Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
What a time Thursday was…a week’s worth of activity in a day!! For me it started with water in our basement…I woke Cherry up at 6:00 a.m. with the water rising fast…already past 6″. For the most part we have kept things out and up in our basement…but she had moved “a bunch” of her mom’s collectibles into the downstairs in order to sort and distribute to kids and grandkids. We moved this entire memorabilia collection and more into our garage…at this point I went to check the rain gauge to see how much rain we were dealing with. Nine inches…unbelievable!! The second 500-year rain within two years (we had an 11-inch rain in August 2017). It took me an hour to get to town…here are my pictures on my travails to Ottawa. I drove through water up to my floorboards…as you can see – another motorist wasn’t quite as fortunate but luckily no one was hurt or injured.
 
I have had on my calendar for a month to give a tour on this morning to the real estate specialist from the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC), Leslie Johnson …not the best timing to showcase our community to one of our top project lead generators. She wanted to view Proximity Park and get a firsthand look at all our community has going on. As we drove around Proximity Park, Wynndee Lee and I assured her she was seeing it at the high water mark. We had to drive around the interstate to get to North Ottawa to see the North Industrial Park…here are some pictures from Smoked Creations looking at the floodwaters. We promised Leslie this wasn’t typically “lake-front” property. 
 
This was one of the rare storms which happened fast and overhead in which the levees hurt more than helped…the water couldn’t get into the river fast enough. Ottawa has 4 pumps to move water over the levees and into the river (they are part of the flood plan locally to drain water retention areas in times of high water)…yesterday afternoon 9 more came from other Kansas communities (including Johnson & Leavenworth Counties and the Core of Engineers) reaching out to help us in time of need. At about 3:00 the levees definitely came into play to protect once again as water from upstream reached Ottawa and the flood gates were closed for the 3rd time this summer (can anyone remember them being closed so often in a short span of time?). 
 
City Manager Richard Nienstedt used First Friday Forum to update community members on the flooding and local emergency yesterday. Michael Haeffele, Public Works Director reported all pumps were in place and ready to go at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday before the rain started…but once it did start it came too fast in a short of period of time – the pumps couldn’t keep up! Adam Weingartner, Ottawa Chief of Police, reported there were 10 water rescues in Franklin County and additional boats were brought in from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to serve the area.
 
Here are my last flood pictures from inside the lobby at Kansas State Bank (provided by Derek Chappell from KOFO). That’s Wayne Duderstadt standing in the lobby in about 4 inches of water. All of these North Ottawa businesses will need our support as they clean up and move forward. This is the first time this area has flooded since 1951 (the great flood) before the levees were built. We have cleaned up from floods before and we will recuperate from this one too…Ottawa is resilient! 
 
Congressman Steve Watkins:
 
Our freshman congressman hosted a town meeting at Ottawa City Hall Wednesday afternoon this week…many took advantage of Congressman Watkins being in town to hear news from Washington and ask firsthand his views of several national issues which we generally only hear about filtered through news media (here are a couple of pictures). Steve shared he has been appointed to 3 committees…a good load for a freshman congressman – Education & Labor, Veteran’s Affairs and Foreign Affairs. He shared his views on immigration from Mexico…he strongly believes in building a fence and also talked about the USMCA (United States-Mexican-Canada Agreement). The USMCA has been agreed to and signed by leaders of all 3 countries and replaces the former trilateral agreement NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement)…but has yet to be ratified by Congress. Generally touted to be good for the United States, he supports the agreement and feels certain it will eventually win support in Congress. It is a lot of work to serve a district in Congress…my hat is off to him for his willingness to serve regardless of where you stand on his views and opinions. 
 
Advent Health – Ottawa:
 
Thursday was a big celebration at our hospital…in May, Ransom Memorial Health became Advent Health – Ottawa when we officially affiliated with the Adventist Health System. Yesterday was the formal rededication of the hospital building officially naming it The Ransom Building…pictures here. The local Ransom family members were all present and a plaque which will be in the front of the hospital was dedicated. It tells the Ransom Family history in Franklin County…you can read what the plaque says here. I certainly didn’t know this whole story regarding the Ransoms and how they came to Franklin County including the positive effect they have had in the life of our community through the years. The RMH Board felt strongly the Ransom name needed to remain associated with the facility and designating the building was apropos. It still powerfully recognizes the long-service to Franklin County and gives commemoration to a well deserving family.        
 
Leadership Franklin County:
 
The 2019/20 local Leadership Class has been officially named…here is the list of this year’s 15 class participants. We officially introduced the cohort at a Chamber coffee this morning…pictures here. This program was started in 1985 and has produced local leaders for near 35 years…really pretty amazing. They will delve into local issues and learn of services and organizations which function locally of which they have no idea existed until hearing and learning about them through this leadership education opportunity. The group will also be exposed to several different styles of leadership and help them better understand their leadership styles and strengths.  Additionally the class will be made aware of opportunities to serve locally…our Leadership Class is expected to volunteer 10 hours before qualifying for graduation. Some never know the extent of the work and organizations it takes to make a community successful and a great place to live…this group will get exposure to all of this. Thank you to them for their time and willingness to invest in the future of our community. 
 
First Friday Forum:
 
Dr. Ryan Cobbs, USD 290 Superintendent and his administration team spoke to local attenders at FFF this morning (pictures here). It is amazing how much education has changed and is changing as we march into the future. Amy Bybee, USD 290 Curriculum Director, gave an in-depth look at the new Standards Based Grading (SBG) system…which I have heard about but did not understand until after this morning. SBG is basically a redesign of how we report student learning…to focus on what kids have learned – not what their grade is. Said differently, it is based on what a student does know and can do…not what they were supposed to learn or didn’t get done. At the grade school level this will be done by characterizing whether a student meets, is progressing or needs more support for the standards which they are to learn…not if it is A, B, C or D work.  All this sounds very positive to me as we concern ourselves with the education of our local youth…we have this responsibility and locally we are in good hands with Ryan and his team. 
 
Legacy Square:
 
Speaking of team, work is really teaming along on our new community event space…this week picture’s here. Contractors continue working on installing the roof…it will probably be another couple of weeks before all the roofs are mounted. A lot of concrete still being poured…I think I said last week I couldn’t believe the concrete bid when I first saw it. I have a much better understanding now. As they pour the sidewalks the crew wet-sets the sidewalk medallions…they look great! Here are pictures of just a few of the ensigns which designate our largest donors. You will also be impressed with the Legacy Bricks…pictures here. We sorted them this week because of many families buying multiple bricks… to the extent we can we want to be sure family bricks are located in similar locations to other family members. Because legacy bricks have been so popular we have reopened the brick sales…make your purchases here: 4” x 8” bricks are $120.00 and the 8” x 8” bricks are 200.00. Bricks purchased now will not be installed in time for the grand opening but will be placed in the walkways this fall. Also this week the permeable brick pavers were laid (pictures here)…as water runs off the parking lot, these bricks allow water to pass through them to the water storage tanks below which also collect roof water and then release it through the landscaped swale on the east side of the square. They are one of several ways the space has been designed to be environmentally friendly. 
 
Time for me to run…Cherry and I are headed to Cedar Vale this weekend to visit our little cowboys in Southeast Kansas. Here are a few grandkid pictures from this week…I’m sure I’ll have more next week too. Son Todd and I spent an evening at the Royals this last week. The Royals lost but still a very enjoyable evening…life is always better when you are in a ball stadium!  
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
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