As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

November 25, 2009

If the love of the community can help Brandy Hindman beat stage IV breast cancer, she has a great chance of living a long and happy life. Bandon is well known for rallying around our friends and neighbors who need our help, but the outpouring of support for Brandy has been truly phenomenal. Breanna Quattrocchi, who is one of those who helped with the benefit held Saturday night at Harbor Town Center for Brandy, said she had never seen such wonderful auction items as were donated by the community for the event.

Thousands of dollars have been raised on behalf of Brandy and her family, which includes two children. It wasn’t long after Brandy had a baby five months ago that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it had already metastasized, which was not good news. But she is undergoing massive treatments, which a friend said has begun to shrink the tumors.

She is a beautiful young woman and is loved by all who work with her at Sterling Savings Bank and all those who know her. She’s in everyone’s prayers and thoughts.

I wasn’t able to confirm it, but I understand Saturday night’s benefit may have raised around $20,000.

And the best part about it was when Brandy and members of her family made an appearance. People were thrilled to see her and it gave everyone a real lift to see her looking so good.

One special item, donated by an anonymous person, was the pledge of a home cooked meal to be delivered to Brandy and her family once a week for a whole year. That prompted a bidding frenzy between Michael Hardin and Bill Clark (Inn at Face Rock and Bandon Bill’s Grill) which resulted in Clark outbidding Mike … at $2,500.

It was that kind of an evening … full of inspiration and love.

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We’ve learned that the chamber’s executive director Julie Miller, her husband David and daughter Maddie have all come down with the H1N1 flu, better known as swine flu. One chamber member told me that Maddie has been particularly hard hit by the flu, which seems to be worse for young children than it is for adults. We’re hoping that by the time you read this, they will have recovered and Julie will be back at the chamber office working on the Shop at Home campaign and all the other things she’s involved with.

It’s never good to be sick and it’s especially hard during the holidays.

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The Bandon Showcase had done it again. They hosted Bella Sorella Friday night at the Sprague Community Theater, and the beautiful voices of the two sopranos, sisters-in-law Nova and Susanna Jimenez, received rave reviews from those of us who attended the concert. They were accompanied by one of the best pianists I’ve ever heard, Ed Goldfarb, and a great violinist, Joyce Lee. Goldfarb received a huge ovation for his solo Chopin number, and the two beautiful young women received two standing ovations.

I know there were people who didn’t attend because they “didn’t care for that kind of music.” I wasn’t sure it would be what I would enjoy either, but I took a chance and went. It’s called getting out of your comfort zone.

And was I ever glad I went. It was an outstanding show … the kind where you walk out into the stormy night with a big smile on your face and truly “a song in your heart.”

It was that good.

Thanks Bandon Showcase for continuing to bring high class entertainment to our community.

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I’ve learned that Eugene Hill, who formerly operated a Mongolian Grill in North Bend and has built multi-family, residential and business properties in Bandon, is preparing to open the former Harp’s/Channel House restaurant, which had been beautifully remodeled shortly before it closed several years ago.

My sources say he plans to offer Mongolian grill in the restaurant, with a special emphasis on the beautiful bar upstairs, which overlooks the river and the lighthouse.

It’s been closed too long and it’s good to learn that someone is finally going to reopen it.

He’s had his “ups and downs” in his business ventures, but hopefully this one will be a big success.

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I sometimes think newspapers are so desperate for stories that they forget about the impact of some of the things they find worthy of ink.

At a time when food banks across the state are urging people to contribute money and food to feed the less fortunate in our communities, many of whom have found themselves out of work this year for the first time, the Register-Guard chose to feature a story titled “Patty Meltdown.”

It had some pretty offensive pictures of a guy trying to wolf down a five-pound hamburger and five pounds of fries as part of a promotion by a place called Giant Burger. If he could eat that much in an hour, it was free. But if the contestant failed, it costs him $39.95. (P.S. he wasn’t able to eat it all in the allotted time).

Wow, that must have gone over big for people who turned to the Guard’s editorial page to learn that Oregon ranks second in the United States in the area “of very low food security.” That, folks, means lots of people in our state go to bed hungry.

Maybe the editorial writers and the feature writers need to communicate a bit more.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

November 18, 2009

I never realized just how artificially real estate prices had soared in Bandon and most areas of the Oregon Coast until I started looking at properties on the Internet in other parts of the country.

True, some of them were foreclosures. But, for example, there was a beautiful four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath with a swimming pool in Florida for $189,900. And my youngest sister and her husband, who live in Vancouver, Wash., recently purchased a very large, nearly new home in Phoenix, Az., for $125,000. She showed us pictures of it, and it’s a gem.

Then I thought back to 30 years ago when I was going out with an insurance man from Eugene. He had a beautiful split level house, and I remember telling people that it must have been worth at least $50,000. Oh how times have changed. Even in today’s depressed market, you would never find anything that cheap.

Most of us took a big hit in the market value of our homes in the last six months, and it was pretty much “sticker shock” when we opened our tax bills, which came out in October. I think Assessor Adam Colby told me the decrease in value averaged about 37 percent across the board for residential properties in Bandon. It wasn’t that bad in other areas of the county, where values had not soared like they had here.

It would have been one thing had our taxes been based on the market value, but they’re not. They are based on assessed value, and it keeps increasing by at least three percent every year.

But if you need equity in your home, you probably didn’t fare too well … with a huge drop in market value. Nobody thought much about it when their values kept going higher as property after property sold for way more than they were worth (compared, at least, to other parts of the country).

And now we’re seeing that correction – and it hurts.

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One of the things that make Old Town so cool is the shops. True, a lot of people come to Bandon for our breath-taking scenery and spectacular beaches, but they also love to browse the many little shops that make up our community.

This is the time of the year when we can let our shop owners know how much we appreciate them – by spending our holiday shopping dollars locally. Every year I write a “shop at home” editorial, but this year, more than ever, it’s important to shop locally to help ensure that our merchants will still be around this time next year.

The merchants are doing a little something extra this year. On Black Friday (Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving), there will be another Pedway Market in Old Town, designed to give locals an opportunity to showcase their products. Santa will be there, gift-wrapping will be available, and there will be wine tasting, hot drinks, popcorn and music.

The autumn market that was held several weeks ago was a huge success, and this one should be even better.

The market will be completely under tents, so it will be fun … rain or shine.

It begins at 10 a.m. on the Old Town Pedway (between the Continuum Center building and Thai Thai).

Let’s show our local merchants how much we appreciate them – and shop at home this year.

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I was shocked when a former Bandon man was arrested in connection with the death of his 31-year-old sister-in-law, Jayme Austin, in Fairview. Pat Horath, who was married to Jayme’s sister, Alyssa, was a 1983 graduate of Bandon High School, and was sworn in as a police reserve here in January of 2001. He later became a police officer for the City of Myrtle Point, but didn’t last long.

I do know that he was an EMT in the Fairview area, and worked at Farr’s Hardware. I believe he has two young children with Alyssa, and also has three older children, who were raised in Bandon, and are outstanding musicians.

It’s such a sad story and my heart goes out to Cindy and Jeff Gisholt, who not only lost their daughter, but now must deal with the grief faced by their other daughter and her children. All three families live within a short distance of each other, on the same property in Fairview.

Jayme Austin is the second young woman killed in the Fairview area in the last decade. Police have never solved the murder of 15-year-old Leah Freeman of Coquille, whose body was found in Fairview. Her mother, Cory Courtright, is still seeking closure, and still prays that someday her daughter’s murder will be solved.

Thanks to the efforts of many officers and agencies in Coos County, this case had a swift, but terribly sad, resolution.

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I’ve never done this before, but I decided that instead of advertising pelican photographs for sale, I would simply sell a CD (for $20) of more than 80 pelican and “big surf” pictures that I took during the two weeks that hundreds of the big birds visited Bandon. I did notice this weekend that some of them are still hanging around, but definitely not in the numbers of several weeks earlier.

The CD will allow people to share the pictures with friends who don’t live here, and may have never seen a pelican up close. Or they can print their own photographs from the high-resolution files.

At any rate, if anyone is interested in purchasing a CD, just e-mail me at or write to me at P. O. Box 521, Bandon.

I have literally thousands of digital images, most of them on CDs, from just about every play, musical and Christmas event that has been held at the Sprague Theater in the last four or five years. And I may start offering some of them, as well.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

November 11, 2009

I read an interesting article in The Oregonian recently that made me want to run out and apply for a state job.

It appears that even though thousands of state workers are gearing up to fight pink slips, holidays without pay and a salary freeze over the next two years, government employees won’t have to worry about their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.

The article points out that “Oregon remains one of the most generous states in the country when it comes to health care. Full-time state employees pay no deductible for medical care and nothing in monthly insurance premiums for themselves or their spouses and children.”

The average cost per employee is about $12,800 a year, or roughly half a billion dollars out of a projected $15 billion two-year general fund and lottery budget.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration their PERS benefits.

It certainly beats the private sector where many of us receive no health or pension benefits.


Throughout my 50-year career in journalism, I have been a champion of releasing the names of juveniles who commit major crimes. Many newspapers do print names, if they can be obtained, but I find it sad that the three juveniles who were arrested for the vicious attack on Pacific High School remain anonymous.

The vandalism was so extensive that it resulted in classes being suspended for a day.

A maintenance worker discovered on Oct. 5 that someone had entered the locked water system area and broke pipes, destroyed an expensive gauge and temporarily disabled the water supply.

Workers repaired the water supply, but the following night, the school was attacked again, with more plumbing damage.

On Oct. 7, the head custodian found water coming from beneath doors in the shop area and discovered that a fire had been deliberately set in the wood shop. The sprinkler system activated, which Fire Chief Wayne Moore said saved the school from total destruction.

The new computer lab in the vocational area had been virtually destroyed, and all the new laptops were missing. The wood shop was doused with gallons of lacquer thinner and ignited, causing extensive damage to several pieces of equipment, materials and student projects.

The sprinkler system extinguished the fire, but heavy smoke and water filled the shop and adjacent art room.

Three juveniles (a 16-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl) are in custody and the sheriff said more arrests are expected.

If you are old enough to try to burn a school down, steal computers, and commit numerous acts of vandalism over a three-day period, you’re old enough to have your name in the paper.

It’s called responsibility – for your own actions.

Does anyone besides me feel these people should be identified?


I thought Jason was kidding when he told me a tornado had struck Lincoln City and damaged quite a few homes. It wasn’t until I watched the 11 o’clock news Saturday night did I realize just how many buildings suffered at least some damage.

It began as a water spout and moved onto land, which is pretty unusual.

Fortunately no one was injured.

I worry a lot about the “big one,” but I didn’t think I’d ever have to worry about a tornado hitting our area.

I’ll add that to the list.


I spent many hours taking pictures of the pelicans this week, and was thrilled when they decided to make the old truck shop property one of their gathering places. With my 24-power Nikon “point and shoot” I could really get close. In fact, even people with a much smaller lens could get some terrific photos.

Couple those wonderful birds with the dramatic surf this weekend, and it made for a photographers’ paradise. It was so crowded at the South Jetty that you could barely find a place to park as people watched with awe as huge waves crashed into both jetties, with hundreds of pelicans adding to the show.

I’m only sorry there weren’t more visitors in town to enjoy it.


I did hear about one trio of young men, and their two canine companions, who had been hitchhiking across the country for about four months. They were warned by a local man not to camp on the beach because of the dangerously high seas, but they failed to heed his warning.

One of the young men, dressed in yellow raingear, stopped at Sunset Motel to find out if they had a “very inexpensive room” for three guys and two dogs, explaining that he had lost his wallet and most of their gear when a wave washed it out to sea. It finally ended up with Denise Skillman, who heads up the office staff, helping the youth call his mother in Illinois so she could put their room on her credit card. They attempted to leave the next day but apparently couldn’t find anyone willing to pick up three guys and two dogs, and it started raining again, so they returned to the motel. Again the man’s mother put another night on the credit card and then wired them enough money to get home.

And the man who had warned them about camping on the beach stopped by when he saw them at the motel, and they took one look at him and said: “You were right!”

As rough as the ocean has been lately I can’t imagine anyone thinking it was safe to camp on the beach.

But then I was raised here –not in Illinois.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

November 04, 2009

Since I am writing this on Sunday evening, I don’t know whether Bandon’s special option levy to fund two police officers for next year passed or not. But if it didn’t, I think it would be safe to say that retired California police officer Jim Giambrone’s letter went a long way toward assuring that we won’t have 24-hour coverage next year. If it did pass, it would be because either people had already voted when his mean-spirited letters to The World and Western World came out last week or, like me, people simply did not put much stock in what he had to say.

It is so ironic that this is the same man who basically badgered the city’s budget committee several years ago in an attempt to get us to hire an eighth officer, even when Police Chief Bob Webb and Sergeant Larry Lynch said that wasn’t what the department needed. There were other things that Webb and Lynch felt were more important. But Giambrone was insistent that the community, and the officers, would be a lot safer if there were eight officers instead of the seven that we were barely able to pay for this year.

Since his letter appeared in the Western World last Thursday, it gave no time for either Matt or I to respond; I did send a lengthy letter to The World refuting Mr. Giambrone, and they printed it in its entirety on Friday.

Nearly every point that the man raised in his letter had been answered either personally by Matt, or in a letter to the editor. Knowing full well the answers, he chose to smack the city – and his former friends on the police department – with his letter, designed to make sure that Bandon will end up with only five, instead of seven, if we can’t find another way to fund those officers.

It’s too bad he didn’t bother to tell the readers that Bandon’s city tax rate is 46 cents, compared to nearly $8 a thousand for cities like Myrtle Point and Powers. To my knowledge, no one in the state has as low a city tax rate (which funds public services like police and fire) as does Bandon. But I guess he didn’t think that was significant.

To say that I am disappointed in the retired police officer and former Bandon police reserve is an understatement. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I do know that at least one person, after learning that the department’s hugely popular assistant Rachel Fraser Panter might not have a job next year if the levy does not pass, went to Coquille and changed his vote.

I also know there are many people who are struggling financially, and if it does not pass, that may well be the reason. From what I’ve heard in the community, most people are happy with our police department, so I don’t think the officers will take it personally.


The hundreds of pelicans, who have graced our rocks and driftwood for more than a week, have brought out a lot of photographers, and people who just wanted to watch the huge graceful birds (that is, if you don’t watch them land).

Having lived here my entire life, I can never remember seeing pelicans when I was growing up. In fact, it was probably only eight or nine years ago that a huge flock gathered on the crab dock at the Port of Bandon. Someone called me at Western World and I raced down and took a lot of pictures.

The last couple of years they’ve stopped here, apparently on their way south, and this year the flock was bigger than ever. One woman estimated that there were well over a thousand birds this year. They gathered on the rocks along the road to the South Jetty Saturday, and had covered Elephant Rock a day or so earlier. I took at least 300 pictures on Saturday. I went back Sunday prepared to take more. Many of them were still there, when the tide got low enough to expose the rocks, but without warning, as if on command, they all flew away. It was an awesome sight to see as huge birds filled the sky on both sides of the lighthouse.


I sent my friend and fellow photographer (although certainly not his caliber) Airlee Owens some pelican photos. He is in Vancouver receiving radiation and chemo for colon cancer, but seemed to be in good spirits. The effects of the treatments haven’t really started to kick in yet, but he knows they will.

He took advantage of the beautiful weather Sunday and sent me and other friends six or seven pictures of flowers and trees, which he found on the grounds of the VA Medical Center (P. O. Box 1035, Vancouver, WA. 98666). Believe me, he’s looking forward to getting home … so he can get some birds photos of his own. That’s his specialty.

He also wanted me to thank everyone who has sent him cards and notes. I think he said he’s received about 100 from friends in Bandon, and he’s extremely appreciative.


I am sure that a lot of my readers aren’t sports fans, but by now just about everyone has heard that the University of Oregon Ducks slaughtered the USC Trojans Saturday in Eugene. SC has been a power for years, and was ranked fourth in the nation this year. But you wouldn’t have known it to see the two teams play. Oregon State also did their part by defeating UCLA in a game played in Corvallis. Since both games were on TV Saturday afternoon, as well as the third game of the World Series, it was hard to know which one to watch, but it didn’t take long to see that New York was going to dominate the baseball game and not being a Yankee fan, I switched to the Oregon game and stayed there.


It’s interesting where you find Bandon Dunes mentioned. Actually, I think it was in the Corvallis Gazette Times where I read an article titled “Golfers find new place to stay.” It talks about a new 6,000-square-foot lodge near Monroe (outside of Corvallis) which offers a view of the public golf course and a catered breakfast.

The owners were quoted as saying:” There’ve been so many people who are heading to Bandon Dunes and places and ask us if there’s a place to stay,” said Liz Doyle, one of the course’s owners. The article says that golfers hoping for an overnight getaway find “slim pickings” in the mid-valley, especially on public courses.

It’s probably true, but it’s only a few hours on down the coast to Bandon Dunes … and if that’s where they are headed, they probably won’t be stopping along the way.

previous columns by mary schamehorn