As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
September 25, 2013
As much as I hate the mention of the subject, it's something that doesn't seem to go away ... literally or figuratively. The mosquitoes.
I was high on a ladder Saturday night at dusk cleaning the gutters on my rental home . . . wearing, of all the stupid things, shorts . . . when I realized that I was being "eaten alive" by mosquitoes. By the time I climbed down the ladder and assessed the damage to my legs, I knew it was time to go home and wait for the welts. Actually, most of the bites just turned red and didn't swell up like earlier ones, but they were there, nonetheless.
My good friend, county commission chairman John Sweet, called me a couple of times last week to update me on his discussions with US Fish and Wildlife personnel.
He said he'd talked with Dave Ledig, manager of the Ni-Les-Tun marsh, and he said the news was good. The pellets applied by aircraft a week earlier seemed to have killed the larvae, adult mosquitoes on the marsh . . and, the best news of all, Ledig told John that it did not appear to have harmed anything else in the marsh ecosystem. That's good news and what people need to hear.
John was en route to a meeting in Salem later in the week and had an early-morning meeting in Portland with Richard Hannan, deputy regional director of USFWS, and seven others, including the regional director. "He said they are 100 percent committed to taking care of the problem," John said. Hannan also said they are making reconstruction of the marsh a top priority, and assured the county that while they are involved in reconstruction, they will do whatever is necessary to eliminate the mosquitoes.
At the commissioners' meeting, which I attended, as did Richard Hannan, I was impressed with the strong position John Sweet took in urging USFWS to come up with a plan (which they have) and to follow through.
After meeting with Hannan, John said their commitment is proof that "government can be good."
We're definitely looking forward to elimination of the problem.
* * *
People are reminded that the Greater Bandon Association, in cooperation with many Bandon merchants, is once again sponsoring "Bandon Alive After 5" this Friday evening (Sept. 27), which is the same night as Lynn Davies' 40th anniversary celebration of being a business owner in Bandon.
It should be fun, and if you can believe the weatherman, the sun is supposed to come out again Thursday. Hopefully a lot of the merchants will remain open after 5.
* * *
I may not be able to get much information off the Coos County sheriff's dept. log, now that they have eliminated almost all of the narrative, but I receive all press releases from the Oregon State Police, and two incidents that occurred this weekend bear mentioning.
The first was a pedestrian-involved fatal traffic crash west of Sheridan in Polk County.
It seems that shortly after 2 a.m., OSP dispatch received at least two reports of a man jumping out in front of traffic and acting erratically on Highway 18. One of the reports indicated the man was throwing rocks at vehicles, jumped on the hood of a car, and pounded on its door. No OSP troopers were on duty at the time to try and locate the man. Bear in mind this is just after bars close on a Saturday night, which is probably one of the most dangerous times of the week to be on the road.
About 20 minutes later, dispatch was notified that the pedestrian was hit by a motorist, and died at the scene. Although he was not identified, he was said to be in his early 20s. Also found on his person was a broken cell phone and a flyer for a mixed martial arts event held in the local area.
It appears that this tragedy (especially for the poor woman who hit him) could have been avoided had an officer responded to the call.
About five hours earlier, a similar event occurred on Highway 101 south of Florence when a 46-year-old Florence man, Jeffrey G. Miller, ran out in front of a vehicle, operated by a 55-year-old woman and was seriously injured.
I guess the only redeeming thing is that these two men chose not to take out their aggressions while operating a vehicle.
But my heart goes out to the two innocent women who hit these men.
Makes you wonder if mental illness or drug abuse . . . or both . . . caused this erratic behavior.
* * *
Henrik Stenson, the golfing sensation from Sweden, was rewarded for his stellar play when he won the Fed Ex Cup Sunday . . . and the $11 million that went along with it. Personally, I do not like poor sports, and in the past couple of years (including as late as last week), Stenson has broken two of his own clubs (an iron and a driver) and thrown another club into the water after poor shots.
I watch a lot of golf, and seldom see any conduct that could even border on this display of poor sportsmanship, but it apparently didn't impact his game . . . and now he can afford to replace his broken clubs.
* * *
I was sad to learn that Dennis Thomason is no longer with Tiffany's in the Bandon Shopping Center. The store was recently sold to C&K Market, Inc., the corporation that also owns Ray's Food Place ... and 64 other grocery stores and 15 pharmacies in Oregon and California.
The chain was started by the late Ray Nidiffer in 1956 in Brookings; his son, Doug, later took over the helm, and now Doug's son, Alan, is vice president of the corporation.
Dennis is now working for the golf shop in the shopping center, owned by Cathy Underdown, and started by her late husband, Steve.
Certainly the golf shop's gain is Tiffany's loss.
I understand that they will no longer be carrying a lot of the high-end wines, but will stick to those that the locals purchase . . . which probably will compete with their store located right next door. I was also sorry to see Tiffany's stop carrying Hallmark products . . . and was not happy when Ray's stopped carrying Western Family products and now, most recently, Darigold milk.
I could say a lot more about working under corporate management, but I won't.
* * *
It looks like the flu season is upon us a lot quicker than most of us would like, but it's a good time to remind people of the free drive-through flu vaccination clinic, Tuesday, Oct. 1, sponsored by Southern Coos Hospital. The gate on the City lot at Elmira and 11th will open at 7 a.m. and will continue until all 700 shots are given, usually about noon.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
September 18, 2013
I realize just how important it is to be positive . . . or at least "breaking newsworthy" . . . on the first couple of lines of my column as it is often posted on Facebook.
So I'll start with the very positive things about this weekend's 67th annual Bandon Cranberry Festival. I've heard good things about the coronation and the crowning of the new queen, Emma Wampler, but it is the parade that has generated the most positive comments.
One man stopped me earlier today and said he'd watched parades all over the country, and he thought this year's festival parade was one of the best he'd ever seen.
People were enthusiastic about the length of the parade (over an hour) and the number of truly outstanding entries. It was obvious that people had taken a lot of time working on their floats.
One that bears mentioning was Queen Marsha . . . the giant mosquito who rode on the back of Paul Fisher's (Mutters Gutters) float. It was a bit of comedic relief to the problem, which has generated so much concern on both sides of the issue (abatement). It's still a huge topic of concern, but for now we can only guess what spring will bring as we head into fall and winter.
Now for the fun part . . . in spite of the fact that I rode in City Manager Matt Winkel's bright yellow 1972 Pontiac GTO right above a sign that said "Grand Marshal," I wasn't the GM. Matt was.
The festival committee wanted Matt to ride in the back of a convertible like other "royalty," but he wasn't up to that. He wanted to drive his own car, as he generally does, and have me throw candy, as I generally do. I suggested that the "grand marshal" signs only go on his side of the car, but he insisted.
So, in spite of the fact that Amy had a nice story about the parade and Matt being the GM in this week's Cranberry Tab, a lot of people came up after the parade and congratulated me . . . I had to tell them that I was Grand Marshal six or seven years ago. I even offered to drive Matt's car . . . but fortunately he said he'd prefer to drive it himself.
Which I can understand . . . .
And now to the negative . . . the weather.
There were so many hundreds of people in town for the festival that it was just a shame that the weatherman didn't cooperate. I tried to tell people that we've basically had three months of wonderful weather (some wind, maybe, but still a lot of great sunshine). But not this weekend.
Fortunately, the "mist" (a nice name for gentle rain) held off for the parade as hundreds of people lined both sides of the route, but by early afternoon it was just plain wet out . . . but still people seemed to enjoy themselves.
There was a pretty good crowd for the Port of Bandon's 100th anniversary tea party, held outside (with me huddled under the refreshment tent) where people celebrated the occasion with tea and crumpets.
Sunday turned out to be overcast but not wet and, as I write my column around 3:30, it's actually starting to clear up.
Julie Miller and her festival committee deserve a big thanks for all their hard work in putting on another very successful festival . . .
* * *
I've heard several comments about the article in last week's Western World which carried the headline: "Pool group purchases property in City Park."
That is not correct. The property was purchased from a private owner, not the City, and it is not in City Park. The article is correct in that the land is adjacent to Bandon City Park.
Later in the article, it's a big confusing, as it says the parcel "connects to the city of Bandon's urban renewal district."
Just for the record, the property is NOT in the Urban Renewal district, and thereby is not eligible for any funding from the UR agency. The property would have to be annexed for it ever to be included in the district.
The big issue here is that although many of us would love to have a community swimming pool, the vote was so overwhelmingly against forming a recreation district to pay for it, that I just don't know how it would ever be funded.
* * *
My long-time friend Lynn Davies is celebrating 40 years in business in Old Town Bandon. I can still remember when Lynn and her ex, the late Chuck Markham, started their candle business in Bandon. Her original shop, Bandon Card and Gift Shoppe, was the first of her shops, and since then she has opened another gift shop, and a toy shop which has been wildly successful. It's the first place my niece and nephews go when they bring their youngsters to Bandon.
Her daughter, Jessica Markham Brink, is now helping her mother by actively managing the stores.
The party is set for Friday evening, Sept. 27, at 5 o'clock in the parking lot across from the Bandon Card and Gift Shoppe.
Unfortunately, I will be away on city business, but I know it will be a fun event.
* * *
I need to comment on a letter to the editor in last week's Western World from Nancy Busso. The negative tone of the letter, against Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, simply cannot go unanswered.
She says that last year she drove through a huge black cloud of mosquitoes along the winding driveway off Boak Lane to get to her house. "Everyone else on Boak Lane suffered too, but we don't have a golf course here so it was of no concern to the city." I can truly say that the city knew nothing about mosquitoes south of Bandon last year.
Later in the letter she says she needs to get rid of yellow jackets. But no spraying please. "This isn't Syria, where you can kill off defenseless creatures or people just because you want to. I have asthma, so if I lived near the spraying, well, I could die, but of course that would be an acceptable loss so that some golfer could tee-off."
I don't want to confuse this woman with the truth, but Bandon Dunes had absolutely nothing to do with our being concerned about the mosquito problem. In fact, Hank Hickox and Tom Jefferson came to the special meeting held by the City Council to share with us and with the standing-room-only crowd (who were impacted) the measures they had taken . . . on their own . . . to eradicate the mosquitoes.
And Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser offered to help the county take care of the problem by donating $10,000 . . . a gift that was appreciated by those who live in the affected area (which has unfortunately grown larger in recent weeks).
This is a serious problem, caused not by Bandon Dunes, Coos County or the City of Bandon, but by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bandon marsh, where the mosquitoes hatched.
And to blame Bandon Dunes in any way is simply not true ... unless it is to thank them for their help.
* * *
And now on the problem of mosquitoes. I was copied on a letter sent Sept. 9 to the Coos County Commissioners from Richard Hannan, deputy regional director of the USFWS in Portland.
Addressed to John Sweet, chairman of the board, Hannan outlined the long-term improvement to drainage and other land management issues to lessen conditions favorable to mosquitoes.
"This is a fairly complex endeavor that will require considerable planning and engineering to be successful. We are committed to aggressively implementing these actions and it is our hope and intent to initiate and complete the construction in 2014. However, it is possible that we will not complete all the work necessary next year and, if that is the case, it could extend into 2015. Regardless, we are committed to monitoring mosquito populations and will treat our refuge lands with mosquito controls, if necessary, until our restoration project is completed."
They plan to begin as early as October to meet with experts to determine "design parameters for Phase 4 of restoration project (i.e. abatement of mosquitoes through tidal channel construction) and creation of additional tidal channels."
The timeline set out for January - March 2014 includes: submitting pesticide use proposals, preparing compatibility determination for mosquito monitoring/control, etc.
This is a comprehensive plan and it appears that USFWS is serious about making sure that the marsh is no longer a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
If people are interested in seeing the one-page timeline, I would be glad to forward it to them. Just contact me at email@example.com, and I'll send it on to you.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
September 11, 2013
Never have I been so overwhelmed by a subject as I have for more than three weeks trying to deal with the mosquito problem. I have heard repeatedly from both sides: those who want something done about the mosquito infestation and those who are against spraying, no matter how large the problem gets. I've been interviewed by the Oregonian, The Associated Press and OPR out of Portland.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read the editorial in last Tuesday's World, written, I presume, by the new editor, Larry Campbell, who came here from Alaska.
Wow. I learned that this isn't about "insect infestation." It's about bureaucracy. But, wait, it gets better. For one thing, the writer says "angry residents crowded into city council meetings claiming the problem was rampant, worst they'd ever seen, a plague." Too bad he wasn't there for the ONE meeting that the city council held. I would not call the crowd angry; I would call them desperate for someone to listen to them. Then he blames city officials and businesses, including Bandon Dunes, for raising our voices, which eventually led to Congressman DeFazio getting involved and the story circulating outside "our own little region." Ironically, the Oregonian story carried extensive quotes from a Bandon woman, who had been first featured in one of the World's articles (only Amy's of which had been accurate). Wonder how it circulated?
I'll just quote from a few paragraphs which I penned to Jeff Precourt, the World's publisher, who I am pretty sure didn't write the editorial. From the looks of it, I doubt that he even read it before it went to print. He's a straight shooter with integrity . . . and he lives in Bandon, where his children have already experienced the painful bites suffered while at school.
I waited until three days after the editorial came out, hoping that I would cool down a bit. I said: "Hi Jeff, just a note from a 'lethargic, cumbersome bureaucrat.' I am still smarting from the ridiculous, dismissive editorial, which appeared in the World Tuesday. I have plenty to say about this shallow piece of yellow journalism, but I would prefer to cool down first since I have spent all my waking hours the last two weeks dealing with this problem as have the other 'lethargic, cumbersome bureaucrats' at the county. Nikki Zogg, John Sweet and the other commissioners deserve kudos not being knocked down."
I then mentioned to him some extremely glaring errors, which had appeared in the World around the same time the editorial appeared, and suggested that maybe if the editor would spend a bit more time reading the copy put out by his reporters, he would not have time to bash those who are truly trying to address the mosquito problem and other problems throughout the county." I signed it: Mary Schamehorn (54 years in journalism and 30 as a lethargic, cumbersome bureaucrat.) If anyone hasn't seen the editorial that I am referring to, I scanned it and would be happy to send it to you if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have not received a reply from Jeff, but I was shocked to read "Jeers and Cheers" (you know that column that looks like it could have appeared in your local school paper) in Saturday's World.
It's a thumbs-down jeer which says: "Now we're going to spray, which introduced a whole new batch of concerns. What happens to the fish, crabs, your outdoor pet? The vegetable garden? Your kids? Officials' advice: Duck and cover? and don't look up when you hear the plane flying over. Sheessh!"
I guess I should not have expected more from this guy.
Several people who saw it said we should invite him to spend a couple of hours in the Bandon Marsh to see if he would continue to trivialize the problem ... and the steps that are being taken to eradicate. If he paid attention at all, which he can't because he's too busy being flippant, he might talk with Dr. Nikki Zogg and he would learn that most of the eradication will take place in the early-morning hours. I seriously doubt that any county or USFWS official came up with the "duck and cover" suggestion.
I had high hopes for the World when I read the new managing editor's credentials. I no longer hold out that hope.
* * *
Most people know by now that the county is holding a public meeting in Bandon Monday night (9/9) to address concerns and give people more information about the spray and the spraying schedule. Among those attending, along with Dr. Nikki Zogg, and members of the board of commissioners, will be the vector control officer from Jackson County and Roy Lowe and Dave Ledig from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
When John Sweet called me at home Friday, with Nikki in his office, he said they would like to hold a meeting Monday night and wondered where a good venue would be. I told him that Monday night was our regular city council meeting so we would not be there, but he felt it was best to hold it Monday since the spraying might happen Wednesday or Thursday. Since then, I've heard that it will probably be Thursday, but I am sure they will talk about that at tonight's meeting.
The meeting will be at The Barn in City Park beginning at 6:30 p.m.
* * *
I learned that former Port of Bandon manager Alex Linke, who has a home in Mexico, fell from a ladder late Friday afternoon and ended up in the La Paz hospital. According to a friend, he expected to be released on Saturday, so I don't really have the details.
It's always a scare when you hear about someone falling from a ladder, as they are definitely leading culprits for serious home-based accidents.
* * *
In recognition of September as Prostate Cancer Awareness month, Southern Coos Health Foundation has created a fund to finance PSA testing for all men 50 and older without charge. This is available at Southern Coos Hospital the week of Sept. 16-22 to men living within the health district, and those in Port Orford, Sixes and Langlois.
To take advantage of this service, men just need to come to the main desk at the hospital and request a PSA test, which will be performed at the hospital's lab with the results made available to the patient to follow up with their medical provider.
No appointment is necessary. Lab hours for outpatients are Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Also the date for the free flu shots is Tuesday, Oct. 1. I'll have more about that in future weeks, but be sure and put the date on your calendar if you live in the Bandon area (and I realize that many of my readers don't live here).
* * *
The city learned recently that new postal regulations prohibit putting more than one bill in an envelope when City Hall sends out the monthly utility bills under its bulk mailing permit.
Gina Dearth, general manager of the port, was overwhelmed when she received 15 different envelopes, with 15 newsletters, 15 Bandon Feeds the Hungry fliers and 15 City of Bandon return envelopes.
It's amazing how a new rule can prove to be so costly . . . in terms of waste: both paper and postage.
* * *
And last, but certainly not least, everyone is reminded that this weekend is the annual Bandon Cranberry Festival. If you can believe weather.com, it looks like the weather should be pretty nice for this popular, annual event.
There are several big class reunions that weekend, so it's always fun to see people you haven't seen for awhile.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
September 04, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I warned people about being careful when they stopped at the Interstate 5 rest stop just outside of Wilsonville after a woman said she was beaten and strangled by a man, who came up behind her as she and her young child were walking along a path.
Well, it turns out that was a hoax. The woman admitted that she made up the story ... for some unknown reason.
It's scary to think that this woman is parenting a young child, who she involved in this scam.
Although the state police issued a press release about the hoax, they did not say what excuse the woman gave. But the woman, Heather Trevino, 33, Salem, was cited by OSP detectives on a charge of Initiating a False Police Report, a Class C misdemeanor. Her injuries, which are now believed to have been self-inflicted, included throat ligature marks, bruising, and scrapes on her body.
As Paul Harvey would say, I'd love to know the rest of this story.
But a friend of mine, who I sent the original press release to as she travels this area of the freeway routinely, said the proliferation of young, mean looking men with fierce pit bulls, who often sit along the sidewalks leading to the restrooms, are still an ever-present threat.
She said rest stops along the freeway, particularly closer to Portland, have become much scarier places in the last few years.
Just another good reason to stay home and enjoy what Bandon has to offer.
* * *
Face Rock Golf Course is under new management, and Thursday night Tom and his helper treated a big group of chamber members and others to a real treat. We enjoyed wonderful food and his special rum smoothies, and learned of the plans he has for the great nine-hole course, which is the oldest course in Bandon, and is open year around.
It's where my grandparents tried in vain to introduce me to the game, complete with lessons, but it didn't work. Now I wish I'd taken their advice. I didn't really play until I reached my late 60s, and learned to love the game.
When my grandparents played, the clubhouse was on the far north edge of the property, and the place where the present clubhouse sits was the ninth green, which meant you had to climb up the hill to finish your game.
My grandfather (L.D. Felsheim, who owned Western World for 50 years and served several years as a county commissioner) suffered a heart attack while playing, and the doctor told him to stop playing golf. But he didn't. And he died after climbing up to the ninth green . . . doing what he loved to do. He was only in his mid-70s, which seems pretty young to me now.
I have a lot of fond memories of the times I spent at the old course . . . socializing and waiting for my grandparents to finish their round of golf.
* * *
I recently saw an interesting commentary on the Governing website written by a former Cigna executive, Wendell Potter, about the federal health act.
He summed it up by saying: "With all the intentionally misleading information we are being subjected to about Obamacare from politicians and special interests with an obvious agenda, it will be vitally important to reporters to be more responsible in their reporting. Sensational media stories with attention-getting headlines but inadequate analysis will only add to Americans' confusion about a law that in reality will help the vast majority of us."
That advice could pertain not just to Obamacare, but to a lot of subjects that we read about in the news these days.
* * *
Last week, it was announced that the Bandon Community Swimming Pool Development Corporation had purchased a 10-acre parcel of land adjacent to Bandon's City Park.
"The property allows the BCSPDC the opportunity to aggressively apply for new grants while redesigning a smaller swimming pool facility, meeting the needs of the current Bandon community. A smaller pool will allow for efficient use and low operational costs, while the overall size of the property will allow for conservative long range planning for a structured facility growth," said a Facebook post.
I certainly wish them well in obtaining the necessary grants to build and operate the pool since the voters defeated a proposed recreation district that would have funded the venture.
Personally, I love to swim . . . . but it's clear the voters do not support a taxing district to pay for it.
* * *
I attended last Tuesday's meeting of the Coos County Commissioners and I was definitely impressed with the leadership skills of long-time friend John Sweet, who was elected in November.
He runs a great meeting, with a firm, but very kind, hand. He was respectful to everyone who spoke and considering the main topic ... mosquitoes ... there was some pretty emotional testimony.
It's interesting that over 50 years ago, John and I walked down the aisle side by side at the 1957 BHS commencement ... and now we're both in local government.
* * *
If ever there is a story that needs to be told ... across the state and nationwide (where an AP story has made its way), it's that there are basically no mosquitoes in Old Town, at our beaches or at our motels. The major problem has been north of Bandon; unfortunately some of the writers failed to add that to their story and people have been concerned about coming to Bandon.
September and October is our proverbial "Indian Summer" and people are urged to come to Bandon and enjoy all we have to offer ... without fear of being bitten by mosquitoes.
I fully believe that once the abatement is completed, USFWS will do everything they can to make sure this problem does not occur again. They are well aware that removal of the tide gates caused ponding of water, which turned out to be the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
They had not anticipated this problem, but it has occurred in many places across the country on restoration projects. The difference is that most areas have vector control districts to take care of the problem.
Coos County has never had a vector control officer because we have never had a mosquito problem.
Coos County's health department director, Dr. Nikki Zogg, has relied heavily on the expert advice of Jim Lunders, vector control officer for Jackson County, who met with her, Roy Lowe and Dave Ledig from USFWS at the marsh Thursday afternoon to outline the abatement measures that will be taken.
In the beginning, USFWS said they could not contribute to the cost of abatement, but later determined that they would definitely pay the cost of at least the abatement measures on the marsh. Hank Hickox, general manager of Bandon Dunes, received word from owner Mike Keiser that the Dunes would be willing to contribute $10,000 toward the eradication, which was good news.
previous columns by mary schamehorn