Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I enjoyed going to the Franklin County Fair this week…typical fair weather – hot, hot, hot!! I must admit however it causes memories to flood my mind when attending the fair and walking around the grounds. When our children were growing up, each summer the fair and cattle shows were our family vacations. We prepared baked goods, woodworking projects, sewing projects and garden produce for weeks in advance of the fair…the week before the fair the kids would spend hours working with, clipping and grooming their cattle for the annual event. Here are a few pictures from last night…mostly the local chapter of the Kansas Livestock Association annual barbeque. Daughter number 1, Whitney and her husband Joe brought their 2 Johnson County girls down to experience rural life…and for mom to relive some of her childhood. When growing up Whitney won several state competitions for showmanship…she was comfortable around livestock from the time she could walk. Not so much with her city raised daughters…here are a few pictures of their experience last night
 
I honestly believe the fair is as close to an annual community reunion as we have locally. At the barbeque last evening there were more former friends and acquaintances than I could possibly greet…tonight the Dustin Evans band performs from 8:00-10:30. Cherry and I will be there – you should go too. It is absolutely fantastic Midwest fun!! Read to the end for another big concert announcement for our Legacy Square Grand Opening.
 
Old City Hall:
 
Converting the former City Hall at 4th and Walnut Streets into downtown apartments with an additional few short-term rentable spaces has been a project which has fascinated me since it began…I toured the construction project this week (here are a few pictures). I remember going in this building as a young boy to pay our water bill…it was the school district office when I was on the school board. Located right on the Prairie Spirit Trail…what a great repurpose!! Proprietors Rick & Diane Deitz shared there will be 10 living spaces created in the new old facility. Another example of an old, well-constructed downtown building which has had numerous reiterations during its lifetime and is being refurbished one more time for new life and purpose…also another example of local venturists stepping to the plate and investing in our downtown and community. It’s no wonder other Kansas communities are jealous of our local initiatives and success.    
 
New Car Wash:
 
Not everything going on is refurbishing…plenty of new construction too. Here are pictures of the new Club Car Wash construction at 2230 S. Princeton Street (former Sirloin Stockade location)…not much construction yet actually – mostly deconstruction up to this point. The lot is bare and there is a staging area filled with future building materials…some cutting of the existing concrete and establishment of underground utilities has taken place. Here is the website of the future new local business: www.clubcarwash.com Many have asked how does their business model work…go to their webpage and check it out. 
 
Campaign Season:
 
I love that our Republic has maintained democracy all these 200+ years…I hate the way our political campaigns have evolved (or denigrated) over time. Still…in order to preserve our freedoms going forward we are obligated to invest our efforts into discovering new and best candidates. The first (of whom I’m sure will be many) candidate for the Kansas U.S. Senate seat campaigned in Ottawa on Thursday this week…Dave Lindstrom (here are pictures). He is a former Johnson County Commissioner, also former trustee on the Johnson County Community College board and successful Kansas City businessman…some will remember him for playing defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1977-1983 – (the lean years for Chiefs fans). To date, Dave is one of three candidates in the Republican primary race (here is his website). Former Kansas Secretary of State and failed governor candidate Kris Kobach, current Kansas Treasurer, Jacob LaTurner, and Mr. Lindstrom have all declared thus far…the republican prize, which is an open seat being resigned by longtime Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, is expected to gain many more contenders. It will be hotly contested and we will all be SO tired of bearing the campaign with its mailings and advertisements by the time November 3, 2020 rolls around…my hat is off to individuals willing to commit their time to serve our state and nation.   
 
2020 Trip Announcement:
 
We have 89 local travelers getting ready to visit Greece this fall…many have stopped in to indicate their happy and anxious anticipation of the trip. This week we announced our 2020 trip (drum roll please): Provence and the French Riviera…follow the link to learn about the trip. This 9-day adventure will be at the low cost of $3,099.00 which includes most meals and all transportation. The voyage is set to leave November 5, 2020 to the southern regions of France…additionally there is an opportunity to add a 2-day optional extension to travel into Italy for $599.00. You should consider this…these trips are fun and a great way to meet new friends or travel with longtime friends or family!  Call (785.242.1000) or email Sherri to learn more or make your reservation today.
 
New Downtown Business:
 
Yes you read right…another new retail store opening in our downtown – locating in the former Brown’s Shoe Fit building and soon to open is Gold Rush Mercantile (pictures here). I met proprietor Matt Jones this week…he currently has a business in downtown Gardner but is so impressed with the progress of Ottawa he is moving his store here from there. His offerings will include quality antiques, handcrafted items and flea market objects. He is anxious to be open here but didn’t give me an expected opening date. He is working on refreshing the building and preparing for the move. Welcome to Ottawa Mark…looking forward to another new business on our Main Street.
 
Legacy Square Update:
 
Progress continues at a good pace on our future downtown event space…here are this week’s pictures. Contractors have been placing the caps on the column wraps and are finishing the curb and gutter work. Also finishing up is the concrete paving under the smaller covered shelters. Next Wednesday will be a significant day…if all goes right they will begin installing the roofs of the covered pavilions. Getting the roof on will make another big change to the appearance of the project. Roofing on the bathroom commenced this week…also this week we finalized colors and styles of the inside of the public restrooms and fixtures. Who knew this is just like remodeling your kitchen…I’m not sure I’m qualified to determine if this ceiling color choice goes with this restroom stall partition selection!! Evidently color palettes are important (so I am told!!).
 
Last week I announced the date of our grand opening of the square to beSaturday, September 7 with a promise to reveal the talent for the long-awaited community celebration this week. Yesterday we finalized an agreement with local country performing artist Travis Marvin (pictures here) to headline our first big event…here is his Facebook page. It is always neat when a young person born and raised in Ottawa makes it to a big stage…Travis qualifies in this regard for his concert touring and performing success. The Onward Ottawa board felt fortunate to find an available date for Travis to perform to our hometown crowd. His mother and I use to ride the school bus together…I was good friends with his Uncle Charlie – all of his success makes this seem even more surreal to me. Plans for the celebration are underway, but will include food trucks and a beverage garden, Travis Marvin concert from 6:00-10:00and will be free to everyone. We want this to be a very festive, family celebration…plan now to participate!
 
I should also mention the official ribbon cutting for Legacy Square will be the day before on Friday, September 6 at 8:00 a.m. We will use this opportunity to formally open the square and recognize a few of the individuals and families who have made this community space possible. We’ll have coffee and refreshments…more details of both events will be forthcoming.
 
I will close by saying because of strong demand we have reopened the Legacy Brick sales…albeit they are just a little more expensive because we don’t expect to have as large of order as the first offering – so our cost is higher. Still they are “high value” for your opportunity to leave your legacy or your family’s legacy in a permanent local display. The 4” x 8” bricks are $120.00 and the 8” x 8” bricks are 200.00…follow the links to the size of tile you prefer and you can fill in what you want your legacy to say and follow the link to pay for the purchase.
 
Got to run…I hope to see you at the Dustin Evans Band concert this evening. Its going to be hot wherever you are…just as well come to the fair!!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000