As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 24, 2009

If you live in the area of the hospital and happen to see a pond turtle wandering around your neighborhood … he may be looking for Matt and Esther Winkel’s house.

Or, maybe not.

The Winkels recently purchased four pond turtles (for just under $100). They spent hours preparing their pond for the arrival of the new inhabitants. They even built up a little area so the turtles could sun themselves.

Last week, the turtles arrived and were quickly introduced to their new home, where they would live among the gold fish. But the next morning Matt and Esther noticed there were only three, but since there’s a lot of cover area, they were pretty sure the missing turtle was just resting under the vegetation.

The next morning there were two … and the next morning there was only one. They were still hoping the little guys (two six-inchers and two four-inchers) were somewhere in the pond. But the fourth morning, they went out and discovered there were no longer any turtles . . . and they looked up at the hillside just in time to see their fourth turtle heading south.

Then Matt remembered that he’d been on his way to a meeting a couple of nights earlier when he saw a woman stop on 11th, get out of her car, pick something out of the roadway and put it in the ditch. Now he realizes it was probably the first of their turtles heading to points unknown.

It probably won’t do you any good to call Matt if you do find one … because the turtles have made it pretty plain that they don’t plan to hang around the Winkel’s pond.

They were obviously looking for something better …

*     *     *

Matt’s been meeting regularly with Denise Hunter of the Coquille Indian Tribe, who is coordinating the Tribe’s 20th Year Restoration Day celebration this weekend in Bandon. He’s been advised that the event, which will be held in Bullards Beach State Park, at the Port of Bandon boat basin and Bandon City Park, could bring anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 people into the community.

Add that to the state’s biggest annual amateur golf tournament, the Oregon Amateur, which is behind hosted by Bandon Dunes from Wednesday through Saturday, and you could see a lot of new faces around town. Now let’s hope the weather doesn’t let us down like it did this weekend for the PGA US Open, held on the Black course at Bethpage in New York, which was inundated with rain and delayed the finish until Monday.

It was also good news to learn that the U.S. Amateur Public Links championships, for both men and women, will be held at Bandon Dunes June 27-July 2 in 2011.

*     *     *

Another important event, which is being held this weekend, is a walk to raise money for BHS graduate and former track star Katie Phillips Burke, 24, who is battling breast cancer. She’s the daughter of Jerry and Sheryl Phillips. The event will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the high school track.

Another benefit, sponsored by the Ford Family Foundation Leadership Institute, is a golf scramble and corn hole tournament for the Bandon Community Garden, set for Sunday, July 5, at the Old Bandon Golf Links (formerly Face Rock Golf Course). For more information people can call Breanna Heim Quattrocchi at 404-7834, or talk with Sherry McGrath at her design business in Old Town.

*     *     *

There’s a lot going on this weekend, and from what I’ve heard the Bandon Playhouse production of “Witness for the Prosecution” is truly great. I plan to go Friday night. Myra Lawson told me at church Sunday that she was really impressed … particularly with the role played by Paul Hay. Paul and his family have been in quite a few productions in the past couple of years, but Myra said he was really great in “Witness.” And I’m really looking forward to seeing it. It’s on the Sprague Theater stage Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 p.m.

*     *     *

I seem to get more than my share of spam, and in the last three days, I have received 10 messages from Bank of America, Chase, Chase Bank and JP Morgan Chase Bank. Of course, none of those were the real thing, but they were hoping that if I had an account at one of those entities (which I do), I would fill out the requested customer form (which I wouldn’t).

My reward would probably have been the emptying of my accounts.

They never give up …

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 17, 2009

For years Eugene has been heralded as a great place to live. People flocked there because it was a beautiful college town with progressive, forward-thinking people and a great sports program.

Unfortunately the once positive image of the state’s third-largest city is fading, and it now has one of the highest per-capita crime rates in the state. And much of it is because often-times even violent offenders are pushed through the revolving door that was once known as the Lane County Jail.

Three members of the Lane County Commission have patently refused to spend the money that it would take to reopen 84 beds in the jail. Meanwhile hundreds of criminals are turned loose without having to serve a day for their crime.

A group of people have started a petition drive to get the commissioners to reconsider their decision. The proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” came when the commissioners voted not to fund the jail beds … but agreed to spend thousands of dollars for additional staff for themselves.

True, a lot of those who are being turned away from jail are “just” car thieves, burglars, etc.

That may not sound like a big deal . . .

Until it’s your home that has been violated.

*     *     *

Thursday was a gorgeous day in Bandon. You know … one of those seemingly rare summer days when there’s no north wind and you can sit out in the yard in shorts. And that was the day the Bandon Chamber chose to have its ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Old Bandon Golf Links on Beach Loop Drive to welcome Troy and Kim Russell to the business community.

It was a grand event, made even more special by the fact that Bandon High School graduate Brendan Fisher, who has just completed culinary school, is the course chef, and he served up some wonderful food. He’s the son of Paul Fisher and Corrie Gant, and even his grandfather, George Gant, was in attendance.

I could have snacked all day on his asparagus wrapped with prosciutto, and the best salmon patties I’ve ever tasted. Before trays of food were brought out, we could taste a number of different varieties of Beecher cheese, from the Seattle-based company, which features Brad Sinko (son of Karen and Joe Sinko and a former Bandon resident) as the head cheesemaker.

We all went out to the tee box on the first hole to do the official ribbon cutting and even non-golfers were impressed with the new look of the course.

Kim and Troy have big plans for the course, and are even planning to offer croquet for people who don’t play golf.

There’s a lot happening out there …

*     *     *

I read a very powerful column in The Denver Post last week titled “Words matter in language of hate.” It talked about the senseless killing of a well-known abortion doctor, Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered in a Kansas church, where he was serving as an usher.

Apparently I am not the only one appalled by what I refer to as “hate radio” and “hate TV,” where commentators like Bill O’Reilly, Lars Larsen and Rush Limbaugh spew their hatred over the air waves. It’s no wonder people are flamed to violence when they hear someone like O’Reilly who referred to Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” on his TV show.

The columnist points out that O’Reilly later tried to distance himself, saying he was only repeating what others have said. But the columnist, Mike Littwin, advised people to see for themselves by going to, a Pulitzer-prize winning fact checker at the St. Petersburg Times.

The man who spoke at Tiller’s funeral blamed “35 years of rabid anti-abortion harassment, hate rhetoric, violence and intimidation.”

Later he was asked if there was a link between the death of Tiller and the death of a Holocaust museum guard, and he replied:

“There is a link … it’s hatred.”

*     *     *

Last Tuesday night, city councilors and others were invited by Allison Hundley to join the dedicated group of volunteers, who provide a hot meal every Tuesday night for anyone who cares to join them. They are officially known as EAT (Everyone At Table), and the group was celebrating its fifth birthday – with a special dinner of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings.

They meet Tuesday evenings at 5:30 at The Barn, where people can not only enjoy a special home-cooked meal, but they can make new friends.

It is a very dedicated group of people who have provided this meal week in, week out for five years.

And they deserve a big round of applause.

*     *     *

I’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, which by now are probably over, but one thing that really gets to me is the content of the commercials, which are often giving us a preview of one violent film or the next that is coming our way soon.

The best way to handle that is to immediately hit the mute button … but it was what happened late in the fourth game, with the Lakers clearly having won in overtime that made me realize that violence wasn’t just confined to the commercials.

There were only a couple of seconds left when the Lakers Pau Gasol stretched high for an uncontested lay-up and was slugged in the back with both fists by Orlando’s Mickael Pietrus. Because of what was said on the court after the “assault,” both men were slapped with technicals, and Pietrus was called for a flagrant foul.

I know that if a player gets a certain number of technicals, he is thrown out of the game and must sit out the next game.

But in the case of Pietrus, he should have been thrown out immediately and not allowed to play in Game 5 – no matter the number of technicals he had.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 10, 2009

I’ve prided myself lately for avoiding any foodstuff that comes from China. Or at least, I thought I had. I was making my favorite Tex-Mex bean dish the other night with several cans of “Natural Directions” organic dark red kidney beans. There’s a big green and white sticker on the front of the can that says “USDA organic.” Now, don’t you suppose that means United States Department of Agriculture? Well, at least I thought it did. But no sooner had I added the beans into the pan along with four other cans did I notice the tiny lettering on the top of the can “product of China.”

I was furious.

When you buy an organic product, with the USDA stamp on it, you don’t expect that it came from China.

Natural Directions is a new brand being carried by at least one local store, and although most of their cans don’t carry the “China” stamp, some of them do.

All I am saying is watch out. If you’re like I am, and others that I know, who are determined to eat as healthily as possible, you may want to inspect each can with a magnifying glass to look for that all-too-prevalent “made in China” or “product of China” slogan before you buy it.

And then put it back on the shelf.

*     *     *

I probably say this every year but it seems that we’re having some pretty unusual weather for June. Last week, while our inland neighbors were basking in unseasonably warm weather, we were fogged in. Then we were “treated” to a number of thunder storms and one pretty good windstorm. Then we had four more days of overcast weather.

My friends from Powers, Phyllis (Pullen) Stevens and her husband, Ken, who married 60 years ago this month a week after Phyllis graduated from Bandon High School, gathered their three children, spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to spend last weekend in Bandon to celebrate their anniversary.

And, as you already know, the sun never shone. Most of them left Sunday morning, but I did see Kayleen Hofsess (daughter of Phyllis and Ken), and her daughter and granddaughter as they were leaving town around noon.

And, wouldn’t you know it, about five minutes after they drove out of town, the sun burst out of the clouds.

I’m sure by the time they got home to Powers, it was warm and sunny. And I won’t bother to tell them that the sun really did come out Sunday afternoon.

I don’t think they’d believe me.

*     *     *

I heard some Republicans in Congress tearing apart a proposed national health plan that is being considered, and one of their concerns was that people would have to wait to get medical treatment. I don’t know what planet they’re on, but I know many, many people who wait – sometimes until it’s too late – to see a doctor because they can’t afford it.

And I’ve been hearing story after story of people who have used their life savings because of a medical emergency … and now they are losing their homes to foreclosure.

Surely, the two parties can put aside their differences long enough to fight the insurance companies, drug companies, etc., long enough to fix our pathetic, broken health care system.

But don’t bank your life savings (if you have any left) on it.

*     *     *

I was never a big fan of Washington Mutual bank, but somehow I doubt that Chase will be much better. I watched a TV commercial Friday night, which went something like this: “Welcome to Chase – a bank that’s there for you.”

My thoughts immediately turned to the letter that I had received that day pertaining to my Chase credit card, which I had used for many years. Ironically I had borrowed a large sum early in the year to make a down payment on a house (after learning that the tax liability for using my small annuity would be prohibitive).

Thanks heavens I now owe them the sum total of $50, because they wanted to warn me that effective with my July statement the purchase APR would be 14.99%, plus the prime rate, which would mean an interest rate of 18.24 percent on current and future purchases.

Before I received that letter my interest rate had been 13.99 percent … and I thought that was high.

At least the “robber barons” were up-front in their reasons for the huge increase in the rate: “in response to market conditions and to maintain profitability on your account.”

They won’t have to worry about making a profit on my account, because any time I use it from here on out, it will be paid the day I receive the statement.

Another irony is that in the last couple of weeks I have received at least three letters from them (containing numerous cash-advance checks) saying that they noticed that I had recently paid down my account and they wanted to be sure to get me to further indebt myself . . . days before they nearly doubled the interest rate.

And to think that the government has used billions of our dollars to bail out businesses like these.

That’s pretty frightening.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 03, 2009

We all remember several years ago when a new state law, designed to lessen the number of meth labs in Oregon, made it impossible to get cold or allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine over the counter.

You have to go to a doctor to get a prescription before you can purchase what we used to buy over the counter. And a doctor’s appointment doesn’t come cheap, particularly for those of us on Medicare, without insurance or with a high deductible. And that doesn’t even take into account the cost of the “prescription.”

I pontificated back then that the only people it would hurt would be the honest citizens who simply wanted a good cold medicine.

And it appears that’s the case.

The state released drug-death numbers for each of the counties . . . and, guess what, as one headline put it, “meth fuels rise in Oregon drug-related deaths.” Not only have meth deaths not gone down, or even stayed the same, they have increased pretty dramatically in Oregon.

Statistics for 2008 showed a huge (45 percent) jump in meth-related deaths, a small increase in heroin-related deaths, and a slight drop in cocaine-related deaths, for an 8 percent rise overall, to 229 drug-related deaths last year in Oregon.

Dr. Karen Gunson, the Oregon State Medical examiner, said meth-related deaths have more than doubled over the last seven years.

She added that a review of other drug deaths is now revealing prescription drug overdoses actually outnumbered illicit drug deaths in some cases (led by methadone and oxycodone).

That statement alone tells me that making pseudoephedrine a drug that required a prescription didn’t do one iota of good in combating the ever-increasing meth problem in the state.

It just cost you and me a trip to the doctor for our cold meds.

*     *     *

The front-page article in Western World last week about the Welcome to Bandon sign being installed at the south end of town generated quite a bit of controversy. It’s important to keep in mind that the funds came out of the city’s beautification fund, and the parks and recreation committee has been budgeting a small amount each year for quite a few years in order to put up the sign.

Several people that I talked to suggested that we take the garbage franchise money (which is where the beautification fund comes from) and put it into the general fund to help pay for a police officer.

The franchise fees generate about $33,000 a year and, of that amount, $25,000 goes to maintain the landscaping at City Hall, Visitors’ Center, Fire Memorial, Alabama parking lot, Second Street landscaping, Pedway, Fillmore Avenue landscaping and the 11th Street triangles at City Park.

Can you imagine the outcry from people if we suddenly decided to stop spending money on maintaining any of those areas?

Tourism is very important to Bandon, and one of the least-expensive and most important things we do is beautify the area. And I for one wish we could do more. The beautification money has paid for the beautiful cranberry red benches that you see around town, but one of their big projects was the Welcome sign.

Anyone who attended either of our two budget committee meetings would be able to see the larger picture of Bandon’s budget, where the general fund money comes from and where those dollars go. I hope some of you got to view Matt’s budget message and the discussion on Channel 14.

Because we have such a small property tax rate (46 cents a thousand), we have to depend on other sources of revenue for the general fund (where police, fire and planning are paid for) including the utility tax and part of the revenue from the Transient Occupancy Tax.

Do we wish we had a $7.99 per thousand tax rate like Myrtle Point, Powers and other communities around us? You bet!! But we’re stuck with the hand that the legislature (and the voters through a statewide initiative) dealt us, and we have to do the best we can.

It appears that we will definitely have to ask the voters to support a public safety levy to help fund the police department, but hopefully it will be only a small levy.

It’s the general fund where we’re having a problem, but diverting important beautification money from citywide landscaping is not the answer, nor is the revenue enough to really make a difference.

*     *     *

I’d almost forgotten about my recent seatbelt ticket, issued to me by a state police officer, who decided this was the town to catch seatbelt violators. I sent in my $97 without a whimper. I didn’t write a note, appear in court or anything else. I just sent in my money and told myself that I would never again get into a car without putting on my seatbelt.

So you can imagine my surprise last week when I received a letter in the mail from the Coos County Circuit Court. My first reaction was: “Oh no, not jury duty!” (Not that I wouldn’t love to serve on a jury, but since I pretty much do all the writing, editing, police, editorials, etc., for The Herald newspaper, it’s pretty much impossible for me to be gone either Tuesday or Wednesday).

No, it was a check for $23. They were returning part of my “bail money.”

I could understand if I had sent in a “sob story” about how I was innocent . . . it was the first time I’d ever gone without a seatbelt . . . I was on my way to the hospital . . . etc., but I didn’t.

I guess they figured I needed it worse than they did.

Or maybe they appreciated the fact that I didn’t try to make up some phony excuse as to why I was stupid enough to drive without my seatbelt.

previous columns by mary schamehorn