If the money falls into place, a few months from now Hillsdale will boast the first public school in the Northwest to install and use solar energy panels for the majority of its power. Reike Elementary hopes to convert 60 percent of its power to solar and give students a hands-on education in alternative energy.

But now the tough stuff: To actually build the panels, a corporation needs to invest in the project. Fat local, state, and federal tax credits cover most of the $800,000 cost, but the federal credits end in 2009. That means a planning and construction process that usually takes eight months to a year would have to get done between now and New Year's.

Can it be done? According to Solar Commercial Ventures developer Sandra Walden, "It's definitely a challenge." SM


Downtown convenience store owner Doug Peterson plans to address city council on Wednesday morning, July 9, about the city's decision to evict his store from its flagship SW 10th and Morrison location next month.

Peterson told the Mercury on Tuesday that he had collected more than 3,000 signatures on a petition opposing his eviction, and that he plans to tell the city commissioners about the public comments he has gathered.

"They say things like: landmark, asset, staple, needed, part of the character of the community, vital to a livable downtown, I live in the neighborhood, feel safer waiting for the MAX, and so on," he says.

Peterson has also dug up a TriMet study encouraging the opening of 24-hour convenience stores on the new bus mall. "The city's own studies have indicated we're good for downtown," he says. "And I've received absolutely no response from the city commissioners on this." Check blogtown.portlandmercury.com for updates. MD


A security guard working for Pioneer Courthouse Square told a street kid on Monday, July 7, he was "stealing electricity from the city," after he plugged his cell phone into a power outlet in one of the square's flower beds.

"I just see an open outlet, somewhere I can plug my phone in," said the kid. "It's not posted anywhere that I can't plug my phone in here."

"Well, it's posted somewhere," said the guard. "It's just not posted here." Pacific Patrol Services, which is responsible for the rent-a-cops, referred the Mercury to Pioneer Courthouse Square for comment.

"It's the same rules for everybody," says Pioneer Square Director of Facilities Mahlin Shisler. "It isn't directed at any one group of people." MD