More stories from March's issue of THE BEE!


Reed College, storm damage, trees, entrance
Damage to deciduous trees was extensive in the January snowstorm, near the main entrance to Reed College on Woodstock Boulevard. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Reed College trees damaged by snowstorm

By RITA A. LEONARD
For THE BEE

When eight to twelve inches of snow fell on Portland on the evening of January 10, trees and branches throughout the city suffered damage. On the Reed College campus, a 50-inch-diameter northern red oak tree uprooted, crashing to the earth near the entrance on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. The oak damaged three nearby trees during its descent, and two other trees were lost in the Reed College Canyon.

Reed College Public Information Officer Kevin Myers reported, “Since the campus was closed at the time, there were no injuries. However, our Grounds Crew came in and did a magnificent job of cleanup to make the campus safe. The oak tree took out a Japanese flowering cherry tree and an American sweet gum, but we plan to replace them with other trees indigenous to the area.”

Myers reflected, “At Reed, we’re careful to maintain the forest canopy. For example, the bridge over the Reed Canyon was created in a serpentine design to avoid removing trees. But for every tree that is removed, we generally plant three in replacement.”

Canyon Restoration Manager Zac Perry revealed that the two trees lost in the canyon were a Douglas fir and a big leaf maple.

By January 20, Arbor Pro Tree Experts were on hand to finish the cleanup. Kris with Arbor Pro commented, “Some of the salvaged wood will be used for firewood, but the larger pieces will be milled and retained by the College.” 

Reed’s Zac Perry explained, “We plan to turn the wood into tables and benches that will be installed on campus.”

As the cleanup progressed, students and passers-by marveled at the huge fallen trunks and branches that had given way to the power of the heavy snowstorm.



Ross Island Bridge, painters, accident, injury, rescue
Firefighter/paramedics used an aerial platform on Truck 1 to reach workers injured at the current Ross Island Bridge repainting project. (Courtesy of PF&R)

Fall injures Ross Island Bridge painters

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A father and son, employed by Minnesota contractor Abhe and Svoboda Inc., who were part of a painting crew working under the Ross Island Bridge, were seriously injured about 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning, February 8.

One man fell 40 feet from the upper to the lower scaffolding inside a curtained-off containment area, and injured the other man when he landed on the lower scaffolding.

Using an aerial platform on Downtown Fire Station Truck 1, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews were able to get close enough to reach the injured workers, evaluate their injuries at the scene, and secure them to gurneys before lowering them to waiting ambulances for a trip to OHSU.

“Both men were conscious during the rescue,” PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman told reporters.

Co-worker Omar Rubi, later called a “salt” – a worker who acts as an agent for a union; in this case, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 5, according to NW Labor News – freely spoke with reporters.

Rubi said that the father was trying to help his son when one of them fell through a manhole opened for a ladder that connected the scaffolding floors.

Numerous “safety concerns” were present at the non-union work site, Rubi alleged.

The Abhe and Svoboda Inc. workers were involved in a $30 million project removing lead paint and repainting the bridge. Oregon OSHA is now investigating the details of the accident.



Brentwood Darlington, sidewalks, new garden
Peter Jacobsen shows the layout for a new “Annex” to the Master Gardner’s Demonstration Garden at the Learning Gardens Laboratory, across the street from Lane Middle School. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Brentwood-Darlington gets sidewalk grant – and a new garden

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

It was a busy evening during the monthly Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDBA) meeting on Thursday evening, February 2, as they announced a grant to provide new sidewalks where currently there are none, and confirmed the pending approval of a new garden nearby.

Before the General Meeting, BDNA Board Member Meg VanBuren told about a recent community gathering in the neighborhood.

“This showed our support for each other, because neighbors have been psychically, emotionally, and physically feeling unsafe and attacked in the neighborhood,” VanBuren explained. “We’re trying to show our solidarity for all of our neighbors, particularly for those who are marginalized and targeted by policies coming from the federal government. There is a big heart on our poster, because it’s about a positive approach to supporting our neighbors.”

New sidewalks for the neighborhood
BDNA Board Member Melissa Long told THE BEE that she was delayed coming in to the meeting because she was watching the Metro Regional Government proceedings on her cell phone, to confirm that a grant application had been accepted.

“The project is called ‘Brentwood-Darlington: Where the Sidewalks End’,” Long said. “We have been working for a grant to get all of Duke Street and Flavel Street sidewalks repaired, from 52nd to 82nd Avenue [of Roses]. And, just now, I’ve found out that our grant proposal was one of ten that chosen and approved by Metro – which means that, finally, our kids can walk to school on sidewalks!”

That proposal didn’t quite “make the cut”, Long remarked, until the neighborhood mobilized around the effort and directed 1,700 hand-signed petitions, postcards from kids, and letters, in support of the grant request.

The $2.2 million project, scheduled for 2019, may attract additional finding, Long announced. “We might get a PBOT match for putting in a Greenway on Ogden and Knapp streets from 52nd to 72nd Avenues, connecting with the new Greenway on 78th Avenue.”

Master Gardner’s Demonstration Garden approved
Also at the meeting, Peter Jacobsen arrived to announce progress involving a new Master Gardners’ Demonstration Garden, called “The Annex”. “It will be about three times larger than our existing garden – about an acre in size – located at the Learning Gardens Laboratory, across the street from Lane Middle School.”

He submitted the first application about 16 months ago, so progress has been slow. “But, we believe that we’re now within less than a month of our final approval,” Jacobsen said.



Flavel Drive crash, Portland, Oregon
Evidently protected from the crash impact by the airbags, the occupants of both vehicles did not require medical attention. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Two SUVs smash at ‘dangerous intersection’ on 52nd

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

involving two vehicles wrecked them sufficiently that they both had to be towed away from the intersection of S.E. 52nd Avenue and Flavel Drive in Brentwood-Darlington. It happened at about 2:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, February 4.

An East Precinct police officer at the scene commented that a Toyota Highlander had been northbound, heading uphill on 52nd Avenue, as it neared the intersection.

At the same time, a Subaru Forester was southbound on 52nd Avenue, and made a quick left turn to head east on Flavel Drive – right in front of the Toyota SUV.

The resulting T-bone side-impact crash caused airbags in both vehicles to deploy.

Emergency first responders arrived, expecting that there would be injuries from the smashup; but that proved not to be the case. “The occupants were a bit shaken, but no one was transported by ambulance to a hospital for evaluation or injury care,” reported an officer at the scene.

“This is a dangerous intersection,” the officer reflected, indicating that 52nd turns downward towards Johnson Creek below just prior to the crossing, and Flavel Drive bends downward on both sides of the intersection as well. “Drivers need to be watchful, and wait for traffic to clear, before proceeding.”



Franklin Aaron Bearcub
48-year-old Franklin Aaron Bearcub is accused of robbing six Portland banks – the last one being the Woodstock KeyBank, on February 11. He’s now in custody. (MCDC booking photo)

Woodstock bank robber captured; another sought

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A man suspected of being a serial bank robber – specifically, of robbing six Portland banks between January 4 and February 11 – was captured the day after his last caper.

On February 11, he allegedly held up KeyBank, at S.E. 46th Street and Woodstock Boulevard.

A day later, on February 12, the U.S. Marshal’s Oregon Fugitive Task Force arrested 48-year-old Franklin Aaron Bearcub at a Motel 6 on S.E. Stark Street between 92nd Avenue and the I-205 freeway.

“During the investigation, Portland Police Bureau Robbery Detectives and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force were able to identify Bearcub as the suspect, and learned that he had an outstanding federal parole violation warrant on an original charge of bank robbery,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Bearcub was booked into Multnomah County Detention Center at 1:09 p.m. on the day of his arrest, and is currently lodged without bail on a U.S. Marshall “Hold” at Inverness Jail. Bank robbery is a federal crime.


Double Hat Bandit; Woodstock; bank robbery; Portland; Oregon
The “Double Hat Bandit” is suspected of holding up three Utah banks in December, and two Spokane area credit unions – both of them inside Safeway stores – in January, before sticking up the Woodstock Wells Fargo Bank. Recognize him? Call the police! (Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

Still under investigation is a separate armed bank robbery, reported at 9:47 a.m. on January 23 at the Wells Fargo Bank branch inside the Woodstock Safeway store.

According to FBI information, they call this suspect the “Double Hat Bandit”. This man is suspected of holding up three Utah banks in December, and two Spokane area credit unions – both of them inside Safeway stores – in January, before appearing in Portland.

If you think you’ve seen him, call 9-1-1; he’s considered armed and dangerous.



Portland Police Bureau, East Precinct, Commander Bryan Parman
Most of Commander Parman’s days are now spent in meetings, but he says he still enjoys being out on patrol occasionally. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

New commander assigned to East Precinct

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Because of several prominent Portland Police Bureau (PPB) supervisors recently retiring, Kelli Sheffer – who’d been the commander of East Precinct for several months – has been given command of Central Precinct downtown. Central Precinct serves Inner Southeast from Chavez Boulevard (formerly S.E. 39th) westward; East Precinct takes over from that street all the way east to Gresham.

After having headed the Bureau’s Training Division, and then Tactical Operations, the new supervisor at East Precinct is Commander Bryan Parman.

About a month after Parman took charge, he toured East Portland on January 30 with THE BEE, and shared his thoughts during our ride-along.

Parman said he’s a Southeast Portland native, and a proud graduate Franklin High School. “My son was the fourth-generation of our family to go through Glencoe Elementary; I feel very deep roots to the community.”

The idea of becoming a police officer dated back to his teens, Parman said, when he became a PPB Explorer Scout (these are now called Cadets) – meeting at the Southeast Precinct building on Burnside Street.

“From my first ride-along, I was hooked on this as a job,” he reflected. “What I keyed in on initially was the impact police officers have on people’s lives; our ability to be a resource, and to be there for people, during what is sometimes the darkest day in their lives.

“And, I liked the idea of being out in the community – not working behind a desk! – and having a degree of autonomy in my daily work,” Parman continued.

Working in the Bureau for years, and moving up the ranks, has helped develop his philosophy about the job, he said. “This profession, policing, is all about people. It’s about making connections.

“My goal is the Commander of East Precinct is to strengthen the connections we have with community, and to build new pathways to other communities that don’t currently have a connection with the Bureau.

“The time to establish a relationship is when things are going well – but could be better,” Parman remarked. “There’s never a bad time to build a relationship with someone, or some group.”

Because the boundaries of East Precinct go from the city’s eastern border with Gresham westward to S.E. Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard (formerly 39th), the districts therein provide differing challenges.

“Overall, responding to mental-health issues continues to be a challenge,” he reflected. “Often, we’re the first-responders to those in crisis; and nowadays we offer a more robust response, with our Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team officers.

“And, we continue to work with our partners to build out a better framework for response,” Parman said. “At the same time, as police, we realize we can’t ‘arrest our way out’ of needs like this; we’re working to create more sustainable solutions.”

Serving inner Southeast Portland
While property crimes, such as burglaries, car prowls, and vandalism, are considered to be lower-level offenses, Parman acknowledged that they do increase the “fear of crime” in neighborhoods where they occur.

Homelessness issues along the Springwater Corridor Trail are still of concern. “We continue to address those issues,” Parman said.

“About vacant homes – the good news is we been able to work with our partners in the Portland Bureau of Development Services, and other city agencies, to come up with better solutions for abandoned homes that seem to be working.”

Finally, Parman reassured those who are still upset about Southeast Precinct’s current status.

“I understand, firsthand, about the situation,” he said.

“Where I grew up, Southeast Precinct was ‘my’ precinct; Southeast Precinct is where I started.

“That precinct no longer serves areas it used to, it’s true, and the thought I offer to folks is that the police officers who serve Inner Southeast Portland districts are still there. They simply change their clothes in a different office building,” Parman said.

Even though many officers and members of the Bureau’s command staff are choosing to retire when they’re able to, Parman says he plans to stay on.

“I believe this job is a calling.” Parman stated. “Regardless of what has transpired on the national stage, first and foremost this job is about service. [Circumstances have made] things challenging for police officers. I also believe that, here in Portland, the community still values us and still wants us to be engaged.

“As a profession, we continue to reinvent ourselves. The types of problems that we’re asked to tackle today are not the types of problems we were asked to address 20 years ago.

“We, as a group of people who are committed to find resolutions to really complex problems, are exploring non-traditional methods to solve some of these problems.

“Quite frankly, that’s what still engages me in this process – being a catalyst to get the right people to the table, to wrap our heads around some really complex problems,” concluded Parman. “There are no easy solutions for many of these problems; but they keep me engaged in this profession.”



Henderson Street, Southeast Portland, house fire, Oregon
Officials declared this Brentwood-Darlington house to be uninhabitable, after a midnight fire in late January. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Discarded cigarette blamed for Brentwood-Darlington house fire

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

When the first firefighters arrived at a Brentwood-Darlington house in the early morning darkness, at 1:30 a.m. on January 28, they reported to dispatch seeing “very heavy fire coming from the side of the home” at 7435 S.E. Henderson Street.

One company of firefighters made sure all three residents had been evacuated from the blazing structure, while others hooked up water lines, set up ladders and attacked the fire.

It didn’t take long for crews to quench the blaze, but fire companies stayed for more than an hour making sure all embers were extinguished.

According to a PF&R official, the loss is estimated at $190,000. A fire investigator determined the cause of the blaze to be an improperly discarded cigarette.



Sarah Milliron, Bullseye Glass Company, chromium, green, green glass
Bullseye Glass Company’s Sarah Milliron shows some of their new green glass, made with an ancient process not using chromium – including a sheet of double-rolled opalescent Citronelle.

Clean and ‘green’: Chromium-free green glass now made at Bullseye

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

With one major art glass manufacturer closed in Portland and being moved to Mexico, and with east coast glass makers’ use of hexavalent chromium remaining unregulated, Brooklyn-neighborhood-based Bullseye Glass Company, a renowned art-glass maker, seemed unable to produce green-colored glass.

Until now.

Instead of skirting Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations, the firm found a new and different way to make green-colored art glass.

“Even with the highest technological response through our air filtering system, we still can’t use hexavalent chromium, or chrome, the primary colorant for green glass,” said Bullseye co-owner Lani McGregor.

“Because we can’t use this relatively ‘new’ element, our chemist started looking for a solution by researching glassmaking in the Middle Ages – to see how they made green glasses without chrome,” McGregor told THE BEE.

“Our chemist has some very old books in his collection,” reported company co-owner Dan Schwoerer, as he admired a sheet of Bullseye’s new green glass.

Through trial and error, Bullseye workers tried ancient formulas – using approved manufacturing elements and processes – and found success.

“Although this has been a very challenging year, the exciting part is that we’re coming up with a whole palette of new green glasses, exclusive with Bullseye,” McGregor smiled.

“So, as far as we know, we’re the first to offer truly ‘green’, green art glass,” Schwoerer added.

Cleaning Portland’s air
Schwoerer talked about the progress the company has made to filter the air coming from the plant’s glass-melting furnaces as he led THE BEE on a tour of the facility in late January.

“When the DEA announced air quality ‘benchmarks’ for hexavalent chromium – which is .08 ng/m³ – the background level is higher than that,” Schwoerer remarked “In order to meet that ‘benchmark’ level here, we’d have to take all of the air in the city, and clean it, to get it below that level!”

With the company’s $1 million air filtration “baghouse” systems up and running, their next challenge, Schwoerer said, was adding and calibrating an exhaust air leak detection system to warn if any of the filters were leaking elements. “It’s a pretty cool device that monitors the air, after it’s been through the filtration system, but it’s not cheap – it  costs about $25,000 to install and program.

“And, although it’s required by the DEQ, they told us that they don’t know of anyone that actually has one of these monitoring systems installed, and they havn’t yet provided monitoring and alarm-setting practices,” Schwoerer added.

Standing under the baghouse units, Schwoerer pointed out the probe inserted into the post-filtering air stream which counts particles moving past it via what’s called the ‘triboelectric effect’. When particles hit the probe, they give off electrons, causing measurable current flow.

Technically, this monitor isn’t finalized, because it has yet to undergo certified calibration. “It will be ‘source tested’ as it measures grains per cubic foot,” Schwoerer said. “The permanent rule requires us to be below .005 grains per cubic foot – a very small amount, because there are 7,000 grains to a pound.”

Just then, loud-but-muffled “booms” resonated in baghouse area when a worker set a control to “purge” some of the 72 HEPA filter units, with a blast of air inside the sealed unit, causing the collected dust to be blown off and drop down into a sealed collection system.

“We’re really starting to feel confident that the system is working well and consistently, and we aren’t getting any surprises. We’re glad we’ve been able to accomplish making glass using an artesan process, but it hasn’t been without a substantial cost,” Schwoerer said. “Beyond the equipment investment, our managers haven’t had time off in the last eleven months, as we install and learn to operate the new systems.”

McGregor chimed in, “Some people say it’s great that we’re up and running again, as if it all happened overnight. But, we have been working for a solid year now, and continuing the effort for likely another six months or a year, to get this entire new system fully functional.”

In the end, the result will be worth it, the couple agreed – to be able to keep operating their business in the Brooklyn neighborhood, employing local people, and supplying customers locally and around the world with art glass.



Brentwood Darlington, impatient driver, crash, car into building, gymnasium
The gymnasium building’s red brick masonry could not withstand the careening Kia. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Swerving car rams building on S.E. 50th

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

When a car slowed down, looking for street parking on S.E. 50th Avenue just south of Lincoln Street about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 8, the driver of the white Kia Rio LX behind it acted impatiently, witnesses said.

“The Kia’s driver sped around the slow car – and smashed into a [southbound] blue car, pushing it into my boyfriend’s car,” said Sara, who lives “in the house on the corner”.

Even though this is a narrow two-lane street, the Kia had managed to pick up enough speed and momentum in the impetuous pass that, when it hit the western curb, it snapped off a TriMet bus stop sign and sent it like a javelin through the window of a sports conditioning gym.

The red brick masonry on the building, and the windows above it, gave way as the Kia slammed into the building.

Police officers at the scene told THE BEE that no one was seriously injured, either in the vehicles, or in the gym.

This incident remains under investigation. Based on witness accounts, a citation seems to be a possibility.



Woodstock Community Center, Sellwood Community Center, budget cuts, Portland, Oregon
On Valentine’s Day, toddlers in the Woodstock Community Center “Messy Art” class made valentines for their families. Cassandra Sloan-Nicholson, at center, wears proudly the title of Messy Art Teacher. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Woodstock, Sellwood Community Centers off cut list; worry remains  

By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE

In January of this year, amid the snow and ice, Portland Parks and Recreation announced that it was required by the new Mayor to cut its budget by at least 1%, up to 5%, right across the board.  Included in the “small community centers budget reduction package” were the Woodstock and Sellwood Community Centers. You read about that in last month’s BEE.

In Woodstock, this announcement led to an emergency meeting of the Friends of the Woodstock Community Center (FWCC), a group that has helped keep the center open during the past fourteen years. FWCC volunteers help raise money for custodial work (through the annual plant sale – see this month’s “Letters” column), and work with community volunteers to help with landscape maintenance.

FWCC has also overseen, and helped to fund, kitchen upgrades and some interior painting.  Tax deductible contributions from the community made it possible to have new laminate flooring installed several years ago.

After the announcement by the Parks Bureau in January, FWCC volunteers and others were hopeful that the work they do to reduce Parks’ expenses would help keep the center open. Indeed, they were told in late January that they and the Sellwood Community Center had been taken off the cut list.

Then came a subsequent announcement in early February – that preschools at the centers continue to be in jeopardy.

FWCC responded with incredulity: What? Cut WCC’s wildly popular preschool?  Parents depend on the school for its quality, its neighborhood location, and its reasonable tuition. In addition, this preschool is the WCC’s financial backbone. Without it, the center would be much more dependent on a public subsidy.

What would be the effect of a closure? WCC pre-school parent Annie Shepherd says her young son is diabetic – a fact which led her to have some reservations about her son being away from her during a two-hour preschool class. To her relief, she found both the WCC preschool teacher and WCC staff to be “wonderfully supportive.” She says that, in her support group for parents of diabetic children, some parents don’t have such happy reports, and often the criticize other preschools, which are much more expensive.

In November, Dawn Haecker moved to the Woodstock neighborhood from Minneapolis with her partner, and her four year old son Arlo. It’s her first experience as a stay-at-home mom. “Being new in town, it was a struggle to meet friends. But one of the golden things about Woodstock is that there is a Community Center nearby. It provided one of the first ways to plug into the neighborhood.”

Arlo is enrolled in the preschool, and also takes Messy Art, tap, and pre-ballet classes. “It’s a huge part of his enrichment,” says his mother.

As Haecker mentioned, aside from the preschool, the Woodstock Community Center does not lack for other interesting and stimulating classes: “Messy Art – Little Picassos” for 1 ½-5 year olds, “Movement – Gotta Dance”, tap dance, pre-ballet for children five and under, and guitar & bass for ages 8 and up, are popular. Tae Kwon Do classes for age 7 and up have been held at the center for many years.

Other classes for older neighbors are Antique Clock Repair (which has met at the center for over twenty years), Zumba, Hula Dance for ages 60 and up, and Writing your Memories.

In addition to these enrichment and exercise activities, the Center is an important meeting space for Woodstock Neighborhood Association meetings on the first Wednesdays of each month, and Al-Anon meetings on Sundays.

FWCC members are unanimous that “all of the functions of the Woodstock Community Center underline the word COMMUNITY. The Center provides an important part of the fabric of the community for Woodstock and other nearby neighborhoods. To close it would be a great loss.”

Supporters and users of the Sellwood Community Center are equally passionate about their Center – a century old, and listed on the National Historic Register – which similarly serves that community.

And supporters of both Centers continue to ask BEE readers to send letters and e-mails of support for the both Community Centers. E-mail may be sent to City Commissioner Amanda Fritz – at Amanda@portlandoregon.gov – who oversees the Parks Department, as well as to all other City Commissioners and the Mayor.  Future city action/proposals will take place in April and May, so any comments should be made by mid-March.

carjacking, Brentwood Darlington neighborhood, David Alexander Mellis, Portland, Oregon
27-year-old David Alexander Mellis, already wanted for burglary and car theft, faces new charges of robbery and stealing a vehicle in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. (MCDC booking photo)

Brentwood-Darlington carjacker caught

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

An early morning carjacking in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood turned into a pursuit that ended up along the TriMet MAX light rail line by the Banfield Freeway (I-84) on Sunday, February 12.

East Precinct Police Officers were called to S.E. 72nd Avenue, a block south of Flavel Street in the early morning darkness at 3:48 a.m., and learned from the victim that a light-skinned man, armed with a handgun and a knife, had stolen the person’s white Subaru Forester.

“The stolen car was spotted by police in the area, and the driver led officers on a traffic pursuit northbound on I-205 to westbound I-84,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The suspect crashed the car east of N.E. 74th Avenue, and the suspect ran from the vehicle and jumped down to the Union Pacific and MAX tracks just the north of the freeway, Simpson said.

A search of the area turned up 27-year-old David Alexander Mellis – who, it turned out, also had outstanding charges of Burglary in the Second Degree, and Unlawful Use of a Vehicle.

“No gun or knife has been located,” Simpson said.

After his arraignment, Mellis was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 10:36 a.m. that morning on charges of Robbery in the First Degree, and Unlawful Use of a Vehicle. He is being held in lieu of $550,000 bail at Inverness Jail.



Sellwood Bridge, finishing work
Workers pour concrete as they complete the sidewalk near the bank of the Willamette River under the new Sellwood Bridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Job done: Detail work completed on Sellwood Bridge

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

In late January and on through February, workers completed the remaining small projects connected with the new Sellwood Bridge project.

Although some residents of Sellwood Harbor Condominiums, located just south of the bridge, voiced objections, the river’s edge pathway has been restored. “Part of the bridge project included rebuilding and improving the path that was there before the project began – and which, during construction, was closed, because it was part of the work zone,” commented Multnomah County project spokesman Mike Pullen.

As reported in THE BEE, rock filled gabions were set in to stabilize the riverbank along the 360 foot long during the summer. “The path does not continue south of the Portland Rowing Club,” Pullen observed.

The cost to pave the trail with asphalt was approximately $25,000, plus additional expense to build the gabion walls to support the trail, Pullen said. “We are restoring the slope, adding landscaping, and paving the path.”

How did they clear the blackberry bushes there? “A goat herd did a good job removing most of the brush,” Pullen grinned.

In February, motorists crossing the bridge may have noticed workers tinkering with the traffic signal at S.E. 6th Avenue and Tacoma Street.

“This was not the much-anticipated work by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) that will combine the north and south signal phases for S.E. 6th Avenue, to provide more time for the main east/west movement on Tacoma Street,” explained Pullen. “Workers with O’Neill Electric were just tightening bolts, applying permanent labeling of cables, replacing fuse holder set-screws, and installing strain relief on cables.

“It will be PBOT crews who will be responsible for changing the timing of the signal, and installing the temporary signs for the traffic control change,” added Pullen. But Multnomah County’s work on the new bridge is done.



Sellwood Bridge relic, historic, railing, display, Sellwood Middle School, fundraiser
Sellwood Middle School students presented a giant ceremonial check that will be shared by both the SMS Parent Teacher Association and SMS Foundation. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Relic of old Sellwood Bridge dedicated in Sellwood

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A piece of the old Sellwood Bridge’s concrete railing was unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony in front of SMILE Station, S.E. 13th at Tenino Street, on Saturday afternoon, February 4.

Some forty people huddled under a canopy set up to shield participants from rain, as project coordinator Rachel Ginocchio of Rumpus Events began the observance. “This project started off as an idea, and ended up as a big project, resulting in a great fundraising effort for Sellwood Middle School (SMS), and a permanent memorial here at the SMILE Station.”

She recounted how she negotiated with Slayden/Sundt Joint Venture to get pieces of the demolished old bridge. With the permission of Multnomah County and the contractor, Ginocchio’s husband and a friend went down with a diamond-tipped bladed saw and cut off a 1,400 pound segment of concrete railing, which then was delivered by forklift to their own front lawn.

She thanked Cindy Wallace, Flo Posadas, and the staff of Blue Kangaroo for being the retail outlet for bridge mementos. Ginocchio also lauded the team of “railing wranglers” – Don Bolton, Matt Hainley, and Bruce and Kris Heiberg – who later moved the artifact over to, and mounted it at, SMILE Station.

Pat Wojciechowski of Oaks Bottom Forge said they were proud to create “useful works of art” such as coat hooks, fire pokers, and bottle openers from the old bridge’s discarded rebar. “We made about 300 items to help raise money for SMS, and if laid end-to-end it all would stretch about two and a half football fields in length.”

As the rain showers intensified, the program was shortened; Matt Hainley cut the ceremonial ribbon, and the bridge relic was officially unveiled.

With everyone inside the neighborhood-associaiton-owned building, Governor Barbara Roberts addressed the group. “In the last couple of years, we’ve had so many ceremonies in this neighborhood and in this community, but today is really unique,” she said. “Today, we’re celebrating the saving of a piece of this historic neighborhood’s past.”

The formal program ended with SMS students presenting a “big fat check” to representatives of their school’s Parent Teacher Association and Foundation in the total amount of $7,837.35 – proceeds from the memento sales, and a fundraiser connected with the bridge railing project.

Next time you’re at SMILE Station, look at this piece of history, admire the plaque of contributors – but please don’t climb on this nearly century-old relic!

Flavel Street, 72nd Avenue, car crash, Portland, Oregon
The Flavel at S.E. 72nd intersection was closed while police investigated the smashup. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

No injuries in Flavel Street intersection crash

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

With the airbags deployed in both vehicles, emergency first responders believed they’d be helping crash victims – after a green Toyota Corolla and a white Honda Accord collided about 6:30 p.m. on January 30 in the Brentwood Darlington neighborhood.

But, when Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers arrived at the intersection of S.E. 72nd Avenue and Flavel Street, both cars’ occupants were walking around – shaken but relatively uninjured and refusing medical assistance.

There was lively discussion about who is at fault, specifically about which vehicle went through a red traffic control signal. No witnesses, other than those riding in the vehicles, were present; officers did their best to sort out the situation and make sure the drivers exchange information.



Duke Street, water main break, lake
As the water subsides, a neighbor’s kayak is aground beside S.E. Duke Street. (Courtesy of Portland Water Bureau)

Broken main creates ‘Duke Street Pond’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A 16-inch cast iron main installed in 1930 ruptured near the intersection of S.E. 69th Avenue and Duke Street on Sunday afternoon of January 22, causing the gushing water from a major water line to create a pond in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

Portland Water Bureau (PWB) crews came to the scene, and began to excavate the street, looking for the exact location of the broken water line that afternoon, and worked into the evening.

By noon the following day, the pipe had been repaired, and traffic reopened along S.E. Duke Street.

A PWB spokesperson blamed the break on “very cold water” running through aging and brittle pipes at a time when the ground is freezing and thawing.



slow motion crash, no injuries, no damage, impaired driver
Paramedic/firefighters and police officers spoke with the apparently-impaired driver of the Ford Thunderbird, seated outside his car – after he was involved in a very low-speed bump into a parked car. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Dizzy driver has slow-motion car crash on Insley Street

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Emergency first-responders were called to an intersection at which S.E. Insley Street dead-ends into 77th Avenue, at 5:54 p.m. on Friday, January 27. It was an incident dispatched as a “motor vehicle accident, with injury”.

At the location, a white, two-door Ford Thunderbird was stopped in the intersection, headed east on S.E. Insley Street – just touching a parked car, with no real damage visible.

The Thunderbird’s male driver was sitting on the pavement outside his car, being tended to by paramedic/firefighters from Lents Fire Station 11.

From the man’s behavior, it appeared as if the driver had experienced a medical emergency. But as the conversation continued, it developed that the driver conceded to officers that he had had “something stronger than I thought”, which left him in a weak and in a mildly disoriented condition.

The ambulance dispatched to the scene was dismissed, without a patient. There were no witnesses to the very slow and gentle crash, and the Portland Police have not yet reported whether or not the responsible driver was cited for anything.




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