Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Hello from sunny Surprise, Arizona…I came into the Southwest town yesterday (Thursday) to participate in Ottawa University board meetings. The temp was 82 degrees here when I landed. There are several from the City of Ottawa here besides just University staff…also on the OU Board is Wayne Duderstadt while Mike Skidmore is on the Chancellor’s Committee. We are all pretty impressed with the warm weather. I snapped this picture of the OUAZ Founders Hall when I got here. I will have more pictures next week from the campus here in Surprise. It is amazing how impressive this campus is…it was literally built in the desert but now is surrounded by city and community.
 
I came down here 5-years ago when this campus was just a dream…there was nothing here but sand – in the distance was the Royals Surprise practice facility. Now sitting here is a beautiful complex with a student union, dormitories, a football field, a sport’s arena and an administration building. It is hard to imagine the transformation which has taken place.
 
Cherry is joining me over the weekend…we will go to a Royals game and just enjoy the warm weather. I’m looking forward to a little downtime. I will be sure to have a 2020 Royal’s scouting report for you next week.
  
Legislative Coffee:
 
The February Legislative Coffee was well attended…all 3 of our local legislators were in Ottawa participating (pictures here)…the questions were varied and expected. Several queries were regarding the possibility of the House and Senate passing a proposed constitutional amendment which would disallow the Kansas Supreme Court decision making abortion a protected personal right under the state constitution…the proposal which would be sent to Kansas voters would instead hand regulation of abortion in Kansas to the Legislature. Also the transparency bill regarding property taxes and Medicaid expansion were also on the minds of Ottawa citizens. All three of our legislators do a tremendous job representing our interests in the Kansas Statehouse…they listen closely and we appreciate them reporting back to us their impressions of the state policy discussions which affect all of us. The next Legislative Coffee is March 21…coffees are sponsored by the Chamber, Franklin County Farm Bureau, American Legion #60 and AT&T. Always at 10:00 a.m. in the City Commission Chambers you are welcome and encouraged to attend!
 
The Roasted Café:
 
Another new restaurant opened in downtown Ottawa this week…The Roasted Café. Owners Chris and Angela Hooper admit they have not done much to promote their new eatery yet…this week was a soft opening for them. They are just down the street from the Chamber at 123 E. 2nd Street (here are a few pictures). When I popped in several had seen the open sign and were enjoying lunch. Here is their menu. The Hoopers are from Colorado and are of Native American descent…so they are embracing a Native American motif. The remodel of the building is good and they have created a warm and embracing atmosphere. Additionally they partner with the Historic Post Office to provide a bridal suite in their upstairs apartment. Called the Champaign Suite, the suite has been operating for about a year. I will have more information about the restaurant as they get up and running…for now they are open if you want to try out a new place for lunch, their hours are from 6:00 am-2:00 pm every day of the week except Tuesdays (they are closed) and Sundays (7:00 am-1:00 pm).
 
The 2020 Census:
 
Characterized as possibly the oldest American tradition…it’s time again for the decennial count of all citizens. The 10-year count requirement was established in the U.S. Constitution and has been continuous every 10-years since 1790. Not only does it determine voting lines and districts, it is extremely important for our state and our community that all citizens are counted…it translates into dollars for local social programs, transportation projects and much, much more. Here is a factsheet detailing how much the count numbers mean specifically to Ottawa…historically we have received approximately $2,000.00 per citizen. It adds up to real money real fast if we miss just 1% of our population. 
 
This year will be just a little different than past censuses…the count will be conducted online. You will receive a postcard with a login which you will complete the census form on your computer or smartphone. There is some concern regarding how this will be received/responded to by citizens. Wendi Stark the Census Outreach Manager for Kansas will be speaking to Ottawa citizens on March 6 at the next First Friday Forum…she is very informative. You should start receiving your postcards between the dates of March 12-20…the actual count day is April 1. You count everyone who is in your house on that date…even if they don’t consider it their permanent residence. Get ready to stand up and be counted!!
 
WE Conference: – Ryland Miller      
 
Thursday Ottawa University hosted its Annual “WE Conference” on campus which included speaker and author Joshua Fredenburg. Along with his five books and keynote opportunities, Fredenburg also founded and leads an Award-Winning Leadership Conference called Circles of Change that allows students to hear from top executives and leadership experts across the nation. The crowd that gathered received a glimpse of that national conference yesterday with Joshua focusing on the topic of diversity…pictures here.
 
The keyword focused on throughout the conference was UNITE, engaging with each other and opening a dialogue that allows for each other’s diversity to break through. An interesting point that Joshua made was the notion that to properly unite we must all believe the same thing or think the same way, he states that this is a fallacy. He went on to say that there is an exceptional value to diversity, whether that be diversity in culture, religion, geography or political views. Being an election year, I would imagine diversity will be easy to come across. My challenge to myself and others would be to open up a dialogue, be an active listener and welcome different opinions or beliefs as they arise. 
 
Grandkids:
 
We had 4 of the grandbabies staying at our house last weekend…pure bedlam most of the time. Here are some pictures of the sleepover.  I am looking forward to some rest and relaxation once the OU board meetings are over. I will have more pictures of the campus and of course Royals spring training next Friday…can’t wait for first pitch!
 
Stay warm Ottawa…I’m putting on my sunscreen down here. It makes me anxious for spring at home.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000