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June, 2021 -- Vol. 115, No. 10
Scroll down to read this issue!

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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Shortly after Westmoreland’s new Chase Bank opened on the corner of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue and Tolman Street, it was forced to board up its windows. This photo was taken on April 22. Subsequently the bank remained open, and put posters about the bank and its services on the wooden panels. Vandals returned and defaced those with spray paint on May 8.
Shortly after Westmoreland’s new Chase Bank opened on the corner of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue and Tolman Street, it was forced to board up its windows. This photo was taken on April 22. Subsequently the bank remained open, and put posters about the bank and its services on the wooden panels. Vandals returned and defaced those with spray paint on May 8. (Photo by Eric Norberg)
For the third time in the last year, windows at the Wells Fargo Bank branch at Claybourne and S.E. Milwaukie were boarded up in late April, but the reopened branch remained open. This bank is the direct successor of the very first bank ever, in Southeast Portland – the original Bank of Sellwood, which opened on April 1, 1907.
For the third time in the last year, windows at the Wells Fargo Bank branch at Claybourne and S.E. Milwaukie were boarded up in late April, but the reopened branch remained open. This bank is the direct successor of the very first bank ever, in Southeast Portland – the original Bank of Sellwood, which opened on April 1, 1907. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Vandalism & burglary dismaying Southeast businesses

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

Although most of the recurrent and severe vandalism by self-identified anarchists, with associated injuries and theft, has been centered on Downtown Portland and the northern part of the city – no part of the Rose City has escaped this widely-reported problem. In Inner Southeast, banks in particular have been badly damaged, and have been for some time. A couple of years ago, a U.S. Bank branch on Chavez Boulevard (formerly S.E. 39th) just north of Hawthorne Boulevard received considerable damage, and recently a financial institution just a block south of that was boarded up.

In Westmoreland, a large number of windows and an ATM machine were broken at the Wells Fargo Branch on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue shortly after it temporarily closed during the pandemic; it was damaged again after repairs were made, and it was boarded up again shortly after it opened. The new Chase Bank branch similarly was boarded up after its grand opening – but both those banks are now open and serving customers.

On Saturday morning, May 8th, merchants in Westmoreland were dismayed to discover that vandals with spray paint had further damaged with obscenities the banks, as well as a number of other unrelated businesses, along S.E. Milwaukie Avenue.

These problems have been compounded by the increase in burglaries of Inner Southeast businesses which coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year ago, and has yet to abate. One professional business told THE BEE they had recently been broken into repeatedly, and the damage caused had exceeded any theft losses. A hair salon nearby was broken into some months ago, and has since installed a security camera and a burglar alarm.

The burglaries are considered by the police to be a separate problem from the vandalism. When Portland’s Deputy Chief of Police, Chris Davis, spoke at the February 3rd SMILE General Meeting in Sellwood, as detailed in THE BEE’s editorial in our March issue, he confirmed the general rise in commercial burglaries in Southeast Portland: “It’s a shift – there are fewer residential burglaries, because more people are home all the time; but, here, you’re getting hammered on business burglaries, car crimes, and car theft.”

You will be doing a big favor both for local residents and for local businesses if you report any suspicious activity you may become aware of. It’s important to report without delay any criminal activity to 9-1-1, and any suspicious activity to the non-emergency number 503/623-3333 – because the more crimes that are reported in an area of the city, the greater the assigned police presence there, which discourages further crime.

Also, be aware that it’s the Bureau of Emergency Services, and not the Portland Police Bureau, that takes the calls made to those telephone numbers – and who makes the decisions about what reports to dispatch officers to. If there is not a satisfactory response to your report, try calling your police precinct directly. In Inner Southeast Portland, Central Precinct downtown is home base for the officers serving the east side from the Willamette River east to Chavez Boulevard (formerly S.E. 39th); and East Precinct has jurisdiction from there eastward.

Both residents and merchants concerned about what criminal activity they are experiencing should also contact the “N.R.T. Officer” at their own precinct. Those three letters stand for “Neighborhood Response Team”, and although the current severe short-staffing of the Portland Police Bureau requires that N.R.T. Officers now must spend time on the street in patrol duty, that person is still designated to work personally with local residents on problems they are encountering that are within the purview of the police.

In the meantime, many local businesses are beefing up their security, and there has been talk of groups of businesses investigating costs of hiring a security guard to patrol overnight in their business districts.



A firefighter carefully walked out on the charred balcony of a second-story apartment in the Wimbledon Square apartment complex in the Reed neighborhood. This balcony is where the damaging fire may have started.
A firefighter carefully walked out on the charred balcony of a second-story apartment in the Wimbledon Square apartment complex in the Reed neighborhood. This balcony is where the damaging fire may have started. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Four-apartment blaze in Reed neighborhood brings Two-Alarm response

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

It started as a quiet Saturday morning, May 22, at the large Wimbledon Square Garden Apartments complex in the Reed neighborhood.

Then a fire erupted at an apartment in a stand-alone four-unit building at 5044 S.E. 28th Avenue, at Colt Drive.

At 9:23 a.m., the fire dispatcher at the 9-1-1 Center alerted nearby fire stations – including Westmoreland Station 20’s Engine Company, and both Engine and Ladder Truck Companies from Woodstock Station 25. “A caller says there is a fire starting on the second floor balcony of the building; the caller thinks all the residents are outside.”

Two minutes later, a firefighter from Rescue 23, a two-person rig rolling in from a station on S.E. Powell Boulevard at 12th Avenue, radioed to dispatch, “We’re seeing a ‘header’ [column of smoke] from a few blocks away.”

As Engine 20 was pulling in, the Rescue 23 crew reported, “We have a two-story apartment complex with two floors ‘going’ – the first and second floor.” The firefighter added that the fire was on the side facing S.E. 28th Avenue.

Only seven minutes after the first dispatch, at 9:30 a.m. there was a call goes for a Second Alarm, to bring in many more units – including from Fire Station 1 in downtown Portland. The reason for the Second Alarm was immediate concern about another, larger apartment building just a couple of yards east of the fire-involved building, and connected by a skybridge.

While the firefighters of Engine 20 were hooking up water supply lines and pulling fire hoses, Truck 25’s crew was assigned to look for anyone who might still be trapped in the burning units; they found none.

Later that day, an unidentified PF&R official confirmed that all the burning building’s occupants had safely escaped before fire crews arrived at the scene; and, that the immediate action by arriving firefighters had kept the blaze from spreading to any nearby building.

The eight people who were displaced from the four units in the heavily-damaged structure are being helped by volunteers with the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

As THE BEE went to press, fire investigators had not yet publicly reported the cause of the fire in this large apartment complex.



It’s still unclear whether or not Woodstock Elementary School will be able to continue operating their successful Mandarin Immersion Program.
It’s still unclear whether or not Woodstock Elementary School will be able to continue operating their successful Mandarin Immersion Program. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock Elementary’s Mandarin Immersion program? Still in limbo

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

In the Portland Public Schools (PPS) “Enrollment and Program Balancing Update” for this May, the school district announced that the process was going into “Phase 2”, as they also are with rebalancing their elementary schools’ population of students in Southeast Portland.

“Under the approved enrollment boundaries, the neighborhood programs at Arleta, Marysville, Creston, and Lent will convert from their kindergarten-to-8th grade (K-8) structure to a K-5 structure. Students in grades 6-8 in those schools will move to Kellogg Middle School [on Powell Boulevard] starting in the 2021-22 school year,” that announcement said, in part.

The letter also stated that PPS staff is proposing a narrowed scope for Phase 2 that focuses on three areas:

  • Converting Harrison Park (currently a K-8) into a 6-8 middle school
  • Re-locating Harrison Park K-5 students
  • Increasing enrollment at Lane Middle School

In February, the PPS Board approved “Resolution 6236”, which completed Phase 1 of the process.

To view a PDF document of “Resolution 6236”, go online – http://tinyurl.com/4pe75hah

Woodstock Elementary School PTA President Ehren Schwiebert commented to THE BEE, “In reading Resolution 6236, one will notice that the letter does not explicitly mention Woodstock’s immersion program; but, based on the revised scope and priorities, the possibility remains that our school could be facing some changes.

“The focus on converting Harrison Park (currently a K-8 school) into a middle school, and the requirement that Harrison Park's K-5 students be placed into a different school, means that there will be some necessary shifting of that school’s Mandarin Immersion Program (MIP) students,” she pointed out.

“Recall that Harrison Park currently has a Mandarin Immersion Program too; it is still somewhat new, and actually under-enrolled below their targets – at least according to PPS’s numbers,” Schwiebert continued. “In fall of 2020, the initial proposal for enrollment and program balancing aimed to move Woodstock's Mandarin Immersion Program to a different school in the Jade District, essentially consolidating the Mandarin Immersion Programs from both Harrison Park and Woodstock.

“That is the proposal that had so many of our families concerned, because it meant the end of Woodstock's successful Mandarin Immersion Program.”

The third area of focus in the PPS letter is to boost Lane Middle School’s enrollment, which also could potentially impact Woodstock.

That was also of concern to Schwiebert: “Geographically, Lane is the closest middle school to Woodstock, so I can foresee a scenario where some or all of Woodstock’s students would feed to Lane, instead of the current school [Hosford]. But at this point, it’s unclear to me if or how this would impact Woodstock’s Mandarin Immersion program specifically.

“So, I’m pleased to see that PPS has revised the scope to no longer seek to eliminate co-located programs like Woodstock’s.

“However, I remain concerned that this narrowed focus will result in essentially the same outcome – eliminating the Woodstock’s Mandarin Immersion Program. I really hope that the Southeast Guiding Coalition will carefully listen to all the families that will be impacted by their changes, and find a way to keep our unique and successful immersion program at Woodstock.”

We asked Woodstock’s Shu Ren leaders to comment; but so far, there has been no response from that organization.



This is Oaks Bottom’s “South Meadow”, the place where the prohibited mowing took place, and not for the first time.  Oaks Amusement Park is seen in the background, with a section of Downtown Portland in the far distance.
This is Oaks Bottom’s “South Meadow”, the place where the prohibited mowing took place, and not for the first time. Oaks Amusement Park is seen in the background, with a section of Downtown Portland in the far distance. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

‘Mower man’ breaks the law, mows nesting area in Oaks Bottom

By RITA A. LEONARD
For THE BEE

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is administered by Portland Parks, and it is an important part of the inner city’s native habitat. It is illegal to vandalize it, but a man has done so with a mower – and he’s reported to have done it before.

Portland Parks & Recreation spokesman Mark Ross told THE BEE, “On Tuesday afternoon, April 27, a person intentionally used his own tractor to mow a habitat meadow at the Refuge. This was done without PP&R permission, and despite staff’s efforts to stop it [while in progress].

“PP&R Park Rangers excluded the person from the Refuge for 60 days. [In the past two years the Refuge has become] a mosaic of different types of habitat that cater to a wide diversity of plants and animals. [It is also] designated as an ‘important bird area’ by the Audubon Society.”

This was not the first time for such vandalism, and apparently by the same person. The open field seen from the Sellwood Boulevard bluff (it’s referred to as the “South Meadow”), and we learn it has been mowed several times previously, without any permit or permission, by a local man on a tractor.

The area in question can be seen from the north end of the Sellwood Park parking lot, with Oaks Amusement Park in the background. Although the man possibly has the idea that he is somehow doing a favor to the neighborhood, he actually knows better – because he had twice previously been warned not to do this, both by Park Bureau personnel, and by the Portland Park Rangers.

Laura Guderyahn, PP&R Ecologist for the Refuge, reported, “After first speaking with this person back in January, and learning of his plans to mow the meadow, I had eco-blocks [giant cement blocks] installed at the most likely place he was getting into the meadow. Apparently, he found another way. If anyone knows how he is getting in, please let me know by e-mail – laura.guderyahn@portlandoregon.gov – and I can have that area blocked as well.

“I was notified April 27, by one of the founders of the Friends of Oaks Bottom, that the man and his tractor were again mowing at the site.”

According to birdwatcher Marianne Nelson, there exists a video of Guderyahn confronting the man, when he initially refused to cooperate. When PP&R Park Rangers arrived, they took down his name, and warned him off the area for two months. They told him that if he tried mowing there again, witnesses could call 9-1-1, and Portland Police officers would come and cite him for criminal damages.

Nelson continues, “This is really sad for many reasons. Many birds are nesting in the meadow now, and this disturbs and possibly kills them. But it is not just the animals: There are native Camas flowers blooming in there now; and Parks had just spent money and time planting 6,500 wildflowers there to provide resources for pollinators and birds that frequent the meadow.”

Nelson says, “We need to spread the word that this is a Wildlife Refuge, not a recreation area for people and dogs. We are visitors in a unique natural setting. . . We owe it to the nesting birds, minks, otters, beavers, and other wildlife to respect their homes.

“Over half the meadow was mowed [before the man was stopped this time], including the areas with high concentrations of native Camas. I will be working diligently to restore the meadow, and would appreciate as many eyes on the site as possible, teaching folks why dogs on leash and staying on the trail is so important there.”

Meantime, Guderyahn advised, “I am working with Portland Police, PP&R Rangers, and my managers to pursue whatever action I can against this person. I appreciate [local residents’] concern, and encourage you to directly contact Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Mayor Wheeler to make sure they know what happened, and that it is unacceptable.”

PP&R spokesman Mark Ross told THE BEE that he, too, would like to hear of any more problems in Oaks Bottom.

Curiously, despite so many people apparently knowing just who this offender is, THE BEE so far has been unable to obtain his name for publication from any of those involved.



Here’s surveillance video of the suspects – and the VW Tiguan they used as a battering ram to smash into the building’s security garage in order to steal art up in the lobby.
Here’s surveillance video of the suspects – and the VW Tiguan they used as a battering ram to smash into the building’s security garage in order to steal art up in the lobby. (Courtesy of PPB)
This collage shows the artworks by Kayla Silber, stolen from The Tristan on May 5. There’s a reward if you can help bring the thieves to justice.
This collage shows the artworks by Kayla Silber, stolen from The Tristan on May 5. There’s a reward if you can help bring the thieves to justice. (Courtesy of PPB)

Police hunting for Brooklyn neighborhood art heist suspects

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Did you see something odd on Wednesday evening, May 5, at “The Tristan”, the new apartment building on Milwaukie Avenue, at 1415 S.E. Pardee Street?

Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Burglary Division detectives are asking for information about an unusual crime: The theft of valuable art from the lobby of the recently built apartment building that evening.

Investigators learned from the victim that two unknown thieves used a vehicle to push open a security garage gate and gain entrance to the building. Four art pieces by artist Kayla Silber, valued in the thousands of dollars, were stolen from the lobby of the apartment building.

According to detectives, surveillance video shows the suspect vehicle may have been a Volkswagen Tiguan. Surveillance video also shows two suspects – one appearing to be a woman, wearing blue jeans, tan boots, and a blue hoodie; and a man, wearing a maroon and black athletic suit, and a black mask.

Give information, get cash
Crime Stoppers of Oregon offers cash rewards of up to $2,500 cash for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this crime; tipsters can remain anonymous. Mention Case #21-06 when you contact them through – http://www.crimestoppersoforegon.com



Yes, these people really are upside down, high in the air! So far, most guests at Oaks Park have been making the choice to ride the new “AtmosFEAR” ride over the whole 360 degrees – going over the top, while rotating – over and over!
Yes, these people really are upside down, high in the air! So far, most guests at Oaks Park have been making the choice to ride the new “AtmosFEAR” ride over the whole 360 degrees – going over the top, while rotating – over and over! (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Limited Oaks Amusement Park opening brings joy to families

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Following the directives of the State of Oregon and Multnomah County, the staff at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park worked toward the goal of holding a “limited” season reopening day on Saturday, April 17 – after being officially shuttered for their entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Families who had pre-purchased their tickets online, as required, on April 17th were both relived and overjoyed to find that the historic, longest continuously-operating “Trolley Park” in the nation had indeed opened, and they could once again enjoy the attractions and food which they’d been anticipating.

In mid-May, a month after its reopening, we visited the Oaks Park Association (the nonprofit organization that operates Oaks Amusement Park) to ask Marketing and Events Director Emily MacKay how it had been going so far?

“It’s been a ‘roller coaster ride of a different kind’, with the shifting governmental mandates over the last few weeks; but, when taken as a whole, we’ve had a very successful and smooth reopening,” MacKay assured THE BEE. “Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18, both days were sold out to our limited capacity; and, there was a huge amount of joyous energy, from end to end down the midway.

“Our first day provided a learning curve both for both our seasoned workers – learning new [COVID-19] operating parameters – and, [it was stressful] for the many new staff members who were experiencing their first ‘live’ day of work after training. For many of those, it was their first day of work ever!

“But, by Sunday, our second day open, it was smooth sailing,” MacKay reported.

Operations severely restricted
After opening week, Multnomah County officials again put in place “Extreme Risk” limitations for a few days. “For that weekend the number of guests in the park was again limited to 100, which was a big challenge,” MacKay acknowledged. “We had to completely revise our operations, which resulted in having to cancel some existing tickets that had already been purchased.

“It was very difficult on us all, but it was made easier because – with very few exceptionspeople were gracious, understanding, cooperative, flexible, and supportive. We have the most amazing community!” extolled MacKay.

“Because of our planning, both before and after our County was briefly returned to the ‘Extreme Risk’ designation, it has run super smoothly – from the online ticket booking, right through the on-site experience for our guests,” MacKay said.

What’s made it easier for their staff, she pointed out, is that guests have been compliant with face covering and social distancing protocols – even on the ride attractions. “They seem to understand that these safety protocols are for everyone’s benefit.”

Although it was erected last year, only now have guests have had the opportunity to try out the park’s newest “extreme” thrill ride, “AtmosFEAR”. This ride has two operating modes; The Oaks Rides Manager Celeste Walker told us that the line for the 360°, over-the-top ride is about 30-to-1 over the milder 180° ride. “Indeed, AtmosFEAR is certainly a hit!” exclaimed MacKay. “People are having an amazing time riding; and it’s already become our most popular attraction on the midway.”

With a limited version of the Multnomah County Fair planned for part of the Memorial Day weekend, we asked if The Oaks will be hosting any other special public events this season. McKay responded, “We are hopeful that we'll be doing our Oktoberfest this year, and we’ll make our final determination in early June. We’re also working on a Hallowe’en event as well – so please, stay in touch!”

So, what does it mean to Oaks Amusement Park staffers to have things finally up and running?

“First, seeing the joy on the faces of parents and kids makes all the work getting ready for this season worth the effort,” MacKay responded. “And, we’re also so pleased to have been able to bring a large number of people back to work – especially local youth who are saving for, or paying for, college. Our reopening will benefit their lives for years to come!”

Recommends getting tickets early
Because the park’s tickets and ticket packages have been selling out – sometimes weeks in advance, or nearly so – for each day they’re open, families are advised book their tickets very early, to avoid being “locked out” of the day they were hoping to spend at Oaks Amusement Park.

“We don’t want anyone to be disappointed that they can’t come visit, because the number of tickets we can sell are still restricted by COVID-19 regulations,” MacKay advised. “Because it’s required that folks pre-purchase tickets anyway, [log in to our website and] make sure they’re available for the day you hope to visit us here, ‘Where the Fun Never Ends’, at Oaks Amusement Park.”

For complete information, including days and hours of operation, COVID safety requirements; and to purchase tickets, visit the official Oaks Amusement Park website – http://www.oakspark.com

See what it was like to be on the midway, as Oaks Amusement Park opened, in this BEE video: 


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