Dear Chamber Supporter:
 
We are officially in the holiday season…past Thanksgiving, Christmas lights turned on in neighborhoods – our own downtown formally lit and glowing with holiday spirit. It was a bitterly cold night last Saturday when we publicly threw the switch…but it didn’t slow down people from leaving warm fires to welcome Christmas. Typically the job of lighting the downtown goes to the mayor, Mayor Blake Jorgensen offered the opportunity of throwing the switch for auction to benefit his church’s fundraiser. The Kevin Staley family got the opportunity to visibly move downtown Ottawa into the Christmas Season (here are a few pictures).
 
Despite the cold weather and brutal wind, many attended…and for sure it didn’t keep North Pole residents Santa and the Grinch away…pictures here. The Mayor’s lighting ceremony is always one of the more popular Chamber events for the community. Kids, moms & dads, grandparents…all attend to participate in singing Christmas carols, welcoming Santa, decorating Christmas cookies, reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas”, and watching Spotlight Dance Academy perform a dance from the Nutcracker. It really is a very joyful event. Here are a few more pictures of all the festive activities.  
 
Special thanks go to Arvest Bank for providing hot chocolate and also giving away a bicycle to a local boy and girl. Their employees braved the high winds and cold temps to make our event even merrier. The winds were so high it blew their tent down…but undaunted, they moved into the Chamber office and were able to provide warm drinks. Also thanks to the Ottawa Area Young Professionals (pictures here) who helped local kids decorate Christmas cookies…I don’t know if it is more fun to decorate or eat the cookies but all had a great time. We can now officially greet one another with Merry Christmas!
 
Willie Mays Aikens:
 
Older Royals fans will remember this name…he was one of the brighter spots in the 1980 World Series which we lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. During that series he became the first player in baseball history to hit 2 homeruns in 2 different series games (unfortunately in a losing effort). Willie was in Ottawa this week speaking to Rotary members…pictures here. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Willie had established himself as one of the lead sluggers in baseball…until drugs derailed his career. Now rehabilitated, he officially works for the Royals doing public speaking events, he has written a book about his fall from grace and his return, and uses his poor life-choices to influence the lives of others in a positive way. Having spent over 18-years in prison, he has a powerful message and is compassionate about sharing it. He also shared some baseball stories from the Royals teams on which he played…for me it was fun to reminisce. I say good job Willie for getting your life in order and now willing to help others!!   
 
Parkview Gallery House:   
 
We opened another Airbnb in Ottawa this week…the Parkview Gallery House, immediately to the east of City Park on Hickory Street (here are a few pictures). Irene Schomaker has been living and working in Ottawa for several years…she is a very talented artist. Formerly her art studio was upstairs in what is now Not Lost Brewing…and additionally she works in Turner Flowers. When Irene came across the house at 615 S. Hickory, she fell in love with it. She has transformed this house and has made it beautiful inside. Most of the residence is available for guests and travelers to stay for one or several days…but she maintains one room for her studio. All the art in the house are her works…I am really impressed with her interior decorating talents but more particularly her painting abilities. Thanks Irene for bringing another business to Ottawa and also joining the Chamber. 
 
Bike Across Kansas:
 
It was a big announcement a week ago that Ottawa will be one of the host cities for Bike Across Kansas (BAK) this summer. On June 12, 800 bicyclists will ride into our town for an overnight stay…and it is really more than 800 because each rider has their own support team traveling with them as well. Biking Across Kansas (BAK) is an annual, eight-day, bicycle tour across Kansas which promotes health and wellness through bicycling, the history and beauty of the state’s landscape, and the warm hospitality of the Kansas towns and people. BAK is not an endurance contest, a race, or a test of stamina…is a recreational and social rally for cyclists. Each rider is encouraged to set a pace agreeable to his or her own degree of expertise and capable riders of all ages are welcome. We have already begun to make early preparations locally…but this will be an entire community effort to host all of these guests. It has been 1999 since the popular statewide bike crossing has come to Ottawa…this will be a big deal – already looking forward to the event.
 
2019 Chevrolet Silverado:
 
It’s still not too late to participate in the truck raffle…the drawing is Saturday, December 14 right after the Christmas Parade and will be at the northwest corner of Legacy Square. Tickets have been selling well the last couple of weeks…but (spoiler alert) we will not get all 1,000 tickets sold (which only increases your chances of winning!!). Many thanks to the sponsors of this event…Beckman Motors of Garnett, Orscheln’s Farm and Home, The Gun Guys, Trendel Lumber, and Rod and Pam Harris. You can purchase single tickets here for $125.00 per ticket or 10 tickets here for $1,000.00…another way to buy a ticket is to stop by or call the Chamber (785.242.1000) for assistance in purchasing tickets with a credit card or check. Additional locations to buy tickets include Beckman Motors in Garnett, Kansas State Bank, Bank Midwest, and Goppert State Service Bank.  Don’t wait too long…any of the raffle prizes will look absolutely fabulous under someone’s Christmas Tree this year!! 
 
Advanced Dermatology & Skin Care Center:
 
Another new business opened today in Ottawa at 210 W. 13th Street (formerly Trendel Architecture)…we welcomed Dr. John Adams and his staff (pictures here) to Ottawa with a Chamber ribbon cutting this morning. Advanced Dermatology & Skin Care Center emphasizes they are here to help maintain our skin’s health and beauty. Skin protects our bodies from trauma, infection, UV rays and dehydration…when our skin is affected by disease or other disorder it affects our entire immune system. Many of the staff employed by Dr. Adams are local residents, including the physician assistant, Kelly Croci. Kelly graduated from Central Heights and is thrilled to be working in her home community. Thanks to Dr. Adams for choosing Ottawa as your new location…we are glad you are here.
 
First Friday Forum:
 
Our own Ryan Henningsen spoke to attenders of FFF this morning mostly regarding our markets and how much life is left in the strong economy. Ryan told attenders we are 10 years into economic expansion which has been steady growth – our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has averaged 2.3% a year since 2009. The main driver of our economy is consumer spending…and there is no indicator spending is slowing down. Nationwide we have all-time low unemployment and increasing wages, the prospect for consumer spending continues strong. Some worry about trade with China but nationally only 10% of our economy is our export markets and of that 10%…only 1% is trade with China. Ryan did a good job of boiling down complicated issues to help us understand our economy.     
 
Memory Lane Christmas Tree Farm:
 
Last Sunday we officially kicked-off Christmas in the Coen household too…we took 5 of our grandkids to Harry and Juanita Peckham’s Christmas tree farm in Rantoul (Pleasant Ridge Farm) to help Cherry and me pick our tree. The outing is so much more than selecting a tree…Memory Lane Christmas Tree Farm has slides, mazes, light displays and of course Christmas trees. Here are a few pictures of our kids having a blast on a chilly afternoon in December…and yes, we got the tree home and up in time to watch the Chiefs beat Oakland!!
 
Stay warm in the days ahead…a lot of Christmas activates with church, school, friends and families are on the calendar for the next couple of weeks. Don’t stress too much…be sure to enjoy Christmas and the season!!
 
Talk to you next week…   
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
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