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August 2018 -- Vol. 112, No. 12
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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 this special retrospective!


The next BEE is our September
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Oaks Bottom Lagoon rehab, Sellwood, Southeast Portlland, Oregon
The current limited water passage between Oaks Bottom and the Willamette River has been blocked by coffer dams while construction got underway. The new much-wider culvert to better connect the lagoon to the river will be located a couple yards to the left of where you see the current pipe’s opening. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Oaks Bottom Lagoon rehab underway

Oaks Bottom Lagoon rehab, Sellwood, Southeast Portlland, Oregon, alternate bike routes
Here’s the city’s map of recommended detour bike routes on which to bypass the closed section of the Springwater Trail in Oaks Bottom. Although not shown on this map, Milwaukie Avenue has also been restriped from Insley to Mitchell Streets to allow cyclists to leave this detour to return to the Springwater Trail via the parking lot on the west side of Milwaukie at Mitchell. (Courtesy of PBOT)


Even after years of planning and months of warning, some bicyclists seemed surprised to find the Springwater Corridor Trail through Oaks Bottom closed On July 9, as the Oaks “Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project” began.

It will restore year-’round circulation between the Willamette River and the Oaks Bottom Lagoon, which will make the pond available for young migrating salmon, and should also better control mosquitoes in the vicinity of Oaks Bottom.

A giant dump truck and a large excavator were parked on the trail when THE BEE visited the construction site on July 17.

“Before the project began, we conducted a mussel salvage; and the first week of July, we conducted a fish salvage – and relocated any remaining wildlife in the work area,” remarked Portland B.E.S. Environmental Program Coordinator Ronda Fast. “We worked with the Xerxes Society of Portland to recover more than 250 native freshwater mussels that we are temporarily storing in the Columbia Slough, until we can bring them back here.”

Unexpected preparatory work occurred when crews unearthed an abandoned natural gas pipeline segment. “It was filled with some kind of sludge, so we froze the pipe with liquid nitrogen, and then capped it until we could pump the contents into containers for safe disposal,” reported LKE Corporation Lead Ecologist (and President) Kim Erion.

“At night, we park all of our machines over felt pads, and all of our equipment sits in containment ponds, so if there is any kind of a spill there would be no residual drips contaminating the soil in our work area,” Erion said.

To date, the project is on schedule, confirmed Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Jim Adams. “So far, we’ve been making preparations for the major and most complex component of the project: Cutting a ‘notch’ in the [levee] berm to remove the old culvert, put in new footings, and install the new larger culvert and backfill it – all in one month!”

But before any of this work took place, a crew from Richard Samuel’s Oregon Pacific Railroad had to cut and remove their tracks over the culvert area; those will be among the first parts of the rebuilt berm to be reinstalled. In the meantime, Samuels is helping convey equipment and other materials into and out of the work area, right up to the point where his rails temporarily end.

Remember, the pedestrian and bicycle trail through Oaks Bottom remains closed until Hallowe’en. The city has completed the planned work to create a detour bicycle route from the south end of Sellwood, to the north end of Westmoreland at S.E. Mitchell Street. Most of the way it runs on 19th Avenue – removing stop signs that would impede bicyclists, and adding special signage and street markings, and in a few cases, adding bike lanes. Motorists and bicyclists are advised to be careful and watch out for each other.

Maxine McCormick, Fly Caster, champion, Cleveland High School,, Westmoreland Casting Pond, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
Gold-medal “accuracy fly caster” Maxine McCormick shows the “fly” at the end of her line, as she practices for her return to the World Championships of Fly Casting at Westmoreland Park Casting Pond. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cleveland High fly caster competes internationally – and wins!


Without question, Maxine McCormick is – hands down – the best accuracy female fly caster on the planet, and there are only a couple of men who could rival her, according to her coach Chris Korich – himself a world champion, and the coach of the U.S. Fly Casting Team.

Korich spoke with THE BEE as McCormick practiced at the Westmoreland Park Casting Pond on a recent warm summer morning.

And by the way – in the fall, World Champion Fly Caster Maxine McCormick will be starting her sophomore year at Cleveland High School!

“My dad fly fishes, and he brought me along to a casting pond near where we lived in San Francisco, sometimes,” McCormick told us. “Then I met some people who started helping me learn how to do this!

“It’s fun catching fish; but with fly casting, it’s also a great feeling when you’ve had a good run, and you hit a lot of ‘targets’ – it’s just a good sensation,” she said.

With that, the 14-year-old went back to casting her fishing line, hitting targets – which are weighted bobbers – with the “fly” on the end of her line, every single time.

“I came up from California to work with Maxine, who moved to Portland just shy of two years ago – she was born and raised in the San Francisco area – to help her prepare for the national and international competitions coming up this year,” Korich confided.

“We met when she and her dad wandered out to our casting pools on New Year’s Day of 2013, and I was notified that a little kid had showed up,” Korich recalled. “Being the coach of the United States Casting Team, I started coaching her and her dad about a month later; and – as they say – the rest is history.”

That “history” includes becoming the reigning women’s fly accuracy gold medalist at the 2016 World Fly Casting Championship held in Estonia. “Maxine is currently, and undisputedly, the best competition female fly caster in the world,” grinned Korich.

When we asked, “But can she catch fish?” Korich replied, “That’s a great question. The whole point of the casting sport, and the casting games that we play with different types of tackle, is to help prepare your tackle and prepare your skills for fishing.

“The ‘accuracy game’ that she’s casting here in the Westmoreland Casting Pond, everything she’s doing – loop control, line control, eliminating slack – it’s all about putting your fly where you want it to go, to catch fish,” Korich assured us.

On July 21, Maxine, along with her dad – also a champion fly caster – were headed to the American Casting Association competition in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Then, in mid-August, she’ll be off to defend her title at the 2018 World Championships of Fly Casting in the United Kingdom.

In the fall, she’ll be back in class at Cleveland High.

Portland Bridge Swim, 12 bridge swim, Sellwood, Sellwood Bridge, Portland, Oregon
As the 2018 Portland Bridge Swim race got underway, swimmers (below the bridge, in the water) headed north for their 11 mile swim – from Sellwood north through Portland. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘12-Bridge Swim’ again starts at Sellwood Bridge


As dawn broke on Sunday morning, July 8, the parking lot at Sellwood Riverfront Park was already filled to overflowing with vehicles. And, by 7:00 a.m. that morning, some 100 swimmers and kayakers had taken over the park.

“This is the eighth year of the ‘Portland Bridge Swim’ – a marathon swimming race in the Willamette River, starting under the Sellwood Bridge, and going north through the heart of Portland,” explained its organizer, Marisa Freider. Every year, the starting point is at Sellwood Riverfront Park, just north of the Sellwood Bridge.

Alluding to the fact that the park looked more like a “kayak convention” than a swim meet at that hour, Freider told THE BEE, “We always have one kayak assigned for the safety of each swimmer. It does look like a flotilla on the river out there, with each kayaker keeping an eye on their assigned swimmer all of the time.”

This swimming marathon isn’t a casual event, as was “The Big Float” held the next weekend on the river, Freider pointed out. “We are proud to host the U.S. Masters Swimming National Championship Ultramarathon Distance race!”

People from around the globe traveled to Portland specifically for this race, which is described as “Part nature experience, part sight-seeing tour, and all physical and mental challenge”.

Custom-printed shirts put it more succinctly – with text on the front reading, “What was I thinking?” and, on the reverse: “11 miles; 12 bridges; No Chickens”.

After finishing in the previous Bridge Swims, back again this year was the oldest of the one hundred registered racers, 70-year-old David Poulshock of Southeast Portland. He didn’t win, but he came in with a respectable time of 6:30:32.

The race’s overall winner was 27-year-old Galen Sollom-Brotherton, who completed the race in just under four hours. It took over twice that time – 8:10:54 – for the last-place swimmer to complete the swim. Only six entrants didn’t finish the race.

Why do the participants do this? “Marathon swimming is a lonely event; but here in Portland, swimmers compete with views of the city and with spectators along the way and on the bridges, so it’s a much more energizing experience for them,” Freider smiled.

Kellogg Middle School, demolition, replacement, Powell Boulevard, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Only a shell remained in July of Powell Boulevard’s venerable Kellogg Middle School – being demolished to clear the way for a replacement school to be built on the site next year. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Kellogg Middle School on Powell demolished for replacement


Kellogg Middle School, at 3330 S.E. 69th Avenue, on the north side of Powell Boulevard, is in the advanced stages of demolition.

Deconstruction of the 105-year-old brick structure began in April, and much of its material is being salvaged by Northwest Infrastructure. The project is funded through Portland Public School’s Building Improvement Bond.

According to neighbor Susan C. Golden Steffen, a former Sellwood resident, workers first demolished the gymnasium on the north side, then cleared out salvageable materials from the interior of the main building. “They told me that the school had initially tried to remedy existing concerns; but, after considering problems with asbestos, ADA access, and non-potable water, it was determined best to demolish the school and build a more modern school at the same site.”

Some of the furniture was initially made available for sale, but the remainder was eventually trucked away. “I watch the workers regularly from my porch,” Steffen says. “They’ve removed some of the decorative pieces, like the lions’ heads, from the front façade. It’s interesting to watch them at work.”

In addition to the lion motifs, a pair of owls framed Kellogg’s front door. Schools built a century ago often featured decorative symbols of lions and owls, symbolizing pride and wisdom. If you look closely at the mezzanine of Sellwood Middle School, which Steffen attended, you can still see lions and owls there, as well.

Several mature maple trees shading the west side of the school grounds are also expected to be removed. Demolition is planned to be done by August. Northwest Infrastructure has sorted out piles of recyclable materials, fill material, and trash, and has encircled the site with chain-link fencing. New construction is expected to start next year.

Truck fire, basement, Safeway Store, Powell Boulevard, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Quick firefighter response, and a working sprinkler system that kept spraying even after the blaze was out, saved the other vehicles under the Powell Boulevard Safeway when this pickup truck caught fire in the store’s parking basement. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Flaming truck in basement threatens Powell Safeway


Shoppers in the Safeway Store at 3930 S.E. Powell Boulevard said they realized “something was not right” when the acrid smell of burning rubber and plastic wafted from the subterranean parking lot up into the store on the afternoon of Thursday, July 12.

Fire alarms sounded, and the building was quickly evacuated.

“Something smelled definitely like it was on fire, and it wasn’t burning bread!” shopper LeWanda Greene told THE BEE as she waited outside.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) received the call at 3:12 p.m., and within four minutes Hawthorne Station 9’s Engine Company had arrived, quickly followed by firefighters from Woodstock’s Station 25.

The incident commander, a PF&R Battalion Chief, told THE BEE that a blue Ford Ranger pickup truck, parked at the north wall of Safeway’s underground parking area, had caught on fire.

“The sprinkler system in the garage worked, and kept the fire in check until we were able to extinguish it,” the Chief said.

There were no injuries; and, after airing out the store and underground parking area, shoppers moved back inside to continue filling their carts – thanks to the quick response of Portland’s firefighters.

Schooner, Tara Pacific, OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Willamette River, Portland, Oregon
After years of voyaging to all corners of the globe, ocean schooner Tara Pacific is currently tied up at the OMSI dock along the Willamette River. (David F. Ashton)

Science research schooner docks at OMSI


Starting in 2003, a 118-foot, 120-ton ocean schooner named “Tara” has been exploring the world’s oceans – traveling 233,000 miles, stopping at ports in 60 countries, and completing four major expeditions – before docking for a visit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) on July 8.

For the past two years, the craft has taken on the name “Tara Pacific”, as the scientists on board have studied coral reefs’ capacity to adapt to climate change.

Schooner, Tara Pacific, OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Willamette River, Portland, Oregon, Martan Hertau
In the wheelhouse of the Tara Pacific, Captain Martan Hertau tells how this very large sailboat is operated. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

THE BEE was invited onboard for a tour. Captain Martan Hertau told us that he’s captained the Tara Pacific for five years, with the aid of a crew of six specifically involved in operating the schooner. Plus, there are ten more people aboard in involved with the research project.

“Tara is considered a ‘small commercial Marine vessel’, but it’s actually a big sailing ship, so everyone on board participates. We take turns washing dishes, standing watch, and other duties,” Hertau explained.

In the stateroom, the Tara Expeditions Foundation Executive Director, Romain Troublé, said the ship’s mission has been conducting essential research to understand the impacts of climate and ecological changes – the better to anticipate future crises.

“In doing so, the Tara crew and its scientific partners have discovered some 100,000 new microscopic marine species and millions of new genes,” Troublé reported.

He deplored the “North Pacific gyre” – an area some call the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – considered among the largest concentrations of plastic and micro-plastic in the world’s oceans. “We are not against the plastic; we are against waste being improperly disposed of,” Troublé remarked.

The same day we visited the ship, Swedish paper packaging company BillerudKorsnäs was hosting a conference entitled “Challenge 2018: Solutions for a Sustainable Future”, at which plastic packaging pollution was the main subject.

“It’s really cool that the Tara Pacific Expedition stopped here, because it’s focused on innovation, sustainability, and working toward a better and healthier earth,” commented OMSI spokesperson John Farmer. “These are all things that OMSI really cares about and aligns with sparking the curiosity of how we, as individuals, can make a difference to help our planet.”

Find out more about upcoming programs at OMSI by visiting their website –

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