Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This has been another busy week in Ottawa!! Legacy Square is flying to completion…the grand opening is next weekend, Ottawa University students have returned to the community and the Fusion Alley is open and bowling. On Main Street we have an announcement of another new business coming soon at 202 S. Main – Pretty Little Things is the name of it…here is their webpage. Also the 2019/20 school session is officially underway. And…in spite of all the activities the weather continues to be “interesting”.  I woke up to thunder, lightning and rain again this morning with the creek rising behind our house (again)…looking back at the weather this week, Sunday was fall; Monday was monsoon; Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful (spring); and Thursday was summer…this weekend promises more rain. Rain and wet ground continue to plague us for official completion of Legacy Square. 
 
Our new Community Chamber Directories are printed and we received hard copies at the office this week. You can get a sneak peek by clicking here. All members will get a copy in the mail soon…probably before end of next week. Sydney did most of the work and editing this year. I’m pleased with the end result…I think it looks good and does a grand job reflecting our community to visitors wanting a snapshot view.
 
OU Fusion:
 
The food lines were long and the streets were full of university students last Tuesday evening as our community officially welcomed OU students back to town. This fall will be a record enrollment for the university since 1971 with near 800 students expected. Over 800 dined on hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw and deserts in the tent erected on the Courthouse lawn (pictures here). What was really more entertaining was meeting students and learning in a few moments about their lives and what brought them to Ottawa…and also watching them have fun dancing and playing games in the street (pictures here). Over 40 businesses participated in games and giveaways and the weather was just perfect…I certainly remember some very hot and sultry evenings doing this same event in years past. I was sure to tell all the out-of-state students the weather is like this every day in Ottawa!!  Having a disc jockey really makes the event feel like a party! If you have never attended OU Fusion it is a lot of fun…plan on coming next year.
 
KCADC Night at the Royals:
 
Cherry and I spent Wednesday evening at the Royals…not necessary something out of the ordinary except this game was a networking event for the Kansas City Economic Area Development Council. About 60 economic developers gathered on the Pepsi Porch in center and right center fields to enjoy baseball from a little different perspective (here are a few pictures). It is a fun evening of catching up with colleagues and also learning what’s going on in eastern Kansas and western Missouri in the greater metropolitan area.
 
Watching a game from center field is a bit different…we were close to Bubba Starling in right field – the hometown phenom. This young man is huge! I remember watching him play against Ottawa High School in basketball and football…at that time he was a man amongst boys. Now he’s grown and filled out and doing a good job patrolling the outfield for the Royals. What’s really getting crazy is over half the team is younger than our youngest child…another paling realization as one continues to get older. It was a very fun evening!     
 
Raffle Drawing for new truck:
 
Here is a big announcement regarding Legacy Square and the grand opening. Our Onward Ottawa board continues to fundraise to fill a funding gap and eventually provide all amenities promised in Legacy Square. Several of our volunteers had the idea of a large raffle (such as a new truck)…Ryan Henningsen and I went to several automobile dealers in the area. Ray Beckman of Beckman Motors in Garnett said YES! Onward Ottawa has partnered with Beckman Motors to raffle a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado (picture here). What you should really do is picture yourself in this truck!! We have other great prizes too and are still in the process of gathering the complete prize package which includes $1,000.00 cash award, a yeti cooler, a barbeque grill from Trendel Lumber, a gun safe from Orscheln’s, and a gun from The Gun Guys. Tickets will go on sale the first day at our grand opening, September 6. Only 1,000 tickets will be printed to increase your odds of winning…tickets will be $125.00 for one ticket or 10 tickets for $1,000.00 (complete rules here). Next week I’ll provide a link where you can purchase your tickets online and additionally we will have several locations around the community where you can also buy your chances. This should be a lot of fun…drawing will be Saturday, October 26 at 11:00 in Legacy Square (and you don’t have to be present to win)!!
 
Franklin County Health Department:
 
Our local Health Department invited Chamber members to coffee this morning (pictures here) to raise awareness to breastfeeding in Kansas. In Kansas, 80% of mothers initiate breastfeeding. These mothers are more likely to patronize businesses where they feel comfortable. Breastfeeding moms need all the support they can get. By taking the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” pledge businesses agree to provide a welcoming environment where breastfeeding mothers are able to sit anywhere and enjoy a welcoming attitude from staff, management and other patrons while breastfeeding. Your Chamber has taken the pledge and put up the required signage. If you are interested in taking the pledge in your place of business contact Erin Laurie the Fr. Co. Health Department
 
The goal of this campaign is to encourage more women to breastfeed their babies and for a longer duration by assisting our communities to become more friendly toward breastfeeding families. The whole idea behind this community effort is to raise awareness that breastfeeding is a normal way to feed babies and moms who choose this feeding method feel supported. 
 
Travis Marvin:
 
Many are getting excited for the grand opening of Legacy Square and the Travis Marvin concert which will take place next Friday (September 6) evening (one week from today!). The ribbon cutting will be at 8:00 this same morning…special refreshments are being planned. Most who have been involved with this project in some regard will be on hand for this event. Later at 10:00 a.m. on the Neosho County Community College campus, Scott Gales will be the speaker at First Friday Forum. Scott is the architect who designed Legacy Square and helped us (actually held our hand if more correct) through the early processes of identifying a project, what it could look like and got us moving in a direction. 
 
Then at 6:00 in the evening the Travis Marvin concert will begin (free to all – bring your lawn chairs). We will have food trucks and a beer garden…you will get your initial firsthand peek at the 2019 Silverado. Most of your neighbors will be there – you should plan to attend too. We plan on this being a big party…hope you can come!!
 
Legacy Square:
 
And now the big question – will Legacy Square be done? Rain and wet ground continue to plague us for official completion of Legacy Square. We will call it greater than 90% finished…rain has really hampered progress in the last 3 weeks (as it has all summer for that matter). The rain this morning will prevent the asphalt from being laid until next week…we will be cutting it close. There are 2 bridges on the Square which are being constructed but won’t be installed…also the large Franklin County map which will be set at the NW corner of the Square will not arrive in time to be placed for our first event.
 
There was a lot of progress this week in spite of the weather. Landscaping began (pictures here)…it is amazing how just a few plants change the look of the whole venue. Here contractors are pouring the last of the concrete and getting prepared for the large medallion at the NW corner. And…another big thing – when they flipped the switch…all the lights came on!! Weather permitting, the sod will be placed on Tuesday next week…this will really bring it all together. Can’t wait for you all to experience the space firsthand!!
 
2019 Garden:
 
The weather has been frustrating to farmers and gardeners too…Cherry and I fall under the latter category. We have had our garden flood 6 times this summer – a new record for sure. I do not remember a year with more than 2 floods before. When we get home in the evening we are too pooped to do much gardening…given all the disaster our poor vegetables have experienced this summer, it’s hard to get motivated. When we checked the crop last Saturday morning we were overwhelmed with the harvest. Here is our corn and here are the tomatoes. That’s Jase in the pictures…he was our little helper-boy all day. He would not pick a red tomato – only green ones…too cute to scold though! Our cucumbers and okra also have bumper crops. We really couldn’t believe it after all the wet weather and also considering how late we got the garden planted. We canned pickles, okra and tomatoes all day as well as froze corn…here Jase, Evie and I are taking a rest from the long day!
 
I’ve got to run…headed down to check progress at Legacy Square with last night’s rain. Sure hope to see you at the Square next Friday. 
 
Have a relaxing Labor Day weekend – college football starts back up this weekend!!
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
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