Philomath City Councilor Diane Crocker, center, poses for a photo with two of her former music students, Christopher McMorran and Anna (Remington) Scharf. McMorran is now a Philomath city councilor himself and Scharf is the District 23 House representative. (Photo provided by Diane Crocker)

City councilors Ruth Causey, Diane Crocker and Christopher McMorran, and City Manager Chris Workman, were in Salem this week to mingle with state lawmakers, including those who represent Philomath as part of their districts.

It was all part of “City Day at the Capitol,” an event organized through the League of Oregon Cities that invites current elected and appointed state officials to meet with mayors, city councilors and city staff members.

Rep. David Gomberg (D-Otis), who now represents Philomath as part of District 10, gave the Philomath crew a tour of the House of Representatives floor. Gomberg serves as co-vice chair of the Ways and Means budgeting committee and co-chair of Transportation and Economic Development.

Philomath City Manager Chris Workman chats with Rep. David Gomberg while Philomath City Councilor Christopher McMorran looks on on Wednesday while on a tour of the House floor. (Photo provided by Diane Crocker)

City Day at the Capitol included presentations by the League of Oregon Cities’ government relations team on legislative priorities and briefings from Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek and legislative leadership about priorities for the 2023 session.

Crocker took a time out for a photo with two of her former Philomath students — Rep. Anna Scharf (R-Amity) and McMorran. Scharf graduated as Anna Remington with the PHS Class of 1987 and she now represents House District 23, which includes portions of Yamhill and Polk counties. McMorran, a PHS Class of 2017 graduate, serves as the chief of staff for Rep. Lisa Reynolds (D-Beaverton).

The League of Oregon Cities described the event as a city’s “chance to stand with other city officials from around Oregon in support of legislative actions that will return greater local authority over local decisions. It is also the time to let legislators know how actions they take could impact our communities and the difficult decisions we make. By coming together, our collective voices will make a difference in advancing our legislative agenda.”

Benton County will host a Justice System Improvement Program bond measure open house on Feb. 8 at the Kalapuya Building on Research Way in Corvallis. (File photo by Canda Fuqua/Philomath News)

2. New county complex plans

Voters will decide on whether to mark “yes” or “no” on their ballots in the May 16 special election for the Justice System Improvement Program bond measure. County officials, including Benton County Sheriff Jef Van Arsdall, are out and about talking about the need for the new complex and programs.

The proposed plans include new facilities for the county jail, courthouse, district attorney’s office, sheriff’s office, mental health crisis center, emergency operations center and a homelessness services facility.

Van Arsdall spoke last week to the Philomath Rotary Club about the county’s plans. The public can learn more about all of this at an upcoming open house on Feb. 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the county’s Kalapuya Building (4500 SW Research Way, Corvallis).

More will be written on this topic in the future but a quick glance shows the bond amount at $110 million. The cost to taxpayers would be approximately $150 to $155 per year on a home with the average tax-assessed value of $266,000 or market value of about $450,000, according to materials published by Benton County.

The U.S. Marine Reserves collected items in Philomath for its Toys for Tots program during a visit in December. Here, local resident Doug Edmonds helps them load donated toys onto their truck. (File photo by Eric Niemann)

3. Toys for Tots numbers

In December a couple of weeks before Christmas, Marine Corps veteran David Bagley received a Quilt of Valor during a surprise presentation here in Philomath. Among those helping out were a sergeant and corporal from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Center in Springfield.

As part of the get-together that afternoon, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves collected gifts to be passed along to children through the Toys for Tots program — which just celebrated its 75th year. Several people brought in toys that made the return trip with them to Springfield.

Earlier this week, retired Lt. Gen. James B. Laster, who is president and chief executive officer of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, reported a record-breaking year for the program.

“With your generous support, we were able to provide over 23 million toys, books and other gifts to 9.8 million children in need,” Laster wrote in an email sent out to those who organized toy drives. “In a year when inflation and other economic challenges made it difficult for children and families to access even the most basic necessities, it was donors like you who stepped in to spread joy and make the year brighter for those in need.”

(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.