Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Happy Valentine’s Day…hope you remembered your valentine today (it’s not too late)! The cold temperatures makes it good weather to snuggle with your valentine!! Cherry and I exchanged cards and small gifts…always to remind us how important the other is to each of us in our lives. She got me new Chiefs wear…perfect!  Now that we are World Champs my wardrobe can stand a bit of refresh!
 
Many ask about Sherri and how she’s doing after her double knee replacement…she reports she continues to feel a little better each day but still very sore and groggy. The surgery was on Monday and went well but convalescence is slow…especially in the first week. She is able to sit in a chair and still covets your prayers. You can email her here…or her home address is 27 East 2200th Street; Wellsville 66092 if you would like to send your well wishes.
 
High School Interns:
 
I mentioned last week we would lean on a couple of Ottawa High School students as interns to help us in the office…with Sydney having just left and now Sherri being out with her surgery we can use the assistance. Here are their pictures. Kylie Suwalski and Callie Mongold are both seniors at OHS this year and will graduate in May…both hope to continue their education. Callie will pursue graphic design and marketing while Kylie hopes to go to mortuary school to become an embalmer. They are doing a good job for us. Both are working on the Thursday member event newsletter and you should start seeing their fingerprints on that communication soon…also both are helping with social media. It is always refreshing to have young points of view around the office…it keeps me younger!
 
Chamber Board:
 
The Chamber board took time this week to delve deeper into goals and directions going forward. Admittedly the last 3 years building Legacy Square has consumed more than a fair amount of time. With Legacy Square now built, we need to turn our attention to event procurement and management of the site…and also as an organization identify our goals going forward, not only for this year but also the next 3-5 years. City Commissioner Sara Caylor helped lead the discussion…a few pictures here. We met in the new art gallery at the Corner Market Café…it was perfect space for our mini board retreat. Here were the questions Sara challenged the board to consider: 
  1.  An event or activity that is vital, it must stay on the calendar – the Chamber event or activity can be improved, built upon or grown with the help of Chamber members.
  2. A chamber event/activity that should be modified, needs to be omitted from the schedule or needs to take a break from the calendars. 
  3. A new event or activity that is missing from the Chamber. An event or activity that you can get behind and support with your time and efforts. 
There was good discussion on each point…if you have any thoughts on the above, email me. The shorthand version from the discussion is to work more closely with the Ottawa Main Street Association…the idea being to develop events to take place in Legacy Square which will bring visitors to town and cause more activity in the Ottawa’s downtown. Additionally there was good discussion regarding some of our regular events and how we can “refresh” them some. All in all the time was very well spent…now we just have to go to work!
 
Leadership Franklin County:
 
I spent all day Thursday in Topeka at the Capitol with the Leadership class…always a good excursion. Each of our Legislators spent time with the leadership group…pictures here. Additionally the group received a tour of the newly remodeled State House building…if you haven’t been since it was refurbished you should go. The building is beautiful and stands as a testament to our state’s democracy and also the intense struggle Kansas specifically endured to become a state…a free state. If you are unfamiliar with the term “Bloody Kansas” you should read up on it a little. Citizens living here in the 1840s and ‘50s were fighting the Civil War 10 years before the rest of the county…early Kansans gave a lot for us to be a free state. The ultimate story is about us and who we are as a citizenry…it’s no wonder many of the tough political topics play out in our state first…we are long-familiar with dealing with tough challenges and leading the way forward. Here are a few more pictures from the Capitol…Speaker Pro Tem, Blaine Finch was in the Speaker’s Chair yesterday. Blaine represents our community well.    
 
Empty Bowls:
 
Last week I went to a unique fundraiser at the high school…not unique in the charity for which the money was raised but unique in the fact the Art Department and the Culinary Arts Department (Cherry’s classes) teamed up to make bowls and food. The Art classes made the pottery bowls and Cherry’s class prepared chicken and noodles…everyone choose a bowl and then got a meal. The bowl was yours to keep. The beneficiaries were food pantries in our community. Here are some pictures. In addition to the bowls for the meals they had a few auction items too…you notice in one of my pictures there is a bowl signed by Semi Ojeleye. That might have some long-term value depending on how his career evolves with the Boston Celtics. 
 
Grandkid Schools:
 
I mentioned last week we were going to the Chili Supper at Appanoose School…here are a few pictures from there. Appanoose is a great little school in the northwest corner of Franklin County…I’m glad Evelyn is attending there. When there at events I always see many people I know from Ottawa. The event was more than a chili supper…it was also a carnival with a cake walk and face painting. Jase won a cake on his first time on the cake walk…not bad for a 2-year old!
 
We also “got to attend” a preschool art festival in Shawnee, Kansas this week. Here are pictures of our budding artist! It is fun seeing all the kids so proud of their work.
 
I’ve got to run now…I’m heading south to Burlington, Kansas to meet Chelsy to pick up Max and Newt for the weekend…it will be a busy couple of days for Cherry and me.
 
Don’t forget the Legislative Coffee tomorrow (Saturday) at 10:00 a.m. All 3 legislators plan on attending and you can ask directly your specific questions about this legislative session. Always held in the City Commission Chambers in City Hall…hope to see you there.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000