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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

A family tragedy rallies the community

Editor,

In 1942, my parents bought a house in the Brooklyn area. Around the year 2000, a young family – the Bogza family – moved in next door to our family house. Their house soon had flowers, a manicured lawn, and a growing family.

As my mother aged, I spent more time at her house. I was always greeted by the little children from next door. Their father always asked me how my mother was. One time after a fall, they left fruit on her doorstep. I would go over to rake leaves, and they were already raked. I would go to mow, and the parking strip would already be mowed. And always, the polite little children greeting me. After my mom passed last year, the eldest son helped me clean out her home by lifting and carrying the heavy belongings. But not on Sunday; Sunday was Church.

Now this family is suffering as they have just lost their husband and father. I’ve never understood why bad things happen to good people, but they do. There are people in this world that choose to do the wrong things; this family chose to do the right things. I have joined others in the community, who choose to do the right thing too, and help them. I hope BEE readers will join us in this effort. There is an ad in this issue of THE BEE with details and a way to help.

Barb Johns

via e-mail Editor,

As a recently retired kindergarten teacher, it has been my pleasure to teach our children at Grout Elementary School. Part of our diverse population is immigrant children from around the world. In my 25 years, I’ve witnessed waves of immigrants from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kosovo, Russia, Somalia, and Myanmar, all coming in pursuit of the American dream. They share the value that education is an opportunity to better their lives in a country with freedom they never had. It is so rewarding to see a child with little to no English leave kindergarten speaking, reading and writing.

The Gennadiy Bogza family epitomizes this dream. Emigrating from Russia in 1995 the family set up residence in our Southeast community, and through the years grew to 13 children. Gennadiy grasped the dream by instilling the exceptional values of faith and hard work. In a time when entitlement is rampant, it is refreshing to see the opposite. Always positive attitudes were demonstrated – It’s not what we have, but who you are. I’m mindful of Dr. King’s quote, “not the color of our skin but the content of our character.” The character of each of the kids is remarkable. I was privileged to have five of the Bogza children in my class, each coming in very quiet and shy, but eager to learn. Always clean, nicely dressed, respectful, and wanting to help the teacher and their peers. The older children fostering the younger ones, and the parents supporting their education. As you might expect, these children are endearing to everyone at Grout.

On May 4th, Mr. Bogza unexpectedly passed away. The challenges facing this family are overwhelming. This family deserves our support and respect. I call on all of our “content of character” to help. Please donate anything you can. The community has come together to set up a bank account and obtain an ad, with an appeal for this family, in this issue of THE BEE – please read it and respond from the heart.

Bob Parker

via e-mail [EDITOR’S NOTE: The ad appears in the June issue of the print version of THE BEE – on page 3.]

Arleta School is thankful

Editor, Arleta School held the fourth annual Arleta Poetry Jam in April as part of our National Poetry Month celebration. Last year, I asked Dutch Bros. on Foster if they would be willing to donate a drink for the students who read. Joe Brown made that happen for us and when word got out, middle school students suddenly became interested in reading at this family event. This year, we had such great middle school attendance that I asked Joe if he'd be willing to reward spoken word artists if I were to hold a poetry slam during the day at school in the following week. Joe gave us a quick thumbs up. I ended up with 37 middle school students who competed by reading an original poem!

The competition was fierce, and the judging was based on content and delivery. Kayln Quint and Rashay Walker tied for first place with poems that would blow you away. I cannot wait to see what they write for next April's competition. Joe told us he'd be there for us again, next year.

I'm writing this letter today, just to acknowledge what a great neighbor, Dutch Bros. has been to our school. I also want to acknowledge all of the students who stood on stage to read a poem, just for the love of it, and a Dutch Bros. drink! Thanks for making this annual event one of my favorites.

Melinda McCrossen

Teacher-Librarian

Lawn care breaks the evening silence

Editor,, There are people on my block in Eastmoreland who mow their lawn whenever they feel like it, sometimes even at 8 00 or 9 00 in the evening. Then they use an edger and then even a leaf blower. It's so loud when we're trying to relax in the evening. What are they thinking? The city said 7 30 is the latest for that. Could you publish this and remind people it's not very nice to make all that racket when people are having dinner or just home wanting some peace and quiet.

Adam Meier

via e-mail

Sellwood thefts include large, heavy art objects Editor, We are deeply sad and upset. We own “Love Art Gallery” and have been in business for more than 5 years. During the past 6 months, our art outside (even though secured) has been targeted for theft. We have had 3 separate incidents. Last night [May 14], we lost over $2,000 in mosaic benches and stepping stones. It is obvious that our hours, the neighborhood, and the art has been specifically targeted. We aren't sure that this is the same as the incidents everyone is speaking about, but we certainly need to put it out there.

These are the first times [things like this have happened] since we've been in business. Someone would need to have access to transportation in order to steal these very heavy items.

Our artists cannot take a hit such as this, nor can the gallery. We are one of the few places in Portland that has outdoor showing space for local artists. We are now considering whether or not to cease the outdoor/garden art aspect of the gallery or exactly what to do. We are heartbroken and confused. Here is a link that our artist posted on Craigslist that will show some of the pieces: portland.craigslist.org/mlt/ats/4472330659.html. We appreciate neighbors keeping their eyes open and reporting suspicious activity to 9-1-1. Security cameras have been to no avail.

Ruby and Ted Newton via e-mail [EDITOR’S NOTE: We hear informally of a small crime wave locally, primarily in the Sellwood area, involving trespassing, break-ins, and now this. Probably very few people are involved, and the miscreants are probably trying to raise money to feed a drug habit. It will continue until there are arrests. All such incidents should be reported to the police, no matter how minor, since police presence is allocated based upon the reports received. Apparently neighbors have taken photos of suspicious characters and have given them to the police, which is a good idea. In this case, we understand a warrant has now been issued in these thefts, which may mean the thieves responsible have been identified and there may be a break in this series of crimes. We hope so.]

Disliked dispensary issue coverage

Editor, We just received the May issue of THE BEE and found ourselves very disappointed at the very slanted coverage of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary issue on Page 1 and on Page 4. I have been bemoaning of late that THE BEE seems to have become a compendium of lengthy car crash stories. However, if this is the best the editor can do with an issue of real substance, perhaps THE BEE should remain a Police Blotter. Unfortunately, the neighborhood was deprived of accurate reporting of the discussion by neighbors and the thoughtful consideration by most of the [SMILE] Board. I hope the Board will discuss this situation with Mr. Norberg. Meanwhile, we move on.

Elayne Janiak

S.E. Spokane Street [EDITOR’S NOTE: We stand by the accuracy of the story. As to the types of news we cover, our mission will continue to be to offer complete news coverage.]

BEE readers helped with trip to D.C.

Editor,

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the Sellwood Middle School 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. Our letter to the editor letter prompted donations that will help students who cannot pay the entire cost of this memorable trip.

In fact, we received a very large anonymous donation, and we want to acknowledge the donor's generosity. Thank you!

As we mentioned to your readers, the 8th grade trip is the crowning experience after three years of government and citizenship curriculum. We're still accepting donations – and even small contributions really make a difference. You may contact the Sellwood Middle School office at 503/916-5656.

We appreciate THE BEE newspaper! It's a testimony to the influence THE BEE has in our community to spur such a positive response to our campaign.

Paula Izaugie

Sellwood Middle School Library Assistant

8th Grade Trip Fundraiser

Sign means political solicitors, too

Editor, Many of us in the area have “No Solicitors” posted on our doorways. The past few weeks, representatives for various candidates have come to my door. How can a candidate or a representative for a candidate tell me that they represent me and will take my thoughts into consideration, if they ignore the first thing I request?

Melissa Mattern

via e-mail

Special celebration for S.E. school and teacher

Editor, Here is a story about a very special school reunion that was 30 years in the making, thanks to the passionate Southeast Portland woman who has worked tirelessly during that time to help change the lives of several generations of children in our community. Now, many of those former students have returned to express their appreciation

Whole Child Montessori Center began in 1983 with six children attending school in the Westmoreland family room of a Montessori-trained teacher and mother. Word about this little classroom of happily engaged children spread quickly, the group grew, and additional teachers were hired. The school moved out of the home and into classroom space at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on S.E. Woodstock. In the fall of 1988, WCMC moved into its current location at 5909 S.E. 40th Avenue. In 1992, WCMC incorporated as a non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable organization.

Since its inception 30 years ago as the first Montessori program in Southeast Portland, WCMC has maintained its commitment to strong parent and community involvement while providing a holistic Montessori education to hundreds of children. The school has conducted annual food and clothing drives for Portland's in-need community for the past 30 years, has been involved in neighborhood litter patrol, graffiti clean-up, and tree planting, and for the past fives years has been and continues to be a steward for an area in the Johnson Creek watershed, charged with removing invasive species and planting native plants.

Several generations of Southeast Portland residents came together on Saturday, May 31st at 2:00 pm, for an emotional, one-of-a-kind reunion at The Whole Child Montessori Center at 5909 S.E. 40th Avenue. Many former students, several of whom now have children of their own attending the school, helped mark the 30th anniversary of WCMC with its founder Nancy Pribnow, the founder and driving force behind the school. Launched with the humblest of beginnings, WCMC thrived to become a formidable educational force and positive community influence in Southeast Portland and beyond.

Edward Nieto

via e-mail

“Throw the rascals out”

Editor, The City of Portland seems to have the right to do anything they want to get added revenue. The Inner Southeast area is being surrounded by butt ugly houses that don’t even fit the neighborhoods (it’s like having a supermarket built next door). Neighborhood properties are being bought up as fast as they can, so the houses on these lots can be demolished and new houses built before anyone can figure out what’s going on or even get decent answers from anyone. Permits and inspections are made without delay for these contractors. The City has laws in effect so these houses could be built up to their code. The City does not care about the tax paying home owners that live next door to or near these ungodly new homes. The people that do complain think the City will listen [but] that’s not true. The City has already made up their minds about not changing the codes and nothing will ever be done. I believe that the people involved with this process from the Mayor on down should be fired with the loss of their pensions etc., for allowing this to happen. Keith Thomas S.E. 36th Place Eastmoreland

“Bad air” concerns

Editor,

Regarding last month's coverage of the meeting Precision Cast Parts had with neighbors on being named the “Nation's #1 Toxic Air Polluter”, it should be clarified that many of our schools in Southeast Portland have some of the worst outdoor air quality in the nation. According to the “Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America’s Schools” here's a sampling of how some of our neighborhood schools rank:

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  • Duniway Elementary, worst 3% in the nation

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  • Ardenwald Elementary, worst 3% in the nation

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  • Lane Middle School, worst 9% in the nation

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  • Lewis Elementary, worst 11% in the nation

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  • Woodstock Elementary, worst 13% in the nation

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  • Arleta Elementary, worst 13% in the nation

    Industrial pollution is having a negative impact on our community's health and the health of our children. The situation is worse when one considers how Oregon is becoming a dumping ground for the dirty diesel trucks and locomotives that are being outlawed in Washington and California, which is troublesome because children are particularly vulnerable to the harms of diesel pollution. Between diesel and industrial pollution, it's no wonder that the Oregon Health Authority recently reported that Oregon has one of the top five asthma rates in the nation.

    Residents are concerned about the emissions coming from Precision Castparts Corporation's Johnson Creek facility located near Portland and Milwaukie neighborhoods. Nickle, cobalt, chromium, and their associated compounds are well-known or suspected carcinogens. The reason that Precision was named the "Nation's #1 Toxic Air Polluter" is due to the quantity of their emissions, the toxicity of those emissions, and their exposure to population centers, like the neighborhoods of Southeast Portland. Surprisingly, this ranking identifies Precision as a worse air polluter than much larger companies like Dow Chemical, Monsanto and ExxonMobile.

    While Precision's score was indeed based on all of the factories the company owns across the nation, the report itself states that the Large Structurals facility off Johnson Creek is responsible for more than 10% of the company's total score. When you consider Precision's three facilities in Portland, Clackamas, and Milwaukie, they account for more than 33% of the total score that named them the Nation's #1 Toxic Air Polluter."

    Chris Meyers, Precision's Environmental Health and Safety Director, has declined follow-up meetings with neighborhood association representatives, saying Precision will convene another public forum in the future. Precision is failing to recognize that neighborhood associations are the vehicle for community engagement, and that we often meet in small groups with local businesses, city officials, and state representatives to problem-solve community concerns. We hope that Precision Castparts will reconsider their approach because we believe they can be a good neighbor and corporate citizen that takes community health concerns seriously.

    Collectively our neighborhoods in SE Portland want action, not lip service. We encourage Precision Castparts to come to the table to problem-solve these real community concerns.

    Becky Luening, Chair, Woodstock Neighborhood Assn

    Robert McCullough, Chair, Eastmoreland Neighborhood Assn

    Erika Palmer-Wilson, Chair, Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Assn

    Jacob Sherman, Chair, Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Assn

    Crystal Springs Creek Editor, Members of the Crystal Springs Partnership read with interest Rita Leonard’s article in the May edition of THE BEE: “Saving the dam, controlling pests, planned for Rhody Garden”. The Crystal Springs Partnership is a citizen group who is working toward making the Crystal Springs Watershed a vibrant, healthy place for people and wildlife. We encourage Portland Parks and other stakeholders to ensure the discussion considers the range of interests and beneficiaries of this unique part of Portland before settling on a solution.

    The Rhododendron Garden, Eastmoreland Golf Course, and Crystal Springs Creek are true amenities of the City, benefitting people and wildlife. People enjoy the Garden’s beauty, with its native and cultivated plants. Golfers test their skills in a lovely setting. Recent improvements to Crystal Springs Creek at Reed College, Westmoreland’s Union Manor, Westmoreland Park, the confluence with Johnson Creek, as well as several road/culvert crossings, contribute to the best chance in decades for return of native fish and other wildlife to our creek.

    Spring flow emanating from the Rhododendron Garden/Golf Course area provides the majority of flow of Crystal Springs Creek (as seen at the mouth of the creek), and in turn, provides real opportunities for improvement of the entire stream system. Current problems, as the article pointed out, include a failing dam, invasive plants, and various pests. An issue not mentioned in the article is the warming effect of the relatively shallow and sun-exposed Crystal Springs Lake on the creek downstream. This is critical because native fish in Crystal Springs Creek depend on cool, oxygen-rich water for survival.

    Solutions to the current problems discussed in the article need to take into account the needs of both the local and more distant audience, and accommodate creatures bearing fins, feathers, fur, 9-irons, cameras, sketch pads, and binoculars, among others. The historical and cultural assets of the Rhododendron Garden and Golf Course, Crystal Springs Creek as it flows through the Westmoreland and Sellwood neighborhood, and the contribution of our creek to the Johnson Creek and Willamette River ecosystem are all important.

    The Crystal Springs Partnership is glad to see that Portland Parks is helping identify the issues in this area, is encouraged that a new crop of citizen scientists is on board to help understand the rare and wonderful asset we all have, and we look forward to helping improve this gem in our City: Crystal Springs Creek.

    Karl Lee for the Crystal Springs Partnership

    A doctor comments

    Editor,

    In regards to the article describing the dangers of acetaminophen, I consider the verbiage used to be misleading and seemingly uninformed. When one writes "destroy your liver" seven times in an article, it leads the educated reader to ask "what does that even mean?" What is your definition of "destroying" ones liver? Does it mean an elevation in liver enzymes, drug-induced liver injury, fulminant hepatic failure? The list could continue. The point is that "destroy" is a frightening, and uninformative, word. There is a spectrum of insult and injury to the liver, and a spectrum of responses to each.

    As a doctor, I frequently warn people about the dangers of using too much acetaminophen, and many other over the counter medications. The intent of the article is reasonable, but the poorly chosen, and seemingly uneducated, language seems like more of an article meant to frighten the reading public than one to educate the community. In the future, the editor should consider educating him or herself prior to printing medical information. Kristine M. Simpson, MD via e-mail [EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Simpson is right, we ARE trying to frighten the reading public into awareness of the extreme hazard of overusing this particular over-the-counter medication. Destroying the liver means that it doesn’t work anymore. Fourteen years after our first editorial on the subject, two professional colleagues have had to undergo liver transplants due to innocent overuse of Tylenol; over one hundred people per year die in the United States from its innocent overuse, a lot of them children; and we even still encounter medical professionals who think it is a harmless medication which requires no special care. The FDA is considering toughening the warning on labels, and we earnestly hope they do get around to doing that soon. In the meantime, with acetaminophen lurking in cold medicines and other compounds, taking just one Tylenol can inadvertently lead to an overdose through the combination of medications taken, since the same substance is in cold medicines, various other over-the-counter medications, and even some prescription pain relievers. We urge our readers to be very careful in using this product, particularly with children.]

    Thanks from the Master Gardeners

    Editor,

    Our utmost thanks to BEE readers, Lorraine Fyre (SMILE Station Coordinator), the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), and area businesses for supporting the Multnomah County Master Gardeners’ Early Spring Edibles Plant Sale at SMILE Station, on Saturday, March 29th. The heavy rains and blustery conditions did not deter Sellwood/Moreland/Woodstock community members from loading up on lush, organic spring veggie seedlings for their kitchen gardens. What an amazing, supportive community. Thank you!

    The proceeds from our sales assist the Multnomah County Master Gardener Chapter in its mission to support the OSU Extension Service Master Gardener Program and the Chapter's community outreach programs. One of those outreach programs is our Community Demonstration Garden located right in Southeast Portland at 6801 S.E. 60th Avenue, at the Learning Gardens Laboratory. It is a hands-on learning garden where Master Gardeners teach how to sustainably and successfully grow one's own food. Annually we grow and harvest nearly 2,000 pounds of produce which is donated to Southeast Portland Food Banks. Please drop by and see the garden this summer on Monday and Thursday mornings from 9 am to noon.

    Judy Battles and Heidi Nichols, Co-Presidents

    Multnomah County Master Gardeners

    More thanks – from Llewellyn Elementary School Editor, On April 26th Llewellyn Elementary School had its annual auction. It was held at Oaks Park Dance Pavilion. This year we did things a little differently, and included with the auction a Casino Night. We all learned that Joe Galati, the school’s Principal, is a real card shark, as he won both Texas Hold ‘Em Tournaments. If we do a casino event again, he will be banned from the card tables! In the spirit of the Casino theme, many people dressed up Casino Royale style.

    Our silent auction was very successful, with many of the auction items donated from businesses in the community and Llewellyn families. It would take up more space than is available to publicly thank all of those who donated to the event. While I walked through the neighborhood, visiting many local businesses, soliciting donations, or just hanging up signs, I felt warmly welcomed by all. I am proud to be part of such a benevolent community.

    Along with all the other festivities, we had our annual paddle raise for the Llewellyn Foundation and, as Foundation Member Stacey Lovett put it, “In a matter of minutes our amazing Llewellyn community of parents raised $16,500 during the paddle raise. Our goal was $13,000 and you all said, ‘Ha...we can do more than that!’ And you did!! I am so proud right now that our kids are Llewellyn Stars! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

    We also raffled off three items, including a Kona bicycle donated by Sellwood Cycle Repair, Orthodontia donated by Dr. Marie Lathrop, and Disneyland tickets. One last thank you to our generous community, our army of volunteers, and the many open-handed bidders. Without all of you Llewellyn wouldn’t be the school that it is.

    Meg Asay,

    on behalf of fellow auction organizers Lisa Osterberg and Rylee O’Brien

    Local host families needed

    Editor, I am a volunteer for AFS Intercultural Programs, and am the Chapter Chair for S.E. Portland. We are presently looking for host families for this coming year. This year (2013-2014) I have four students attending Madison because Franklin and Cleveland were full. Our new students will arrive in August, and I am hoping to get families for three or four students each, at Franklin and Cleveland High. Host families will learn about another culture without leaving home; students come from 90 different countries. By applying early hosts will have a larger selection of students to choose from. You can get information about hosting an exchange students online at: www.afsusa.org, and then select “hosting” – or you can call me at 503/775-4161. Bernice Schuchardt Woodstock

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