More stories from February's issue of THE BEE!


On the stage, set up in the parking lot of Oaks Amusement Park, Justin Sheehy and Warren Dexter warmed up for their surprise ‘Pop-up New Year’s Eve Celebration’ concert.
On the stage, set up in the parking lot of Oaks Amusement Park, Justin Sheehy and Warren Dexter warmed up for their surprise ‘Pop-up New Year’s Eve Celebration’ concert. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Pop-up New Year’s Eve concert’ at Oaks Park

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

It was a welcome surprise – when the duo who put on the well-received “Cinnamon Bear” musical show for families, at historic Oaks Amusement Park throughout December, decided to return for a New Year’s Eve show for grownups.

Due to the spur-of-the-moment nature of the concert, Justin Sheehy and Warren Dexter of “WebracaDabra Productions” said the musicians who’d participated back in December were “otherwise engaged” for the evening, and that they’d just be presenting the two-hour musical show themselves.

“We thought we’d do this because COVID-19 coronavirus rules, here in Multnomah County, are keeping venues closed – but there’s still a need for live entertainment,” Justin Sheehy told THE BEE as they were tuning up for their unscheduled show.

“We’re here this evening to provide a safe in-your-car experience, where people can sit and listen to the live music through their vehicle’s stereo radios, while they watch the fun onstage,” explained Sheehy.

About the show, he commented, “Warren and I perform all kinds of music – from Cat Stevens to Frank Sinatra – plus a lot of 1980s and 90s rock music as well.”

During the concert, Sheehy and Dexter’s professionally-presented show also included cheerful banter. Their live sound system was excellent, and the music sounded great over the radio in our car.

Because December’s “Cinnamon Bear” musical was so well received, Sheehy said they were already exploring the idea of creating an all-new musical show – this one featuring the Oaks Amusement Park mascot, Chipper – for future weekend early-afternoons. “And, we’d also like to do evening music shows, much like the concert we’re giving tonight, with top Portland area musicians sitting in, joining us.”

Keep an eye on the official Oaks Amusement Park website – http://www.oakspark.com – where any upcoming shows will be posted, along with ticket information.



With the man at the wheel apparently having suffered a medical event, his Chevrolet Silverado roared through a steel-framed Tri-Met bus kiosk and a steel chain-link fence, before flipping onto its top and coming to rest just off S.E. Powell Boulevard. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
With the man at the wheel apparently having suffered a medical event, his Chevrolet Silverado roared through a steel-framed Tri-Met bus kiosk and a steel chain-link fence, before flipping onto its top and coming to rest just off S.E. Powell Boulevard. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Driver dies as pickup flattens Powell Blvd. bus shelter, and flips

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Just before the start of the morning commute, Powell Boulevard was blocked in both directions at S.E. 24th by police after a fatal single-vehicle crash on Friday, January 8.

Powell was shut down both ways from S.E. 21st to 26th Avenues for hours by the subsequent investigation.

As for the crash itself, at 5:47 a.m., Central Precinct officers and emergency medical first-responders arrived at the steel-fence-surrounded lot of the former location of Heckmann & Thiemann Motors. (The business recently moved a short distance west.)

In the pre-dawn light, officers beheld a black Chevrolet Silverado SS Extended Cab pickup truck upside down in the parking lot.

“Portland Fire & Rescue paramedics attempted lifesaving measures, but the driver was determined to be deceased,” said Portland Police spokesperson Officer Sergeant Kevin Allen. “Apparently no other vehicles were involved in this incident.”

As the sun came up, it appeared that the Chevy truck must have been moving at high speed before it left Powell westbound near S.E. 24th Avenue, hit some poles, then completely shattered a Tri-Met bus kiosk, before blasting through the steel chain-link fence, flipping over, and coming to a rest in a parking lot on the northwest corner of the intersection.

“The driver was a 73-year-old man from Happy Valley, Oregon,” Sergeant Allen later reported. “There are indications that a medical event may have contributed to the crash.” Traffic eventually resumed on Powell in the late morning – after several hours of tortuous detours for drivers, through neighborhoods both north and south of the highway.



To be used both for schooling and for public events, the new volunteer-built rain sheltering Sellwood Community House “Outdoor Pavilion” is a valued addition.
To be used both for schooling and for public events, the new volunteer-built rain sheltering Sellwood Community House “Outdoor Pavilion” is a valued addition. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Volunteers build ‘Outdoor Pavilion’ at Sellwood Community House

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A project started in the patio outside of Sellwood Community House, at S.E. Spokane and 14th, on the sunny-but-cold afternoon of December 5, and completed the following weekend, has already been enjoyed on wet and wintery days.

“We call it our ‘Outdoor Pavilion’, and we’re so glad to have it here,” smiled the Community House’s Program Manager, Elizabeth Milner, just after the New Year – as we used it to take cover from a light rain shower.

“The way this came about was that we realized that – once the rain started coming – we’d need more covered outdoor space for the kids; because of COVID-19 coronavirus concerns. We try to keep the kids who are in our preschool program outside, as much as possible,” Milner told THE BEE.

“We looked around at different options for covering the patio area; and reached out to local architect Mark Lakeman, who put together design sketches for us, and then helped us procure all of the materials.”

With class groups of ten kids, “The Pavilion 1s plenty big for the needs that we have now,” Milner explained. “And, going forward, we can see birthday parties here – and perhaps an outdoor fitness class, and other events – just by moving the tables out of the way.

“We’re so grateful for this new outdoor area, which now will help keep our kids and staff safer now and in the future, let us put on more community events, and accommodate community members even better!”

Made from reclaimed and salvaged materials
Mark Lakeman – who was also the creator of the original “Share-It Square” in Sellwood a number of years ago – joined us in the interview, just as a class of children came out to play. He observed that the structure – actually two of them – are made from reclaimed and salvaged lumber, driftwood from the coast, and roofing. The only new materials are the screws and bolts, and the gutter, he pointed out. It was constructed with the help of numerous volunteers, over three “build days”.

“The shelter covers about 440 square feet – but it’s built in two movable sections. Because it’s made out of two modest movable pavilions, it didn’t require a building permit,” Lakeman explained.

About the inspiration for his design, Lakeman said, “The Sellwood neighborhood is a very community-oriented place that values our ecology. We wanted this pavilion to be a statement, complementing the historic structure, which itself was a statement of its time. These pavilion structures honor that, by being similar in some ways, but also having an updated idea.”

The upper framing material is light in weight, but still strong enough to support snow loads in the area. “And, all the supporting structures are gathered from natural riparian areas, making it look treelike,” Lakeman commented. “It makes me really happy to see this, now that it’s up and being used.”

He said it made him remember how much he enjoys carpentry, and thought that he might want to do this kind of thing fulltime. “Creating and building structures for kids, making play spaces – maybe that’s the next chapter in my career! Doing this for people here in Sellwood.” He heads a new firm oriented toward such work, called “Communitecture Architecture and Planning”.

Keep in touch with Sellwood Community House programs and activities by going online – http://www.sellwoodcommunityhouse.org

And, to learn more about Lakeman’s “Communitecture Architecture and Planning” – http://www.communitecture.net



The side airbags in this Lexus are credited with having kept its occupants safe in the side-impact crash.
The side airbags in this Lexus are credited with having kept its occupants safe in the side-impact crash. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

All involved walk away from T-bone crash in Woodstock

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Traffic came to a halt when a side-impact T-bone accident took place at the intersection of S.E. 52nd Avenue and Steele Street just before 5 p.m. on Monday, December 21.

Witnesses told THE BEE that a white Toyota “4Runner Limited” had been northbound on 52nd, entering the intersection, with a green traffic signal. Simultaneously, a black Lexus SUV was westbound on Steele Street and entered the intersection on what driver may have seen as a yellow signal turning red.

The Toyota struck the Lexus on the passenger’s side. The impact was so great, it pushed the Lexus many feet over to the sidewalk.

Although dispatched as an injury accident, it turned out that no one was seriously hurt in the smashup.

“A few years ago [before modern advances in auto design], the people in the Lexus would have been killed, or at least seriously injured, in a crash like this,” a Portland Police officer remarked to THE BEE. “I’m happy to see that no one involved was found to be seriously injured, after being evaluated by Portland Fire & Rescue paramedics.”

As is usual in Portland when a crash does not result in injuries, no citations were issued, and the respective insurance companies were left to straighten the matter out.



Flames shot from the front of this Sellwood home, just moments after an electrical short in a clothes dryer had set it ablaze.
Flames shot from the front of this Sellwood home, just moments after an electrical short in a clothes dryer had set it ablaze. (Courtesy of Bruno Matulich)

Sparks erupting from clothes dryer blamed in Sellwood house fire

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A hot-burning house fire in Sellwood, whipped by wind, almost set the next door house ablaze along with it – on the stormy Tuesday evening of January 12.

When several different neighbors across, and down, the street saw thick smoke and flames shooting from the home at 1831 S.E. Bidwell Street, they called 9-1-1.

Portland Fire & Rescue responded at 5:15 p.m. A PF&R Battalion Chief arrived at the scene, followed by a crew from Woodstock Fire Station 25; a total of ten units eventually were on hand at the fire.

The resident of the house stood with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, watching the firefighters at work. A person comforted her, reminding her that at least her children had not not home when the fire broke out.

“I was putting clothing in the dryer – it’s electric – and when I pushed the start button, sparks started flying and lighting things on fire,” the resident told THE BEE.

Adding danger to firefighters’ work was that the electrical service was still connected to the house as they were working to extinguish the fire. At one point, water shorted out the electric lines and a shower of sparks flew, illuminating the rainy sky.

Crew members from PF&R’s Burlingame Station, west of the Willamette River, on S.W. Taylor’s Ferry Road, arrived on Truck 10 and laddered up to the roof of the adjacent house, looking for any signs of ignition from the flying embers.

With fire ripping through the first home, the 996 square foot structure built in 1909 appeared to be gutted. It’s not known extent of the damage, if any, to the adjoining home.



After the first big storm of 2021 blew through, the high winds on the night of January 12 found trees and wires down in the area from the strong gusts. This small tree blew down across the sidewalk on S.E. Claybourne Street near 19th Avenue in Westmoreland.
After the first big storm of 2021 blew through, the high winds on the night of January 12 found trees and wires down in the area from the strong gusts. This small tree blew down across the sidewalk on S.E. Claybourne Street near 19th Avenue in Westmoreland. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

2020 in Southeast ‘on the drier side’, but not really unusual

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

We have been keeping daily rainfall records from our location in Westmoreland since March of 1997, with complete annual records from January 1, 1998. This gives us some perspective on when we have had a particularly wet year, and when we have not. 2020’s rainfall total here was 33.88 inches.

That does put the year on the drier side, but not alarmingly so. Here are the statistics: In these 23 years, the driest year was 2001’s 29.67 inches, followed closely by 2019’s 29.75 inches. The wettest year during this span was 2012’s 59.29 inches; coming in second was 52.28 inches in 2017, and third was 51.89 inches in 2016. Those are the only three years in this period getting into the 50’s of inches, but it is clear that the trend is not really towards drier weather as the 23 years progressed.

That said, 2020 was the third year in a row with a relatively low total; 2019 recorded only 29.75 inches, as earlier noted, and 2018 recorded 35.35 inches. In this 23 year span, only 2000-2002 recorded a similar span of relatively dry years in a row (years with all three under 40 inches). If that tells us anything, it is that 2021 should probably come in over 40 inches.

So much for statistical prediction! As for 2020 – there were only three days all year with over an inch of rain in one day: 1.18 inches on January 28, 1.19 inches on November 13, and 1.77 inches on December 20. We’ve noticed that a substantial percentage of each year’s rain, here, falls on just a few days. With more days with over an inch of rainfall, usually the higher the total for the year will be.

Returning to 2020’s statistics, the rainiest month was January, with 9.55 inches – 28% of the year’s rainfall. The second rainiest month was December’s 5.44, followed closely by November’s 5.30 inches; those three months accounted for 61% of the year’s total. (If you keep your own records, you should know that our readings are taken at 4 p.m. each day on the date of record, so those who record daily at different times may come up with different daily totals, but presumably about the same monthly and annual totals.)

The first days of January, 2021, were quite rainy – leading to an “atmospheric river” event on the 11th and 12th which produced well over two inches of rain, and damaging winds gusting over fifty miles an hour in parts of Portland! It will be interesting to see how this year paces those in the recent past. We’ll report to you occasionally on it.



After tracking down a hijacked car from Eastmoreland to a spot near Cleveland High School in the Richmond neighborhood, Central Precinct officers prepared to arrest the armed boys in the stopped stolen car.
After tracking down a hijacked car from Eastmoreland to a spot near Cleveland High School in the Richmond neighborhood, Central Precinct officers prepared to arrest the armed boys in the stopped stolen car. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Two armed boys hijack a car in Eastmoreland

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

It’s unclear why the driver stopped to engage “early teenage” boys on S.E. Bybee Boulevard near 30th Avenue in Eastmoreland, at 9 p.m. on December 20th – but the result was surely unexpected: The victim told officers that two young boys had carjacked her at gunpoint – ordering her out of her car, before they drove away in it.

Having made a getaway, the gun-brandishing duo continued to drive onward 2.9 miles – almost due north – before law enforcement caught up with them.

“A short time later, Central Precinct officers located the stolen vehicle, and got into a brief vehicle pursuit before the occupants abandoned the stolen car and fled on foot,” reported Portland Police spokesperson Officer Derek Carmon.

The armed boys split up: “Officers found one of the suspects in the area of S.E. 33rd Avenue and Brooklyn Street,” Carmon said. “A 13 year-old juvenile was taken to Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center for offenses including Robbery in the First and Second Degree.” The lady got her car back.

Anyone who witnessed the event and hasn’t already come forward is asked to contact Detective Ken Reynolds at 503/823-0407.



Working in Flavel Park, construction crewmembers checked their work against the plans, as they got ready to pave the multi-use path – part of the “Springwater Connector Neighborhood Greenway” project still underway in Brentwood-Darlington.
Working in Flavel Park, construction crewmembers checked their work against the plans, as they got ready to pave the multi-use path – part of the “Springwater Connector Neighborhood Greenway” project still underway in Brentwood-Darlington. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Springwater Connector Neighborhood Greenway’ project progresses

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

A $2 million Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) project designed to connect “Neighborhood Greenways” continues, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood – where it’s intended to improve its connection with the Springwater Corridor Trail.

COVID-19 coronavirus concerns and the choking August wildfire smoke slowed the “Springwater Connector Neighborhood Greenway” project, but it certainly didn’t stop it.

“The sidewalk on S.E. 75th Place has been constructed, and the corner ramps at 78th Avenue are complete,” PBOT Communications Coordinator Hannah Schafer told THE BEE.

Neighbors driving along S.E. Flavel Street noticed construction in progress on the east edge of Flavel Park late in 2020, as construction crews laid out the area to be paved, and put down surface treatment along the pathway.

“We are waiting for a dry spell to pave the Flavel Park path and the 75th Place roadway,” Schafer explained.

After the paving has been completed, they’ll proceed to install other amenities along the path, including lighting, she said.



After running into the back of an Amazon delivery van on northbound on McLoughlin Boulevard at Holgate and pivoting up onto the sidewalk, the front end of this Subaru Outback was demolished.
After running into the back of an Amazon delivery van on northbound on McLoughlin Boulevard at Holgate and pivoting up onto the sidewalk, the front end of this Subaru Outback was demolished. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Rear-ender topples delivery van, closes McLoughlin Blvd.

By DAVID F. ASHTO
For THE BEE

A two-vehicle crash on Tuesday evening, January 5, on northbound S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard near Holgate Boulevard, shut down the northbound lanes of the highway.

Central Precinct officers responded to the rear-ender, almost across the street from the Ross Island Sand & Gravel plant, at 6:34 p.m. that evening, and began rerouting traffic off the highway at Holgate.

“We don’t know why, but it appears as a silver Subaru Outback rear-ended an ‘Amazon Delivery’ Sprinter-style van, causing the van to tip over,” an officer told THE BEE at the scene.

Although it was dispatched as an injury accident, all those involved in the accident declined medical attention after the wreck, the officer said. But late afternoon commuter traffic was disrupted for a time.

A wrecker was sent to get the van back on its wheels and pulled onto the highway shoulder, allowing one northbound lane of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard to reopen for traffic within an hour.

However, although it didn’t appear to be badly damaged, the van no longer would start, so a heavy wrecker was called to tow away the van. Front-end damage to the Subaru was substantial, it also was towed from the scene to allow all lanes to reopen.



Commissioner Amanda Fritz marched, in 2019, in the “82nd Avenue of Roses Parade”.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz marched, in 2019, in the “82nd Avenue of Roses Parade”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Commissioner Amanda Fritz: Farewell to public life

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

As 2021 began, the City of Portland lost a calm and reasoned voice at City Hall, as long-time Commissioner Amanda Fritz retired from public life, after not seeking reelection.

Whenever we had the opportunity to ask Commissioner Fritz why she was attending some event east of the river – be it involved with parks or nature areas, business associations, or identity groups – her response was consistent: “I was invited to come, and here I am!” She was one of the few City Commissioners in recent years to spend much time in Inner Southeast Portland, or indeed on the east side of the Willamette River.

Days before she left, Commissioner Fritz gave an interview with THE BEE about her time in office.

During her first year on the Portland City Council, “I learned my past experience as nurse, and as a mother, contributed a different, valuable perspective compared with that of the four men on the Council.”

About her style of public governance, Fritz said she didn’t believe her approach had changed over her dozen years as a Portland City Commissioner.

“But, I hope I’m more skilled now, after twelve years of practice! I still work at listening, learning, doing my homework, and focusing on spending taxpayers’ money wisely, to provide basic services in all 95 Portland neighborhoods,” she commented.

It was difficult to pick her favorite City Bureau assignment, Fritz said. “It was deeply satisfying to be able to dedicate over $70 million for new parks in East Portland while being Parks Commissioner. There’s so much joy in parks.

“I also loved being in charge of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights,” Fritz reflected.

We asked about the most challenging issues she’d faced while serving in Portland City government: “Oh gosh, I started in 2009 with the Great Recession, and ended in 2020 with COVID-19: it’s impossible to pick just one!”

This led us into her hopes and aspirations for the City of Portland, as time goes forward.

“I hope the new Council, with the first two-term Mayor this century, will work together to help us ‘Build Back Better’ after COVID,” Fritz commented. “Portland can’t thrive unless everyone, in every part of our city, is safe and supported. Our communities must work together, especially while striving for needed changes.”

At least one incoming Commissioner asked Fritz for guidance while preparing to come into office.

“When he asked, one piece of advice I gave Commissioner Dan Ryan was, ‘remember that their urgency is not necessarily your urgency’. People both on city staff, and in the community, often demand answers/action immediately, when in fact, developing solutions to complex problems often takes time and broad engagement,” Fritz said.

“Another is when a reporter sticks a microphone in your face and asks a challenging question, sometimes the best answer in the moment is, ‘I’ll get back to you on that’ – and then you do the work, and get back to them with a much better answer than a reply that’s off-the-cuff.”

Without weekdays and weekends filled with meetings, online and otherwise, Fritz said she now looks forward to many activities. “I have a grandchild who is five months old and lives two miles from me, so I plan to do a lot of walking down the hill and back to see her. . .

“After the vaccine, I hope to resume traveling,” Fritz remarked, with a sparkle in her eyes. “I have a daughter in California and a son and his partner in Chicago, plus my mother in England is still strong and healthy at 90.”

Both as an elected leader, and as a resident, her parting words as she leaves public life were, “Thank you, for all your support and kindness to me over the past thirty years, and the information you’ve shared during my time on the Council which has helped us achieve improvements together.

“Portland is a better place citywide because of the work and advocacy of Southeast Portlanders,” Fritz said.



Lit blood-red by the flashing lights of the nearby fire engines, this house at 5969 S.E. 18th Street in Westmoreland betrayed little exterior evidence of the predawn fire that broke out inside – except for the smoke-blackened entrance overhang. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, and then spent a couple of hours on the “overhaul” and security of the burned interior.
Lit blood-red by the flashing lights of the nearby fire engines, this house at 5969 S.E. 18th Street in Westmoreland betrayed little exterior evidence of the predawn fire that broke out inside – except for the smoke-blackened entrance overhang. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, and then spent a couple of hours on the “overhaul” and security of the burned interior. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Westmoreland house fire sends three to hospital

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

A 9-1-1 call just after 5 a.m. on the rainy morning of Friday, January 15, alerted first-responders to a fire in a single story bungalow home on the northwest corner of Yukon Street at S.E. 18th Avenue in Westmorland.

Woodstock’s Truck 25 and Westmoreland’s Engine 20 responded, and the fire was rapidly brought under control. The occupants of the home, two adults and a child, were transported by ambulance to Emanuel Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

PF&R added that a pet guinea pig was also rescued from the house “and seems to be doing fine”.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.



An East Precinct officer examined the damage after a head-on crash in the rain on Woodstock Boulevard’s “notorious curve” at S.E. 69th.
An East Precinct officer examined the damage after a head-on crash in the rain on Woodstock Boulevard’s “notorious curve” at S.E. 69th. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Head-on smashup on Woodstock Blvd. infamous ‘curve’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Although apparently no injuries resulted from it, two cars crashed head-on in S.E. Woodstock Boulevard’s notorious “S-curve” at 69th Avenue, on Wednesday evening, January 6. East Precinct officers arrived at 6:48 p.m. that evening, just four minutes after being dispatched.

“From our preliminary investigation, it appears the driver of a Subaru Legacy Outback was eastbound, and for some reason, crossed over the center line, and crashed into a westbound Honda Odyssey,” a PPB officer told THE BEE. It might have been a result of oversteering in the curve.

“People tend to drive way too fast through these curves – that’s why we have wrecks here,” the officer observed.

After the impact, the front end of the Subaru swung around, ending up at the curb, with its damaged front end against the rear bumper of a parked Honda Element.

While the drivers waited for tows, they exchanged information. Since there were no injuries, in accordance with current city practice, no citations were issued, and the respective insurance companies involved were left to deal with the aftermath.




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