As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 28, 2012

At a time when more and more people are hungry across the nation, jobs are scarce, people are losing their homes and the economy is struggling, we hear some “good” news.

The results, well anyway the preliminary results, of a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service study shows that a 2011 municipal fireworks display in Bandon did not affect a seabird nesting colony.

But if you happen to live in Depoe Bay, the news is not so good. Their fireworks display did impact the seabird nesting colony.

The biggest difference between the two events and their impact on federally protected seabirds was distance of the fireworks display from nesting colonies. The Depoe Bay display was 0.62 miles from the Pirate Cove colony, while the Bandon display was 1.36 miles from the colony at Coquille Point.

At the Pirate Cove colony, eight Brandt’s cormorant nests were abandoned the day after the Independence Day fireworks display, and another was abandoned the next day. By the day of the display, one of 11 pelagic cormorant nests also had been abandoned.

Roy Lowe, project leader of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said, “Because seabirds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Service is charged with monitoring and protecting their populations. Any human action causing birds to abandon their nests could constitute a violation of the Act. When the colonies are on a national wildlife refuge, as they are in these two locations, they receive even further protection.”

The press release goes on to describe the extent of the survey. “The biologists conducted nest monitoring and daily counts of seabird species, including the cormorants, western gulls and black oystercatchers on days before, during and after the fireworks displays at the study and control colonies. They also conducted aerial photographic surveys for each colony. In addition, staff used night vision camera equipment that recorded still-frame and video images to examine bird behavior prior to and during the fireworks display.”

The bottom line is that the Service is recommending that the City of Bandon (be allowed to) continue to launch fireworks in an easterly direction over the Port of Bandon.

I told my readers about this last summer, even though at that time it was just a rumor. After all Bandon has been shooting off fireworks for decades …. and the population of neither the seagull nor the cormorant (who feed on young fish) has seemed to decline.

When is someone going to protect the millworker who has lost his job, the child that goes to bed hungry and the family who is about to lose their home?

It would be interesting to know just how many government dollars it took to fund this survey.

But that wasn’t in the press release. Does that surprise you?

*           *           *

When headed out to Trout Pond Lane, an area of beautiful homes east of Bandon, I’ve often noticed that there is a sign when you turn off Bates Road onto the Lane that lets you know that Trout Pond Lane is a private road. Of course, if you have legitimate business and have been invited to someone’s home, you’re welcome to travel on the road, which is maintained by the residents who live along it.

But, according to an item in Sunday’s sheriff log, it really is private.

Someone who lived on Trout Pond called the police shortly before noon on Saturday to say that Jehovah’s Witness missionaries were trespassing on the private lane.

The caller apparently did not appreciate having someone knocking on the family’s door that had no business being there.

Maybe they didn’t read the sign.

I may not live on a private road, but I feel the same way about solicitors knocking on my door as, I am sure, a lot of people do.

*           *           *

The Myrtle Point School District is asking the voters – for the third time at a greatly reduced amount – to approve a bond measure to fix their badly deteriorating buildings. Mold has become a huge issue in some of the rooms, but that’s just one of the problems the district is facing.

A group of supporters spent a lot of time putting up some large signs urging people to support the levy.

Unfortunately vandals (yes, they have them up there, too) apparently didn’t like the signs and destroyed all but a couple of them.

This is just more example of a complete lack of regard for other people’s opinions – whether it be on the national scene or in a small town.

People seem to have lost the ability to disagree in a civil manner – and that’s a shame.

*           *           *

We’ve had some pretty bad weather lately, and I know several homes where flooding has occurred for the first time in quite a few years. The ground has been totally saturated with water, and, in some cases, it doesn’t matter whether you live alongside a river or any kind of water body, when the ground can’t hold the water it’s going to go somewhere.

One of my friends, who lives in west Bandon, has spent nearly $3,000 putting new insulation and a vapor barrier under her house. Unfortunately her home sits below the grade of the street, and the runoff was so heavy that it flooded underneath her home and destroyed the insulation and vapor barrier, and she has to start over.

She is new to Bandon and had not experienced the kind of heavy rains we had last week in such a short period of time.

And I am sure she hopes she will never see it again.

On a brighter note, even though it was cloudy and overcast on Saturday, the sun came out just long enough to provide us (including the many visitors who had come into town for Spring Break) with a gorgeous sunset.

It’s Sunday about 5 o’clock as I write my column and the sun has come out again.

It’s pretty unusual to have our winter weather in March, and I just hope the weatherman remembers it is now spring, and puts the storms on hold until next winter.

Weather like we’ve had lately almost makes me forget what a warm, wonderful winter we had … but not quite.

*           *           *

I know that some of our local businesses are really struggling, but even then they always seem to give generously when someone needs a silent auction item for one of the many fundraisers that are held this time of the year. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Coastal Harvest, the Bandon Lions, the Rotary, Project Graduation, or a benefit for a local resident, the people who are asked to donate items are generally the local merchants.

I just hope that when it comes time to shop, the locals return to those businesses first before they go out of town or order on line.

It’s only fair ….

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 21, 2012

I recently read an extremely informative article in the Register-Guard, written by a Springfield man, about the financial toll that the Public Employees Retirement System is taking on the State of Oregon.

I was so impressed with what he had to say that I emailed him. While trying to find his email address, I Googled his name (Fred Starkey) and came up with a guest opinion that he wrote back in 2006 for

His first paragraph pretty much said it all: “Oregon’s PERS is in a crisis that will, if extreme measures are not taken, destroy the faith and credit of Oregon State Government.”

When he wrote back to me, Starkey said he first wrote “Oregon’s Grand Delusion” in 2005, but couldn’t get it published until 2006.

He said after doing quite a bit of research, he realized that capitalization of PERS is about 50 percent as compared to the private sector.

“This led me down a long path of research. I have written numerous articles, but if you write for the Guard (Eugene paper) they will change facts, leave out sentences, and change other things without notification, then publish it without your approval. So basically you are blocked out. I have not met one person in this state that understands PERS and that includes Paul Cleary, who runs PERS. I have challenged at least 50 leaders or politicians to a public debate: no takers.”

Anyone who wants to read his article can find it on the web: Oregon’s Grand Delusion, by Fred Starkey.

It’s a real eye-opener.

*           *           *

My brother-in-law, who lives in Vancouver, Wash., sent me a website Sunday that he felt was important for people to view. He said there has been so much “negative” press regarding Obama Care that he provided a link for people to see how each would profit by its passage. He adds: “Go ahead, take it for a test drive, it belongs to all of us.”

“One of the biggest challenges the President's taken on was reforming our health care system. For decades, presidents tried to reform the system -- President Obama got it done. This week, we rolled out a new tool: That's your answer for anyone who's ever asked how health care reform will benefit them. You just answer a few questions, and then the tool explains what the Affordable Care Act is doing to help you -- everything from free preventive care to protection from insurance company abuses.”

I haven’t gone on the website yet, but I plan to. I’ve listened to the negative publicity just like most of you have, but since I am already on Medicare, I doubt that there will be much benefit. It’s those people who aren’t on Medicare that should have more protection.

*           *           *

I knew there were a lot of people without power last week (and not, I might add, City of Bandon customers). Most of the ones I talked to or read about were Pacific Power customers and some of them were out four or five days, and they weren’t happy “campers.”

Most lost power on Monday evening, March 12, during one of the most vicious (and long-lasting) wind storms we’ve had in quite a while.

But it was an item in Thursday’s police report that really hit home. Someone from Pacific Power (undoubtedly from the Portland office) called the Coos County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday afternoon asking for warming shelters for approximately 3,400 customers still without power. Yes, you read right. They thought Coos County might have warming shelters (some refer to them as homeless shelters) for more than 3,000 people. Of those 400 were in the Bandon area, 120 Myrtle Point, 260 Coquille area and 900 in the Coos River area. (I know that doesn’t add up to 3,400 but that’s all it said on the log). To my knowledge, Coos Bay had closed its one shelter several days earlier and I doubt if there would have been shelter for 34 people in Coos County … let alone 3,400.

My guess is that many of those people who were without power probably stayed with friends or relatives or rented a motel room – and weren’t planning to go to a warming center.

I talked to one woman who was at work when the winds started blowing hard and she raced home to fill the bathtub with water so they could at least flush the toilet … but she was too late, and when I talked to her Thursday afternoon, I think she was still without power or any kind of heat.

It just makes me appreciate being a customer of the City of Bandon.

*           *           *

I’m not sure how much they raised, but I attended the Bucks for Brooklin fundraiser Friday night, along with what appeared to be “half the town.” I’ve heard Brooklin, daughter of Meghan and Rory Butts and granddaughter of Kenny and Patty McCurdy who is suffering from leukemia, has several years of grueling chemo ahead of her.

The community is known for its generosity when someone needs help, and this was no exception. Everyone is just praying that she will eventually be well again.

*           *           *

After having such beautiful weather this winter, we’ve had our fill of bad weather in the last few weeks. I still can’t believe that after being buffeted with extremely strong winds Monday afternoon and evening, it was followed by a snowstorm that left three or four inches of the white stuff … and was not even part of the weather forecast.

It wasn’t until I tried to get to work Tuesday morning in Myrtle Point that I realized just how much damage the wind and wet snow had done. Downed trees were everywhere and my usual route, Highway 42S, didn’t open until mid-afternoon. I ended up leaving town nearly four hours later than usual and going over the Beaver Hill cutoff. True, I had to drive over some branches and around fallen trees, but I was just happy to finally get to work. I was able to come home via 42S and was amazed at the debris that was left behind by the countless trees that had to be moved off the road. I can’t remember seeing anything quite like it and I’ve been driving that route for more years than I care to admit.

This is the first week of spring … and I’m hoping the weatherman knows it.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 14, 2012

I hope everyone knows about the big fundraiser, “Bucks for Brooklin,” Friday night, 6 o’clock, at Harbortown Events Center. Three-year-old Brooklin Butts, daughter of Meghan McCurdy Butts and her husband, Rory, is battling leukemia, and this is the chance for people in the community to help this well-known family. Brooklin’s grandparents are Patty and Kenny McCurdy, who own Sweets & Treats in Old Town.

If you aren’t able to attend the fundraiser, you can always donate at an account set up in her name at Sterling Savings Bank.

*           *           *

It’s hard to imagine someone driving along Highway 101 through Bandon … in broad daylight … shooting out windows of local businesses. I don’t think there have been any arrests made, but according to a press release sent out March 7 by Police Chief Bob Webb, the incidents appear to be happening in the afternoon while employees are inside the businesses. It appears people will hear a minor popping noise and don’t realize the window has been shot until the next day. Six businesses have contacted the Bandon Police in the past three weeks to report damage to their storefront windows. Several businesses say the criminal mischief has occurred a second time.

There have been incidents of windows being shot out in Coquille and in the Fairview area, east of Coquille, recently, and it is unknown if there is any connection. People with information, even if they wish to remain anonymous, can call the Bandon PD at 541-347-2241.

*           *           *

I always tell people they can view the city council meetings on their computer by utilizing streaming video. But after the last meeting, I’ve changed it to: screaming video. And if you decide to watch the meeting (or if you were there) you will know what I mean.

People get extremely emotional when it comes to certain subjects, and the two that generated the most emotion at the last meeting were Urban Renewal and whether or not the council should allow the swimming pool committee to put the issue of a pool district on the ballot (school-district wide, not just the city limits).

The man who seemed to take it the most personally said he lives in North Bend although some of my friends tell me he spends a lot of time here. At any rate after he was through giving his rather heated opinion on the subject, it was time for the council to deliberate. The man was lamenting the fact that family-wage jobs like logging and fishing were gone, and he saw no reason to turn to tourism for economic development (that’s my understanding of what he was saying).

Councilor Brian Vick, who is definitely one of the most conservative on the council, was agreeing with him. He said he understood the man’s concerns about the logging and fishing, but felt the city should try to do what it could to bring economic development to the area. But the guy kept jumping up from his seat and arguing with Brian. I explained to him that he’d had his three minutes to testify and now it was the council’s turn to talk.

Finally I turned to Brian and asked that he not talk directly to the man, but rather look at the other side of the room. It was meant to be humorous, and everyone started laughing as I’d hoped they would. It did relieve the tension in the room, which was pretty high.

I’ve had praise for the way I handled the meeting, while others felt I should have been stricter. But unless someone gets way out of line, I see no reason to be heavy-handed. Obviously he, and others, felt strongly about what they were saying, and it wasn’t up to me to interrupt them. So I didn’t.

I was just about to ask the guy how many council meetings he had attended in other cities, because I was pretty sure he would not have been able to keep interrupting, and shouting from the back row in most cities, but it all worked out. He calmed down and we got on with our meeting.

Everyone got their say … and some more than once. And that’s what makes city government interesting.

By the way, if you want to watch the meeting on streaming video, go to And if you have Charter or Comspan, you can find the meetings at specific times on the public access channel (channel 14 on Charter; I think it’s 73 on Comspan, but I’m not positive). I have Dish and can’t access the meetings.

Happy viewing.

*           *           *

On the same subject, some people at the meeting felt that the council should deny the voters the chance to vote on the swimming pool issue … for fear it would pass. The only reason the council had to take up the issue is because of a state law that requires a city to approve an entity going out for a recreation district if part of the area lies within an incorporated city.

Although the pool district would take in the entire Bandon School District, only the council had to vote on it; not the school board. Doesn’t make sense to me, but it’s the law.

I could see absolutely no reason not to let the people vote on whether or not they want to pay for a swimming pool. In this economy, I do not feel that it will pass, but a lot of people have put a lot of time into trying to make it happen, and I didn’t think it should be up to six people (seven if the vote had been tied) to take that decision away from the voters.

*           *           *

I spent a fun afternoon Sunday at the Sprague Theater watching the Bandon Playhouse production of Neil Simon’s comedy Barefoot in the Park. It is, as most readers know, a comedy, and it definitely was good for lots of laughs.

The young woman who played the lead, Janet Copeland, was great, particularly when you consider that the only acting experience she has had was when she was in high school and performed with Theatre 101 in Port Orford. The woman who played her mother, Cynthia Cook, was also excellent. Glen Rogie, as Victor Velasco, has been involved in theater in Coos Bay and Bandon for 40 years, and his was the perfect role. David Neel, who played Paul, is also new to the Bandon Playhouse, but at 18 years old, he has quite a bit of experience with New Artists Productions, and I am sure we will see him on stage many more times.

Dan Barnett and Gareth Williams, who had bit parts, are very comfortable on stage, and it shows.

Directed by Kathie Lecce and produced by Dawn Williams, the play will run two more weekends (March 16-17-18 and 23-24-25), with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 and the Sunday matinee at 2. Tickets are $12 for general; $10 for seniors and students, and $8 for children under 12. It’s easy to get a ticket at the theater just before the performance, but they can also be purchased in advance at Bandon True Value Hardware/Radio Shack, Bandon Mercantile or at Billy Smoothboars.

*           *           *

I attended the 90th birthday party for Charlie Crew, which was held at the Barn on Saturday afternoon. Charlie and his late wife, Velma, are related to half the town, and there was a big turnout of family and friends who were on hand for the party.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

March 07, 2012

I was coming into Bandon last Wednesday night just before 8 o’clock after putting in a very long day at the Myrtle Point Herald when I noticed a lot of police activity out on Highway 42S.

I had just passed the Prosper Road junction when a car coming toward me instantly blinded me with what I later learned was a huge spotlight mounted on top of the car. Nothing much gives me a headache, but this did. It was that blinding.

As I passed it, I noticed that it was a patrol car, although I couldn’t see what agency it belonged to (I was pretty sure we didn’t have anything like that). Then a few hundred yards down the highway there were two more patrol cars parked alongside the road; another came toward me and an ambulance was parked in the driveway of Goodnight Lucas’ feed store business. I also noticed a number of people walking alongside the highway as if they were looking for something. Then as I got almost to the top of the hill going into town I saw another patrol car.

I knew it wasn’t any kind of a high-speed chase because they were all traveling at a pretty normal speed; it was just that there were so many of them.

As soon as I got home, I dialed Chief Webb’s number. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Nothing much; I’m just sitting here in my living room,” was his reply. Then I told him what I’d just seen and he immediately called his one officer on duty and learned that someone had attempted to commit suicide and had then bolted out the door. And they were looking for her.

I later read in the sheriff’s report that they had located the woman and taken her to Bay Area Hospital. I don’t know any more details, but I do know that I haven’t seen that many patrol cars in one place in quite a while.

*           *           *

The Bandon Playhouse has just announced the schedule for their 2012 season, including Barefoot in the Park, Blithe Spirit and the biggest undertaking – Godspell, which is scheduled for three weekends in August. I’ve heard that someone is coming from out of town to direct Godspell, but again I don’t know the details.

Barefoot in the Park, written by Neil Simon, is directed by Kathie Lecce and produced by Dawn Williams. It’s scheduled to open this Friday (March 9) and continue for the next three weekends, with Friday and Saturday night performances at 7:30 and the Sunday matinees at 2.

Blithe Spirit, written by Noel Coward, will be directed by Mike Dempsey and produced by Johnna Hickox. It will open June 8 and will also run for three weekends.

I’m a long-time supporter of the Bandon Playhouse and seldom miss any of their productions.

Some of my favorites have been Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Chicago and Beauty and the Beast.

And I always wonder if they can top those.

*           *           *

I learned this week that John Sweet, a well-known Coos Bay businessman who retired several years ago after many years with Sause Bros., has filed (or at least I believe he will file on Monday) for the Coos County Commissioner position, now held by Fred Messerle. Messerle is running against fellow commissioner Bob Main.

Sweet is a 1957 graduate of Bandon High School and is well known and well respected in this county. This will be his first attempt at running for public office, but he has done a lot of charitable work (including working with the Ready to Smile dental program) and he has a strong business background, as does Messerle.

I can assure you that neither John Sweet nor Fred Messerle will pander to the crowd to get elected, as we so often see happening in this county. But if people are ready for two people with a strong work ethic, lots of integrity and a business background, these two might just get the county back on a strong, sustainable footing.

And that’s what we need right now.

*           *           *

Now on a lighter note .... I’ve been dieting for the last two months (not one bite of sweets or white bread), and although I’ve only lost about eight pounds, it was enough for me to “almost” get into a suit that I’ve had in my closet for more than 20 years.

I’d finally admitted to myself that I was probably not going to lose enough to comfortably (that’s the operative word) wear the skirt and it was still a tad bit too tight.

So I took it down to my favorite tailor (and one of my favorite guys) Jeff Norris. I didn’t take time to write down what I needed, but I told Jeff that I just wanted him to add an inch to each side of the waistband (it wouldn’t show because it’s worn under a jacket), and he assured me he’d have it for me Monday morning.

But when I came to pick it up, he was running a bit behind and although he had to attend a meeting at 4 at City Hall, he said I could just stop by his shop later that afternoon and pick it up. And that’s what I did.

I wrote out a check and started out the door when I decided to look and see what he’d been able to accomplish.

I held it up … and couldn’t believe my eyes. Twiggy couldn’t have worn that skirt. He’d actually taken two inches OUT of the skirt, rather than adding two inches. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but hey it was 20 years old anyway and I hadn’t worn it for a couple of decades, so what did it matter.

But I left the skirt behind with a little note, and as soon as he got to work Tuesday morning he called me … and we both had a good laugh. He did admit to thinking it looked a LITTLE small after he got finished, but didn’t think too much about it.

At any rate, he called me later that day and said he had it finished. I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to match the material almost perfectly and if you didn’t know that he’d just added four inches, you wouldn’t even notice it.

And it fits perfectly.

At least for now …..

previous columns by mary schamehorn