Mayor Chas Jones, right, handed out historical Philomath photos to each of the former mayors in attendance at last week’s gathering. From left, front, Chris Nusbaum and Dale Collins with Van Hunsker sitting behind them and Eric Niemann in the back. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Mayor Chas Jones and four former mayors gathered at Philomath City Hall last week to remember the late Jeannine Gay, who died Sept. 26 at age 92, and took the opportunity to pose for a group photo.

Jones arranged for the gathering to take place a half-hour prior to the Oct. 23 City Council meeting.

“I thought it was important that we honored Jeannine Gay and to bring all of the mayors together and try to pay tribute to her legacy and just honor the cumulative contributions of all the mayors that we have still with us,” Jones said. “It was a really powerful thing and something that just doesn’t happen very often. It’s something I wanted to try to pull together.”

In attendance were Dale Collins (mayor from 1977-80), Van Hunsaker (1991-94 and 1997-2002), Chris Nusbaum (2003-08) and Eric Niemann (2019-20). Jones is in his second term as mayor, holding the position since 2021.

Jones led a short presentation with thank yous for the contributions that the past mayors had made to the city and passed out historical Philomath photos to each of those in attendance. 

Jones has been interested in the city’s mayoral history and has enlisted the city recorder, historical society and others to try to piece together an accurate list since the town’s founding dating back to W.T. Bryan.

From left, former mayors Dale Collins (1977-80), Van Hunsaker (1991-94 and 1997-2002), Chris Nusbaum (2003-08) and Eric Niemann (2019-20), and current mayor Chas Jones (since 2021), pose for a group photo in front of the city logo at City Hall. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“The first election of the city of Philomath occurred yesterday (Dec. 7, 1882); we were not present but learn that they set a good example to other towns, by permitting the ladies who paid taxes to vote,” the Corvallis Gazette published in 1882. “The result of which was that the talented and larger men in the city were elected to the principal offices.” Those elected included M. Boone, marshal, W.T. Bryan, mayor, and Julious Brownson, recorder.

Jones said he also would like to collect as many photos of past mayors as possible to perhaps one day put on display at City Hall.

Former Mayor Eric Niemann reads an article written by the late Jeannine Gay during a special gathering at City Hall last week. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“I’ve seen other cities that have done that and you know, I wish we would’ve thought of it a hundred years ago but I figured that we could go and start now and look, do some research in the archives, and see if we can find some photos of some of the other mayors and get them onto the wall,” he said.

As part of the gathering, the group shared recollections of Jeannine Gay, who served as mayor in 1989-90. Niemann read an article penned by Gay published in March 1990 by the Corvallis Gazette-Times in a special section called “Turning the Corner: How our community will change in the 1990s.”

Gay, who was mayor at the time, wrote an article about Philomath that included an upbeat perspective but also identified issues that the city must address — “traffic flow, new streets, environment and adequate housing for all income levels.”

From left, queen candidates Allie Nuhring and Cheyenne Phillips, 2023 queen Anya Hester, and candidates Katie Kilcullen and Carly Dowless gather for a photo. (Photo by Eric Niemann)

2. Frolic’s new rodeo queen

The Philomath Frolic and Rodeo’s new queen for 2024 will be Elmira High School junior Katie Kilcullen. The local organization held its tryouts Oct. 22 and organizer Leanna Buck said it was a tough contest with four exceptional contestants.

Joining Kilcullen at the competition were Carly Dowless, Allie Nuhring and Cheyenne Phillips.

The event started at 9 a.m. with horsemanship at Black Diamond Farms, which is owned by Tiffany Decker. Afterward, the contest moved to Philomath City Hall where the candidates had lunch with judges, went through personal interviews and completed a rodeo knowledge test. Then it was on to modeling, speech and the impromptu question portion of the contest.

The final results had Kilcullen winning with Nuhring as the runner-up. Kilcullen earned four categorical awards — horsemanship, personality, speech and congeniality. Nuhring won awards for photogenics and appearance. Dowless earned the knowledge award.

Kilcullen, 16, has been involved in equestrian sports from a very young age. She is currently in her second year of high school equestrian with participation in several events — working rancher, reigning, team sorting, pole bending, showmanship and drill.

Last year as a freshman, she competed with a 30-year-old drill team called Mane Attraction. She participated in two years of 4-H showing her horse. When not on a horse, she plays high school volleyball, goes fishing with her grandfather and friends, attends church and volunteers at Many Miles to Home dog rescue.

On a side note, Katie is the daughter of the late Chris K. Kilcullen, a Eugene police officer killed in the line of duty in 2011.

Kilcullen will take over queen duties in 2024. The current queen, Anya Hester, remains in place through the end of the year.

The Pollinator Paradise plate was designed by teenager Marek Stanton. (Photo by Ellen Silva via OSU Extension Service)

3. The bees are coming

Beavers, ducks, whales, salmon, mule deer and now, bees. Oregon’s newest license plate, available beginning Nov. 1, features a honeybee in the upper right corner hovering over hives and a large bumblebee to the left approaching a flower. A field of red clover provides background.

Called “Pollinator Paradise,” the plate was designed by teenager Marek Stanton, a student at Summit Learning Center in Eagle Rock.

“The license plate drew much media and public attention when announced last January,” said Kym Pokorny, a public service communications specialist at Oregon State. “Demand for the 3,000 plates needed to be pre-ordered before production quickly outstripped supply.”

Stanton is the youngest member ever of the intense Master Melittologist program headed by Andony Melathopoulos, Oregon State University Extension pollinator specialist. The program studies bees native to Oregon and Stanton attended the class with his mother (he was too young to join by himself).

The pollinator program will benefit from $35 of the proceeds from the $40 surcharge for the plate, which will be available from the Department of Motor Vehicles and some car dealerships when buying a car, Pokorny said. The surcharge will repeat every two years.

(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.