As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 31, 2010

As I drove into Old Town Saturday afternoon, I was shocked to find that there was hardly a parking space to be found. Wow, I told my boyfriend, this is how it used to be in Bandon all summer long … before the downturn in the economy. The sun was shining and people were everywhere.

It’s been a long, slow winter for many of the merchants and Spring Break brought the crowds they were hoping for. Whether or not they were shoppers, or mostly lookers, I couldn’t tell, but it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves.

Now everyone is hoping that this is what summer will look like.

I remember four or five years ago when there was a lot of talk about the parking problem in Old Town and there were many suggestions as to how to solve it.

Now, I am sure most merchants would love to have that “problem” again.

It means just one thing – lots of people around. And that’s a good thing if you’re in business.

*           *           *

I have long felt that one of our greatest health concerns could be the amount of plastic that we ingest – particularly when it is heated in the microwave, consumed out of plastic water bottles that have sat in the sun in a vehicle, or even milk poured from plastic cartons.

It hit home for me this week as I was pouring milk into my cereal bowl from an organic milk carton.

Along with the organic milk came quite a few particles of (not-so-organic) plastic from the lid of the carton.

It made me wonder if the extra $2 that you often pay for a half-gallon of organic milk is really worth it.

I still remember when we got milk in glass jars, and wish we had that option today.

One way that I avoid heating any kind of plastic in the microwave is to totally ignore the cooking directions for meal entrees (you know, slit the plastic lid, which covers the food in the plastic containers before you pop it in the microwave). I dump the food into a Corning Ware bowl, cover it with a lid and cook it the recommended time. And, guess what, it tastes just as good, or better, without heating up the chemicals in the plastic … along with the food. Why take the chance when you don’t have to?

*           *           *

I saw an item in the sheriff’s report this week that appeared to have come from a Bandon address, although I can’t be sure because the town is never given … only the street address. It seems that someone from a Lexington Avenue address called the police because a neighbor was walking her dog – without it being on a leash. And the dispatcher told the caller the incident would be turned over to the county’s animal control officer.

I hate to break it to that person, if it indeed were a Bandon address: we don’t have a leash law.

Whether or not we should is debatable, but our ordinance simply says that a dog must be “under the control” of its owner … not that it has to be on a leash. I’m not exactly sure what that means, because once a dog spies another dog, or heaven forbid someone’s prized cat, it may no longer be under the walker’s control … and off it goes, with the owner chasing after it.

I personally prefer to see a dog on a leash, but since it’s not required by ordinance in the city limits of Bandon (except possibly for the beach, which is under the jurisdiction of the state), there’s not much that can be done.

However, it is true that if a dog is running at large, and the owner is nowhere in sight, then the animal control officer can pick it (or them) up, but I don’t think that happens too often here.

*           *           *

Does Oregon have any vehicle emission standards at all, and, if so, who enforces them? I was driving along Highway 101 near City Hall Saturday morning when a dark blue pickup, with white primer, stepped on the gas and completely covered both lanes of the highway with putrid black smoke. It was so bad that I immediately veered off into the upper parking lot at City Hall and waited for the air to clear again before I drove through it. It was that bad.

I don’t know if this is something the local police can enforce, or even what the law is, but with all the talk about climate change, it certainly can’t be good for the atmosphere … or for the poor driver who happens to be behind him when he accelerates.

*           *           *

At St. John’s Church Sunday we learned that the Pendleton home of our former priest, Father Gene Van Beveren, and his wife, Charlanne, had burned to the ground March 6. The couple were sleeping, and Father Gene was able to get his wife to the front of the house where she became unconscious from smoke inhalation. She was transported to the local hospital and later airlifted by helicopter to the hospital in Spokane, Wash., where she was said to be getting better when Father Van Beveren wrote the letter on March 11. He served as priest of the local church in the mid-‘80s, but has lost much of his sight due to glaucoma, and is now pretty much retired.

*           *           *

I was shocked to learn that Shelley Ornelas had died at her home east of Bandon early Thursday morning, at the age of 46. I got to know her when I was still working at the paper and her daughter, Kaela Grytness, was the star pitcher for the girls’ softball team. Kaela had the most precious little sister, who would often sit in the dugout with the team. I believe she’s about 10 now. She also has a brother, Dylan, who is a member of Bandon’s track team this year.

I am not sure about the cause of death, but I do know it was totally unexpected and is such a shock to her family and friends. My prayers go out to them.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 24, 2010

I wondered what was going on last week when, shortly after 10:30 at night, the 20-mile-an-hour school zone light was flashing. I had pretty much gotten use to the Umpqua Bank temperature sign reading 31 degrees (even when it was well into the 50s), but I hadn’t expected to see the school zone light flashing when I knew very well school wasn’t in session.

But just in case something was going on, I looked down Ninth Street toward the high school and saw no cars. So, like the bank sign, I figured it must have been a malfunction.

For those of you who are strong believers in the conspiracy theory, you probably thought the police department needed to make a few extra bucks by writing tickets in the school zone – in the middle of the night.

But I can assure you that wasn’t the case … just another high tech problem.

*           *           *

Bandon Showcase, whose members are well known for bringing top-notch entertainment to the Sprague Theater stage, hit another milestone Saturday night by hosting their first (hopefully of many) dinner theater at Bandon’s spacious new Community Center. From what I hear, Showcase hospitality chairman Ann Patrick worked beautifully with center manager Nancy Evans to make it a very special evening.

The dinner was catered by Tara and Kevin Shaw of Coastal Mist, who opened a storefront in Old Town last summer, and are well known for their decadent desserts and gourmet dinners. Tara is the savory chef and her husband is the pastry chef … and they are a wonderful duo.

For nearly two years I had pretty much given up eating sweets, but a couple of weeks ago I gave up my “sweet fast.” Thank heavens, because the lemon dessert, enhanced with a huckleberry crème filling, was to die for.

Showcase spokesman Ed Backholm praised Joe Sinko, fondly known as “Mr. Showcase,” for his vision nearly 10 years ago of one day having an event like this in a beautifully remodeled community center.

And it was a flawless evening. . .

*           *           *

On the heels of what I consider to be an awful decision … to fire long-time Oregon basketball coach Ernie Kent . . . athletic director (and former football coach) Mike Bellotti has resigned to become a football analyst for ESPN. The firing of Kent is another matter, but it is safe to say that the athletes in his program had a much higher success rate than the football players … who are best known for their (off) court appearances. In spite of the fact that Kent was the winningest basketball coach in school history, his teams didn’t do well the last two years … and that was all it took for Bellotti (with guidance I’m sure by big benefactor Phil Knight of Nike) to get rid of him. What kind of a message does that send?

Now we learn that Bellotti, who has only served as athletic director for about nine months, will receive a golden parachute of $2.3 million from the university to fulfill commitments made to him at the time of his appointment. And he was to get that whether or not he found another job and left voluntarily.

It would appear that the University of Oregon athletic department is nothing more than a big corporation, that is far removed from the day to day lives of the students who are struggling just to get by as tuition and the cost of living increases for many of them. It appears that the economy has affected just about everyone in this state … except the U of O athletic department.

How they can justify that kind of a salary ($1.9M as football coach, $675,000 as AD plus the golden parachute) is mind boggling.

It’s called win at any cost … unless, of course, you’re Ernie Kent.

*           *           *

E-mails have been swirling across the country as Bandon people notify their friends, relatives and everyone else they can think of to go on line and vote for Bandon, which is in a race against Sisters as one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns.”

To cast their vote, people are urged to visit

They are looking for a place that’s beginning to draw attention – and new residents – because of the quality of life, arts and restaurant scene, or proximity to nature.”

There’s no contest when it comes to nature. We not only have the Pacific Ocean, but the Coquille River. And we have some outstanding restaurants.

Sisters is a cute town, but when it comes to amenities, I don’t think Sisters has anything that can rival our Sprague Theater, new community center, one of the best public libraries in the state or four world-class golf courses in their backyard. But it’s the people, many of whom have retired and chosen Bandon as their home, that give us that avant-garde edge that Budget Travel is looking for.

We have it all . . .

*           *           *

Governor Ted Kulongoski has put a real spin on the term “lame duck,” with his recommendation that the state Department of Transportation spend $250,000 of taxpayer money to rename Lane County’s Belt Line Road in honor of Eugene businessman Randy Pape’, who died in 2008.

With a decision like that, it is pretty obvious that Kulongoski is not running for re-election (because of term limits), or he would never have requested that the Oregon Transportation Commission make that change.

An OTC spokesman agrees that it is against their naming policy, but admits that the governor’s request to rename the road trumps its own rules.

The Register-Guard has received hundreds of letters, with the huge majority of them against the decision to rename the road . . . but it appears that the governor has made up his mind and he’s not changing it.

The fact that Pape’ had reportedly made several large financial donations to his campaign over the years may have clouded his vision.

Something certainly did.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 17, 2010

I seldom if ever blog on line, but while looking for information on the Internet the other night on how to clean a certain stain, I was impressed with the warning to bloggers, which appeared at the bottom of the web site.

True, you probably don’t get too many controversial blogs on a “how to clean a stain” web site, but it’s a warning that would be appropriate for most web sites. It said: “We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. Obscene, profane, abusive and off-topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked.”

Pretty good advice ….

*           *           *

It never ceases to amaze me what gets people riled up, but the latest at The Herald is a letter to the editor from a well-known Myrtle Point woman complaining about an article by columnist Larry Larsen, who has authored a book of the columns which have appeared in the paper, titled “Back in the Day.”

In late February he wrote about his experiences of serving in the military in the Deep South more than 50 years ago, and talked about the treatment that African American servicemen encountered. He referred to them as “colored” people, but most definitely did not use the “N” word nor did he speak about them in a derogatory manner. He was merely sharing with the readers his experiences. The woman is a member of the Commission on Religion and Race (CORR) representing Methodist churches in Oregon and Idaho, and she questioned the purpose of the article, and ended by quoting a fellow CORR member who wrote: “This is the very reason that people of color such as myself are uncomfortable going to small towns even in the 21st century, because racism is still alive, and unfortunately, well in this country.”

I discussed her letter with Mr. Larsen, who was upset to learn that she felt he was a racist, which he is not. He was simply telling a story as it happened many years ago.

My comment is this: No matter how politically correct we may want to be today, I do not think we can, nor should we, rewrite history.

The first letter from a reader, in response to her letter, will appear this week. His thrust is: “Neither Mr. Larsen, nor anyone else, is compelled to check with CORR before they write their memoirs!”

I took it a bit further in an editorial response, which will also appear this week, after learning that blatant racism has been appearing on several college campuses in California … not in small town USA, but in the hallowed halls of academia.

*           *           *

On a lighter note. I know there are several black Honda CRVs around town that look just like mine … except for the dirt and a couple of big dings (that weren’t my fault), but I learned the hard way Thursday.

I generally park in front of the bakery in Old Town, or as close as I can. I’d just come out of the Continuum Building and stopped to talk to a man who was sitting on a park bench with a beautiful dog. I bopped on across the street, pulled on the door handle to get into “my” car and realized that it was locked. I didn’t think I’d locked my car (since I was only going to be gone a few minutes), but as I reached into my purse to get my key a dog inside the vehicle barked loudly and lunged against the window. It was clear he knew I didn’t belong there.

I jumped back and screamed. I can only wonder what the man across the street was thinking about then. I quickly pointed out to him that it really did look like my car … which was safely parked three spots down in front of the book store. I’m sure it was a bit more information than he cared to hear, but I was trying to regain my composure.

At church Sunday, the woman who owns the car – and the dog – said she’d seen me trying to get into her car. “I hope my dog didn’t scare you,” she laughed. At least she knew I wasn’t trying to steal her car because she’d seen mine parked a short distance away when she pulled into the space and made a mental note as to where her car was located.

I’ll be more careful next time.

*           *           *

The funeral held for Airlee Owens March 6 was an extremely moving tribute to a man who had touched so many people’s lives since moving to Bandon when he was just a youngster. His military friends turned out en force, as did those who knew him as a born again Christian, which many said completely changed his life for the better. Others had worked with him at the welfare office in Coos Bay, while others of us remembered him most as a great photographer … and a devoted friend. Fire Chief Lanny Boston flew the department’s huge American flag that afternoon as a tribute to Airlee, who truly loved the flag of his country.

Airlee will be missed, but I know he would have been so pleased by the memories shared by his many friends and family members who spoke during the service.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 10, 2010

I’ve known for quite a while that there was a possibility that Lloyd’s Café had been sold, and it is my understanding that the deal has closed, and the new owners hope to be open for business in June. The couple have been in the catering business, and are anxious to get their new restaurant open as soon as possible. I believe they previously lived in California.

The price of the property was under $300,000, which is a far cry from the original asking price of around $900,000 when it first went on the market several years ago. But the last owners, who paid around $650,000 for the business, weren’t able to make a go of it. Lloyd’s is in the heart of Old Town and it will be good to once again see a thriving business there.

*           *           *

The Old Town Merchants Association is sponsoring a St. Patrick’s Day Pedway sale on Saturday on the Old Town Pedway, which runs between the Continuum Building and Thai Thai Restaurant. The last Pedway Market was a big hit, and this one should be just as good. These markets give visitors and locals alike the opportunity to see what Bandon merchants have to offer. It runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include music, food, wine and craft projects for kids.

If we want our small businesses to make it through this economic downturn, we need to support them at every opportunity. I’ll see you on Saturday on the Pedway.

*           *           *

I had the privilege of being one of the “celebrity” readers at the Ocean Crest Elementary School last week, in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. My students were children in Mrs. Lemerande’s kindergarten, and they were special. There were 10 youngsters, and most of them crowded around my chair, one leaning on my knee and the other with an arm around my back as I read them a favorite Dr. Seuss book. The little ones are my favorites; they are so eager to learn and so sincere at this age. Before I left, most of them painstakingly signed a postcard for me, each with their first names and an occasional last name, too: Kodie, Josh, Gavan, Austin, Emma, Ukiah, Xander, Riley, one that looks like Kohn and another that might be “ehdilin, or that may have been all one name, but maybe I’m not close on that one. At any rate, it was appreciated.

Next Monday, the 15th, teacher Linda Sack has asked me to host the second graders at City Hall. They will visit the police station and then come upstairs to the council chambers. I choose seven of them to come up front and sit in the mayor and councilors’ seats, and then I have one of their peers come to the podium and pose a question for them. It was real exciting last year when some of the students didn’t bother to make up a story or a “problem” that they wanted the council to address, but talked about things that were going on in their own families.

It’s a great way to teach youngsters how city government functions, while at the same time having fun.

*           *           *

It’s not too often that a five-year-old literally steals the show, but in the case of little Holly Hutton, that was definitely true. She played Gretl, the youngest of the von Trapp children in The Sound of Music, which ended Sunday with its third sold-out performance. It probably helped that her grandmother, Beth Hutton, was cast as one of the nuns and other members of her family assisted with the Bandon Playhouse production.

I talked with one of the people who worked backstage with director Jeff Norris and he said Holly never missed a rehearsal, never complained, learned all her lines … and it showed. She made everyone smile every time she came onto the stage.

I know I talked about how much I loved Sound of Music in my column two weeks ago, but after having gone again Saturday night, it was even better – if that’s possible.

I understand “My Fair Lady” is the next musical planned by the Playhouse, and they will also be doing “Hello Dolly” sometime next year. I only wish I could sing, but since I can’t, I will just be content to be in the audience.

It never ceases to amaze me the dedication of the people who put on these fabulous productions year after year and are always looking forward to the next play.

The Bandon Playhouse is just one of the things that make Bandon special … and we have a lot of them.

*           *           *

A group of people came to the last council meeting to show support for the Bringing Jack Back project (repainting the murals), but they got more than they bargained for. Our first agenda speaker was James Roddy of the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, who talked about the impending Cascadia Subduction earthquake and the money that is being spent to map the coastal communities and bring them up to speed in preparation for the “big one.”

My advice to people, who want to learn more about it, is to go to the web site, and click on the Bandon council meeting (March 1). (I hope it’s on there by now, as I told my boyfriend to check it out and he wasn’t able to bring it up.)

I cannot adequately put into words Roddy’s message, but I will say it was chilling.

*           *           *

I went in to Sterling Savings Bank Thursday (or maybe it was Friday) shortly after an older Bandon woman had literally pushed in the wall of the bank, just to the left of the entry, when she struck it with her car. Thankfully there was no one sitting at the desk nearest to the window, or they could have been seriously injured or at least terribly frightened. I spoke with her and she said she had just pulled up to the front of the bank when her car lunged forward for some reason.

This same kind of incident has occurred at least twice at Bandon Pharmacy. Sterling Bank had steel guards in front of the entryway, but they did not extend on either side, where cars park right up to the sidewalk. It might be a good investment.

I was thinking how could someone do that, but then I remembered my near miss a couple of years ago when Matt and I were headed to League of Oregon Cities in Bend. We had stopped in Elkton to have a cup of coffee, but because of bridge repair work, traffic was backed up for miles. We were more or less trapped in front of the restaurant, and without realizing it, I had my automatic gearshift in reverse. A few minutes later, a truck driver stopped and waved me into the line of traffic. In a hurry not to hold him up, I gunned it … and shot backwards. I was so thankful that no one was parked behind me or walking across the street when it happened.

I lucked out, but Matt’s face said it all. He asked me if I wanted him to drive, but by that time I’d said a little prayer of thanks and regained my composure, and we headed off to League without further incident.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 03, 2010

I heard on the scanner, while working at the Herald recently, that there was an accident near the intersection of Highway 42 and the Powers Highway. I finally found the wreck, which involved a large cab-over pickup that had left the road and plunged over the bank into the brush. But the pickup didn’t overturn and I saw the driver sitting behind the wheel, sort of staring off into space.

There were several EMTs on scene as well as officers from three different police agencies. Finally I said, “This looks like a 12-31 (drunk driver) to me. Why doesn’t he just open the car door and get out.”

“Oh no, he’s not drunk,” said one EMT. “He hurt his leg.”

I left the scene as they were pulling him out of his pickup. He didn’t look hurt to me, but what do I know.

Come to find out, after we received a press release about the accident, he’d already had two wrecks that same afternoon, including a hit and run, and he was indeed intoxicated. He lived just around the corner in Broadbent, but he wasn’t quite able to make it home.

I’m just thankful he didn’t kill someone because from what I could see, he definitely was in no shape to be driving. And it didn’t have anything to do with his leg.

*           *           *

If anyone doesn’t think gambling causes terrible problems in our state, he or she should read the tragic story of the once proud Koke-Chapman company of Eugene, which was forced to close its doors because their bookkeeper embezzled more than $1.5 million to feed her gambling habit.

And she wasn’t content to spend her gambling dollars in Oregon. No. She took family and friends on a series of trips to Nevada, where gambling in this country pretty much got its start.

In one of the steepest sentences ever handed down in the state for white-collar crime, the woman was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. During the sentencing, former employees of the company embraced and shed tears as they talked about the company and the jobs they had lost because of one woman’s obsession (or better yet, addiction) with gambling.

I have a file in my office labeled “gambling,” and, sadly, it’s getting larger by the day.

And it doesn’t help that the state of Oregon has now gone to TV advertising for some of its more addictive games of (no) “chance.”

People aren’t the only ones addicted to gambling. The state of Oregon depends heavily on that revenue. And that’s the real crime.

*           *           *

McKay’s Market in Myrtle Point was tired of getting stuck with bad checks. And they decided to do something about it. I am sure many other places do the same thing, but apparently I don’t shop there because it was a first for me when the clerk accepted my check … put it through a machine and handed it back to me. I said “wait a minute, don’t you want my check.” The checker said, “No, we’ve already taken the money from your account.”

It’s pretty fool-proof. If you try to cash a check without sufficient funds in your account, the machine rejects the check, and you’ll have to find some other way to “pay” for your groceries or put them back on the shelf.

I’m not sure what it cost to set up, but with the number of bad checks they’d been getting, I’m sure it will definitely pay off for them. A person will surely think twice before writing a check at McKay’s … if he doesn’t have any money in his account.

*           *           *

You know your desk is too messy when you have to dial your cell phone to find out where it is … and it starts ringing a few feet away – under a huge pile of papers.

That’s what happens when I continually “save” articles that I might want to comment on in later columns (i.e. pit bulls, PERS, high-speed chases, murders, etc.).

I actually do file them away regularly, but considering the number of papers I purchase each day, it’s a never-ending task.

*           *           *

The reception for Carol Adams, held Saturday night at Second Street Gallery, was a big success. Carol, who is confined to a wheelchair since suffering a debilitating stroke, was there for the event, which was attended by many of her fellow artists and a host of friends, and even those who had not previously known her.

A big thank you goes to Joanne Drapkin and Myra Lawson for all they did to organize the fundraiser and a special thank you goes to Richard Rhamlow for donating his beautiful gallery for the occasion.

Across the street, at the Harbortown Events Center, the Coos Historical & Maritime Museum held its “swamp rock” Mardi Gras event. It was well attended and the dance floor was crowded all evening as people danced to the swamp rock offerings of Kelly Thibodeaux and the Etouffee Band.

*           *           *

I learned yesterday that a well-known Bandon man, Bob Martindale, is recovering slowly from a serious stroke suffered recently. His son says Bob is still paralyzed on one side and is unable to walk. Many of us old-timers remember Bob from the post office, where he worked for many, many years.

He’s a popular guy and we wish him a full recovery.

previous columns by mary schamehorn