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December, 2022 - Vol. 117, No. 4
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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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This huge tree, called a “Heritage Tree” by neighbors, came down at S.E. Lexington and 11th Avenue in Sellwood early on December 4th, amid the heavy rain and gusty wind – blocking the street, burying a Mini-Cooper car in its foliage, and contributing to power outages in the area.
This huge tree, called a “Heritage Tree” by neighbors, came down at S.E. Lexington and 11th Avenue in Sellwood early on December 4th, amid the heavy rain and gusty wind – blocking the street, burying a Mini-Cooper car in its foliage, and contributing to power outages in the area. (Courtesy KGW-TV NewsChannel 8)

ATMOSPHERIC RIVER: Rain and wind, outages and damage strike Inner Southeast

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

This year it seemed summer lasted three weeks longer than usual, fall lasted but a day on Octrober 20, and then winter came early – in the form of two weeks of the first real rain since June, climaxing with the “tropical atmospheric river” which drenched the area Friday through Sunday, November 4-6. Wind gusts reached 40 m.p.h. in Portland, bringing down innumerable tree limbs and a few large trees -- inflicting power outages over large sections of Inner Southeast.

One such outage followed the uprooting of a large 100-year-old American Chestnut “Heritage Tree” at S.E. Lexington and 11th in Sellwood, which fell onto and damaged a Mini Cooper car and blocked the street at 7:45 a.m. on Friday morning, November 4, while taking down utility lines. Large sections of Sellwood and Westmoreland lost power.

Power was not restored to Oaks Park in Sellwood until 4:27 p.m. – just three minutes before a Rose City Rollers roller derby event would have been cancelled outright due to the outage. Two of the three bouts then went on as scheduled; the third was made up the next day.

A PGE power station on S.E. Stark Street caught fire later that evening and caused a large outage affecting some 3,000 customers – mostly north of the BEE’s service area.

The Portland Water Bureau had started mixing 50% water from the city’s pristine wellfield near Northeast Columbia Boulevard in with Bull Run Reservoir water some weeks earlier to reduce the drawdown of water from the reservoir.

But after several inches of rain had fallen on November 4th in the Bull Run Watershed, eliminating any worries about the quantity of water available there, there was sufficient turbidity in the reservoir that on November 5 the Water Bureau switched to 100% water from the wellfield. Bull Run water will again be used when the turbidity subsides.

The Bureau of Environmental Services announced that the “big pipe” sewer system had one of its occasional overflows into the Willamette River on November 5th, resulting in a two-day warning to stay out of the river.

Meantime, in the days immediately following the passage of this large storm, temperatures plunged towards freezing and some snow showers were forecast. The accumulated rain total for the four days from November 4th to 7th was 2.92 inches, at the BEE rain gauge in Westmoreland.

The first day of the storm, Friday, November 4, turned out to be the third rainiest day of the year so far, at 1.23 inches. And winter doesn’t officially even start until December 21st!

[Rita Leonard and Paige Wallace contributed to this story.]



The all-new Kellogg Middle School, on S.E. Powell Boulevard, will be a new destination for some students in less than a year.
The all-new Kellogg Middle School, on S.E. Powell Boulevard, will be a new destination for some students in less than a year. (Photo by John House)

Concluding school boundary change in Southeast made amid controversy 

By COURTNEY VAUGHN
and ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

In fall of 2023, some Southeast Portland elementary and middle school students will find themselves at schools outside of the neighborhoods they live in.

And, on Tuesday, October 25th, the Portland Public Schools Board of Education approved the final component of the second phase of planned boundary and feeder pattern changes for 19 schools in Southeast Portland. Four language immersion programs will be shuffled to different campuses. It was controversial, and was centered on Lent Elementary School in Lents.

However, to the relief of many, it was finally decided that Woodstock Elementary School’s Mandarin Immersion program will remain at Woodstock School, as announced by PPS early this year, after parents of both the immersion program and the neighborhood program expressed strong support for maintaining the existing “co-located” program that provides diversity at the school.

PPS initiated the enrollment and program balancing effort to fix under-enrolled elementary schools and ditch the K-8 model in favor of more middle schools. Kellogg Middle School was built and opened in 2021. Harrison Park K-8 is being converted to Harrison Park Middle School, set to open in 2023.

A boundary change affecting students previously in the Lewis Elementary School area who live east of S.E. 52nd Avenue requires that new students will go to Whitman Elementary in Fall 2023.  However, students who currently attend Lewis will have the opportunity to either stay at Lewis until its highest-grade level, or to transfer immediately to Whitman Elementary. And any Lewis School graduating fifth graders living east of 52nd Avenue will be assigned to Lane Middle School in autumn of 2023.

District administrators say the various boundary changes in Southeast will give students more robust learning options and likely increase academic performance. Data shows students in dual language immersion programs perform higher academically in math and English Language Arts than those in traditional, single strand neighborhood school programs.

The attendance boundary changes were all approved by the School District last spring – except for the one proposing to transition Lent Elementary School entirely into a Spanish language immersion school, and to send all other Lents neighborhood students to Marysville Elementary School west of 82nd Avenue of Roses. That one was still up in the air, and was only approved by a 5-2 vote from the School Board on October 25th – with Board Members Gary Hollands and Julia Brim-Edwards opposed. The Board’s student representative, Byronie McMahon, also opposed the plan for Lent.

Citing community concerns, Hollands and Brim-Edwards said they're not convinced the District has done enough outreach to notify impacted families, or secured busing plans for kids at the district’s only school that’s east of I-205.

Last year, the School Board delayed transition plans for Lent Elementary after complaints from families. Since then, District staff said they held several community meetings for parents, but saw low attendance. They also called families, and sent fliers home in students' backpacks. Board Chair Andrew Scott said he suspects that “people who are opposed to the plan are criticizing the engagement process.”

But by October 25th’s scheduled vote, PPS had yet to guarantee busing for the students going to Marysville next year, and had repeatedly touted child care options that aren’t actually available.

“I’m really concerned that we’ve been telling families there’s child care, because not only is the cost of the child care at Marysville between $672 to $704 a month, it’s also full – so there aren’t any spots,” Brim-Edwards said. District staff promised they would find a way to bus students to Marysville Elementary, and said they’re exploring free after-school options at the campus, but some remain skeptical of the District’s plan.

Khanh Pham, an Oregon legislator serving House District 46 lives in the Lents neighborhood and urged the Board to delay its vote for another three months, saying deeper community engagement was needed. Pham said some families learned just two weeks ago that their students would be going to a new school next year.

“It is a community that has had, and continues to face, a lot of challenges – from when the 205 freeway was built right through it, to now, when many of its families are disenfranchised and struggling with multiple jobs and challenges,” Pham said. The lawmaker and Lent parent said she worries that moving kids out of their neighborhood school without a firm transportation plan will make it harder for them to attend school regularly.

“There are multiple reasons students struggle,” Pham said. “I worry that in trying to help these students, we might be creating new obstacles to their achievement.”

PPS Chief of Schools Jon Franco said there was no time to delay the vote any further. Franco cited the series of steps and hiring timelines that need to be met in order to implement the boundary changes by the start of the 2023-24 school year in rejecting any further delay.



According to Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone, between 2010 and 2017 the call volume in the service area now defined for Station 23 in this map increased by 35% -- from 983 calls in 2010, to 1,323 calls in 2017. Surrounding Fire Stations 9, 20, and 25 had to handle most of the load.
According to Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone, between 2010 and 2017 the call volume in the service area now defined for Station 23 in this map increased by 35% -- from 983 calls in 2010, to 1,323 calls in 2017. Surrounding Fire Stations 9, 20, and 25 had to handle most of the load. (Courtesy of PF&R)

Portland Fire & Rescue gets $2.1 million – some of it to staff Fire Station 23

By ELISE HAAS, KOIN-TV-6
Pamplin Media news partner

After a years-long staffing crisis, Portland Fire and Rescue has received a $2.1 million federal grant to hire some additional firefighters. And an Inner Southeast fire station, just north of the Brooklyn neighborhood, is a top priority.

The department has been attempting to find a way of fully staffing Fire Station 23, on the northeast corner of S.E. Milwaukee Avenue and Powell Boulevard, since it was closed down in 2010 – at that time, to move resources to Fireboat Station 21 on the Willamette River.

Fire Union President Isaac McLennan tells us that, with Station 23 closed for more than a decade, firefighters from stations throughout Portland were required to cover the station’s fire management area. “We want to be here to serve the community, but we’re also susceptible to this staffing crisis.”

Recognizing the need, five years ago the City of Portland brought two firefighters back to the vacant station – but that’s not even enough people to operate a fire engine.

“A two-person responder is just not adequate. Since 2017, when it became a two-person station, we have been focused on making sure that fire station gets at least a four-person staff company,” McLennan said.

Now, money from the federal grant will allow Portland Fire to hire six additional firefighters, with two added to Station 23 to bring the staffing level up to four for the next three years at least. “So this grant funding opens it up, turns the lights on, gets four people back in that station, and gives the community the safety they deserve,” McLennan remarked.

Despite this federal grant, Portland Fire & Rescue is still enduring a staffing crisis. The union estimates that they’re still down 29 firefighters. To make up for the shortages, firefighters say that the city is forcing mandatory overtime of upwards of 80 to 100 hours a week, shuffling around resources, and spreading their abilities thin. However, Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone has indicated she’s planning soon to make new budget proposals to the City Council.



Here are four of the featured meteorologists at this year’s “What Will Winter Be Like” meeting at OMSI on October 22: From left, April Vogt, of Weatherflow; Tanis Leach, graduating climate science student at OSU; Kyle Dittmer, CRITFC Hydrologist/Meterologist; and Mark Nelson, of KPTV/KPDX television.
Here are four of the featured meteorologists at this year’s “What Will Winter Be Like” meeting at OMSI on October 22: From left, April Vogt, of Weatherflow; Tanis Leach, graduating climate science student at OSU; Kyle Dittmer, CRITFC Hydrologist/Meterologist; and Mark Nelson, of KPTV/KPDX television. (Photo by Eric Norberg)
This was the most astonishing slide of the day at this conference, since ocean temperature definitely has an influence on the weather affecting nearby lands – KPTV/KPDX meteorologist Mark Nelson ended his annual retrospective of how last winter turned out with this. If this pattern persists, we could be in for more extreme events – of all sorts – this winter, than expected.
This was the most astonishing slide of the day at this conference, since ocean temperature definitely has an influence on the weather affecting nearby lands – KPTV/KPDX meteorologist Mark Nelson ended his annual retrospective of how last winter turned out with this. If this pattern persists, we could be in for more extreme events – of all sorts – this winter, than expected.

Meteorologists find ‘third La Nina year’ a tough nut to crack

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

For the last thirty years, members of the Oregon American Meteorological Society have gathered late each October at the auditorium of OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – on S.E. Water Avenue under the east end of the Marquam Bridge to offer predictions of “What Winter Will Be Like”.

Since weather forecasting is very hard to do more than a week or so in advance, all such predictions are based on “analog years” – years in the past that have the same general conditions as the current ones, and thus might have a similar outcome in the near future.

This year, the acknowledged third year of a “La Nina” ocean temperature pattern in the western Pacific equatorial area, has proved to be a tough puzzle to solve – as the four presenting meteorologists admitted at this year’s conference on Saturday morning, October 22nd.

Rebecca Muselle, a young meteorologist with the National Weather Service office at the Portland Airport was first to present and in a slide defined the conundrum. Not only have there been just three cases of a third consecutive year of a La Nina weather pattern – a  pattern which usually is thought to result in a wetter and a cooler winter in the Northwest – but in that small sample of three past instances, there was no pattern at all in what the third year was like here!

Nonetheless, Muselle went on to predict slightly cooler than average temperatures and slightly wetter than average conditions (particularly this fall) for the upcoming season.

Of the four presenters, the only veteran forecaster presenting was Kyle Dittmer, who currently works for the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (he also teaches meteorology at local colleges) – he has appeared on stage for this conference in each of the last 23 years. Dittmer gave, as usual, a detailed forecast:  Temperatures near normal in each month, November through March, and above average precipitation in November, January, and March.  He also predicted five snow events, two moderate and three minor.

Two more young forecasters followed Dittmer. Tanis Leach, a Climate Science student at Oregon State in his final year before graduation, predicted less precipitation than usual this winter, and slightly below normal temperatures – with an arctic blast possible this year for the first time in several years. He predicted a windstorm or two, with peak gusts reaching 55 mph, and he forecast the winter’s lowest temperature at 15 degrees, which would be several degrees cooler than last winter.

And April Vogt, a meteorologist with “Weatherflow” in Portland, summarized her winter prediction as “stormy weather with some mild spells, but also some cold spells – including a possible arctic blast and ice. She forecast snow accumulations at Portland International Airport totaling no more than 9 inches – conceding that it could be higher if the snow coincided with an arctic blast.

So there you have it. Nothing really startling, and no real established pattern in Portland for the third year of a La Nina winter. In fact, the most startling and provocative slide of the day was the one concluding KPTV/KPDX meteorologist Mark Nelson’s annual retrospective of how the last winter actually turned out.

His last slide showed the ocean temperature off the Northwest last year in October, compared with the same this year in October – and the contrast was truly remarkable. It was cooler than average last year; but the ocean was a great deal warmer than usual there this year. Since adjacent ocean temperatures do have an impact on weather inland, it was left to others to address what this might mean for this winter’s weather. And none of the forecasters which followed him even commented on that.

But that startling difference certainly could be a wild card in bringing about whatever our upcoming winter weather will turn out to be!

After a shoplifter accosted an employee at the Woodstock Safeway store at S.E. 45th and Woodstock Boulevard, police responded to investigate.
After a shoplifter accosted an employee at the Woodstock Safeway store at S.E. 45th and Woodstock Boulevard, police responded to investigate. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Shoplifter causes ruckus at Woodstock Safeway

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Crime – particularly rampant shoplifting – continues to be of concern to Portland retailers. Criminals are aware that some stores have a policy of not stopping these bandits on their way out with unpaid merchandise, in an effort to protect their employees – and they also know that the severely understaffed Portland Police have had little time to devote to lesser crimes amidst all the shootings, stabbings, and gang violence.

However, the losses that many stores are experiencing are extreme – causing higher prices for consumers to cover the losses, and in some cases resulting in store closures. Merchants are starting to show signs of resolving to fight back. A police mission against shoplifters recently in Tigard caught a sizeable number of them red-handed and led to arrests, and now there’s an increasing use of security cameras, wheel-locking shopping carts, merchandise tags, new private security personnel, and other means of apprehending shoplifters.

However, on November 4, one shoplifter in the Woodstock Safeway store was spotted not by any high tech security devices, but by an alert employee

When confronted by the store’s “loss prevention officer”, the shoplifter reportedly took off, dropping dropped a bag of stolen merchandise. However, the alleged thief came back into the store through the other front door apparently hoping to find a way to get the bag back.

A scuffle broke out, resulting in a possible injury. “There was a request for ‘medical’, as well as a police officer, but the report does not describe any injuries,” Portland Police spokesperson Sergeant Kevin Allen later told THE BEE.

The following day, after the PPB report had been filed, Sergeant Allen shared with us, “The report shows that the loss prevention officer (LPO) confronted the suspect [who was] concealing merchandise in the store.

“The LPO then got in a physical confrontation with the suspect, causing the LPO’s cell phones (one of them for work, and one personal) to fall out [of his pocket],” Sergeant Allen went on. “The suspect tried to walk away with those cell phones – so, the LPO engaged him again, and got his phones back.”

After that, the suspect again bolted from the store. Although several PPB District Officers searched the neighborhood, the suspect was not located at that time.

Perhaps if the would-be criminals who are behind the citywide wave of shoplifting get the idea that they might actually be caught and held responsible for what they are doing, crime might once again diminish to more normal levels in the Rose City.






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