As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 30, 2011

Since I’ve heard this three times in recent weeks, I think it’s time to set the record straight about the site where you are reading my column. This is not my site. It belongs to Steve “Mongo” Buck, who allows me to post my column every week. It also appears, in a very limited form, in Western World on a pretty regular basis.

Some of my Bandon friends stopped me in a store Friday questioning an article that cast a negative spin on President Obama. They thought it was my site, and that I had posted that. Those of you who know me personally, or even through my writing, should know that I voted for Obama, and although I have not been happy with some of his recent decisions, I would never post what I consider to be inflammatory-type (and in this case personal) material about him … or anyone else, for that matter.

It’s just like Western World. I may not agree with everything that is printed in there, whether it be a letter to the editor or an editorial, but would prefer that I simply be judged on my own writing … and not the “company I keep,” meaning, of course, not my friends, but other writings, whether it be on the web site or in the paper.

Many of my close friends read my column on, and so far none has gotten confused as to who the webmaster is. They know it’s not me, but I am particularly grateful to the people who mentioned it to me, so that I would have the opportunity to clear up the issue.

I’m only responsible for what I write – and even sometimes that comes back to “bite me.”

*           *           *

I wonder how many of you watched the Duke/Arkansas (yes, I said Arkansas) game last Wednesday night. Since March Madness is single elimination and Duke lost that game, I couldn’t figure out how they could be matched up with Arizona on Thursday night. In fact, when I saw that they were playing Thursday, I thought surely there was some mistake. After all, hadn’t we (and a lot of others at McFarlin’s) watched Duke lose the previous night, which would have bounced them out of contention?

For some reason, known only to the network that carried the game, it was apparently a game from a previous year, and not part of this year’s March Madness. Aren’t there enough games already without having to confuse the viewers with an old match up?

I can tell you that my 94-year-old mother is not at all impressed with all the games that are being carried by the major networks.

She was apparently trying to watch the news on one of her favorite channels, and told me there was something wrong with her TV. “There is nothing but sports on there.” I told her that she would have to suffer through the games for at least another week, and suggested she turn to her favorite channel (OPB) where I was sure she wouldn’t find basketball.

And that seemed to make her happy ….

*           *           *

I never thought I’d see the day when one of the oldest businesses in Coos County – Henry A. Schroeder & Sons furniture – closed its doors. But that is apparently the case. My boss called there for an ad last week only to learn that Dave Winningham (son-in-law of the late Elton Schroeder) was liquidating the store. He owns quite a few buildings in downtown Myrtle Point, including one that houses the post office, a Mexican restaurant, a barber shop, etc.

But the large furniture store right in the middle of town has been the anchor business in that community for many, many years.

I know this is a sad sign of the times, but the impact of that closure will have a big impact on the small community of Myrtle Point.

I personally have furnished every house I’ve ever lived in from that store, and still have a table and six chairs that I bought over 30 years ago, and they’re as good as new.

It is certainly the end of an era in the furniture business in this county.

*           *           *

Saturday morning my boyfriend and I drove out to Coquille Point to enjoy our lattes, and we were treated to a real show. First we noticed a pair of Bald Eagles flying around with the seagulls … that was until several seagulls began to chase them. We watched as a much smaller gull “head butted” one of the eagles and effectively chased him away. My guess is that they had nests on Elephant Rock and were trying to get them away from the young ones.

Then we noticed that the other eagle began to do battle with a hawk. At one point they actually locked claws and rolled around in the air before heading east, with the eagle in hot pursuit.

We sit out there often and this is the first time we’ve seen a show like that.

*           *           *

It never ceases to amaze me some of the things that I read on the daily police log from the sheriff’s office. There was an entry from Tokyo Road (Bandon) last Wednesday. Someone had called the police to say that a porcupine was walking around in the middle of the road and they wanted someone to come and remove it. The dispatcher’s response: “The caller was advised that no one deals with porcupines. Go around it.”

Another entry, just above that, also came from the Bandon area (49045 Highway 101) and concerned a burglary. It said that an unknown suspect had broken out a window and stolen a cash register. That’s all I know, but it’s enough to let me know that burglaries are continuing to be a problem in our area.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 23, 2011

Hardly anyone I’ve talked to lately doesn’t have the possibility of the “Big One” on their mind. One friend sent an informative web site on where to purchase emergency survival kits and supplies, or lists of what you will need if you want to put one together yourself.

Either just Google “Emergency Kits and Supplies” or go to Either way you will find plenty of information.

When I first “took to heart” the warnings about the pending Cascadia Subduction Zone quake, it was nearly 20 years ago. My first move, literally, was to my property in Powers, where I remained for four or five years, traveling to Bandon only to go to work at Western World three days a week. But I did purchase a large survivor kit, and it was only recently, when moving to my new house, that I finally threw it away. Everything inside was well outdated, a bit moldy and no longer useful, but at least I’d made the effort.

Now I just need to get busy and put together (or purchase) another one.

*           *           *

Some months ago members of the community gathered at the Barn in City Park to hear a noted earthquake-preparedness expert from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) talk to us about the pending disaster. One of their suggestions was to form neighborhood committees to get to know our neighbors, and more about their special needs in the event that we are without help from the outside for days.

Fortunately I live in the same neighborhood as Bill and Joan Russell, who have taken the lead in mapping out our neighborhood and setting up a meeting, which will be held Thursday night (March 24) at 7 o’clock at the Sprague Room at the library. I am hoping we have a decent turnout, but if we don’t it won’t be because Bill and Joan haven’t tried to make this happen.

I don’t know if other neighborhoods in our community have begun to get organized, but it would probably be a good idea. Charli Davis at City Hall would be a good resource.

*           *           *

I recently sent my brother-in-law in Vancouver, Wash., a web site about the deceptive chemical ingredients and dishonest marketing of “blueberry” products by big-name food and cereal companies. It turns out the blueberries are made from artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars.

Pictures of blueberries are prominently displayed on the front of many food packages … like muffins, cereals and breads. But turn the packages around, and suddenly the blueberries disappear. Many of them are made entirely of other substances, with the use of artificial colors like Blue #2, Red #40, Green #3 and Blue #1.

One cereal, made by General Mills – Total Blueberry Pomegranate – contains neither blueberries nor pomegranates.

Most consumers think they are buying products, which contain real blueberries, and not buying blue coloring chemicals mixed with hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars.

There are products, of course, that contain real blueberries like Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Blueberry-Cinnamon Breakfast Cereal. Health Valley Low-Fat Blueberry Tarts are also made with real blueberries.

Since I eat Ocean Spray dried blueberries on my cereal every morning, I immediately rushed to the cupboard to check them out, and found they contain none of the harmful ingredients, which I suspected would be the case.

If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing a treat.

*           *           *

Where our food comes from has become a big concern for many of us, who simply don’t want our food to come from China.

My brother-in-law referred to a special report done by Diane Sawyer on that very subject. They removed all items from a typical middle-class family’s home that were not made in the USA. There was hardly anything left besides the kitchen sink. Literally. It was interesting that Diane said that if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA-made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs.

Simply look on the bottom of every product you buy, and if it says “Made in China” or “PRC” (and that now includes Hong Kong), simply choose another product or none at all.

Think about this: If 200 million Americans refuse to buy just $20 each of Chinese goods, that’s a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor … fast!!!

I won’t buy food produce from out of the country, unless they’re from Canada, and I definitely don’t buy food products from China.

I haven’t been as particular about clothing, knick-knacks, etc., but I think I will give up those products, too.

At least I’ll try.

*           *           *

I never cease to be amazed by the number of people, right here in Coos County, who are caught up by one scam or another. And by “caught up,” I mean sending money for one altruistic reason or another … most all of which are scams. The Oregon Department of Justice is overwhelmed by the number of complaints it gets, and the grandparent scam (you all know that one … an elderly person receives a call from their “grandchild” in the middle of the night, who is in desperate need of help, and they immediately wire him a large sum of money) is one of the most productive … for the scammer. No matter how many times you warn people, it seems that not everyone gets the message, or doesn’t think it pertains to them.

In the meantime people, often in Canada, are making a lucrative living without having to work very hard at it.

And there’s nothing the DOJ can do … but to warn people.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 16, 2011

In light of the horrific damage caused to Japan by an 8.9 earthquake and the huge wall of water that swept through their oceanside communities, Bandon is fortunate to have suffered almost no damage.

That was not the case for our neighbors to the south – the ports of both Brookings and Crescent City were hard hit, with the surge doing millions of dollars in damage to both harbors and to countless boats.

I had been in bed about 20 minutes Thursday night when I received a call alerting me to the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent devastating tsunami that followed. A short time later I called Matt, only to learn that he’d already been advised, and had been instructed by the county’s emergency manager that the coastal communities of Coos County were all to sound their warning sirens shortly after 3 a.m.

Both Matt and I questioned that decision, knowing that the wave action was not scheduled to arrive on our coastline until sometime after 7 a.m. We favored waiting to see how high the wave was that hit Hawaii, but we were informed by the police department that from a liability standpoint it was best to follow the county’s directive. So we did.

Even before Matt activated the siren, he and members of the Bandon Police Department had called in a number of employees, some to answer the City Hall phone, which we knew for sure would be ringing, and others (police, fire, public works, hydro, etc.) to begin knocking on doors in the low-lying areas like the South Jetty urging people to evacuate. Even without the siren, the city had taken great pains to make sure that those in harm’s way were notified.

Matt and I didn’t necessarily agree as to how often the piercing siren needed to be activated, but he felt every 30 minutes would let people know that the danger was still present (so they wouldn’t think it was over and rush down to the beach) and to make sure that everyone heard it.

At first I wasn’t happy about that decision, but later learned that some people with businesses in Old Town had used that extra time to go into their stores and move things up high in case Old Town had flooded.

Gina from the port had notified all the boat owners to prepare for what was predicted to be a six-foot tide, with the dreaded surge.

Believe me, those of us who were at City Hall (or out in the field) all night can tell you it was a well-organized effort to make sure that everyone knew.

I’ve heard comments from both sides – those who were frightened by the siren and others who were appreciative of the effort that the city made to alert people. I do know that most people who live within “earshot” of the siren probably didn’t get any sleep after 3 a.m., and several I talked to hadn’t even gone to bed until long after midnight because they were glued to their TVs.

One of my banker friends said it best: “we’re all walking zombies today.”

But considering the alternative, we were pretty fortunate if all we lost was sleep.

To say that this was a wake-up call for the “Big One” is an understatement. Never in the history of disasters like this has it been so graphically portrayed on TV and the Internet, with pictures that have left an indelible impression on everyone’s mind.

We are painfully aware that the Pacific Coast is part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, which has been so active in recent months.

No one knows when it will strike our area, but there’s no time like the present to be as prepared – and educated – as we can possibly be.

*           *           *

The weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal contained a headline on the editorial page which read: “We are Foolish in Not Pursuing More Nuclear Power.”

In light of the near meltdown of a nuclear reactor in Japan, and damage to others, my guess is that will silence that call for many years to come, unless they can be built in areas that aren’t prone to this kind of a disaster.

As of Sunday, 180,000 people had been evacuated in Japan as officials staved off multiple reactor meltdowns.

Four nuclear power plants in northeastern Japan have reported damage. Operators had lost the ability to cool three reactors at Dai-ichi and three more at another nearby complex.

It’s interesting to note that at this time, of the 60 nuclear plants under construction in the world, 27 of them are in China and none are in the United States.

Now, the world is waiting to see what kind of radiation these damaged plants will emit.

*           *           *

On a lighter note, I noticed an item in the sheriff’s report Wednesday which said that a subject was locked inside the city’s water treatment plant.

As usual, there was more to the story than could be gleaned from that little item. No one was locked inside the treatment plant.

Apparently one of the phone companies has a small building on the treatment plant property and our plant operator hadn’t realized he was in there as his rig was parked behind the building.

So when it came time to go home, the operator left, locking the gate behind him. Apparently the guy used his cell phone to call the sheriff’s office who notified City Hall for someone to come and let him out.

Maybe next time he’ll let someone know he’s in there.

*           *           *

I’ve learned that Evergreen Federal Bank, located in Ray’s Food Place, will be closing its doors sometime in late May. This follows on the heels of Chetco Federal Credit Union, which recently closed its loan department, resulting in the loss of three jobs including that of long-time banker Nora Thomason.

I’ve also heard that at least one other bank has cut back on the hours its open, but I can’t verify that.

At a time when the country is struggling with high unemployment, this is not the kind of news we need to hear.

*           *           *

I always look forward to reading at Ocean Crest Elementary during the week celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and again this year I read to an enthusiastic group of kindergarten students.

It’s especially fun to receive a “thank you” postcard to which some of the children had signed their names in their own special style, including Ukiah, Xander, Makayla, Caydene, Diamond, and, I think, Kyle.

But my favorite act as mayor is introducing second graders to city government. That’s coming up the first week in April and it’s always great fun, inviting some of the youngsters to come up front to the seats usually occupied by the mayor and council. Then I have their peers in the audience ask them questions to see how they would handle a specific problem. The children love it – and you should hear some of the questions they come up with, not to mention the answers.

If only all aspects of the job were that much fun ….

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 09, 2011

I know where I’ll be Sunday afternoon … back at the Sprague Theater to watch the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast Junior,” the latest show to be put on by New Artists Productions (Dan and Anita Almich).

Show dates are March 11-13 and March 18-20, and tickets are available at Bandon True Value Hardware, Chetco Federal Credit Union, or at the door.

Cast members range in age from 5 to 17, and many of these young people are already seasoned veterans of the stage.

Having just watched the Bandon Playhouse production of the same show, it will be interesting to see how the “junior” edition stacks up … but knowing this group of young people, it will be an outstanding show.

*           *           *

I’ve been scanning the editorial pages of area newspapers wondering if someone would speak out against hateful speech after the Supreme Court’s near unanimous (one in dissent) decision protecting Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church’s “right” to shout hateful slogans and carry hateful signs at the funerals of our young military men and women.

Finally, Jonah Goldberg, online editor of The National Review, made sense in a piece on the opinion page of the Eugene Register-Guard Sunday.

He’s quoting a professor at American University, who warns: “If you start defining and banning offensive speech because someone doesn’t like it, it’s hard to draw the line, and one day you wake up and find you don’t have much protected speech.”

That, of course, is why we continue to blur the distinction between what is politically correct and what should be considered to be correct.

Goldberg says: “We draw lines all the time. It’s what serious, self-confident societies do. I would rather get the placement of the line wrong from time to time than live in a society that says there can be no lines.

“Unfortunately, America is bewitched by categorical thinking. Some offensive speech is worthwhile and necessary. Other offensive speech is indefensible. But, we are told, whether it’s garbage or gold, it has equal standing before the law.

“And that’s why so much garbage goes in, and so much comes out.”


I, personally, am not afraid to draw the line.

*           *           *

If ever an instance of poor journalism backfired, it was a recent decision by someone at The World to put the statements from the 33 candidates for Coos County Commissioner in the paper just as they were written. Mistakes and all. In fact, right in the article it says “Spelling, punctuation and capitalization in the quotations are as candidates wrote them.”

I’ve been in journalism for over 50 years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Even on the public forum pages most editors choose to correct spelling and grammar. Whether or not this makes the writer appear to be educated when he or she might not be is another issue. But that’s the way it’s done.

So I was amazed to see two major mistakes in Caddy McKeown’s statement. She is an outstanding woman, Port of Coos Bay commissioner, board member of Energy Trust of Oregon and a member of the Coos County Urban Renewal Agency. But it appeared that she did not know how to spell state (staaate) or volunteer (volnteer), which immediately made me think that she must have simply been in a hurry when she wrote it.

That was until the next day when a very prominent correction appeared on page 2 of the World which clearly stated that the two “mistakes” in Caddy’s statement were both made by the World … and not the candidate.

Talk about “egg on your face.” This was a classic.

*           *           *

A program started by Earl and Judy Rankin of Bandon known as “Kids Fish Free” has been extremely successful, and a lot of youngsters have benefited from the efforts of the Rankins and Tony Roszkowski, owner of Tony’s Crab Shack.

Since starting the program last year, the Rankins have given away over 300 fishing rods with reels and lines to kids 13 and under, who don’t need a license to fish.

The only problem is that most of the kids have been tourists, and they want to make sure that local children also know about the program.

All a youngster has to do is to take a parent down to Tony’s Crab Shack on the Bandon waterfront and get one, when he has them.

Earl Rankin takes old rods and reels that people donate and makes them look like new. Anyone who has an old rod or a reel can take it down to Tony’s where Earl will pick it up and make it shine.

I first met the Rankins some years ago when they lived next door to my long-time friend, Karin Albertson Prewitt, who died several years ago. I was absolutely blown away by their wonderful dahlia gardens. They had them in every shape, color and size.

They are the kind of people who love to stay busy, and Earl’s latest project of providing fishing equipment for youngsters is just another way to share his passion – for fishing.

Earl says “If I can get a kid on the dock fishing and out of trouble, then my life is worthwhile.”

You can help in two ways: dust off your old rod and reel and take it down to Tony’s, or share this information with a youngster who may need a fishing pole.

*           *           *

Thefts and burglaries are continuing in the Bandon area, and although most are not occurring right here in town, they’ve been happening on a regular basis outside of town. The latest is the report of an $8,500 Holland mower, which had been left on a driveway at Polly Creek Lane along Highway 42S. The owner discovered it was missing on the morning of March 3.

People should report any suspicious activity around their homes, or the neighbor’s property, as entries on the daily sheriff’s log would indicate that people are “casing” properties as they look for things to steal.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 02, 2011

It’s been on-again, off-again with Bi-Mart for several years … and not just in Bandon. First they dangled a new store in front of Coquille city officials for years. Then decided not to build there. Their next stop was Bandon; people associated with the company purchased a large piece of property near Seabird Drive and Highway 101. First they were coming, and then they weren’t.

After reading in the Brookings paper a couple of months ago that Bi-Mart had purchased a piece of property from the City and was most certainly going to build a store in that southern Curry County city, I figured Bandon was a “no-go.”

Then I learned through an employee in the city planning department that the state had been surveying the area, relative to increased traffic, and a Bi-Mart official had again contacted the City of Bandon.

But, two weeks ago the City contacted the spokesman to set up a meeting to move things ahead as it appeared that Bi-Mart had decided to build a store in Bandon, as well as in Brookings.

But Feb. 15, our city manager received a call from the president of Bi-Mart, who said “their Board has decided NOT to build a Bi-Mart in Bandon. Their decision was based primarily on the current state of the economy.”

Matt further learned that “they have not yet made a final decision regarding locating a Bi-Mart in Brookings, but they do feel that would be a larger and more appropriate market for them, particularly given the proximity of Bandon to the two stores in the Coos Bay/North Bend area.”

Several months ago I wrote that the people of Brookings should not “hold their breath” waiting for a new Bi-Mart.

And I still stand by that statement.

*           *           *

Bandon has lost another long-standing business with the recent closure of Bandon Glass Art Studio, owned by Dutch and Aro Schulze. Their glass-blowing business was located along Highway 101 just below City Hall in Bandon.

Often I would drive by and dream of one day owning one of their beautiful vases, which are truly a work of art.

Like so many others, the couple has fallen victim to the economy and has closed the business and put the building up for sale.

This is surely a loss for the entire community.

*           *           *

The next time the Bandon Playhouse produces something as grand as “Beauty and the Beast,” people will probably buy their tickets early, since we understand that the last two weekends were pretty much sold out.

My sister wanted to take my mother to the theater Sunday afternoon, but, by the time we called for tickets, it had long since been sold out.

Unfortunately, the first two nights of the opening weekend (early February) weren’t sold out. In fact there were lots of seats left, but I guess people hadn’t heard enough about it yet so they waited a few weeks to attend.

People are still talking about the superb performance by Melissa Berg, the 21-year-old from Bandon, who absolutely wowed the audience in her starring role of Belle. There’s talk that Sally Ford, who came down from Portland to direct the play, may take Melissa “under her wing” and help her navigate the theater world in other parts of the country.

*           *           *

It seems that no matter how many times people are warned about not wiring money to someone who contacts them by phone, there’s always a story compelling enough to send common sense out the window. The front page of the Florence paper several weeks ago had such a story. It seems that a 90-year-old woman had received a call from her “granddaughter,” and the scam artist (posing as her granddaughter) was so convincing that she headed out to wire her $3,000. She even took the phone number and called back to say that she hadn’t been able to wire the money that night, and her “granddaughter” came on the phone, sobbing and urging her grandmother to help her. But she was cautioned over and over again not to tell anyone. That should have been her first clue.

But it wasn’t until an alert teller at her bank urged her to contact her daughter and son-in-law to make sure that the granddaughter really was in trouble in Canada did she learn that it was a scam.

My mother receives so many phone calls, all hours of the day and night, that we’ve about decided to change her phone number. I’ve had a Comspan number for a year now and have never received any kind of unwanted telephone calls (or wanted ones, for that matter, since it’s not in the phone book). Mother receives many calls a day, starting in the early morning and the phone is still ringing long after she’s gone to bed.

Thankfully she doesn’t usually answer the phone … or one of them could seemingly come from her 22-year-old granddaughter in Washington.

No one likes to get a call in the night because it often means trouble, and scammers know that and prey on the most vulnerable.

But until absolutely no one sends them any money, these scams will continue.

*           *           *

People need to be reminded that special districts, port commissions, school boards, etc. are holding an election May 17 to elect new board and commission members. People who want to run for the hospital board, port commission, school board, rural fire department board, SWOCC board or the airport board have until March 17 to file for office. They can go to the elections department at the courthouse in Coquille to file for election. In the “old days,” each district would let the public know what positions were open and what it took to run for office, but in recent years they’ve left it up to the press (and sometimes we aren’t even alerted before it’s too late to tell our readers).

The county elections department put a legal notice in The World on Feb. 5, and that’s the only notification that is required … and most people don’t read the legals.

*           *           *

Sixteen basketball teams, their families and friends will converge on the Coos Bay-North Bend area Thursday through Sunday for the Class 3A boys and girls state basketball tournament.

My guess is that when their team isn’t playing, people will be heading to Bandon to visit the shops and beaches (hope for nice weather). I notice by the Register-Guard that the Bay area is creating welcome signs for merchants to hang in their store windows, and it probably would be a good idea if local merchants did the same.

previous columns by mary schamehorn