Gresham In The News

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  • Planned radio tower that spawned Gresham-Portland dispute gets smaller, but Gresham Butte neighbors still leery

    A proposed emergency communications tower atop Gresham Butte has shrunk by half, improving the view from the city below, but residents on the hill still haven't put out the welcome mat for their potential neighbor.

    A proposed emergency communications tower atop Gresham Butte has shrunk by half, improving the view from the city below, but residents on the hill still haven't put out the welcome mat for their potential neighbor.

    The tower is sought by the city of Portland, which is leading a $40 million technology upgrade to make police and fire radios work better throughout Multnomah County. The need for efficient communications was spotlighted in June as police responded to the recent school shooting in Troutdale.

    When first proposed in 2013, Portland's plan called for a 180-foot tower, later lowered to 140 feet, either of which would have pierced the skyline over the butte.

    Greshamites love their buttes, especially this one looming over downtown, and Mayor Shane Bemis led a fight against the towering structure studded with microwave dishes.

    Portland officials relented after a tense standoff. On Thursday night, they shared with Gresham residents a revised plan to build a 68-foot tower with up to two microwave dishes and antennas sticking up slightly higher on land Portland already owns near the top of the butte, also known as Walters Hill.

    Bemis was not immediately available for his opinion on the shorter tower, but some of the tower's neighbors already have weighed in against it.

    Glenn Davidson, who lives next to Portland's property, believes the lower tower is likely to be more acceptable to many Gresham residents, but they still worry that the facility will attract unwanted visitors and too much maintenance traffic.

    "You're going to have people going up and down that road at all times," said his wife, Sandy Davidson, who also has concerns whether microwaves pose health hazards. "People just come up to see what it is."

    "I would like to see them select a different place to put their tower," said Sidney Stickel, another adjoining neighbor.

    Portland officials requested the meeting with members of the Gresham Butte Neighborhood Association and other residents to get feedback before filing a formal application with city planners.

    Boom from 3rd&Main.JPGView full sizeThe boom was less visible in this photo taken from downtown Gresham.  

    To simulate the visibility of the shorter tower, Portland staff parked a boom truck on the tower site and raised its bucket to about 70 feet. They attached a 6-foot cardboard cutout the size of a microwave dish. Photos of the simulation from the city below show the fake dish and boom arm can be seen with a close look along the tree line, but they don't jut far into the sky the way a taller tower would.

    Portland already operates a radio facility at the site, including a 61-foot wooden utility pole with taller antennas that would be replaced with a lattice-structured metal tower. A house-sized service building would replace a small building on the property, said Jeff Baer, a Portland program manager who explained the revised plan to residents.

    Baer said multiple reviews have shown that Gresham Butte is vital to developing an emergency communications system that reaches more of Multnomah County.

    In order to shrink the proposed tower, Portland officials said the Gresham Butte location won't be able to send and receive signals directly from the area's main 9-1-1 center near Portland's Kelly Butte, as originally planned. The signals would require a clear path that a shorter tower won't allow.

    The tower will communicate instead with similar facilities across the Columbia River in Camas and Washougal, Wash., that in turn connect with a system of towers in high spots across the metropolitan area. Tree growth could interfere with signals within 15 years, Baer acknowledged.

    The shorter tower loses some valued "redundancy" by not being able to communicate directly with more locations in the event some are lost to a wide-ranging catastrophe, but it still will improve coverage in East County, where buttes and river gorges block radio signals.

    The switch to digital technology using microwave transmission also will increase the system's capacity to handle more radio traffic, said Mark Tanner, Portland's project leader for the upgrade.

    For example, when police agencies from across the region responded to Reynolds High School on June 10 for the shooting, officers reported at least eight instances that their emergency radios wouldn't work because the call volume was too high for the aging Gresham Butte tower to handle, he said.

    Losing communications "scares the daylights out of any firefighter or any police officer, as you might expect," said Tanner, a former police officer. "The capacity of that site is a very important thing."

    The Portland project's team has a pre-application meeting with Gresham planners on July 30 and then will meet again with neighbors and other interested parties a few weeks later. A formal application would follow, kicking off another public comment period.

    Mads Ledet, president of the neighborhood association, said neighbors want a reliable emergency communications system but intend to keep pressing Portland to prove to their satisfaction that a tower on Gresham Butte is necessary.

    --Eric Apalategui

  • Reynolds High School soccer team starts annual tournament August 9 to remember shooting victim Emilio Hoffman

    The proceeds from the event on Aug. 9 and 10 will go toward gear for the soccer team and help establish an academic scholarship in Hoffman's name.

    The Reynolds High School boys soccer team will hold a memorial soccer tournament for Emilio Hoffman, the student who was fatally shot at the school in June.

    The proceeds from the event on Aug. 9 and 10 will go toward gear for the soccer team and help establish an academic scholarship in Hoffman's name. Hoffman, a 14-year-old freshman, played on the school's junior varsity team.

    "It's an opportunity for healing in the community," said Allan Berry, the head coach of the school's soccer team. "Soccer is something Emilio loved and cared about."

    He said the community was eager to honor the teen, who was killed after a classmate shot him in the locker room. Organizers, which include Hoffman's mother, hope to make the tournament an annual fundraiser.

    "I think that out of the tragedy has come that sense of community," he said. "We felt like we needed to do something to remember him."

    Team members would like to make warmup shirts with Hoffman's number, 29, emblazoned on the back.

    Hoffman participated in the high school's summer conditioning program last year and could have been a candidate for the varsity team this year, Berry said.

    "I know he was really excited and looking forward to the season, so we think a soccer tournament is a good thing," he said.

    The outdoor tournament at Reynolds High School will include eight boys teams and four girls teams. The entry fee is $200, and the application deadline is Aug. 1.

    For more information, you can read the announcement on the Reynolds School District.

    -- Nicole Dungca
    Follow @ndungca

  • Frontier CEO says she'll beat Google Fiber 'hype' with better prices

    Frontier's pitch: Better prices for more modest speeds.

    You don't need a gig.

    That's the case Frontier Communications chief executive Maggie Wilderotter is making as Google Fiber readies a charge into the Portland area, perhaps as soon as next year.

    Frontier’s CEO on net neutrality and more
    Connecticut-based Frontier Communications is the nation’s fourth-largest local phone company, with 3.1 million customers and 13,650 employees. It’s shifting rapidly from its declining landline phone business and has roughly 2 million broadband subscribers – primarily in rural areas.
    Revenue last year totaled $4.8 billion, with profits of $113 million. Frontier’s Oregon its service territory include Beaverton, Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Tualatin, Gresham and many rural communities in central, eastern and coastal Oregon.
    Every July the company’s board meets in one of its service territories, and this month it’s Oregon’s turn. In an interview with The Oregonian this week, chief executive Maggie Wilderotter offered her thoughts on a number of hot topics in tech:
    Net Neutrality: Currently before the FCC, net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally. Frontier gives Netflix special access to its network to improve connection speeds for video streaming and, unlike Comcast, doesn’t charge Netflix. But Wilderotter left open the possibility she might one day charge, and doesn’t want federal regulation standing in the way: “Our shareholders build these networks. They’re not government networks.”
    Comcast’s customer service fiascoA Comcast customer service call went viral earlier this month when a call center worker refused to disconnect a customer’s service without an explanation of why he was quitting. Wilderotter said the call reflects a broken model for customer service that favored individual sales over understanding customers’ motivations, tying pay too closely to sales sales: “When you incent (customer service personnel) on behaviors that are the wrong behaviors you get the wrong result.”
    The future of cable TV: Frontier offers cable TV in its Portland territories but in few other markets. Wilderotter said the future is in streaming: “Streaming video is a very powerful alternative to the 500 channel package.”
    Google Fiber: As Google Fiber contemplates a massive buildout across Frontier’s territory in the Portland area, residents have wondered if Frontier might lease space on its existing fiber network to its competitor so Google doesn’t have to dig up streets for its own fiber. Wilderotter’s answer was unequivocal: “No.”
    -- Mike Rogoway

    Google promises "gigabit" speeds for residential users – 1,000 megabits per second, roughly 20 times a typical broadband Internet connection today.

    The company says it will decide by the end of this year whether to build a residential fiber-optic network to homes in Portland and five smaller cities nearby.

    Frontier, which has had a monopoly on residential fiber in Portland's suburbs since acquiring Verizon's FiOS service four years ago, says Google is pitching something consumers don't understand, and don't need.

    "Today it's about the hype, because Google has hyped the gig," said Wilderotter, in Portland this week for a meeting of her company's board. She said Google is pitching something that's beyond the capacity of many devices, with very few services that could take advantage of such speeds, and confusing customers in the process.

    "We have to take the mystery and the technology out of the experience for the user because it's a bit disrespectful to speak a language our customers don't understand," said Wilderotter, in Portland this week for a meeting of her company's board.

    Frontier's pitch: Better prices for more modest speeds. For most people, Wilderotter said, 10 to 12 megabits per second will be perfectly adequate for at least the next couple years. She said Frontier is upgrading its networks in rural communities where it doesn't offer FiOS to meet that benchmark.

    Frontier FiOS offers 15 mbps for $30 a month. That's a fraction of the speed Google promises, but less than half Google's $70 monthly charge.

    Frontier will offer gigabit packages, too, Wilderotter promises, within "the next several quarters," as services emerge that justify such speeds.

    But she said Frontier will also offer tiered services, with discounts for customers below certain thresholds.

    Some consumer advocates loathe the notion of a usage cap, but Wilderotter says it's a model subscribers are familiar with – from cell phone plans – and will accept if it comes with a corresponding discount.

    With its landline phone business in precipitous decline (see chart below), Frontier is moving aggressively toward broadband.

    Eventually, Wilderotter said, the company hopes to bundle video streaming services with its Internet plans – an alternative to cable TV that would offer subscribers some favorite channels without paying full freight for dozens or hundreds of cable TV networks.

    Frontier offers fiber-optic service in a number of smaller cities in the metro area, including Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham and Lake Oswego. All are on Google Fiber's radar, too. (Frontier doesn't serve Portland itself, which is in CenturyLink's service territory. CenturyLink has begun offering gigabit service in select areas of the city.)

    Many markets have just one company offering broadband Internet and cable TV. This time next year, parts of the metro area could have three if Google Fiber jumps into the market with Frontier and Comcast. Satellite TV services offer more options.

    Frontier's strategy, at odds with Google's approach, suggests there may be some real differences in how companies market themselves and pitch their services.

    "You're going to get a lot of new, competitive options," said Donna Jaegers, telecom analyst for D.A. Davidson. "It should be good for consumers, at least, because you get more choice."

    Gigabit service is indeed overkill for most people, Jaegers said, noting that she has 6 mbps at home and does just fine. She said that Frontier's value-conscious pitch will appeal to consumers so long as the economy stays weak.

    Google has an enormously powerful brand, though, and has proven savvy about building public fervor for its top-shelf service.

    "Certainly you're going to have a part of the market," Jaegers said, "that just wants what's new and what's fastest."

    -- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; phone: 503-294-7699

  • Gresham plumbing company doesn't plan to fight state fines from Cedar Hills trench collapse

    Apollo Drain & Rooter Service Inc., said in a statement hat while they don't completely agree with the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division's ruling, the company has since reviewed its safety policies to make sure they fall in line with OSHA standards.

    A Gresham plumbing company says it won't appeal a $5,600 penalty levied by the state in connection with a trench collapse that injured one of their workers in March.

    Officials from Apollo Drain & Rooter Service Inc., said in a statement Tuesday that while they don't completely agree with the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division's ruling, the company has since reviewed its safety policies to make sure they fall in line with OSHA standards.

    "As with any accident, we hope to learn from the experience to better the company and ensure a safe work environment for all our employees," the statement said.

    Related: Gresham plumbing company Apollo Drain & Rooter cited for violations in Cedar Hills trench collapse

    OSHA announced earlier Tuesday that Apollo was fined for two serious violations related to the March 3 trench collapse in Cedar Hills. The agency found that workers did not install an adequate support system to prevent the collapse and that there was no protective system in place to protect employees if a collapse did occur.

    Three Apollo employees were working in the 12700 block of Southwest Bowmont Street to replace a broken sewer line when about two feet of dirt collapsed onto two workers down in an 11-foot deep trench, trapping one of them.

    The trapped worker, 21-year-old Daniel Russu, was pinned under dirt and debris for more than three hours before being rescued by emergency responders. Russu's two colleagues escaped unharmed.

    The company said Tuesday that Russu has since made a full recovery. The business also thanked emergency responders who rescued Russu and the community for its support.

    -- Everton Bailey Jr.

  • 2014 Oregon high school football blog tour: Which teams should we visit?

    We will be hitting the road next week and visiting teams throughout the state of Oregon to bring you our most comprehensive high school football preview ever. Which teams should we visit and why? You tell us.

    The 2014 Oregon high school football season is just around the corner, which means that for the 14th consecutive year high school sports reporters from The Oregonian will hit the road in early August to cover football training camps across the state.

    Last year we visited over 60 schools during the month of August. Before we finalize our 2014 tour schedule, we want to hear from you to find out where you think we should go. Is your team on the rise? Is there a player no one knows about that deserves some respect? Perhaps there's a part of the state you feel doesn't get enough coverage. What about the small schools? Now is the chance for you to make your case.

    We encourage you to post your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post or send an email to sports@oregonian.com and tell us which schools we should visit and why.

    Here's a recap of our 2013 football blog tour, in which we traveled from Portland to Salem, passed through Bend and made it all the way down to Medford before hitting Eugene on the way back. This season we're hoping to hit even more training camps, so share your thoughts and be on lookout for the OregonLive.com high school sports crew coming to a practice field near you.

  • Section of NE Marine Drive closed over weekend for triathlon, duathlon

    The stretch between Northeast 33rd Avenue and Northeast 223rd Avenue will be closed from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. both days.

    A stretch of Northeast Marine Drive will be closed both Saturday and Sunday to allow for triathlon and duathlon events.

    The stretch between Northeast 33rd Avenue and Northeast 223rd Avenue will be closed from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. both days.

    Mike Pullen, spokesman for Multnomah County, said that Northeast Sandy Boulevard is the best alternate route for traffic through the area. He added that access to the area will be allowed for local residents and emergency vehicles.

    The event is the Wahine All Women's Triathlon & Dualthon. It will be based at Blue Lake Park.

    -- The Oregonian

  • Gresham plumbing company Apollo Drain & Rooter cited for violations in Cedar Hills trench collapse

    The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division announced July 29 that Apollo Drain & Rooter workers did not install an adequate shoring system to prevent the collapse and that there was no protective system in place to protect employees if a collapse did occur.

    Updated: Gresham plumbing company doesn't plan to fight state fines from Cedar Hills trench collapse

    A state agency has fined a Gresham plumbing company $5,600 for two serious violations after a worker was injured during a Cedar Hills trench collapse in March.

    The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division announced Tuesday that Apollo Drain & Rooter Service Inc., workers did not install an adequate support system to prevent the collapse and that there was no protective system in place to protect employees if a collapse did occur.

    Three Apollo employees were working in the 12700 block of Southwest Bowmont Street on March 3 to replace a broken sewer line. Two workers were in an 11-foot deep trench when about two feet of dirt collapsed, trapping one of them.

    The trapped worker, 21-year-old Daniel Russu, was pinned under dirt and debris for more than three hours before being rescued by emergency responders. Russu's two colleagues escaped unharmed and helped dig dirt off his face and chest so he could breath while he was in the trench. Russu was treated and later released from a Portland hospital.

    RelatedRead the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division's report on Apollo Drain & Rooter Service

    The shoring in the trench was two feet up from the bottom, OSHA's report said. Russu was lying on his side digging behind the shoring to find the broken sewer pipe when the dirt came down from behind and over the shields and buried him, according to the report.  

    Russu told investigators that he had both arms and a leg outside the shoring and had been working for about half an hour before the collapse happened, the report said. Russu should not have been allowed to work outside the shored area of the trench, according to the report.

    The workers had also misidentified the condition of the soil, which affected how they shored the trench, the report said. The workers thought the dirt was Type B soil, which has a medium level of stability. But recent heavy rainfall in the area contributed to the soil being saturated with water, meaning it was more likely at Type C, the least stable type. 

    The shoring required for Type C level soil calls for shielding from the top to the bottom of the trench, the report said.

    There was also no system in place to protect Russu as he was digging behind the shore shield to find the sewer line break, which caused the collapse, the report said.

    The Gresham company said Tuesday that it does not plan to fight the citations.

    -- Everton Bailey Jr.

  • 101 years of Portland City Council members and city annexations, in one map (interactive)

    Since 1913, 49 politicians have been elected to the Portland City Council. More than half lived within a seven-mile corridor.

    It began in 1913 with the election of Portland's political forefathers.

    Broken Promises

    Portland power: The Series
    » Geography of campaign donors
    » The city that never happened
    » Changing the political system
    » Neighborhood inactivism
    » Read the series, then come back Aug. 4 for a live chat with Brad Schmidt on Broken Promises. If you can't make it, leave your questions in the comments section below and we’ll answer them.

    Follow The Oregonian’s series on the future of east Portland, looking closely at promises not kept.

    We need your help. Do you live, work, study or own property east of 82nd Avenue? Tell us your story.

    More than half of the 49 members to serve on the Portland City Council in the past 101 years have been elected while living in a select few neighborhoods on Portland's central eastside – the same area that Mayor H.R. Albee in 1913 and, now, Fish call home.

    That's one of the key findings demonstrated in the graphic shown above.

    Portland is one of only two large cities nationally without some form of district representation.

    As a result, political power historically has been concentrated within a 7-square-mile corridor bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Northeast Alberta Street, 47th Avenue, and Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard.

    The political power axis resides far from east Portland and its neighborhoods beyond 82nd Avenue, now home to more than one quarter of the city's population.

    Just one politician from east Portland, Randy Leonard, has been elected to the Portland City Council in the three decades since annexation of the area began.

    The map we've compiled shows where commissioners lived when first elected; some moved.

    You can view the city's evolving boundaries and council membership over the century by hitting the "play" button at far right. Pause when you wish. Click on any year you wish to jump back or forward in time.

    You can also click on dots to see commissioners' names, or click on a commissioner's name from the list to see where he or she lived.

    To learn more about how Portland's power structure and other factors conspire to make east Portland less relevant to politicians, read The Oregonian's latest installment of the "Broken Promises" series.

     
  • Gresham-area crash kills driver, injures passenger when car hits utility pole

    The car, a 1994 black Mitsubishi 3000GT, was traveling westbound in the 30300 block of Southeast Lusted Road near Gresham when it crossed the eastbound lane, struck and broke the pole, then came to rest 40 feet away in a ditch, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said. No identification was immediately available.

    A crash killed a man and left a passenger seriously injured late Saturday night when a car left an east Multnomah County road and struck a utility pole.

    The car, a 1994 black Mitsubishi 3000GT, was traveling westbound in the 30300 block of Southeast Lusted Road near Gresham when it crossed the eastbound lane, struck and broke the pole, then came to rest 40 feet away in a ditch, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said.

    The driver was declared dead, and the passenger was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries not considered life threatening. Officials haven't identified either person.

    The Sheriff's Office said speed and alcohol may have been involved.

    -- Andre Meunier

  • Olivia Decklar: Journalism helps student find her place at a new school

    The turning point for Olivia came when she joined the student newspaper her freshman year at Gresham High School.

    Olivia Decklar remembers the day vividly. At 13, she had just arrived home from school and walked inside the house, closing the door on the windy weather. Her mom was on the computer, looking at the house she'd decided to move to.

    Olivia was sad and angry and in disbelief. She'd be starting over at Clear Creek Middle School in Gresham.

    At her new school, she felt a like a stranger wandering the halls, with everyone socializing except her. Going from class to class, Olivia struggled to make new friends and longed for her best friends, Mandy and Miranda Deitering, twin sisters Olivia had been friends with since third grade. 

    "It felt like a sudden wave of being alone that I wasn't ready for," she said.

    The turning point came a year later, when she joined the student newspaper her freshman year at Gresham High School. Her involvement with The Gresham Argus helped Olivia meet new people, regain her confidence and overcome her shyness.

    "[Journalism made it] easier for me to make friends because I had, like, a reason to talk to them," she said. "[Reporting] made it easier to at least say 'hi.'"

    About the reporters
    This story was written by student journalists participating in The Oregonian's High School Journalism Institute, a collaborative effort with Oregon State University to promote diversity in newsrooms of the future.
    To see more of the students' work, visit the Teens blog.

    Olivia's first interview for The Argus was with Gresham's principal. She remembers entering his office, smelling his Jimmy John's sandwich, and asking questions nervously and quickly. She felt uncomfortable with the silences and was afraid to make mistakes or to ask the principal to repeat himself.

    Her second interview was with a student. For that conversation, she remembered to talk more slowly and ask more direct questions. She had already improved and was anxious to keep honing her reporting skills.

    When Olivia is reporting, she tries to put herself into  other people's stories, taking a break from her own. 

    Heading into her senior year, Olivia will be the editor-in-chief of The Argus, a dream of hers since ninth grade.

    In the future Olivia wants to attend Syracuse University in New York to study journalism. Olivia feels like she can change the world with words and put smiles on faces through her stories.

    Olivia ultimately wants to be a reporter for The New York Times, but she knows it will take confidence.

    "Confidence is key," she said.

    --Austin Thongvivong

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