Great Faces: Butte Falls’ Mayor Spencer

Butte Falls: a town of 450 residents tucked into a quiet forest off the highway. For Linda Spencer, the mayor of this Southern Oregon town, Butte Falls is a peaceful haven. Though the day-to-day administration of the town has its assortment of challenges, a little problem-solving is nothing new for a former member of the environmental protection agency. After working for the EPA in Washington D.C., Mayor Spencer was loaned to the United Nations’ environmental program, where she spent five years overseeing an environmental information exchange network in 171 countries.

Mayor Spencer

“I was stationed in Nairobi,” Mayor Spencer explains. “I would spend two weeks there, and then two weeks in a different country.” She remembers that Mongolia—a land of stunningly barren landscapes and kind people—was her favorite place to visit. However, with so much traveling, the Butte Falls mayor is certain she spent at least a month of her life in airports. She also had some run-ins with danger.

“I happened to be in one African country when a civil war broke out,” Mayor Spencer recalls. “I was in a hotel with some other UN people, and the two opposing armies were meeting on a strip of beach right outside the hotel. We evacuated the country as soon as we could.”

When asked if she misses traveling at all, Mayor Spencer responds with a quick, ‘No.’ Going between Butte Falls and the larger Southern Oregon cities is enough for her. She left the urban life of Washington D.C. in 2009, choosing to head back to Oregon (where she had grown up), for her retirement. Butte Falls was a happy discovery. “I found a wonderful house in the woods here, and I liked the small community and the good people.”

Despite her peaceful retirement, Mayor Spencer soon found herself needing something to do. She began attending council meetings and investing in the town’s government, and before long, she was elected mayor of Butte Falls. Currently, she’s serving her third term—and has plenty to do. Butte Falls recently purchased of 430-acres of land and has numerous visions stemming from that, along with normal infrastructure projects around the existing town. It’s the hope that in the future, Butte Falls will become a recreation spot, complete with hiking trails, a picnic spot by the waterfall, and a museum about the lumber railroad and the town’s early history.

“People are truly supportive here in Southern Oregon,” concludes Mayor Spencer. “I love being here.”

Strategy 5.4.2. iv– Understand the infrastructure needs in rural communities required to support businesses, especially in communities such as Gold Hill, Shady Cove, and Butte Falls.

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