Philomath City Attorney Jim Brewer plans to retire at the end of March. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The city of Philomath needs a good lawyer.

Not because the local municipality is in any sort of particular legal trouble — well, as far as we know — but because longtime city attorney Jim Brewer plans to retire.

Philomath will be entering new legal territory after its long association with the Brewer & Coulombe law firm and its predecessors. The firm dates back to the late 1970s with James Eickelberg and Scott Fewel working in private practice but also municipal law. Brewer became a partner in 1994, Eickelberg retired in 1995, David Coulombe became a partner in 2002 and Fewel retired in 2017.

Brewer has long been associated with Philomath as a deputy city attorney and city attorney.

Brewer joked at the Aug. 28 City Council meeting that he and Coulombe “are getting old” and also mentioned that Catherine Pratt, who has served in the role of deputy city attorney for Philomath, is moving on to another position.

Brewer plans to retire at the end of March.

“That should give you some lead time and to give us enough time early next year to hand over the lots of boxes that we have going back to 1988 on some things,” Brewer said.

From the conversation that occurred, it sounds like Philomath should brace itself for paying a lot more for legal services. In fact, the term “sticker shock” was thrown around more than once.

 “I think the disservice that we’ve done for some of our clients, including Philomath, is we have not billed enough and haven’t increased rates over the years sufficiently. Part of that is I’m just a lousy businessman,” Brewer told councilors while making fun of himself for a moment. “But what we’re seeing are hourly rates from the firms that do municipal law for small cities and large cities … that are in the $235 to $450 (per hour) range — mostly depending on the experience of the attorneys who are doing the work — and it’s the type of work. Prosecution work is a little on the cheaper side.”

The city may have the opportunity to split things up in certain ways with its legal services.

Philomath will have its work cut out to replace Brewer and the search could realistically go on longer than anticipated. Brewer said that from talking to other local firms, they’ve had problems trying to recruit attorneys to the Corvallis area.

If you’re wondering, Philomath wouldn’t be able to afford in-house counsel.

“If we can find somebody local who wants to do this, it is rewarding, it’s a tremendous intellectual exercise and you get to work with great people,” Brewer said, who said he will help with the recruiting process. “My suspicion is it’s going to be hourly and not a fixed amount because I think that’s where people want to be.”

The city may need to have a serious discussion about how it will manage the time that an attorney spends on specific tasks.

City Manager Chris Workman said he has been in communication with Mark Shepard, Corvallis city manager, on the matter. Brewer is also the Corvallis city attorney.

The city plans to develop a request for proposals and will bring it back to the September meeting for councilors to review. After the RFP is released, then the process to bring in applications and perform interviews gets started, something that could go on throughout the winter months.

Lilly’s Lope for Hope will be staged Oct. 21 and online registration is now open for those who would like to participate. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

2. Lilly’s Lope registering runners

Lilly’s Lope for Hope, the local 5-kilometer fundraiser that raises awareness of youth suicide, will go on as planned Oct. 21 under a new organizer — the Old Mill Center for Children and Families.

As you might remember, local resident Paula May, the aunt of suicide victim Lilly Stagner, organized the run and its causes for nine years but felt it was time to pass it on.

Daniel Surfass, Old Mill’s development manager, released the details of the race and said online registration has opened.

The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. with pre-race activities, including a silent auction and on-site registration, at Philomath City Park. The 5K run will start at 10 a.m.

Registration options and current advance purchase rates include individual ($25 adults, $15 for ages 17 and under), family ($60 for two adults, two children) and group ($20 adults, $10 children for four or more).

Organizers plan to keep the silent auction open until 11:30 a.m. and immediately following, there will be a “Fun Run” relay race.

Funds raised from the event help provide mental health counseling and prevention education for Philomath and Benton County youth.

Sponsorships are needed and range from $250 to $5,000 with various perks and promotions for businesses. For those interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Surfass at 541-757-8068 or

For more information on the race, donating auction items and several other ways to become involved, check out Old Mill Center’s Lilly’s Lope for Hope webpage.

3. Siletz help Community Meal effort

The Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund’s awards to various organizations in the region earlier this year included $1,177.85 to help support the Philomath-based Community Meal effort.

K’Lynn Coleman, Community Meal volunteer, said the money was used to purchase kitchen equipment to help prepare the free weekly meals at College United Methodist Church.

“We had been using utensils on hand at the CUMC to prepare the food,” Coleman said. “The Siletz grant allowed us to buy new dishes, knives, steam pans, frying pans, a mixer and other utensils.”

The multi-church effort offers free meals at 6 p.m. Tuesdays each week at CUMC, which is located at 1123 Main St. (the church right next to the Philomath Museum). 

The seven-member charitable fund advisory board of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians has distributed more than $16.8 million since the program’s inception in 2001. The grants have had a significant impact on not only the Community Meal, but several other local organizations over the years.

The charitable fund advisory board awarded $5,095 to the Community Meal effort through its November 2022 grants for the purchase of a commercial freezer.

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

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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