As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 28, 2010

If you’re not prone to locking your doors when you leave home or at night, it might be a good time to start doing so. There have been several burglary reports around Bandon in recent weeks, with the most recent being a vacation rental dwelling on Bradley Lake. It seems that a pest control man went to the home and found that the back door had been broken open. The owner lives in Portland. It doesn’t say what was taken, but the sheriff’s office asked the Bandon police chief to take preliminary photos, so I am sure it was more than just a broken door.

Also, a new resident of Bandon returned to her home, on a dead end street inside the city, not long ago and was surprised when the garage lights didn’t go on . . . until she noticed an open door. Apparently someone had removed the lights from the garage door opener and was probably coming back with a large truck to move out her belongings. Most of her possessions were still in boxes, which may have given the impression that no one lived there.

Several days earlier, there was a report of a car clout in the Bradley Lake area, which sadly heralds the beginning of summer.

When you park to go to the beach, the lake, or any remote area, be sure and lock your personal belongings in the trunk, and remind your guests and other visitors to do the same. Each year visitors find themselves the victims of car clout thieves, who help themselves to whatever they can find after smashing open a vehicle window … while the family is enjoying the beach.

It can turn a great day into a bummer very quickly.

*           *           *

Bandon has a lot of people who recycle faithfully, so you can imagine how many people were inconvenienced and upset Saturday when they arrived at the recycling center south of Bandon – to find it closed. Although it’s barely readable because of the tall grass, the sign in front of the facility says the hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and judging from the line of cars who were trying to turn around on 18th Street, a lot of people get their recycling out of the way early and head out to enjoy the rest of their Saturday.

I finally found it open on my third trip down there, and the attendant said he had gotten there about 10:40, so I guess it’s better than nothing.

It would be nice if the facility could be open longer hours on Saturday and possibly one other day during the week.

But it definitely needs to be open during that short six-hour window. Some people in frustration left their cardboard and black bags full of something in front of the fence. It could have been a real mess had the wind started blowing hard and the attendant not shown up.

But I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, because this doesn’t happen too often.

*           *           *

It was nice to finally see the state (or whoever is responsible) put flashing lights on both sides of the school zone signs. Ever since they were put up on the highway near the schools, the lights flashed only on one side, so if you pulled out from the post office, Price ‘n Pride or the other side streets, you couldn’t see them. I don’t know if there were any tickets given to those drivers, but it certainly would not have been fair.

Now there’s no excuse. When the lights flash, the speed limit lowers to 20 miles an hour in that area.

*           *           *

I’m already trying to figure out what to do with my highway garden . . . now that we are moving across town. But I have promised myself, and others, that I will continue to maintain the garden, at least until we sell our house. I see that Bandon True Value Hardware is hosting a “Doctor Dirt” event Saturday and Sunday, with help from the Weedum Seedum Garden Club of Bandon. They will plant our flower pots for free. They will supply the soil and we have to provide our own plants, which are available at the hardware store. They will also show us how to put together hanging baskets for Mother’s Day, and how we oldsters can access our gardens even if we can’t bend over any longer. There’s another session on small engine tune-up, which will help people get their equipment ready for summer.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 21, 2010

I was honored to represent the City two weeks ago when the Friends of Coos County Public Health chose us as one of their stars for the year – for our efforts at eliminating smoking from city property, including City Hall and the park. People can still smoke in their cars, but not around the public.

My name was on the program, but the decision was definitely a council effort. And it was our safety committee that came up with the idea. Accompanying me to the awards luncheon in Coos Bay were City Manager Matt Winkel and our safety committee chairman and long-time city employee Sarah Lakey.

When we sat down at the table, I turned out to be the only person in the room without a name tag. It seems that they had originally spelled my name wrong (surprise, surprise) and forgot to make me another tag. But it didn’t matter.

During the awards ceremony, I went up front, told the audience what we had done to contribute to the health of our community, was handed a large certificate and a dish of candy, and went back to sit down.

It was not until I got back to my seat that I looked at the certificate. It was made out to Mary Schamehorn, Mayor of COOS BAY. I burst out laughing (nothing like having your own private joke) and others behind me at the next table also started laughing when they saw it.

It was definitely a “Freudian slip” since the Friends of Coos County Public Health have been lobbying Coos Bay Mayor Jeff McKeown and his council pretty hard to follow our lead … but it has been pretty much to no avail. They did make a small concession: people can’t smoke around the playground area, but that was pretty much the extent of it.

After the luncheon, I shared the “joke” with several of the Friends members, and they definitely saw the irony of it. I told them I would cross out my name, insert Jeff’s and send it to him . . . with a little note to say I hoped he and the City of Coos Bay would be honored next year.

I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I plan to. I just hope he has a sense of humor.

*           *           *

The May issue of Golf Digest had an impressive article in their travel section titled “Bandon’s Newest,” heralding Old Macdonald, Bandon Dunes’ fourth public course, which officially opens June 1.

The author pointed out that Bandon’s existing courses – Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails – are all among the top 14 in Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.

“With the addition of Old Macdonald, the resort has become ‘the epicenter of golf on Planet Earth,’ says no less of an authority than David B. Fay, executive director of the United States Golf Association,” said the author.

“Fay, one of the first to play Old MacDonald, places it and this summer’s U.S. Open venue, Pebble Beach, side by side. ‘If someone gave me tee times at Pebble Beach, Cypress, Spyglass and one of the two courses at Monterey Peninsula Country Club versus the same deal at Bandon – four courses in two days – it’s no contest, I’d take Bandon hands down, and I think I’ve seen just about everything there is to compare it to. I love everything about the place.’ ”

Wow . . . it doesn’t get much better than that.

We can never thank Michael Keiser enough for having the foresight and vision to build such a world-class facility in our backyard. . . and for naming it Bandon Dunes Resort . . . rather than Pacific Dunes Resort or any other name.

It’s definitely put us on the map.

*           *           *

I never know what I’m going to get when I open my e-mail. Usually it’s either junk mail, political mail, something someone has forwarded on to me, questions about the city or a joke or two.

That’s why I was so surprised last week to receive an e-mail addressed to me, from a person who called me Mary Jane, and said he would be getting me some tax documents to me as soon as he could. He even attached a copy of a Profit & Loss statement for someone he was apparently doing taxes for. I couldn’t figure out why someone would be calling me Mary Jane and sending me tax information. Rather than just delete it (since it appeared to be local) I replied to the message and asked him why he had sent it to me, told him who I was, and asked him what he wanted me to do with it.

He responded quickly and thanked me. It was apparently intended for someone named Mary Jane at the assessor’s office and contained information that she had been looking for.

I forgot to ask him how he happened to have my e-mail address in his address book, but I guess it doesn’t matter.

There’s no such thing as privacy in the world of e-mail.

*           *           *

I love to drive around town this time of year because most people’s yards are lush and green, and the spring flowers and flowering trees look so beautiful. I am amazed at how many really nice yards we have in our community.

Sometimes I think we tend to dwell on the things that are wrong . . . instead of the positives.

And we have a lot to be proud of in Bandon.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 14, 2010

Willamette Week, Portland’s alternative newspaper, just found out something that we here in Bandon (at least most of us) have known for a long time: “Something’s Rotten in Tillamook.” That’s the title of the article, and it pretty much says it all.

Most of us haven’t forgotten how Tillamook closed “our” cheese factory, and then added insult to injury by shutting the retail shop and tearing down the building … leaving us with a “beautiful” vacant lot welcoming people to town from the north.

Every time I see “Bandon” cheese advertised, I get a little madder at what took place.

But back to Willamette Week Online.

WW learned that Bandon’s three organic cheeses, which had been made here prior to Tillamook purchasing the plant, were outsourced to a facility in Wisconsin.

It’s made in Wisconsin from Midwest milk even though supposedly they are still using the original Bandon recipe specifications.

And what some describe as deceitful (really!!!) is the fact that although a block of Bandon organic cheese says “Oregon Coast Cheese,” nowhere, even in fine print, does it say it’s made in Wisconsin.

The article points out that federal law bans companies from misleading consumers about where a product originates.

But, no surprise, Tillamook spokeswoman Christie Lincoln (yes, we remember her) says “Oregon Coast Cheese” is a slogan used for brand recognition, not to signify the product’s origin.

A spokesman for the Oregon attorney general’s office says no official complaints have been filed, but she concedes that “it’s confusing.”

People who have dealt with Tillamook in the past (remember the lighthouse brand controversy) shouldn’t be confused. It’s all part of the plan.

One grocer in Portland, who assumed the organic Bandon cheese they were selling actually came from Oregon, plans to put up a sign next to the product to let people know where it really comes from.

I would encourage all stores that carry the product to do the same.

*           *           *

I owe a huge apology to dog owners in the community and, although I must assume part of the blame, some of it belongs to our great city manager Matt Winkel, who passed the blame onto our city recorder.

I mentioned several weeks ago that Bandon doesn’t have a leash law. Well, guess what, a fellow councilor brought me back to reality quickly. We do have a leash law. It was Matt who told me we didn’t have one, and I totally forgot our decision of a year or so ago to put one into effect.

But it seems, in Matt’s defense, that our recorder forgot to update the city’s ordinance books, and like me, he can’t be expected to remember everything.

It seems there’s enough blame to go around, but I should have remembered the vote (even though as mayor I vote only in the case of a tie and I don’t think that occurred). It’s still no excuse.

So, yes, dogs must be on a leash and cannot be running around town or loose in neighborhoods … unless they’re in your yard.

I’ll try to be more careful next time.

*           *           *

The Rotary Wine and Cheese Extravaganza Saturday night at The Barn, Bandon’s Conference and Community Center, was a smashing success. I’m not sure how much money they made, but I am sure they did well. It was crowded, but everyone seemed to be having a great time enjoying the many fabulous cheeses from around the world and the delicious food catered by Bandon Bill’s Grill.

The Rotarians really “do themselves proud” with this event and it just seems to be getting bigger and better every year.

*           *           *

I’ve heard people talk about the speeding drivers who turn Ohio Avenue NE into a speedway, but I hadn’t actually seen it for myself. But, as I was driving my mom to Nancy Brown’s beauty shop Friday shortly after 11 a.m., I was amazed to see a young (not a teenager) woman in a black compact car driving extremely fast down the narrow two-lane road … and she’d just passed a man walking along the road. There are no sidewalks in the area, and a woman with a day care in her home often walks her little charges along that road.

People need to slow down in all of our residential areas, most of which do not have sidewalks, which makes it even more dangerous.

*           *           *

Because we’re moving to a house across town, I decided I wanted to remain with Charter Communications, who have served us well over the years. I called to make sure it was available in our new neighborhood, and they assured me it was, and several hours later a technician arrived to hook up our TV. Now we’ve learned that apparently when the city and others put their lines underground in that area, Charter wasn’t one of them. There is service one street over, but none where we will be living.

Now I know why there was a satellite dish on the side of the house.

And it wasn’t much better when I began researching Internet service. It seems that the one megabyte (I think that’s the measurement) that I pay $24.95 a month for to Comspan is no longer available and to get Internet service from them, I will have to pay $59.99 a month (for higher speed that I don’t need). I guess they’ll throw in a telephone for that, but I recently canceled my land line with Verizon after learning that, unlike other areas around town which have Verizon Internet, they could only offer dial-up in our new neighborhood. “No thanks” was my answer.

So I’m still looking …

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 07, 2010

I’ve been writing my column for many years, since my days as a reporter and former editor at Western World, but sometimes I wonder if I will run out of things to talk about.

Then I start reading the “news” on line and in the newspapers and ideas start to pop into my head. When I think of something I want to write about during the week, I generally jot down a word or two on a slip of paper … so I won’t forget it. But by the time Sunday rolls around, and I sit down at my computer, I can’t remember where I left the notes. So now you know that if my column seems a bit boring at times, it’s because I can’t remember what I wanted to talk about.

It could be age-related.

*           *           *

The AOL news had an article about a 12-year-old New York girl, who doodled on her desk, which can only be described as the latest – and possibly worst – incident of political correctness gone amok.

This beautiful young girl was caught doodling on her desk at Junior High School 190 in Queens, with a soluble, erasable marker. And what was this terrible thing that she wrote: “I love my friends Abby and Faith,” adding “Les was here 2/1/10” and a smiley face.

For that, she was taken out of the classroom, where the police were called. She was escorted, crying, out of the school in handcuffs, and marched across the street to the precinct, where she was detained for more than two hours. And her mother was not allowed to accompany her.

Now that the mother has sued the New York City Education Department and the New York Police Department for $1 million in damages, both entities are admitting that better judgment should have been used. Oh really???

Oh yes, when they frisked her in the school office, and went through her backpack, they also found a small bottle of whiteout, which police said was also against the law (what law, I’m not sure). Now you know why New York is crime ridden . . . they’re busy arresting junior high students for marking on their desks.

Rather than call the doodling what it was (a fairly harmless act of classroom boredom) … officials chose to call it graffiti, which is against the law, and apparently a handcuffable offense … at least in New York.

*           *           *

Being a small-town mayor myself, I was particularly interested in an article about the slaying of a small town Illinois mayor in what was depicted as a “decaying village near St. Louis known for its strip clubs and beset by financial troubles and embezzlements.” (That’s where the similarity ended).

But from all accounts the mayor of Washington Park was actually one of the “good guys” in town and no one is sure why he was shot at close range in his car shortly after he finished working an overnight shift at his second job.

Washington Park had recently filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, citing assets of less than $50,000 and a debt of more than $1 million.

My guess is the lack of assets had something to do with three high-profile cases of embezzlement by former city employees, which occurred between April 2005 and 2007. A payroll clerk stole $144,000, another employee was sentenced to three years in federal prison after she pilfered more than $170,000, and the mayor’s aide was sentenced to three years in federal prison for embezzling more than $370,000. That’s nearly $700,000 that these three women helped themselves to in a relatively short period of time.

To call it “a troubled town” as the headline writer did is a gross understatement. It sounds more like fodder for a B-grade movie or its own reality TV series.

*           *           *

Generally when a newspaper puts in a correction, they don’t repeat the mistake. And I feel that is wrong. I want to know what it is that they are correcting so I can put it into the context of what I read earlier.

The Wall Street Journal is one paper that does repeat the mistake, and this week’s was a good one.

It seems that a previous article about the number of 100-year-old (or older) people in the United States indicated there were 79.

Oops . . . actually that should have read 79,000.

My guess is that both the writer and the editor were quite young, and the thought of anyone actually turning 100 was too much for them to grasp. But even that is no excuse. Hey, they were only 78,921 off . . . and who knows if even that figure is correct, but I’m sure it’s closer to the truth.

*           *           *

I immediately thought I might have to file a worker’s comp claim for a back injury Friday when I picked up my agenda “packet” at City Hall for Monday night’s City Council meeting. And I mean that literally.

I have had a bad (weak) back for quite some time and often when I lift something heavy I pay for it with stabbing back pain for a couple of weeks.

I did manage to carry the heavy load out to the car without incident, but reading it is another matter.

It is the record of a hearing held by the planning commission concerning the building of a house on the foredune at the South Jetty. The application was denied by the commission and later appealed up to the council. Fortunately, we don’t have to start from scratch, but rather we're to hear the matter based only on the record – and that’s extremely sizeable.

I don’t know how many pages were in the four-or-five-inch thick notebook, but I know it was heavy – in more ways than one.

previous columns by mary schamehorn