Philomath 2000 Project was established to lay out plans for the future of the city of Philomath. This overview incompasses various stages of growth that the organization was involved in for approxamatly 10 years. Mary's River Park, Annual Walk for Trees, Library Project, Philomath Community Foundation and others. So what follows is the general timeline on different community accomplishments.
In 1986, the Philomath 2000 Project was birthed. A Town Hall Meeting was called by Mayor Jack Kempees to identify the strengths and weakness of our community. The Mayor enlisted business and community leaders to participate in a goal setting session that lasted nearly a year. The group included lots of local citizens who spent one or two evenings per week in a facilitated program to identify needs and strengths. The goals that had been outlined during the planning sessions were accepted by the City of Philomath and adopted by the city council of Mayor Jeannie Gay in 1987.
Eighteen to twenty members that had been involved in the original planning continued to meet. They established a non-profit 501© 3 in order to accept donations of products, labor and money to achieve the goals. The name of the organization was to be Project Philomath Year 2000. Pacific Power donated the funds to print a brochure that outlined in as easily understood manner the projects that had been identified. More than a dozen large goals were set, many of which would require several smaller goals to accomplish. During the year 1987, business and community leaders met and decided to organize as a group to lead the projects to achieve the mission goals.
Original officers were, Don Gist, Pres., Mac McConnell, VP, Maggie Sweetin, Sec., Michelle Heilman, Treas. Members Dan & Nancy Ramsey (DnD Market), Chris Shonnard (Shonnards Nursery), Larry Sleeman (Philomath Middle School), Jeff Lamb (Auto Cars), Ted Gregg (Village Square) and David Vincent were active from the start. Eighteen to twenty members including the two Mayors, Jack Kempees and Jeannie Gay were attending the meetings and involved in the original implementation of the first project (Mary’s River Park). Mayor Kempees and President Don Gist negotiated the purchase agreement for the 28 acres of land. The major fundraising event to help pay for the park was held at Morgan Manor (Rollie & Joan Bowers). The event chaired by Jeff Lamb was a huge success and set the stage for future projects, and a strong identity for the Philomath Year 2000 Project. In October of 1989, a ribbon cutting ceremony took place at Mary’s River Park to celebrate the opening of the park to the public. (Pictures are posted on website)
The long term vision and dream of purchasing the old Olsen Homestead, which would become Mary’s River Park, was to be the host of the new Philomath Civic Center. This new Civic Center would be comprised of a new Library, City Hall, Community Center and Police Station. Architect Gary Moye of Eugene, Oregon, put together the original master plan on this concept. (Architects plans posted on website)
Philomath 2000 sponsored a program in 1989 in conjunction with the City of Philomath and the School District to plant hundreds of trees around town, in an effort to be designated as a “Tree City USA town,” which was very successful and did lead to Philomath being designated a “Tree City USA town,.” The annual “Walk for Trees,” and planting program went on for several years, under Philomath 2000 sponsorship with the business’s and community support. (Photos and history posted on website under “Annual Walk for Trees”)
In May of 1991, Philomath 2000 collaborated with the City of Philomath and the Benton County Library Director, Debra Jacobs, to be the lead fundraising organizations when we were made aware that a Federal Library Construction Grant was available if the community could raise $125,000 in matching funds. Philomath 2000’s Vice President, Jeff Lamb, was appointed fund raising chairman for the library project. The library project attracted national news coverage when the federal department of labor informed Philomath in 1992, that they could not use volunteers to build their new library because of a law called the Davis-Bacon act. The public uproar over this federal decision was instrumental in getting a federal waiver for the Philomath Library project. The next obstacle for the library was the government declaring the site Wetlands in 1993 and issued a stop work order which also drew national news media attention. The public outcry was so great that the Army Core of Engineers changed their mind and work continued once again.
In 1994 many national and local politicians came to Philomath, both US Senators, Bob Packwood and Mark Hatfield among the many more. Senator Hatfield felt so bad about how the government had treated our volunteers, with the help of (BOLT) Build Our Library Together and others, he passed legislation know as the “Philomath Act”, which exempts volunteers from the “Davis Bacon Act” on certain types of self help programs when federal grant monies are involved.
The library project was completed with a ribbon cutting ceremony in June 1995.
In 1996 with a new library and city hall completed, Philomath 2000 unsuccessfully tried to get the mayor and city council to support a community center which would have an amphitheater on the south side of the facility for the concept of concerts in the park.
In the late 1990’s, the city had formed a new goal setting committee named the Community Response Team (CRT). One of the goals determined by the CRT was the need to establish a foundation with a non-profit status, to accept a donation from a local donor. The offer of a sizeable sum of money as start up for this foundation made it necessary to try to find a non-profit that was already established with community goals and able to accept gifts that were tax deductible.
Through 1996 and 1997 Philomath 2000 made many new friends, one of the friends was Steve Kearsley, Steve had come to Philomath and liked the feel of the community and made a decision to make this his new home. Steve discussed with the Philomath 2000 board of directors his idea’s on creating a “Community Foundation”. This set in motion discussions with the city, Community Response Team “CRT”, Philomath Community Development Team, Philomath 2000 and other interested parties. By August and September a plan to create “Philomath Community Foundation” was well on its way. Through much cooperation with the city and Mr. Kearsley’s time and his very generous monetary donation, Philomath 2000 decided to transfer its 501 C-3 non profit status to the new “Philomath Community Foundation”.
This ended a decade of service to the community by the “Philomath 2000” group.
As the year 2000 approached ten major goals had been attained or were operational through their own committee or organization. More than 500 volunteers worked on the projects over a ten-year period, thus the recognition as “community of volunteers, “for the city of Philomath and Western Benton County. Attendance at events promoted by the 2000 projects resulted in combined attendance of thousandths of citizens and from our community. Two of the goals were determined to not be attainable in the near future. In 1996 the City Council decided the Community Center was not a goal in their current plan. Many of the 2000 members were frustrated that the Community Center would not go forward, because the City was not interested, some members dropped out or just became inactive. The lake project was not attainable because the property had a large amount of Wetlands, and a section near the middle was identified as needing a clean up due to chemicals and waste.
The months that followed produced mission statements, goals, literature and by November of 1997 a new board of directors for the foundation was being considered. All interested parties felt that the new board should be comprised of some former Philomath 2000 members, city, school district, chamber, CRT and members from the community at large. In April of 1998 the new board elected Jeff Lamb/Pres., Tony Hoyman/Vice Pres., Don Gist/Secretary, Steve Kearsley/Treasurer, Kevin Collins/PSD, Terry Osborne/Pastoral Ass., Helen Moore/Chamber, Marilyn Slinski/City of Philomath and Leslie Engle/Shrewsbury Fair.
The foundation was now in business and began its outreach to the community. One of the first programs was to assume the sponsorship of the annual “Walk for Trees” program. PCF founded the “Community Youth Service Recognition Award” program. The foundation sponsored Philomath’s new skate park and various scholarships, see (G-Times 9/28/98) and “Philomath Plants A Good Foundation”, (Gazette Times editorial 10/1/98).
In 1999 the foundation added sponsorship of events such as, PHS Senior Party, Shrewsbury Scholarship, PHS Mary’s River Watershed Council, City of Philomath Beautification project, High School Media Class and helped restore Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Mary’s River Park, see (Gazette Times 4/20/99). All of the above were funded by foundation grants. The foundation has consistently supported Philomath Community Services, PYAC, Chamber annual Christmas Lights celebration and many more over the years.
Jeff Lamb stepped down as President of PCF, in June 2000 the board appointed Steve Kearsley/President and Don Gist/Vice President.The original intent of the founders was that this organization would be a work in progress, change and evolve in the future years.