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September, 2023- Vol. 118, No. 1 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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Inside the Portland National Weather Service station, east of the Portland Airport, meteorologist Chris Burling told THE BEE what has contributed to the recent hot weather. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
On the hottest day of the this year’s four day August heat wave, our trusty thermometer registered 108° in the shade – which was also the city’s official new August all-time high temperature. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Record 4-day heat wave bakes Inner Southeast
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Although our early August heat wave – four days in a row with over 100° temperatures, starting August 13 – is past, the memory of that furnace of high temperatures is likely to be with us for a while.
To help combat the intense heat, the Portland Water Bureau set up temporary “misting stations” in city parks – but, with it being as hot as 108° in the shade, we didn’t find many using them. However, the historic Sellwood Pool, Portland’s first public swimming pool, certainly operated at capacity during their “open swim” hours.
“We’ve had a really strong ridge of high pressure over the region for several days, which caused these abnormally high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest,” explained National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Chris Burling in the Portland National Weather Service office, now in Parkrose.
“In some cases, we’re having record temperatures – including the all-time-record August high temperature of 108° in the Portland on Monday, August 14th.
“This high-pressure center stalled over our area is called a ‘blocking pattern’ – it sits still; in this case, for about six days – giving us these prolonged times of very hot weather.” Burling looked around at five computer screens spaced around his desk: “We never reached the 108° mark in Portland, ever, before 2021 -- and until now, never yet in August – and also, now we’ve just had over 100° degrees in four straight days, for only the third time here since 1941.” (The second time was in 1981.)
While looking at a map of high temperatures for August 14, Burling pointed out that a certified measuring station in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood had actually showed a high temperature of 110° at the peak. (Although that was accurate, the official Portland high temperature each day is the one recorded at the Portland National Weather Service office – formerly at the Portland Airport, and now moved to the Parkrose neighborhood.)
Looking through the daily official records for August in Portland, these individual days stood out:
August 5, 1945 100°
August 3, 1977 105°
August 8, 1981 107°
If you were wondering, our astounding all-time Portland high temperature of 116° was not recorded in August, or even in July – but in June, on the 28th, just two years ago.
Warm nights keep the days hot “The high overnight low temperatures have also been contributing to our hot days this year, because we don’t cool down enough at night,” remarked Burling, displaying a “Heat Risk” map.
“These large red areas [on the display] denote a major heat risk; the purple areas are show an extreme heat risk based on our daytime high temperatures are not cooling off at night,” he said.
Predicts moderating temperatures High temperatures moderated into the two-digit range later in the week, as Burling and the other NWS meteorologists had predicted.
“We just don’t see another heat wave this year. As we get into September, it gets more and more difficult to see high temperatures – especially as the days continue to shorten,” forecast Burling.
As this issue of THE BEE went to press, it appeared that at least six deaths in Portland could have been attributed to the August heat wave – at least one in Southeast Portland. None of the victims have been identified, and it could take months to confirm high temperatures were the cause.
The site of the bus stop across from the Belmont Library, where Youth Librarian and Eastmoreland native Jeanie Miller Diaz was killed by a drunk driver, there is a spontaneous tribute indicative of the community’s regard for her. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
At the memorial service for Jeanie Miller Diaz on Saturday, August 12, two hundred people mingled, looked at displays of photos of Jeanie and heard stories and memories from Jeanie’s sister, mother, her extended family, and a Belmont Library staffmember. (Courtesy of Miller Diaz family)
Inner Southeast Youth Librarian killed by drunk driver
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF For THE BEE
As a young girl, she was lighthearted and slightly whimsical – and she brought her spirit of fun and levity into the career she ultimately chose. As a Youth Librarian, Jeanie Miller Diaz was loved by children and adults alike for the joy and dedication she brought to her job, and into other peoples’ lives.
On Saturday evening, July 15th, while waiting for a bus to get home from the Belmont Library where she was employed, Miller Diaz was struck by a drunk driver who drove through the bus stop across from the library on S.E. Chavez Blvd. (formerly 39th) at Taylor Street. She did not survive the impact. Within hours, messages of shock and grief from those who loved Jeanie started pouring in.
Miller Diaz was raised in the Eastmoreland neighborhood, and she attended Duniway Elementary, Sellwood Middle School, and Cleveland High. After high school and college she spent some time in Los Angeles working at a talent agency; but, ultimately, it was the sweet memories of being taken by her parents to the Woodstock Library that led her to return to Portland, and to seek to work as a Youth Librarian in Multnomah County Library branches, beginning in 2015.
Most recently serving in the Belmont branch, Miller Diaz brought her creativity, fun, and whimsy into her job, dressing up at times to match the characters of the stories she read to children.
Miller Diaz was also an accomplished visual artist under the name “Four Sided Friends”, and she produced hundreds of colorful, intricate, patterned pieces – exhibited in shows throughout Portland.
Miller Diaz leaves behind two daughters, ages 5 and 8, and her husband, Arturo Diaz. Married for nine years, the couple bought a house in the City of Milwaukie, to which she was returning on the TriMet bus she was awaiting after work. Sometimes she drove to work, but on this fateful day, she chose to ride the bus.
The impaired driver who took her life smashed into the occupied bus shelter. Kevin Michael Scott, 48, now faces charges including first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, and reckless driving.
As with some other crimes, the DUII fatalities of pedestrians and other victims in Portland have been rising over the last year. Some who live in Inner Southeast believe that only awareness, education, and more police enforcement can help end these tragic incidents.
Arising from the love that so many had and still hold for Jeanie Miller Diaz, a “GoFundMe” webpage has been set up by her husband for the benefit of their daughters -- specifically to help with their future education. If you are inclined to donate, visit the online address – https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-jeanie-diazs-family
“Jeanie was a very special person, and a loving mother to our two girls,” reflected Arturo Diaz. “Hug your loved ones tighter than you may be doing now.”
Construction at the intersection of Woodstock Boulevard and S.E. 52nd Avenue began in late spring. Long lines of cars waiting to move forward, such as you see in the center background, will be slowing traffic in all directions throughout the summer. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
Woodstock Blvd’s 52nd Avenue intersection being upgraded
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF For THE BEE
Woodstock Boulevard is a major city transit street – it’s designated as a “Main Street”. Because it connects with major transit corridors such as 52nd and 82nd Avenues, and Interstate 205, it has heavy traffic flowing east and west. Over two miles of unimproved right-of-way segments increase the use of this boulevard.
The frustrating and hazardous intersection at S.E. 52nd Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard has lately been undergoing improvements. As part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s “Traffic Signals Superbundle”, that intersection will eventually be more easily accommodating the growing traffic congestion and pedestrians crossing
The “Traffic Signals Superbundle” project includes eight intersections in the city (six on the east side, two on the west side) that are set to have signal lights improved or added. The changes at Woodstock Boulevard at 52nd Avenue began in April of this year, and will continue into the fall, if not longer.
360 or more apartments are in the process of being added in the Woodstock neighborhood over the next two years, and vehicle traffic will become even more of a problem, despite the city’s wish that everyone just take a bus or ride a bike.
Elisa Edgington, a Woodstock resident who lives east of 52nd Avenue and often uses that intersection, recently remarked to THE BEE, “Turning left onto S.E. 52nd from Woodstock is very challenging. There are times of day when you’re lucky for even one car to turn onto 52nd [per light cycle], and usually only with the graciousness of drivers traveling east/west on Woodstock. It's also a fairly busy pedestrian intersection, adding another challenge to folks looking to turn onto 52nd.”
The Portland Bureau of Transportation website indicates that the changes at the intersection of 52nd and Woodstock will include new paving at the intersection, installation of stormwater management features, temporary street striping in mid-summer, traffic signal pole and equipment installation, permanent street striping, and a final phase involving the installation of street trees.
There is nothing specific stated, however, about any new left turn signal – so we contacted David Backes at PBOT about that, and he responded, “Yes! We are adding protected left turns both directions (and will put back the protected lefts that were previously there from the other approaches). In the end, all legs of the intersection will have protected left turn arrows.”
Pacific Railroad Preservation Association Manager Jim Vanderbeck stands alongside one of the of the massive air compressor pumps for the “700” that’s already been refurbished, and is ready to install. These compressors are what put on the brakes when the engine needs to stop! (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Southeast’s ‘SPS 700 Locomotive’ group wins important grant
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Over the years, we’ve been privileged to report on the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC), as it went from a concept into a reality. The Center houses three of the historic locomotives donated to the City of Portland which, back in 1958, were “put out to pasture” for decades, near Oaks Amusement Park.
One of the locomotives, the “Spokane, Portland & Seattle #700” – moved from temporary quarters in Southern Pacific's Brooklyn Yard Roundhouse to the ORHC, after it opened – and continues to be cared for volunteers with the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association.
On June 28, Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, awarded 18 grants – and one of them, in the “Preservation of Historic Properties” classification, went to help fund the locomotive’s restoration.
And the “700” is indeed historic, now being the oldest and only surviving example of a locomotive of its class.
The PRPA’s most recent funding is a one-to-one matching grant for $12,750. “It is for the repair of one of the two air pumps on the locomotive,” the organization’s Roger Woehl informed THE BEE. “The other pump has already been repaired; the remaining air pump has been shipped to a shop in Colorado to do the machining.”
At the ORHC, Project Manager Jim Vanderbeck said that he’s been working on the “700” since 1985, having helped to keep it oiled and lubricated while it was still behind a fence at Oaks Park: “I’m, by far, the most senior of the volunteers!”
Vanderbeck explained that the air pumps are necessarily large compressors, which provide the air pressure that operates the brakes on all the cars and the locomotive.
“This is part of the engine’s 15-year boiler rebuild, as required by the Federal Railroad Administration – which was an extensive project! – and we’re slowly getting the locomotive back together,” Vanderbeck said. “The reasons the project has taken several years to bring it to this point is that we’ve had to raise the funding – and we’re all volunteers.”
As for the reason volunteers have donated so many hours and years to the project, Vanderbeck mused, “I think it’s the fascination of restoring history, and an interest in steam locomotives like this one. This locomotive started in service in 1938.
“When these engines operate, they’re magic, actually,” said Thompson. “People stand there and look at them in amazement – and I’m the same way.”
They hope to have the mighty locomotive up and operating again this year, or perhaps in 2024. For more information on it, see the 700’s official website – http://www.sps700.org – and to get a better idea of the parts being replaced, and how they work, here’s an exclusive BEE video....
This graphic shows the new route around the west end of Eastmoreland, keeping Bus 19 on Woodstock Boulevard until S.E. 28th, when it turns south to Bybee (and vice versa on the return trip). The loop into Eastmoreland was eliminated on August 27th. (Courtesy of TriMet)
TriMet’s first bus route changes tweak Line 19
By ERIC NORBERG Editor, THE BEE
Last winter, in two issues of THE BEE, we presented in front-page articles and maps the many changes TriMet was considering making to its many bus routes. We particularly highlighted the ones presented as possibilities for Inner Southeast Portland bus lines.
Effective Sunday, August 27, some of the first tweaks of existing buses were rolled out, and they were fairly minor. The changes involved that most affected the largest area of Inner Southeast Portland were to Bus 19 – two adjustments were made to that bus’ route in this initial phase – including one change which should be welcomed by all commuters using Bus 19 to commute to and from work in Downtown Portland.
That change removes Bus 19 service to bus stops at the west end of the Ross Island Bridge, so that the only remaining downtown bus for much of Inner Southeast now will be able to skip that bridge – always crowded during business commuting hours, making the bus then quite slow – and it will finally get to use the new Tilikum Crossing transit bridge for faster trips to and from downtown.
The other change removes the loop on S.E. 32nd through Eastmoreland, and closes all the bus stops associated with that loop – keeping Bus 19 on Woodstock Boulevard all the way down to S.E. 28th, when it turns south to Bybee Boulevard (and on the return trip it follows the same route). This change, TriMet believes, will make the bus line run faster.
This may not be the only change to that bus line, and almost certainly will not be the only bus line serving Inner Southeast that will see significant changes – but that’s what happened in this round of changes in the lengthy process. To see all the changes on all the bus lines made on and after August 27, go online – http://www.trimet.org/servicechange
Famed Portland-born director Bill Plympton was features speaker at this year’s OMSI Cinema Fest – and afterwards drew caricatures of all 200 guests, giving each a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork as a souvenir. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Portland-born director highlights ‘Festival of Cinema’ at OMSI
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
For those interested in making movies, and others who love watching them, the 11th “Portland Festival of Cinema, Animation, and Technology” (PFCAT), from August 3rd through 6th at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, was the place to be.
This year, PFCAT activities included screenings of 119 films with 110 World or Regional Premieres drawn from 22 countries, as well as panel discussions, parties, and presentations.
Over the course of the weekend, attendees were invited to participate in panel discussion such as “Creating animation on a truly independent budget”, and “copyright infringement”.
Ticket-holders were also treated to gatherings of short films and animations in many categories: Animation Extravaganza; Comedies; Short films: Wild Revelation; Animation for Adults – and other short features.
Bill Plympton a major attraction One of the hottest tickets of the OMSI festival was a special guest screening, a talk, and a reception on August 4 involving animator Bill Plympton.
Portland-born Plympton told the audience that he was raised on a farm in Oregon City. From 1964 to 1968, he studied Graphic Design at Portland State University, where he was a member of the film society. In 1968, he transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he majored in cartooning; he graduated in 1969.
Between his showing of some of his best-known short animated films, and his displaying of various music videos, Plympton talked about how he first started as an illustrator, but yearned to get into animation.
“At that time, many people told me it’s not a good time to be an animator,” Plympton recalled.
Of all of his biographical stories, the one that resonated most with the audience gathered in OMSI’s Empirical Theater, was when a Walt Disney Studios lawyer came to his New York City studio to try to recruit him – for $1 million. But when he learned that Disney would “own his thoughts, dreams, jokes, and sketches”, he turned down the proposal, much to the surprise and chagrin of the attorney.
“Yes, sometimes I have looked back at that, wondering if it was the right thing to do, but I still think it was,” mused Plympton.
In 1988, Plympton’s animated short “Your Face” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film – which he re-drew as a “couch gag” shown at the opening of Season 29 Episode 13 of The Simpsons. That version was projected onto the giant screen of OMSI’s Empirical Theater as he spoke.
Amazingly, after his program, the animator then sat down at a table at the theater’s entrance, and sketched a simple, but recognizably Plympton-esque, caricature of each and every guest, while he greeted all of the some-200 people who patiently waited in line.
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