Dear Chamber Supporter:
 
It is good to be home…it is always fun to travel but it is better to be home and sleep in my own bed. We had a fantastic group of travelers from whom we made many new friends…and we saw some amazing sites. The weather was beautiful in Greece…70s every day – it only rained one afternoon. Here are a few pictures from our last evening in Athens before traveling to Santorini Island for the last leg of our voyage.
 
Santorini is a combination of beautiful and stark. The island is volcanic…so there is no water – all drinking water is brought from the mainland. But the rich volcanic soils produce some of the greatest wine in the world. Here are a few pictures from the island. The beaches are lined with black sand because of the volcanic aggregate. They use the aggregate in the building of their houses and to make beautiful jewelry. 
 
By the way – I was pleased with Sydney and Ryland’s contributions to the newsletter last week…many of you replied to compliment them on their efforts and suggest they contribute each week. We will see on that one…probably more occasionally than every week. I appreciate them being able to pitch hit when I needed them. 
 
Attorney General Derek Schmidt:
 
Events cranked on in Ottawa while I was gone…Sara Caylor, chair of the Republican Central Committee (RCC) provided these pictures of AG Schmidt speaking to the RCC Monday evening. Many know I worked for Derek after we sold our dairy cows in 2006…he was Senate Majority Leader at the time. It was a great experience for me and gave me insight into how policy is developed and eventually passed into law. It is not a pretty process but yet the final product usually serves our citizenry well…democracy is far better than the alternatives.
 
Many still hope Derek will jump in the race for the Kansas US Senate…I would be among those who think this would be good for Kansas. He has an amazing ability to see reasonable solutions where many see no compromise and then communicate those conciliations to bring about fair policy. Some call this leadership but I see it as being a great statesman…something we could use a lot more of in this nation!!
 
Finch Covington & Boyd:
 
Our own State Representative/City Attorney Blaine Finch made news this week announcing a new name change for his longstanding law firm. The firm is going back 150 years to their roots and will (once again) be called Harris | Kelsey, Attorneys at Law. You can read the complete explanation here…but the long of the short of it is Harris Kelsey is the longest continuously used name of the firm honoring Fred Harris and Basil Kelsey who practiced under this name for 20 years. The firm was started in 1870 and plans to celebrate their 150 years’ service to the community throughout 2020 starting with the announcement of their new/old name…stand by for more on this going forward. Thanks Blaine for your personal longstanding service to our community.
 
Rhythm and Ride:
 
Many won’t be familiar with this yet but you soon will be. Once Jeff Carroll had his Ottawa Bike and Trail store open he immediately began work to start a new local festival. The first annual Rhythm and Ride (here is their logo) will be next spring on the weekend of April 25 & 26 and involve family bike rides along our trails with music at different locations. If you make it to Pomona Lake there will be a band there and then the evening of April 26 will be a big concert in Legacy Square. The next day on Sunday there will be a shorter ride to Richmond and back to Ottawa. Bear in mind…this is just how Ol’ Maries River Run and the Antique Tractor Show started…by local citizens having a hobby and wanting to share it with the whole community. 
 
Sydney has been working on the committee and provided this update while I was in Greece:
 
As the year progresses, plans and preparations for Rhythm and Ride are going incredibly well. The group was awarded the Kansas Tourism Marketing Grant from the State of Kansas. A webpage is in the works as well as the registration site which will be finished by the end of the year.  A Music Committee is working on the concerts that will be held at Pomona Lake during the day on Saturday and at Legacy Square on Saturday evening. To get updates, sponsor the event or just stay involved, go to the Rhythm and Ride Facebook page to learn more.
 
I’m excited about this new annual festival…really looking forward to it!!
 
Legacy Square:
 
Still with a few punch-out items left to complete but the northwest corner will begin to take shape very soon. The bronze medallion of Franklin County came while I was gone…as did the rest of the brick to complete the bench areas and the area surrounding the county map. Here are pictures of the medallion and Bones Landscaping beginning the work of completing the corner. The medallion is a magnificent piece…it’s 8 feet in diameter and weighs several tons. I can’t wait to see it installed.
 
Chautauqua Festival:
 
Yes…you are reading right – we are starting to talk about fireworks in November. The Chautauqua committee has already begun to meet to plan next year’s festival which they plan to make even more spectacular…the group hosted a Chamber coffee this morning to kick off the fundraising initiative for 2020 and remind everyone fireworks are purchased in January…not July. Additionally a letter went out to Chamber members this week encouraging support of our annual festival. Here are a few pictures of the group from the coffee this morning. If you would like to make a donation to the annual fireworks show you can do so by clicking here or by making a check out to the Chautauqua Festival and dropping it by the Chamber. 
 
Last Notes from Greece:
 
Seeing other places in the world really opens your eyes and broadens your thoughts about who we are and where exactly we fit in the big scheme of things. All over the world people just like us are going to work, advocating for their communities, raising their children, claiming their very small, tiny piece of the Earth. Other cultures are at the same time completely different and exactly the same as we are. It gives me a sense of connectivity…a feeling of inner peace.
 
These will be my last pictures…Cherry and I relished the view as we ate our last lunch in Greece on a rooftop restaurant and enjoyed seafood and some of their world famous wine. We strolled through the quaint community with narrow streets and many shops…making some gift purchases to help the local economy. We ended up on the very west end of the island overlooking the Aegean Sea and were completely mesmerized by the sunset while drinking another glass of red wine.  
 
I hope you might consider traveling with the Chamber on our trip next year…the French Riviera. It will be another amazing life-endearing experience. 
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John 
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
john@ottawakansas.org
785-242-1000
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