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COMMUNITY

Disaster center opens

The Portland-based National Center for Disaster Decision Making was officially formed Thursday.

Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker proposed the center last year as an educational clearinghouse and facility for training elected officials and influential decision-makers how to respond to natural and terrorist disasters.

Kroeker and center Chairman Ron Tammen, director of the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, announced the formation of the center at a news conference Thursday. They said the center had received its first monetary contribution, a $150,000 donation from the Metro Portland New Car Dealers Association.

Plans call for the center to be located in the satellite campus being planned by the Oregon Health & Science University in the North Macadam urban renewal area.

Post office open late

A blue postal service collection box with a yellow sign on it might be last-minute tax filers' best friend on Tuesday, the deadline for filing state and federal tax returns.

The yellow signs mark boxes with midnight mail pickup, ensuring an on-time postmark. They'll be at all 18 Portland area post office branches.

The post office plans several additional tax day services. Nine branches from McMinnville to Vancouver, Wash., will have mail collections until at least 6 p.m. The Portland airport post office, at 7640 N.E. Airport Way, will have window service until midnight, and the Eastport Plaza postal branch, 3850 S.E. 82nd Ave., will have window service until 9 p.m.

Postal clerks will be at two drive-through locations to weigh returns and ensure filers have sufficient postage. Drive-throughs will be at the Eastport Plaza branch and the Tigard Fred Meyer parking lot, 11565 S.W. Pacific Highway.

Six Kinko's stores around Portland also will take returns until midnight.

A teachable moment

Applegate Elementary School students triumphed over more than 100 other schools to win a chocolate factory tour last week in a drawing to kick off the Oregon Children's Theatre's production of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.' (For more on the production, see Page 3 of CUE.)

To prepare for their tour of Portland's Moonstruck Chocolate Co., the North Portland students learned about chocolate Ñ where and how it's grown. The class also will attend a performance of the play, which will run from Saturday to April 27 at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

To make truffles, the grade-schoolers pulled on rubber gloves, rolled ganache filling to the right size and then, aided by chocolatier David Orr, dipped the truffle center into a vat of melted milk chocolate. When a center got away and bobbed in the chocolate, Orr rounded it up.

'Eye-hand coordination,' he explained.

The junior chocolate makers boxed their truffles Ñ decorated with as much crushed Oreo cookies, nuts, coconut and shaved milk chocolate as possible Ñ to take away.

GOVERNMENT

Saxton nixes mayoral run

Ron Saxton, who ran a spirited but unsuccessful race for governor last year, says he has decided not to run for Portland mayor or anything else next year.

'I have never thought of myself as a career office seeker,' he said this week. 'I'm not looking for a career in politics.'

Saxton said he would have received significant support for a mayoral race from the business community. But he prefers instead to remain active in public affairs, particularly involving schools, and will concentrate on his job as a partner at Ater Wynne LLP. He also will continue his political commentaries on KATU (2) and his column for the Medford Mail Tribune.

Last May, Saxton won 28 percent of the vote, finishing third to Kevin Mannix, in the Republican gubernatorial primary. His campaign won praise for focusing attention on the financial problems of the Public Employees Retirement System.

The May 2004 mayoral race already has attracted attention because Mayor Vera Katz hasn't said whether she will run for a fourth term. City Commissioner Jim Francesconi is running, while Commissioner Erik Sten and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., are undecided.

Diane Linn, chairwoman of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, and Charlie Hales, former city commissioner, both decided against running.

REFUGEES

First Somali Bantus arrive

The first of 12,000 Somali Bantus to be accepted as refugees have arrived in the United States, and others are expected to start arriving in Portland and other cities this summer.

The Bantus, who were brought to Somalia from other countries as slaves and treated as second-class citizens there, are being resettled in 47 U.S. cities including Portland.

Daniel Van Lehman, an assistant professor at Portland State University, is applying for a $400,000 grant to develop a resource center for the Bantus at PSU.

Van Lehman's cultural profile of the Somali Bantus is available online at http://www.culturalorientation.net/fact.html.

IRAQ WAR

Protest planned

Peace activists have scheduled their next large demonstration for Saturday. The Alliance for Peace and Justice has taken out a city parade permit for a march to begin at 3:30 p.m. at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

The alliance is the same loose-knit coalition of peace, social justice, environmental, faith, student and labor groups that organized the last few major antiwar rallies in Portland Ñ including the Jan. 18 and March 15 demonstrations that brought tens of thousands of people downtown.

Some critics recently have questioned what the antiwar protesters are trying to accomplish. Portland State University history professor David Horowitz Ñ a former Vietnam War protester Ñ said that the large protests did not stop the war in Iraq from starting and are not forcing the Bush administration to end it.

All published opinion polls show that public support for the war has increased since it started.

'The antiwar movement is pathetic at this point,' Horowitz said. 'It's basically become a confessional cult. It's not about politics any more, it's all about self-expression.'

Organizer Frank Fromherz said the protesters are achieving other goals, however.

'The fact that your practices don't achieve your immediate goal is not a reason for giving it up,' said Fromherz, former director of the Office of Justice and Peace of the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland. 'You have to believe that this movement is long term and will ultimately have an impact to the degree we stay true to our vision of a nonviolent alternative to war.'

Volunteers head out

It looks like the wait is over for six Northwest Medical Teams staff members and volunteers planning to travel to northern Iraq to provide medical care and other aid to Iraqis affected by the war.

Joe DiCarlo, disaster response manager for the Portland-based humanitarian aid agency, left Portland on Thursday for Ankara, Turkey, to get permission for the team to cross the border into Iraq next week.

Once he has it, the team's other five members Ñ who have been ready to leave since the war started three weeks ago Ñ will follow, probably on Monday, taking thousands of dollars in medical supplies with them to Turkey.

Northwest Medical Teams has a staff already operating a health care program for children in Irbil, a city in the Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq.

The doctor who runs that program said that at least 12,000 families in the northern Dohuk province need medical care, DiCarlo said.

'Some of it is war related, people stepping on mines, but much of it is acute medical care,' he said.

Joining DiCarlo next week will be agency nurse Lorie Baker and volunteers Jackie Gust, a Portland registered nurse; Dr. Mike Pendleton of Hood River; Dr. Catlin Goss of Seattle; and Scott Gotter, a Portland firefighter and paramedic.

Ñ Tribune staff