Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I enjoy taking a walk in the evening before going to bed…being outside under the stars where no artificial ambient light affects the stars’ brightness and brilliance if cathartic for me. This past week the weather has been beautiful…not chilly but cool. We live close to a creek and a long way from any town…we always have a lot of owls and coyotes. They sing to each other creating an evening cacophony in of which the frogs and locusts enjoy joining the musical discordance. We are in the middle of the “dog days” of summer…which most associate with hot and humid days – that’s only because it is usually hot and muggy at the end of July and first of August. The Dog Days were originally identified by Roman and Greek astrologers who referred to this time as “the dog days” because the star, Sirius (nicknamed the “dog star”) in the constellation Canis Major (large dog) rises with the sun from July 3 until August 11…who knew. The early astrologers associated the period with hot, sultry days with drought and sudden thunderstorms…sounds like weather patterns haven’t changed all that much.  
 
Pi Kappa Delta:
 
Six years ago, Ryan Louis embarked on a journey to bring the Pi Kappa Delta archives and a permanent location for the national fraternity’s Hall of Fame to Ottawa University…Ryan is the Director of Forensics and Lead Faculty and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at OU. PKD is dedicated to promoting excellence in speech and debate and is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious speech and debate fraternity…its origins date back to the late 1800 and early 1900s and have been active on the OU campus since 1913. Last week we celebrated the success of Ryan’s efforts with the dedication of a special area in the Gangwish Library to house the archives and Hall of Fame (pictures here). What enthuses me most about the Pi Kaps is Ryan’s hard work to teach his students civil discourse and correct ways to disagree professionally…something greatly missing in our current political and community discussions. Additionally Ryan is an excellent mentor to young scholars teaching a pedagogy that is lost art in many (un)civil discourses today. Thanks Ryan and welcome to the PKD Hall of Fame in Ottawa…it’s a prestigious honor for the community.
 
Speaking of Honors:
 
I’m sure I overlook or am not aware of many awards and honors presented to local individuals and businesses but there were several this week and I like to share:
·        Loma Vista Nursery was honored with the Excellence in Sustainability Award from the Greenhouse Grower magazine. Owner Lyndsi Oestmann and her management team traveled to Columbus, Ohio to receive the award at the industry’s national convention (pictures here). Locally, Loma Vista employs 70 workers and is a very visible business as visitors pass our community on I-35…we are often asked about the company with its unique appearance and presence. If you are unfamiliar with Loma Vista, they are local commercial growers of trees, shrubs, roses and perennials used by landscapers…I should mention LV is donating all the landscaping to Legacy Square (a big thank you)!! Also…this same week, Lyndsi was featured as a plant expert on WGN Chicago’s Around Town Morning Show (you can hear the interview by clicking the link). Lyndsi says this was a big week for us and Loma Vista is very honored…outstanding job!!
·        Thursday evening, local longtime teacher, Stella Tharp received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kansas Association of Career and Technical Educators (pictures here). Stella has taught Early Childhood Development classes at OHS for 19 years…she is also the Director of the Career and Technical Education department in Ottawa. She is leaving the classroom this fall but will remain as the Director of the CTE and will add the title and responsibility of CTE Counselor at OHS. Locally, we will take even greater advantage of her skill-set…she will have major responsibilities to associate CTE high school graduates with our local employers. Additionally she will work with our employers to learn the skill-sets they are needing and work with educators to assure these skills are being provided. Stella has touched many (MANY!) young lives in our community. Congratulations Stella…well done and well deserved!
·        Lastly I’ll mention Morningstar Homes which received the Kansas Business of the Year award this summer for 2019. I’ve previously described the ceremony and award but wanted to highlight it one more time. This morning we honored owner Scott Schultz and his team at our regular Friday morning Chamber Coffee…pictures here. Thanks to Scott and his team for the work and care they provide to dementia patients locally. We couldn’t go forward without somehow acknowledging this great local accomplishment. Kansas Business of the Year – congratulations!!
 
Garfield School:
 
Construction has come up out of the ground (pictures here) at Garfield Elementary this week. This summer a new all-day preschool is being built on the Garfield playground…once complete the playground will be relocated with brand new play equipment. Because a majority of our families are either single-parent or both parents work, having mom or dad at home to care for and teach young children is difficult…we have a responsibility to respond as a community. The addition of the all-day Pre-K is significant…many learning difficulties start early in the education process with a lack of preparedness of students entering school at the age of 5. Allowing earlier intervention and preparing children for school will have a positive effect. Don’t think the new Pre-K will quite be ready for the start of school but will be an integral part of our education delivery in Ottawa once complete.
 
Legacy Square:
 
Work is really popping on our community project! This week the column wraps is mostly complete and the capstones were placed on the trash enclosures (this week’s pictures here).  Sidewalk work continues…when I originally saw the bid for concrete I couldn’t believe how much it cost. But as concrete continues to be poured, I see there is a lot of new pavement in this project. Installation of the roof commenced Thursday…pictures here. Roof panels were delivered Wednesday and Thursday afternoon lifting the panels to the top of the pavilion for installation to begin…by this time next week the square will really take on new appearances. In the week ahead watch for the pervious brick pavers to be installed and quickly after that the legacy bricks will be placed…also the medallions in the sidewalks. Be sure to drive by occasionally…it changes dramatically every week now.
 
Crystal Anderson:
 
The Chamber Coffee this morning was at ECKAN to officially welcome Crystal Anderson as the new President/CEO of the longstanding social service agency (pictures here). Crystal is not new to Ottawa by any stretch…she slipped in seamlessly becoming the Director having worked in the local organization for several years. ECKAN has 120 employees…a large organization – their mission is serving those in poverty. Funding for ECKAN primarily comes from Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) which is a federal grant program providing dollars to alleviate causes and conditions of poverty in U.S. communities. Its challenging and important work. Thanks to Crystal and her capable staff for the good work you do…you make us a better, more-rounded community.    
 
Last Fair Pictures:
 
I’ll close with a few last pictures from the 2019 Franklin County Fair. It was a beautiful evening last Friday when Cherry and I sat with David and Wynndee Lee at the Dustin Evans Band concert (pictures here). I couldn’t help but think at the time how pleasant it will be to sit in Legacy Square enjoying a concert or some traveling theater troupe putting on a play. Our Grand Opening concert is September 7…mark your calendars. Local singing and recording star Travis Marvin will perform. We are working hard to make sure it is an unforgettable community celebration and party.
 
Cherry and I will enjoy the weekend by working in the garden and going to a Royals game…the Royals are finally worth watching. This reminds me of the second half of the 2013 season when all our young players then finally started to gel into a team…you remember what happened in 2014 & 2015! Still need relief pitching…but at least games are exciting…and we are in most games to the end!
 
Don’t forget Eggs and Issues next week (August 22 at AdventHealth at 7:30 a.m.). Kansas Secretary of Commerce, David Toland is the speaker…you can RSVP here.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000