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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

by: , The Third Grade class this year at St. Agatha’s

A beauty of a school project

Editor,

I am a Parent of a child who attends St. Agatha Catholic School in Sellwood; wanted to let you know the wonderful work the school is doing in teaching Service Learning to their students. All students participate in different projects, but I am focusing on the Third Grade class, which participates in community service projects each year - in which the class collectively participates in projects in their community and across the world. This year the first 'service-project' that St. Agatha's third graders did was selling baskets made by women in Rwanda. They raised $2,200.00 to sponsor one child to go to school at the New Life Academy School in Kayonza, Rwanda. Their second 'Service Project' is called 'You-Are-Beautiful'. The students made 'You-Are-Beautiful' signs and buttons, distributed 250 'You-Are-Beautiful' buttons to each student at the school, and made a presentation about what beautiful means, and how to spread the message. They hoped to make a difference in each student's day, and hoped to make the students understand that they are all beautiful to them. In addition, while the St Agatha students are wearing these buttons there are another 80 women in Rwanda that are wearing these same buttons, and in May there will be another 700 + students at the New Life Academy in Rwanda who will be receiving and wearing the buttons and participating in this very program. The main goal of this project is to spread a positive message throughout the world. See more on this project at: www.you-are-beautiful.com.

Nicole Raymond, Sellwood

Thoughts about a future Sellwood Bridge

Editor,

The Sellwood Bridge does need replacing, and I don't feel the angst towards Wheeler/Roberts' proposed fee [that] I feel towards Portland Commissioner Adams' street [maintenance] fee idea. Moreover, Multnomah county doesn't have the extravagant budgets that Portland City Hall seems to have, as witnessed by numerous grants and subsidies showered out to developer types. So, I would support the county on a reasonable vehicle registration surcharge dedicated to replacing the Sellwood Bridge with at least [the same], if not more, automobile capacity. Notice, too, how the fee is actually connected to the service being provided, whereas in Adams' new street fee idea there is [just] a tangential connection.

Bob Clark, via e-mail

Editor,

I am a former bridge designer for another state's D.O.T. As long as the spans are within the normal span lengths used by the D.O.T., the bridge [construction] cost is fairly stable. However, even a custom spam can be reasonably priced, provided the construction method is fairly straightforward. Any major river span should be constructed on a barge, floated into place, and raised using hydraulic rams off the pier or cables off the pier. The span should be made with a pre-stressed concrete box beam, with the option to later post-tension it. All the spans over all the rivers in the Portland area could utilize the same size box beam, cutting fabrication and construction costs tremendously.

F.J. Kapustka, via website comment form

Editor,

Bikes weigh a fraction of what your automobile does, and the effect of bike traffic on the Sellwood [Bridge] is nonexistent compared with cars, trucks and SUVs. But I would have no problem paying a toll if it increased the safety of the Sellwood and made it more accessible and safe for pedestrians, bikers and cars alike. Actually, I steer completely clear of the Sellwood Bridge, due to belligerent drivers honking, screaming, and essentially trying to run me off the road. This belligerence could cost me my life. If we all just practiced a bit of patience and shared the common resource of the road, there would be far less belligerence and fewer bike fatalities too.

Madelyn, Portland State University, via website comment form

Editorial position in headline story…?

Editor,

As I was reading the front-page article [January BEE] on the proposed construction of the Ardenwald 15-bed treatment house, I became shocked and amazed that such a respected and fair-minded newspaper would write such an article. In opposing the construction of the house THE BEE's stance on the article only seems to further stigmatize and demonize mental illness. In the article THE BEE made it sound as if child rapists and criminals were being invited into the neighborhood to vandalize and steal as they please. Many people with mental illness struggle with it their whole lives, we don't blame the cancer patient for dying of invasive tumors, so therefore we can't condemn a person whose symptoms overtake his or her best efforts to manage their illness. There are all sorts of people living in our community, these people who are mentally ill are not criminals and should not be discriminated against in such a way just because they are having some hard times in their lives. As a community we should be helping and welcoming these people, perhaps trying to show them that there are good people in this world instead of shunning them and turning them away.

Trinity Sell, S.E. 19th Avenue, via website comment form

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our article simply reported on the issue, quoting several points of view from residents and others involved, including those in favor of it in Ardenwald. Those planning the facility specifically stated that some of the occupants would indeed have criminal backgrounds, but that these people would be thoroughly supervised and would not a danger to the community. We took and take no editorial position on the facility one way or another. It presumably will ultimately be constructed elsewhere in Clackamas County.

Avoiding crime

Editor,

I am a resident of Westmoreland and I was just sitting here thinking...I have lived in this community for 6 years now and NEVER had any problems or issues with crime until recently. Please remind people that cars are being broken into more and more. Four months ago my car was broken into...nothing of value was truly taken, but [the thief] just made a mess. Now for a second time, last night within a 4-hour period, my car was broken into again, and my car battery was stolen. Now I am out $110.00 that I didn't have. So just a little note to remind people that auto break-ins and theft are involving things that you wouldn't suspect...would you think about a thief stealing your car battery?

Aundrea Harris, Westmoreland

Inspired by story

Editor,

Re: Newly-planted Learning Garden orchard to educate and nourish [January 2008 BEE]. This is so inspiring...it would be so wonderful for every school everywhere to invite the FTPF to come with fruit trees for kids to plant, watch grow, and then enjoy the fruits of.... And then learn to make healthy snacks smoothies etc from the harvests...

Taylor, via e-mail

What WAS that jolt…?

Editor,

I was riding the holiday express steam train with my family on Saturday, December 15th, at 4 pm, and something went wrong. There was a sudden lurch backwards before any warning the train was going to move, and then what felt like an emergency brake being set. Shortly after, panicked looking train personnel were moving quickly through our train car towards the engine. An ambulance came, but we couldn't see what was happening from our vantage point. Instead we rode northward toward OMSI and then back to the station at Oaks Park. Do you know the full story of what happened? I, for one, would like to know if I should be concerned for my safety, should I choose to ride the Holiday Express again.

Jeff Young, via e-mail

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, the organization running the train as a fund-raiser, responded, 'A guest suffered an unrelated life threatening medical emergency. Circumstances required repositioning of the train to allow emergency responders optimum access to the patient.'

Comment on 'Sneaky Pruner' story

Editor,

Certainly we feel sympathy for Kathleen McCann, whose property was damaged by the 'sneaky pruner' who vandalized her property [in Woodstock; item in January 2008 BEE]. But as neighbors who walk through the neighborhood, we can understand the frustration of the anonymous vandal. Along with the laws protecting citizens' property, there are also laws about shrubbery encroaching over the public sidewalk. Your article didn't mention whether or not McCann's 'elegant…boughs of a mature Ocean Spray' drooped over the sidewalk, but if they did, then she was also in violation. According to city code, it is unlawful for the branches of trees to be less than 7-1/2 feet above the sidewalk, or 11 feet above the roadway. As good neighbors, we all have the duty not to be vigilante pruners. But we also have the duty to trim our own shrubbery for the public good.

Alisa Harvey and Bill Penn

S.E. Rex Street, Sellwood

Editor,

I was not surprised by your article concerning the illegal pruner. I live in Sellwood, south of Tacoma, and am also a victim of the pruner. They cut branches on several trees and hacked a grassy plant along our sidewalk. Your readers should be aware this is not just in Woodstock and we all need to be aware and mindful of the activities around us.

Michael [last name withheld by request], via e-mail

Editor,

Perhaps the 'Sneaky illegal pruner' that whacked away in Woodstock was suffering from a case of 'sidewalk rage'. I know nothing makes my morning walk better than being slapped in the face by a low-hanging branch. Judging from the picture posted on line, it looks like there are some clear violations of City Ordinance 17.52.01. . . . Portland Online lists Tom Jensen at 503/823-5211 as the person to contact to report low hanging tree issues. Of course the easiest thing to do would be for the property owners to keep their trees and bushes trimmed so their neighbors can actually 'walk' on the sidewalk.

I'm sure Mayor Potter abided by the City Charter so perhaps the pruning done to his property was just collateral damage.

Jeff Von Allmen, Sellwood

EDITOR'S NOTE: It is our understanding that all the vandalism which we reported in the article occurred entirely on private property, and that none of it involved branches encroaching over the sidewalk or street. That adds trespassing to the vandalism as potential charges for guilty party. We did receive an anonymous letter around Christmastime admitting to doing 'sneaky pruning', although not admitting to committing the specific violation described in the article. The writer attempted to use the same argument to justify vigilante pruning. Since in this case the hacked vegetation was apparently in yards and not encroaching over the sidewalk or street, that would not be a factor in the case described. We are not printing that letter since it was submitted anonymously; we will withhold names in most cases, if asked, but we do not print letters submitted without any identification.

Thanks from the SWBA

Editor,

The Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA) would like to thank the 89 local businesses that participated in our first-ever 'Decemberville' event and promotion. Additionally, we would like to thank our local Wells Fargo Bank, NW Primary Care, Bank of America and the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA) for their extremely generous sponsorship support, which allowed us to provide a variety of caroling groups and free transportation every weekend in December. We know the horses and carriages were especially fun! Through the kind donations of all of our customers, we raised $540 to go to Llewellyn Elementary School, Scrap, the Oregon Food Bank, and the Raphael House.

We would like to congratulate our two grand prize winners: Celeste Vega and John Goff. The decorated wreath that received the most votes was [by] Branches Cards and Gifts. In addition to the grand prizes, each of the participating businesses donated gift certificates that were awarded to individuals who completed the contest form.

Our goal in putting together this event was to raise awareness within our community, and throughout our city, of how much Sellwood-Westmoreland has to offer. Many people who explored and enjoyed our neighborhoods during the holiday month of December commented that they had no idea our area had so many diverse businesses. It was a great first effort. We certainly know there are fine points to be tuned up, but we hope to hold a holiday event again next year.

Debbe Hamada, Member, Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance

'Loaves and Fishes' needs YOU

Editor,

For those who may be a 'stay at home parent', or a night shift worker, or bored retiree, the Thelma Skelton Meals on Wheels program needs individuals willing to be 'on call' substitute drivers, Monday through Friday, 10:30 am till noon. We won't call you often, but we do need you badly, at our location 3925 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue (at Center Street, in Brooklyn. Please call me for information: 503/988-6334.

Lynne Chowning, Manager, via e-mail

Portland Open Studios needs you, too

Editor,

Portland Open Studios is seeking metro area artists in all media to open their studios to the public. It is an opportunity for Sellwood, Westmoreland, Eastmoreland, Reed, Brooklyn, and Woodstock artists to show and sell their artwork, build an audience and communicate with the public. Artists selected for the event by a panel of three art professionals will also have an image of their artwork published in the Tour Guide and on the web. Studios west of the Willamette River are open October 11-12 and on the eastside on October 18-19. New option: Artists can choose to be open both weekends, making artists and the community more accessible to each other. Kimberly Gales Emerging Artists Scholarship to Portland Open Studios. Artists between 20 and 30 years old are eligible to apply for the scholarship which includes a waiver of all fees and a $100 stipend. You'll find more information, directions, and the online application at: www.portlandopenstudios.com. Deadline is MARCH 15, for artists, and the scholarship applications!

Bonnie Meltzer, via e-mail

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