It’s a Thanksgiving tradition in many families — you all take a seat at the table and take turns at sharing what you’re thankful for before digging into the turkey, stuffing and grandma’s green gelatin with the carrot shavings.

In that spirit, I would like to share what I’m most thankful for living and working in Philomath.

• My news contacts. As a newsman reporting on this community since January 2015, I’m thankful for the numerous “sources” that always cooperate with me when it comes to my requests for information. Rich Saalsaa at Philomath Fire & Rescue often beats me to the punch and sends me details about a newsworthy event before I even have a chance to contact him. Ken Rueben at the police station is another one who comes to mind as always being receptive to my questions. And there are many others — too many to list here.

• The city’s transparency. I’ve worked in quite a few communities throughout my 34 years of professional journalism and Philomath’s city government beats them all when it comes to transparency. I mean, it’s not even close. Weekly newsletters, a website that’s regularly updated, public meetings live-streamed online, social media, regularly posted agendas for any upcoming meetings and public hearings. I know there are some folks who don’t see it this way but that hasn’t been my experience. If I can’t find what I’m looking for through any of those other methods, I just shoot an email/text or make a phone call to Chris Workman, Chelsea Starner or Ruth Post.

• Public places to work. There are times when plain and simple — I get tired of working in my little 10-by-10-foot home office. Or, there are instances when I need to interview someone for a story and it might be most appropriate to do it in a public space. When those come up, I most often suggest that we meet at Timber Towne Coffee. I was so glad when we got a sit-down coffee shop right here in town. If it’s available, I most often use a little room the coffee shop has in the back (I record interviews and noises are less intense back there). I’ve also worked at Dirt Road Brewing, Vinwood Taphouse and The Woodsman, and if the weather is awesome, I’ll even sit at a picnic table in one of our city parks.

• The annual events. Philomath has a lot of great options for fun throughout the year — including next week with the Christmas Tree Lighting. Of course, the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo would top the list for most of us with the best of our community on display whether it’s at one of the many activities or the parade or just walking around amongst neighbors. But I will admit that the Public Safety Chili Cook-off is probably my favorite of the year. In fact, I usually only spend about 30 minutes actually “covering it” as a news story because I want to get the work behind me and relax by sampling the wide array of tastes along with a few cold beers on a hot afternoon. There are many other events that are very, very cool and fun but I really love chili.

• The response to local news. Since I first started my career at newspapers full-time after earning my journalism degree in 1988, I’ve worked at nine newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon. Each of these communities where I worked had many things that I loved but Philomath really does stand out. I have never worked in a town where people are so appreciative for having local news available to them — and being so vocal about it. In my previous role working for the print newspaper that no longer exists, I received so many comments at public events, emails and even cards and letters expressing their thanks to me that it served as the driving force behind my decision to launch the Philomath News. The response from folks willing to contribute money to the cause of helping this news site’s goal of sustainability further illustrates this wonderful characteristic of Philomath.

• The history. As many of you might guess through some of my writing, I’m a history nut and Philomath scratches that itch for me in various ways. A few years ago, I really got lost in doing research on Reuben Shipley, the former slave who donated land to help establish Mount Union Cemetery. I’ve been working on a “book” for a few years now attempting to write a history of Philomath athletics, although it’s a huge project that I probably will never be able to finish. But these research projects that I give myself provide a lot of insight about the history of our town. For example, I might be trying to find stories about Philomath’s town baseball team and its series of games against Scio in the late 1890s but will get sidetracked reading about something else that happened in town and appeared in an old newspaper. This town has a fascinating history.

• Philomath’s people. I’ll end with my appreciation for the many people that I’ve come to meet and know here in Philomath. I’ve always been a little on the shy side — yes, I talk to people for a living to report news but I’m actually someone who can be awkward when putting myself out there. Still, I’ve reached a nice comfort level here in Philomath that I haven’t felt in other communities. Perhaps it goes back to that appreciation for local news, but I feel many of you have become friends — like, you would watch my kids if I had some sort of emergency or would help me move a heavy treadmill to the second floor of my house (yes, that happened). A couple of weeks ago, I was at a public event providing coverage and this very nice, older woman here in town that I haven’t crossed paths with in a long time came up to me and threw an arm around me to say hello. It might seem silly, but that little gesture meant a lot and warmed my heart.

Those are a few reasons why I’m thankful to be living and working in Philomath. I could probably add a dozen more reasons but you get the idea.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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