From The Editor

Thanksgiving! and THE BEE gives thanks

A few years ago, we took the opportunity of this Thanksgiving issue of THE BEE to bring you in this space the original “Thanksgiving Proclamation” by then-President Abraham Lincoln. He had intended it to be a one-time event, but it proved so popular that it became an annual day of Thanksgiving in our country, and it remains so to this day.

Sometime we’ll bring you that proclamation again, since it has much to tell us about where we came from and perhaps where we are going. But not this year. This year, it seemed to us that we were overdue in introducing you to some of the people we give thanks for – those most directly responsible for bringing you THE BEE.

So who is your editor? Eric Norberg has been an Inner Southeast resident since 1979, having come here four years earlier to be the Program Director of KEX Radio. He met Jane Kenney here, got engaged, got married, bought the house in Westmoreland – and pretty much gave up his long radio career, since you have to go where the job is if you want to pursue radio. We liked it here, and here we stay.

John Dillin is the man who kept THE BEE going when it seemed to have gone out of business around 1991. He bought the assets of the paper, changed it from a paid weekly to a free monthly, and started sending it to 16,500 addresses in Inner Southeast Portland, thus restoring its circulation.

Alas, he lived in Tualatin and his day job was in Beaverton, so there was little local news in it during that time, except for what arrived in the mail, by fax, and through the contributions of one or two stories a month by Rita Leonard and Elizabeth Ussher Groff. Yes, even then they were writing for THE BEE!

Mr. Dillin ran the paper for a decade before being approached by Robert B. Pamplin, Jr., about selling it to him – one of his first acquisitions in creating the current group of 23 newspapers, all in Oregon, and most of them situated in the greater Portland region. At that point Dillin stepped out of its management and suggested Eric Norberg, your current editor, to run it, starting back at the turn of this century.

The idea seemed to be to see if Norberg’s radio ideas could be productively applied to a newspaper. That has worked well; and any differences you perceive between THE BEE and any other newspaper are probably attributable to that different take on what a newspaper should be.

But, if your editor is also the sales department and the general manager of THE BEE, which he is – the only “one man newspaper” in the entire Pamplin Group – who, then, writes the stories? The answer is, several dedicated freelancers. Therein lies much of what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving!

We already mentioned Rita Leonard. She has contributed to THE BEE for longer than anybody, while pursuing the career that she only recently retired from – that of a Special Education teacher in the Portland Public Schools. Always on the lookout for an interesting feature story, her retirement from teaching has let her contribute a bit more than before to this newspaper. She lives in Brooklyn.

And we also already mentioned Elizabeth Ussher Groff, who is deeply involved in the Woodstock community in which she lives. She also is involved with the Woodstock Neighborhood Association; and her contributions still appear in every issue of THE BEE.

The newest contributor, the most prolific, and the one whose “beat” ranges from features to hard news, is David Ashton. David, originally from Michigan, has lived and worked in major cities around the country, including Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles. He moved from L.A. back to Portland, where he’d lived while working at KEX at the same time your editor did, and which he found to be his favorite city of all those he had lived in. In the 1990’s, he moved back, bought a house in Brentwood-Darlington, and ran a successful home business in it -- before the Pamplin Group hired him to be, for the monthly East County News, what Norberg was to THE BEE.

By the time it was decided to close down the East County News, David had gotten a taste of the news business and liked it. He continues to serve East Portland with his own online newspaper,, and he also began contributing to THE BEE. His news coverage now is so ubiquitous throughout Inner Southeast Portland that he is much better known than is your editor, who works at home most of the time. In fact, some folks think he must be the editor! But no, he is David F. Ashton, and proud of it.

By the way, the only news award the 112-year-old BEE has won in recent years was David’s remarkable shot of the nighttime fire department rescue of a woman who had turned her car over near Holgate Boulevard and S.E. 26th. The Society of Professional Journalists deemed it the news photo of the year. David has long been a professional photographer, and it shows.

There was one other person contributing to THE BEE back in the John Dillin years – Elieen Fitzsimons (not “Fitzsimmons”!), the noted Inner Southeast historian, who lives in Westmoreland. Her regular articles on the history of our part of town have been a favorite part of THE BEE for many years.

And recently, her colleague on the SMILE History Committee, Dana Beck, has contributed historical essays of his own, which are also greatly enjoyed by BEE readers. Many know Dana in person, not only as the host for many years of the live music performances on the stage at “Sundae in the Park” in Sellwood, but also as the cheerful counterperson at the Sellwood-Westmoreland Post Office – until his recent transfer to the Brooklyn Post Office, just off Powell Boulevard, where he has filled the same role.

By coincidence, Dana early this month retired from the Post Office altogether, and Eileen Fitzsimons has written the story, which you will find elsewhere in this issue. However, although Dana plans to move with his wife to the coast in his retirement, he promises he still intends to write historical essays about Inner Southeast, and that means of course that we will see him from time to time in our midst.

There are a few other folks behind the scenes at Pamplin Media to whom we should express our appreciation.

There have been several people involved in “composing” THE BEE over the last eighteen years, starting with Vivian Read, who had long been doing it since the days when the Pry family owned and operated THE BEE. Most recently, Molly Filler at Pamplin Media has been overseeing this, assisted by a special design team.

Ms. Jerrin Sipe oversees our billing, and is a cheerful presence to anyone she comes in contact with. Kim Stevens makes sure our mailing and distribution goes right, and Don Atwell leads the talented print team that operates our new high-volume presses in Gresham on a 24/7 basis – but still takes time to make sure THE BEE looks good. The BEE press run every month is 20,000 issues – the second-largest of all 23 Pamplin publications. A special tip of the hat to our Publisher, Brian Monihan, who is our rock in providing support and resources when we need them – and to the President of Community Newspapers & Pamplin Media, Mark Garber.

And finally, our special thanks to the people who “pay for THE BEE so you don’t have to”: Our advertisers. They are all local businesses, who appreciate the paper as much as you do – and we hope you will thank them for their support, and will patronize them when you can.

But their support is not charity! They would not be doing this if THE BEE did not reach its audience. We are pleased to tell you that, in an era in which some folks have declared newspapers dying or dead – perhaps, persuaded by what has happened to the daily newspaper, hereabouts – not only is the entire Pamplin Media group of 23 local Oregon newspapers doing well, but THE BEE has never been better-read and or has reached more people than it does today. This is reflected in the success of our advertisers.

And you know what? That means our last thank-you on this Thanksgiving Day is to –YOU!

Thanks for reading and enjoying THE BEE each month.

In the end, we do it all for you. Thank you.

Letters to the Editor
Oaks Bottom, rehabilitation, project, Springwater Trail, Oregon Pacific Railroad, box culvert, Oaks Bottom, lagoon, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon

River view of new Oaks Bottom culvert


Thought you might be able to use this photo of the new culvert, taken from my kayak on October 20.  A vantage point trail users won’t normally see.

Barry Emmerling
Sellwood-Moreland resident since 1996

Commuter on Tacoma Street writes


On Tacoma Street, during the morning commute, vehicles wait to turn westbound on Tacoma – especially from the side streets on the north side of Tacoma. Those drivers should be right there and ready to move into the moving traffic. We’re glad to let you in, but we shouldn’t have to make a deliberate stop to do that. A pause, or just the traffic moving slowly, allows you – if you are ready to go – to just slide right into traffic so the traffic can continue to move along. Don’t just sit back there by the stop sign and wait for someone to stop and signal you to enter with their hands, like you aren’t paying attention.  That is not needed. Let’s keep the traffic moving smoothly on Tacoma.

Sue Conachan
Oak Grove
via e-mail

More thoughts about Sellwood Park’s four tennis courts


In the “Tennis in Sellwood Park” letter to the editor in the November edition of THE BEE, William Adriance was advocating that the northern court be preserved as a tennis court and the southern court be converted into the four pickle ball courts. However, I’m almost 100% positive he meant to say that the southern court should be preserved as the tennis court, as that is the nicer court with the nicer view. Plus, the pickle ball players have already been using the northern court and have unofficially converted it into pickle ball courts with tape, etc.

In my humble opinion, the lower two courts should stay tennis courts, with one of the upper courts being converted into four pickle ball courts and the other one into a futsal court. This seems like the fairest ratio for the tennis players (we are still here).

Kurt Wagner
via e-mail

About that diesel pollution forum


To David Ashton – thank you again for taking the time to cover the Forum in September. Great write-up and thank you for including that last paragraph re: the Rail Yards. There was actually one question posed to the electeds but none of them gave any real answers to it re: the rail yards. They seemed to brush it off.

That is still on our radar for sure. In fact, we understand that Linda George over at PSU may actually do some monitoring of the yards with portions of the grant she received from the EPA. The DEQ will get involved to some degree but they will play a small role. I did have a long phone conference call with them a few weeks back re: the Union Pacific rail yards specifically as there are a number of new people in DEQ who have no knowledge / history of the yards. So the call was to bring them up to date on the history and current situation. And there are a few people at City level who would like to talk as well.

Joe Hovey
via e-mail


I want to comment on the article “Diesel Pollution Town Hall Forum held in Brooklyn” in the November issue. It’s great that David Ashton covered this forum on an important issue. But one thing irked me: He discusses points made in a presentation by Dr. Patrick O’Herron regarding dangerous hydrocarbons in diesel pollution. Ashton writes, “‘...and many are carcinogenic, estrogen receptors, or genotoxic,’ he opined.” ‘Opine’ means to hold and state as one’s opinion. Whereas O’Herron is presenting scientific fact, is he not? If Ashton wants to dispute the facts presented, he can check the scientific literature, but by using the verb ‘opine’ he is saying it’s just one man’s opinion. This trivializes the matter and is no service to the reading public.

Aaron Andrade
S.E. Schiller Street

EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Ashton about that, and he said he believes the sentence was changed in editing. He reports that the original sentence he wrote was,“In one of his first graphics, ‘Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)’, O’Herron mentioned that it is these PAHs in diesel pollution that contain a large family of organic chemicals including benzo(a)pyrene, dioxins, and naphthalene; and many are carcinogenic, estrogen receptors or genotoxic. ‘These often enter the body on or in particulate,’ he said.” THE BEE has been following and reporting on this issue for over a decade, and will continue to do so. The solution, it seems to us, is to lobby legislators in Salem to adopt a rule targetting old diesel engines that coincides with what both California and Washington have passed, thus ending the ready market for such vehicles in Oregon, which is at present the haven where they all end up.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


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