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June, 2024 - Vol. 118, No.10
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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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After the secondary, lower-voltage, power line running to Sellwood Park that fell from the tower at the same time as the electric discharge was de-energized, firefighters pulled the cable off the railroad tracks and away from the nearby footpath.
After the secondary, lower-voltage, power line running to Sellwood Park that fell from the tower at the same time as the electric discharge was de-energized, firefighters pulled the cable off the railroad tracks and away from the nearby footpath. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Firefighters at the electrical power distribution Tower from which an electrocuted individual fell forty feet into a large bush near the Springwater Trail, near Spokane Street in Sellwood.
Firefighters at the electrical power distribution Tower from which an electrocuted individual fell forty feet into a large bush near the Springwater Trail, near Spokane Street in Sellwood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Student survives electrocution on Oaks Bottom power tower

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A shocking incident unfolded along the Oaks Bottom Trail at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15th – which startled neighbors, and dismayed emergency first responders. It caused an interruption of about one minute in electric power across much of Inner Southeast Portland. You might remember that.

Neighbors along the ridge above Oaks Bottom, pickleball players on the west side of Sellwood Park, and joggers on the Springwater Trail saw an electrical explosion, and a brilliant flash of light.

An individual had climbed forty feet up on a wide metal tower carrying high-voltage lines, beside the Oregon Pacific Railroad tracks and north of Sellwood Riverfront Park. He evidently made contact with an energized wire, went limp, and fell forty feet to the ground – very luckily landing in a large bush.

One witness said the victim might have been attempting to take a selfie – “when it all went wrong”. However, none of the public report on the incident suggests that any cell phone was recovered below the tower.

At 5:06 p.m., Westmoreland’s Fire Station 20 Engine Company, and an AMR ambulance, were on their way. As dispatchers struggled to describe the address of the incident, a firefighter responded, “We know this location.”

To the surprise of all the responders – although the individual had severe burns on his face, arms, and torso, and a gash on his head – he was still alive; and in fact he walked to the ambulance assisted by paramedics.

“Our PF&R crew and the ambulance paramedics arrived at the patient’s side simultaneously; so our firefighter-paramedics provided no treatment to the patient,” PF&R Assistant Public Information Officer Lt. Laurent Picard later told THE BEE. “It was unclear to responders whether the person actually made contact with a power line, or that the power line ‘arced’ and caused the electrocution.”

One of the first-responders who had been at the scene later told THE BEE that it had been discovered that the victim was actually a young student, thought to be in middle school.

“The AMR (ambulance) crew immediately transported him to a trauma center,” said Picard. “It is remarkable that the patient was conscious and ambulatory after electrocution by a 57,000-volt power line, and a forty-foot fall – but I have no information on his current condition.” Nor has any further information on the victim’s condition been revealed since then.

A PGE worker at the scene remarked that the victim should have been severely injured by the 56,000 volts in the overhead transmission lines, and his fall from the tower – and marveled at his survival.

A different, much lower-voltage power line for the floodlights in the Sellwood Park tennis courts also detached from the tower at the time of the incident and fell on the slope down from Sellwood Park, landing across the railroad tracks and the hiking trail below. The PF&R crew stayed at the scene and kept people away from the electric line until a PGE worker could cut it loose, de-energizing it, and enabling the firefighters to pull it away.



Visitors to Sellwood Riverfront Park can again enjoy an evening stroll, with their path illuminated by the new lighting reinstalled last November. This was the first park to be updated; the last park to get new light poles has just been completed.
Visitors to Sellwood Riverfront Park can again enjoy an evening stroll, with their path illuminated by the new lighting reinstalled last November. This was the first park to be updated; the last park to get new light poles has just been completed. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Updated city park lamppost replacements complete; parks again lit

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The startling, unannounced, and swift demolition of park lighting in February of 2023 in several Inner Southeast Portland city parks caused an uproar heard all the way to City Hall.

As reported in the April issue of THE BEE, more than thirty neighbors sounded off during an online “Light Our Parks Community Roundtable” – followed by the sending of a demand letter to the City of Portland by several Southeast neighborhood associations, including the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE).

Officials at Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) hastened to promise restoration of  lampposts and luminaires with similar-looking replacements as soon as possible. But, with “supply-chain disturbances” still taking place from the lingering pandemic, PP&R made it clear the replacement lighting wouldn’t quickly be available from manufacturers.

As we reported in the November 2023 issue of THE BEE, work had begun replacing the lampposts in Sellwood Riverfront Park – the first park to receive the replacements – a project completed last November 22, with 17 new light poles installed.

And the re-illumination of three more parks took place, in succession:

  • Sellwood Park light replacement finished February 14, with 27 new light poles
  • Mt. Scott Park light replacement finished March 26, with 25 new light poles
  • Woodstock Park light replacement finished April 29, with 9 new light poles

“In some parks we installed additional lights to enhance brightness and visibility,” revealed PP&R spokesperson Mark Ross. “And in other parks, fewer lights were required, because the new ones offer better coverage than the ones that were removed.”

The new LED lights are 66% more efficient than the bulbs they’re replacing, Ross pointed out. And, the fixtures are “dark sky friendly” – that is, they’re fully shielded to prevent skyward “spill”, which would cause nighttime skyglow and obstruct astronomy.

By day or night, don’t attach anything to park light poles; it’s prohibited by Chapter 20 of the Portland City Code. (It was someone attaching a hammock to one of the old poles, which then collapsed under the strain, which originally led to the removal of the old lampposts.)

With the city parks’ light pole replacement project now complete – if you haven’t yet, take an evening stroll in one of the affected parks, with your path illuminated by these new reproductions of the former 100-year-old park lighting.



As arborists pruned oak trees along the east side of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in late April, flaggers stopped traffic as removed limbs fell to the pavement. Motorists who could do so got off the highway, and bypassed the project on the streets of Sellwood and Westmoreland.
As arborists pruned oak trees along the east side of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in late April, flaggers stopped traffic as removed limbs fell to the pavement. Motorists who could do so got off the highway, and bypassed the project on the streets of Sellwood and Westmoreland. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Tree trimming shuts down McLoughlin at Westmoreland Park; snarls traffic

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

For several days in late April on Oregon Highway 99E – the thoroughfare we usually call S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard – many motorists were surprised by mid-day traffic jams in Westmoreland and Sellwood.

It wasn’t a series of smashups that caused the flow of traffic on the highway to come to a standstill, and to force confused motorists to cut every which way through the neighborhood; nor was it bad weather. It was tree pruning alongside Westmoreland Park!

“The Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Urban Forestry Operations team had pruned the trees on the west side of the highway, adjacent to the park, a few months back,” explained the Bureau’s Public Information Officer Mark Ross.

“In late April, PP&R contracted local tree service, “A-Plus Tree”, on behalf of TriMet – the adjacent property owner on the east side of the road – to prune the majority of the oak trees there, and remove any which were found to be dead, dying, and/or dangerous,” Ross told THE BEE.

At that time, the Parks Bureau did put out notices to traffic reporters at area media, hoping to alert drivers to the intermittent lane closures, Ross pointed out, although most drivers had not seemed to have heard about it.

Cars were stopped in long lines on McLoughlin north and south of the pruning area, and heavy cut-through traffic was observed running north and south on S.E. 17th and Milwaukie Avenues, as well as on side streets leading off McLoughlin and towards those two streets.

“There were only temporary and intermittent delays, but we understand the inconvenience, and we appreciated drivers’ patience while this necessary work was being finished,” Ross said.



Carrying the 18th annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade’s official banner were volunteer and sponsor Larry Smith and long-time volunteer Kathryn Notson. Behind them were the Grand Marshals – the Rose Festival’s CEO Marilyn Clint, and retired PR Manager Rich Jarvis – waving to the crowd.
Carrying the 18th annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade’s official banner were volunteer and sponsor Larry Smith and long-time volunteer Kathryn Notson. Behind them were the Grand Marshals – the Rose Festival’s CEO Marilyn Clint, and retired PR Manager Rich Jarvis – waving to the crowd. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

18th annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade starts Rose Festival

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The forecast of rain moving in from the coast may have kept some families from coming out for the 18th annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade on April 27th, although there certainly was a crowd along the route. But, as on every other parade morning in the two-decade history of this event, not one drop of rain fell on the parade itself, despite dark clouds hovering above the route.

As in past years, the parade formed in the parking lot of the Cinemark Century Eastport Plaza 16 Theater, and stepped out northbound along S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses. It continued north, crossing Powell Boulevard and Division Street, and eventually disbanded in the Montavilla neighborhood, two miles beyond the starting point.

This year, the procession followed the lead of Portland Police Bureau East Commander Jake Jensen at the wheel of the Portland Police Pace Car, with retired East Precinct Commander Cliff Jensen riding shotgun.

They were followed by the Color Guard – Scouts from BSA Troop 24 and Troop 5024.

Adding color and zany humor were Portland Rose Festival “Clown Prince” Angel Ocasio and the Festival Clowns. After them came an amazing variety of entrants – from the “Bigfoot 56th Army Band” and the Mysti Krewe of Nimbus revelers, to the stately horse riders of the “BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe”.

Folks lining 82nd Avenue could hear the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers pounding out their precise rhythms from blocks away. Other parade entries featured local nonprofit organizations, school drill teams, and a perennial favorite – the tanks and vehicles driven by the Military Vehicle Collectors Club of Oregon.

“The parade is now presented by ‘82 Roses Community Enrichment Coalition’, a nonprofit 501c3 organization, and is funded by grants and sponsorships,” longtime organizer Nancy Chapin told THE BEE.

“Because of the diversity of those who live in this part of Portland, we’re proud that the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade features many representatives of this diverse community,” Chapin said.

This parade is the first official event of the Rose Festival each year! If you missed it in 2024, don’t do that again! Already, the 82 Roses Community Enrichment Coalition is working on the 19th annual “82nd Avenue of Roses Parade”, set for Saturday, April 26, 2025.

But why not take the time, right now, to enjoy a BEE VIDEO of this year’s entire parade – right here! –

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Yet another T-bone crash on May 15th at the very busy intersection of Milwaukie Avenue and S.E. Holgate left one driver bound for the hospital, and the other one cited for having no insurance.
Yet another T-bone crash on May 15th at the very busy intersection of Milwaukie Avenue and S.E. Holgate left one driver bound for the hospital, and the other one cited for having no insurance. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Crash at Holgate Blvd and Milwaukie sends one to hospital

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

At the perennially dangerous intersection of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue and Holgate Boulevard, yet another vehicular collision took place on May 15.

This crash, dispatched at 1:57 p.m., sent Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Central Precinct officers, and emergency medical responders to the scene of the smashup.

A PPB officer mentioned that the exact nature of how the crash took place hadn’t been officially determined yet. But, it was clear that the front of a white Honda CR-V SUV had smashed into driver’s side front quarter panel of a light blue Toyota Corolla LE. The impact was sufficient to drive the Toyota sideways into a wooden utility pole at the intersection.

“As a result of this two-vehicle crash, one driver went to the hospital to be evaluated for a sore arm; and one was cited for driving with no insurance,” Portland Police spokesperson Mike Benner told THE BEE.

It seems certain that, without any east-west left-turn lanes at this busy intersection, there will be continue to be crashes like this taking place there.



Due to the “Sellwood Sewer Extension Project” taking place, some neighborhood streets will look like this for a month to six weeks. Generally, residents will continue to have driveway access in streets that otherwise may be temporarily closed.
Due to the “Sellwood Sewer Extension Project” taking place, some neighborhood streets will look like this for a month to six weeks. Generally, residents will continue to have driveway access in streets that otherwise may be temporarily closed. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood Sewer Extension’ moves forward, under neighborhood streets

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Those living in the part of Sellwood where the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Service (BES) work has begun work are well aware that the “Sellwood Sewer Extension Project” is now underway. Others in the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood may be next to experience it

The project area is mostly in Sellwood itself, but there will be a small amount of work in Westmoreland, too, in the north end. So the project area is bounded by S.E. Insley Street to the north, Linn Street to the south, Oaks Park Way to the west, and McLoughlin Boulevard to the east.

“This project is extending the public sewer system in the Sellwood and Westmoreland neighborhoods, so that property owners have a way to directly and independently connect to the sewer system – to meet current plumbing code,” is how BES Public Information Officer Diane Dulken overviewed the project for THE BEE.

A major issue being resolved is ending a century-old practice of having more than one property on a single lateral line to the sewer – which means a problem in one property’s sewer line could back up into another property on the same branch. It also means such sewer connections would not cross other property lines enroute to the street.

“The work being done helps ensure that the sewer system in the area is reliable and safe for people and the environment, reduces the potential for basement backups, and reduces the likelihood of emergency work in the future,” explained Ms. Dulken.

The construction work began in mid-April. It can take from four to six weeks to complete work on most blocks, she said – with periods of inactivity to occur from time to time. “Completing all the work in the neighborhood will take about a year and a half.”

The project started off the week of April 15th on S.E. Linn Street, west of 15th Place, with crews repairing the sewer mainline, and installing new lateral pipes. The following week, the crew moved to do the same along S.E. 11th Avenue, north of Linn Street.

In May, the crews moved west along Linn Street near 8th Avenue, again making mainline repairs and installing pipes. Workers could also be seen on 7th Avenue, south of Harney Street and also south of Umatilla Street, doing repair and replacement work.

It is a lot of construction, Dulken acknowledged. “But, we do it because every Portland resident, visitor, and business depends on reliable sewer service every hour of every day.” Most residents in active construction areas will have access to their driveways during construction.



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