As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 26, 2011

If you pay property taxes in the City of Bandon like I do, you were probably pretty shocked when you opened your tax statement(s) last week. I recall that last year the average increase on my houses was under $5. And that is what I expected to find this year since I know that my market value has not fallen below the assessed value, which is allowed to grow by 3 percent a year.

But much to my surprise (I think you could have heard the scream across town) I discovered that the “average” increase was about $150. I immediately called Matt (our city manager) to see if he could figure it out. Since he has his taxes paid through his mortgage escrow account, he didn’t have his bill, so I dug out one of mine from last year and began checking each account line by line. It was pretty much what I expected until I got to the City of Bandon bonds. My payment for the smaller bond had quadrupled; the larger one had doubled. I called Matt back. He struggled to make sense of it, and throughout the evening he called three or four times … always about the tax bills. He had finally figured out that there was an error, but he wasn’t sure who’d made it. He was hoping, of course, that it was the county. But it wasn’t.

It was at our end. The amount that was certified was exactly twice the amount needed to make the bond payments, and in the end, after several frantic phone calls to the Coos County treasurer, it was decided that the county would send out new tax statements.

The first person Matt talked to on Wednesday was not the treasurer, but one of her employees, and she said just to have people pay the inflated amount, and they would be sent refunds for the overpayment.

I thought that was absolutely crazy and I knew the taxpayers wouldn’t want to send in a lot more money than they owed while waiting for a refund. Plus, what if a taxpayer were late, the county would be assessing the late fee on the inflated balance, which would be a bookkeeper’s nightmare. As soon as Matt got in touch with Mary Barton, the treasurer, she agreed with Matt and me: the bills needed to be reissued.

It was too late to make last week’s Western World, but Steve McCasland did get a story into the World and in Coffee Break urging people not to pay their taxes until they received their new statements, which should be sent out this week.

I guess this has happened in the past, but it’s been many years.

The good thing about this, as far as our local taxpayers are concerned, is that they don’t owe as much as they were billed.

Can you imagine what would have happened if the mistake had gone the other way, and we’d owed more than we were billed? I don’t even want to think about it.

*           *           *

Speaking of taxes, one of the chamber of commerce board members told me that the chamber’s visitor information center building had been reassessed to more than $400,000, “because of all the work they’d done on the building.” And the taxes had jumped from about $750 to over $3,000 a year.

I have not confirmed this, and the only improvement I can think of was repainting it four or five years ago, and maybe a repair to the roof, but there is no way that building could be assessed at anywhere near $400,000 in this market … or any market, for that matter.

Stay tuned. I will definitely be checking on this.

The only thing I can think of is that they got the Bandon building mixed up with Coos Bay’s new visitor center, which could easily be valued at $400,000.

*           *           *

My friends Pat and Sue Reed, who own Pat’s Printing, had a pretty horrific experience last week while walking their dog along June Avenue in the area of Wilson’s Grocery. They watched in horror as a pit bull jumped over a chain link fence and headed straight for their dog. With Sue screaming at the top of her lungs and the couple unable to get the pit bull off their dog, people came running out of their homes – including two who were carrying baseball bats. They apparently knew this dog and feared that something like this would happen. Even when the dog was hit with a baseball bat, he still would not let go of Pat and Sue’s dog. Finally the owner, a Mr. Ramos, came out and he yelled for someone to grab a stick to put in the dog’s mouth in the hopes of breaking the grip. But no one could find a stick. Finally, Pat thinks it was the dog’s owner, but he’s not sure, someone got down on the ground and wrested the pit bull’s jaws open to free their dog. The owner then put the dog in his pickup and left the scene.

No one seems to know what happened to the dog, but I have learned that the owner is being fined $7,500 by the Coos County Animal Control officer as this was apparently not their first encounter with this dog.

I am not sure what the judge will do when the guy goes to court, but there is no doubt that a dog this vicious needs to be euthanized, especially if it is proven that this is not his first offense.

Maybe that’s already happened, but no one seems to know for sure.

Can you imagine what would happen had this been a child in a baby stroller instead of a dog on a leash?

I certainly hope this incident makes the Western World, but since the managing editor, Clark Walworth, will not allow Amy to run my column, I’m not sure it will.

*           *           *

I just learned last night that Fred and Keeli Gernandt were attending the Reno Air Races last month and were very near where the plane fell out of the sky and killed a number of people. They saw the whole thing.

I did know that Bob Bryson, who owns the trailer park across the highway from the airport, was there with his race plane, but I hadn’t realized anyone else from Bandon was there.

*           *           *

It was definitely “iffy” to schedule a wedding on the beach in mid-October, but Saturday turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of the year. You’ve gotta love those Indian summer days.

The bride was the daughter of former resident Ron Sutherland, and several of Ron’s brothers and sisters, including Bob, Lisa and Linda, were all here for the wedding. Their father, Dick Sutherland, was the long-time football and baseball coach for the Tigers back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Lisa was accompanied by her husband and their 18-year-old son. There were other family members there, but I’m not sure who they were.

They had a pre-wedding crab feed at the community center Friday night before the Saturday afternoon wedding.

It was everything they’d hoped it would be… and more.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 19, 2011

Even with a five percent increase in our electric rates, the City of Bandon is still well below the other two utilities (Pacific Power and Coos-Curry Electric) who also serve this area.

The rates for a similar amount of power (1,200 kwh) show people on City of Bandon paying $88.34; Coos-Curry Electric, $111.34, and Pacific Power, $97.87.

It’s always interesting to see what others are paying for the same service.

I’m definitely glad I’m on City of Bandon.

*           *           *

I continue to be alarmed by the number of high-profile bicyclists who have lost their lives in Lane and Multnomah counties this summer. The latest was a well-known Cottage Grove woman, who reportedly rode out in front of a pickup.

I listened to a discussion on a TV news channel recently about the possibility of requiring bicyclists to wear bright clothing to improve their chances of being seen by other drivers.

But one Portland bicyclist went on a rant, saying he did not want to be discriminated against by being forced to wear bright clothing.

Cyclists need to understand this isn’t just about them; can you imagine the pain a driver must feel who has to live with the knowledge that he’s killed someone on a bicycle.

It doesn’t matter who is in the “right” when a bicycle and a motor vehicle collide. It’s the cyclist who will be injured or killed.

*           *           *

At a reception last week at Bandon Dunes with owner Mike Keiser, who talked about the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, we were told to expect a “surprise.”

It turned out to be the first tastings of a new white wine made from the bright yellow blossoms of gorse by Terry and Evelyn Luce of Hawks View Winery. Evelyn Luce is a long-time employee of Bandon Dunes, and she and her husband live in Gaylord between Myrtle Point and Powers. But the wine is being made at a winery that they are associated with in Roseburg.

I found it to have a delightful flavor: not too sweet and not too dry. Although I prefer red wines, this really was good.

Wouldn’t it be great if there turned out to be a demand for the pesky (and that’s a nice word) for the noxious weed.

*           *           *

I read with interest the battle between Creswell Mayor Bob Hooker and Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy. It seems that Creswell has a young councilor who is hell-bent on stirring the pot, to the point where meeting after meeting have been disrupted.

Two weeks ago, Handy (who does not live in Creswell nor does he represent the section of Lane County in which Creswell is located) attended a council meeting ‑ apparently at the urging of the young councilor.

At any rate, things got so out of hand that the mayor, after three warnings to those who continually disrupted the meeting, asked the Lane County Sheriff’s Department sergeant to clear the council chambers.

Most of the people left, and the city administrator followed them outside and said the meeting would be continued once everyone calmed down. But Handy refused to leave, and in one of three subsequent TV interviews, he accused the mayor of planning to continue the meeting without the public being present, which he said would be in violation of the public meetings law. (Hooker had no intention of doing that, which Handy would have known had he left the room like he was requested to)

The irony, as Hooker pointed out in a well-written viewpoint in Sunday’s R-G, is that Handy is one of two commissioners that the courts determined willfully violated the open meetings law and he is obligated to reimburse Lane County for a small portion of the approximately $350,000 his actions cost the taxpayers.

That definitely could go down in the proverbial book of irony.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 12, 2011

I don’t usually expect to pick up news stories about Myrtle Point … when I’m in Bandon. But that’s what happened Saturday. A Schaefer Logging Company truck of Myrtle Point, loaded with logs on both the truck and trailer, had an accident at Fillmore and Highway 101 Saturday afternoon. People had various stories as to what happened, but several said that the driver was leaning on his horn as he came through the intersection (headed east on the highway), but at the last minute he swerved into north Fillmore alongside the Station Restaurant, possibly to miss hitting someone, and all the logs on his trailer rolled across the west driveway of the restaurant and across the parking lot when it turned onto its side.

It was an absolute miracle that no one was pulling out of the driveway, or headed out of the restaurant to the row of cars on the west side of the building, which ended up being hemmed in by logs strewn everywhere. Any one of the logs could have killed someone.


One older woman and her son from Roseburg watched the whole thing out the window of the restaurant, and the bumper of their nearly new car was damaged by a flying log, as was the side of the restaurant building. But they were just thankful that their 19-year-old Pomeranian, who was inside the car, was not injured.

The 73-year-old woman was medically frail, and told me she had just spent nearly three months confined to bed with huge doses of calcium trying to heal bones that she had broken in a fall because she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. All she wanted to do was go home and take her meds, but they were unable to leave until the scene was cleaned up.

This is one trip to Bandon I don’t think she’ll forget any time soon.

*           *           *

Several of us were in McFarlin’s after a City Council meeting the other night, and up walked a woman and an older man, who introduced themselves. He said: “I understand you are the mayor of Bandon,” to which I replied that I was. Well it seems that he is the mayor of Bandon, Ireland, and they had just spent 10 days in Bandon. We were so sorry that we hadn’t known they were in town because it would have been great to have introduced them at the council meeting. I asked around City Hall to see if he’d stopped by during the week, but he hadn’t. He gave me his address just in case I ever get to Bandon, Ireland.

That, of course, is wishful thinking, but maybe someday ….

*           *           *

It appears that even Congressmen aren’t exempt when it comes to getting pulled over by the Bandon police. After the US Fish and Wildlife celebration last Saturday, Congressman Peter DeFazio was stopped by a Bandon officer for speeding. It seems that he was going in excess of 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph zone.

I understand he was given a warning . . . .

It’s lucky for him, it wasn’t a stop sign violation or he might not have been so fortunate.

*           *           *

A friend recently sent me something to circulate to family and friends, but it seemed to be easier just to put it in my column. She says she has checked this out with Snopes and it’s true. Not that anything would surprise me in this day and age (of computers).

Do not open any message with an attachment called: Invitation FACEBOOK, regardless of who sent it. It is a virus that opens an Olympic torch that burns the whole hard disc C of your computer. This virus will be received from someone you had in your address book.

This is said to be the worst virus as announced recently by CNN. A new virus has been discovered recently that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. It is a Trojan Horse that asks you to install an adobe flash plug-in.

Once you install it, it’s all over. And there is no repair yet for this kind of virus, which simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information of their function is saved.

*           *           *

Along the same line, a friend of mine who lives in another state received a plea for help from a realtor in Bandon last week, saying that he was in Spain with his family and they were in desperate need of money. The realtor was Barry Winters (Barry at Bandondunes Realtee) and the reply address was one letter different than his true address, as was the phone number to call. My friend called him and let him know, asking him to phone her so she could read it to him. But she didn’t hear back from him. He probably got calls from a number of locals if it were sent to people in his address book.

I would just hope that by now, with this scam being around for quite awhile, that no one fell for it.

But it must be pretty successful or why would people continue to send out these phony emails?

*           *           *

I keep files on vicious dogs and white collar crime linked to gambling, and both, unfortunately, are growing.

The latest in a long series of business or bank employees to be charged with theft occurred recently in Lane County when the former assistant manager of SELCO Credit Union was charged with embezzling more than $146,500 between 2003 and May of this year.

She allegedly stole the funds for gambling.

Several weeks ago, a former assistant manager of the Coos Bay branch of Wells Fargo was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for embezzling more than $600,000 from her client trust accounts.

If you see your personal banker spending a lot of time at a video poker machine or in the casino, you may have reason to be concerned.

The sad thing about these people, who have access to the bank accounts of some of the most vulnerable people, is that they become trusted friends of the elderly … just long enough to steal from them.

You’d think that with the scrutiny that banks put you through when you try to borrow money, they’d keep a closer eye on their employees … particularly if they have reason to suspect they have a gambling problem. That’s a huge red flag.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

October 05, 2011

While attending the 35th class reunion of my youngest sister, one of her classmates and I got to talking about the “new” color of our lighthouse. And he, like everyone else I talked to that night, wanted our “old” lighthouse back.

He made reference to a book, Living in the Past Lane,” written by Boyd Stone of Coquille, a local area historian, who talks about the lighthouse.

There is quite an interesting section about the lighthouse, but the one that interested me the most was an interview with Marie Langlois, who had been married to the assistant lighthouse keeper Oscar Langlois. When invited to attend the dedication of the restored lighthouse in 1978, she exclaimed that she had seen all of that lighthouse she ever wanted to see.

“Later when I visited Mrs. Langlois, she drew to my attention that there was nothing painted white in her home. She said everything at the lighthouse and in the house they lived in was painted white. She made up her mind if she ever got away from there she never wanted to look at white again,” said the author.

It’s interesting that she doesn’t mention anything about red and beige … which is what we have now … much to the chagrin of us old-timers.

*           *           *

I received a frantic call at the Herald last week from a woman, who lives on Picture Valley Road near Coquille. She had just learned – via a letter from the PERS executive director Paul R. Cleary – that effective Nov. 21 two Marion County Circuit Court judgments are requiring PERS to disclose the names and benefit amounts for all retired members of the Public Employees Retirement System.

This was the first she had heard of this, although it has been widely discussed in several of the state’s newspapers in recent weeks.

The Oregonian and the Statesman Journal newspapers filed public records requests for PERS to disclose the information. PERS initially denied the requests based on previous legal advice from the Oregon Attorney General that the papers failed to adequately show that the public’s interest in individually identified information outweighed those individuals’ reasonable expectations of privacy.

Both newspapers asked the AG to review that standard, and he issued public records orders directing PERS to disclose the requested information.

The judgments also direct PERS to disclose, on March 9, 1912, the dollar amounts of benefits paid to survivor beneficiaries and alternate payees of members (former spouses), but not the names of those recipients.

The woman told me that she had an unlisted number and feared that the release of the information could somehow jeopardize her safety.

She brought me in a copy of the letter from the state, which seems to say that only her name and the amount of her benefits will be released to the press.

I am sure that didn’t make her feel any better.

I mentioned this to someone who is now part of the PERS system but has not yet retired, so he is not receiving benefits. He was quick to point out that future recipients will not receive anything near the amount received by the original Tier One recipients.

It will be interesting to have access to that information.

*           *           *

There are several new ethnic food restaurants soon to open in Bandon. One, of course, is the Asian Garden in the former Fraser’s Restaurant building on Highway 101 near Price ‘n’ Pride. They’ve been working on the building for many months and I’m not sure when they plan to open, but they are definitely sprucing up that building.

Bandon Rancho Viejo is the name of a Mexican restaurant opening at 150 North Avenue SE (near the junction of Highway 42 and 101 which formerly housed the El Sol restaurant).

The person who applied for the liquor license for the Mexican restaurant was Gregorio Pelayo of Brookings.

I was out of town this past weekend so I didn’t notice if they’ve opened or not, but I think they plan to open soon.

We have a number of wonderful restaurants in Bandon; I just hope they can all survive (and thrive) through the winter.

*           *           *

Talk about hypocrisy. I noticed an article on recently about a state representative, who has announced that he will be running for mayor of Portland. It seems that the Democrat launched his career as an advocate for voting.

He founded a nonprofit known as the Bus Project, which was responsible for registering tens of thousands of young people since 2002.

However, voting records show that the guy, Rep. Jefferson Smith, rarely voted before that time. His answer to questions posed by the media: “I’ve never held myself out as a lifelong paragon of democracy.” (I guess he means only when he’s running for office.)

While attending law school in Massachusetts from 1996 to 1999, he thinks he might have voted once, but he can’t quite remember.

This is the typical case of “do as I say … not as I do.”

If I were a Portlander, I would cross him off my list.

previous columns by mary schamehorn