Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This has been a busy week at the Chamber…wrapping up from the annual banquet last Saturday and getting ready for Sherri to out of the office in February (for one month at least) for double-knee surgery. Also Ryland was out this week at a conference…so not having him in the office helping with the busy effort seemed to make this week even more demanding. 
 
The annual banquet was an awesome event…215 attended and the evening was very enjoyable. Tiffany Evans did a fabulous job in emceeing the event and keeping us running on good time. Many events bog down…but we were completely finished by 9:00 p.m. Here are a few pictures of the banquet before people started to arrive and then pictures of many enjoying themselves during the evening. The auction raised a little over $8,000.00…half to help with Chamber activities and the other half donated to local organizations which benefit our community locally. 
 
2019 Annual Awards:
 
Recognizing the efforts of those who went above and beyond in 2019 providing community service is a big part of our annual celebration. Here are pictures of all the awardees…Lonnie King of Fashion, Inc. received the most prestigious acknowledgment being honored with the Russel Crites Award for 2019. The Community Builder Award was presented to the Ottawa Library; Jeff and Leigh Ann Carroll and Jon Carroll from Ottawa Bike and Trail were the recipients of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Recognition. Rounding out the evening of appreciations were Adam Fritts of Fashion, Inc. receiving the Horizon Award and Todd Miller, pastor at Cherry Street Wesleyan and a Lincoln School crossing guard receiving the Smile of the Year honors. This year we had a special award…we recognized Scott Schultz and Morningstar Care Homes for being the Kansas Business of the Year. Morningstar received the award last June and we wanted to recognize the honor at our banquet…it is not often the Kansas Business of the Year is in your home community!! 
 
I also need to mention, by way of saying thank you, the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee…these individuals are Chamber Champions and deserve credit for creating a fun and well organized event. The committee is chaired by Mallory Hull but also serving are Joy Beatty, Lori Brockus, Donna Ferguson, Brenda Kratzberg, Glora Mathews, Sara Stauffer, Janet Slifer, Nancy Swafford and Karen Walburn.  I thought some of these committee members were actually on staff last week they spent so much time in the office organizing the auction and preparing the programs and table gifts…and not only thanks to them but also to Sherri who organizes the whole crew. They all worked hard in order for us to have a very enjoyable evening…THANK YOU!!
 
First Legislative Coffee 2020:
 
Making the day even busier last Saturday was the 1st 2020 Legislative Coffee which took place in the morning. The Chamber, AT&T, Franklin County Farm Bureau and American Legion Post #60 are all sponsors of the annual legislative coffees held monthly during the session…the point being to allow local citizens access to our legislators. The 2020 Session was only 10-days old but all acknowledged a very past pace to this year’s legislative session. Here are pictures from the morning event. Abortion, property tax, healthcare, and education were all topics asked and discussed during the state political update. All three legislators participated…Representative Mark Samsel from eastern Franklin County, Representative Blaine Finch from Ottawa and Senator Caryn Tyson representing all of Franklin County. Thanks to each of them for their service…the subsequent Coffees (open to everyone) are February 15, March 21 and April 18. I hope you are able to attend at least one.
 
Southern Star Gas Pipeline Company:
 
A huge announcement this week regarding a project which will take place locally this summer…Southern Star Gas Pipeline Company revealed a plan to upgrade infrastructure with the replacement of 2 pipelines between Ottawa and Welda. The project is set to begin February 17 when the company will mobilize 300-400 employees into the area to complete the replacement of 2 existing pipelines. This project is expected to pump almost $5.6 million into our local economy from the pipeline welders and support staff which will be staying in our motels, eating in local restaurants and shopping in local stores. Here is a link to complete economic numbers. All of this will result in more property tax collection, local sales tax collections increasing, and transient guest tax and salaries being paid and spent locally. The replacement project will completed by mid-summer…but then in 2021 the company will return to remove the abandoned pipeline which is being replaced this year. Expect to see a lot of truck traffic south of Ottawa…this pipeline is being delivered in 80’ sections. These trucks are going to need a wide-berth to make a corner. Other interesting tidbits…this project is costing the company $150 million and is two-thirds of their 2020 capital budget. They also want to be good corporate citizens and have donated funds to several local high school clubs. Welcome Southern Star…glad you are here! Thanks for the investment in Franklin County!
 
State Trail Appreciation Day:   
 
Wynndee Lee, Jeff Carroll, Susan Radar and I traveled to Topeka Thursday for 2nd Annual State Trails Appreciation Day…here are a few pictures. We had a booth showcasing our local trails and promoted upcoming events this summer. In the morning Governor Laura Kelley, Secretary of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism Brad Lovelace, and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Patty Clark all addressed the trail enthusiasts from across the state. Many communities are beginning to realize the economic impact the trails can have in a local economy.  All 3 of our legislators stopped by our booth to say hi…in the afternoon we went to Blaine Finch’s office for extended conversation. In the afternoon I also met with Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers regarding trails and trail development. All in all it was a big day…you should realize how many Kansas communities from all across state have heard about Ottawa and the work we are doing here…including Legacy Square, the trail improvements, the burgeoning retail in the downtown and entire community plus our housing development. The four of us were barraged with questions all day asking how did Ottawa create all of this and make it happen…what got you started. Our answer is diligence and community advocacy…and not giving up. Our local trails will bring significant tourism dollars into Franklin County this year. As a side note I will also mention when meeting with the Lt. Governor he said, “Hey the Southern Star pipeline project is a huge deal for your community…not bad for the entire state too.” It is always nice to know people in leadership positions are noticing what is going on here.
 
Sprint:
 
Chamber members gathered at Sprint this morning to meet their new manager and see the latest in cellular technology…here are some pictures. Sprint is a sponsor of the Super Bowl so all attenders received a Chiefs poster…most were in Chiefs red as you can see from the pictures. Amber Raleigh introduced herself as the new manager and also her staff.  We appreciate Sprint as being Chamber members and being involved in our local economy.  
 
Chiefs:
 
What an exciting time for local sports fans…I think I have learned more Chiefs trivia this week than in my entire life. Of course we all know the story of how Lamar Hunt started the AFL and named the Super Bowl after the “super ball”. But did you know it was Lamar who came up with the name of the Lombardi Trophy and also had the idea of using Roman numerals to designate the Super Bowls. His fingerprints are all over the game and the team we enjoy on Sunday afternoons. I know we are all hoping for a victory this weekend…I’m going to make my prognostication: Chiefs – 34; 49ers – 10. I know I’m a homer…but I don’t care – I will not pick against the Chiefs! Let’s go CHIEFS!!
 
I have a friend in Minnesota, Gabe, who reads the newsletter each week. Gabe is a big Twins and Vikings fan…we have fun keeping track of each other’s sports teams. Last week he sent me these cute pictures from the Minnesota media…they are Pat Mahomes when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins holding son Patrick. I wonder if that daddy knew at that time he was holding a million dollar baby!!
 
We are going to Cedar Vale this weekend to celebrate a birthday and a baptism…getting ready to head out now. I’ll talk to you next week when the Chiefs are the World Champions!    
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000
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