Gresham In The News

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  • Gresham residents face potential 6.5 percent utility bill increase in 2015

    A typical Gresham household would see its bimonthly utility bills increase by another $9 next year under a staff proposal that would allow the city to maintain its system.

    A typical Gresham household would see its bimonthly utility bills increase by another $9 next year under a staff proposal that would allow the city to maintain its system.

    The suggested 6.5 percent increase for 2015, presented during a Gresham City Council work session Tuesday, would be followed by slightly smaller rate hikes in each of the subsequent two years. By 2017, the proposed increases would set the average homeowner back an additional $158 during the course of a full year, compared to today's combined costs for city drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

    Rates would increase by the same percentage for business customers, and actual costs would depend on water usage.

    The council could vote on the staff recommendation as early as Sept. 2. If approved, new rates likely would go into effect in January.

                                                    Difficult timing

    The city has not increased utility fees in three years, but this proposal comes just five weeks after the council voted to extend a $7.50 monthly charge. That fee continues to be tacked to those same utility bills to pay for a portion of the city's police, fire and parks maintenance budgets after voters defeated a public safety levy in May.

    "The timing is just really horrible," council member Jerry Hinton said. "I think we'll get a lot of blowback from our citizens."

    Steve Fancher, director of Gresham's Department of Environmental Services, said the city determined that delaying the increases would push future rates up by 7 percent to 8 percent a year.

    "You can't kick the can down the road, so to speak," council member Kirk French said.

    Gresham has some of the lower utility rates around the Portland area.

    Even with three years of increasing rates, an average residential customer would pay the equivalent of $82.54 per month by 2017. (Gresham residents pay their utility bills bimonthly.) That monthly cost is close to the average for what Fancher said typical homeowners already pay for the same service in neighboring cities. Many of those municipal utilities also are increasing rates, he added.

                                                    Maintenance needs

    Gresham needs the additional money to maintain a system that includes thousands of miles of aging pipes and other infrastructure, Fancher said.

    New funding would help maintain separate systems that deliver fresh drinking water and take away and treat wastewater from homes and businesses, as well as those that handle stormwater. Some pipes now in use date back as far to the 1940s or earlier and are in a dire state, while a larger number installed during a 1970s housing boom are approaching the end of their typical lifespan, Fancher said.

    Gresham is a major customer of the city of Portland's Bull Run water supply, and Fancher expects the cost of that water to rise along with other costs of doing business.

    Overall, the city will slightly reduce its annual spending on capital projects, but included in the proposed rate increase are the costs of upgrading some pipes to boost water pressure for fire protection, improving an inadequate water line along Division Street that feeds a major industrial park, starting a program to help maintain private stormwater ponds and developing future wells to supplement or replace water purchased from Portland.

    Gresham already is planning a second well that would help staunch costly purchases of Bull Run water during peak demand. That well could be pumping drinking water in about five years, and the city could sink as many as six additional wells within 20 years, Fancher said.

                                                    Staff cuts

    Recently, Fancher reorganized his staff to include cutting three management positions, which resulted in two layoffs and elimination of a vacant position. The cuts saved about $400,000 a year and helped hold down rate increases, Fancher said.

    "I don't think we can make further reductions on the personnel said," he added.

    The layoffs were particularly tough for some neighborhood advocates like Carol Rulla, president of the Coalition of Gresham Neighborhood Associations. She especially fears the layoff of watershed manager Jennifer Belknap Williamson will slow progress being made to address long-neglected stormwater retention ponds.

    "Jennifer's loss is something that is very disappointing to us," Rulla told the council.

    "It's hard to see good people go," Council President Lori Stegmann said. "We have a responsibility to our citizens and ratepayers to do the best job we can" while keeping services affordable.

    -- Eric Apalategui

  • Major Little League Baseball state tournament: Schedules, information, scores

    The Oregon tournament is hosted by Cedar Mill of District 4. The tournament takes place July 18-24 at Alpenrose Dairy. As results become available, this post will be updated.

    Little League baseball teams from around Oregon are competing this week to determine which team represents Oregon at the Little League West Regional tournament in San Bernardino, California, the winner of which goes on to the Little League World Series.

    The Oregon tournament is hosted by Cedar Mill of District 4. The tournament takes place July 18-24 at Alpenrose Dairy.

    As results become available, this post will be updated. 

    1. FINAL: Gresham 10, Corvallis 0 


    2. FINAL : Grants Pass American 6, Cedar Mill 5

    3. FINAL: Klamath Falls 8, Sheldon 3

    4. FINAL: Hollywood/Rose City 14, La Grande 12

    5. FINAL: Bend North 6, Grants Pass American 0

    6. FINAL: Cedar Mill 18, Corvallis 4

    7. FINAL: Gresham 16, Klamath Falls 7

    8. FINAL: Bend North 6, Hollywood-Rose City 5

    9. FINAL: Cedar Mill 20, Sheldon 1

    10. FINAL: La Grande 13, Grants Pass American 3

    11. FINAL: Cedar Mill 10, Hollywood-Rose City 2

    12. FINAL: La Grande 14, Klamath Falls 0

    13. FINAL: La Grande 10, Cedar Mill 2

    14. FINAL: Bend North 9, Gresham 4

    15. Wed, July 23, 6 pm, Gresham vs. La Grande

    16. Thur, July 24, 5 pm, Bend North vs. Winner 15 (CHAMPIONSHIP)

    17. Thur, July 24, 7:30 pm, IF NEEDED

    District - Winner

    District 1 - Hollywood/Rose City

    District 2 - Gresham

    District 3 - La Grande

    District 4 - Cedar Mill

    District 5 - Bend North

    District 6 - Klamath Falls

    District 7 - Corvallis

    District 8 - Grants Pass American

    District 9 - Sheldon

    -- Erik C. Anderson | @ErikCAnderson

  • David Douglas, Grant and Lakeridge compete in 7 on 7 (photos)

    David Douglas, Grant and Lakeridge participated in a 7-on-7 passing league scrimmage Tuesday at David Douglas High School in Southeast Portland. Athletes from all three schools competed in offense versus defense scrimmages without linemen allowing skill position players and quarterbacks to work on timing and condition before practices officially begin in mid-August.

    David Douglas, Grant and Lakeridge participated in a 7-on-7 passing league scrimmage Tuesday at David Douglas High School in Southeast Portland.

    Athletes from all three schools competed in offense versus defense scrimmages without linemen allowing skill position players and quarterbacks to work on timing and condition before practices officially begin in mid-August.

    In the gallery above check out photos from David Douglas High School as the Scots, Generals and Pacers sharpened their skills in July passing camps.

    -- Mike Richman | @mikegrich

  • Kenny Giambalvo departs the Black Rabbit restaurant at McMenamin's Edgefield

    Giambalvo helped open Bluehour and spent more than 10 years at the swank Pearl District restaurant before leaving in 2011. He took over at the Black Rabbit a year and a half ago.

    Chef Kenny Giambalvo, the longtime Bluehour chef, is stepping down from his latest position, as chef at the Black Rabbit restaurant at McMenamin's Edgefield hotel, to "spend more time with his family," the Troutdale restaurant announced.

    Giambalvo helped open Bluehour and spent more than 10 years at the swank Pearl District restaurant before leaving in 2011. He took over at the Black Rabbit a year and a half ago.

    McMenamin's is now on the lookout for "a chef of Kenny's caliber" to take over at the Black Rabbit. More information here.

    -- Michael Russell

  • Mount Hood, seven great hikes around one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (photos)

    Paradise Park is a delightful wildflower meadow about five miles west of Timberline Lodge via the Pacific Crest Trail. The route dips in an out of several of the southwest side's big glacial stream canyons.

    Here are seven wonderful hikes at Mount Hood and the surrounding Mount Hood National Forest, in Clackamas and Hood River counties of the northern Oregon Cascades. The 11,239-foot summit is a mountain climb, not a hike.

    This is No. 3 of seven in a daily series on seven hikes, as chosen by Terry Richard, in Travel Oregon's 7 Wonders of Oregon advertising campaign.

    The 7 Wonders of Oregon (and day they are featured this week) are Smith Rock (Sunday), Columbia Rive Gorge (Monday), Mount Hood (Tuesday), Painted Hills (Wednesday), Oregon coast (Thursday), Wallowa Mountains (Friday) and Crater Lake (Saturday).

    Best hiking in the Mount Hood National Forest:

    Paradise Park: A delightful wildflower meadow lies about five miles west of Timberline Lodge via the Pacific Crest Trail. The route dips in an out of several of the southwest side's big glacial stream canyons.

    Cooper Spur: This hike starts from Cloud Cap on the mountain's northeast side (check to make sure the road is open; it's supposed to open this summer after being closed last summer). First take the Timberline Trail, then veer off toward Mount Hood on the well-trod path along Cooper Spur. Hikers reach an obvious spot beyond which they should not venture, called Tie-In Rock, at 8,600 feet. Late summer views down to Eliot Glacier find a jumble of seracs and crevasses.

    Vista Ridge: Lots of gravel road driving on Mount Hood's north side pays off after the trail reaches timberline in Wy'east Basin. Keep going as high up as you please onto 7,800-foot Barrett Spur.

    Mirror Lake: One of the busiest trails in the Mount Hood forest, this hike begins on the south side of U.S. 26 about one mile west of Government Camp. It leads to a lake that reflects Mount Hood, as well as to open slopes covered with tasty huckleberries in late August/early September. U.S. 26 has a major construction project just west of the parking area for this hike. Expect long delays at peak times.

    Yocum Ridge: A 17-mile ordeal to the stunning viewpoint of the Sandy Glacier is often shortened to a seven-mile loop of Ramona Falls, most scenic waterfall on the forest, on the west side of Mount Hood from the Zigzag area.

    Timothy Lake: This 13-mile circuit, from Little Crater campground south of Mount Hood, packs in an amazing amount of variety, including the busy camping and water activities at the five campgrounds along the way.

    Elk Meadows: This meadow on Mount Hood's east side is often just the start of something big, a jaunt higher up along scenic Gnarl Ridge. Park at the trailhead a quarter mile off Oregon 35 at the entry to the Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic parking lot.

    Next: The Painted Hills and the greater John Day River area (Wednesday).

    Links to the wonders thus far published (Tuesday afternoon):

    Mount Hood, seven great hikes around one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (photos)

    Columbia River Gorge, seven great hikes in one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (photos)

    Smith Rock State Park, seven great hikes in one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (with neighbors); photos

    Links to some of my Mount Hood reporting:

    A composite link to my Mount Hood stories from early July 2014.

    Lost Lake Resort at Mount Hood draws campers, resort guests to revel in magical setting (video, photos)

    Mount Hood Wilderness beckons visitors to Elk Meadows: Terry's top 10 trails

    Government Camp ski bars rock; send best into November runoff (poll, photos)

    Mt. Hood Meadows, Hood River ski bars: Send the best into November showdown (poll, photos)

    Government Camp tops Mount Hood after-ski fun, can it also top Bend? (poll)

    10 best backpacking trips, in Oregon, plus Washington, Colorado, California, more

    -- Terry Richard

  • Former Parkrose Middle School teacher sentenced for child-porn distribution

    A judge imposed the mandatory minimum term, saying he was taking into consideration that Christopher Loesel was himself a victim of child sex abuse.

    A former technology teacher at Parkrose Middle School who admitted sharing child pornography on a peer-to-peer network was sentenced Monday to five years in prison, the mandatory minimum term for distribution.

    In a statement before sentencing, Christopher Loesel apologized for his actions, saying he understood the pain of the children depicted in the pornography he had downloaded and allowed others to access. He noted that he himself had been the victim of sex abuse when he was a child and that he was finally getting the counseling and help he needed to cope with the memories of six years of abuse.

    "I know too well the psychological damage sexual abuse causes minors," said Loesel, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. "If I could go back in time and erase this ... no question."

    Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Jones imposed the five-year term, adding that he hoped others would understand the minimum prison term they face if convicted of viewing and sharing "sickening, reprehensible" images showing children being sexually abused.

    But he declined to impose the longer sentence sought by the government. He said Loesel is not a pedophile or a risk to reoffend, citing testimony by Cynthia Steinhauser, the director of a Lake Oswego-based clinic for treating sex offenders. During Monday's hearing, Steinhauser said that her testing showed Loesel's actions did not stem from deviant sexual behavior but rather likely reflected his efforts to desensitize himself to his memories of abuse.

    Jones also took into consideration that despite investigations, no complaints or evidence surfaced that Loesel had touched a child or acted inappropriately while teaching at the middle school.

    Loesel was arrested in 2012 after federal agents traced child-pornographic images and videos to a computer in his Gresham home. His license has since expired.

    Loesel was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release after he completes his prison term. He will have to register as a sex offender.

    -- Helen Jung

  • Columbia River Gorge, seven great hikes in one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (photos)

    The unquestioned gem of Oregon's side of the gorge, the Eagle Creek Trail begins between Bonneville and Cascade Locks. It is filled with gorgeous sights and sounds along the way. Make it six miles to Tunnel Falls, if you can.

    Seven wonderful hikes on Oregon's side of the Columbia River Gorge, in Hood River, Wasco and Multnomah counties.

    This is No. 2 of seven in a daily series on seven hikes, as chosen by Terry Richard, in Travel Oregon's 7 Wonders of Oregon advertising campaign.

    The 7 Wonders of Oregon (and day they are featured this week) are Smith Rock (Sunday), Columbia Rive Gorge (Monday), Mount Hood (Tuesday), Painted Hills (Wednesday), Oregon coast (Thursday), Wallowa Mountains (Friday) and Crater Lake (Saturday).

    Best hiking in the Columbia River Gorge: 

    Eagle Creek: The unquestioned gem of Oregon's side of the gorge, the trail begins between Bonneville and Cascade Locks. It is filled with gorgeous sights and sounds along the way. Make it six miles to Tunnel Falls, if you can. And keep a close eye on the kids, dogs and grandparents (at the steep places along the way), to avoid yet another call to the Hood River County rescue squad.

    Tom McCall Point: This 1,722-foot grassy headland is reachable from Rowena Viewpoint, along the Historic Columbia River Highway east of Mosier. The upper trail is on Nature Conservancy land and is closed seasonally until May 1. Hike the lower trail until then, out on Rowena point.

    Multnomah Falls: Join the hordes at the base of the falls, then watch the crowd thin out as you gain 700 feet before dropping slightly to stand at the platform atop the 640-foot high falls. But don't stop there! Make it a 4,000-foot gain for the day by continuing to the summit of 4,055-foot Larch Mountain. But don't take this outing lightly, it's a serious hike. Only Mount Defiance challenges you more in the gorge.

    Indian Point: A combination of trails leads from the trailhead at Herman Creek campground, near Cascade Locks, to a 30-foot high basalt outcrop that seems to hover directly about Interstate 84, about 2,700 feet below.

    Elowah Falls: This and many other falls (Latourell, Wahkeena, Horsetail, Bridal Veil, Wahclella among them) require only short walks to see, or some barely make you get out of the car. Second highest in the gorge at 289 feet, Elowah Falls is a half-mile hike at John B. Yeon State Park.

    Hood River Mountain: Accessible via the Old Dalles Road from Hood River, park in the saddle (you won't be alone) and take the well-beaten path southwest to the ridge for awesome views of Mount Hood and the Hood River Valley. This hike is on private timberland, which closes to public use during the fire season.

    Mosier Twin Tunnels: This is often a bike ride on a paved trail between Hood River and Mosier, but hikers enjoy the eastern trailhead at Mosier as a quick way to marvel at the engineering of the Twin Tunnels on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.

    Next: Mount Hood (Tuesday).

    Links to the wonders thus far published (Tuesday afternoon):

    Mount Hood, seven great hikes around one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (photos)

    Columbia River Gorge, seven great hikes in one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (photos)

    Smith Rock State Park, seven great hikes in one of 7 Wonders of Oregon (with neighbors); photos

    Links to my reporting on the Columbia gorge:

    Columbia River Gorge's top 10 spring wildflower hikes (recent photos from Memaloose Hills)

    Columbia River Gorge's top 10 trails for spring, summer hiking

    Indian Point has dynamite view of Columbia River Gorge: great hikes

    Larch Mountain high above Multnomah Falls is gorge classic: Terry's top 10 trails

    Columbia River Gorge scenic highlights, one of 7 Wonders of Oregon, mile by mile on I-84 (photos)

    Skamania County adds weekend buses for recreation in Washington's Columbia gorge

    Columbia River Gorge's five best spring hikes on Washington's sunny side (photos)

    When camping Columbia gorge, it pays to be a little deaf

    Columbia River Gorge campgrounds with a good chance of sunshine

    -- Terry Richard    

  • Portland man drowns in Sandy River near Troutdale

    Birtha B. Subba had been fishing with his brother in law.

    A 52-year-old Portland man drown during a fishing trip Sunday in the Sandy River near Troutdale.

    Birtha B. Subba had been fishing with his brother in law along the banks of the river at Dabney State Park when he decided to go upstream, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

    Sometime around 2:30 p.m., Subba, who was not wearing a life vest, got swept away by the current.

    An onlooker spotted the body floating in the river and pulled it to shore, where resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

    -- Brad Schmidt

  • Gresham bats explode in a 16-7 win over Klamath Falls American: State Little League Majors (photos)

    Keegan Hunt blasts two homers and drives in seven runs to lead Gresham

    Keegan Hunt hit two home runs and collected seven RBI to lead Gresham to a 16-7 win over Klamath Falls American in a winner's bracket game Sunday in the state Little League Majors tournament at Alpenrose Dairy.

    Gresham's bats exploded late in the game, scoring 12 runs on nine hits during the final three innings to run away from Klamath Falls.

    Gresham, 2-0 in the tournament, moved to within one win of the championship game. Gresham plays Bend North, a 6-5 winner over Hollywood-Rose City, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the state championship game.

    Klamath Falls dropped to the loser-out bracket. The tournament runs through Thursday, with the state champion advancing to the West regional.

    Hunt was a machine at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two homers, a double, while scoring three runs. Gresham second baseman Durham Sundberg also had four hits, including two doubles and a triple.

    Five Gresham pitchers held Klamath Falls to just three hits, and none during the first four innings. Scott Grayson socked a two-run homer in the sixth for Klamath Falls.

    Gresham led 4-3 when it broke the game open with a four-run fourth. Hunt did most of his damage during the sixth and seventh, hitting a three-run homer to left field in each inning.
  • Gresham Arts Festival saunters on with new name but same flavor as old Art Walk (photos)

    Sharon Meeker vividly remembers the distressing email she received in January telling vendors that the Gresham Art Walk was folding because it had grown too large for its volunteers to manage.

    Sharon Meeker vividly remembers the distressing email she received in January telling vendors that the Gresham Art Walk was folding because it had grown too large for its volunteers to manage.

    "Just a few days later, the city picked it upm and we couldn't be happier," the artist from Sandy said about Gresham city officials' decision to take over organization of what has become the city's largest annual event. The name has changed to the Gresham Arts Festival, but in its 13th year, it retained the same flavor and many of its volunteers and longtime artists.

    "It's our favorite show," Meeker said Saturday as some of an estimated 12,000-plus festival-goers streamed by her booth on the prime corner of Main Avenue and Third Street at the center of downtown Gresham. "In one eight-hour day here, we'll make three times as much as any other show — easily."

    Just across the street, Terry Powers said he also was briefly worried when the city took a hand-off from founder Judy Han, who was closing it down because the Art Walk had grown too large for her small band of volunteers after fund-raising attempts to pay an organizer instead added more to the workload. However, Powers' concerns faded fast.

    "It's going really good," said Powers, who crafts discarded metal and other items he gets from scrap yards, estate sales and freshly cleaned garages into unique garden sculptures. "I've had a lot of repeat customers today."

    Han, co-owner of Sunny Han's Wok and Grill restaurant downtown, said she was pleased to be just another helper on a summery day that even Goldilocks would have liked: not too hot and not too cold.

    Han sought out watercolor painter Mike Hill, a retired Gresham dentist, who recalled declining her invitation to have a booth at the festival's the first year.

    "I didn't have any idea how this was going to turn out," said Hill, who now considers the show one of his best. "I usually do several thousand dollars worth of business here."

    This year's one-day festival had 125 artists as well as musicians and other performers and children's activities, and walkers at times clogged Main Avenue and several side streets while checking out art from every medium.

    Of course, not all of those artisans were making good money. Peggy Hayes of Oregon City said the soft dragon and unicorn sculptures she and her husband craft from bonsai wire, microfiber fabric and other materials weren't selling well, as passersby kept stopping to look but left without one of the handmade creatures, which ranged in price from $125 to $500.

    Not far away, Chris "Cy" Young said his tiki sculptures carved with chainsaws and chisels sell better at tiki-themed shows, although plenty of people stopped for a good look at Maka Puke, which Young carved from a single Douglas fir log from his neighbor's property just outside Gresham and was selling for $1,200. The name, he told the curious, means "Facebook" in Hawaiian.

    Festival art, several of the show's veterans said, must be priced low enough to entice casual visitors and bring back regulars.

    Mayor Shane Bemis, who pushed for the city to get behind the festival when volunteers bowed out, smiled while watching the foot traffic from outside his restaurant, Boccelli's Ristorante.

    "It took all of the community to come together," he said. "It looks like we never skipped a beat."

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