As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

Apr 01, 2020

The first photo I am sharing was taken over 60 years ago, in October of 1957, as city employees and industry people closed the switches to energize the City's new West Bandon substation.

West Bandon substation, 1957
West Bandon substation, 1957

Pictured include lineman Ken Potterf, Manager of Utilities (city manager) John Fasnacht, standing at left, and linemen Ralph Brown and Harvey Hiley. The accompanying article explains that the new $25,000 installation will serve electrical energy to the west side of town, while east side residents will continue to be served by the substation adjacent to city hall (which today is the Bandon History Museum). New Langlois substations were scheduled to be energized the following week.

For a bit of history I went to Dow Beckham's book about the Bandon Fire.

"Nov. 16, 1907, Bandon began using electricity for lights. The steam power plant operated with a capacity of 2,000 lights. The company went into receivership in March of 1910. Engineer A.S. Elliott took over as manager and began installing meters and extending services to new customers.

"The city of Bandon acquired the power plant in June of 1921 at a cost of $35,000 and became owner of its second utility. For a short time the city held a contract with Nestle's Food Company to connect with their generators in event of an emergency.

"Aug. 1, 1922, the city began operating the hydroelectric plant on Willow Creek south of Langlois. The crews constructed a dam east of the Roosevelt Highway (later Highway 101) and extended the power line to town. Before it was completed the city ran out of funds and had to vote bonds for an additional $40,000. Costs would have been higher to delay so the citizens complied with a positive vote. The first year's operation reflected a net earning of $500 per month. The Willow Creek dam was 60 feet high, 160 feet long and 60 feet thick at the bottom.

"The bonded debt continued to plague the city. Five years later in 1927 a study showed that the city should sell the electric system to a private company." An unbiased estimate of what it was worth found that $150,000 should be the minimum price. But the appraiser recommended that the city not sell its electric system. The city received two bids, one for $100,000 and another from Mountain States Power Company for $120,000. The city did not sell." And the rest is history ... as the city has continued to be one of a handful of cities across the state who operate its own electric company.

Mountain States Power Co. was a privately owned power company headquartered in Albany.

The second picture was taken in late December of 1965 during a big storm, which saw winds reach 95 miles an hour at the local Coast Guard Station. More than six inches of rain fell between Dec. 21 and 27 of that year.

But my main reason for sharing this picture is to show you what McKay's Market looked like more than 50 years ago, compared to the much larger building that welcomes customers today.

McKay's Market, 1965
McKay's Market, 1965

Several years later, an attached building was home to the Western World office before it moved downtown in the early '80s and is now the east end of McKay's which houses the produce section of the store.

The third picture was taken in February of 1970 as Pat Fraser and Coach Dick Sutherland look over a program of a past year's East-West A-2 Shrine Game.

Pat Fraser and Coach Dick Sutherland, 1970
Pat Fraser and Coach Dick Sutherland, 1970

Fraser had just been selected to play in the 1970 classic. Coach Sutherland had coached the West club for the fourth time two years previously.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerry Fraser, Pat was one of four area gridders to be selected for the honor. Among the others was Coquille center John Heenan, son of John and Valda Heenan. The senior Heenan was head of the Oregon State Police in Coquille. Fraser was one of three quarterbacks chosen for the West team.

Coach Gene Morrow of Newport, who played for Coach Sutherland as a schoolboy gridder at The Dalles, coached the West team.

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I was shocked by the Thursday night decision of three members of the hospital board to fire the CEO Amy Fine, as she was busy preparing for the real possibility of covid-19 cases coming into the local hospital.

I expressed my concern to the three members, David Allen, Esther Williams and Edie Jurgenson. Only David responded to me. He said the district needs someone with more experience and much better people skills. He explained that during his 16 years on the board, he had worked with four CEOs, adding, "In my opinion Amy Fine is the least qualified CEO I have served with. I care as much as anyone does about our hospital and if I have no confidence in Amy Fine's ability to lead in normal times, why would I want her to be in charge during a crisis?"

I can tell you first hand that his opinion is not shared with any of the people that I have spoken with.

One highly regarded doctor, who was asked by Amy to join the staff at Southern Coos, told me that our hospital is better prepared for the crisis than any other hospital on the Oregon coast. And he said it is because of Amy's leadership.

As a result of the board's decision, our new chief finance officer, Ana Maujica, has also resigned, as has board member Tom Bedell, who was a whiz at hospital finance and has worked tirelessly with Ana and Amy on understanding the district's finances.

At the board meeting where this untimely and irresponsible decision was made, it was pointed out that Amy was not supporting the board. Maybe it was because she has been working tirelessly to prepare the hospital for the crisis, including working with the city of Bandon to possibly lease part of the Barn to be used for Swing Bed patients. She was great to work with, open and honest. Dr. Douglas Crane has since told me that is probably off the table because they no longer have the staff to support such an endeavor.

I was sent a public statement by Amy Fine, which she wanted me to share, and I was happy to do it. Here is what she said: "I have been honored to be a part of the Southern Coos Health District since July of 2017. I have held the roles of Clinic Manager, Chief Financial Officer and in January of 2019, I was appointed Chief Executive Officer. I love the community of Bandon, our wonderful hospital and clinic and the dedicated District staff. I strive to do what is right for our patients, staff, community, hospital and clinic.

"I am troubled that several members of the District Board have become distracted by individual concerns rather than focusing upon the overall management and strategic direction of the hospital. Recently, I pointed out to the Board members how they were not following their own by-laws or my contract as CEO. Perhaps, this is the reason three of the District Board members decided to terminate my contract.

"Lastly, changing leadership during this pandemic is profoundly misguided," said Fine.

Board member Carol Acklin, who has supported Amy, as has Tom, since she was hired, pointed out that it cost about $45,000 for the search firm to hire the previous administrator (JoDee Tittle) and it will likely cost that much to replace Amy. Ironically, only a few months ago, four members of the same board (with the exception of David Allen who was on vacation) voted unanimously to give Amy a three-year contract.

I knew it did not bode well when the board was split 3-2 (David Allen and Esther Williams) when Amy was hired as the CEO. At that time Brian Vick joined Carol and Tom in hiring Amy. He decided not to run again and was replaced by Edie Jurgenson.

Fortunately the CNO (Chief Nursing Officer) Debi Ellis decided to stay on, even though she is a strong supporter of Amy; she has been named the interim CEO as the board begins its search.

Debi sent me a number of pictures Friday of the elaborate tent which has been set up in the parking lot of the hospital, filled with beds in preparation for eventual covid-19 screening. This came about as a result of Amy's leadership.

Last week, Amy said "We continue to pay our staff and are doing everything we can to make sure that we are prepared. Because we have limited our volume for routine care, I am very concerned for our financial survival. Through the Oregon Hospital Association, I have requested state and federal funds."

We are all fearful and afraid of what will happen next. And this decision just adds to the fear and uncertainty. I am just sorry that the board majority did not feel it prudent and responsible to wait until we had gotten through this crisis before they acted; possibly by putting her on a plan of assistance or some other less drastic action. But to say she needed better people skills??? If you know Amy, or have worked with her, you will probably wonder where that comes from.

I have twice served on the board of the Southern Coos Hospital (including back in 1962 when I was the youngest person ever elected) and our local hospital means a lot to me. That's why I think it is so important for me, and others, to get involved.

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I have been in contact with two former residents in the last couple of days, including Joan Goodbrod and Daisy Mallory Turner. Both are doing fine, but Joan is a bit worried as she lives in an assisted living facility in Woodland, Wash., near where her daughter, Michelle lives. Joan is 87, but looks and feels much younger, but she still feels it's best not to venture out from her apartment at this time.

Although I often email back and forth with Daisy as I come across photos of her boys, I do not actually know where she lives, but I know she has been gone from the community for quite a few years. I believe she also lives in an assisted living facility.

Anyone who would like to send Joan a card could do so at Woodland Care Center, PO Box 69 (Apt. 112), Woodland, Wash., 98674. And I know she'd appreciate a call at 360-225-5294.

Daisy could be reached by email at

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I am not sure I wrote about this before, but in February a white pitbull attacked a small dog, severely injuring the little dog and sending the little dog's owner to the ER with a serious bite wound to the hand.

Well, the same dog has struck again. This time it was Wednesday evening while a woman and her husband were walking their dog. The same white pitbull was being walked by a woman on Tish-A-Tang lane, when it started snarling, pulled the leash out of her hand and attacked the other dog. Fortunately, the man was able to throw himself on the dogs to break them up and neither he nor his dog were injured.

I do know they called Coos County Animal Control as the first couple did, but I do not know what transpired. At any rate please be warned that if you are walking your dog in the Seabird Drive area, please be aware that this dog is unpredictable, and it could well happen again. If I were walking a dog in that area, I would be carrying pepper spray.

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The latest report from Coos Health & Wellness, as of March 27 at 4 p.m., shows that 174 people have been tested in Coos County; 55 test results are pending; 119 have tested negative and none have tested positive.

As part of the press release, the PIO said, "We at Coos Health and Wellness would like to take the time to address the constant rumor circulation happening in the community. Please understand that if a report of a positive Covid-19 case did not come from the Public Health Division of Coos Health & Wellness or the Oregon Health Authority, it is most likely false and misleading.

"A recent example would be the rumor of an individual in Bandon being in contact with a positive Covid-19 case from Wisconsin. This has been proven to be a rumor and has no factual basis," said the press release.

The email for questions is or you can visit their COVID-19 page.

Previous columns by Mary Schamehorn