More stories from March's issue of THE BEE!

Twenty Miles an Hour, City of Portland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
PBOT Director Leah Treat, PPB Traffic Division Captain Michael Crebs, and PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera, together hold a press conference to announce that the new, slower residential speed zone signs are being put into place. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver alert: Portland’s side streets rezoned to 20 MPH


There have been plenty of places where 20 MPH has been the speed limit in Portland for some time.  School zones and bicycle-oriented “parkways”, for example. And, in the last couple of years, PBOT has permitted neighborhood associations and business associations around the city to seek 20 MPH speed limits in busy neighborhood business districts, and some have – Woodstock, Sellwood, and Westmoreland, for example.

But now, after gaining permission to do so from the Oregon State Legislature, the Portland City Council voted on January 17 to reduce the speed limit on most of the city’s residential streets to 20 MPH.

Not wasting any time, on February 6, officials from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division held a ceremony on the east side of the city, at which they began the process of switching out the old 25 MPH speed zone signs for larger ones which specify the new 20 MPH speed limit on residential streets

That was followed by a sign-swapping frenzy, as PBOT crews fanned out to begin the process of changing about 2,000 signs on what they estimate is 70% of Portland side streets by April 1.

The Bureau will be replacing the larger-in-size “reduced speed limit” signs, starting in East Portland and North Portland – and from there it will quickly move through other neighborhoods, revealed PBOT Director Leah Treat.

“This will help tremendously in saving lives, because, even though a lesser percentage of people die on residential streets, people still are killed on these streets,” Treat told THE BEE at the press event.

“Last year, we had three fatalities on residential streets; and if the cars involved in those crashes had been traveling at 20 mph, nobody would’ve died,” Treat said. “I also think it’s going to go a long way toward shaping ‘driving culture’ in the city.”

PPB Traffic Division Captain Michael Crebs observed that the difference between a vehicle traveling 25 MPH and 20 MPH, when braking, “is an entire car length; which can mean that no collision occurs when a kid runs after his ball into the street – and life goes on perfectly.”

About whether police will actively be enforcing this reduced speed limit, Crebs commented, “We have thousands of laws on the books with little enforcement needed; and, we also believe that people will look at this as a legitimate law, and they will obey the law, and slow down.”

Although city crews are out installing the new speed limit signs already, officially the new residential speed limit takes effect citywide on April 1. No fooling.

cop smash, stolen vehicle, collision, police car, Southeast Portland, Oregon
A wrecker pulled the smashed police patrol car up onto its flatbed, after it was hit by the fleeing driver of a stolen SUV. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver hits police car and runs, at SE 60th and Harney


Before dawn on Tuesday morning, February 6, an East Precinct patrol car was sent to the intersection of S.E. 60th Avenue and Harney Street when a neighbor reported seeing a man in the street, who appeared to be in distress.

When the officers arrived, at 5:19 a.m., they found no one in distress – but they did discover several broken-into cars along the street.

“As the officers investigated the car prowls, they found an occupied Ford Escape nearby, and decided to contact the driver,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley. “While still inside their patrol vehicle, and prior to contacting the person of interest, the driver of the Ford started up, crashed into a parked vehicle as well as the officers' patrol vehicle, and drove off.”

With their patrol car too damaged to drive, the officers could only watch the Ford SUV drive away – and radio for backup help, which brought ten more officers to the area.

“Other officers responded located the unoccupied Ford Escape about three blocks away, near S.E. Malden Drive and Harney Drive,” Burley said.

A K-9 team was not successful at sniffing out the fleet-footed suspect, who, as it turned out, was driving a Ford that had been reported stolen.

“One of the two officers in the patrol vehicle at the time of the crash sustained a minor injury and was treated at the scene,” Burley added. At last report the thief was still at large.

Holy dinner, reconciliation, cooperation, Southeast Portland, Holy Family Catholic Church, ecumenical, dinner, Eastmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Holy Family Catholic Church’s Fr. Rodel De Mesa, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Andrew Rickel, and the Director of Children’s Ministries Sarah Gibson at Moreland Presbyterian Church, represented three of the congregations that come together to celebrate, ecumenically, the national “Week of Christian Unity”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Inner Southeast observes ‘Week of Christian Unity’ in inclusive way


Several Inner Southeast Portland communities of faith came together on January 21 to celebrate the national “Week of Christian Unity” at Eastmoreland’s Holy Family Catholic Church parish on S.E. Chavez Blvd (39th), with a community dinner and prayer.

“We’re happy to be hosting this event with other churches in our area,” remarked Fr. Rodel De Mesa, as people gathered in the large parish activity room. “Because we’re celebrating Christian Unity, we’re coming together with other Christian churches in our neighborhood.”

However, the invitation went far beyond the neighborhood – reaching neighbors in Woodstock, Reed, Sellwood, Brooklyn, Westmoreland, Creston-Kenilworth, and neighborhoods beyond – and was not limited to Christians; the invitation was independent of religious or spiritual affiliation. “Buddhists, for example, are welcomed, because this is really about is what brings us together, rather than what divides us,” explained De Mesa.

From up the street at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, many from the congregation brought dishes for the potluck dinner, pointed out that church’s Pastor, Andrew Rickel. “While we see that we have different beliefs on certain points of religion, and go about worshiping in different ways, we worship the same God; and we believe that we’re part of a bigger body.

“It’s fascinating that our churches are relatively close by to one another, but seldom get together – even though our kids go to the same schools, we shop at the same stores, and we play in the same parks,” observed Rickel. “Gatherings like this add another layer and dimension to our interconnectedness as neighbors, as residents of Inner Southeast Portland who ‘stand up’ for the immigrant and the refugee, and stand up for the LGBTQ community, for example.

“We believe that we are created in God’s image, no matter what we look like.”

Soon, many families – more than 50 people altogether – filled the hall. After the food was blessed, all partook of the many dishes set out along the buffet table.

Director of Children’s Ministries Sarah Gibson at Moreland Presbyterian Church summed up what many had expressed: “The good thing that comes from this is unity – particularly in the climate in which we are living right now; for us to get together in prayer seems like a very positive thing to do.”

Gun toting trio, arrests, southeast Portland, Oregon
26-year-old Jason Michael Linfoot, left, remains in jail in a “County Hold”; 28-year-old Clarke Belgrade remains in custody on a “Post-Prison Violation” charge. 27-year-old Kaitlin T. Thompson, at right, was “released on her own recognizance”. (MCDC booking photos)

Gunshot leads to arrests near SE Division Street


Neighbors were awakened by the sound of a single gunshot in the predawn darkness of Wednesday morning, January 31, at 4:27 a.m. – and called the 9-1-1 Center, bringing East Precinct officers to the area of S.E. 67th Avenue near Division Street.

“Shortly after hearing the gunfire, officers observed a green Honda Civic with three occupants driving out of the area, and based on preliminary information, officers believed those in the Honda were associated with the gunshot,” Portland Police spokesman later told THE BEE.

Officers followed, and after calling for other officers to provide cover, they turned on their patrol vehicle’s emergency lights, signaling the Honda’s driver to pull over.

“When the vehicle stopped, an occupant ran from the vehicle into a yard, and briefly hid in a doorway and behind some bushes, before being captured,” Burley said.

The other two occupants were arrested without incident. “However, when officers searched the area, they located and seized a handgun near the bushes where one of the suspects had hidden,” Burley revealed. Apparently the bullet did not strike anyone or anything.

26-year-old Jason Michael Linfoot was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 8:04 a.m. that morning on charges of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Discharge of a Firearm in the City, Possession of Heroin, and a warrant. At his arraignment, the judge dropped all charges except for Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and set bail at $5,000; but he remains in custody at Inverness Jail on a “County Hold”.

28-year-old Clarke Belgrade was lodged at MCDC at 8:09 a.m. that morning on charges of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Reckless Driving, and a post-prison violation for a previous conviction of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree. At his arraignment, the judge dropped all charges except for a charge of Post-Prison Violation, and he is being held without bail at Inverness Jail.

Booked into MCDC that morning at 8:11 a.m. was 27-year-old Kaitlin T. Thompson for a post-prison violation for a previous conviction of Possession of Dangerous Drugs and a warrant for Failure to Appear on a Theft in the Second Degree charge. At her arraignment, the judge chose to release her “on her own recognizance”.

Brooklyn Park, summer program, Portland Parks Bureau, citizens committee, Brooklyn neighborhood, Portland, Oregon
Attending the February 13th meeting of the new “Friends of Brooklyn Park” were, from left: Melaney Dittler, Adam Livermore, April DeWees, Genia Zilberstein, Caroline Dunn, and the committee’s Chairman, Ben Tarne. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Committee organized to return Brooklyn Park’s summer program this year


Nearly a dozen Brooklyn neighbors have been organizing as the “Friends of Brooklyn Park” (FoBP) to try to return the popular summer program that was axed by Portland Parks and Recreation last summer. The new committee’s Chairman, Ben Tarne, took a leave of absence from his position on the Brooklyn Action Corps Board to guide the group, which has been meeting twice a month in an effort to “get things going”.

At the February 13 meeting at Iron Tap Station, Tarne revealed that the group now has its own bank account and Tax ID number. Linda Livermore has donated accounting services to the group, and April DeWees has been chosen Treasurer, and Caroline Dunn was elected Secretary.

Tarne observed, “We’ve received a large donation from the Brooklyn Park Pub, and the Bear Paw Tavern did a fundraiser for us last year. We hope to raise about $25,000 to cover the costs of an eight-week-long 2018 Summer Program, which covers salaries, overhead, permits, and supplies. City insurance is going to be one of our biggest expenses, but PP&R is currently working on getting our permits ready.

“We're working on securing 501(c)3 nonprofit status,” he continued, “But we already have a commitment from former Park Director Craig Montag to start the program in late June, with the help of one assistant. Hopefully, Craig still has access to the program supplies stored in the Park Shack. FoBP still needs a Communications officer, but currently we communicate on Facebook ( We're also looking to launch a website and a ‘GoFundMe’ campaign.”

The committee has plans for a May 12 fundraising concert at Rose City Coffee from 4 to 6 p.m. The Greater Brooklyn Business Association (GBBA) plans to advertise the committee at their Vendor Fair at Sacred Heart Villa at the end of May. Melaney Dittler proposed a fund-raising raffle to take place at that time, and there were other suggestions for raising funds. “We could use a Fundraising Committee Chair,” remarked Tarne.

The committee is hoping for more Brooklyn residents to participate in committee efforts to restore the popular summer program this summer in Brooklyn Park.

Fire, Franklin Street, Southeast Portland, Woodstock Fire Station 25, Oregon
After making sure the fire was fully extinguished, crew members from PF&R Woodstock Station 25 gathered to return to their truck. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Housefire tragedy averted by fast firefighter response


Workers remodeling a house at 3706 S.E. Franklin Street did the right thing when they smelled smoke and saw small flames at their worksite, at about 3:15 p.m. on January 25: They called the 9-1-1 Center.

Woodstock Fire Station 25’s Engine and Truck companies arrived shortly after the call.

“It looked as if people here at the house pretty much put out the fire; but we hit the area with more water from a ‘pump can’, to make sure it was completely extinguished,” said a PF&R Battalion Chief at the scene. “But, it’s a good thing they made the call to 9-1-1; had the fire ‘gotten away from them’, as they often do, we were here, ready to help.”

What caused the fire is unclear, although it is thought to be construction-related; the investigator’s report is not yet available.

Lane Middle School, Science Bowl, Southeast Portland, Oregon
After winning a round in the regional National Science Bowl competition, these sixth-graders from Lane Middle School Team #1 – Sofia Luke, Grace Stephenson, Coach Bruce Eric Reiter, Tristan Shaffer, and Ian Reyes – were happy and proud. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast middle-schoolers compete in ‘Science Bowl’


Science-loving students from Sellwood Middle School (SMS) and Lane Middle School (LMS) arose early on Saturday morning, February 3, so their parents could take them to the University of Portland campus to compete against other area schools in the regionals of the Department of Energy's 28th “National Science Bowl”.

Teams of students from both these Inner Southeast Portland schools pitted their math and science knowledge, as well as their reflexes, against one another, in the fast-paced question-and-answer competition.

Chosen to be their team’s spokesperson, SMS eighth grader Klara Kjome Fischer told us that she’s been part of the program for two years. “I decided to get involved with this, because I love science; and the competition sounded really fun – and, in fact, it has been fun!

“The most important things I’ve gotten out of this are learning how to work together with my team, and knowing how to behave in a stressful competition – it’s definitely all about the team,” she grinned. “And, I like being around all of these kids who like science, all in one place – and then split up in the competitions – it’s really cool!”

The SMS team’s coach, Craig Naze, observed, “Science is so important in education, especially in today’s world, with all the technological advances that we have; this program gives an opportunity for the brightest of the bright students in science to hang out with others who are interested in science is much as they are.”

And, after the competition, the team from Lane Middle School enjoyed a pizza party to celebrate their participation – and winning a round.

“Our team felt pretty happy about winning a game. We each had four rounds, and the first three times we lost, and we’re all rather unhappy about that; but, when we won our last round, we felt really happy, because it’s nice because it’s nice to know that you’ve won because you know all the information asked,” remarked the LMS spokesperson, sixth grader Sofia Luke.

“I wanted to go to the competition to have fun, and I thought it would be a good experience, especially because our team are sixth-graders,” Sofia added. “And it was fun, and it was a great experience.”

The LMS coach, Bruce Eric Reiter, told us he’s been helping students get ready for the National Science Bowl for 15 years. “I’ve been teaching science for a long time; I figured this would be a good opportunity for the kids to get out there and see other students, of their age, that are also interested in science and mathematics!”

The general fields of science covered in the quiz included physical science, life science, Earth and space science, general science, and energy.

“It was so neat when the sixth-graders won a round, especially because they’re going against seventh and eighth graders,” Reiter said. “Their win looks like it will inspire many of them to continue in the program next year!”

While the teams didn’t win the big prize at this particular regional competition – that was an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the finals in Washington D. C. – team members from both schools agreed that they did learn more about science, they came away with a sense of fulfillment, and they definitely had fun.

Market robbery, Bobby Allen Spackman, sawed off shotgun, arrest, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Along with the armed robbery charge, 31-year-old Bobby Allen Spackman faces three other felony charges. (MCDC booking photo)

Armed robber in Brentwood-Darlington tracked down by citizens


It was troubling enough for the employees when a man, brandishing a sawed-off shotgun, walked into Stonewalls Market, on S.E. 72nd Avenue just north of Flavel Drive at 6:26 p.m. on January 25, and announced he was there to hold up the market.

After grabbing a bag of cash and heading out the door of the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood store, when the armed robber noticed a witness following him, fired the shotgun at that individual, and then ran off. Fortunately, he missed.

“The witness was not struck by the gunfire,” confirmed Portland Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Burley. “But other witnesses also followed the suspect, directing officers to head west; and, in the area of S.E. 69th Avenue, just north of Flavel Street, officers found a man who matched the suspect's description. At first, he didn’t comply with the officers’ directions, but they continued to speak with him, and he was eventually taken into custody without incident."

Market robbery, Brentwood Darlington, sawed off shotgun, Portland, Oregon
Police say this was the weapon used in the armed robbery of a Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood store. (Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

Strengthening the arresting officers’ conviction that they had the right man, they found and seized a sawed-off shotgun in the belongings he carried.

Later that evening, 31-year-old Bobby Allen Spackman was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 11:07 p.m. on a charge of Robbery in the First Degree.

At his arraignment the following day, Spackman learned from a Multnomah County Court judge that he’ll face three additional Felonies to the Robbery charge – including Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Felon in Possession of a Weapon, and Possession of an Unlawful Weapon.

Spackman is still in Inverness Jail, in lieu of combined bail of $280,000.

Rogue Pack, foster kids, drama program, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Giving direction to young actors at a rehearsal for the “Truth AND Dare” show at a rehearsal at the Sellwood Playhouse are the show’s director, Danielle Pecoff, a Lake Oswego junior high drama teacher, and Rogue Pack Executive Director Ann Singer. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Rogue Pack’ foster teens put on Sellwood show


Again this year, Rogue Pack, a nonprofit organization which facilitates writing workshops for under-served youths to help them learn to “tell their stories”, helped these teens to present a show at the Sellwood Playhouse on January 26 and 27.

“I’ve been doing this kind of work for almost ten years now – the storytelling part of it,” explained the organization’s Executive Director, Ann Singer. “I’ve worked with different nonprofit organizations, such as Lunacy Stageworks Inc., and Well Arts Institute; but I’ve branched to start our own organization, ‘Rogue Pack’, after getting grant funding.”

The Rogue Pack teens, all from Boys & Girls Aid, were rehearsing the scripted portions of their show – their own original and biographical writing – as Singer spoke with THE BEE.

The actors on stage, in this case, are currently in foster care, Singer said – and the organization also works with homeless youth, those in juvenile detention, and kids with disabilities.

“This program is important, because these kids do not have access to high-quality theater programs in which they can learn to write, speak, and express themselves,” Singer explained. “They also learn how to collaborate, as they devise their own script while helping them ‘get into their bodies’ and they learn stage movement.”

Improvisational theater is a common thread for all the Rogue Pack programs, Singer observed. “It helps the kids learn to think on their feet, get ‘in the moment’, forget about their problems, and just have fun.”

Through participating in their program, and in this show which was called “Truth AND Dare”, this group of foster girls ages 10 to 18 learn to cross social boundaries,” Singer pointed out. In this way, she said, the program helps them deal with their trauma in a therapeutic and fun way, and also gives them skills that they can use in the future.

“These kids will see their potential, which really helps them expand the horizons of what they can be,” Singer concluded.

Learn more about this unique organization at their website –

Power failure, Brentwood Darlington, Harney Street, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Street lights along S.E. Harney marked the dividing line between those who still had electricity, and those who were in the dark. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Stuck switch kills power in Brentwood Darlington


A pleasant evening came abruptly to an end in the Brentwood Darlington neighborhood on Saturday, January 27, when an electrical power blackout rolled through the area.

When the lights went out at about 9:15 p.m., this reporter drove around, crisscrossing the area, mapping the outage: From S.E. 45th Avenue to about 60th Avenue; and from S.E. Rural Street south to Harney Street.

There were no vehicles crashed into utility poles; and no large trees had toppled into power lines.

Surprisingly, there weren’t any Portland General Electric “Eagle” units out, either, to repair the problem.

PGE’s automated outage reporting line reported that the power would be restored by midnight; but, to the relief neighbors, the power was restored just after 10 p.m. that evening.

“A ‘switch’ on our system failed, creating an outage on two ‘feeder’ lines affecting about 3,600 customers,” later reported Steve Corson of PGE External Communications. “You didn’t see any ‘Eagle crews’ because, in this case – and as luck would have it – the location of the switch that failed in our system allowed our System Control Center to isolate the switch [without sending out a truck], and reroute power to the feeders, restoring service to almost all of those customers within about an hour.”

If you were in one of the many affected households, now you know why the lights went out, and why they came back on quickly.

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