As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

July 29, 2009

Speeders seem to multiply when summer approaches, so I encouraged the police department to park a spare vehicle alongside the highway on the former cheese factory lot. It doesn’t have much impact on the locals, as it doesn’t take long before they realize it’s empty, but you should see the outsiders slam on their brakes when they see the car. It really does work.

I noticed that it was gone Friday morning, and soon I learned why. Sergeant Lynch stopped by, while I was out watering my “highway flower garden,” and told me that someone had dumped a gallon of white paint on the patrol car, while also damaging a series of mailboxes in the rural areas.

And, yes, we did have an officer on duty, but vandals have a way of knowing where he’s patrolling before they pull their little stunts.

For the life of me I can’t figure out what kind of kicks a person(s) gets out of vandalizing a patrol car and a bunch of mailboxes.

My life was never that boring …

*     *     *

Finally … a judge in Oregon had the fortitude to give a drunk driver the sentence he deserved. True, he had to kill four people before he was sentenced to 43 years in prison, but a 47-year-old Carlton man, with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, will probably spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced by a judge in Pendleton.

The man, who was a pipefitter for an oil company, had four prior convictions for drunk driving, and was drinking a beer when he crashed into an oncoming vehicle.

It is believed to be the longest sentence ever handed down in an Oregon drunken-driving case.

It’s just too bad that it couldn’t have come after his fourth drunk-driving conviction.

Think of the lives that would have been saved.

*     *     *

I haven’t stopped in yet (because I gave up candy, cookies, cake and pie 15 months ago), but I understand that Coastal Mist has opened a little shop in the building, which is catty-corner from the visitor information center. They are well known for their wonderful chocolate delicacies, and it’s nice to know they have a storefront in Old Town. It’s the shop where the Gypsy Wagon used to be located, before Ilse moved to Baltimore Avenue, across from Thai Thai.

*     *     *

It’s nice to see new businesses opening up in Old Town, or long-time businesses adding a bit of innovation, like Jason Tree at Pacific Blues. He’s in the Continuum Center across from Bandon Baking Company on Second Street. Jason is offering wine by the glass and a nice assortment of cheeses and some wonderful stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer while you enjoy a glass of wine.

It’s a great way to taste something you haven’t had before … without having to buy a whole bottle. And, yes, he has them for sale if you find something that you really like. He’s taken out his clothing line, and added several small bistro tables and chairs. And I hear he’s staying open as long as he has customers.

*     *     *

Linda from Two Loons has been offering wall space in her popular deli for local artists to display their wares . . . and this month my photography happens to be featured. Although I have been best known for my scenes of the beach and lighthouse, I have hung a more diverse group of pictures, including one large framed shot of a rock and a gravel bar in the South Fork of the Coquille River, which is a real show stopper.

Recent artists have included Donna Cox and my sister, Molly Dufort, and, of course, Victoria Tierney, who has had many of her paintings hanging there in the past.

So you might want to stop in, have a wonderful lunch, and take a peek at my photos. How’s that for a shameful plug!!

*     *     *

I got a personal note from Adam Colby, the new county assessor, last week letting me know that it’s Bandon’s turn for the reappraisal of residential lands and improvements. So if you see an unfamiliar black car in your neighborhood, don’t be spooked, it’s just an appraiser looking over your property and your neighbor’s properties.

Approximately 2,300 properties will be reappraised, which include unimproved lots, single family dwellings, manufactured homes and condos.

When they were in mother’s neighborhood last week, one appraiser told her that many of the assessments will actually be going down … which will be good for the tax bills, but not good for entities, like the city of Bandon, that receive tax revenues.

Taxpayers are encouraged to call the assessor’s office at 396-3121, ext. 275, if they have questions.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

July 22, 2009

What does it mean to have your driver’s license permanently revoked? You probably think that the person won’t ever be driving again.

Not so.

All it means is that the driver will be notified by the state that he can never get an Oregon driver’s license again, but no one confiscates his vehicle, puts a chain around his ankle or attaches a device to his vehicle, which would keep him from being able to start it.

No, in Oregon, it means next to nothing.

But one 25-year-old Brookings man recently found out what it meant to get his fifth ticket for drunk driving. The courts had finally had enough of broken promises. The judge sentenced him to nearly two years in prison with two years’ post-prison supervision and fined him $5,000.

And once again, the judge suspended his driver’s license for life.

Cases like that make a mockery out of the law, which is worthless when people continue to drive with a suspended license . . . over and over again, even when they have been suspended for “life.” Often the life they end is someone else’s.

The deputy district attorney said the man was “probably one of the worst drunken drivers in Curry County.”

His attorney said his client “has an alcohol problem,” which could only be termed as a classic understatement.

But when this man gets out of prison, he undoubtedly once again will become a police problem – because it is unlikely that he will stop driving, or drinking.

*     *     *

But in this state (where “renewal requirements have changed”) try to get your driver’s license renewed … even though you’ve never had a drunk-driving ticket, or anything remotely close, in 55 years of driving.

That’s right, there are a slew of new rules in this state that you must comply with just to renew your driver’s license.

Since my 70th birthday is Aug. 5, I have already started gathering the documents I will need simply to renew my license.

“All” you need to renew your license is proof of your Social Security number, proof that you are a U.S. citizen, proof of your current full legal name, proof of your identity and date of birth, proof of your current residence address, and several other things including answering questions about medical conditions that may affect your driving ability.

What this state has done is to make it 10 times harder for the law-abiding citizen to renew his or her driver’s license … while, at the same time, there’s almost no penalty for the guy who’s been busted five times for DUII … or in the case of a 25-year-old Medford man, six times.

Some months ago a woman called me, crying, to describe what she’d gone through to get her license renewed … and she still hadn’t been successful, and her birthday had passed.

Now I understand what she meant. I should have listened closer, and my next call should have been to our state representatives.

We need to find out who got us into this mess?

*     *     *

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the TV announcer say that the Marcola school superintendent/elementary school principal had been arrested for soliciting prostitution in Springfield.

It seems that the 62-year-old educator was one of more than a dozen men who were busted when they propositioned “ladies of the night,” who just happened to be police officers.


If the man is found guilty, he will lose his teaching/administrative credentials. And my guess is he won’t be remaining in Oregon very long with that kind of a reputation.

Would you?

*     *     *

The Coquille Indian Tribe deserves a big “thank you” for the way they cleaned up City Park after their recent two-day restoration celebration. Matt sent out a couple of city employees to clean up on Monday morning … only to find that the place was neat as a pin. They’d even picked up every piece of straw from the ground.

We’re just hoping they won’t wait another 20 years before they return to Bandon to celebrate.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

July 15, 2009

To say that Don VanDyke and his sister, Ann, (who come from Coos Bay to film our council meetings once a month) love Bandon’s Thai Thai restaurant is the classic understatement.

They walked in Thursday carrying four large pots and pans. I wondered if they were returning pots that belonged to the restaurant . . . or maybe they had just stopped at a yard sale. I couldn’t figure it out. But it was simple: after they ate they planned to have each of the pots filled with more delicious Thai food to take home.

That’s what I call loyal customers.

But it was a note in the women’s restroom, on a chalkboard that they keep there for customers’ comments, which struck me. It said: “We love your food so much we decided to stay one more night in Bandon so we could eat here again.”

Another couple that I know (because they subscribe to the Myrtle Point Herald) drive to Bandon from Bridge at least twice a week … just for Thai food. I asked them why they didn’t just move here, and they said they would if they didn’t love their home in Bridge so much.

There are a lot of reasons to love Bandon … and our great restaurants are just one of them.

*     *     *

My boyfriend and I were sitting around the outdoor fire pit outside McKee’s Pub at Bandon Dunes a couple of weeks ago and, as usual, we struck up a conversation with a group of men, who were warming themselves after playing 46 holes (yes, two courses plus the 10 holes at Old MacDonald). I got tired just thinking about it.

The man sitting next to me identified himself as Peter Workman, owner of Workman Publishing of New York, which published “Dream Golf, The Making of Bandon Dunes,” the story of Michael Keiser and how he came to build three famous links-style golf courses just outside our little berg. The book jacket identifies the publisher as Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, which is a division of Workman Publishing.

Fortunately, I gave him my card, because this week I received a package at City Hall: a copy of Dream Golf, accompanied by a short note inviting me to enjoy the book . . . and “maybe give it as a gift to visitors of Bandon. (This, of course, is a shameless pitch.” The thing I love most about eating at the Pub is that you never know what famous person may be sitting next to you.

My dream would be to meet Arnold Palmer, who’s been there several times over the years … but not when I was there.

He pretty much gave up playing golf when he turned 80, but he’s still one of the real statesmen of the game.

*     *     *

Wow! I’m so popular. In the span of a few short days, my MSN account (which I’ve never had) was “suspended.” Egg Bank (which I’ve never heard of) sent me eight e-mails about my account; I’ve received three messages from customer service at someone purporting to be Bank of America (where I do bank) asking me to fill out a form so they could get all my personal information (and allow them to clean out my accounts).

Every time I hear of someone being scammed on the Internet, it just blows me away. How anyone who is smart enough to even find their way onto the Internet could fall for something so obvious is beyond me. It’s not like people aren’t warned repeatedly never to give out their personal information . . . on line, over the phone or through the mail . . . unless they initiate the contact. And still they fail to heed the warnings and fall victim to just one more unscrupulous scammer.

Lately I’ve been receiving e-mails from people who are in my address book. For example my good friend Judy Knox appeared to be touting the virtues of Acaia berries for weight loss. She assured me later that she hadn’t gone into the diet pill business, which I was sure was the case when I saw the content of the e-mail. The two that I received this week both used ComSpan as their server, so I don’t know if there is any correlation, or whether someone has hacked into my address book, but it’s a little disconcerting to receive these e-mails, which look so legitimate.

In the past, I’ve received e-mails, which are close to a name of someone in my address book, but never the exact address.

Until this week . . . and I’m not sure what it means. But it worries me.

*     *     *

I have a little update on the sign issue at the Channel House Restaurant that I wrote about last week. I drove by there several days after the paper came out, and there were cars parked all along in front of the restaurant (probably from the nearby vacation rental dwelling) and the red and white “No Parking” signs had been removed.

It looked so much better.

*     *     *

My friend and renowned bird photographer Airlee Owens sent me an e-mail, which is worth passing on. He had recently received an e-mail from a website operating as “,” formerly “,” where people supposedly can find old classmates.

It seems that he and his classmates, who are planning their 50-year reunion, had been looking for a long-lost classmate, Neil Jarvis, and the e-mail that he received from “” said they may have found his “lost friend” and named him. So Airlee paid the $30 fee, and then learned that MyLife actually knew nothing about Neil Jarvis.

“It would appear that they must have some kind of search machine accessing people’s e-mails and then luring them in for stuff like this,” Airlee said. “Interestingly enough they have a no-refund policy after joining; however, after I screamed at them, they decided to give me a refund. I asked the man with whom I spoke why they sent out false e-mails and he hung up on me. I then went to the FBI website and filed a complaint for Internet fraud.

Do not sign up for anything with this website. The folks are crooked,” said Airlee.

Thanks for the warning . . .

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

July 07, 2009

It was billed as a “Big Art Show,” and boy, was it ever. Crowds of people flocked into Bandon’s Harbortown Events Center Friday night to party, enjoy free food and wine, and to dance the night away to live music by Jim Sylvester and Friends (who turned out to be an eclectic group of very talented musicians), including Jim and his wife, Holly, long-time Western World reporter Steve McCasland and Catherine Riddick, wife of the hospital’s surgeon, Dr. Steve Riddick. There were several others, including a singer, identified only as Mary, and together they played songs we all knew – and loved.

And this party wasn’t just for adults, there were youngsters there as young as one and grandparents in their 80s, including the whole Dodrill clan.

Kirk and Elizabeth Day, owners of the Harbortown Center, which we old-timers remember fondly as Harbor Hall, hosted the event as a way to introduce local artists (including Kirk) to the community.

This was only the beginning of a big weekend for artists, as there were artists’ receptions at both Sage Gallery and at Southern Coos Hospital.

Throw in the Fourth of July weekend, the Dog Show, and a community full of people, and except for the fireworks, which were fogged out for only the second time in recent history, it was a fun weekend.

*     *     *

My intense dislike of gambling was heightened this week with the news that a former University of Oregon journalism student had been arrested for a series of robberies, many during which he terrorized his victims, who thought he was going to execute them.

Now you might have been able to understand his “second job” if he were paying for his college tuition (just joking, of course), but it was to help pay off his gambling debts. It appears that instead of studying, he was gambling on the Internet. Now there’s a real “losing” proposition as 60 Minutes so vividly revealed last week.

He was so brazen that he robbed Mazzi’s restaurant in south Eugene four times during his crime spree, which finally ended when restaurant patrons chased him down and helped police apprehend him.

This may well end his journalism career. Which is just as well. We don’t need people like him in the profession.

*     *     *

People sometimes remark on the fact that I don’t have as many wrinkles as a lot of soon-to-be 70-year-olds have, and, even though I secretly believe it has more to do with genetics than anything else, I tell them I never smoked and I never laid out in the sun (and part of that was because I weighed up to 180 pounds in high school and wasn’t apt to be seen in a bathing suit). I don’t always share that part.

So I had to laugh this week when one of the state’s major newspapers had a picture of three people lying alongside a riverbank with their smiling faces soaking up the hot sun. There were a couple of items lying alongside of them, but there was no sunscreen in sight.

But you know what was pretty visible (although my guess is the photographer didn’t see it): a package of cigarettes and a lighter.

So not only were these young women exposing their skin to hot, harmful rays, they were smokers.

This is not the photo that I, as an editor, would have chosen to herald the long, hot days of summer.

But I don’t recall them asking me ….

*     *     *

The Channel House restaurant, which has been closed for several years, has a “new look.” Someone has posted bright red “no parking” signs on all three (or maybe four) pillars across the front of the attractive building.

My guess is it is aimed at keeping people who are renting the beautiful old historic adjacent building, which has been turned into a lovely vacation rental, from parking there. That restaurant has been closed for at least three years, so why on earth anyone would mind if people parked there is beyond me. Not only are the signs ugly, but they are not very welcoming to anyone who might actually be considering buying that property. I can see why they might care if the restaurant were open, although I don’t ever recall that it was a problem, because most of the patrons parked along the sidewalk (in front of the VRD and the Coast Guard building) and no one put up a sign.

But that was then . . .and this is now.

My wish, and that of most merchants I know, is that someday we will actually have a parking problem again, and then we can address it.

But hopefully not with NO PARKING signs all over town.

*     *     *

I overheard people talking about the dog show, and wondering why they would have it on the Fourth of July weekend. My reply, and I’m sure I’m right, is that the dog show is always the first weekend in July – and this year it just happened to fall on the Fourth.

I heard the barking of a lot of unhappy dogs as people lined up along Ninth Street for the parade, and hindsight would say that the parade probably should have assembled in front of Ocean Crest or on Eleventh Street so that it didn’t disturb the dogs. But probably no one thought about it because it hasn’t been a problem in the past.

Then I read an article about how negatively dogs are affected by fireworks, and I wondered how they would fare with people setting off their personal (and oftentimes illegal) fireworks all over town.

Even though the city’s fireworks display was halted by the fog, it didn’t stop people from shooting off their own stash.

I haven’t heard whether the dog show was negatively affected by the fact that it was the Fourth of July weekend, but I hope they weren’t. And if they were, since the Fourth is on Sunday next year, they might want to reconsider which weekend they visit Bandon. Although the parade could probably change its assembly route, and the fireworks wouldn’t be a factor until most of them had probably left town, so maybe it wouldn’t be a problem after all.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

July 01, 2009

People ask me why I hardly ever drive my little black BMW convertible. It’s not that I don’t like to drive it, I do. But every time I look at my Honda SUV and see the large dents that have been put in there by careless people opening their door into my car, I just don’t want that to happen to my little car. It’s safer in the garage.

Last weekend, we watched a stray shopping cart roll across a parking lot and crash into a brand new, shiny gray convertible. There was nothing we could do but sit helplessly and watch it because we didn’t have time to grab it before it hit its mark. I did run over and see what damage had been done to the car, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been: just a couple of small scratches. I then pushed it away so that it wouldn’t hit anyone else’s car. You have to wonder what kind of a person would just leave a cart in the middle of a parking lot surrounded by other people’s cars … with a cart depository near by.

*     *     *

I can’t help but comment on the beautiful new cranberry red lettering on the arches leading into (and out of) Old Town. They are beautiful and are really inviting. They can be seen for a long distance and will most certainly make people want to visit Old Town. I also love the beautiful lighthouse (white) insignia that further enhances the new design.

*     *     *

Not long ago I received a press release at The Herald from The Oregon Lottery, about a speakers bureau for organizations, designed to provide “a wealth of information about the Lottery including its history, where Lottery profits go and how they are allocated, as well as the latest about Lottery games and winners.”

This came just about the time a Coquille woman had been charged with embezzling all of the Project Graduation money (and was the prime suspect in an armed robbery of a bank in Roseburg), the second in command at the Brookings Chamber of Commerce had been arrested for embezzlement, a Coquille police officer had stolen from the evidence locker… and the list goes on and on. Articles about each case pointed to one common thread: a gambling habit.

Instead of running the “news” item, I e-mailed the Oregon Lottery and told them exactly what I thought of the Lottery and gambling in general, and suggested that instead of a speakers bureau to tout the glamour of gambling, they needed to concentrate heavily on the problems caused by rampant addiction.

I did receive an answer from the contact person … a Larry Trott . . . who told me there is help available for people addicted to gambling, while at the same time telling me that his family used to live in Bandon.

He seemed nice enough, but it didn’t change my mind about gambling.

I have no problem with “social gambling,” but when it becomes a way of life, it is a serious issue. And more and more “white collar crime” is attributed to people’s addiction to gambling.

It’s obvious that Oregon will never do away with the Lottery since it depends so heavily on the receipts … but I can’t help feeling the state would have been better off had we never gone down that slippery slope …

*     *     *

Over the last 20 or 30 years, I have written hundreds of column items, but I don’t think I’ve ever received the positive feedback that I have gotten over Matt and Esther’s turtles. People have stopped me on the street, at the theater, at Thai Thai and anywhere else I’ve been to say how much they enjoyed that piece.

Maybe we all need a good laugh once in a while.

*     *     *

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about the practice of field burning in the valley, and none of it has favored the archaic practice. In fact, I was running for state representative back in 1988 and was on the freeway the day a 23-vehicle crash, caused by field burning in the Albany area, killed seven people and injured 38. Although I fortunately missed the crash, I can remember the terror of driving in that area … and not being able to see two feet in front of you.

Opponents of field burning have repeatedly pointed out the health dangers of the particle-filled smoke, which covers Albany and parts of Eugene. It seems obvious to me that this should have been outlawed many years ago, but the seed growers lobby is rich and powerful. People have been forced to stay inside their homes in the Eugene and Albany areas when the fields are being burned, and even then it’s hard to escape the toxic smoke.

Thankfully the Oregon Senate voted in favor of SB 528, which would effectively eliminate field burning after 2010. As I write this, the Oregon House had not voted; I can only hope that at least a few Republicans will join the Democrats and approve this much-needed legislation.

I was shocked to learn that Coos Bay Senator Joanne Verger was one of only two Democrats to vote against the bill. I immediately e-mailed her and said I would expect that from “our” Senator Jeff Kruse, but I certainly did not expect her to vote against such an important bill.

Her staff sent me a lengthy explanation. She said although most farmers no longer burn their fields, the 10 percent who do would be forced to till their land, which would create high volumes of dust and also dramatically increase the use of pesticides. (I doubt that the people of Eugene or Albany would have been impacted like they are from the smoke, but that’s just my opinion).

She felt it was important to balance “our environmental health and our economic welfare.”

I am sorry to say I cannot agree with her. It’s not just “environmental health” that was being compromised.

It was the health of thousands of people in the valley.

And that piece of legislation is long overdue.

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