As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 31, 2011

While growing up in Bandon and now as mayor, I am often saddened as I drive around other small towns and see their many grand old buildings … knowing that we have so few beautiful historic buildings in our town.

Bandon was destroyed by a huge fire in 1936, only three years before I was born. Only 11 buildings survived.

One of the first buildings to be rebuilt after the Fire was the Holy Trinity Catholic Church – one of the oldest and most beautiful catholic churches on the Oregon Coast.

I’ve recently learned that there is a distinct possibility that the beautiful old church may be torn down to make way for a larger more modern building.

It would be such a shame to lose what is possibly our oldest church building, which is steeped in tradition and history.

It is always easy to tear down and rebuild, but in a town with so few historic buildings, it would be a tragedy.

On behalf of the community, the many parishioners and visitors who love this beautiful historic church – which has stood high on a hill overlooking Old Town and the Harbor for nearly 75 years – I urge them not to tear down an important part of Bandon’s history.

*           *           *

I’ve often heard that tragedy comes in threes, and something that happened this week certainly bears that out. Most of my readers won’t remember the Leach family, who lived here for many years, but anyone who grew up here will. Marvin “Bake” and Esther Leach had five children, all of whom attended school in Bandon.

The oldest son, Elwyn, died several weeks ago, and a celebration of his life was scheduled to be held Saturday at the VFW Hall. His younger brother, Loren , 57, who lives in Hawaii, and one of their two sisters, Karlan, of Portland, spent the week in Bandon.

As our family had been long-time friends of the Leaches, Karlan was anxious to visit my 94-year-old mother, and mother was definitely looking forward to her visit. Karlan had called mom several times during the week including on Tuesday morning … only about an hour or so before she was killed near Port Orford when a pickup that Loren was driving left the road and crashed into a tree.

I don’t know all the circumstances, but Loren received only minor injuries, and according to people at the memorial, he is now in jail on charges connected with the accident.

Their younger brother, Lans, who would be in his early 50s, took his own life several years ago. Another sister, Janelle, also lives in Portland, and I understand she was in Bandon for the scattering of Elwyn’s ashes, but had since returned home.

Friends are definitely grieving the loss of two members of the family and the suffering of their brother.

*           *           *

Like a lot of other coastal residents, my boyfriend is pretty apprehensive about the possibility of the “big one,” which is predicted to almost certainly hit the Pacific Coast sometime in the future, although unlike a hurricane, there won’t be any warning.

But, instead of being in an earthquake on the Pacific Coast, he ended up being in Virginia (or maybe it was North Carolina) when the 5.8 earthquake struck the East Coast last week.

Ironically, he had just landed the helicopter, when others at the airport asked him if he’d felt the quake. Several people had to hang onto their chairs to steady themselves … but for some reason, he didn’t even feel it.

Then a few days later they got word that Hurricane Irene was heading their way. He, and all other “tourists,” was under a mandatory evacuation from Virginia …. even though he was prepared to watch the eye of the storm hit land from his fifth-floor hotel room (at least that’s what he told me).

And he headed for Atlanta, Ga. I was in a store the day the storm hit and several people told me Georgia was being pummeled, and that I wouldn’t be able to contact him because all the cell phone towers were down. So I went outside and called him, and he immediately answered. He said it really didn’t even hit Georgia … and his cell phone was working fine.

But at least it made a good story.

*           *           *

There’s never a dull moment in the newspaper business, and we at the Myrtle Point Herald very nearly had a “Reader’s Digest” or Jay Leno headline in last week’s paper.

I had written a short article about a 102-year-old man, who lives alone and is very alert and able to take care of himself. A friend of his called and thought it might make a nice little article, and I agreed with him.

Although I write the articles, I generally don’t write the headlines, and, as I was proofing the page, I noticed that someone had put a headline on the article that said something to the effect that the “man was” something or another. I put a little note at the bottom of the page and suggested that since he is still alive, “was” didn’t seem to be the right word. I wrote: “He isn’t dead yet,” so they would know to use the word “is.”

Well, another person who works at the paper took my little jab literally and changed the headline to read: “102-year-old man isn’t dead yet.” And then he called my cell phone (as I was at lunch) to make sure that is really what I wanted to say.

I had forgotten to take my cell phone with me, and if I hadn’t noticed that I had a missed call when I arrived back at the office … and that it was from someone at the Herald … that is the way the headline would have gone to press.

I’m sure you could have heard me scream all the way across the street.

I absolutely cannot imagine the criticism that would have been heaped down upon us had we left that headline on the page.

And I shudder every time I think how close that came to being a reality. That might have ended my 50-plus years in the newspaper business.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 24, 2011

Scammers are getting more and more clever all the time … if that’s what you want to call it. The latest is a MasterCard/Visa fraud, which is spreading throughout the Midwest right now and probably moving our way. Bear in mind, that the person who is calling you already knows your card number.

A person calls and says: “This is (name) and I’m calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I’m calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?” When you say “no” the caller adds: “Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. Before your next statement the credit will be sent to (gives you your address) is that correct? You say “yes.”

The caller then tells you he will be starting a fraud investigation, and says if you have any questions you should call the 1-800 number on the back of your card and ask for Security. The caller then gives you a six-digit number to refer to.

Here’s the IMPORTANT part of how the scam works. The caller then says, “I need to verify you are in possession of your card.” He’ll ask you to “turn your card over and look for some numbers.” There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the last 3 are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the last 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he’ll say, “That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have other questions?”

After you say no, the caller then thanks you and says, “Don’t hesitate to call back if you do” and hangs up. You actually say very little and they never ask for or tell you the card number (because they already have it).

All the scammer wanted was the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don’t give it to them. Instead, tell them you’ll call VISA or MasterCard directly for verification of their conversation.

The real VISA people told the man that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card.

A few days later the man received an almost identical call …. this time from a person pretending to be representing MasterCard.

It appears this is a very active, and very successful, scam.

*           *           *

It’s been over 25 years since I last spent a night at Patrick Creek Lodge on Highway 199 between Crescent City and Brookings. My boyfriend and I spent a recent weekend there for my birthday, and it was like nothing had changed.

The Lodge was built in 1926, and although it’s been added onto over the years, it still has the same old-world charm that I remember many years ago.

The weather was beautiful, and there are many places to swim on the Smith River, but I spent most of my time in the pool at the Lodge. It isn’t heated, but it was especially fun in the evening when the sun had gone down, as the water didn’t seem nearly as cold as it had during the heat of the day.

They are open year-round, except for a couple of days at Christmastime, and serve full meals three times a day, which is a good thing because it’s about 20 miles either way to get to town.

The “new” people have owned it for six years. Bill and Cindy Grier (who owned the popular Truculent Oyster restaurant in Port Orford in the mid ‘80s) bought the Lodge in the fall of 1988 and started reconstruction as it had been closed since the winter of 1986. It’s hard to tell that it had basically been abandoned before it reopened in August of 1989.

It’s a real treasure.

*           *           *

I’ve attended a lot of city council meetings over the years, both as a councilor (mayor) and also as a reporter. I remember that things got pretty interesting at Powers council meetings back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s; in fact, I was trying to say something one night (as a reporter) and the mayor asked the police chief to physically remove me. The chief thought better of it, but that was the kind of meetings that were held up there in the "old days."

But even those meetings couldn’t compare with what is apparently going on in Lakeside. (I’ll have to ask our city attorney Fred Carleton what is really going on since he is also their city attorney). I noticed that someone had called the police after a council meeting a couple of nights ago, and it appears that the mayor and one member of the council have exchanged threats and fist shaking (according to the World) as they seem to disagree … about almost everything. The mayor admits he threatened the councilor, but he called it a fair response to a name the councilor called him over the PA system during the meeting. One member of the council resigned at the last meeting, but her resignation was six or seven items down on the agenda, and the mayor refused to continue the meeting until she had relinquished her seat.

Sounds like a clip for reality TV ….

*           *           *

The city manager and I disagree on the safety of the traffic light at Filmore and Highway 101 across from the Station Restaurant. He says he’s never seen any of the situations that I’ve witnessed; most often it involves someone being forced to run the red light in order to make a left hand turn … or just plain running the red light without making any attempt to stop.

But lately I’ve noticed something even worse. One vehicle, headed west, signals to make a left-hand turn; the other vehicle, headed east, signals to make a left-hand turn. It’s anyone’s guess who has the right of way, and if the rig is large, you can’t tell who may be coming up alongside him as you try to dart across the highway. It would be fine if you were turning from a two-lane road, but the four-lane highway makes it even more dangerous.

That happened to me tonight, and I finally just turned off my signal light and continued through the intersection and made my left-hand turn at Elmira.

Mark my words, in periods of heavy traffic like we’ve been experiencing this month, there is going to be an accident at that intersection since there is no light for left-hand turns like there is at the shopping center intersection.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 17, 2011

I continue to get email from people concerned about the new density regulations, which the city had been considering. The issue might have been clarified a bit sooner had the Western World run the press release that City Manager Matt Winkel took into their office last Monday. It would have countered a letter to the editor on the public forum page, rather than cause continuing angst among residents. But the editor was gone on a vacation, and for some reason, it didn’t get in.

The city manager and Planning Commission Chairman Roger Straus are recommending that the proposed residential setback and densities amendments to the zoning regulations be tabled at this time.

The planning commission held a well-attended hearing on June 23 on the proposed amendments, and the overwhelming majority of those who spoke, or sent letters, opposed the new restrictions. As a result the City Council held a workshop July 25 and directed the planning commission chairman and the city manger to come up with alternative recommendations and report back to the council.

In light of the significant public testimony, the two recommended that the planning commission table the matter at the meeting Aug. 25, which is the date for a continuation of the June 23 hearing.

It seems clear to me that at least a majority of the City Council would not be in favor of putting new restrictions on people’s property at this time.

At some point, the planning commission and council may deal with some of the issues separately, but I am pretty sure it won’t be in its present form.

*           *           *

Two years ago when the Bandon Lions Club brought the “Always … Patsy Cline” show to the Sprague Community Theater, it was so good that I went twice. Believe me the original Patsy (Doris Smith of Coos Bay) is even better than Shirley Kitner, who played the role two years ago, and I didn’t think that was possible.

One of my friends, who was taking tickets for the Bandon Playhouse, saw it Friday night. She went home and listened to some of her Patsy Cline albums, and said she felt that Doris sounded better than Patsy herself. And that’s a real tribute.

The show is absolutely stunning. I’ve heard so many people talking about it, and they have been blown away by what they saw. The show features a three-piece band, including our own Dean Conyers on the drums, Doris Smith as Patsy Cline and Pam DeJong as Louise.

You have three more opportunities to see this fabulous show: Friday, Saturday and the final matinee on Sunday. Ticket prices are $15 or $12 for senior citizens. Believe me, it’s a steal. Even if you’ve never been to the Sprague before, or if you don’t think that Patsy Cline music is your thing …. don’t miss this show. It’s that good.

Just seeing the many costumes that Doris wears is worth the price of admission.

*           *           *

Friday night my boyfriend and I went to the Douglas County fairgrounds in Roseburg to watch the famed American blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy. This fabulous musician is 75 years old, and he’s won six Grammy Awards for his work on his electric and acoustic guitars, and for contemporary and traditional forms of blues music.

The concert was in the outdoor amphitheater, and it was so neat to sit under the stars (with a full moon rising over the hills), with only a short-sleeved shirt on and listen to some really tremendous music.

At one point in the program, he brought a 12-year-old Eugene girl onto the stage, handed her his beautiful white guitar and let her play and sing two songs for the audience. People went wild in appreciation. I can’t imagine a youngster that age having the stage presence to get up in front of several thousand people and sing and play like she did. I am sure we will see her name in the bright lights one of these days.

This was my first trip to the Douglas County Fair and I can definitely see why the Coos County Fair Board moved the local fair to a different weekend some years ago as there is no way the Coos fair could compete.

*           *           *

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that in my large folder on dog attacks (mostly pit bulls), there was an incident involving a Gig Harbor, Wash., woman who had been severely mauled by two pit bulls who had entered her home through an open sliding-glass door.

That incident made the news again Sunday when a Tacoma jury awarded the woman $2.2 million for damages. Jurors assigned nearly half of the blame to Pierce County, which will have to pay about $924,000. The dogs’ owners must pay the rest.

The woman’s attorney argued that the county was partially liable because neighbors, including the injured woman, had filed numerous complaints about the pit bulls running loose and terrorizing the people, and the dogs should have been confiscated. The pit bulls were put down after the attack.

Local jurisdictions should take note of this precedent … holding police agencies responsible for not acting on repeated calls about these dangerous dogs.

*           *           *

I got back from a mini vacation two weekends ago in time to attend the WindFest, which was a lot bigger event than last year. In fact, Trudy from the Port told me they had 61 vendors registered, and 59 of them showed up. In addition the popular band, Hudson Ridge, performed, and that brought a lot of people to the port to listen to them play. Three of the band members are from Bandon: Bob and Jerene Fraser Shaffar and Mary Luther.

Although I wasn’t here Saturday, I guess the wind outdid itself, but had calmed down considerably by Sunday, which was a good thing for the tents which were placed along the Boardwalk to house the vendors.

I spoke to one of the vendors, who said it was well worth her while to attend this year.

I just hope that with all the people in town, the local businesses did well, too.

*           *           *

It’s too bad the WindFest wasn’t held this weekend. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. True, there was a bit of a breeze, but nothing like the previous weekend. A friend of mine celebrated his 60th birthday with a neighborhood (and a few of us out of the neighborhood) party Sunday afternoon. We sat in their beautiful, fenced-in backyard, and soaked up the sun. We couldn’t believe how warm (actually hot) it was. But none of us were complaining.

I’m sure some of us may wish we’d worn a bit of sun screen, but who would have thought it would have been that hot on a Sunday afternoon in Bandon (only a few blocks from the beach).

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 10, 2011

I learned recently that Dr. Steve Riddick, who has been the general surgeon at Southern Coos Hospital for several years, has assumed another position and will be leaving the area. Although nothing has been announced formally, a woman posted on Facebook that she had an appointment with him and that it had been cancelled because he is leaving town. And several people close to the hospital have confirmed it.

His leaving will be a big loss for the community. I spoke with a woman today at the WindFest who said he basically saved her life, and she was extremely sorry to learn that he was leaving.

I know that hospital officials are also sorry to see him leave. I don’t know all the details, but I will let my readers know as soon as I find out more.

*           *           *

The agenda for the Aug. 11 city Parks & Recreation Commission meeting pretty much said it all … under “new business.” The first topic was City Park vandalism. It wasn’t until I saw last week’s Public Works report in our own City Council packet that I’d even heard of the rash of vandalism, which had occurred in recent weeks at the City Park on 11th Street.

In fact, I’d just commented to someone how nice the park was looking. But apparently someone (probably more than one) decided they didn’t like the way it looked because they vandalized the skateboard park, picnic benches, basketball courts and the new Frisbee disc golf course. And that wasn’t enough but someone put two large holes in the gazebo on the grounds of the park.

We have a park host out there, but the park is large and I’m sure these vandals are operating in the dark of night when the park hosts are asleep.

I’ve been pretty vocal about one of our police officers who seems to prefer to sit at one stop sign, or along one street, to nab his unsuspecting prey.

At the meeting I suggested that maybe he could spend some time in City Park trying to nab the vandals rather than some local (or visitor) who didn’t come to a full and complete stop.

We’re also applying for grant money to build new restrooms in the park. But unless they are vandal proof, they probably would be the next target.

I am urging people who see anything out of the ordinary in the park to call the police.

*           *           *

Even though Cycle Oregon is just around the corner (mid-September) and several thousand bicyclists will be spending two nights in Bandon and a night in Powers, I shudder when I think of bicyclists mixing with the kind of traffic we have in the summer months … not to mention the narrow highways, some virtually without shoulders.

I see that an 81-year-old Vancouver, Wash., man collided with a loaded log trailer along Highway north of Garibaldi Thursday morning.

He was said to be an experienced cyclist, who was riding with his 47-year-old son, but it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, you aren’t going to survive a collision with a loaded logging truck on a narrow stretch of highway. The north coast is probably even more dangerous than the south coast, although I’m not sure that’s true.

For the life of me, I can’t visualize more than a thousand bicyclists riding along the Powers highway. Believe me, there are portions of the road (that drop off straight below to the river), which are so badly eroded that there is virtually no shoulder.

Hopefully there will be enough publicity surrounding the Cycle Oregon ride that people will be on the lookout for our visitors, but it still sounds pretty dangerous to me.

*           *           *

The Myrtle Point city manager came into my office at the Herald last Tuesday morning to see if I wanted to do a story on the city water, which he said stunk. Yeah, yeah, I said to myself. I doubt that it’s that bad. I told him that since Tuesday was press day, I would wait until the following week to do the story.

But that was before I went to lunch at Kozy Kitchen and took a great big swig of my cold glass of ice water. It was all I could do to swallow it. He wasn’t kidding. Not only did the water stink, but it tasted like you were drinking mud (well at least what I think mud would taste like if I decided to drink it).

I promptly went back to the Herald and had them tear down a page to get in a small article about the water, which was being tested for impurities. The City said it was safe to drink. I don’t care how safe it was, it definitely tasted horrible and I vowed not to try it again until I was sure they had determined just what was causing the stench. The city manager said it was apparently because of the increased temperature in the river, where the city’s water comes from, but I overheard people from Bridge say that their water also comes out of the river, and it was fine.

The inference was that the city was lying about the problem. Nothing could be further from the truth; they were extremely concerned about the water and had sent samples away to try and determine what was causing the smell, which was worse at the intake where the water comes into the plant to be treated. It certainly pointed to a problem in the river.

Here in Bandon, we’ve had problems in years’ past … but never like that, and not since we upgraded the water treatment plant.

This definitely would not be good for a tourist town.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 03, 2011

How would you like to be awakened sometime after midnight by the sound of guns firing in the area, and learn that there was absolutely nothing the authorities could do? That, of course, did not happen in the city limits. It was in a rural area of Coos County.

The sheriff’s log reads: “Neighbors are intoxicated and shooting weapons. They are on their own property.” The person who made the call was advised that the county has no noise ordinance, and it is not illegal to shoot guns at night.

That must have been “comforting” news for the neighbors.

*           *           *

The article in the July 28 issue of The Wall Street Journal was titled “Want Jobs? Cut Local Regulations.” I’ve read over the years that Oregon was a heavily regulated state … at least in some areas. As I pointed out recently, we don’t seem to regulate vehicle emissions, and Oregon is known to have some pretty lax laws when it comes to the adult entertainment business.

But that’s not the kind of regulations the article was referring to, and I truly was surprised to see Oregon listed as one of the most heavily regulated states when it came to obtaining a license to work as a manicurist.

The article pointed out that the profession requires only about 12 hours worth of training in Alaska and 40 in Iowa, but 600 hours in Oregon and 700 in Alabama.

“Does anyone believe consumers in Oregon and Alabama are in need of that much protection from unsafe manicurists? Or that there is much difference as far as consumer complaints are concerned?”

I definitely agree with the next statement: “State legislators largely seem oblivious to the counterproductive effects of the licensure schemes they create. In the face of our intractable unemployment problems, they work to erect more barriers. Instead of looking to the federal government to create jobs, state legislatures could have a real and immediate effect on unemployment in their states by showing how less truly is more.”

The epitome of over-zealous regulation occurs right here in Coos County. One division of the Coos County Health Department, under the direction of Rick Hallmark, has taken it upon themselves to “police” every bit of food that comes out of an unlicensed kitchen that might be eaten by the public, ranging from a few cupcakes at the opening of a new business in Old Town to the Powers Alumni Picnic, which has been held for many years. It is now referred to as a gathering. They are careful never to use the “P” word for fear of raising the ire of the “picnic police.” A health department spokesman told the Herald some time ago that they go through the papers looking for information about any kind of gathering where food might be served to the public … without the appropriate permit.

I have asked our state representatives about this (which has gotten way worse since the county took over from the state), and they said the issue had never been raised to them.

I don’t know how this kind of regulation is handled in other counties, but I can tell you a number of stories about how it’s handled here. And it borders on the ridiculous.

*           *           *

I definitely wish that I had taken up the game of golf a lot earlier, but it’s too late to do anything about that. It’s a game that takes constant practice, and not the two or three times a summer schedule like I keep.

But this week I played a round at Old Bandon Golf Links with my partner, the city manager and the city attorney … and believe it or not, I ended up finishing with the “low” score. Bear in mind, that the word low is a comparative thing. At first I thought Fred and I were tied (each with a 57) but a few minutes later he was lamenting the 11 he got on No. 7 when it took him two strokes to get out of one of Troy’s new sand traps. “Eleven,” I said. “I thought you said seven,” which is what I had recorded on the scorecard. Was I ever stoked, because Fred went from tied for first to dead last.

We have a good time teasing each other. Matt never misses the opportunity to rib me about playing from the red tee boxes, instead of the green ones, but being a woman I think I deserve a little edge with a bunch of long-hitting (usually) guys in their 60s. (If those tee boxes aren’t for people like me, who are they for?) Even though I don’t hit my woods or my irons as far as they do, my shots are generally straight down the fairway and not in the creek, the gorse, the sandtraps or the woods.

And that’s the difference.

I can only dream what my score might have been had I not gotten a nine on each of the first two holes (and an eight on the last).

Golf is fun no matter your skill level, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon pretty much out of the wind and testing your skills.

Hope springs eternal …..

P. S. Apparently bragging is not good for your game. I went out both Saturday and Sunday and shot in the mid-60s. I think I’d better frame my Friday scorecard because I probably won’t see that score again.

*           *           *

If you don’t want to miss a great show, I’d advise getting your tickets early for “Always … Patsy Cline,” which opens Friday night at the Sprague Community Theater. The Bandon Playhouse is sponsoring the show, which will run for three weekends (nine shows) and I understand people are already starting to buy up their tickets. I’m told one man bought a ticket for each performance.

This is a show you won’t want to miss and it doesn’t matter what kind of music you like, you’ll love this show. I went twice when the Bandon Lions Club brought the show to Bandon several years ago.

*           *           *

I’d forgotten how much I love the Little Farmers Market in Old Town every Saturday until I began camping out a few minutes before 10 a.m. to make sure I had a good selection of wonderful fruits and vegetables. My favorite is always the fresh berries …. whether it’s raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries or marion berries. There’s nothing like berries freshly picked.

Everyone has their favorites, and we all look forward to Saturday mornings at the market.

previous columns by mary schamehorn