Dear Chamber Supporter:
 
It felt like fall this week and finally the trees are having quite a bit of color. Harvest is really rolling…I’m hearing pretty good yields for the most part too. Just FYI…early voting began this week…this election really snuck up on me. I’m not used to voting for city commissioners and school board members in November. For Ottawa citizens there is not a contested city commissioner race…3 incumbent candidates for 3 seats. In the USD 290 school board race there are 5 candidates for 4 positions…so a bit of a decision here. 
 
The Chamber Legislative Action committee held a candidate meet and greet this week on Wednesday (pictures here)…it was a decent crowd for 4:00 in the afternoon about 20 people attended. All the candidates but one was in attendance…for the most part it was informal to give interested voters the opportunity to visit casually with candidates. We did video the city and school board members all introducing themselves and telling a little about their goals for the position for which they are running. It’s about 20 minutes and you can view the clip here. As I mentioned…you can vote now in the Clerk’s office in the Courthouse or the polls will be open November 5. 
 
Additionally there is a constitutional amendment question on the ballot…the Kansas Eliminate Revision of Census Population Amendment. The Kansas Constitution requires the state legislature to apportion state legislative districts based on the most recent U.S. Census, with an adjustment to (1) exclude nonresident military personnel stationed in Kansas and nonresident students and (2) include resident military personnel and resident students in the district of their permanent residence. The ballot measure would eliminate the requirement to adjust the census population for state legislative apportionment.
 
2020 Census: 
 
Speaking of census…work is gearing up nationwide in preparation for the next decennial count of our population…also, here in Franklin County too. The US Constitution mandates apportionment of the US House of Representatives every 10 years…the counts have been continuous since 1790. The tally is critical to Kansas and to us locally as well. Apportionment is the dividing equally the 435 seats in the US House. When I was young Kansas had 6 Representatives…our state now has only 4. Locally we receive approximately $2,000.00 per year per citizen from the federal government…this includes federal monies to improve roads, social services and improve infrastructure (to name just a few). If our population in the county is 26,000 and we miss our count by 1% it means we miss by 260 people…when you take that 260 missed times $2,000/citizen times ten years it means we missed $5,200,000.00 for local projects. The count is important!! 
 
Actual Census Day is April 1…you will start hearing more about this getting into the New Year. For the first time the count is going to be more electronic…you will not receive a census book; only a card directing you to go online to complete your responsibility. Historically Franklin County has grown 3% from one census to the next…we might be hard-pressed this year to show that growth. We’ll see…we have had a bit of a housing boom here the last 3 years; maybe that will keep our population growing. You can read more about the census at KansasCounts.org.
 
Ottawa Library:    
 
Terry Chartier, our local library director, spoke at Rotary this week describing the process the library is going through considering the possibility of constructing a new and modern library facility for local citizens (pictures here). As with any big project the evaluation and analyzing have been ongoing for several years. Selecting a good location is extremely important. This past summer the organization was able to purchase the property at 228 W. 15th Street for the possibility of building a new facility at the location. Located with closer proximity to schools, recreation and the trail are all positive factors in the decision to purchase the property at this location. No timelines or dollar figures have been associated with the project yet…library officials are still in the planning and discovery phase. Much time and work will go into this process…it is imperative to always be looking forward. 
 
Car Wash & Hotel: 
 
The new Club Car Wash is very near opening…in fact there were so many cars there yesterday I thought they were open. I stopped by to see if I could get the country road dirt washed off my car…it was a flurry of activity. Contractors were busy landscaping the lot and tweaking the large car vacuums on the north of the property. Also workers were busy putting the final touches on the inside of the washing lane too…pictures here. I’ll be very surprised if they are not open by this time next week.
 
The new Holiday Inn Express is also showing good progress…pictures here. Slated to be 4-stories, it is starting to take shape now. All this building will dress up the south entrance to our community…always a good thing. I also drove around Proximity Park this week…the utility sewer is in the process of being installed and the intersection of Kingman and US 59 is torn up for modernization. I couldn’t drive through on Kingman on Thursday…it was closed for the work they are doing upgrading the intersection. When this work is complete, the crossing will be widened with turn lanes and the infrastructure in place to set traffic lights at the corner. Signalization is not scheduled to be installed however until which time the traffic count merits the need. Also the overpass of I-35 on Montana Road will be razed and replaced…this work should begin this winter sometime. All good progress!
 
Legacy Square:
 
A couple of updates here this week…Bones Landscaping is working at completing the legacy bricks on the east side of the square (pictures here). Also the bike racks have been installed. The 3 large items left to complete are installing the bridges, the screen in the front of the restrooms and the large Franklin County medallion on the northwest corner at the intersection. With all the moisture we’ve had this fall the landscaping (particularly the sod) is looking good.
 
We had to extend the drawing date on the truck raffle…haven’t sold quite enough tickets yet. For those who were planning to win the truck tomorrow you will have to wait until December 14, the day of the Ottawa Christmas Parade. If you are savvy you might do the math and calculate if we don’t sell all 1,000 tickets your odds could increase by as much as half. You can still purchase tickets at the Chamber, Kansas State Bank, James Automotive, Goppert State Service Bank, Bank Midwest or by following these links: single tickets here for $125.00 per ticket or 10 tickets here for $1,000.00
 
Morningstar Care Homes:
 
Celebrating 5-years in our community, Scott Schultz and his staff hosted Chamber members at Mug Shot Coffee this morning (pictures here). What a great service this organization provides. Scott has 5 care-homes in 4 communities (visit their webpage here): Ottawa, Baldwin City, Fredonia and Neodesha…their special calling is caring for individuals (and families) suffering from memory loss. In the last 3 years Scott has invested $3.7 million in expanding and improving his care facilities – most recently expanding to Fredonia and Neodesha and building a new home in rural Baldwin City. Selected as the Governor’s Kansas Business of the year in 2019, Morningstar Care Homes is a great community citizen…we are lucky they are here. Thanks to Scott and his staff for letting us celebrate with you this morning. 
 
Wall of Honor Induction:
 
Last Friday evening was my official induction ceremony to the Wall of Honor during halftime of the Ottawa High School football game…here are a few pictures of my fan club. I want to say again this is the biggest honor of my life. I’m looking forward to continued service to the community…working with all of you makes this more like fun than work.
 
Cherry and I have Jase and Evie all this week…we are about pooped chasing a 5-year old and a 2-year old all week. Don’t know how we did it once upon a time!! It is why the young have children and the old get to spoil them!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
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