As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 26, 2012

Everywhere I go lately, people tell me they have been reading my column "forever" or they have just found out about it, and love it. It actually puts a bit of pressure on me to realize how many people read it who don't live here because I feel like they are looking for "real news" and they may not take the local paper. But I do the best I can, and sometimes when Sunday rolls around I think, "Oh no, it's time to write my column again." Since that's what I do for a living (even though it's only two days a week), I sometimes wish I had chosen a different profession, but it's a little late for that now. I guess you could say politics is my avocation, but it would be hard to live on $200 a month, which is the mayor's stipend. So I guess I'll keep working at The Herald . . . but enough of that, it's time to write my latest "As I See It."

*           *           *

I meant to write about this last week, but it completely escaped my mind (which seems to be happening way too often these days.) It's the story about local electrician Dale Pennie (who has run for county commissioner a couple of times) and his early Christmas "present."

Well, actually, it wasn't really his, and he was pretty thankful about that.

I was at the post office a couple of weeks ago, standing in line as we are prone to do at this time of year, when I saw Dale receive a couple of packages from the counter and out the door he went. He went out into his car and apparently started opening his packages, but what he found was not something he'd ordered. In fact, not only was the package not addressed to him, but it wasn't even his post office box ... and it contained quite a lot of marijuana in glass jars.

By that time I was standing out in front of the post office talking to someone when Dale rushed up to me, saying, "Mary, Mary would you like some marijuana?" I thought he'd lost his mind. And then he told me what had happened. Neither he nor I knew the person the package was addressed to (but apparently the police later visited him because he did not have a medical marijuana permit, but that's a story for the police page). At any rate, Dale jokingly said he would take the box down to City Hall and give it to our city manager. I suggested maybe he might take it to the police station.

At any rate, he left. I went home and about an hour later, I got to thinking that the smart thing to do would have been to take the package back into the post office and say it wasn't his. At least, I felt the post office should know what happened. How were they going to tell the guy that it was addressed to that his package from Redding, Calif., never came.

So I went back to the post office and just as I was about to ask if I could see the postmaster, Dave Robinson, in rushed Dale with his (well, not really his) package and he knocked on Dave's door.

I didn't hear what happened until a couple of days later when Matt told me that Dave had apparently called the police and one of our officers had paid a visit to the guy. I don't know if he was cited, but I think the case was turned over to the District Attorney, who may very well have decided not to do anything. That's why I won't mention his name; plus he wasn't someone that I was familiar with.

I'll bet he'll think twice before he has his marijuana shipped to his post office box.

Some people might not have been as anxious to return the box to the post office, but all Dale wanted was to make sure that I would be a witness to the fact that it wasn't his marijuana.

And I said I would ....

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I saw my old neighbor (I was in the eighth grade when he and his family moved next door to us) Don Campbell and his wife (along with Don's brother, Wayne, who was in my class and now lives in Coos Bay) from Eugene. Don told me that a former long-time resident, Walt Ashton, had recently suffered a serious stroke and is in rehab in Salem. Walt is also a graduate of BHS and was probably a couple of years ahead of me in school so he is in his mid-70s. His father, Walt Sr., was our long-time fire chief (and was chief when Bandon High School burned to the ground in an arson fire in 1974). It's been a few years since I've seen him, but I do know he came to at least one of the all-school reunions... and he looked great ... just like he did in high school.

Certainly hope he makes a speedy recovery.

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In last week's column, I mentioned that I had signed a petition to ban assault weapons, but was quick to point out that I certainly did not favor a ban on handguns. I knew I would receive some feedback ... and I definitely did.

District watermaster Mitch Lewis, who lives in Bandon but works out of Coquille in a state job, sent a letter to The World (which was published Wednesday). I questioned editor Clark Walworth why he would publish a letter that addressed something that had not appeared in either The World or the Western World (because Clark won't allow Amy to run my column), and he basically said it was because I was a public official.

For those of you who may not have read Lewis' letter, here is what he had to say:

"Once again, while being subjected to Mary Shamehorn (his spelling, not mine) diatribe about a subject she knows nothing about, I'm confused. Ms. Shamehorn is all in favor of a ban on assault weapons. In fact, she brags about just having signed a petition saying so. She states, 'I don't know why anybody would want to own one in the first place.' Now, I ask you this. How can you be in favor of banning something you admit you don't know anything about? Shouldn't one do at least a little investigation before taking any pro or con stance? This may explain the actions of the Bandon City Council. Uninformed decision making. Really?"

I really responded in my column in The Herald, but unfortunately it is for next week's paper, and I didn't bring a copy of it home with me. I will say that I have never seen him at a council meeting, nor have either Matt or I received any correspondence from him indicating that he was unhappy about a decision made by the council.

I sent him an email a couple of days later to say that Governor Kitzhaber also favors a ban on assault weapons.

Lewis responded by saying: "When you send it along to the Governor, for his sake, have someone around to help the idiot sound out the words."

These words certainly speak volumes about district watermaster Mitch Lewis, and I don't think I need to say more.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 19, 2012

It's hard to even get into the Christmas spirit when you think of the horrible tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn., this week. Every time I see parents with a little child, I think of the incredible suffering of so many families who lost their young children, not to mention the families of the principal, one of the teachers and the school psychologist.

I signed a petition this week to ban assault weapons and to increase the amount that is spent on mental health in this country. Something must be done to keep weapons of this kind out of the hands of sick people, and there appears to be more and more of them all the time. This certainly does not mean that I favor taking people's guns away; that is definitely not the case, but why does someone need a high-powered assault rifle. I haven't been able to figure that out. I am sure someone will let me know.

It is also interesting that the three weapons were all registered to the shooter's mother in a state that has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Why did his mother need an assault weapon? We may never know since she was one of the victims.

I am also not sure that the ban against having guns in the school is a good one. Decent, responsible, well-trained people might be able to defend against violence like this . . . but if no one is armed, there is no chance to do anything.

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What would the Christmas season be without MarLo Dance Studio's presentation of The Nutcracker. Melody Juarez and I joined several hundred others on Saturday evening to watch the 2012 version and, as usual, it was a stunning performance. I am sure the crowds were just as large for Friday night and the two shows on Sunday.

The story is wonderful, the stage was beautifully decorated and the costumes were particularly great this year. We were treated to some extraordinary ballet, and the precious little ones are always a treat.

I took lots of pictures for the Myrtle Point Herald since the lead role of Clara was a young girl from Myrtle Point, Hadassah Slater, and her great-uncle Leon Brown (president of the MP Chamber of Commerce) was in the opening dance scene. Three of Haddy's sisters were also in The Nutcracker, so it was definitely a county affair.

The producer and director was Maria Merriam, owner of MarLo Dance Studio, with the capable assistance of her mother, Alice Stadelman, as assistant producer.

This is something I look forward to every year.

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I have been complaining a lot lately, both here in my column and during City Council meetings, about the amount of garbage that is strewn around town when we are forced to put out our garbage cans during a storm.

As I write this on Sunday, the winds are really whipping around, and if it continues to blow throughout the week, we may face the same problem again.

But I have learned (and I'm not sure why it's a secret) that during stormy weather, there are actually two people on the garbage truck. One to drive and the other to pick up garbage that's spilled out of the can (but not the garbage that has already flown over to the neighbor's yard).

Matt talked to Bill Richardson, who is the local contact for Bandon Disposal, and learned that since there are two people on the truck during a storm, it is OK to bungee cord your lid shut or to put a piece of concrete on it, because there will be someone to remove it.

It has been very upsetting to me to realize that there is more garbage floating (sometimes literally) around town BECAUSE we have garbage "pickup" than if we didn't. Another big piece of the problem is that people can't close the lid because they continue to overfill the cans, so even if the wind doesn't get it, the crows and seagulls will peck open the sacks and take what they want and leave the rest for the neighborhood.

In the old days, Jack Chappell would get out of his truck, walk into your garage and get the can so you didn't have to leave it at the street to blow over. But since people have been replaced by automation, that is generally not the case.

It's nice to know that they are actually concerned about what to do during a storm, so I urge you to put something on your can to secure the lid (and leave your extra bags until next week).

*           *           *

I've learned that the City's long-time water treatment plant operator Gene Davidson recently suffered a stroke. Gene retired in October after many years of service to the City.

He is apparently getting better because one of the City employees stopped by his room at Bay Area Hospital to visit him late last week and learned that he was down the hall visiting another patient. That sounds encouraging, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

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Seems that this is the season, not only for Jolly Ole' St. Nick, but also for dog bites. In Sunday's sheriff's report, there were three reported dog bites in the county just on Saturday alone. One was a mail carrier from Coquille who ended up in the emergency room after being bitten by a dog on Finley Loop.

Southern Coos Hospital reported a dog bite, which occurred on Two Mile Lane, when a dog belonging to the victim's grandmother bit him (or her). That incident was turned over to the Coos County Animal Control officer as was a case on Cape Arago where a neighbor's Mastiff dog bit someone.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 12, 2012

I recently friended Mike Easterly, a former Bandon teacher, on Facebook, and it was there that I learned his wife of more than 35 years, Tia Carmichael Easterly, had died. Tia was the daughter of Chloe Carmichael, a long-time employee of the school district, and the granddaughter of Ralph Goedker, also a district employee. There were no details, so I am not sure when she died, but Mike did say he was only just now getting back on Facebook after an absence of two years.

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I saw two items in the sheriff's office press log that I found interesting. At 3:38 in the morning, an officer checked "business and area for prowlers." The next item, which appears eight minutes later says "observed suspicious vehicle."

The officer determined that the "subject was just checking a property easement."

It's hard to believe that someone would actually be checking a property easement in the middle of the night, but who knows . . . .

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There have been an unusually high number of burglaries in the Bandon area in recent weeks, and people should make every effort to secure their homes and make sure their vehicles are locked.

I know that one woman, who lives on Carolina Avenue, was burglarized twice, and it may actually have been three times, before police were able to catch the guy with the aid of a surveillance camera.

A woman on Beach Loop lost a lot of jewelry in a recent break-in, and I understand that burglars also hit Currydale Farms and stole a lot of Carhartt clothing.

A friend recently shared with me a three-page document titled "Things Your Burglar Won't Tell You!" It is full of important information, but it's obviously too long to share in my column.

But one that was particularly interesting was the use of wasp spray in place of pepper spray. The wasp spray can shoot up to 20 feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray you have to get too close and someone could overpower you. A woman who has an office in a high risk area keeps a can on her desk, and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection.

Another tip was to put your car keys beside your bed. If someone is outside or trying to get into your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

The burglar adds: "A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at

He adds: "The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors."

I think if you Google "Things Your Burglar Won't Tell You," you will find the same information. I tried, but my server kept kicking me off the Internet. Matt tells me that he had the same problem with Comspan, but now they have installed a wireless connection, which fixed the problem. That will be my next call.

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I attended the Chamber's Christmas party at Billy Smoothboar's Friday night (as well as the wonderful holiday event hosted by attorney Robin Miller and the others with offices in Bandon Executive Suites including Bandon Design & Drafting, Bandon Wealth Management, Black Chapman Webber & Stevens, Chetco Federal Credit Union, Sean Suppes CPA and Ticor Title Company) and had the opportunity to talk with four or five Bandon merchants.

They all had the same problem: Christmas shopping has been slow to almost non-existent and they're not sure why. One person thought that more and more people are shopping on-line, which well may be the case.

If half the people in Bandon would pledge to do part of their Christmas shopping with Old Town area merchants, it would make such a big difference.

Sunday afternoon my sister and I shopped in four Old Town stores, and couldn't be happier with our purchases.

Maybe people don't care whether there are any businesses left in Old Town (and since a lot of people don't go down there, maybe they don't), but these merchants are the backbone of our shopping area, and it's important to at least give them a chance before you head to the big-box stores or the Internet.

I think you will be surprised by the quality of the merchandise you will find right here in Bandon.

I have to add that both the party at Executive Suites (catered by Coastal Mist) and the party at Billy Smoothboar's, catered by owners Dan Barnett and his wife, were marvelous events. It's just too bad they were on the same night, but lots of us went to Executive Suites first and then headed over to the chamber event.

Saturday night was the last six-course wine dinner hosted by Kim and Troy Russell, as they will be leaving the Old Bandon Golf Links later this month. The chefs were Chef Paul Moss, former chef at Bandon Dunes, who now heads up the culinary staff for PGE in Portland, and Chef Allen Faigin.. The food and wine (from Jonathan Oberlander of J.Scott Cellars) was a gourmet treat.

I will surely miss events like this ....

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 05, 2012

I've learned that the Nidiffer family who owns Ray's Food Place and many other stores throughout Oregon and Northern California has purchased Tiffany's Drug Store, adjacent to Ray's in the Bandon Shopping Center.

C&K Markets Inc. is headquartered in Brookings which, I believe, was the site of their first store. Bandon is also one of their oldest stores.

Tiffany's, which has been managed by Dennis Thomason for many years, has a wonderful reputation as being one of the best wine shops in this part of the state. Dennis says he doesn't expect anything to change . . ."same employees . . . same prices . . ." which is good news for Tiffany's customers.

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It was storming pretty hard Friday night, but I decided I would go to the Sprague Theater for Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," put on by Don Van Dyke and WATTCH Productions. There weren't many people there, but I am sure that, like me, they enjoyed the performance. It started out a bit slow but as soon as the action moved onto the stage, it was great.

Before the show started, I was sitting alone in the fifth row back from the stage when I noticed a beautiful little girl coming down the aisle, wearing a red velvet dress and carrying a doll that looked a lot like her. I remarked to myself what a charming child she was, although I did not know her and didn't think I had seen her before.

Pretty soon her mother and her brother joined her. But shortly before the play began, she walked away from her seat and came toward me. She stood there with the sweetest smile and said, "congratulations on being re-elected mayor." I was thrilled, of course, and thanked her profusely.

Later, during intermission, her mother came up and said pretty much the same thing . . .that she was so glad that I had won and that she had read everything that I wrote during the campaign.

I still don't know who they are, but I can tell you that little 9-year-old girl and her thoughtful mother definitely "made my day."

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* * * Speaking of the Sprague Theater, I had recently learned that the Bandon Playhouse planned to do Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." It brought back a lot of memories for me because that was the only time I was ever on stage. I am pretty sure that both my mother and I were in it . . . .in some kind of a crowd scene, and I was probably in junior high.

Now I've learned that the Playhouse has scrapped their plans because they weren't able to cast it. I'm not sure where they advertised (outside of Coffee Break, which I seldom see), but who knows I might even have been willing to appear on stage . . . some 55 years after my acting debut. Well, probably not, but at least I might have given it some thought had I even known they were trying to cast it.

Maybe a story in Western World would have been a good idea . . . or maybe I just missed it, but I generally read the paper pretty thoroughly.

At any rate I guess we won't see "Our Town" on stage any time soon.

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I heard from a reliable source that the former Two Loons building in Old Town, owned for some time by architect Jim Tronson, is now on the market. The price I heard quoted was over $300,000, but I have not verified that.

Considering that Bandon Boatworks sold for $250,000, with one of the most spectacular views of the river and ocean of any place around, it sounds a bit high to me.

But the person who told me it was for sale seemed to think that was a fair price for a prime Old Town location.

It's small, but I think it has living quarters upstairs and it has a beautiful, protected patio in the back of the building, which was extremely popular during the summer months.

If I'm not correct on the price, I'll let you know next week because I am sure I will hear about it.

*           *           *

My sister Molly and I were busy shopping in Bandon over the weekend, trying to get enough sales slips to begin obtaining a set of souvenir glasses from the chamber for our youngest sister, who lives in Washington. It's not so much the idea of getting some "free" glasses as it is just fun to know that you're helping out the local merchants.

This weekend (Dec. 7-8) is the final weekend for the popular Old Town Marketplace, located in the Port of Bandon's green building on the waterfront. Things have definitely slowed down now that the produce and the tourists are scarce, but there is still plenty to see and do at the market and throughout Old Town.

We have some really great stores, and rather then pour your money into the "big box" stores, it's much better for the health of the community, if people shop at home.

And that's what I intend to do . . ..

previous columns by mary schamehorn