The first picture I am sharing will bring back memories for a lot of us old-timers and will be an interesting story for newcomers. I remember clearly that mother was driving us to school the morning of Nov. 3, 1953, and when we rounded the corner at the end of First Street, headed up Edison Avenue hill, we were shocked to see that a huge ship had run aground at the end of the South Jetty.
The S.S. Oliver Olson, a 307-foot lumber carrier that had been operating between Bandon and San Pedro for several years, was hard aground on submerged rocks of the South Jetty at the entrance to the Bandon harbor.
The Western World reported: "Caught in a cross-current while entering the mouth of the river at 8:40 a.m., the vessel could not be straightened out by the man at the wheel and the stern struck the submerged rocks, holding the ship fast. Powerless to move forward, the ship's bow was soon swung in the same direction by the current, leaving the vessel parallel to the jetty."
Preparations for salvage operations finally began in mid-December by a Napa, Calif., company who bought the ship from the insurance company. A suspension bridge was erected between the old piling of the South Jetty and the stern of the ship, high enough to be above the break of the surf.
Fred Robertson of Robertson's concrete plant did the grading, and Bandon Rock rocked the road that led from the foot of Edison Avenue to the South Jetty. The salvage job was expected to take about four months and employ 20 people.
For weeks after the ship went aground, it was a huge attraction as hundreds streamed to the area to get a closer look.
This is one of the pictures that Bob Fisher has shared with me.
This second photo was taken in 1960, as Mr. Peanut (Mike Anthony) talked with several local youngsters, including Gary Potterf and probably Scott Sutherland (with his back to the camera). They were on Second Street near the intersection of Baltimore Avenue in front of Erdman's City Market (now the Lloyd's Cafe building). In the back I can see Eloise Bowder holding a child, and a short distance away, her daughter, Marilyn Strycker.
How many of you remember when the kindergarten was on Ninth Street where the district office is now located? This photo was taken in December of 1958.
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Let's say, for example, you owned a small grocery store, and one day your customers voted not to allow you to ever raise prices. Your merchandise continued to rise in price and other expenses increased, but you could not raise your prices. You kept going back to your customers, explaining your situation, but still they said "no increases." Eventually, you could no longer remain in business, and you were forced to close your doors.
This is essentially the same situation faced by the City of Bandon, but we cannot stop providing clean water and treated sewage ... just because we are not allowed to raise our rates without a vote of the people. This charter amendment was put in place more than 20 years ago by the voters; in the early years we were allowed to raise rates just enough to pay our pre-existing agreements with the state on sewer and water bonds. Those agreements have now been paid off, and we are facing an emergency in our ability to operate and maintain both the sewer and the water utility.
Not only can we not fund day to day operation and maintenance of our facilities, but the sewage treatment plant is nearing the end of its 20-year life and will require extensive upgrades.
The City Council has been entrusted to take care of the health and welfare of the people of Bandon.
The city's utility commission recommended at the May council meeting that the city council declare an emergency, which will require us to raise our water rates 21 percent and our sewer rates 28 percent.
Based on the basic bill, which provides 2,000 gallons of water a month, your bill will go up approximately $11.30 a month.
I looked at my last utility bill. I used 1,000 gallons of water for a water and sewer bill of $46.22. Even if I had used 2,000 gallons of water, my bill would have gone up only $11.30 to $57.52 . In the summer, if I choose to keep a green lawn and water almost daily (whether I need to or not), my bill will increase. If I don't, the increase will continue to be $11.30.
I computed the increase based on someone using 5,000 gallons of water a month, and found that their increase would be $15.27, including $5.75 for water and $9.52 for sewer. Their bill would go from $61.40 to $76.67.
How does that same usage compare with our neighbors? In Myrtle Point your bill would be $70 a month; Powers, $77 a month; Coos Bay, $72; Port Orford, $83 a month; Brookings, $100 a month, and Coquille, $124 a month. And not only that, our electric bills are cheaper than either Coos-Curry Electric or Pacific Power.
As one member of our utilities commission put it so well: if we are not able to prevent raw sewage from spilling out onto the bay and we can no longer provide safe, clean drinking water, the state could well step in, take over our utilities, and charge whatever is necessary to maintain both systems. That is the last thing we want to happen!
We have dedicated people at both our sewer and water plants. All they ask is they have the resources to maintain those systems. That is why the utilities commission is urging that the City Council ... declare an emergency.
Once the increase has been put into effect, we will hold a town hall meeting to explain our short and long-range plans and what led up to the emergency declaration.
Again, we are talking about an increase of less than $12 a month for those of us who use less than 2,000 gallons of water a month.
It is time to bite the bullet and do what we can to preserve our water and sewer systems and keep the state out of our business!
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I was sorry to learn that Diana Fraser Holland died on Mother's Day after losing her battle with pancreatic cancer. Diana, who graduated from BHS with the class of 1968, was here for her 50th class reunion in September, and that's when friends learned of her diagnosis. Her daughter, Tara, posted a beautiful tribute to her on Facebook this week. She is also survived by her husband, Paul (Wayne) Holland, and her siblings, Daniel, Darlene and Russ Fraser.
I also learned that former Bandon postmaster Dave Robinson of Myrtle Point had died on May 17. Pastor Dave was best known for his disaster preparedness columns that he had written for area newspapers for the last few years. He also wrote a book titled "Disaster Prep for the Rest of Us," which was published in 2014. I was editor of The Herald, which was one of the first papers to carry his column. In the copy of the book he gave me, it reads: "Mary, without your support and encouragement, this book would not have been possible. Best to you, Dave Robinson."
Dave was truly one of the good guys, and everyone who knew him, loved and respected him. He served in the Air Force in Vietnam and had a background in law enforcement.
We also lost long-time Lion Dick O'Grady, who died recently at the age of 97.
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We've had a lot of meetings lately, including five budget meetings and several evaluation sessions, but soon my thoughts will turn to several programs that I have agreed to host at the Bandon Historical Society Museum. The first will be Saturday, July 6, with my first-hand account of the arson fire that destroyed Bandon High School in 1974, highlighted by the photos that I took that night as well as the next day.
The program will be presented twice that day, at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m., as our space at the museum is not that large.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, Jim Proehl and I will be sharing photos from my Western World collection, taken during the '50s, '60s and probably some of the '70s. We're also planning to have two programs that day, probably at 11 and 2.
If you like the photos that I've been posting in my column, you won't want to miss the August program.