it features a greater-than-vertical initial drop,” revealed MacKay. “And, importantly because our emphasis is on being a family-oriented park, our new coaster has lower height limit, which opens it up to more kids!”

If all goes well, the new roller coaster will be operational on the park’s opening day next year, April 28, 2018, she said.

But from now through December 1, they’re holding a contest to name the new ride. The winning entrant will receive a $500 Oaks Park Gift Card, to be awarded at the new coaster's grand opening next spring.

“Another hint could be that the colors will be blue and fuchsia pink,” MacKay suggested with a wink. “Don’t let the fact that we’ve received about 4,000 entries already deter you; there have been a dozen or more so far for ‘Coasty McCoasterface’, and as many as 50 entries similar to ‘Oaks Park – The Coaster’, so be creative!”

Before December 1, enter online – – and go to the “Coming Soon” box near the top of the page on the right, then click on “Click here for more info” link to enter.

“Although millions of people have enjoyed the old ride, guests have been begging for a more extreme roller coaster, and we are going to deliver on that request!” promised McKay.

Highway 99W, McLoughlin Boulevard, paving, project, Westmoreland Union Manor, Portland, Oregon
A massive road surface grinder here was mincing a layer of pavement and shooting it into a waiting truck; the remaining debris was then picked up by an industrial street sweeper. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

McLoughlin paving project turns to final details


It’s been a busy summer for Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) supervisors and their contractors, as they took on the “OR 99E Paving Project: S.E. Harold Street to S.E. Harrison Street” – which largely wrapped up at the end of October.

The $10.1 million project included rebuilding parts of, and repaving all of, the 2.5 miles of pavement between those two cross streets – and included replacing and upgrading the hidden bridge under the highway for Crystal Springs Creek, adjacent to Westmoreland’s Union Manor.

In September, contractors ground off the top layer of roadway and repaved the lanes, causing lane switchovers and closures along the highway, but leaving drivers a smooth ribbon of pavement on which to travel.

Then, during much of October, drivers on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard navigated nocturnal lane closures from Harold Street down to Tacoma Street while crews finished the striping, and completed barrier and guardrail work throughout the project, and installed new landscaping.

“We’re pleased that the major work has been completed, has been done well, and the project is still on schedule,” ODOT Region 1 Community Affairs Coordinator Lili Boicourt told THE BEE. “The salmon in Crystal Springs Creek should be happy, drivers will like the renewed roadway, and the improvements to the highway’s substructure and reconstruction will provide many years of good service.”

During the remaining two months of the contract, ODOT supervisors will check all aspects of the project, making sure the work performed meets standards, and will work with contractors to fix any deficiencies they find.

“We’re thankful for the patience the neighbors and those who use the highway,” Boicourt added. “We know it’s been disruptive, and we are grateful for the support.”

McLoughlin Boulevard, Highway 99W, three car crash, injuries, speeding driver, rear ender, Portland, Oregon
Shown are two of the three wrecked cars, smashed into by the speeding driver of a third vehicle. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Three-car crash on McLoughlin sends two to hospital


It wasn’t the nighttime roadwork on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard that contributed to a three-car pileup in the southbound lanes, just north of SE Tolman Street, on the evening of September 29, a little before 9:00 p.m.

Instead, “Based on witnesses’ statements, it appears a car was likely speeding and crashed into the back of a vehicle, and that vehicle was then pushed into the back of another vehicle,” Portland Police spokesman Sergeant Chris Burley told THE BEE.

Southbound traffic was backed up for longer than an hour, while cars were slowly routed past the wreck in the lane only, causing impatient drivers to cut through the neighborhood to get around the crash.

“Two people were transported to an area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries,” Burley said. There was no available information on whether or not the responsible driver had been cited.

Oktoberfest, Oaks Amusement Park, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
Some picnicked in the “town square” while others shopped in the Craft & Import Village. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Music and mirth rule at 2017’s Oaks Oktoberfest


An annual end-of-summer tradition that keeps growing in popularity is Oktoberfest, held at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood.

From September 22-24, this celebration of all things Germanic again this year attracted a record number of guests to dine, dance, and drink beer.

“We do serve German ‘Paulaner’ Oktoberfest beer, it’s the best there is!” exclaimed Oaks Amusement Park Promotions/Events Manager Emily MacKay.

“But, beer aside, what people tell us they like best about our Oktoberfest is that it so family-oriented,” MacKay told THE BEE. “The whole family is welcome: Everyone from grandma and grandpa to toddlers and teens, are all able to come, hear traditional oompah music, and eat German food, and enjoy the overall friendly, neighborly atmosphere that they find here,” she added.

They haven’t added any new events or attractions to the Oktoberfest celebration, MacKay said. “Here at Oaks Park, we have our traditions of bringing our old favorites back.

“What is new are the large number of guests who’ve come this year, saying either they’ve just moved into the area, or just heard about this,” MacKay pointed out. “It’s been really delightful to see a lot of new faces who are here to experience Oktoberfest for the first time, along with our returning friends.”

As she raced around attired in her traditional Bavarian dirndl dress, it was difficult to keep up with MacKay, who serves as hostess as well as the main mistress of ceremonies for the three day festival.

Outside, just west of the Main Festhalle, MacKay cheered on the finals of the Wiener Dog Races – with the pooches scurrying along the course, benefitting Oregon Dachshund Rescue.

During the daylight hours, the Kinderplatz kids’ area hosted special activities and entertainers for little ones and their families. And, throughout the Oktoberfest, guests browsed the Craft & Import Village for souvenirs and gifts.

“People really do love the music, including the Fabulous Polkatones, who are again our headliner band; it’s a big wonderful family show band, and it’s become part of our extended family here at Oaks Park every year,” MacKay said.

A family atmosphere emanates from the Polkatones on stage, and out through the park, MacKay remarked – with all of the rides operating and midway in full swing. “The Oaks Amusement Park that they’ve loved all summer long now has an autumn makeover, making it special for many guests!”

The first Oktoberfest, ever, celebrated a royal wedding in Bavaria in 1810; but today it’s a pervasive worldwide tradition – and, in Portland, it’s a big draw each year for the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States – our own Oaks Park.

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