As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 25, 2010

As I was driving around town after the Bandon Playhouse production of My Fair Lady Saturday night, I was amazed, and happy, to see so many “no vacancy” signs at the local motels. I know that they have struggled, like everyone else, in this economy, and I’m hoping that the surge in tourism will continue … at least through September, and maybe even into October (when we generally have our Indian Summer weather).

The big crowd of tourists may have had something to do with the wedding at the Barn/Community Center Saturday. Judging from the number of cars, there were a lot of people in town for that event.

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People may wonder why parts of my column can no longer be found in Western World, but there is a reason. Apparently the company has a policy that when a person is running for office, they can no longer write a column for the paper. I’m not sure how many people that would apply to, but apparently it does apply to me. I, of course, can still write letters to the editor, and this week I rolled two subjects into one letter just because I wanted to make sure that people knew how fabulous My Fair Lady is.

It’s playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon next weekend at the Sprague Theater and if you haven’t seen it, you should.

People who have never seen the Bandon Playhouse musicals are truly blown away by the grandeur. Each time I think they can’t outdo themselves, they do. This one is superb. The cast is great, the stage set is tremendous and I can’t even begin to describe the costumes. I took about 200 pictures (available light . . . no flash allowed) and I spent an hour tonight looking at them on my 4-inch viewer, and it was like I was watching the production again.

Earla Daoust has been in charge of costumes for more than 25 years and she has a brand new helper in Lani Reynolds, who recently moved to Bandon, although she has owned her property here for some time. Lani made all the outfits that Liza Doolittle wore, and at church Sunday she described what some of them were made of: like beautiful silk curtains that she’d brought from her former apartment in Los Angeles. A well-known costume designer from California sent her the glittery fabric from which Liza’s ball gown was made.

And Alice Stadelman demonstrated her creativity by making all the hats. The term “hats” is a definite understatement. These were priceless creations. This is such a fun show and I definitely plan to go again next weekend.

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Wow. I had no idea that a “tongue in cheek” article that I wrote about taking two (God forbid) Register Guard newspapers from the box … after my friend and I put in $3… would generate such a backlash.

One man, anonymously, of course, called the police chief, the city manager and the newspaper. I’ve heard some ugly calls in my years in the newspaper business, but this guy pretty well topped them all. He went so far as to say he would take it all the way to the state attorney general, asking him to prosecute me for “stealing” a 75-cent paper. I can’t imagine what the AG would say about such a call. But I understand the Coos County District Attorney was also approached about the matter.

Then the wife of a former mayor wrote a particularly mean letter to the editor in the Western World, which I answered with my “one letter a week, but no column.”

When I first sent the column to Amy at Western World, she responded by complimenting me on my “humorous” column. She definitely saw the humor, as did most of the people I’ve talked to in the last week.

But apparently a few people didn’t, and if they had their way, I’d be in jail for my “crime.”

You’ve got to wonder what makes people “tick.”

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I saw an item on the AOL News this week titled “Nearly 50 percent leave Obama mortgage-aid program.”

A friend of mine has been trying to fill out the paperwork to get some help with her mortgage, but the maze of papers that are required appears to be way too much for most people to navigate.

I pretty much know what they are going through … having gone through the same thing in January when I was trying to get financing to buy our new house. Even a credit rating of 813 and more than 30 percent down wasn’t enough for Wells Fargo Bank. They put me through h… In fact, even after we were supposed to close (90 days into the fiasco), they were still asking for one more item from my renter. I went to Sterling Savings, where my renter banks, and broke down sobbing. They understood what I’d been going through because I had kept my friend Kathy Miller (the bank manager) updated. I’d borrowed money a year earlier from Sterling Savings to purchase another house and the difference in what I went through was like night and day. They were fair, easy to deal with and professional.

Most of my close friends and family advised me to just (well, I really can’t print what they told me to do . . . but you get the picture). They just wanted me to stop dealing with Wells Fargo, but I loved the house and was determined to jump through every hoop, which I did.

Obviously, even though they are in danger of losing their homes, many people are not able to navigate what they call “the bureaucratic nightmare.”

They say banks often lose their documents and then claim borrowers did not send back the necessary paperwork.

I understand that many banks were burned (mostly their own fault), but to tighten credit to the point of being ridiculous is probably not the answer.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 18, 2010

The Reader Roundabout column in the travel section of the Sunday Oregonian contained seven letters concerning unleashed dogs. The writers were concerned about people who walk their dogs on wilderness trails, which clearly post the sign No Dogs.

But even confirmed “dog lovers” have a problem with unleashed dogs … just about anywhere they meet up with them.

Councilor Claudine Hundhausen is heading up a committee to talk about the problem in Bandon, but it’s plain to see from reading this half-page of letters, that dog problems are everywhere.

There seems to be a common thread … whether you’re talking about dogs running at large on the beach, in Old Town, in the city or on walking trails … and that is enforcement (or a lack thereof).

Most towns, including Bandon, have ordinances on the books that take care of dog problems, along with a host of other things that neighbors may find annoying … or downright dangerous.

Some officers, particularly on small departments like ours, say they are not trained to handle vicious dogs, or most any dog complaint, for that matter. But they are surely better able to handle them than an older woman walking her small dog on a leash. People should not be afraid to walk their dog anywhere in the community, and I will have to admit it’s a bit unnerving to watch as two dogs (even on leashes) pass each other on a sidewalk in Old Town with an occasional snarl and a growl.

It’s obvious from reading various police reports in the area that police agencies handle dog problems in different ways … and hence the need to take another look at our ordinances.

City Attorney Fred Carleton told the City Council that there have been over 300 dog complaints in the last three years, ranging from dogs running at large to barking dogs.

I am sure there is an answer … that doesn’t penalize the majority of dog owners, who are responsible pet owners, while doing something about those who don’t seem to care.

And Claudine and her committee will be working hard to find it.

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I know there has been a lot of controversy lately about Southern Coos Hospital and Health Center. But, believe me, when you need help for a loved one, politics flies out the window … and you’re just thankful to have such a great facility right here in town.

Sure, we’ve all heard stories about people who may not have been happy with the service (but that could be said of just about any health care facility in the country), but my three sisters and I can say, first hand, that we were so thankful for the hospital when our 93-year-old mother took a horrific fall, face first on a concrete floor as we were all headed to my sister’s house to celebrate a birthday. We four “girls” are usually not all here at the same time, but we were here Saturday night … and we spent about five hours outside the emergency room at the hospital while Dr. Pasternak and the staff at the hospital worked on our mother.

She was unconscious for a short time and was bleeding from a wound on her face (which is now badly swollen and purple) when we called 9-1-1 to get the ambulance out to Mars Lane.

We waited at the hospital to see what the CAT scan would show, and, at first, it wasn’t good. It detected a small bleed in the brain, which, had it gotten worse, would have meant an immediate trip to River Bend in Springfield (where we spent three weeks with mother almost exactly two years ago). The thought struck terror in our hearts as we recalled what those three weeks were like in that big-city hospital.

Dr. Pasternak said the scan indicated that mother should remain in the hospital overnight and that her own doctor, Gail McClave, would take over in the morning. My sister, Mindy, who lives in Vancouver, spent the night in the room with mom, and had nothing but enthusiastic praise for the night nurse (she didn’t know her name) and the CNA, referred to as “Tall Paul.” And the two that came on in the morning, including Cindy, the CNA, and Bill, the nurse, were also wonderful, caring people.

Mindy put it best: “They made a very unpleasant experience much more pleasant.”

My sisters (Molly, Maggie and Mindy) and I are extremely thankful that the hospital was there when mom so desperately needed it, and we’re thankful that she was able to leave the hospital about mid-day Sunday … a bit “worse for the wear,” but in good spirits.

It’s certainly not the first time that we’ve needed our local hospital, and I am sure it won’t be the last.

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I wasn’t able to go to “My Fair Lady” this weekend, but I am definitely planning to see it next weekend. It is one of my very favorite musicals (along with Sound of Music and South Pacific), and I can’t wait to see it. Plus, the lead female, Annabel Kuehn, used to work with us at the Myrtle Point Herald, so it will be fun to watch her perform.

I continue to be amazed by the quality of entertainment that we have available right here in Bandon – ranging from the Bandon Playhouse to New Artists Productions – and that doesn’t include the top-qualify performers brought to the Sprague Community Theater by the Bandon Showcase group.

How many small towns do you know that have a beautiful new library, a spectacular theater, a top-notch community center, great art galleries and four world-class golf courses (not too mention a popular nine-hole course and another relatively new 18-hole course) within their service area?

I can’t think of many, can you?

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 11, 2010

Whoever is in charge of the employees at the Coos County Animal Shelter needs to look at what is going on there before it begins to take a toll on the fund-raising efforts of dedicated people like Becky from Begin Agains, who sponsored a benefit for the animal shelter Saturday night in Bandon. She loves animals and has rescued a number of them.

In recent months, there have been three letters to the editor in The World talking about less-than-pleasant experiences the writers have had at the animal shelter. The first time (the woman who took a stray cat to the shelter only to have it euthanized before she had a chance to tell the employee that she had changed her mind and wanted to take it home with her) might have been a misunderstanding. But there have been two letters since then and the last one is titled ‘What is wrong at animal shelter?”

The writer took two kittens, who were already eating solid food, to the “shelter” because he thought good homes would be found for them.

Wrong. The employee said she would “be happy to kill them for us and was going to charge us $5 to do it,” said the writer.

Needless to say, the Coquille man took the kittens straight home.

At the very least, Coos County needs to change the name of the facility. The term “shelter” or “humane society” portrays a much different picture than what is apparently happening there. If there is any excuse at all, the animals will be put to sleep (euthanized is the politically correct word).

Maybe the county needs to back away from the Adam Colby debate for a minute and let the public know exactly what goes on at the Coos County Animal Shelter … and what they can expect when they take an animal there.

It might remove the warm, fuzzy feelings if people were just told the truth. Or it might turn out to be an employee problem. Who knows?

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Saturday’s all-school reunion was a great event. Not only did we have the best (and pretty much only) day of summer (until the soupy, wet fog rolled in early in the evening), but hundreds of graduates poured into the community to attend the reunion. I saw people that I have not seen for literally 40 years. I will have to admit that if we hadn’t been wearing name tags, I wouldn’t have known a lot of them, but that goes for all of us.

Hugh McNeil was the oldest graduate present – at least when pictures were taken. He graduated 71 years ago, in 1939, and was alone on the bleachers when the 1930-39 pictures were taken. Had my mom been feeling up to it, she would have joined him on the bleachers, as she graduated a couple of years earlier.

I am not sure exactly who to thank, but I know that Judy Knox from Bandon’s museum played a very big role. I understand they are planning to have one of these all-school reunions every five years, and I’m already looking forward to 2015.

It was my sister Molly’s 45th reunion, and there were quite a few members of her class who gathered that day and then held their big reunion at the VFW Hall that evening. I stopped in for a moment when they were reliving their high school days, and everyone was laughing loudly as they remembered some of their antics. I don’t recall having that much fun in high school, but maybe I’m just too old to remember …

I am sure this was a big boost for the motels and restaurants, although August is already one of their busiest months of the year.

Molly and I were in Old Town Saturday morning, after buying some fresh produce at the Little Farmers Market, when grads began to gather in front of Pacific Blues.

It was the start of a wonderful, fun day for us Bandon Tigers.

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I’m sure most of you have now read the story of the little girl 7-year-old girl who had her lemonade stand shut down by Multnomah County officials, who said she needed a $120 temporary restaurant license … or face a $500 fine.

Rather than fight the bureaucrats, her mother felt it was best to shut down the lemonade stand after learning that even if they gave away the drink, and allowed people to donate, they were still breaking the law.

This is not news to Coos County residents, many of whom have their own stories about enforcement – after the county took over the duties from the state.

One of the most egregious is the fact that the Powers Alumni Picnic can no longer be advertised to the public. Forget the fact that it’s been going on for over 50 years … with no one having ever been poisoned by eating Joanie’s famous lemon meringue pie or any of the food prepared (in God forbid) unlicensed kitchens like yours and mine.

The county knows who to “target” by reading the local papers … and that’s how they found out that people (graduates of Powers High School) were invited to a picnic. They read it in the Herald. That was three years ago and we no longer use the “P” word. We just let people know that something is happening that alumni might want to attend.

But one of the best came last year when Beth and Ed Wood decided to have a small fashion show at their Bandon Mercantile business. Apparently the county paid them a visit and at first they were notified that the toilet had to be moved … because it was too close to the sink.

After Beth and Ed finally worked that out, they were amazed when the inspector, Rick Hallmark, decided to attend the fashion show himself. Beth said he stood by the food table during the entire event, and commented once about how few people were eating the food. Beth suggested that the intimidation factor may have had something to do with it.

Bandon is hosting City Hall Day on Sept. 16 and we are expecting both our senator, Jeff Kruse of Roseburg, and our representative, Wayne Krieger of Gold Beach, to attend.

I definitely intend to ask them point blank what is going on with these ridiculous rules and regulations, and if they are enforced uniformly across the state.

After the lemonade-stand incident, Multnomah County officials apologized to the young girl and her mother, and have directed county health department workers to use “professional discretion” in doing their jobs.

I wonder if this would pertain to a picnic in Powers and a fashion show in Bandon.

The rules are apparently aimed at adults engaged in a professional food business – but obviously left to each county’s interpretation.

I want to see what Kruse and Krieger have to say about this – if they are even aware of it.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 04, 2010

I just learned, after reading this week’s Western World, that I am guilty of third-degree theft and face a possible fine of $1,425. Yes, that’s right; I am one of the people who took two papers from the Register-Guard paper box in front of the post office … after paying for only one.

For those of you who haven’t read the article, it warns people that taking more than one paper from the Register-Guard box is a criminal offense. It even quotes an official from the DA’s office, talking about the possibility of jail time for taking more than one paper from the box. Wow!!

The reason I broke the law is that a friend of mine had just LOST $1.50 at the Register-Guard box in front of the Minute Café, and I lost 75 cents in the same box. For quite a while it has not been functioning properly. In fact, it wasn’t working at all for a few days so we had to go inside and bother the very busy waitresses at the Minute to buy a Register-Guard. But, now that the Oregonian is no longer available during the week in Bandon, a lot of us can’t live without our R-G. (Maybe we can get it delivered while we’re in jail for theft).

I can’t count the money that I have lost in paper boxes in the last year, and guess what, they have all been Register-Guard boxes. An attorney friend of mine laughed when I told him the story; he also can’t keep track of the money he’s lost in malfunctioning R-G boxes.

After seeing my friend lose $1.50, I told her that since the same person services all the R-G boxes in town, if I could find one that actually worked, I would put in 75 cents (pretty brave considering that I’d already lost my first three quarters) and take two papers: one for her and one for me. Sure enough, the one at the post office actually opened, and in front of God and man and anyone else who happened to be in the vicinity, I took two papers out of the box.

Never mind that those two papers had actually cost us $3 instead of $1.50, which is what it should have cost.

The next day, after losing more money, I called the circulation desk of the Register-Guard and suggested that they either fix the box in front of the Minute, or remove it. She offered to send me a refund, but I said that wasn’t necessary, I just wanted to be able to get a paper … or at the very least my money back … when I put in my quarters.

I was literally blown away by the four-paragraph article in the Western World titled “newspaper thefts reported,” that even involved a statement from our police chief.

Actually, it is the Register-Guard carrier, or the paper itself, that should be cited for theft. Not those of us, who in desperation and sick of losing our money, try to get what is due us.

It should not have taken a rocket scientist to figure out that anyone who took two papers had probably lost his or her money at another box. Most thieves aren’t interested in two copies of the Eugene Register-Guard – let alone one.

Talk about a mountain out of a molehill. This was it.

As Paul Harvey would say … now you know the rest of the story.

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There was a little excitement in the 12th Court neighborhood last week. Chuck Salt told me that he had a skunk problem and called a trapper to come and help him. It was the weekend, and a neighbor across the street was having a yard sale when the trapper arrived at Chuck and Lorna’s house. Unfortunately, the trapper had no more than exited his personal pickup when his gun accidentally fired, causing quite a stir in the normally quiet neighborhood. Chuck said people were so concerned that they nearly called the police before he told them what the man was there for. I’m not sure how he explained the errant gunshot.

I understand that the skunk also sprayed his odiferous scent, and I am sure that got the attention of the neighborhood. There’s not much worse than that smell.

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I’ve also learned that Chuck and Lorna have been named grand marshals for the Cranberry Festival parade, which is a well-deserved honor. They have both done a tremendous amount for Bandon, and some years ago, Lorna was deeply involved in the cranberry festival, while it was being sponsored by a committee of community members.

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A friend stopped me in the parking lot of the shopping center Sunday to ask me to give kudos to the Bandon Police Department. It seems that he had left his vehicle in a parking lot, and concerned that something might have happened to him, they called his home to make sure he was alright. He was definitely impressed with the fact that they would “go the extra mile” to make sure he was safe.

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I learned recently that officials from Bi-Mart have once again reopened talks with the City of Bandon about their intentions to build a store south of Bandon off Seabird. I’ve heard this before, and so have Coquille officials, but this time it seems like they really do plan to build a store. I know there are people on both sides of the issue – some would like them to come here and others would prefer not to have any “big box” stores here. My feeling is that if people are going to go to Coos Bay anyway to shop, it might actually bring more business to the community from our neighbors to the south.

We’ll see what happens.
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Fortunately the wind didn’t blow for the Port of Bandon’s WindFest, held this weekend on the boardwalk. It was actually pretty nice both days (at least compared to some of the weather we’ve had in recent weeks), and there were a host of vendors, selling some top-quality merchandise. There were throngs of people walking up and down, enjoying not only the vendors, but all that the port has to offer. It was a fun weekend.

previous columns by mary schamehorn