PDX errors studied

The Federal Aviation Administration has completed an investigation of three operational errors by air traffic controllers in one day at Portland International Airport and determined that bad weather was the main culprit.

The errors occurred Oct. 3 during the first stretch of bad weather this fall.

Two of the errors were violations of a regulation requiring planes to maintain 2.5 miles between each other when landing at PDX. The third violated the required separation of 1.5 miles between planes landing at PDX and planes landing at Pearson Field, a small airport in Vancouver, Wash.

None of the violations were dangerous, according to FAA spokesman Bob Fergus. 'There's no way that these planes could have collided,' he said.

Fergus said news reports have overstated the seriousness of the violations.

In a front page article Thursday, The Columbian of Vancouver quoted an anonymous air traffic controller who said, 'Those were the closest I've ever seen airplanes together. This would be equivalent to getting through security with a gun.'

FAA officials investigated the matter at PDX this week. Fergus said that the investigation is complete and that no controllers have been reprimanded.


2 spaces proposed

A consulting firm working on behalf of a consortium of Portland arts groups has completed a study that recommends building two more performing arts facilities the next 10 years.

Possible sites for the theaters mentioned in the report are all in the downtown area, either within the city's current cultural district, between Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Portland Art Museum, or within a remodeled Galleria on Southwest 10th Avenue.

The study, prepared by the Minneapolis consulting firm Keewaydin, first will be presented to the boards of the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre and the theatrical company Portland Center Stage. Overall costs of the firm's proposal are $200 million. According to the report, half that sum would be raised through a private capital campaign.

Those four companies currently perform in the four-theater complex jointly operated by the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, itself an offshoot of Metro's Exposition-Recreation Commission. The symphony has performed in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall since the mid-'80s, while the ballet and opera companies stage their shows in Keller Auditorium. Schnitzer Hall seats 2,776; the Keller seats 2,992.

The Keewaydin study calls for the construction of a 400- to 600-seat theater that could be a permanent home for Center Stage, a 15-year-old company that will mount six shows this season in the Newmark Theatre, which seats 880.

Under the Master Plan for the Arts proposed by Keewaydin, that would enable the ballet to shift many of its performances to the Newmark beginning in the fall of 2003, thereby freeing more dates at the much-larger Keller Auditorium.

The centerpiece of the project would be a new 2,000-seat facility that would serve as a permanent home for both the symphony and ballet.


State plan grows

The Oregon Health Plan, which provides health care to about 400,000 low-income Oregonians, will add 60,000 people beginning Feb. 1.

The expansion was approved last week by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The state needed the go-ahead because federal money pays for more than half of the health plan.

The approval allows the state for the first time to reduce benefits for some health plan patients and to require them to pay small fees for medical services.

These cost-saving changes will offset the cost of adding people to the plan and will not cost the state any additional money, say officials of the state's Office of Medical Assistance Programs, which administers the plan.

Gov. John Kitzhaber, the plan's primary architect, said federal approval to make changes 'gives us quite a bit of flexibility to manage costs' and puts the financially shaky plan on more solid footing.

Among the changes, the state will offer two benefit plans, one a full package of benefits for 'medically vulnerable' people. The other plan, called OHP Standard, is a smaller, basic-benefits package that will mostly cover single adults, childless couples or parents whose children are covered under other programs.

The federal government also agreed to give money for the first time to a program called the Family Health Insurance Assistance Program, which helps low-income workers buy health insurance through their employers.


A club's comeback?

Is Willie Stoudamire planning to reopen the Cleo-Lillian Social Club, at 3041 N. Williams Ave.? The private club closed after its Oregon Liquor Control Commission license expired Dec. 31, 2001. Neighbors had long complained to the OLCC about the club, which temporarily shut down for a few days eight months earlier after a shooting.

But now the interior of the building is being remodeled and a hand-lettered sign outside gives a 'new owner' phone number that is answered by a recorded message for Willie Stoudamire, father of Trail Blazer Damon Stoudamire. State liquor officials say no one has yet applied for a new liquor license, however.

Stoudamire did not return messages left at the posted number.


EPA pokes at plan

The Environmental Protection Agency is questioning one of the cornerstones of Portland's $1 billion plan to eliminate sewage spills into the Willamette River Ñ the city's storm water management program.

As part of the plan to reduce the amount of rainwater flowing into the sewer system, the Bureau of Environmental Services is installing a series of underground sumps throughout the city to collect and disperse water that flows off driveways, streets and parking lots. Construction has been under way for more than 10 years, funded by sewer fee increases.

But now the EPA wants the city to prove that the water being dispersed into the ground isn't so dirty that it could contaminate underground water tables. If the water has to be cleaned before it is dispersed, the city would have to dramatically increase the overall cost of the project.

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the environmental services bureau, has requested a meeting with EPA officials to resolve the issue.


Emanuel ER stars

A Portland mother and her 2-year-old daughter who were struck by a car and severely injured will be among the patients featured in 'Trauma: Life in the ER,' a documentary that will air from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday on cable television's Learning Channel network, which is Channel 38 in Portland.

The program was filmed at Legacy Emanuel Hospital's emergency room in Portland last spring. Besides the injured mother and daughter, others featured in the program are an elderly man suffering from lung damage after a lifetime of smoking and a toddler whose eyelid infection spread over her face after she hit her head on a table.

Emanuel staff featured in the documentary are doctors Jeff Campbell, Greg Delgado and Ameen Ramzy.

Ñ Tribune staff