Fifth grader Wilson Schroeder’s winning poster sits on a table at Philomath City Hall on Monday night. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath Mayor Chas Jones had fun toward the end of the April 10 City Council meeting when he announced winners of the “If I Were Mayor” contest. Jones read a winning essay by seventh grader Olivia Siler and excerpts from a winning poster by fifth grader Wilson Schroeder.

Siler, who won the Middle School category, wrote an essay with several lively suggestions for what she would do if wearing the mayor’s hat. A few highlights:

• “If I were mayor, I would fix that annoying four-way street,” she wrote in reference to Applegate and South 21st. “… It’s all very chaotic, no one knows where to go or when to stop. There’s cars coming from all sides. If I were mayor, I would put a stop light and crosswalk there so we know when to drive and walk.”

• “‘Let’s make dinner,’ oh wait, we don’t have anywhere to buy zucchini, sausage, bell peppers or paprika,” she wrote with commentary on the available options. “If I were mayor I would put a grocery store in the middle of Philomath, accessible to all. Obviously a Trader Joe’s.”

• “I can’t drive. Crazy I know, I’m tall enough. I hate walking 30 minutes to the mini mart for snacks because I don’t have a car or license. If I were mayor, I would put a mini mart in the middle of some neighborhoods,” she wrote. “Teens could get snacks, adults could get coffee, it would be amazing. All my problems would be solved with a mini mart by my house.”

Schroeder, who won the Elementary School category (grades 4-5), also had some interesting suggestions on his poster. Here are a few:

• “Free public water park for everyone and an awesome public park with a huge slide and turf so it doesn’t get muddy. One of the slides empties into the schools and a covered basketball court.”

• “Bike paths along all roads with free bikes and scooters (and helmets) to use around town. A zipline to get from place to place.”

• “Have a logging museum to teach people about the history and future of logging in Oregon. You can try ax-throwing … kids can experience cutting down trees using VR (virtual reality).”

• “Low-cost nursing care home for older people. It would be next to the elementary school so kids can read to the older people and the older people may like the company.”

• “Have machines to make snow. Have a vote when to have snow-making days.”

The two students received an invitation to have lunch with the mayor and to receive gift cards to their favorite Philomath restaurant. The winning entries will be submitted to the League of Oregon Cities to compete for statewide prizes and recognition.

Oh, and I’ll close with Olivia’s pitch for mayor.

“After writing this, I want to be mayor,” she wrote. “It’s all my favorite jobs in one. Plus your own office, yes please. If I were mayor I would make life easier for everyone. Our current mayor is pretty great so I won’t take his job yet. But pretty soon, please vote for me.”

The Dime-a-Dip fundraiser was established at Blodgett Elementary in 1980. (Photo provided by Philomath School District)

2. Dime-A-Dip

Longtime supporters of Blodgett Elementary School undoubtedly feel a sense of disappointment with the traditional Dime-a-Dip fundraiser permanently going away. The Blodgett-Summit Community Club announced that it is no longer able to host the event due to health code regulations.

In its place, the club is organizing a taco bar dinner and auction.

“Community members can still contribute desserts for the auction,” organizers said. “The club is accepting service or item donations to be auctioned off as part of the fundraiser as well.”

The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, in the Blodgett Elementary School gym. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner ($5 per person) starts at 6 p.m. and the auction follows at 7 p.m.

The Dime-a-Dip dinner, which hadn’t been held since before the pandemic, dates back to 1980 when it was established to raise money for the Bill Ayres Memorial Scholarship — a lifelong Blodgett resident who died of cancer in 1979 at age 36. 

You could say that the communitywide potluck event evolved into an annual rite of spring for many in the small community. The scholarship fund component of the fundraiser remained intact over the years and it grants money for up to three high school seniors who had attended Blodgett Elementary.

The College United Methodist Church’s pastor, the Rev. Jim Pierce, has been dealing with a scam involving someone posing as him asking church members for money. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

3. Pastor scammed

The Rev. Jim Pierce, pastor at College United Methodist Church, had an unfortunate message for his congregation last week. He got scammed.

“It looks like someone has been able to connect my name with church member phone numbers and is sending out text messages saying they are me and asking for money,” Pierce said. “This is a scam from someone that has possibly gained access to phone numbers from our church directory.”

As a result, Pierce said the church has removed all public access to the church directory and will no longer publish links in his “Thursday Blast” newsletter. Instead, links to the directory, church calendar and so on will only be sent via direct email that comes from either his or the church’s email address.

Pierce said he found two Lutheran churches in Oregon and one Methodist church in Arkansas that had to post warnings to their members after experiencing similar scams. He pointed out that the church’s donation page on its website is secure and uses PayPal technology for security and safety for donors.

“Never send gift cards or give out any personal financial information to someone unless you have spoken with them personally and made prior arrangements,” said Pierce, who also shared a Reader’s Digest article on other popular scams and how to avoid them.

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

Brad Fuqua

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.