As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

February 23, 2011

I wrote a letter to the editor last week about Beauty and the Beast. Actually I wrote two of them and asked that the paper print the second one. But for some reason (and neither Amy nor I can figure it out) my second letter arrived with no attachment, no message or no letter with it. So she went ahead and printed the first one.

In praising those responsible for this outstanding production, I had momentarily forgotten one of the hardest working people in all of the Bandon Playhouse. And that is their president Lorna Salt.

A huge thank you goes out to Lorna for her tireless work at promoting the show and helping to raise money through sponsors and special events. She has been the sparkplug behind the playhouse for decades and, although she only occasionally appears on the stage in bit parts, she is definitely a big reason for their success.

This is an extremely expensive production, with the costumes (rented from Disney) accounting for nearly half the cost.

I’ve listened to people describing what they thought of Beauty and the Beast. And the response has been tremendous.

There is still one more weekend to see the play, which is at the Sprague Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 with the final show to be the matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m.

You will be talking about this production for years to come. I didn’t think the Playhouse could outdo themselves after producing Chicago, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady, but they just continue to amaze me.

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I joined about 40 other people Saturday night at the most wonderful wine dinner at Old Bandon Golf Links, with former resident, long-time chef at Bandon Dunes and brother of Amy Moss-Strong, Paul Moss of Portland, as the chef for the six-course dinner, hosted by Troy and Kim Russell.

Each course was paired with a special wine, poured by Bruce Biehl of Eugene Wine Cellars.

The dinner featured the most wonderful appetizers, including smoked salmon, exotic mushrooms, etc., followed by an heirloom potato and leek soup with truffle butter, a salad of Flora Farms greens and a poached prawn, a rustic terrine of Carlton Farms pork, an absolutely wonderful lemon lavender sorbet (made by Amy under the tutelage of her brother), south coast lamb chops and a petite filet of natural beef with saffron infused flagolet and tomato jam, and Beechers flagship one-year old cheddar and Cotswold English cheddar with Marcona almonds and apricots for dessert.

Beechers cheesemaker is Brad Sinko, son of Karen and Joe Sinko, who were at the dinner. Joe shared a bit of history about Brad and his famous cheeses, which are a specialty at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

I understand Troy and Kim have hosted at least one wine dinner in the past, as well as a number of wine tasting events.

I just hope I can get on the list for the next event. It was an absolutely fantastic evening of fun, great food and friendship.

It was also special for the Russell clan as Troy’s mother, Mary Russell (who with husband Wayne lives on the North Bend Road), was celebrating her 79th birthday. Tony, Tina, Troy and Terry, and other members of their families, were there to enjoy the dinner and celebrate their mom’s birthday.

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Among the things that I learned at the dinner was that my long-time friend Pam Van Dolah (the former Pam Cook who graduated from Bandon High School) was no longer a home mortgage consultant (make that loan officer) at Wells Fargo Bank. She helped me navigate the extremely daunting process of obtaining a loan there for the house I bought last February. Without her I don’t think I would be enjoying my “new” house.

At any rate, I learned that she had left Wells Fargo and is now working at the North Bend office of Umpqua Bank.

But apparently her superiors don’t realize she is gone because Friday I received a news letter from Wells Fargo, “signed” by Pam Van Dolah, urging me to contact her first for my home financing needs.

But after what I went through with the “higher ups” at that bank, I am not surprised that they don’t know she’s gone. Sooner or later they will probably figure it out.

*           *           *

I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but the governor of Wisconsin deserves a medal for trying to get a handle on the rising cost of public employee benefits. I am amazed at the people who are marching in support of union leaders when most people are painfully aware of the huge deficits that public employee retirement promises are costing the American taxpayer.

Unless someone gets a handle on it soon, it will mean that cities, counties and states are forced to cut back even further to make sure that the pension funds are protected.

Governor Walker’s proposal would take away the ability of most government employees in his state to collectively bargain for benefits. They could still bargain for higher wages, but future wage increases would be capped at the federal CIP, unless otherwise specified by voter referendum.

The bill excludes police and firefighters, although you wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric that we’re hearing and reading these days.

The Wall Street Journal made an extremely good point. “Their campaign cash – collected via mandatory dues – also helps to elect the politicians who are then supposed to represent taxpayers in negotiations with those same unions.”

I personally don’t feel like anyone is representing us in the private sector, do you?

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I don’t want to scare people, but for those of you who don’t read the sheriff’s office log every day, you should be aware that there have been an increased number of burglaries in the rural area around Bandon in the past week. Last Thursday’s log had four burglary reports, including two in the Two Mile area, one along Highway 101 and one on Beach Loop. Saturday’s log had another burglary on Beach Loop, which occurred on Friday.

At least until they catch whoever is responsible for this rash of burglaries, people should be extra careful about locking their doors and hiding valuables.

In two of the burglaries, guns were stolen, which isn’t exactly comforting.

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It was great to see that Bandon was named as one of the top 20 small towns (we were number 14) in Oregon in a recent column in the Register-Guard. Unfortunately, it said one of the things we were known for is our cheese. I winced when I read that knowing that the cheese factory has long since closed, and is now no more than a gravel parking lot.

Apparently I’m not the only one that noticed that as the R-G had a correction a couple of days later that said the cheese factory is no longer here. I guess it had been a while since the writer had visited Bandon.

But there are a lot of other things that make us special, including our shops, beaches, theater, library and community center – just to name a few.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

February 16, 2011

Although there were pictures and an article in Western World about the very successful benefit fundraiser for Steve Underdown, a lot of my on-line viewers may not have seen it., although if they regularly go to, they probably also log onto Western World’s web site. But just in case you haven’t heard the event raised an estimated $35,000, which is absolutely fantastic.

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We enjoyed the annual Bandon Lions auction and breakfast Saturday, held at The Barn. I am not sure how much they’ve made in the past, but one of the Lions told me this morning that they raised about $3,000. They had a great many small auction items, which makes it easier to purchase one or more without “breaking the bank.”

The people we really need to thank for most of the auction items are the merchants, gallery owners and Lions members who donate items every year to the auction.

Without these donations, there wouldn’t be an auction.

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The scams that are circulating on the Internet never cease to amaze me. Last week, a long-time friend of mine ostensibly sent me an email . . . about a weight-loss product. She was touting this product and let me know that she had lost eight pounds in one week.

There was only one small problem. It simply wasn’t believable because my friend is rather on the thin side and definitely does not need a weight-loss product and I’m pretty sure she hasn’t lost that kind of weight lately.

It could have been a coincidence, but I’m pretty certain that someone got into her e-mail account and probably sent that same message to everyone in her address book.

It was just one more thing to delete.

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Several days later, one of my co-workers at the Herald sent me an email from a Myrtle Point woman titled “Craving for help.” The gal at the Herald did not know the woman that the email supposedly came from (but, of course, didn’t), but I knew her. Marlene Neideigh had done some proofing for us years ago so I knew it was a real person.

This email scam is one that is quite familiar to Bandon people as several of them circulated around here last year. This one said: “I’m sorry to disturb with this mail but I’m out of the country in England and I found myself in a situation which I really need to take care of now would have called both lost cell phone and credit card to the incident. I need a loan of $5000 but will appreciate any amount you can come up with. I’ll explain better and refund the money back to you immediately I get back home. I will really appreciate it if you can help out with the money, Kindly get back to me as soon as you get this email to let me know if you can help and please keep this a secret.” It was signed “Marlene.”

The irony of this is that Tony Green from the state Department of Justice sent out an Attorney General’s Scam Alert that very day from Salem about this exact same scam, which he titled “Bogus Travel Emergency.”

The email Tony described says: “Help, I’ve been robbed at gunpoint while visiting London and desperately need your assistance.” No money, no credit cards, no passport or cell phone – your friend is scared and stranded. What they need you to do is wire them some money quickly. Your instinct is to help your friend. But don’t because it’s probably a scam.

He goes on to say that the messages come from cyber-thieves who gather contact information by either hijacking someone’s email or social networking account, or by collecting the names of people who are cc:’d on mass emails. The scam message may come from an email address that looks a lot like your friend’s real one.

The best piece of advice from the DOJ is to always be skeptical on emails that describe an urgent need for you to wire money – no matter who it appears to be coming from.

I know for a fact that at least one woman in Bandon wired a large sum of money to someone she thought was her grandson after she received a phone call in the night.

After she sent the money, she learned that he wasn’t in Canada nor was he in trouble.

But it was too late for her. She’d already wired some scammer the money.

The Justice Department also advises people who are sending group emails to always “bcc:” (blind carbon copy) their recipients. That way their names and email addresses are not visible after the email is sent.

I’m hoping that none of Marlene’s friends sent her money, and if they did, they must not be Herald readers because I’ve had several editorials about this type of scam in recent months.

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While watching KVAL news the other night, the announcers began talking about the Barbie and Ken dolls. The question was “do you want them to get back together?” and if you did, you could log onto their Facebook account.

In light of the extremely serious issues that this country, and the world, are facing, does anyone really care if a couple of dolls “get back together?” Did we even know (or much less care) that they were apart?

Apparently some people do, or it would not have made the news!

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

February 09, 2011

People came from all parts of the country to attend a fundraiser and honor their long-time friend Steve Underdown Saturday night at the Bandon Community Center. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place when Steve, himself, made a brief appearance with his wife, Cathy, who gave an emotional update on Steve’s condition and thanked the community for all their love and support.

Steve, as most people know, is battling mesothelioma, and he’s undergoing systemic chemo right now to stop the advancement of the cancer. Because of the rarity of this cancer, there are only a handful of qualified surgeons in the whole U., S., and the Underdowns are hoping to travel outside the state soon to see one of them.

Nora Thomason received a standing ovation for serving as chairman of the fundraiser, which featured a wonderful array of silent and oral auction items, great food (from Bandon Bill’s, McFarlin’s and Lord Bennett’s), and a benefit golf tournament set up in other parts of the Barn. People who weren’t able to attend, but who may want to send a donation, may stop by Evergreen Bank in the Bandon Shopping Center, or send a check to P. O. Box 660, Bandon. Cards and letters can be sent to Steve at P. O. Box 895, Bandon.

Former police chief Bob McBride flew in from Mississippi and another of Steve’s long-time friends, former World publisher Greg Stevens (and his wife Marcy), came up from Redlands, Calif. Before retiring and moving to Bandon Steve was a sergeant in a Southern California police department, and his former partner and a supervisor also attended the event.

Another long-time friend and retired police officer, Steve Casey of Bandon, was the auctioneer, with assistance by Greg Stevens.

Julie Miller, who emceed the event, along with Dennis Thomason, thanked everyone for their support and love. This has been a particularly emotional time for Julie as she lost her own father several years ago to the same disease.

On the back of each of the bidding cards were the words: “We love you Steve,” and everyone held them up as he left the event. It was an extremely touching moment.

This is what makes Bandon such a terrific community. People work together to help each other, and are always willing to do even more.

*           *           *

It’s hard to write about a person like Coos County Commissioner Nikki Whitty, who I have known, worked with and respected for so many years. But harder yet was seeing her at the press conference (to announce Andy Jackson’s death) last Wednesday morning, looking extremely thin and weak from her battle with cancer.

After talking to her I felt better. She still has the same upbeat spirit and wonderful personality that have made her such a popular figure in county government for many years.

It’s clear that she’s suffering, but her biggest problem, as she battles colon cancer, is the nauseating effects of the chemotherapy, which she has been taking for several weeks in combination with radiation therapy.

She told me she had been fitted with a chemo pump, which was placed on her hip and pumped chemo into her system 24/7 from Monday morning until Friday evening. But it was after the pump was unplugged last weekend that she became so ill, which is causing her to lose even more weight.

Because she had been so sick from the chemo, they had discontinued it for a while to concentrate on the radiation treatments, which are even more important.

Nikki had a mastectomy 22 years ago after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and she also underwent chemo at that time, but she said it was different then.

She will be undergoing two more weeks of treatment. Then there will be no more radiation, but she may have to have more chemo. If she does, it apparently won’t be through the pump, so she is hoping to be able to return to her job on a more full-time basis. It’s obvious that she’s very anxious to return to the courthouse.

As a parting word, Nikki said she had never had a colonoscopy, which people are advised to have after the age of 50, and she admits the disease is a lot easier to treat if it’s caught early enough.

She and her husband, former state representative and long-time county commissioner Jim Whitty, who has his own health issues, have been living at Oerding Manor in Coquille as neither has been able to care for the other during Nikki’s illness. They will soon be moving back to their Coquille home.

As she got into Fran Capehart’s car, after the meeting, Nikki waved and said: “Tell everyone hi for me.”

Everywhere I go people have been asking about Nikki, and I hope this will provide some of the information they’ve been seeking.

We’ll be keeping both Nikki and Steve Underdown in our prayers.

*           *           *

I just got back from Beauty and the Beast, the wonderful production of Bandon Playhouse, which is playing each weekend during February. It is really Broadway quality, and is definitely something that you won’t want to miss. I know there are still people out there that haven’t been to a Playhouse production at the Sprague Theater, and they are probably thinking of another kind of community theater. This is definitely first-class and will blow you away.

Don’t miss Beauty and the Beast.

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I’ve seen a lot of Januarys in Bandon … but I can’t remember one with the kind of great weather that we had last month. True, it changed a bit over the weekend, but considering what winter can be like here, it’s still a treat.

And considering what our friends on the East Coast have been enduring, it might well be time to put some real estate ads in the New York Times (that is, if we could afford it, which we probably can’t.)

Just one more reason I love to live in Bandon.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

February 02, 2011

I’ve been sitting down at the computer every Sunday night for years to get started on my column for the coming week, and sometimes it’s hard to think of anything to say (I’m sure my readers will agree that sometimes it seems like I’m really searching for something to say. Well, this is one of those weeks.) I generally have a list of notes covering my desk. For some reason, this week I’ve barely jotted down anything and what I have written down, I’m not sure that the people involved really want everyone to know about it. But here goes anyway.

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One that definitely had a “happy” ending is the fall that Beauty and the Beast director Sally Ford took one evening last week during rehearsals. Those of you who’ve been in the Sprague Theater know there is an orchestra pit at the front of the stage. Sometimes it’s covered up, if there’s no orchestra and it’s not needed. But it’s a prop for Beauty and the Beast and during practice, Sally accidentally fell off the stage into the orchestra pit. It’s deep enough for a person to stand up in, so you can figure how far she fell.

People immediately called for the ambulance and Sally was rushed to the Southern Coos Hospital emergency room, where she was checked over and released. Fortunately, she suffered no broken bones, but a friend talked to her the next morning, and she was pretty sore and bruised, but none the worse for her fall.

This isn’t the first accident at the Sprague and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but when you consider the number of performances and rehearsals they hold in that building every year, accidents are pretty rare.

Last year, during rehearsals for Sound of Music, a prop fell from the ceiling and struck several cast members. They were more scared than hurt, but it could have been a lot worse.

From what I’ve heard, Beauty and the Beast is a fabulous show … and it opens Friday night at the Sprague to play four weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday matinee). This is definitely a show you won’t want to miss.

It is a huge and costly production, and the community needs to support the Bandon Playhouse in every way we can to help make this a rousing success.

*           *           *

Saturday night is the benefit fundraiser for Steve Underdown at The Barn, beginning at 6 p.m., and I am sure there will be a big crowd of people attending. Underdown, who owns Bandon Golf Supply, suffers from mesothelioma and is very ill. He and his wife, Cathy, and their twins, Darby and Max, have made many, many friends in the years they’ve lived in Bandon, and I know that people have been doing everything they can to help the family cope. Attending the fundraiser is just one way that people can support the family. Tickets are $15.

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My piece about the mirage that Marilyn Wade Bamford and Jill Chappell Sumerlin saw many years ago when they were out on the point at the end of Garfield overlooking the lighthouse generated several comments.

One friend said she remembered Phyllis Stinnett talking about it some years ago; I’m not sure if she saw it or if she only remembered hearing about it when the girls saw it.

A man, who read my column in Western World last week, called me to say that he’d been fishing along Lake Michigan with several others when they saw the Chicago skyline … and they were more than 65 miles away from that city. Actually I took lots of notes while he was talking … but now I can’t find them.

At any rate, according to Wikipedia, a mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displayed image of distant objects or the sky.

“In contrast to a hallucination, a mirage is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer’s location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind. Mirages can be categorized as “inferior” (meaning lower), “superior” (meaning higher) and “Fata Morgana,” one kind of superior mirage consisting of a series of unusually elaborate, vertically-stacked images, which form one rapidly changing mirage.”

It’s pretty obvious that what the girls, and the man who called me, saw was a “Fata Morgana,” and the vertically stacked images were interpreted as San Francisco in one case and Chicago in another.

It was interesting to learn more about mirages, which I always confused with a hallucination that a man dying of thirst would see in the desert … like a large pond of water.

It’s obvious they aren’t the same thing.

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My next question is: does anyone remember when the murals were first painted by Jack Champayne on the sewage treatment plant? Matt said it was just before he arrived here, so it was probably sometime around 1992 or 1993.

A woman who has just moved to Bandon is writing a book on murals, and plans to devote a section to the murals in Bandon, but she’s hoping to learn more about the city’s involvement in that particular mural. I wasn’t on the council at that time, but I’m sure it won’t be hard to track down the minutes of the meeting where the murals were discussed, once we determine the date.

Matt suggested that she contact former city manager Ben McMakin, who will probably remember more about the city’s decision to have the mural painted.

previous columns by mary schamehorn