Portland, OR

Wednesday in Portland: Starbucks closing another downtown store, PPS secures 3,500 air purifiers for classrooms & more

Emily Scarvie

Photo by(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, May 24 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Starbucks workers say downtown location targeted for closure due to union push

Starbucks workers say a downtown Portland location set to close on June 2, and two others, were selected to crack down on a union push that’s been sweeping the chain’s stores. Employees held a strike on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Starbucks location in the U.S. Bancorp Tower to protest the planned closure.

“The news came out of the blue,” Claire Cook, a barista who started working at the downtown store last June, told The Oregonian. “Starbucks’ official policy says they’re supposed to give at least eight weeks’ notice but they gave us less than that.”

Cook said Starbucks cited safety concerns as the main reason to close the U.S. Bancorp Tower location, but she said the store is “no different than the other stores in the rest of downtown Portland” that also have safety concerns. She said because that location is one of the few unionized stores, she believes it made them a target for closure.

According to a Starbucks spokesperson, the company announced the downtown Portland store’s closure on May 5 as part of the company’s “ongoing efforts to transform (its) store portfolio,” and because of safety concerns, per The Oregonian. The company has closed other stores in Portland’s city center over the last several years.

2. Private security guard who shot, killed man outside Portland Lowe's in 2021 gets life in prison

The man accused of shooting and killing 49-year-old Freddy Nelson outside of a Portland Lowe’s in 2021 was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole on Tuesday. Logan Gimble, 30, was found guilty of second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon with a firearm and second-degree unlawful use of mace. Under Measure 11, he was automatically sentenced to life in prison for the murder charge.

On Tuesday, Gimble sat before a Multnomah County judge and looked at photos of Nelson while prosecutors read emotional statements from Nelson’s family.

“He took my best friend and partner of over 30 years, he took the father of our children and our grandson’s papa,” Nelson’s wife Karli Nelson wrote in a statement that was read aloud. “I pray that someday I will have a forgiving heart so I can move on with my life as for now I don’t know how I’ll ever learn to live with this pain. Not one hour has passed without thoughts of my husband and many tears have been shed.”

According to court documents, there was a dispute between Nelson and Cornerstone Security Group over Nelson selling wooden pallets prior to the shooting, even though Nelson had an agreement with Lowe’s to collect and sell the store’s unwanted pallets. Despite this, the security company banned him from the parking lot.

On May 29, 2021, Gimble confronted Nelson and it escalated quickly. Gimble pepper sprayed Nelson and his wife before shooting Nelson with a gun he wasn’t legally allowed to carry as a security guard. Gimble’s lawyer claimed he was acting in self defense, but the jury saw otherwise. His lawyers say they plan to appeal the verdict.

3. Portland Public Schools gets 3,500 air purifiers to improve classroom ventilation

In an effort to improve classroom ventilation for Portland students, Portland Public Schools is getting 3,500 free portable air purifiers from the Oregon Health Authority. The order will give the district the opportunity to install a second purifier in many of its classrooms, where it has been lagging behind recommended standards.

The announcement from PPS comes after an investigation by The Oregonian last year found that a quarter of the district’s elementary and middle school classrooms had subpar ventilation rates. Following the investigation, the Oregon Health Authority clarified its air quality and ventilation guidance for schools, recommending “a range of 3-6 air changes per hour” for classrooms and other “public indoor spaces.”

PPB said it would try to meet that guidance, though it wasn’t mandatory. Testing by the district revealed that nearly 500 out of 2,000 classrooms in its elementary and middle schools failed to achieve three air changes per hour.

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the first time also set a target for maintaining health indoor air quality, recommending five changes per hour.

The new purifiers are set to arrive next month and will allow PPS to install a second purifier in many of its 2,700 classrooms. Variables like room size, use and building HVAC systems will determine which classrooms get an additional unit.

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