As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 25, 2012

I received a disturbing email last week (sent to me as mayor) concerning what three women considered to be a racist incident, and I’m pretty sure they were right.

The Hispanic woman and her two friends were shopping at a local store when a man and woman noticed the three of them lining up to pay for their purchases at the cash register.

The man was repetitively and loudly speaking to the woman with him, “Look, Mexican Lilies. Three Mexican Lilies. I have not seen three Mexican lilies in a long time.”

The victim said he resumed to being repetitive as if a broken record, “looking our way, but being conspicuous as he reached for a box of lilies in the store’s rack to off-set compensation of his loud comments.

“I walked toward the ‘Mexican lilies’ rack and read nothing on any of the flower bulb boxes to indicate such a label. I knew then that the man’s comments were racial.

“I worked lengthy years to retire in a peaceful environment and the fruits of that labor have compensated my present life. In terms of my friends, who were also alarmed by such ignorance, it has placed awareness in a higher level than the free sprit that we should all live under.”

Although she did not sign her name, I recognized her email as a woman whom I had grown fond of while talking to in a restaurant and later at a garage sale at her home.

I immediately responded and suggested that the next time anything like this occurred she needed to make every effort to find out who he (or she) was — possibly by noting the license number of their vehicle.

She emailed me back and said she felt much better after talking to me, and then I told her of things that had happened to me over the years as both editor of the Western World and president (and now mayor) of the city council.

I said: “I have suffered immensely with hateful and cruel letters. It’s not always about race ... cruel people are cruel people. I never really let it bother me that much although I did keep a file of all the hateful things that people said and did to me over the years. Why I kept it I don’t know. It’s probably time to purge the file and realize it was their problem not mine ... or yours.”

I concluded by saying: “You’re a beautiful, kind, friendly person. And if that happens again, do as I suggested, get his license number ... and I will deal with him.”

And I meant every word of it.

He probably doesn’t read my column, but if he does, I am sure he will recognize himself.

*           *           *

I also saw something on Facebook that disturbed me … since the proliferation of garbage on our city streets is something that really bothers me.

A friend said that she had gone to the school to pick up her daughter who was getting home from a track meet. She watched a young man get into his truck and grab garbage and throw it out in the school parking lot.

“It really irked me, so I told him to pick it up. He look at me said ya he would. I bet he didn’t. As an adult who once was a kid that probably stood right there (only it was gravel) it reminded me my folks taught me better and the kids that are being turned out today must not be. I hope you picked it up J.E,” said my friend.

Again, I don’t know who J.E. is, but hopefully he got the message. It takes real gall to clean out your pickup and throw your garbage on the ground … right in front of someone.

The next step is probably taking his household garbage (and his family’s worn out appliances) out into the woods, which more and more people seem to be doing these days.

*           *           *

I’ve complained so much about the weather over the last two months (but then who hasn’t) that it was so wonderful to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous weather this weekend. I saw people sitting out in front of local businesses in short sleeves and shorts. I wasn’t that brave, but I did enjoy lunch at a table on the sidewalk.

Maybe summer really has arrived.

*           *           *

I saw an interesting item in the sheriff’s log last weekend. It said that two pit bulls, running at large, killed the reporting party’s cat. It appears that the dog control officer took the orphaned kittens from the residence, but said it was a “civil issue.”

This occurred on Windy Lane in Coos Bay, so I am assuming that in the rural areas of Coos County it is not a crime to let your dogs run loose and kill other people’s animals.

At least that’s what it looks like to me.

*           *           *

My sister Maggie got home from Oklahoma with some stories to tell, not only about the frightening tornados that struck the region while she was there, but also the quality of health care where her five-year-old grandson, Arty Lowery, ended up twice in the emergency room with an undetermined illness.

They finally were able to get him into the Children’s Pediatric Hospital an hour away in Tulsa, where he received good care.

Although they haven’t determined for sure, it appears that he may have picked up a parasite of some kind while in Kenya last year where his parents were missionaries.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 18, 2012

It’s Sunday about 1:30 and I’m still waiting for the sun to come out … like it did on Saturday. Even a few rays of sun are worth waiting for after what is probably the wettest spring on record. I can’t verify that, but having lived here for more than 70 years, I can say I can’t remember ever having worse weather at this time of year. But when it does come out, it truly makes you appreciate it. I raced outside yesterday afternoon to soak it up, knowing that it wasn’t going to last.

But compared to what my sister, Maggie, and her family were going through, I decided to stop complaining.

Maggie had gone back to Bartlesville, Okla., to visit her son and his wife, Tom and Jenny Lowery, and their two young children … primarily to find out how Tom is doing. About a month ago the family was playing in a park when Tom slipped on some slime in the creek and fell head long onto a rock. He suffered a concussion and still was in a lot of pain. When she got there she discovered that her 5-year-old grandson had been in the emergency room twice with a high fever for an undiagnosed illness. And then she learned that they were in the way of some of the largest tornadoes to hit the area in quite some time.

The family is living in a second-story apartment (without, of course, a basement) and since they’d only been in Oklahoma for a few months, they really weren’t sure what to do. They stayed up all night Saturday, and late at night, the warning came to evacuate (or take cover). Tom and his family clung to a concrete pillar in the apartment, and fortunately it didn’t hit the apartment, although it did touch down at the small college where Jenny is studying to be a nurse.

I guess I’ll quit complaining about our weather ….

*           *           *

If you haven’t shopped at Price ‘n Pride lately, you’re in for a real treat. They have completely redone their produce section, and it’s absolutely outstanding. The variety is huge, and it’s well displayed. One of the managers told me that where they used to have only one person working in the produce department, they now have three. And it shows.

*           *           *

It never ceases to amaze me just how low the media will stoop for a “scoop.” An AOL photo, with a prominent headline, shows Hillary Clinton drinking a beer at a bar in Cartagena, Columbia, where she had gone to attend a summit.

Now that’s real news!

*           *           *

A friend and I were enjoying our lattes while parked at the Bandon boat basin Friday when we watched a drama of sorts play out. Bob Dearth, Port of Bandon harbormaster, was in a small motor boat, towing a huge log out of the channel when the boat and the log went opposite ways around one of the piling.

He finally got going again, but because of the strong current, the boat got in front of the log, and eventually he had to let loose of it. But when he tried to start the motor (over and over and over again), nothing happened, and so he began paddling. Several people working at the blue building raced over to the bank to watch what was going on, and I called the port office to let them know that he might be in trouble as he was drifting toward the lighthouse … rather than toward the boat basin.

Shortly he was able to paddle the boat alongside the rocks on the north jetty, and headed east. We figured he was going to maneuver into the sandy area, where the road from the lighthouse ends, and someone would pick him up. But instead he’s pretty much back in the same area where we first saw him, around the piling, and again he starts drifting the other way.

After repeated attempts at getting the motor started, it kicks in and he’s back in complete control.

I could almost hear his sigh of relief, and my guess is he was pretty tired after all that paddling.

Bob (and Gina, too) may have a different account of what happened, but that’s what we saw from the shore.

*           *           *

I usually check the five-day weather outlook for Eugene when reading the Register-Guard each day. On Sunday, it showed sun and clouds (no sun here, however), and on Monday it was the all-too familiar umbrella, with the words “rain ending.” However, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday ranged from “a shower,” to “rain possible” to “showers.”

I have no idea what they meant by “rain ending” on Monday since it was pretty obvious that wasn’t the forecast … and they had the umbrellas and black clouds to prove it.

Maybe it was someone’s idea of a joke.

*           *           *

An editorial in Thursday’s World, written by publisher and editor Clark Walworth, was much appreciated by us City of Bandon folks. Clark recognized what the City is trying to do with its urban renewal dollars: “improve the local economy.”

Walworth points out that Rob Taylor, who circulated referendum petitions to refer the issue to the voters (which failed because of a lack of valid signatures), calls it taxation without representation.

Walworth said: “But Taylor is mistaken. Urban renewal is taxation with representation. When elected officials vote on a project, they’re engaging in representative government. Just as our nation’s founders envisioned it.”

He adds: “Urban renewal is a useful tool for community improvement,” and ends: “Like any tool, it can be misused, and citizens should keep tabs on how their leaders use it. But the opponents’ failure to collect 179 valid signatures (a seemingly easy task) suggests the vast majority of Bandon residents are comfortable with what their leaders are doing.”

Thanks, Clark.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 11, 2012

I haven’t been to the Project Graduation Bash for Cash for many years, and I am not sure why. I went to their event Saturday night, held at Harbortown Events Center in Old Town, and it was a blast. I’m not sure how much money they made, but I am sure it was more than enough to throw a wonderful party for members of this year’s graduating class.

The highlight of the evening had to be the food, lovingly prepared by the long-time school cafeteria head cook Sharon Haga and probably others. This was some of the best “event” food that I’ve had in a long time, and everyone was talking about it.

They had a great silent auction, followed by a fun oral auction. The first few items on the oral auction allowed people to bid with the “funny money” they had earned at the gambling tables. I know Steve Kreutzer had amassed something like $16,000 in funny money, so he was pretty hard to outbid.

Those of us who arrived early, between 5 and 6, were given $300 in “funny money.” I didn’t buy any more because I wasn’t planning to gamble, but quickly handed mine to Vicki Gernandt when she was bidding on an item and was running out of her (and everyone around her) “money.”

It was an interesting mix of people, including parents of seniors, school personnel, school supporters and those of us who don’t have kids in school, but just wanted to support Project Graduation.

This is one event I’ll be sure to attend next year.

Speaking of auctions, don’t forget the Bandon Rotary Club’s annual wine and cheese auction Saturday night at The Barn/Community Center. I know you can get tickets at Tiffany’s Drug Store, and also at the door that night.

This is a gala affair and a major fundraiser for the Rotary Club.

*           *           *

In several letters to the editor, and articles in the World, in recent weeks, people have alluded to one franchise hauler who is not upholding their end of the bargain when it comes to transporting garbage to the Beaver Hill Disposal Site, owned and operated by Coos County.

Since then, the incinerator has been shut down because of mechanical problems. The 16-page Brady report, commissioned by the county, says it’s a wonder someone hasn’t been killed out there.

But there are several sides to the story, and I think it’s necessary to point out that most of the garbage from the City of Bandon, Coos Bay, North Bend and Powers, all picked up through franchise agreements by Waste Connection (formerly Les’ Sanitary Service), has not been going to Beaver Hill for some time. It’s being trucked to Coffin Butte landfill near Albany, as well as to a landfill in California. But it’s the franchise agreements with the county to pick up garbage in the rural (unincorporated areas) that the County says are not being honored.

Jon Barton from Hauser, who is part of the structure committee that is recommending that the county hire a full-time administrator (and rightfully so), says that Waste Connections diverted about 350 tons per month … which amounted to a little over $300,000 a year. “Even with that extra revenue Beaver Hill would have lost money because of the required input to the shutdown reserves, unbooked employee related reserves and the maintenance which the engineers have said should be running (depending on what all is replaced), about $60,000 to $100,000 per month, or more, based on 6 percent of capital cost per year.”

In mid-March, the county released copies of letters between County Counsel Oubonh White and Waste Connections, headquartered out of Folsom, Calif.

Since garbage was (and is) piling up at the Beaver Hill site because of the shutdown of the burner, an RFP (request for proposals) was issued for a hauler to transport the garbage out of Beaver Hill. Waste Connections contended that since Beaver Hill was located within their franchise area, the “RFP is a violation of our franchise rights to collect, transfer and transport all waste and solid waste within the Franchise area, as it seeks waste transportation services from other third-parties, when Les’ Sanitary has the sole right to provide such services within the Franchise Area.”

To say that the letter didn’t sit well with the county is an understatement (especially when you consider the tonnage that Les’ has chosen not to deliver to Beaver Hill).

The County points out that Waste Connections does not hold an exclusive franchise for the transport of solid waste from Beaver Hill.

In part, the county said: “Regardless of whether or not Beaver Hill continues to operate as an incinerator site, the significant issue of the volume of solid waste delivered to Beaver Hill is crucial and will be resolved. Solid Waste staff and the Board have been concerned for some time about the apparent and significant decrease of solid waste being delivered by Waste Connections to Beaver Hill. Between 2010 and 2011, there has been a decrease of over 3,000 tons of solid waste delivered, an approximately 60 percent decline. This decrease is essentially starving the site from operating at a sustainable level. When confronted about the decrease in tonnage, local site manager Bill Richardson (a North Bend city councilor) and other representatives insist it is the result of an overall decrease in tonnage statewide.”

The County attorney goes on to say: “However, statistics provided by DEQ show an actual increase by a ratio of nearly 2:1 of waste being delivered out of the County (including to a disposal site in Potero Hills, Calif., owned and operated by Waste Connections) while Beaver Hill is experiencing a significant decrease. Further, it’s our understanding that Waste Connections has agreed to pay DEQ nearly $10,000 in fees for waste deposited outside the state. Waste Connection’s acknowledgement of the significant increase in tonnage being hauled out of state while Beaver Hill is experiencing a significant decrease is hard to reconcile without coming to the conclusion Waste Connections is not delivering all the waste collected from unincorporated areas of the County to Beaver Hill as required by its franchise agreements.”

The issue of what to do with Coos County’s solid waste is huge … and that is just one more reason I favor hiring a county administrator under a Home Rule Charter that would be set up much like a city council … with five, or possibly seven, mostly unpaid commissioners who would set the policy, and let the professional run the county.

It’s way past time to repair Coos County’s broken form of government.

*           *           *

I received an email this week from a woman in Portland, who volunteers for a non-profit organization, Sisters Of The Road, in Portland. They provide hot and nutritious meals to folks who are experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Andi Gluecker says that “at our café I met one of our regular customers, Robert Willard, an elderly man who was orphaned in his early childhood. That was the last time that he saw his sister, Lois Sullivan (born Willard). Robert Willard is now in his seventies, and is hoping to get in contact with his sister, who is one of the last members of his family. Lois Sullivan is a citizen of your city, Bandon, Or.”

I personally do not know anyone by that name, but if any of my readers do, I would appreciate your letting me know. This appears to be legitimate, and for more information people can look at their website:

*           *           *

I received an “interesting” Easter card from one of my favorite teachers, Lloyd Gabriel, who recently reached his 90th birthday. I was a little shocked by what I saw because it was not in keeping with the Mr. Gabriel that I knew.

Several days later I received another email signed “Eldest Gabe” titled “impaired vision.”

It seems that he sent the Easter card to his son, who asked his dad if he had fully seen the card. “I said it was colorful and in the Spirit of Day, so I sent it on to my friends. He said, ‘you’d better look at it again.’ Yes, it is colorful, but not what I expected. I know I am vision-impaired, but I better always look again,” Mr. Gabriel said in his email.

Let’s just say it wasn’t one that I would pass on to someone, and now I realize that it wasn’t one that Mr. Gabriel would have sent either … had he looked at it more closely.

That made me feel better ….

He was always one of my favorite teachers and it’s so fun to keep in touch with him … more than 50 years after he left Bandon.

*           *           *

Trudy Spanier from the Port of Bandon sent me a new link for the FEMA Hazards Map of Coos County, which is something that should interest just about everyone in a coastal community like ours. The link is

She added that at the recent tsunami townhall, Althea Rizzo gave people a new link, which allows anyone outside of the city limits to check their address. The website is

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

April 04, 2012

Those opposing the expansion of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge got a big boost last week from Congressman Peter DeFazio, who has apparently been listening to his constituents.

DeFazio sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Daniel Ashe indicating that he was “puzzled by the timing of the study to expand the Refuge.”

He talks about the Ni-les’tun Unit of the Marsh, which was completed late last year. “Yet, less than a month after the ribbon cutting … my constituents were informed USFSW had initiated a new study analyzing an additional expansion of the Bandon Marsh Refuge encompassing 4,500 acres of private land held by 67 different owners. Just days after the only local public hearing on the proposed expansion, 67 landowners in my district received letters informing them their private land was the subject of a new federal study.

“Rushing into a lengthy and expensive expansion … seems ill-timed and is likely to generate significant public controversy. I personally believe a more prudent course is to use the next few years to monitor the ecosystem following restoration and to better understand the ecological impacts of the expansion.

“I would like to know the reasons for initiating the new study, why USFWS is considering expansion before examining the impacts of the recently completed restoration, and the specific timeline for decisions related to possible expansion,” DeFazio said.

He acknowledged that USFSW has said they will not use eminent domain to condemn private property, but added, “Oregon is a smorgasbord of land ownership, especially on the coast. Land acquisitions from a willing seller to expand the Refuge, even with the best of intentions, may impact the use and value of neighboring lands.”

Having DeFazio on the side of those of us who do not support the expansion has been a Godsend as people have continued to question the motives, and the concerns, of those who oppose it.

It shows that someone is listening ….

*           *           *

The slogan for the well-known department store is “The Magic of Macy’s.”

Unfortunately I have been having experiences lately, both with my computer and with their billing, that say otherwise.

Twice in recent months I have completely paid off my bill only to receive some kind of a $2 service charge, fee, tax (whatever you want to call it), and I have refused to pay it. The first time I called them and they said to disregard it. This week I opened the bill and discovered a similar charge (although not the same one).

I haven’t bothered to call them, but I certainly do not want my 800-plus credit rating to suffer because of a $2 charge by Macy’s.

The smartest thing is to probably cancel my account with them; then I won’t have to worry in the future.

But that was just one instance of their “magic” fizzling out. It is most unusual for my Internet Explorer to crash while opening a website, particularly one for a well-known company like Macy’s.

But Sunday it happened twice in a short period of time even though nothing else was open. Both times I had to restart my computer and decided I would not go on their website again.

It’s just one more reason why I should cancel my account, and continue to shop at home whenever I can.

It’s less frustrating.

*           *           *

The City of Bandon recently approved a Bonneville Environmental Foundation Grant for an electric vehicle charging station at City Hall.

What? You might ask. How many electric vehicles do we have in Bandon?

Several months ago, the City received a grant from BEF for installing a solar energy system at City Hall. BEF was willing to grant the City $55,000 with a $16,000 match from our energy conservation funds. The first idea was to put something on the roof, but the engineers determined it was not structurally stable. So the City looked at putting something in the triangle north of City Hall, but wanted to do something sculptural rather than just an industrial-looking solar array that would not be very attractive.

With the funding limitation, however, the grant wouldn’t go far enough to pay for something very unique and still have enough funds available to construct a meaningful solar array.

So Matt came up with the idea of using the solar panels as a roof over the three parking spaces along Highway 101 adjacent to City Hall, and then installing a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station. The Foundation was willing to go with the concept.

It is projected that the solar system would generate about 7,000 kWh per year, which would be sufficient to charge approximately 583 electric vehicles. It would be tied into the grid, so it could be used even when there was not sufficient solar power being generated. Then, when no vehicle charging was taking place, the excess power would be used to supplement the power being used at City Hall and reduce those power costs.

During the first five years, since BEF grant funding was used, there would be no fee to anyone who wants to charge their vehicle. After that, the City could install a card system so the user would pay for the power.

With the cost of gasoline now above $4 a gallon and seemingly no end in sight, it might be time to look into the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

*           *           *

People who know I’ve lived here all my life keep stopping me in the store and wanting to know if I have ever seen this kind of weather in the spring. The answer is NO. To begin with, I’ve never seen it rain this many days without letting up, except in the dead of winter. But it’s the high winds that surprise me. It used to be when we had a big windstorm, it lasted a day or two, and it was over. It didn’t just keep blowing . . .and blowing . . .and blowing.

Two people in my neighborhood have had extremely close calls with falling trees in the last couple of weeks. One fell from the city right of way onto the side and roof of a house, but outside of tearing off some railing, I don’t think it did much damage. Then, Thursday afternoon, a huge Cypress limb fell from the tree of my neighbor across the street, with one big piece lodging itself in his new roof, and the limb itself ripping off the railing he had recently installed around his front deck. It could have been a lot worse, but his wife was home alone when it hit, and it really frightened her.

That same day, I was headed into Brian’s office about mid-day when a huge gust of wind almost knocked me to the ground. If I hadn’t been able to cling to the entry way (screaming at the top of my lungs), I would have been blown into the highway. And, as most of you know, I am not a frail, small person. God help us if that had been my 95-year-old mother or any elderly person. They would have been blown down for sure.

I was in there 15 or 20 minutes, but was so afraid to go back out that Brian had to go out in front of me and open the car door … or I might have stayed there until the wind stopped. And we all know how long that might have been.

The ground is totally saturated, and even though we have an occasional burst of sun, it seems that there’s more and more rain predicted, and I don’t know where all that water is going to go … except across the roads, into the fields, into people’s basements and under their houses.

This is truly the payback for our wonderful winter.

previous columns by mary schamehorn