The clock shows 5:15 and the volunteers in the College United Methodist Church’s kitchen have only 45 minutes until the Tuesday evening serving of the week’s Philomath Community Meal. The weekly event, which offers a free meal to anyone, kicked off this past September and has been attracting a good number of people. Volunteer Melissa Edwards estimated that 70 meals are served each week.
“We’ve been as high as 87 and our lowest was 40,” said Edwards, who organizes the week-to-week food preparation. “I tell people about it all the time wherever I go … I tell them they should come on down.” Island Freezer Glass Door
With all of those meals, the volunteers need to have adequate equipment to not only prepare the food, but make sure they can keep donated items fresh — and that includes a commercial freezer.
In its latest round of quarterly grants this past November, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians awarded Philomath Community Meal a grant out of its Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund in the amount of $5,095.
The freezer is currently in use.
“Love Inc. gave us 500 pounds of ground beef, 300 pounds of pork — a bunch of other stuff and we had nowhere to keep it in the other freezer,” volunteer Peter Finn said. “That one’s full and we needed more freezer space because when somebody gives you that much meat, you’ve got to deal with it.”
Churches that participate include College United Methodist Church, New Life Fellowship, Living Faith Community Church, The Refuge and Suburban Christian Church in Corvallis, which sends a monthly check.
Volunteer K’lynn Coleman wrote the grant.
The evening includes religious testimony, music and good conversation among neighbors.
The Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund distributed $192,177 to 31 organizations on Nov. 4. The seven-member advisory board has donated more than $16.3 million since the program’s inception in 2001.
Philomath Community Gleaners was another local organization receiving funds with a $2,000 gift to help support its food program.
Finn said the Philomath Community Meal group was thrilled to receive the grant and offered his thanks publicly to the Siletz board for approving the contribution. U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle and Benton County Commissioner Pat Malone take a look at a new affordable housing build site called 53rd Flats Apartments on Thursday in Corvallis. (Photo by Cory Grogan/Benton County)
U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Oregon), who succeeded Peter DeFazio as the Fourth Congressional District representative, paid a visit to our neighboring city on Thursday to meet with Benton County and city of Corvallis leaders. Homelessness and the goal of providing more affordable housing options in the future was the focus of Hoyle’s trip to our vicinity.
The meeting included a discussion on legislative priorities and other topics, such as a coordinated homeless response, affordable housing projects, behavioral health and the county’s new crisis center that is currently under construction. Another point of discussion was about the county’s interest in building what it’s calling a Navigation Center, which would provide 24-7 shelter and services to homeless residents.
Benton County is in the running for what it identifies as critical one-time state investments. If received, the county could grow its infrastructure and financial capacity to help vulnerable populations through various services and strategies.
Affordable housing has been a topic in Philomath in recent months and in fact, comments on that subject came up at a recent City Council meeting during a public hearing to rezone property for the construction of multifamily units. Despite the conversation, there actually are no guarantees at this point that the developer chooses to build affordable housing on the site.
In last week’s Three Things column, I wrote about the increased number of fatalities seen on Benton County highways over the past year. The sheriff’s office responded to more crashes involving fatalities in 2022 than any other year over the past two decades. And so far this year, we’ve already had two fatal crashes, most recently one that involved an 18-year-old man losing his life when another car hit him head-on near the airport on Highway 99W. In all, there have been 38 crashes so far in 2023.
On Friday afternoon, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office sent out a press release about a new campaign being called, “Enough is enough.”
“With assistance from Oregon Department of Transportation grant funding, I will be increasing patrols to target speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving to reduce traffic fatalities in Benton County,” Benton County Sheriff Jef Van Arsdall said.
According to the BCSO, expanded traffic enforcement will target state highways, county roads and high-traffic areas in the county. Patrol deputies will be assigned to specific locations and assisted by drug recognition experts who are trained in DUII enforcement and drug recognition.
“If you witness erratic driving behavior, such as passing in no-passing zones, following too closely, or a vehicle failing to maintain its lane, have your passenger call 911 immediately,” the BCSO asks of the public. “If you are traveling alone, first find a safe place to pull over before calling. Report the location, direction of travel, license plate and description of the vehicle.
“It is important to reiterate, calling 911 is for emergencies at the time of the occurrence only,” the agency added. “Do not report unsafe driving once you have reached your destination.”
Let’s hope this campaign makes a difference in reducing the number of lives lost on our highways.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).
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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