As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
December 28, 2016
The first picture I am sharing this week features the 1962 Cranberry queen (the late) Carole Cameron and her escort, Doug Giles. But it is the buildings in the background that I found interesting.
1962 Cranberry queen
I have very few pictures of Bandon Market, at left, which was owned by Noah Davison and later his son, Earle. That site is now a vacant lot across from the McNair building, recently purchased by Jon Hawkins and his wife, Nicole. Next to Bandon Market is where Bob-Otto Court was located (later the site of Bub Laub's Texaco Station and now the Shell Station). You can barely see the former plumbing shop building (now Bandon Mercantile) and behind that the looming Coast Lumber Yard (no longer there). Across the highway was the old second hand store.
"Big gorse fire" was the title of the envelope that held the negatives for the second picture. Taken in July of 1957, gorse in what is now referred to as "the Donut Hole" was burning.
Gorse fire, 1957
For those of you who don't know, the Donut Hole is a large parcel (several hundred acres) of privately owned land in the county, surrounded by the city limits. We have tried on several occasions to get property owners to annex into the city, but thus far have been unsuccessful. The county has no gorse abatement ordinance and the gorse continues to flourish in that area. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort owner Mike Keiser and Jim Seeley, executive director of Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, have made it one of their missions to figure out how to eradicate gorse in that area and give people an incentive to do something with those lands. And they definitely have my support.
The third picture, taken in October of 1973, shows Police Chief D. S. "Big Mac" MacDonald, right, and Mel Boak, long-time owner of McNair Hardware as Mac investigates a burglary at the hardware store.
Police Chief D. S. "Big Mac" MacDonald, and Mel Boak, 1973
Behind Melvin you can see the building that now houses Sharen Strong's dental practice. Less than two years later, while attempting to open the safe at the hardware store, a burglar set fire to the store and it was destroyed. Melvin later rebuilt a block building, which is the one purchased by Jon Hawkins and is being retrofit for a brewery to go along with the pizza parlor.
* * *
The City has been advised to expect huge increases in our PERS bill, and some entities estimate the PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) costs could be as high as 30 percent of total payroll.
The Oregonian reports that Oregon's public pension system deficit is now $22 billion (yes, that's a b).
And when you consider that a former neurosurgeon at OHSU has now become the state's top PERS recipient ... to the tune of $55,279.53 a month ... you have to ask yourself how did we get to the point where the system is that far in debt? Former Duck football coach Mike Bellotti receives benefits of $44,749 a month. And that is for life.
Several years ago I went on line to see just how much recipients are receiving, and if you want to do the same, go to gov.oregonlive.com/pers. It will be a real eye-opener.
Unfortunately, the deficit is so huge that jurisdictions like the city may well have to make some tough decisions when it comes time to pay their share of the bill.
The legislature tried to make changes to the law, but most of their "fixes" were rejected by the courts. To put it in laymen terms: PERS has $22 billion less than it needs to cover the payments to retirees and older workers that they have already been granted.
New recipients of PERS do not get the same benefits that past workers received, and ultimately that will help the bottom line ... but it will take many years to reduce the present deficit ... brought about by unrealistic investment returns and employee guarantees.
* * *
Just returned from the Community Christmas dinner at The Barn, where I joined several hundred others in enjoying the great dinner prepared and served by a host of community volunteers, with Eric and Colleen Wiesel as head chefs.
It is amazing how many people give up their own Christmas day to help out in so many ways during the meal, and many stay late to clean up afterwards. Others deliver meals to the home-bound.
I sat at a table where I didn't know anyone, and came away with a new friend, Janet Johnson, who was a former teacher at the Pacific Community Church school.
It's always fun to go places by yourself, which gives you an opportunity to meet interesting new people, and that has happened to me several times lately.
* * *
Ever since Marcus Mariota left the Oregon Ducks to become the quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, I have followed the fortunes of the team. I was sad to learn, when reading the Oregonian Sunday morning, that Marcus had broken his right leg in a loss to Jacksonville Saturday. A rookie sacked Mariota as he scrambled on first down and grabbed him around the lower legs.
The article said that after Tennessee beat Jacksonville in a nationally televised game in late October, Mariota was a prime target.
That's the part of the game I don't like ....
* * *
Although I don't think I've seen him since we graduated from high school many years ago, I still remember fondly Dennis Chesselet, who ended up managing Ocean Spray Cranberries after having worked during high school for my late father, Bill Dufort, when he was the manager.
Dennis has continued to live in the Empire area of Coos Bay for many years, but I learned this week that he is in poor health and recently suffered a stroke.
Steve Gant told me that Dennis often comes down during the cranberry harvest, but was not doing well when he last saw him.
* * *
While at the dinner Sunday I ran into the grandparents of a former city employee, Shannon Reinhardt, who served as assistant to the city manager and city recorder from December 2014 to August 2015 before leaving with her husband to move to Bend.
Her grandmother said that Shannon and her husband had their first child, a baby girl, in October. Shannon works as development director of First Story, a non-profit organization in Bend.
She was a truly outstanding employee and it was sad when she announced that they were moving to Bend.
But it's nice to hear that she's doing well . . .
* * *
I continue to hear (and see first hand) what happens to your garbage when you leave thin-milled plastic bags, filled with household garbage, flowing over the top of your garbage can. The crows immediately spot it and will rip the bags apart until your garbage has now been shared with your neighbors.
Recently, I saw the crows spilling garbage at a neighbor's house. There were two or three cars in the driveway, but when I repeatedly knocked on the door, they did not answer.
So, rather than let it end up all over our neighborhood, I picked up their garbage and stuffed it back into the can.
It is happening so often that I think it is time to pull out the ordinance book and start handing out warnings (and then citations) for littering.
A friend of mine said the final blow was when she found a used woman's hygiene product in her front yard recently.
My pal Matt (former city manager) said when it happens down in his neighborhood, he just goes out and picks up other people's garbage.
Frankly, I am tired of it.
I am also going to encourage the owner of the garbage company to alert the city as to which cans are repeatedly causing garbage problems, so our codes enforcement officer can contact them.
I simply do not believe that we should have more garbage on our neighborhood streets BECAUSE we have garbage service ... than if we didn't.
* * *
After my item last week about how cold it was in the Port of Bandon's building which houses the Old Town Market, I received an email from my friend Gina Dearth, general manager of the port, explaining the situation.
Here's what Gina had to say: "We know it's cold in there!! The last two weekends of the year have been extra chilly in there. Space heaters are out of the question, the fire marshal would shut us down and rightly so and the cost to the port in utilities is already astronomical. The building is a work in progress in regards to power. Everyone running a space heater would trip breakers; they require a lot of wattage. We have spent thousands of dollars converting from fish plant power to a new panel installation and wiring with the power that serves the building now. Thousands more in a new energy efficient light system. Plans are in the works to add two more additional power panels in there. Last year we spent $90,000 on the restrooms. We are out to bid now to install a fire suppression system which I expect to come in at around $60,000 or more, if we're lucky. These things take time, careful planning and money. A windbreak is out of the question, as is paving the lot, which came in at $65,000.
The port operates on a small budget and remains debt free. Every penny that building has earned has gone back in to it and then some. Heating is on the list and we are certainly looking for alternative sources to heat the building other than electricity but other things require immediate attention first. It's important to remember that we took an almost dilapidated building with years of deferred maintenance and brought it to this point in five years. This is a giant space that requires careful planning for a finished product that provides 10,000 square feet of covered space for the community. We still have the upstairs and the rotten wooden add-on section to deal with as well. Reading your column made me feel like we are being neglectful and nothing could be further from the truth.
I should include that when the building was re-sided and re-roofed the cost was around $40,000. I wanted to share this information with you so that you could understand the costs involved every time we make an improvement.
"Merry Christmas, thanks for letting me share!"
Also in response to my column, I heard from a reader who said it might be best to close the huge RV-sized door that leads into the market, and just let people enter and exit through the door just to the left of it ... on those particularly bitter cold days.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
December 21, 2016
The first picture I am sharing was taken fifty years ago, in December of 1966, when a survey crew was working on the highway, at the foot of the hill as you head south out of Old Town.
Survey crew, 1966
Note that the highway was two-lane at that time. At right, today you would see Fred Carleton's office and business complex and, on the hill, the Bandon Inn. At left, near the top of the hill, is where City Hall stands today. At the top of the hill you can see the Richfield station (now Chevron) and Western Auto (now Bandon Ace Hardware.)
The second picture, taken in 1961, is of a tug as it heads out across the bar behind a load of lumber, barely visible at left.
Tug crossing the bar, 1961
The reason I chose this picture is so you can get a better view of what the South Jetty area looked like 55 years ago. You can see by the number of people on the jetty watching the ship leave the harbor that this was a big event.
I am sure a lot of people remember the gas rationing, which hit us in the early '70s. This sign was taken in 1973 in front of Chappell's Chevron letting people know that there was a 10-gallon limit . . . and they were "sorry for the inconvenience."
Gas rationing, 1973
I can remember the long lines waiting to get into the station, and unfortunately, many of them waited on the highway in front of my driveway, which kept me from getting home as I lived right next to the station (which is now the gravel lot across the highway from Face Rock Creamery). I often would just have to get into the gas line so that I could make my way into my own driveway.
* * *
In case my readers are still looking for the guy on the peak of the Bandon Grade School roof, which appeared in last week's column. Look no longer! If you only saw the picture in Western World, you could not blow up the picture enough to look for the "guy" that wasn't there, but I know some of you searched for him on the Internet version.
Actually, what I meant to say (and both my proofer Geri Procetto and I missed) was the gym could barely be seen in back of the school near the peak of the roof. I can't blame Geri because she does not see the photos when she proofs for me, and I am sure she just figured there was a guy up there on the roof. Why wouldn't she? That's what I said.
I'd like to say spell-check did that to me . . . but I don't think that's the case.
* * *
We have all suffered through the extreme (for our area) cold spell of the last week, but none more so then the vendors at the Old Town Marketplace, who sat in the near freezing cold both Friday and Saturday. I saw older women completely wrapped in blankets and coats; another guy told me he was wearing long-johns . . . but coupled with the wide open entry door, a very cold concrete floor and a complete lack of heat, I can only guess how cold they must have been at the end of the day.
I am hoping that now that they've got the new restrooms completed, one of the goals of the port will be to get some heat in that building. I talked to one friend who said she would not go in there on a cold day like Saturday even to shop . . . let alone sit there all day.
I asked why they couldn't each have a small heater in their space, but one person said it blows out the circuit and another said although the power was there, it could not be used for "safety reasons."
Hopefully the port will put this on their Christmas list so that by the time next season rolls around . . . there will be some kind of heat in that building.
It would also be great to see wind protection for those cold, windy summer days, but all of this costs money. At any rate, the marketplace just ended another very successful season, and many are already looking forward to when they can open again in the spring.
* * *
I ran into the house for a minute Saturday, leaving my phone in the car, and when I came out I discovered a number that I did not recognize. So I dialed it. The guy on the other end said, "hi, this is Steve Miller." He said that he had been around Bandon in the past, so I figured out I was speaking to someone I didn't really know, but may have seen around.
A second later he said, "I'm Robin Miller's father." I then knew that it was the Steve Miller, who was a grandson of the former owners of Moore Mill & Lumber Co., and a man I had admired greatly and had spoken with often when he and his late wife Maggie would visit Bandon.
He was calling from Detroit, where he was hired last year by International Automotive Components Group (IAC) to serve as its CEO. He is well known and well respected across the country as a restructuring expert who was CEO of Delphi Corp. during what the Detroit Free Press said was its "darkest years," and as the author of "The Turnaround Kid: What I Learned Rescuing America's Most Troubled Companies."
Miller, who is 73, was CEO of Bethlehem Steel Corp. from 2001 to 2003, and CEO of Delphi from 2005 until 2006.
Miller, whose principal home is now in Naples, Fla., said he continues to subscribe to the Western World, and he had seen my column about the canvas prints of Moore Mill (back in the late '50s) and my book of photos from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. And he wanted copies of both of them. I know he will enjoy the book because there are several photos of Moore Mill in it, as well as the football stadium at Bandon High School, for which his grandfather, the late D. H. Miller, donated all the lumber.
Fortunately I still had two or three of each of those, and promised to get them into the mail on Monday.
I immediately went to the Internet and ordered his book, "The Turnaround Kid."
I know it will be a good read.
* * *
I also have a correction to make. Not sure if it was last week or the week before, I had a picture of an accident at the top of the hill in front of what is now the Bandon Veterinary Hospital. I said it involved Elsie Perry, but instead, according to grandson Bill, who said his grandmother never drove, it was her sister, Helen Melchers, and her husband, Leo. In my defense, they really looked a lot alike.
* * *
I realized how cold it was going to be Saturday night when my friend and I went out to his car shortly before 7 (headed to the Nutcracker) and realized there was a thin film of ice on the windshield.
According to Goodnight Lucas, it got down to 27 degrees at his home just east of Bandon on Highway42S.
I am leaving one faucet to drip a trickle at night as I remember years ago, when I lived across from the creamery, and the water lines froze. It was a real mess.
It's bad enough not to have water, but it was also a pretty expensive fix . . . considering the lines were affixed to the stringers across Ferry Creek.
* * *
I know it is common practice among cities, but I was reminded of what I think is a very unfair policy when it was announced during the KVAL news reminding Springfield residents that they were responsible for keeping the sidewalks free of snow and ice during the recent storm.
And I began to think about all of the senior citizens, who probably could not even keep their own walkways free of snow and ice, let alone the public sidewalk alongside/in front of their homes.
I thought again about it as I was driving up Fillmore Avenue this afternoon and saw a 20-foot section of the west sidewalk, onto which a small stream of water drains from the adjacent bank.
It is hard to fathom that the property owner, who did not build the sidewalk nor possibly even want it, would be liable for someone falling on the ice on "their" sidewalk.
If that is the case, the property owner should be able to close off the sidewalk if he or she is not able to maintain it to avoid someone getting hurt ... and the subsequent liability.
Matt and I have argued over this for years ... but I still can't comprehend the reasoning behind it.
If we're not responsible for the street in front of our houses, why should we be responsible for the sidewalk?
* * *
Saw two wonderful Christmas programs this weekend, including "A Christmas Carol" at the Sawdust Theatre in Coquille, directed by our own Dan Barnett of Billy Smoothboars.
And if that's not enough, Dan and his wife, Lynn, provide a wonderful Christmas program for Bandon youngsters at their restaurant, complete with gifts.
They really go out of their way to make Christmas special for a lot of families. . .
Saturday night we went to The Nutcracker, where I continue to be blown away by the professional quality of the shows put on by Maria Merriam of MarLo Dance Studio.
My friend had not been to a MarLo program before and he said he had prepared himself mentally for one thing . . . but what he saw was an amazing show. I could tell how much he loved it when he gave them a standing ovation . . .
A special thanks to Maria and all those who help her put on this tremendous production.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
December 14, 2016
I recently bought two old postcards of Bandon scenes. The first one I am sharing was the Bandon Grade School (now Ocean Crest), taken sometime in the early to mid-40s. The school was built several years after the Fire of 1936, and is where I attended grade school. Car lovers can probably identify the car in front of the school.
Bandon Grade School, 1940s
I was surprised to turn the card over and see a note written by someone that I assume to be Frank Tucker's grandmother. It says: "this is where Shirley Anne (Frank's older sister) and Frankie go to school. This was built since the town burned and is very modern. The guy is on the back; just the peak showing. The school building that Norma, James and Leroy went to was in that same place." Norma Welch was Frank's mother, so that is how I am assuming this was written by his grandmother. Maybe Frank or his half-sister, Rosalie Welch Smith, will see this and confirm it for me.
The date on the second picture is clear. It was the Bandon waterfront in 1911. The writer, someone who signed his name Fred and may be Fred Waite, said: "Arrived here at 10:15 Sunday night. None of us were sick. Ollie and I will leave Wednesday on the Steamer Elizabeth. Orville (?) leaves for Portland at 2 p.m. today." The reference to not being sick, of course, comes from the fact that they arrived in Bandon on a steamship, which was the mode of transportation in those days.
Bandon waterfront, 1911
On the far left side of the picture you can see the Stephan Hotel building, which now houses Cranberry Sweets. The second building from the right would be the Breuer building, which still stands today as the River View vacation rental.
The third picture is of what I always referred to as the "new hospital," which opened in about 1960 on the hill overlooking the Coquille River and the lighthouse.
New hospital, 1960s
This replaced the old Leep Memorial Hospital, on the south side of First Street across from the boat basin. Patient rooms in the new hospital were facing the river, and people loved the view. I am not sure exactly when that hospital was torn down, but I do have pictures of an open house in 1984. Today we have another "new hospital" at the east end of 11th Street. I served on the hospital board in 1962 . . . and later on the board of the new hospital in about 2003.
* * *
What do some of the top golf resorts in the nation have in common?
All have been managed by Hank Hickox of Bandon, who recently retired as the long-time general manager of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
A fourth generation Oregonian, Hickox has the distinction of being the only person to manage all three of Oregon's top resorts: Bandon Dunes, Salishan and Sunriver.
Hickox also managed the famed course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and came to the Bandon job from Turning Stone in New York, a casino and golf course owned by the Oneida Indian Nation. He was also vice president of Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif.
But here in Bandon we know him as the personable guy who has been the face of Bandon Dunes for 16 of the 17-year history of the now famous resort, which has put Bandon on the map.
At age 72, Hank felt it was time to turn the reins over to someone else, who turns out to be Don Crowe, who was one of the original employees when Bandon Dunes opened in 1999.
"He's a great guy . . a family man with two children. He will be a great fit for the resort and the community," Hank said.
Hickox always prided himself on his relationship with the resort's 600 employees. "I enjoyed meeting every employee before they began working at the resort," he said.
He's also proud of the jobs provided by the Resort, which has allowed many Bandon High School graduates to remain in their hometown, mentioning Breanna Quattrocchi who is Resort Controller and her husband Vince, Director of Caddie Services.
These, of course, are just a few of the many success stories for locals, who love their jobs at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Hickox stressed what it has been like working for a man the caliber of the Resort owner, Mike Keiser.
"No one, including Mike, ever dreamed that the resort would so far surpass even his vision. It's a wonderful success story, and it's made it possible for him to give back generously to the community."
No article about Hank would be complete without mentioning Kemper Sports and its president, Josh Lesnik, who have played such a big role in the success of the resort and Hank's amazing career.
Hank Hickox didn't just manage Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
He served eight years representing the South Coast as a governor's appointee on the Oregon Tourism Commission, and he was also appointed by the governor to the State Economic Development Commission.
Closer to home, Hank was a long-time member of the South Coast Development Council, a position he has recently resigned in the hope of eventually putting his efforts toward helping his own community.
Although we all agree that air service into Coos County is not what it used to be, Hickox has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Resort and the entire South Coast to see improved service.
At one point, because it was necessary for a local match to obtain an airport grant, Bandon Dunes provided the $75,000 match to make it happen.
Known as a high-energy guy, we wondered what retirement had in store for Hank Hickox.
He has a 16-acre ranch in the Portland area, where he plans to grow wine grapes, but he and wife Johnna will continue to make their home in Bandon and enjoy visits from their children and grandchildren.
He also plans to focus on staying fit and healthy ... along with sharpening his golf game.
"I love to play golf, but I seldom had time and I didn't feel like I was good enough to play with most of the people who came to the Resort. I want to learn to play much better," he said.
And now that he has been blessed with retirement, look for Hank to eventually take an even more active role in the community to share with us what he's learned after 40 years as manager of some of the top facilities in the country.
* * *
An article in The Washington Post contained a very troubling item, headlined "CIA says Russia favored Trump." No new information here.
It says the CIA concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials brief on the matter.
"Intelligence agencies identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton's chances."
About the only way to describe this is: very disturbing.
This, coupled with the fake news sites that had been circulated as gospel, make me wonder just how egregious it has to get before people other than Democrats have to cry "foul?"
* * *
Christmas is a busy time of year, but I'm glad that holiday performances extend into two weekends this year, so we can make sure and attend shows like A Christmas Carol (tickets for Friday night at Sawdust Theater in Coquille) and Saturday night (Nutcracker at the Sprague).
Our city Christmas party was Saturday night, so I missed the lighted vehicle parade, but was glad to see that Kimberly Jonas posted a photo. Saturday was the museum's annual meeting and open house, and it was highlighted by Amy Moss Strong presenting a few of the bound volumes (of past Western Worlds) that are part of the 100 or so that will go to the museum, starting with the 1912 volume.
It's an unbelievable treasure, and is certainly nostalgic to me as my grandfather bought the Western World that year, and someone in my family (grandfather, uncle or me) worked at the paper most of those 100 years. I still remember working for 12 different owners . . .and am proud to say that I wrote hundreds and hundreds (actually thousands) of the articles that appear in those bound volumes. It is definitely a walk down memory lane to read through those back issues of Western World (now Bandon Western World). It is a great gift from Lee Enterprises, publisher Chris Rush and W.W. editor Amy Moss Strong.
The best thing about these volumes, which contain every issue of Western World, is that we now have pretty much all the negatives (starting in the '50s when the paper started carrying local photos) and we can research the papers to see what the photos represent.
* * *
Saw a frightening press release from the Douglas County Sheriff's office about a 23-year-old man, Dwight Yokum, Myrtle Creek, who boarded a train near Roseburg after forcing it to stop because he was standing in the middle of the tracks.
He appeared to be under the influence and was found to be in possession of multiple large knives, which were concealed by his jacket. Officials said "it is unclear as to what his intentions were in boarding the train."
Probably not hard to figure that one out. Thank heavens he was arrested before he carried out his mission . . .
Douglas County does not need any more horrific killings, like those that occurred more than a year ago at Umpqua Community College.
* * *
Read a frightening statistic this week. In 2007, there were five gunshot deaths to every heroin death. In just under 10 years (2015), the pendulum has taken a very dangerous swing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heroin and opioid related deaths now outnumber the gun homicide deaths. Nearly 5,000 more people died from opioids in 2015 than did in 2014.
Both heroin and opioid use have exploded in the US after decades of doctors overprescribing painkillers in the 1990s and 2000s.
Statistics show that 2015 saw 12,989 people die from heroin and 12,979 die from gun homicides.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
December 07, 2016
The first picture I am sharing this week is one of my most prized photos ... a panoramic shot of Moore Mill & Lumber Co. taken in the late '50s, with a huge load of lumber preparing to leave the dock.
Moore Mill & Lumber Co., 1950s
I have this on a large 36x12 canvas, which shows every detail . . . down to smoke coming from the wigwam burner and the name "Moore Mill & Lumber" on the tower. Of all the pictures in my massive collection, this one probably best represents what Bandon was like when I was growing up here. Moore Mill provided jobs for hundreds of families over the years and evokes many fond memories. I started working there about the time this picture was taken (probably by my uncle) in the payroll department, and very soon knew that wasn't for me, and began my long newspaper career. I have several of the large canvas prints of this and if you're interested, give me a call at 541-404-7291 or email me at email@example.com.
The second picture was taken in the '60s at the top of the highway hill heading east out of town after a vehicle operated by Elsie Perry collided with another.
Auto accident, 1960s
I can see Officer Sid Dominy leaning into the car at left. The small house at right is now the site of the Bandon Veterinary Hospital. The house next to it is still there, and the union hall, just east of that, has long since been torn down. The big two-story house in back, on Third Street, was the home of Milford and Clara Harris (parents of Dorothy Waldrop and others).
The third picture, which I believe was taken in March of 1973, features a group of men, including port director Harry Harris, left, and port commissioner Hugh McNeil, center, trying to right a vessel which had sunk in the harbor. They are aboard the port's small tug, Active.
Sunk in harbor, 1973
I don't usually do this, but I want my readers to know that I have published two large 40-page coffee table-type books, one of scenic photos of Bandon and the other of pictures (like those that I have been posting) from the '50s, '60s and '70s. They are some of the best that I've done. They are $100 each and I will gladly show them to anyone interested, although they are pretty much a very limited edition.
* * *
What friends and local law enforcement officers feared would happen did happen last Tuesday night when a Bandon woman, Leslie Ann Ballentine, believed to be in her late '40s, was struck by a car while she was walking in the highway south of town.
Leslie has suffered from serious mental problems for some years, and many have tried to help, but are mostly met with roadblocks put up by mental health officials.
Leslie, who is a good friend of Gary Ellis, had recently moved into a home he owns south of town and was apparently in the highway when someone called the police. At least one, and possibly two sheriff's deputies responded to the call, but upon reaching the area where she was said to be, the first officer was blinded by the headlights from an oncoming car and struck Leslie.
She suffered serious injuries and was rushed to the hospital, and then taken to OHSU in Portland where she remained in ICU until Sunday morning. At first they feared they might have to amputate her leg, but doctors managed to save her leg, which was operated on, along with one of her arms.
Ellis has been in Portland with her and says that she was able to communicate and did recognize people.
One police officer told me that because of her mental condition they had tried several times to get help for her, but were unable to do so, knowing that her life was in danger because she often walked in the lane of traffic, both on 11th and later on the highway.
Ellis posted on his Facebook page that people are now trying to get her into a 24-hour care facility . . . "finally she may get the help she deserves," he said, adding that she had been in the state mental hospital previously, but was "released after Oregon refused to pay for her care."
Leslie Ann is a tragic example of a mental health system that has failed Oregonians. Thankfully she has had Gary and others in the community who have looked out and cared for her, all the while understanding that she needed more help than they were capable of providing.
* * *
While I am on the subject of mental health (or lack of) in the state of Oregon, I can only say that I was shocked and saddened to see that Governor Kate Brown is recommending closure of the state psychiatry facility in Junction City, which was built 18 months ago at a cost of $130 million dollars.
Mental health facilities like this are sorely needed in Oregon, and the fact that she would even consider closing it down is appalling. She was quoted as saying that the patients would be moved to "smaller community-based mental health facilities."
Wow. Let's see. Where might those be?
One of my sisters works for Western Oregon Advanced Health, in both Coos and Curry counties, and says the lack of mental health facilities (or even so much as a room to house people) is very sad.
After closing two of its smaller psychiatry hospitals, in Portland and Pendleton, when the Junction City hospital opened, it left the 620-bed state hospital in Salem as Oregon's only other secure state-run psychiatric facility.
A friend of mine, who is a retired registered nurse, said she had "a complete meltdown when she learned of the governor's proposal. I just could not believe it," said Esther Williams, chairman of the Southern Coos General Hospital board of directors and one of those who has been helping Leslie Ann Ballentine.
Governor Brown says closure of the state hospital at Junction City would save approximately $34.5 million a year, which would mostly be wages and benefits for employees, who will be out of a job.
But guess what she is proposing to add to her budget: she plans to dedicate $34 million (of the $100 million requested) for the University of Oregon's proposed science center, funded in part by a $500 million commitment from Phil and Penny Knight.
Frankly, the Knights should fund the entire project, or delay it until it can be funded ... but never at the expense of much-needed mental health facilities.
As a side note, property owners in the area where the proposed science center is slated to be built have been notified that if they do not sell their property to the university, UO will use eminent domain as a tool to obtain "private property for public use." True, the law guarantees that they will receive a "fair price" for their property, but the small businesses that would be impacted love their location and they do not want the building owner to sell.
Even a generous "gift" can carry "strings" that have unintended consequences.
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I was surprised to learn that The Bank of the Cascades (formerly Bank of America), which has operated locally for the last eight months, has been sold to First Interstate Bank of Montana.
The transaction is expected to close in mid-2017.
"Two members of Cascade's board of directors will be added to the First Interstate board of directors in order to maintain the community commitment that Cascade has established in important markets in the Pacific Northwest," according to a press release provided to me by the local branch.
Cascade's local branch manager Sarah Kimball said the transition should go very smoothly, and as far as I know the current employees will remain with the new bank.
That is except for Sabrina Sands Johnson, who announced last week that she has been hired to work for the Southern Coos Health Foundation, a job change that was effective last week.
Sarah seemed upbeat about the change and said that she felt the new bank would continue to be very community-oriented, which is good.
Things that I was concerned about revolved around automatic withdrawals from my bank account, etc., but Sarah said those will be taken care of by the bank and that the customers should not have to worry as their account numbers are expected to remain the same.
I have always found Sarah and her employees very helpful, and I won't be "jumping ship."
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Here we go again with the political correctness (there's a word that I want to use, but won't) malarkey.
The Hillsboro School District has mandated "No Santa Claus in the Classrooms," according to a large headline in the Dec. 2 Oregonian.
I can understand the concern about mixing politics and religion, but Santa???
I guess I didn't get the message that Santa Claus was a religious icon.
A spokesman for the school district, in a memo to staff, said, "You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus."
And we wonder why the country is so divided?
Common sense, or the lack of, continues to spiral out of control, and this is just one more example.
The district did waffle a little after the furor, saying "we were not banning Santa, nor were we going to police decorations in our buildings unless they were blatantly over the top."
Attention whoever is responsible for the original decision: Please make up your collective minds before you further confuse the young minds who attend school in the Hillsboro School District.
Will Santa live to see another Christmas ... or not?
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I've learned that two former students of Bandon High School, Bert Butler and Marion (Bud) Hill, died within the past week.
Claudia Butler Scott said her brother died Nov. 29 very suddenly. He had not been feeling well, but had not seen a doctor yet. Among his survivors are his wife, Anne, sisters, Claudia, Earlene and Sharon and brother, Ken Butler. Another brother, Bob Butler, died March 5, 2015, at the age of 68.
Bud Hill died in Albany on Nov. 30 from lung cancer, according to his wife, Sheila. He was a retired Navy veteran from the Vietnam era, and his remains will be buried in the Willamette National Cemetery in January.
Although I haven't confirmed this, if I remember correctly Bud had at least one brother, Dallas, and at least one sister, Brenda. I think their mother, Minnie, married Walt Strycker (Warren's dad) after they were in high school.
Bud graduated from BHS in 1968.
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I also received word that Lillian Fetters, who lived here for many years, has died. She worked at Western Bank when Walt Dodrill was the manager, and was very active with the Lioness Club.
Lillian died at the age of 96 in Aumsville, where she had been making her home.
Previous columns by Mary Schamehorn