Mayor Eric Niemann
Eric Niemann

Hello Philomath. We sure have been through a lot together here during 2020: We have suffered through COVID-19, wildfires, civil unrest, online school, economic uncertainty and a firehose full of political rhetoric. Most of our summer traditions like the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo, the wine walk, and the car show were all scrapped. Life just hasn’t felt the same.

What gives me hope is Philomath’s “can-do spirit.” When there was a massive shortage of masks and personal protective equipment this spring, Softstar Shoes retrofitted its plant into a mask-making factory. They just figured it out. Countless individuals dusted off their sewing machines and enlisted in mercy efforts from the Marys River Quilt Guild to the Corvallis Sewing Brigade.

Georgia Pacific stepped up and donated 70 pairs of safety glasses for first responders. Coach Wayne Tinkle and his family swung by Ixtapa and Eats & Treats and loaded a truckload of food and delivered to exhausted first line healthcare workers at Good Samaritan. Thanks coach!

A record number of people showed up at Peace Lutheran Church to give blood in the middle of a pandemic. People helped elderly shut-ins shop for groceries. First responders made prescription deliveries for those in need. Teachers and kids alike pivoted to online school. Charge Forward, a group of high school whiz kids stepped up to fix and give away computers to students in need. Toilet Paper Fairies fluttered through neighborhoods delivering random gifts of toilet paper and much needed smiles.

These people are Philomath’s Better Angels.

We have heard a lot lately that we are a nation divided. On March 5, 1861, Abraham Lincoln gave his inaugural address to a union on the brink of Civil War. He closed his remarks with the following words:

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Nevertheless, the Civil War would start when Fort Sumter was attacked just a month later. We find ourselves at a similar crossroads. Like Lincoln, I would urge everyone in Philomath to rise up and be “better angels” of Philomath. Let’s put our full support behind Mayor-Elect Chas Jones and the newly elected City Council. They need us. Every contribution is significant. Every person matters. We are a team.

Philomath is a “City of Better Angels.” Let’s rise up and prove it!

(Eric Niemann is the mayor of Philomath and writes a monthly column, “Love of Learning,” for the Philomath News. He can be reached at