More stories from September's issue of THE BEE!

Lineman Rodeo, Northwest, PGE, Gresham, Brooklyn neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Brooklyn neighborhood PGE lineman Colten Hevern competed in the “Insulator Change-out” challenge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Locals shine in annual ‘Lineman Rodeo’ competition


Every year, crews from all over the Pacific Northwest – those who install and maintain electric utility lines – gather for a friendly competition at the eastern edge of Southeast Portland.

This year, the 26th annual “Pacific Northwest Lineman Rodeo” took place at the Portland General Electric (PGE) outdoor training facility on S.E. Powell Boulevard, on Saturday, July 27.

“This year, nine electric utilities from Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, and Utah have sent 350 journeyman linemen and apprentices to the competition,” announced event chair Joel Wallace, a PGE lineman stationed in Salem.

“The judges are all volunteers, linemen in the trade, from all over the Pacific Northwest,” Wallace told THE BEE. “In the various challenges, they judge safety, precision, and the technique used to complete the tasks, as set out in the competition rulebook.”

Colten Hevern, a competitor who works out of PGE’s inner Southeast Portland facility on S.E. 17th Avenue, finished a challenge in record time; and, with his partner, scored highly in both safety and sequence categories.

“I’ve been doing this for about three years now,” Hevern confided after climbing down the pole. “I decided to do this because my dad told me ‘Do something that not every man can do, and you’ll always have a job’.”

The work isn’t for everyone, Hevern pointed out. “If you’re to do this, go into it wholeheartedly; don’t do it partway, just for the paycheck.

“It’s not always easy; it’s seldom glamorous; but it’s worth it in the end. It’s a very prideful job,” Hevern grinned. “We love doing what we’re doing. I really enjoy the camaraderie; the brotherhood aspect of it – so, for me, it’s a great occupational choice.”

By the way, along with linemen Cody Bell and Hank Williams, Hevern’s “Team #118” ranked #2 overall, out of 20 teams that day.

Beyond titles, trophies, and bragging rights, all proceeds from the Lineman Rodeo go to support the Legacy Oregon Burn Center – this year, they were expecting to raise $30,000 – including sales from the “Lineman’s Café”, which was run by volunteers from IBEW Local 125.

All day long, up and down the utility poles went the competitors, demonstrating the speed, safety, skill and strength they use every day to keep our lights on.

Roger Dale Yates Jr, Springwater Trail, stabber, arrested, stranger to stranger, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Facing two felony charges in the stranger-to-stranger stabbing in Sellwood is 39-year-old Roger Dale Yates, Jr. (MCDC booking photo)

Springwater Corridor stabbing: Assailant arrested


Responding to what was called a stranger-on-stranger knife attack, Central Precinct officers arrived in the 2000 block of S.E. Marion Street, near the Springwater Corridor Trail, on Monday morning, August 5, at 9:14 a.m.

Officers learned from the victim, Dennis Long, that he had been stabbed in the arm by an unknown man near his aunt’s apartment at S.E. 21st Avenue and Marion Street. The first-arriving officer applied a tourniquet to Long’s arm.

It didn’t take long for officers to locate and arrest the alleged assailant, 39-year-old Roger Dale Yates, Jr., who is reported to have no permanent address. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 10:16 a.m. that morning, charged with two felonies – Assault in the Second Degree, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

At his arraignment in Multnomah County District Court later that day, court documents state that Yates told officers that he’d been “high on methamphetamine”, was paranoid, and had thought Long was a threat to him.

The judge informed Yates that he’d be answering in court for both felony charges, and he remains in jail in lieu of $255,000 combined bail.

Freeway closure, paving, weekend, I 205, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Traffic inched along northbound S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, as the street tried to absorb a heavy load of cars and trucks detoured off northbound I-205 – which was closed for the weekend for paving. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Weekend I-205 closure, for paving, befuddles drivers 


Many motorists traveling north through Southeast Portland said they were angered, flabbergasted, or stupefied (or perhaps all three) – while other drivers claimed to be just plain surprised – to find northbound Interstate 205 totally closed to all traffic from the evening of August 2 through the morning of August 5.

The closure allowed the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to complete the final phases of announced freeway improvements.

“Only people in the government could come up with such a stupid thing as ‘shutting down the freeway’ for an entire weekend,” fumed Frank Jackson, stuck in a line of northbound traffic on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses on Saturday, August 3.

“I’ve had to turn off my air conditioner, because my SUV is overheating,” remarked Susan Dumfries, as she waited for vehicles to move through the intersection at S.E. Holgate Boulevard.

ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton gave THE BEE the details: “This work, soon to be concluded on Interstate 205, between Johnson Creek Boulevard and the Glenn Jackson Bridge, includes paving the freeway, ramps, and intersections; building auxiliary lanes in three locations; installing ODOT ‘RealTime’ signs; improving the entrance to the multi-use path at Glisan Street; and improving sidewalk curb ramps within the project area.”

Asked about what led to the decision to shut down a major freeway for an entire weekend, Hamilton said he could sum it up in two words: “‘Quicker, cheaper.’

“The evaluations showed that otherwise the work that needed to be done would have required 17 nighttime-only full closures – and it would have cost an additional $600,000, due to starting and stopping the construction every day.”

Are you now worried about a massive southbound freeway closure coming next? “Don’t be,” Hamilton said. “The southbound improvements were done last year – but there may be lane closures for installing ‘sign bridges’ over the freeway before the project concludes.” One of those was set for the Glenn Jackson Bridge over the Columbia River over the weekend of August 10-11.

Eastport Plaza, shooting, 82nd Avenue, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Officers look for evidence at the scene of the July 26 Eastport Plaza “shots fired” incident. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Eastport Plaza ‘shootout’ jolts shoppers, but hurts none


Those shopping and banking in the north end of Eastport Plaza ducked for cover when they heard gunshots on Friday, July 26, just before 6:00 p.m.

“I can’t believe what I saw and heard; guys shooting in front of the Joann’s [fabric store], and by the Bank of America building!” said Becky Amodei, who said she’d come to use the after-hours automated teller. “Even though the Center’s security truck wasn’t far away, it sounded like a movie shootout – I mean, more gunshots than I could count!”

A Portland Police official said that East Precinct officers had responded to the shooting and “located evidence of gunfire in the parking lot.” Within eight minutes of dispatch, more than 20 police units had swarmed in – several of them part of the Bureau’s “Gun Violence Reduction Team”. 

Shortly two of the parking lot lanes were littered with yellow police evidence markers, each showing where a bullet shell casing had landed on the pavement.

“Officers performed a traffic stop near S.E. 84th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard, and looked into whether the vehicle that was stopped is connected with the shooting incident,” the police spokesperson revealed.

Officers fanned out throughout the parking lot and into business storefronts looking for bullet strikes, and initially they did not find any. “And no one has been located with any injuries related to this incident,” the police official told us.

Because it is still “an active investigation”, no further details were made available.

Anyone with information about this incident, or who has related video, should contact Detective Jeff Pontius at 503/823-2081, or by e-mail –  

Overturned truck, semi, Eastmoreland, SE 28th, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Officers stood by as the driver (standing in the shade) provided information to a PPB Traffic Division officer, after his semi truck rolled over on S.E. 28th in Eastmoreland. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Semi truck overturns on narrow Eastmoreland street


Nearby Eastmoreland neighbors saw an unusual sight on Monday, August 12 – just before 2 p.m., a tractor-trailer driving northbound on S.E. 28th Avenue, turned over near Martins Street.

A driver following the big rig told THE BEE he’d witnessed the “wreck in slow motion”, as the long trailer rolled on its side in the S-curve between S.E. Martins Street and Woodstock Boulevard.

Dispatched for an “Injury Accident”, Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s Engine Company arrived moments later, followed shortly by Woodstock Station 25’s Ladder Truck crew.

Central Precinct police officers shut down the street for hours. The firefighter/paramedics checked on the truck’s driver, who appeared to be uninjured and was already up and walking around, talking to officers.

A neighbor, on whose parking strip and sidewalk the truck had landed, said he’d been in his garage – just above the accident scene – and heard an odd, grinding, crashing sound at about the time of the accident, and came down to look. “This is surprising,” he remarked.

A Portland Police Traffic Division officer evaluated the accident – carefully eyeing a shredded drive-wheel retreaded tire. Apparently, no citations were issued.

The trailer was filled to the top with bags of “Flexterra High Performance-Flexible Growth Medium” – a ground cover intended to keep planted seeds in place. It took hours for a large crew to empty the trailer, and load it all into another truck.

By evening, the truck was gone and the normally-busy street was again open and clear.

Tucker Md,   axon School, new principal, Holgate Blvd, deaf and hearing, Reed neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The new Principal at Tucker Maxon School, in the Reed neighborhood, is its former first grade teacher – Jennifer Carver. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

New Principal at Tucker Maxon School on Holgate


On August 1, Jennifer Carver became the new Principal at Tucker Maxon School, the mission of which has expanded not only to teach deaf and hard of hearing kids, but also children with typical hearing, in the same classrooms.

“I'm taking over for our former Principal, Linda Goodwin, who taught here for over 30 years,” acknowledged Carver. “She was Principal here for the last 5 of her years, but is transitioning out with a part-time morning job in the second-third grade classroom, while I'm transitioning in from the first grade classroom.”

Carver began her career at the school in 2000 as an educational assistant. “When I started here, I immediately became an advocate for these kids – it just felt like home to me. I received an M.Ed. in Deaf Education at Lewis & Clark College, and have worked here ever since, although I did take some time out for family.

“We do all speech and language teaching here, with an enrollment of over 100 students. We help our kids both to listen and talk clearly. We’re working on growing our program both socially and emotionally.

“There are quite a few new staff members coming in this fall. There will be a new audiologist, speech pathologist, art teacher, and two new educational assistants. We’re excited to be adding to our family here.”

Carver spent August settling into her new office, ready to take the helm for the new school year.

Guardrail crash, new car, SE 52nd, Harney Drive, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Emergency first-responders gather around a brand new BMW, whose driver failed to make the turn at the bottom of S.E. Harney Drive – and smashed into a guardrail. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

52nd Avenue driver smashes new BMW into guardrail


It didn’t happen due to the weather – this car crash happened on the sunny and dry day of July 23. A woman ran her new BMW 428I convertible into a guardrail at the southern end of S.E. 52nd Avenue, at Harney Drive.

Woodstock Fire Station 25’s Truck Company crew arrived and provided medical care, until an ambulance took the driver to a nearby hospital for evaluation and treatment.

“This was the only vehicle involved,” confirmed a Central Precinct police officer.

“It appears that, for some reason, the driver lost control of the vehicle while turning right – and drifted into the oncoming lane, before hitting the curb on the far side of the T-shaped intersection, and coming into contact with the guardrail,” the officer told THE BEE.

Checking on the vehicle’s registration, the office remarked, “Wow! It looks like she just got the car.”

Benefit block party, foster children, casino games, Eastmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Whilst playing “casino games” at the benefit “Eastmoreland Block Party”, guests Craig Dwyer and Christie Echeverri watch – as Joseph Echeverri tries to roll “lucky 7s”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Eastmoreland ‘Block Party’ supports foster kids organization


A portion of S.E. 30th Avenue in Eastmoreland was blocked off for for a party in the street on Friday night, July 26 – with food, fun, and “casino games”.

But, this the party was not just for fun, said Matt DeWolf, the organizer of what was called the “Eastmoreland Block Party”.

“We’re hosting about 100 friends and neighbors to benefit Portland children who are in foster care,” DeWolf told THE BEE. “And, at the same time, we’re bring our neighborhood awareness to what’s going on to the foster [child care] community here in Portland.”

The beneficiary of the proceeds is the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called “Embrace Oregon” which supports volunteers who partner with Oregon DHS Child Welfare services.

“I first became an ‘Embrace Oregon’ volunteer making ‘welcome boxes’ for the organization to give to foster families,” DeWolf explained, “Which ultimately that led me to become a foster parent myself.”

At the party, the “Embrace Oregon” Assistant Director for Strategic Partnerships, Kerri Thornton, succinctly defined their mission as being “a movement of the community to connect the community with vulnerable children and families in the foster care system.”

Volunteers are always encouraged to step up and help, Thornton said, “Because in Multnomah County, on any given night, there are about 24 children spending the night in foster care; and there are not enough families to care for all of those children.”

To learn more about “Embrace Oregon” and how to volunteer in the child foster care system; or to learn more about their upcoming October 12 “Casino Night” at the Portland Art Museum, go online –

Gas Line Break, 39th, Liebe Street, Southeast Portland, Oregon
PF&R firefighters laid out “protection water lines”, should the gas escaping from the pavement ignite – while NW Natural Gas workers were getting busy on the repair of the ruptured pipe. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Gas line rupture closes S.E. Chavez Blvd, in Reed neighborhood


Traffic was disrupted for several hours along S.E. Cesar Chavez Boulevard (the former 39th), when a gas line was cut, a half block west of the thoroughfare on Liebe Street, on Wednesday morning, July 24.

When Woodstock Station 25’s Engine Company arrived at 10:20 a.m. that morning, the crew clearly heard the whistle of escaping natural gas – and they parked their rig so as to block off Chavez Boulevard.

The smell of “methyl mercaptan” – that’s the “rotten egg smell” warning odorant that’s added to natural gas – hung heavy in the air.

NW Natural Gas workers arrived just after 10:30 a.m. to evaluate the problem, and to begin what became a long process of plugging the severed gas line – a mishap which officials said had occurred during excavation in the area.

Roller Derby, champions, Rose City Rollers, the Hanger, Oaks Amusement Park, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Inside “The Hanger” at Oaks Amusement Park, members of “Rose City Rollers” warm up for another roller derby. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Rose City Rollers’ team to stay at Oaks Park – for now


Although the organization is still actively looking for a new permanent location, the “Rose City Rollers” (RCR) flat-track roller derby team – after filing appeals – was given permission in mid-July to stay until next June in the hanger-like building in the Oaks Park parking lot, opposite the roller rink.

“[Portland Fire & Rescue] Fire Marshall Nate Takara has issued another temporary permit to allow games, practices, and public events to continue at our present location – but the new permit is set to expire in June, 2020,” said RCR Marketing Manager Meg Patterson. “Winning our appeals is a result of our continued commitment to ensure the venue is a safe space for our Juniors, Adult programs, and the general public.”

Though the extended stay comes as a relief to managers of the 501(c)3 nonprofit roller derby organization, its search for a fully-conforming venue is “still very much ongoing”. The goal is to “find a place where women and girls who want to participate in the team sport of roller derby, to connect with an inclusive community, and to realize their power, both on skates and off, can do so,” Patterson explained.

Learn more about the 2018 World Champion “Rose City Rollers” online –

Power lines, lines burn, power out, Woodstock, fire, no casualties, Southeast Portland, Oregon
This PGE “Eagle” crew member shows THE BEE the wires which were burned out on the pole by a power surge – wiring that he next quickly replaced. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Electric lines fail, catch fire, on Ogden Street


Perhaps the hottest summer day of the year to date was what caused the electricity to fail on Sunday, August 4 – it was 94 degrees in Inner Southeast Portland. And when the power failed, a small pole fire followed.

The location of the mishap was S.E. Ogden Street, between 41st and 42nd Avenues. Woodstock neighbors told THE BEE that their power dimmed, pulsed, and then blinked out entirely on Sunday, August 4, at 7:19 p.m., as the sun was setting.

One resident ventured outside and noticed fire at the electrical transformer up the wooden utility pole in front of their house. “And the grass was on fire below it. I was going to put it out with our yard hose, but the firefighters came and put it out before I could,” she said.

Indeed, Woodstock Fire Station 25’s Engine Company arrived within two minutes of being dispatched, and extinguished the fire below the beleaguered transformer, and put up yellow safety tape around the pole before leaving.

It wasn’t much longer until a Portland General Electric “Eagle crew” was there, bucket-lifting up through the trees to evaluate the situation.

“The transformer is okay – it was the electrical feed lines that burned through! It will be a fairly simple task to replace them, and get their electricity back on,” said a PGE crewmember. And so it turned out to be, as air conditioners whirred back to life shortly afterward.

Semi blocks MAX, 17th Avenue, Brooklyn neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
A Gerlock heavy-haul tow truck assisted the semi stuck on the MAX tracks in Brooklyn. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Semi jumps curb in Brooklyn, blocks MAX


Midday on Thursday, July 22, a northbound semi truck with a flatbed trailer, making a sharp turn in front of PGE Headquarters on S.E. 17th Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood, jumped the light rail curb line, causing a temporary delay in MAX service to and from points south of 17th and Rhone Street.

The driver of the Maczuc Management Corp. flatbed truck, based in Missouri, was apparently unaware of the tight turning radius required.

A Gerlock heavy-haul tow truck arrived and, with help from TriMet employees, and with the use of several wooden prop boards, the tractor-trailer was soon lifted back over the curb onto S.E. 17th Avenue, clearing the blockage and restoring MAX train service by 12:45 p.m.

Limb falls, Brooklyn School Park, Brooklyn neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The fallen limb in Brooklyn School Park was determined to have compromised the whole tree, which was then removed. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Huge limb falls in Brooklyn School Park; tree removed


A giant oak limb fell onto the Brooklyn School Park playground around noon on Wednesday, July 21. The limb was over two feet thick, and supported five or six additional branches above the main break. Heavy summer foliage growth appears to have been what led to the damage.

City crews were notified, and they arrived and installed yellow caution tape, and began an evaluation of the condition of the tree itself.

There appeared to be no collateral damage to the park, since the limb fell parallel to S.E. 16th Avenue, covering about half the distance between the tennis courts and the baseball backstop. No injuries were reported.

The break point on the tree showed indications of a prior break sometime in the past; and, by week's end, the tree’s damage was deemed irreparable, so the entire tree was marked for removal and was soon reduced to two piles of bark chips, which were left in the park – perhaps to replace the chips that have been tamped down on the playground from frequent use.

William James Kennedy, machete, burglar, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Charged with being a “Transitional Leave Violator”, the accused machete-wielding burglar – 50-year-old William James Kennedy – is still in custody. (MCDC booking photo)

Foster-Powell resident holds intruder – with machete – at bay


A Foster-Powell neighbor was surprised to find a burglar rummaging through his garage near S.E. 80th Avenue and Francis Street on Monday evening, August 5. At that point it became the intruder, who was wielding a machete knife, who was surprised – because the resident was armed.

East Precinct officers arriving at the address, at 9:53 p.m. that evening, discovered the homeowner holding the suspect at gunpoint – and took the intruder into custody.

“Officers learned that the homeowner discovered the suspect hiding in the garage, holding a machete,” a Portland Police spokesperson said. “The homeowner was armed with a gun and fired two shots; the suspect then complied with the homeowner until police arrived.”

Officers located evidence of the gunfire at the scene. No one was injured as a result of the shots fired, the spokesperson said.

The suspect, 50-year-old William James Kennedy, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 11:25 p.m. that evening on one count of Burglary in the Second Degree.

At his arraignment the next day in Multnomah County District Court, the judge dismissed the burglary charge, despite Kennedy’s having been arrested on private property with a weapon.

However, Kennedy is still in jail, without bail, as a “Transitional Leave Violator”. The suspect had been placed in a halfway house, or some other transitional supervised facility, after his release from jail or prison – but violated the conditions of his transition.

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