As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

April 29, 2009

In case you saw an Oregon State Police officer parked in my driveway shortly after noon Thursday with his lights flashing, he wasn’t paying me a social visit. I had just left City Hall in my little BMW (which I hardly ever drive) and I had forgotten to put on my seat belt. To show you how stupid I am, I saw the police officer drive by City Hall as I was pulling onto the highway – sans my seat belt. And since one of my sisters just got one in Coos Bay a couple of weeks ago, you would have thought it would have occurred to me to buckle up.

But no, I had to learn the hard way. It seems the OSP has received a “Three Flags” grant to do a seat belt sting, and they are concentrating a lot of their efforts in Bandon. Apparently there is no longer a “seat belt school” like there was several years ago where you could spend two hours in a classroom learning how important it is to wear a seat belt . . . and save yourself the $97 fine. I’ve talked to several people who went through “seat belt school” only to end up with yet a second ticket.

So let this be your warning. If you don’t wear your seat belt around town, my suggestion is you start – right now.

*     *     *

It never ceases to amaze me how many talented people we have right here in Bandon … and a lot of them are the “junior” set. I went to see Willy Wonka Junior, put on by Dan and Anita Almich of New Artists Productions at the Sprague Theater Saturday night, and I was quite impressed. Not only were these youngsters (and many were in grade school) required to sing, which many adults can’t do, but they did a great job of acting, as well.

The costumes, stage design, lighting and sound were superb.

It was a fun show.

I’m not sure anything could surpass their production of Fiddler on the Roof Junior, but this was right up there with it.

The audience wasn’t too large, but they were very appreciative and they let the youngsters know they really enjoyed the show.

*     *     *

I learned last week that Milan M. Brace, who was mayor of Bandon from 1979 to 1981, died April 3 in the Golden Years Personal Care retirement home in Port Angeles, Wash., at the age of 92.

I was fortunate enough to serve on the City Council during his term as mayor, and I remember him as a kind and gentle man who never raised his voice – no matter the situation.

*     *     *

I remember some years ago when I was running for state representative, the election laws were pretty strict. For example you couldn’t have a sign which said: Mary Schamehorn, State Representative. The word “for” had to be on the sign because it would infer that you were already a state representative.

It piqued my interest today when I noticed a huge 4x8 sign for Jon Barton, who is running for the airport board. To begin with it said “Airport Success,” which I would immediately challenge. Then it said “re-elect Jon Barton.” Sorry Jon, you were on the airport board, but you lost in the last election, and have not been on the board for two years.

I wonder if anyone will challenge those signs. The least he could have done is “white-out” the “re” part.

But I think, if it were me, I’d “white out” the part about “Airport Success” as well.

But that’s just my opinion.

Mary Schamehorn

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

April 22, 2009

It was a big weekend at The Barn, Bandon’s Conference and Community Center, and if you weren’t there, you missed quite a party. An estimated 300 people packed into the facility Saturday night for the big party, hosted by event manager Nancy Evans and the City of Bandon.

The big draw for many attending was the popular blues band from Portland, who has a large and enthusiastic following. For those of you who prefer a more “mellow” music, it might not have been your “cup of tea,” but it was clear that most people enjoyed themselves, even if they left before it was over.

Sunday was the official ribbon cutting, performed by Bandon resident and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who told me Saturday that he will be running for governor of Oregon in the next election.

*     *     *

One of the best experiences of being mayor is when second graders from Ocean Crest visit each year to find out what goes on at a council meeting and also to visit the police department.

Each year I choose seven students to come up front and sit in the mayor and councilor chairs, and then encourage others to come up to the mike if they have a “problem” they want the “council” to address.

You’d be surprised what comes out of the mouths of second graders . . . and so would some of their parents. A lot of them talked about real or made-up problems involving dogs in their neighborhood. One little child said a dog barks every morning and wakes up everyone in the neighborhood. I suggested they might ask their neighbor to bring the dog into the house … until I learned that it was his own dog, which was barking. It seems that his father lets it out very early in the morning and it starts barking. I wasn’t sure what the city could do about that, but he was pretty serious about his problem.

A few of the students write to me after they return to their classrooms, and I always keep a file of their letters.

Jonah said: “Dear Mayor Mary, I’d like to thank you for letting us play the game yesterday. It was really exciting and very, very fun. Thank you very much. I’ve written all I can say. (Besides anyway my arm is going to fall of.) So any way, I’d like to thank you. Thank you very much.”

Tess Garrett, who sat in the mayor’s chair, said: “Dear Mayor Mary, Hi I was the one that was the mayor. My dad was running for mayor but he dropped out. I really liked the field trip especially because of you!!.”

*     *     *

I was stopped by a lady in the post office last week who’d read my column warning people about getting called in the middle of the night by someone pretending to be one of their grandchildren, a friend, etc.

Unfortunately my column came too late to save her. It was last fall when she received a late night call from someone who sounded exactly like her grandson. He even knew the unusual spelling of her grandson’s name. She was absolutely convinced that it was her grandson and that he needed help … even when people (including Western Union) asked if she was absolutely sure that she knew what she was doing.

By the time she learned that it wasn’t her grandson at all, it had cost her nearly $4,000. The call originated in Ontario, Canada, and, of course, there was no way to track down the scammer, who obviously operate without a conscience.

The number of scams that are circling the globe (make that Internet, telephone, etc.) these days are mind-boggling.

The best advice is: never send money or give personal information of any kind to someone you don’t know … no matter how convincing they may be.

It might be something as simple as asking you to verify an account number, a pin number, etc. But keep in mind, reputable organizations (and especially banks) are not going to send you an e-mail asking for information about your account. If someone calls you, purporting to be from your bank, go into the bank and find out for yourself. Never, never give out any kind of information or your account could be wiped clean before you even get to the bank.

The scheme that people seem most apt to fall for is the one where someone sends you a very real-looking check, asks you to deposit it, and then send them back a portion of the money. Your check, of course, is good. But theirs is not worth the paper it’s printed on.

*     *     *

I’m not sure what is going on at Lloyd’s Café. I understand that they are open some mornings, but most of the time during the day, the place is shuttered … except for the bar.

Lloyd’s was owned by the Dahl family for more than 50 years, and it’s a shame to see it fall onto hard times. I hope the economy improves so the new owners can continue cleaning it up and making it a viable business.

It’s never good when a business closes, and it makes it worse when it’s in the heart of your Old Town district.

*     *     *

If you’re watching your pennies, it never hurts to compare grocery prices … right here in town. For example, Friskies cat food is 79 cents a can at Rays, and only 63 cents at Price n’ Pride. But if it’s a Knudsen juice drink you’re looking for, our favorite is about $9.50 a bottle at PNP and $7.99 across town at Ray’s.

People just need to make a note of their favorite items, and shop (right here in town, please) at the store, which has the best price on that item. That way you can give both grocery stores your business, and save money by comparison shopping.

Mary Schamehorn

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

April 15, 2009

The news that the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport district had hired a public relations specialist was almost more than I could bear. The headline on the article about the district hiring Matt Jarvis says: “Airport aims to bolster image.”

Believe me, it will take a whole lot more than a PR person to improve the image of the airport district.

Not only are the people of Coos County contributing nearly one million dollars a year in property taxes (at a permanent rate of .24 cents per thousand), but now those of us who might actually find a flight that would meet our schedule will have to pay for the privilege of parking at “our” airport.

Most airports belong to the state, a city (Eugene) or a county. To my knowledge Coos County’s airport is the only one, possibly in the nation, that is supported by its own taxpayer-supported district, with its own board. The district was formed because the City of North Bend no longer wanted to be in the airport business.

I’m sure no one had any idea when the airport board, South Coast Development Council and others began wooing SkyWest for flights south to San Francisco, that they would lose Horizon Air (owned by one of the best airlines in the country: Alaska). But that is what happened. We didn’t realize how really well Horizon served our area … until we lost them.

I am not sure it will matter who is on the airport board; unless they can talk Horizon into once again serving this area (which is doubtful), air service is probably not going to improve significantly. I personally plan to vote for Fred Kirby and Patrick Elliott for the airport board in the May 19 election. Fred will ask the tough questions and Patrick is a pilot.

The biggest worry is what SkyWest will do when the subsidy dollars dry up. For example, SkyWest reportedly sold 42 percent fewer tickets in February than Horizon did the previous February.

The future doesn’t look good, and I’m not sure that hiring a PR person will improve it. Nor, it appears, will pouring a million in tax dollars into the district.

*     *     *

I learned last week that former Bandon teacher/coach Kent Klewitz, who is the superintendent of the Myrtle Point School District, had resigned to accept a similar position in the Jefferson School District, near Salem.

Klewitz, whose mother and sister live in Bandon, has been with the MP school district for four years. Kent also serves as the golf coach and during a recent match at Tokatee, a course up the McKenzie River, he hit a hole-in-one … his first in more than 30 years … while playing with other golf coaches.

Another Myrtle Point administrator with a Bandon connection is Greg Tippett, a resident of Bandon, who is retiring as principal of the high school at the end of the school year.

*     *     *

There was a big crowd at the Barn last Tuesday night for the tsunami workshop … but not as many as should have been there considering the magnitude of the threat and the wealth of information provided.

My boyfriend and I are definitely in the inundation zone, but even knowing that, I actually felt a bit better about “our chances” when I left the two-hour meeting. Maps were passed out showing which areas of town are most certain to be impacted by the huge waves, and which areas likely would not.

The “bad news” is that the earthquake itself will be more pronounced because the Bandon area (down to Cape Blanco) is closer to the Cascadia Subduction Zone than other areas of the coastline, from British Columbia south to Northern California. But that said, it also means that because we are closer to the plate, the tsunami won’t have as much distance to build up. And that’s good --- providing we are able to get to high ground after the shaking stops.

The representatives of DOGAMI (Department of Geology and Mineral Industries) emphasized that there will be no siren to warn us of the “big one.” When the shaking stops, people need to get to high ground (100 feet high ‑ the optimum) or a mile back from the shoreline. And you will have somewhere between 8 and 15 minutes to get there.

The siren, which is activated by the city, is to warn people about an impending tsunami caused by an earthquake in another area (Japan, Alaska, etc.). Of course, it won’t be as high as the one caused by a quake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and people will have several hours to get to high ground (in this case driving, not walking).

Also, if you live in an area that is not in the inundation zone, you could still be severely impacted by the earthquake and officials say you should prepare to be “on your own” for as long as two weeks – and to expect friends and relatives whose homes are wiped out by the tsunami – to be “visiting” you.

Mary Schamehorn

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

April 08, 2009

There are two kinds of golfers: lucky and unlucky. At least that’s what it looked like in last week’s LGPA tournament. One player landed her ball on the green, and started over to mark it when the 45-mile-an-hour wind blew it off the green and into the water. Now that’s unlucky.

Then a few holes later, another gal hit her ball into the water; it hit a rock and bounced back onto the green and very nearly went into the hole. Now that’s lucky.

(It pays to mention that the previous day a men’s tournament had been halted when the winds got to 40 miles an hour. I’m not sure why the gals were forced to keep on playing in near gale-force winds – especially when those lucky enough to draw the morning rounds didn’t face the same winds).

*     *     *

Speaking of golf, I’m been hearing some glowing reports about what Troy and Kim Russell have been doing with the former Bandon Face Rock Golf Course . . . Bandon’s oldest (by far) golf course.

One of the more ardent golfers, Pat Flynn, talked to me about the course yesterday just after he’d finished his day’s round. “I want you to tell everyone that it’s wonderful,” he said with a lot of enthusiasm.

Troy and Kim have even added sand traps, so “golfers” like me had better get up to speed in the sand if we want to finish with a half-way decent score.

I can’t wait to see what they’ve done – not only with the course but with the clubhouse.

For me, it’s a dream come true. I was pretty sad when the course closed down a year and a half ago and had pretty much put my clubs in hibernation – but now I’m preparing myself to head back to the old course.

I just hope I haven’t forgotten everything I’d learned in the previous two years, which is when I started my golf “career.”

*     *     *

Every day I look at the sheriff’s office log, and never cease to be amazed by the number of calls from people living in the rural areas of the county – who are complaining about noise from their neighbors or any kind of noise that makes it difficult to enjoy life.

But, unfortunately, Coos County does not have a noise ordinance, and that’s the message callers are greeted with.

That means if your neighbor’s dog barks all night, or they party all night with their stereo blasting, it’s your tough luck. No one will respond, because it’s not “against the law” unless you live within an incorporated city.

But one of the biggest failures of Coos County has been the commissioners’ seeming unwillingness to adopt (or maybe it’s just enforce) any kind of a junk ordinance. True, if you have a certain number of rusted car bodies in your yard, you may have to get a wrecking yard permit. But if you’re like a lot of properties in rural Coos County, you can have garbage piled up to the top of your roof, three or four rusted cars, etc., and apparently no one (except maybe your neighbors and those who drive by) cares.

That’s just one more reason for me to live in town.

Here, we care.

*     *     *

I learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter what amount you write on your check (in numbers). It’s what you spell out that matters. I was so excited to be paying off my credit card, and wrote a check for $1,396.67. But when I went on line a few days later, I noticed (with anxiety) that the bank had only taken $1,096.67 from my account. Because it had been taken out electronically, I couldn’t look at the check, and since it was about 2 in the morning, I couldn’t call anyone.

The next day, I called the bank, and they said they didn’t have the check. My next call was to the credit card company (and you can guess how long that took); but they did have a copy of my check.

They said that while I had written the “correct” amount on the top line, I had written only one thousand and ninety-six dollars on the second line . . . and that’s the amount they credited my account with. I always thought that if the two amounts didn’t match, the check would be returned to you.

But that’s not the case. So for now I’ll have to wait for my next bill to finally pay off that card.

Then I can celebrate.

Mary Schamehorn