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October, 2020 -- Vol. 115, No. 2
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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 the special centenary retrospective!


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A huge limb fell from horse chestnut tree at S.E. 14th and Boise Street in Brooklyn, damaging the roof of a home.
A huge limb fell from horse chestnut tree at S.E. 14th and Boise Street in Brooklyn, damaging the roof of a home. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Wacky weather downs trees, follows with dense smoke

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

September was quite the month for weather in Inner Southeast Portland.

The steamy-hot start, with 95° temperatures on September 3, gave way to a tree-toppling and extremely rare strong early September windstorm on the 7th, which in turn fanned the flames of unprecedented wildfires, leading to days of choking smoke by September 9 – which hung around, bringing life to a crawl, for a week.

The correspondents of THE BEE ventured out to document what took place during and after the windstorm, here in Inner Southeast Portland: They found much east-wind damage – trees uprooted and splintered, power lines downed, roofs damaged, trees blocked, and later a lot of smoke.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Will Ahue talked about how the “astounding” early September weather came together in such a destructive way, in a conversation with THE BEE.

“September started out warm until an anomalous strong east wind event on September 7, more like what we’d expect to see during the winter months, caused by a very unusual frontal system that pushed down through the Rocky Mountains bringing summer snow, and changing the pressure gradients in Eastern Oregon, into the metro area,” Ahue began.

“The high pressure gradient west of us, with warm temperatures over us, combined with a much cooler frontal system coming down east of the Rockies, and drove the strong [50 mph] east wind event here, and along much of the West Coast,” he explained.

In addition to damaging and even blowing over trees, and damaging roofs, electrical power went out in several areas – including for 1,389 customers south of S.E. Reedway Street near 20th Avenue in Westmoreland, and 426 more customers near S.E. Ramona Street and 62nd Avenue.

When the 50-mph winds wound down, it wasn’t long until smoke rolled into Southeaxst Portland – the Woodstock Boulevard Business District is shown here – and lingered.
When the 50-mph winds wound down, it wasn’t long until smoke rolled into Southeaxst Portland – the Woodstock Boulevard Business District is shown here – and lingered. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Smoke blows in – and stays
Before the big wind event, several wildfires had already been burning, and they were fanned by the east winds sweeping over Oregon and the West Coast. “The strong winds in Oregon spread the smoke toward Willamette Valley; but then, at least at first, the east winds pushed a great deal of the smoke hundreds of miles of shore, out to sea,” said Ahue.

As the east winds died down, all that smoke came rushing back onshore, over the Pacific Coast Ridge, and back into the Portland area. “Since then, there’s been an inversion, and there hasn’t been much wind – and we’re also getting some smoke up from the California wildfires, as well,” he pointed out. “However, the dense smoke did reduce temperatures considerably here, and ended the summertime heat wave in our area.

“The first rain system we expected on September 14 and 15 got backed up in a northerly flow, clipped Oregon’s waters offshore, and ended up coming onshore in far Northwest Washington; so we missed most of it,” Ahue said.

Early on Friday, September 18, a 70-minute thunderstorm rolled into the area in the 3 a.m. hour, dumping as much as a half inch of rain in Inner Southeast Portland, and dropping the Air Quality Index from the “hazardous” mid-400s, down to as low as 125 (“unhealthy for sensitive groups) later that day. By the end of the following day, Saturday, air quality had dropped all the way down to the 30’s – in the “good” range – and breathing became fun again.

Summer ended in cooler temperatures and sunshine the following Tuesday morning, September 22.

So much for summer. Now what will autumn bring us…?



This still image from a video surveillance recording shows a Subaru Forester getting up “ramming speed” on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, before smashing into the entrance of the Woodstock U.S. Bank branch. The driver is now wanted for felony hit and run.
This still image from a video surveillance recording shows a Subaru Forester getting up “ramming speed” on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, before smashing into the entrance of the Woodstock U.S. Bank branch. The driver is now wanted for felony hit and run.

Angry ATM customer smashes car into Woodstock bank

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

What was dispatched to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) as an “Accident – Priority” at 8:46 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9, ended up as a very different kind of call, because the only vehicle involved had left the scene of the crash.

“I got here after it happened, but a customer of ours saw a frustrated, then angry, customer at the Woodstock Branch of U.S. Bank at the ATM machine,” said John Torrey of the Woodstock Laundromat.

“She said the man’s car was parked in the bank’s lot; and after getting agitated with the ATM machine, he backed out from the lot onto Woodstock Boulevard; and then back drove up the sidewalk as fast as they could go, hitting the front doors of the bank,” recounted Torrey.

“He then backed out into the street, this time stopping traffic, and drove west on Woodstock Boulevard to S.E. 47th Avenue and disappeared,” he said.

After that, the customer told him she’d called 9-1-1, which is why an officer was already at the scene, looking over the damage.

“I showed video from our security camera, pointed at the intersection with SE 48th Avenue and Woodstock that shows the car, but the bank is out of view,” he added.

“Incidentally, there’s more,” Torrey said. “When I was talking with an officer in his car, another customer walked up to the bank’s ATM and used it, frowned, said aloud, ‘That thing just ripped me off; the receipt is for $200; but I only got $100!’”

We suspect just calling the bank would have been a more successful way of resolving the problem of a malfunctioning ATM machine. This way turned into a felony: Hit and run.

Following up on the incident, PPB Public Information Officer Sergeant Michael Roberts checked the records for THE BEE: “No one has yet been arrested in this incident.” But they’re still looking for him. And there probably is a record of exactly who it was, in the transaction list in the ATM!



Southeast ICU nurse shares pandemic experiences
This sign is in the front yard of former Mayor Tom Potter and Karin Hansen’s house in Woodstock. What unites them, and Sellwood resident and I.C.U. nurse Jamie Pinney, is an appreciation they and the public have for the hard work, determination, and courage of the many essential workers during this COVID-19 pandemic.
This sign is in the front yard of former Mayor Tom Potter and Karin Hansen’s house in Woodstock. What unites them, and Sellwood resident and I.C.U. nurse Jamie Pinney, is an appreciation they and the public have for the hard work, determination, and courage of the many essential workers during this COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

Jamie Pinney is a 42-year-old nurse who lives in Sellwood and works at a Portland-area hospital [he doesn’t want to disclose the name, since he is speaking only for himself], serving in the Intensive Care Unit (I.C.U.). He says that, during this time of COVID-19, working in the I.C.U. has been very demanding and stressful.\

He and the other nurses in his I.C.U. unit are trained to specialize in treating pulmonary problems. He works 12-hour shifts three days a week with doctors who are pulmonologists. They utilize ventilators and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which is a therapy that adds oxygen to the blood – temporarily taking over the work of nonfunctioning or severely-stressed lungs.

“We treat patients who are EXTREMELY sick with COVID,” he tells THE BEE.  “We’re trained to treat people who have severe lung problems, who can only be taken care of in certain hospitals that have staff with the necessary capabilities and equipment available all of the time. There are only a handful of hospitals in the area that can do that.”

Unlike many hospitals in the country, he says they have been fortunate to have the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from the start of the pandemic.

He has been working at the same hospital for eighteen years, and thus was also a nurse when the 2014 Ebola outbreak reached the U.S. At that time, the United States federal government was telling doctors and nurses in this country what to expect and do in case there were Ebola cases at their hospitals. They were also sending nurses to the CDC to train especially for that disease.

And, in 2009, when the H1N1 “swine flu” virus was infecting people in the U.S., Pinney says it was a “pretty gnarly disease”, but they dealt with it effectively because of adequate data. [The epic “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918 was caused by a subtype of the H1N1 virus, but the swine flu proved considerably less fatal, for reasons still unclear.]

Pinney says the lack of testing and contact-tracing did not provide doctors and nurses in the U.S. adequate COVID-19 data to work from, in the early months of the pandemic. However, he says, fortunately by the time COVID-19 hit Oregon, local medical personnel at least had templates from Washington State, China, Italy, and New York to inform medical staff, and help them cope with the virus. He adds that it was helpful that Oregon also locked down pretty early, and took the disease seriously.

He is not shy about describing the emotional and physical toll that COVID-19 is taking on nurses. “I have to be honest. In the beginning, I was dreading going to work – getting used to the increased amount of PPE, the constant masking, and facing so many unknowns.”

Pinney says that even now, still just entering the room of a suffering COVID-19 patient can be stressful. “Most of us have moderate levels of anxiety. Some have high anxiety. Three weeks of work can now seem like six months, even though Oregon’s numbers [of cases and deaths] have been low, relative to the rest of the nation.”

But, he says, “I really want people to recognize that this is what we nurses do all the time! It is just more anxiety-provoking now.” 

The overall responsibility of the work can be daunting. “I have nightmares and anxiety about work. I have a wife and three children, but I know nurses who are stressed not only because of vulnerable family members, but because they have pets or close friends [that they want to continue living for].”

He feels very fortunate to have a wife who has a great deal of experience also as a career I.C.U. Nurse, so she understands what he is going through. “I don’t have to explain everything. She knows. And my biking to and from work, and doing stretching and yoga, also help a lot.”

His father is a retired Emergency Room physician who has decided he needed to go back to work, and is helping during the pandemic. That role model is also helpful – even though, as Pinney says, “the E.R. is a very different beast from the I.C.U.”

Jamie Pinney says he cannot emphasize enough the importance of Oregonians continuing to wear masks, keeping physical distancing, and washing hands. “Oregon is among the top ten of lowest COVID cases and death rates across the country, and we want to keep the numbers down. It is possible to protect the public in simple ways, and still have a normal semblance of life.”

For him, that “normal semblance” took place in late August – 3½ weeks of vacation camping with his family. Upon his return he remarked to THE BEE, “Now I am refreshed, and ready to get back into the fight.”

Witnesses say this grinding crash was the result of the driver of the white Toyota Avalon XL speeding on the curve, sideswiping a VW Jetta, and then losing control and smashing into this black Toyota head-on in the southbound lane.
Witnesses say this grinding crash was the result of the driver of the white Toyota Avalon XL speeding on the curve, sideswiping a VW Jetta, and then losing control and smashing into this black Toyota head-on in the southbound lane. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Erratic driver triggers Eastmoreland three-car injury crash 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Winding S.E. 28th Avenue, rimming the east side of the Eastmoreland Golf Course, has curves that makes most drivers stay at or below the posted 25 m.p.h. speed limit.

But, on August 17, at 4:40 p.m., a speeding wild driver brought Central Precinct officers and three ambulances to the site of a three-vehicle wreck on that street – between S.E. Martins Street and Woodstock Boulevard.

The driver and the passenger of a VW Jetta were going north on 28th Avenue when a white Toyota Avalon XL, with Washington license plates, came up quickly behind them.

Passing them over the double yellow lines, the driver of the Toyota sideswiped the VW hard, driving it up the curb, and then over into the oncoming traffic lane. Without showing signs of slowing, the wild driver then over-corrected, drove through the travel lane, and popped over the curb and traveled on the parking strip for a few yards.

Just before hitting a steel-post mounted street sign, the erratic driver jerked the wheel to the left into the opposite lane, and careened into a southbound black Toyota RAV4 head-on.

Portland Fire & Rescue crews used portable power rescue tools to take off the top of the Avalon, and pry the doors open on the RAV4, to remove the drivers and a passenger.

“Three persons were transported for medical care; their conditions are unknown,” a police officer told THE BEE.

Officers were expecting to cite the driver who caused the crash; the accident is still under investigation.



THE BEE was there as they assembled the new Oaks Park thrill ride – which not only makes a 180 degree swing, but can perform a full 360 degree swing with riders aboard, should they wish to experience it! Now, with the smoke gone, it’s all ready to go…but it’s still waiting to give a ride to its first thrill-seeker.
THE BEE was there as they assembled the new Oaks Park thrill ride – which not only makes a 180 degree swing, but can perform a full 360 degree swing with riders aboard, should they wish to experience it! Now, with the smoke gone, it’s all ready to go…but it’s still waiting to give a ride to its first thrill-seeker. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Oaks Amusement Park cancels entire season

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The staff of historic, nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park had hopes they’d be open, at least on a limited basis, sometime during their 2020 season – back when they were installing their new thrill ride, “AtmosFEAR”, earlier this summer.

But, by mid-August, it became clear to them, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus governmental restrictions – including Multnomah County’s continuing to hold onto a “Level 1 Opening” designation – that it just wasn’t going to be a reality.

“This closure means that, for the first time in our 115-year history – through floods, world wars, and economic ups and downs – Oaks Park will miss an amusement park season,” admitted longtime spokesperson Emily McKay.

“We are heartbroken that during this time of difficulty for so many of our neighbors, we will not being able to lighten the load by providing wholesome, affordable family fun that has been the hallmark of Oaks Park and a vital part of the local fabric for generations.

“This setback comes after months of preparation, using evidence-based advice from global attractions industry leadership, to create a solid plan implementing safety precautions for our guests including social distancing measures, mask requirements, increased sanitation, guest temperature checks, staff health checks, capacity limitations, contactless payment, and online reservations!” McKay pointed out.

Following these same rules allowed the Oregon Zoo to have a limited opening; and Oaks Park had hoped to be considered a similar nonprofit facility, but the State didn’t agree.

Also closed, until further notice, is the historic Oaks Park Roller Rink.

“Despite these efforts, we have continued to be excluded from the list of statewide outdoor attractions permitted to open – so, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 season in its entirety,” McKay conceded.

Those who purchased 2020 Oaks ride bracelets online should certainly hang on to them, she said, because they’ll all be honored during the next operating season.

Hallowe’en attraction comes in October
But, this turn of events does not necessarily rule out special outside activities held at Oaks Park!

As previously covered in THE BEE, the Rose City Rollers roller derby crew has been hosting both outdoor movies, and skating sessions, at Oaks amusement Park.

Now, the all-new “Scaregrounds Haunted Drive-Thru” event will be kicking off there on October 9.

“The last time we had a ‘haunted house’ was back in 2006; and we've been wanting for a long time to bring Hallowe’en fun back to ‘The Oaks’,” McKay announced. “We’re excited to be partnering with the Scaregrounds team from Vendetta Productions Inc. to offer Portland a new kind of Hallowe’en experience!”

It will be set up on Oaks Park’s grounds, featuring five unique haunted attractions from which guests can choose: “Night Terrors”; “The Condemned”; “The Green Run Asylum”; “Site 13”; and “the Haunted Mansion”. Guests drive into their chosen “nightmare” – pull up and stop – and experience spooky thrills; all from the safety of their own vehicles.

Guests will not be in contact with the actors or staff, and all staff are strictly following COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing, and personal protective equipment use.

For dates, times and ticket information, visit the Oaks Amusement Park website – http://www.oakspark.com – and scroll down the home page.

Multnomah County Fair, maybe
“And, regarding the Multnomah County Fair, they are tentatively scheduled for [the newly rescheduled dates of] October 16 and 17, [Friday and Saturday,] hosting an entirely indoor Fair, within our historic Dance Pavilion,” McKay reported. “But the viability of the Fair will be dependent on whichever ‘phase of reopening’ Multnomah County is at the time, and what rules are in force at that point.”

Keep up to date with the Fair’s plans as they change; visit the official Friends of Multnomah County Fair website – http://www.multcofair.org



The driver of this truck, on S.E. 65th, faces DUII and other charges after this unusual crash on the smoky day of September 16th.
The driver of this truck, on S.E. 65th, faces DUII and other charges after this unusual crash on the smoky day of September 16th. (Courtesy of KATU-TV-2)

Truck up utility pole on S.E. 65th Avenue

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

A pickup truck piloted by an allegedly drunk driver wound up pointing upward against a power pole on Wednesday, September 16, Wednesday on S.E. 65th Avenue near Foster Road. Adding to the charge of DUII he already faced, the driver climbed down from his upended truck and ran away, making it also a hit and run.

The man allegedly appeared to be drunk while in a nearby convenience store, where he was reported having engaged in a political rant – after which he jumped into his truck and accelerated away. But he missed the street. A witness remarked, “He gunned it out of the parking lot, and ran right up the cables.”

Police quickly located the truck’s driver – and 36-year-old Andrey Blashishin was subsequently charged with DUII, reckless driving, and failure to perform the duties of a driver (hit and run). His pickup was eventually coaxed down from the pole and hauled away.



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