As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 28, 2009

The first I really knew about the Pedway Market, which was a rousing success Saturday in Old Town, was when I read last week’s Western World. In addition, merchants purchased a series of ads, and I was truly amazed at the number of people – both locals and visitors – who enjoyed themselves on the beautiful Pedway.

I’m sure most of you know what the Pedway is, but in case you don’t, it’s the pedestrian walkway between the Continuum Center building on the south side and Thai Thai and Sheri McGrath’s design business on the north side.

It was Clyde and Colleen Showalter of C’est Vert, a shop which just opened on the Pedway, who spearheaded the event. Several of the shop owners inside the store, including Whisky Run Jewelry, Bandon Artists Supply, and Jason Tree’s Pacific Blues, had booths, as did many of those who have their Oregon-grown wares in C’est Vert, including Paula Brooks with her mother, Hazel’s, Cranberry Catsup. Marlene Davis had her knit wares; there was organic mix for scones and waffles, honey of all varieties, a good collection of jewelry, and talented artists. Candace Kreitlow and Skeet both played music during the day.

There are already plans to do this more often. It is great exposure for the merchants, it brought a lot of people to town, the weather was great (if a tad bit cold), and people thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

It’s great to see a group of people relying on their ingenuity and creativity to raise awareness of what we have to offer in Bandon.

And I am sure this will become even more popular as more people learn about it.

*           *           *

Speaking of Hazel’s Cranberry Catsup, named after its creator Hazel Colgrove, Paula told me yesterday that her mother (who is in her 90s and still runs Hazel’s Antiques out on Beach Loop next to Sunset Motel) fell from a ladder last Sunday while trying to retrieve something off a shelf. Although she had forgotten to wear her Lifeline button, she was able to drag herself to a phone to call Paula. She didn’t remember falling but Paula could sense that something was wrong and immediately drove to her mother’s house. Hazel spent several days in the hospital after suffering a pretty bad blow to the head, and after a few days with Paula, she’s back home and recuperating.

It’s hard to get “up in years” and forget that you might not be able to do the things you did when you were younger … and getting up on a ladder is one of them.

Over the years there have been many people injured or even killed by falling off a ladder, and most of them were far younger than Hazel Colgrove.

She’s a great lady and we wish her the best.

*           *           *

I was certainly relieved to learn that the courts had refused to prosecute Wendi Smith Boutiette, the former Coquille track coach, who had been arrested some months ago on the word of a 17-year-old youth. The judge decided not to proceed with the trial, which was to have begun Monday, after the youth twice refused to take a polygraph nor would he cooperate with the courts.

Now if the news media would just show Wendi the same respect that the courts did, I am sure she could begin to get her life back in order.

Wendi is the daughter of former long-time Bandon residents, Rick and Rosalie Welch Smith, and she attended school in Bandon

What I find ironic is that after the district attorney dropped the sex abuse charges against Wendi, the World reporter interviewed the accuser the next day, who says he’s sticking by his story (but of course he wasn’t willing to take a polygraph; she took two and passed both of them). I keep wondering if I’m reading the National Enquirer. It is certainly unusual for a court to clear a person, but the paper to go to the accuser (without, of course, identifying him) for a story. Saturday’s headline, “Alleged victim says he didn’t lie about coach,” is actually larger than the front-page headline the previous day which says: “DA clears track coach.”

Maybe the World should stick to reporting and leave the investigations to the courts and the police.

*           *           *

The latest in “political correctness gone amok” has to be the 10-year battle over censorship of a former kindergarten student’s art project. This issue has gone to the New York Court of Appeals twice already and both times the Second Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the student Antonio Peck. In 1999, he was punished for including a figure of Jesus in an art project. His kindergarten teacher instructed the class to draw a poster showing their understanding of the environment. His first poster had several religious figures with the words, “The only way to save the world.” After this poster was rejected, he was forced to create the second one, which contained cutout figures and other artistic works, including children holding hands around a globe, people recycling trash and children picking up garbage. On the left side of the poster was a bearded man wearing a robe kneeling with one knee to the ground and hands stretched toward the sky. To the little boy, the figure was Jesus, although the figure was not identified. The poster was displayed for part of one day on a cafeteria wall, but unlike the other posters, his poster was folded in half to hide Jesus.

I understand the separation of church and state, but it is obvious that not even the courts can agree on the issue.

The appeals court was expected to consider this case again last week, but I haven’t heard the outcome.

*           *           *

Many people were shocked - when they opened their tax bills last week - to see how much value their homes had lost. In light of the pretty much “across the board” decrease of 37 percent in the market value of homes in Bandon, people were even more surprised to see that their property taxes had actually increased – although, in most cases, not by a lot.

There is a simple answer for that. Property taxes are not figured on market value, but on assessed value, which is generally considerably less than MV and is allowed to rise by a statutory three percent a year. And that’s why taxes went up this year.

The market value will undoubtedly impact people who are trying to sell their homes, but it’s not going to impact their taxes – unless we have another steep decline in market value. If a property owner’s market value falls below the assessed value, the taxes will be based on the lesser of the two figures, but hopefully that will not occur anytime soon or we’ll all be wondering what has happened to the equity in our homes.

Property in Bandon, which just underwent a physical reappraisal in the past few months, had increased in value at a much higher rate than other areas of the county, and that’s why values descended so steeply.

So, if you’re wondering how much the police levy would cost you, be sure and figure it against the assessed value amount on your tax statements – and not your market value.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 21, 2009

When do we say “enough is enough” when it comes to political correctness, zero tolerance and absurd rules that seem to crop up every day?

The latest incident in rules gone amok was, of course, the little first grade boy who took his Boy Scout utensils to school to eat his lunch, and one of them was a tiny scout knife. He was thrown out of school (at least until the national media got a hold of the story). It’s interesting that in the same school district – which is said to be Delaware’s largest – a fifth grade girl was suspended for bringing a serrated knife to school to cut the birthday cake that she brought to share with her classmates.

Now we hear that a Pennsylvania firefighter has been suspended without pay for refusing to take down an American flag sticker on the front of his locker.

Yes, he knew the rules: no personal items on the outside of their lockers after someone put a racially-motivated cartoon on a locker last summer. As is often the case, rather than just dealing with that specific incident, the department made a sweeping rule that probably went too far the other way.

My guess is that firefighter will stand his ground.

And maybe it’s time more of us did the same.

*           *           *

I was extremely surprised to learn that Dr. Greg Aitchison, who has practiced in Bandon for many years and who has been on the hospital board for 20-plus years, is moving to Texas where he has accepted a position.

It’s unfortunate that he was just elected to the hospital board less than five months ago, for a four-year term, and I certainly hope the board will give careful consideration to Bob Hundhausen, who polled 578 votes in the election (or 44 percent of the vote), while Aitchison received 730 votes.

There is no law that says the board has to appoint Hundhausen, but since he cared enough to run for the seat against a long-time incumbent and polled as many votes as he did certainly indicates that he will have the support of a large number of Bandon residents.

His wife, Claudine, serves on the city council, and she is an excellent, thoughtful, intelligent councilor with a real empathy for people and their problems. Bob has an impressive resume, and I feel he would be a great asset to the board.

*           *           *

The media pretty much played up the age of the 91-year-old long-time Oakridge teacher, who was killed by a speeding patrol car when she made the mistake of turning left at the town’s only traffic light. True, the officer had his lights flashing and his siren blaring, but what was most ridiculous about this senseless tragedy is that the officer was chasing – not a felon, a murderer or even a wife beater. No. He was chasing a speeding driver ‑ in town.

Does it make sense to anyone why an officer would endanger everyone around him, regardless of whether they were 91 or 19, to catch another speeder? Is one different than the other? The open highway is one thing – in town is another matter.

For years, I kept a file on high-speed police chases and the number of innocent people who were killed in those chases, and I think it’s time to resurrect that file, or at least start another one.

The son of the 91-year-old woman, who taught over 30 years in Oakridge, said she was an excellent driver, and my guess is he’s right. There aren’t many of us who could get out of the way of a driver … hell bent on catching a speeder . . . if he burst through a traffic light.

Although the investigating department hasn’t determined how fast the police officer was traveling, they have said that it was a high-speed collision, and they are fairly sure that he ran through the red light, but as yet they can’t prove it.

But at this point, it doesn’t really matter – an innocent person has died.

*           *           *

My friend Airlee Owens has had his share of bad news lately. Saturday I received an e-mail from Airlee, who is in a Vancouver veterans’ facility waiting to start chemo and radiation for colon cancer. His brother, long-time Bandon resident and former Oregon VFW State Commander Bobby Ray Owens, has also been fighting cancer, but the doctors have said he can no longer undergo the treatments. Instead they are sending him home with his wife, Martie, with the expectation that he will not live much more than a week. I am not sure how old Bobby Owens is, but I know he is younger than Airlee, who, I believe, is in his late 60s.

They are making plans for Bobby to be cremated and a memorial to be held at the VFW Hall in Bandon. Bobby is hoping that retired Pacific Community Church Pastor Tom Hutton will perform his memorial service.

Airlee said although he is not sure that he will be able to return to Bandon for his brother’s service he knows that it will be attended by many of those who stood with Bobby (and Airlee) at the Friday Night Rally in Bandon week after week.

“Please keep him in your prayers for a peaceful departure from this life. He is a proud veteran of the US Air Force and a patriotic American. May God give him peace at this time,” said Airlee.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Owens family.

*           *           *

When it comes to tragedy, there has been a lot of it lately. I’ve just learned that Mary Lou Burgher Terhaar, a graduate of Bandon High School, died at the age of 62 in Coos Bay on Oct. 5 four months after being diagnosed with cancer and apparently electing not to undergo treatment.

Carol Adams, a local artist, who is also in her 60s, suffered a serious stroke last week after completing a yoga class. She has since been taken to a hospital in Eugene.

At church this morning, I learned that a Bandon woman, Mary Knapp, who was in her early 60s, was getting out of her car to go to work at Bandon Dunes a few days ago when she suffered a massive heart attack and died.

My friends, Carla and Bill Smith, said they returned last week from a trip to the East Coast to learn that seven people that they knew or were related to had died. And most of them were in their 60s.

This is just one more reason to say “I love you” to friends and relatives and smile at strangers.

We never know when we won’t see them again.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 15, 2009

I had forgotten how blessed I am to be living inside the city limits of Bandon. But a trip into the Rosa Road – Auction Barn Road area southeast of Bandon made me appreciate how great it is to live inside the city – where we have ordinances that prohibit a property owner from destroying his neighbor’s livability. (Yes, there are a few exceptions, which fall outside the scope of what a city can do).

Not everyone will agree with me. There are those who obviously feel it is their “right” to do whatever they want to with their property, even if it means covering it with piles of rotting truck tires, 10 or 15 rusted out car bodies and piles of garbage. I went out that way to look at a home, advertised on the Internet, but by the time I got there, I knew for certain that I did not want to live in an area, where so many people cared so little for themselves – or their neighbors. That’s not my kind of neighborhood.

I will say that there are quite a few people in the area who really do care about their property, but theirs pretty much “stick out like a sore thumb.”

I know there are nice homes hidden back in the trees, out of view from the road, and my guess is they are pretty nice. But I couldn’t see them.

Many of the ones that I saw made me certain that I didn’t want to drive past them every night to get home – no matter how nice the destination.

And it really has nothing to do with income. Some of the least expensive homes in the area are clean and neat. In our travels we also toured the south Ohio Avenue area, where all the homes on the city limits side of Ohio were beautifully cared for. There is so much pride of ownership in the area that it actually made you want to live there.

I think “pride” is the operative word, and it’s too bad that we have to use rules and regulations to get people to clean up their property.

But that’s part of living in a city.

*           *           *

I have just learned that both of the county commissioner races will be contested in May, and there is no telling how many people will throw their hats in the ring before the deadline to file.

But will most of them have any kind of administrative/managerial experience? I doubt it.

The kindest thing we could do for Coos County would be to circulate an initiative petition to bring Home Rule government to the county, much like cities have.

That way you could have five (or more) commissioners, who are each paid a small stipend, and they would hire a county manager, who would run the county.

That would mean that the county would be run by someone with knowledge and experience … rather than a political background.

And I think the citizens of Coos County would benefit from such a move.

*           *           *

I am not sure what kind of a spam filter Comspan uses, but if my e-mails are any indication, it’s not much. In the past, I have been getting a huge number of e-mails from a scammer pretending to be the IRS. Today they changed their tactics. The 29 e-mails that I have gotten as of 3 p.m. Monday all came from HM Revenue & Customs, but when you open them they weren’t all for me. The latest one was to “landoffice@mycomspan,” and earlier ones were also to someone else’s e-mail, but they all ended up in my box. By day’s end, I will have probably gotten 35 or 40 of these. I saw somewhere that you could forward them to an IRS e-mail … and that is what I am doing, every day, day in and day out. They get these e-mails forwarded to them.

I keep thinking the “real” IRS can flush out who is sending them, and that maybe they will stop.

But I doubt it.

I’d be interested to know if others are receiving these e-mails. I also have a Coosnet address (as does my boyfriend) and he gets absolutely no scam e-mails, but I still get a few through Coosnet. But most of them come from my Comspan address.

Today may break some kind of a dubious record by the time HM Revenue & Customs retires for the night.

*           *           *

Bandon’s city council meetings are now on streaming video and can be viewed in their entirety (along with other jurisdictions in the county) right on your computer. The site can be accessed through or by going to I was amazed at the quality of the audio.

For a long time, people have been able to log on to Channel 14 (if they have Charter) or Channel 73 (if they are served by Comspan) to view the meetings, but unfortunately it’s been hard to determine when the meeting you may want to view is actually on the air. And not many of us will sit for hours waiting for our program to come on, if we don’t have any idea when that might be. I’ve actually watched the Bandon City Council meetings in the middle of the night, often by accident as I scrolled through the channels.

But this new service will allow anyone with a computer, and the Internet, to watch their favorite meetings … any time day or night.

It’s a great service and a real eye-opener into how local government functions.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 07, 2009

For many years we didn’t have a single red light in Bandon. Now we have three, and they are generally associated with safety. But not always.

As I mentioned in this column several weeks ago, I have personally witnessed way too many drivers run the red light near the Station Restaurant at Fillmore Avenue and Highway 101.

And, apparently, that information helped save the life of a Bandon woman.

She has asked me to repeat the warning to make sure people take extra precautions … particularly at that particular stop light. I think the thing that makes it more dangerous is that there is not a left-hand turn lane as there is at Highway 101 and 11th Street, and also at the intersection of Highway 101 and 42.

At Fillmore and 101, people often run the stop light when they are trying to pull out of Fillmore onto the highway, because the light changes before they get through the intersection. But that doesn’t really take anyone by surprise. You just have to wait a few seconds longer to proceed.

But what happened to Carol Jones last Friday is that she was trying to make a left turn at the signal. The light was green and she waited for oncoming traffic before turning. “I suddenly remembered what you had recently reported … about drivers not heeding the red light when driving north or south on the highway, so I took extra care before making the left turn, and … bingo … a motor home, trailing a boat, came barreling south at high speed and straight through the red light. I beeped at him, but I’m sure he wasn’t even aware of his error. I certainly breathed a sigh of relief as my heart beat loudly. Thank you for your warning; it really helped save my life today,” Carol said.

Unfortunately people are killed at traffic lights because they are lulled into a false sense of security. They believe that it’s “safe” to proceed … even when it isn’t.

I continue to urge people to be extra careful – especially at that particular traffic light. It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured … or worse … at that light.

*           *           *

I haven’t heard much about Lake Bradley Christian Camp lately, and have often wondered what is going on out there. In the “old days” (back when I was growing up), the facility, known as Tanglewood, boasted of one of the area’s largest dance halls and a great skating rink. For many years after that it was the home of Millard School, a prep school for the military academies, which started out on Langlois Mountain before moving to Bradley Lake. That, too, is only a distant memory.

In more recent years it has served as a Christian camp, but I see that the large parcel, which wraps around Bradley Lake, is for sale – for $5.9 million.

I know it’s wishful thinking, but I really wish someone would buy it and turn it, once again, into a community skating rink/dance hall complex. And possibly open the access to one of the best swimming holes around.

But, at that price, I’m sure it’s not too likely to happen.

*           *           *

Someone recently commented that Beach Loop Drive is not only lovely to drive, but also to walk. But, they said, it can sometimes be dangerous to do so, particularly on the curves. Their question was: “Are there any long-term plans to add sidewalks or dedicated walkways along one side of Beach Loop in the future?”

I went to our city manager, Matt Winkel, for the answer. And here’s what he said: “Yes. The Parks Master Plan includes the Beach Loop Drive Pedestrian Path. It will involve the construction of a concrete sidewalk along the entire length of Beach Loop Drive from 7th Street to Polaris Drive at the south city limits. The cost estimate for the path is $2.5 - $3.0 million. At this time, there is no money for the project. We have been unsuccessful in our attempts to obtain grant funding for the project, but will continue to apply as programs become available.”

I, too, would love to see a sidewalk out there. The road is narrow and it can be dangerous for walkers. Hopefully the day will come when that funding becomes available.

*           *           *

Right now, of course, we have even more pressing financial issues, and I hope that the people of Bandon will support the police levy, which would raise enough money (through a five-year special option levy) to ensure that the local police department is able to maintain a minimum force of six full-time certified police officers.

Now that we have a new certified officer and another has returned to work, we are back to being able to provide 24-hour coverage, but without this five-year operating levy, I simply do not know where we will find the money to continue paying six officers in next year’s budget.

While attending the recent League of Oregon Cities conference, I went to a workshop on taxation, and after listening to others in the room, I realized that we probably have the lowest property tax rate (46 cents) in the entire state … and that, coupled with the charter amendment that does not allow us to raise rates or initiate new fees without a vote of the people (unless there is a pre-existing agreement), puts us in the worst possible situation.

The average city property tax rate in this area is more than $7 a thousand. I can only dream what a rate like that would do for our financial situation. But we, like all other taxing bodies in the state, are locked into our rate because of ballot measures 50 and 47.

Our best option right now is the five-year special option levy, and I hope that people will support our efforts to continue to provide 24-hour police coverage in Bandon.

previous columns by mary schamehorn