As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 29, 2011

I remember when I served on the City Council back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. We were led to believe that Bandon’s population would be escalating fairly rapidly.

But Bandon, like other communities in this area, was hit with a dose of reality after the 2010 Census.

Our population was lower than previously estimated. The 2010 Census count for Bandon showed a total population of 3,066 as of April 1, 2010. This is significantly less than last year’s July 1, 2010, estimate of 3,275 people from the Portland State University Population Research Center.

Based on the Census figures, Bandon actually grew over the last 10 years by only 233 people, representing an increase of 8.2 percent above the 2000 Census count of 2,833.

City Manager Matt Winkel said the lower than previously estimated number was not unexpected, since the population estimates consider building permit activity among other factors, and much of that activity in Bandon was related to second homes, speculative building, and subdivisions, much of which remains unoccupied.

And we all know that empty houses help no one … the owners, the local businesses, the neighbors or the people who financed them.

*           *           *

I so often read about Oregon being such a “green” state, and yet I do not believe we have any vehicle emission standards. Or, if we do, no one enforces them. It is so frustrating to be driving behind a vehicle that is spewing black smoke into the atmosphere and into all the cars in its vicinity.

I read recently that vehicle emissions were a big health risk … particularly for people with compromised immune systems or respiratory problems.

If that’s the case, they’d better move to a state with better emission standards than Oregon appears to have … which is virtually none.

*           *           *

It’s not often that you get to talk with people from Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and Kansas all in a period of a few hours. And if I’d been a bit more adventuresome, I could probably have talked to someone from just about every part of the country.

It’s not hard to guess where I was.

I was invited to the reception and dinner Saturday night hosted by the United States Golf Association at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort for the players taking part in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships and their families.

The invitation said the event would be in the main lodge hospitality tent.

Believe me, you’ve never seen a tent like this. Actually, resort manager Hank Hickox told me it was four 250-people tents put together to make one giant tent capable of hosting a sit-down dinner for 1,000 people.

The food was scrumptious (salmon, pork tenderloin and chicken) topped off by fresh strawberry shortcake.

It was impressive to hear people talk about the four links-style golf courses, which have brought fame to Bandon Dunes. One man called them four of the top golf courses in the country.

In the food line I talked with a man from Kentucky, who had never been to this part of the country, and he was impressed with the beauty. Another man, from Kansas, accompanied his daughter to the tournament. They flew into Portland and drove to Bandon. He was so impressed that he was considering moving here.

I was seated at a table with Julie Miller, Cathy Underdown and Johnna Hickox … along with two men from Texas, both of whom were accompanying golfers (one was his son; the other was the son of a good friend). Outside of a few local sponsors (including the Cardas family and the Hardins) there weren’t that many local people at the dinner. At least I didn’t see many, but the space was large and I probably didn’t see everyone.

There were a large number of people from the USGA on hand for the event, all smartly dressed in their dark jackets with the USGA insignia. Several spoke, including Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser, who is the quiet, unassuming man behind the dream.

This is the largest of the three tournaments (Curtis Cup and Mid Am) hosted by Bandon Dunes and it’s not hard to see why they have become such a desirable location for championships of this nature.

They do a terrific job.

A number of local people hosted golfers in their homes and I understand that Jim and Carrie Wathen hosted someone with a well-known relative: Tiger Woods’ niece. I read about her several months ago and I guess she is a top-notch golfer.

I can’t wait to see the championships carried live on the Golf Channel Thursday, Friday and Saturday (see the schedule in last week’s Western World).

This is such a wonderful opportunity to showcase our beautiful area.

*           *           *

This spring has been particularly wet, and very hard on my rose bushes. So I was curious just how many roses there would actually be at the Southwestern Oregon Rose Society’s annual rose show at Harbortown Events Center.

It’s obvious there are a lot of people in this area who know a lot more about growing roses than I do.

There were some of the most beautiful and most fragrant roses that I had ever seen … all in one place.

One of the Society members said this was the first year the show had been held outside of Pony Village, and they were thrilled with the amount of people who stopped by during the afternoon to view the beautiful displays.

Ed Kreutzer, a member of the Coos County Fair Board, lives outside of Myrtle Point where he and his wife, Mary Anne, tend over 700 rose bushes. The Kreutzers had about 150 entries in the show.

Corrine Clifton, who works at Tiffany’s and lives in the Seven Devils area, is an expert in how to grow roses in this area, and she shared some information with interested people at the show.

I understand they plan to make Bandon the home of their annual show, which is good news for those of us who love roses.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 22, 2011

We’ve all been waiting a long time for Lloyd’s to open, and believe me it definitely is worth the wait. Janice and Jonathan opened Wednesday, without fanfare, and they’ve been busy ever since.

Lloyd’s has long been the anchor tenant of Old Town, and it’s seemed strange to have the big building, right in the center of Old Town, closed for nearly two years (or maybe longer, but who’s counting).

The “new” Lloyd’s is sparking clean, with beautiful wooden floors, dark red ceiling tile and the rustic look of a Scottish Pub.

I was so disappointed to see a bad review in the local Kid’s News. It doesn’t say who wrote it or when, but it must have been the day they opened or the next day. It reads like a youngster wrote it because I’m sure no adult would have been so negative about a place that has drawn such rave reviews. I hope people take that with the proverbial “grain of salt,” and try the food for themselves. I also hope that paper doesn’t try to sell them an ad …..

I was sitting at the counter when some people from Minnesota came up to pay their bill and they absolutely raved about the place. The next couple to come up to the counter were Bob and Ruth Elliott, who, like me, have been here “forever,” and they were so happy that Lloyd’s was back.

Old Town, like most places, has been struggling with the downturn in the economy, and I think having Lloyd’s open will bring back the “old crowd” and a lot of new people, too, which will be a shot in the arm for the business community. They are opening the bar Saturday night, with Sly & Co. providing the music.

Bandon is fortunate to have so many good restaurants and two top-notch sports bars. I recently mentioned McFarlin’s as a good place to watch the upcoming golf tournament, being hosted by Bandon Dunes, but there’s another place in Bandon to watch just about any sporting event you could imagine – and that is the Boar’s Nest Sports Bar at Billy Smoothboar’s just south of town.

Dan says they have eight TVs, and every sports channel offered by Direct TV, including Golf channel, Speed channel, NFL channel, hockey, Fox Sports channels, and all the ESPN channels.

This place is the sportsman’s dream.

*           *           *

Bandon lost one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known last week. Steve Underdown, who died of Mesothelioma, was one of those rare people … that everyone loved. Everyone who knew him counted him as a friend. The loss of their father is going to be particularly hard on the twins, Darby and Max, who are in junior high. I can only imagine how the whole family is suffering, but Cathy and the twins have many friends who will continue to be there for them.

*           *           *

The planning commission is holding a hearing Thursday night (June 23) on a series of changes to the zoning ordinance that could affect the property of most people … particularly if they live on small lots in the East Bandon area. Sideyard setbacks are currently 13 feet (with a minimum of five feet on one side); the recommendation is to make them 10 feet on both sides for a total of 20 feet. That would mean that you could not build anything in the setback.

There are also other changes that could affect people’s properties, and if you want to know more about it, you should attend the meeting.

*           *           *

Oregon now has the strictest standard for toxic water pollution in the nation. So says a headline in the Oregonian, which was picked up by, an online site that alerts elected officials to what is happening in states and cities across the country.

The new rules were adopted on a 4-1 vote by Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission. The rules are designed to protect tribal members and others who eat large amounts of contaminated fish.

The changes, which drew thousands of public comments, dramatically tighten human health criteria for more than 100 pollutants, including mercury, flame retardants, PCBs, dioxins, plasticizers and pesticides.

The dissenting vote came from Jane O’Keeffe, a cattle rancher and former Lake County commissioner.

She said the new rule could end up costing millions while doing little to improve water quality.

The article points out that the new consumption standards reduce allowable levels of 113 contaminants, which could boost costs for industries such as paper mills and for municipal sewage treatment plants, increasing sewer rates.

Small communities are already spending millions to reach the already strict standards … and it’s the customers who are paying the bill.

Right now, Myrtle Point, Powers, Coquille, Port Orford and Reedsport are facing multi-million dollar upgrades to their sewage treatment plants.

And it’s anybody’s guess how the average consumer will be able to afford their sewer and water rates.

Yes, the city council just increased our sewer rates, but compared to others in the area – and across the state – ours are extremely reasonable.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 15, 2011

I was talking to a friend the other day and was lamenting the fact that we had had such a cold, wet spring. She said it was no worse than any other year and, in fact, she didn’t think it was that bad. Wow, I thought, I wonder where she’s been.

This week I went on the website to check out conditions in Powers before I drove up for the townwide garage sale on Saturday and discovered an article titled “Wet and Cold Northwest.”

It bore out exactly what I thought.

“Although there were some signs of La Nina in the Pacific Northwest, it didn’t fully reveal itself until spring 2011. One of the wettest March through May periods on record in the region.”

It was also one of the coldest March through May periods on record.

“For the states of Washington and Oregon, spring 2011 falls into their top ten coldest springs on record. Oregon and Montana both recorded their second wettest month of May on record.”

And we all know how long people have been tracking the weather.

Let’s just hope this isn’t an emerging pattern.

Earlier I had read something that said we might have wetter and colder springs and summers for the next 20 years. Yes, you read that right, 20 years. So while our neighbors in the East and the South are baking, we will save money on sun screen.

Every time I complain, people remind me that we could be having hurricanes, tornadoes and floods … and I consider myself lucky (as I brush off the raindrops).

*           *           *

I know that no one wants to talk about “breed specific” legislation concerning dogs, but the elephant in the room continues to be police activity involving one breed: pit bulls.

Within a period of a couple of hours Saturday, the sheriff’s office received two calls about dogs … both involving pit bulls. One was on Cape Arago Highway where a woman advised that she had hit a pit bull with her vehicle and three of them came at her vehicle. The SO turned her over to the state police for the accident and dog control for the dog problem.

An hour and a half later someone from King Lane in Myrtle Point called about a pit bull in their yard.

The City Council recently received a copy of the dog committee report which indicates that people often can’t get homeowner’s insurance if they own a certain breed of dog. It didn’t elaborate as to which dogs they were addressing, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

I know pit bulls aren’t the only breed of dog that is hard to insure, but my guess is they are “number one.”

I had one woman tell me that cocker spaniels bite people more often than pit bulls. That may be true, but you seldom see an account of a cocker spaniel killing a child, another animal or making it into the police report.

*           *           *

I was mowing two of our properties last week in what had become some pretty deep and wet grass. I did it in segments and mowed out by the highway first, along with the small patch in front of the cottage. Then I returned later to do the part in front of the big house, only to find that the lawnmower was missing and didn’t seem to be running nearly as well as it had that morning. I decided to call my boyfriend (the king of lawn mowing) who was fighting fire in North Carolina. I thought he could listen to the lawnmower and figure out what was going on. I called him first and then he told me to start the lawnmower and call him back, which I did (or at least I thought I did).

But, apparently as I dialed his number, Matt Winkel called me to come down to City Hall and sign a few checks. I guess I pressed send/receive (same button) and instead of calling my boyfriend, Matt’s call was answered to the screech of a lawnmower and nothing else.

I mistakenly thought no one was on the other end of the line, so I hung up and called my boyfriend again … and he basically told me to turn the lawn mower off. (Whew, that got me out of mowing the rest of the lawn.)

But a couple of hours later Matt called me again and said “where in the world have you been? Were you in a helicopter?” It was then that I realized I had “played” my noisy, malfunctioning lawnmower for him, without realizing it. I laughed and told him what happened.

I’m not sure he believed me, but who could make up a story like that?

*           *           *

Last month I wrote a big, front-page story in the Herald about the medical marijuana “business” and the dispensaries that were opening across the county … including in downtown Myrtle Point. I interviewed both the MP police chief and the city manager, who advised me that there was nothing they could do since dispensaries were legal in Oregon as long as they didn’t make a profit. But our police chief, Bob Webb, had a different spin (and, as it turns out, the correct one) on the law and said he would not allow one to open inside the city limits of Bandon … although there was one out on 42S (they are identified by the red cross on the wall or door).

That all came to a screeching halt last week when the U.S. Attorney and district attorneys, sheriffs and police chiefs from across Oregon (including Coos County DA Paul Frasier) sent out a letter putting businesses on notice that selling marijuana for any purpose – including medical purposes – violates both Federal and Oregon law.

It wasn’t long before the guy who had opened his shop in Myrtle Point was seen carrying everything out of the store, which was then closed.

He told one of the Herald’s employees that he had received the “cease and desist” notice … and he definitely took it to heart.

The notice said: People and businesses that conduct sales of marijuana face the risk of prosecution, civil enforcement action, and seizure of assets.”

If they want to make it legal, make it legal and tax it just like they do alcohol and cigarettes, but don’t turn thousands and thousands of perfectly healthy people into “patients” so they can buy it “legally.”

Or at least they could until last week …..

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 08, 2011

It’s been 48 years since a Bandon High School baseball team has made it to the state championship game, and although our guys didn’t win, they certainly had a wonderful season.

I attended both of the playoff games here at home, and I’ve never seen so many people at a Bandon baseball game. The weather was perfect for both games and people were thoroughly enjoying themselves – especially since we were winning.

It seems like only yesterday when the 1963 Bandon Tigers, led by the superb pitching of the late John Conrad, the sports editor of the Eugene Register-Guard who died several years ago in his mid-50s, made it to the state championship game. In those days I seldom missed a sporting event of any kind and I always loved to watch John pitch.

Three members of the 1963 team (Mickey Peters, Dewey Kiefer and Bill Smith) were at the playoff game in Bandon last Tuesday. Dewey and Bill were freshmen and Mick was a senior back in 1963. Bill recalls that Mick got one of the only two hits in their 1-0 loss to McKenzie in the championship game.

“Our pitcher, John Conrad, gave up his first earned run of the year (an amazing accomplishment). Too bad we couldn’t get John a couple of runs; he deserved it,” said Smith.

Conrad was honored recently when the press box at the new University of Oregon baseball field was named in his honor.

*           *           *

I’m not sure what it takes to get a person’s driver’s license re-evaluated … but apparently driving in the wrong lane of traffic, with a logging truck heading straight toward you, is not enough.

A recent item in the sheriff’s log was about an elderly woman, who was driving in the wrong lane of traffic. She seemed confused as to where she was. The deputy knew the woman and quickly asked her to move into the west bound lanes “as a multitude of traffic was coming fast in the east bound lanes, one of which was a log truck.” The officer followed her home to her RV and contacted the woman’s daughter. The narrative on the log said: ‘The family will intervene and will call if they need her driver’s license re-evaluated. Nothing further by this sergeant.” I wonder what it would take to REQUIRE that her driver’s license be re-evaluated before she dies in a head-on collision. But I guess we’ll read about that later.

*           *           *

One of my favorite governing web sites recently carried an article titled “On average, governors’ salaries show decline in pay.”

I was curious as to how Oregon’s governor would fare on the list, and I learned that his salary is the fourth lowest ($93,600) in the country. The U.S. average is $130,595. The two states that border Oregon, Washington and California, pay their governors much higher salaries. The salary for the governor of California is $173,987 and for the state of Washington, it’s $166,891.

The only states who pay their governor less than Oregon are Colorado, Arkansas and Maine.

New York tops the list with a salary of $179,000, followed by Illinois ($177,500) and Michigan ($177,000).

*           *           *

It will be interesting to see who prevails: Australia or the cigarette makers. They have unveiled draft laws banning logos and branding from tobacco packaging … the first government in the world to take such a stance. The article was accompanied by the proposed package, which would be dominated by graphic warnings: “Smoking causes mouth and throat cancer” with a particularly graphic picture.

The Health Minister of Australia is quoted as saying: “This plain packaging sends a clear message that the glamour is gone. Cigarette packs will now only show the death and disease that can come from smoking.”

I haven’t seen an update on this legislation, but I am sure the cigarette companies will spend millions to stop it.

*           *           *

I never realized how much I depend on my computer – and email … until I had to “live” for two days without it last week. Sometime last Tuesday my computer started doing very strange things, and no matter what I did I could not get rid of the “security file” which spread across my desktop, usually with nothing more than a pitch black square. I had just clicked on an email from someone I know when the security file came up, and from that point on, I could hardly do anything. And it kept saying I had different “worms” and viruses, including several which pointed to a proxy server.

It appears that someone had been using our unsecured router for their own personal use, and from what I could gather by the “worms” and viruses, it wasn’t good. At any rate, Takashi Haruna came over Wednesday morning and took my computer to his shop, and it wasn’t until Thursday night that I got it back.

I don’t know how many times I headed for my office during those two days to check on my email, only to realize that although my monitor was here … my hard drive wasn’t.

One of my problems, which Takashi pointed out, was that I was using the free version of AVG as my virus protection … instead of Norton, which he absolutely recommends.

I now have Norton installed, all the worms and viruses gone, a router protected by a password, and a computer that runs like new.

It wasn’t cheap … but it was well worth it to have my trusty “friend” back home.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

June 01, 2011

I’d heard bits and pieces about the U.S. Amateur Public links “Pub Links” championships that are scheduled to be held at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort later this month, but I didn’t realize how many people will be coming to Bandon because of this event. Well at least we hope they come into town. Nancy Evans is spearheading a “Bandon’s Season Opener Week” to coincide with this big tournament. The Chamber of Commerce has put out some information that clearly defines who the some 1,700 people are that are expected to arrive here for the week-long event (June 24-July 2).

Competitors and their families are coming from all parts of the country, and the players, parents, friends and caddies are expected to number more than 300 people. Another 150+ USGA officials, staff, committee and spouses will be on hand for the tournament, along with 100+ Golf Channel affiliates, 200 volunteers and gallery spectators.

Bandon Dunes has invited the Chamber to operate the concierge desk located in their main lobby. There information on Bandon and the surrounding area will be provided by chamber volunteers. They will also be providing packets of community information to the three motels (Bandon Inn and Best Western Inn at Face Rock in Bandon and Edgewater Inn in Coos Bay) where many of the people will be staying.

For the first time, the Men’s and Women’s Championships are being conducted simultaneously and broadcasted on live national television. As a top tier amateur event, the champions are invited to participate in future championships such as The Masters and U.S. Women’s Open.

The Golf Channel will have live broadcasts Thursday and Friday, June 30 and July 1, from 3:30 to 5:30 PT and on Saturday, July 2, from noon to 2 p.m. If you’re not out on the course as a spectator, you may want to head for McFarlin’s sports bar if you don’t get the golf channel on your TV.

Businesses are urged to stop by the Chamber office and pick up an official welcome sign for their window. These signs will be available the week of June 9. If you want to volunteer, you can contact Suzanne Andrews at 541-347-5991 or log on to

Now if the weatherman will just cooperate ….

*           *           *

For the second time in a little more than a month, we’ve “dodged the bullet” from what could have been a tremendously serious accident. The first, as I wrote about several weeks ago, was the elderly Bandon man who suffered a fatal heart attack while driving through town. His vehicle crossed over the sidewalk, went between a group of parked cars and smashed into the end of a building. It could have been much, much worse.

Wednesday morning, as I was heading up the Highway 101 hill out of town, I was detoured onto June Avenue and around the intersection of Highway 101 and 42 near the Bandon Shopping Center.

A large semi, loaded with huge 10,000 pound spools of cable, was headed south through the traffic light toward town when his load shifted, causing the truck to turn over. The spools spilled onto the highway and the overturned truck covered all four lanes of traffic. Had anyone been on the sidewalk in front of the furniture store (where one of the spools landed) or alongside the truck or in either of the other lanes, they would certainly have been killed instantly.

This happened just before 8 a.m. on a busy week day, and I, for one, was glad I had not decided to leave town a few minutes early that morning.

It’s not surprising that something like this happened considering the way people roar through that intersection (too fast I guess to see the speed zone signs).

truck loaded with spools of cable rolled over

*           *           *

I’ve heard of some pretty stupid things lately, but two Coos Bay women “take the proverbial cake.” Within a few minutes of each other a sheriff’s deputy stopped two women for driving while talking on their cell phones. The first said she was on her cell phone “and didn’t mean to run the red light.” She also advised the officer that she didn’t have a license (she was suspended) nor did she have insurance on her vehicle. A short time later, the deputy stopped another woman who was talking on her cell phone. She told the officer that she knew it was illegal to be on the phone. She did manage to produce a driver’s license but advised she had no insurance. And, oops, a check by the officer determined that her driver’s license was expired.

I simply can’t imagine calling attention to myself by doing something as blatantly illegal as openly talking on the phone, knowing that I had neither a valid driver’s license nor insurance on my vehicle.

A bit of common sense should be one criterion for obtaining a driver’s license, and it’s clear that these women wouldn’t qualify.

*           *           *

It never ceases to amaze me what people don’t understand about Oregon’s Open Meetings Law. A member of the Port Orford Rural Fire Protection District recently wrote a letter to the editor in the Port Orford News titled “Misinformation?” Unfortunately for the reader it was the misinformation contained in his letter, with no editor’s note below, that really served to confuse people. It was right before the recent election and he was protesting an election, which would find three members of the same board … elected to another board. He said: “When three elected/appointed members of any public district board are in the same place at the same time this makes a quorum. If this meeting takes place outside the confines of a publicly announced board meeting, this makes an illegal board meeting.”

He goes on to say that in the case of three members of the same fire department being on the same fire district board that every weekly fire department (meeting), every training session, any special classes, and even responding together to the scene of an emergency would constitute one of these illegal board meetings.”

He was so far off base that it was almost laughable … except that a lot of people probably believed him, which was too bad.

The key to the law is: it is not a public meeting unless “they deliberate toward a decision.”

A quorum of board members often come together in training, social events, League of Oregon Cities meetings, etc. and they are not breaking the law … unless they begin to deliberate toward a decision.

It’s too bad no one challenged Ken Fliszar on his “misinformation.”

Actually I intended to write a letter, but I never got around to it, and the last time I weighed in on what was happening in the city to the south, I was told to mind my own business and stay out of their politics.

And that was probably good advice.

previous columns by mary schamehorn