Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Admittedly it was a little tough to come home and return to temperature reality…several days in sunny Arizona is good for the soul but reentry isn’t fun. Cherry and I landed Tuesday afternoon to chilly temps and cloudy weather. Glum after 5 days in the sun and 70 degree climate…still it was good to recharge…it gives me energy and optimism that our own spring is just around the corner – and I do especially appreciate sleeping in my own bed!!
 
I wish I could bring you a great scouting report on our Royals…I do think they will be better than the last 2 seasons – but I wouldn’t expect a contender just yet. Here are pictures from the Royals’ stadium in Surprise…they share the facility with the Texas Rangers. The Royals’ lockers are behind the 3rd base side and practice fields on the east and north of the stadium…the Rangers’ practice fields are on the south and southeast. It makes for a good setup…what is fun about spring training is while they are doing team practices there are times when you can move among the players…here are some pictures. Danny Duffy is great with kids…he signed every autograph he was asked and kids clamor to him. 
 
We watched a couple of games while there. Sunday afternoon we sat right behind home plate to watch the Cleveland Indians…Monday it was the San Diego Padres and Eric Hosmer was greeting all his former mates. Also Rusty Kuntz is returning to coach 1st base the season…good seeing him back on the field giving praise to players and doling out wisdom to young players.       
 
Ottawa University – Arizona (OUAZ):
 
The reason for my trip to Surprise, Arizona was to participate in Ottawa University board meetings…I have been on the OU board since 2013. What the university has accomplished in Arizona is nothing short of miraculous…OU has literally brought a college campus up and out of the desert. Chancellor Kevin Eichner first brought the board to the campus location 4-years ago and there was nothing on the site…the City of Surprise owned most of the land – some was owned by private developers. Royals Stadium and practice facility was a short half mile down the street and the City had built a community building which they were willing to sell to OU…the rest was just a dream/vision. Here are pictures today.   
 
There was a lot of celebrating this board meeting…we officially cut the ribbon on the new O’Dell Center and Faith Arena (pictures here). Two major donors have helped the university make this facility and campus a reality…the O’Dell family and John Sherman (the new owner of the Royals). Here are some pictures of the ceremony dedicating the new arena and recognition of John Sherman and the O’Dells. I was able to meet John and have a brief conversation with him…he is a very gracious and unassuming man. He doesn’t expect recognition and would rather be in the shadow than the spotlight. He is a magnanimous friend of the OU family (a former graduate) and also the perfect person to own the Royals. 
 
This campus will change lives of young people for years to come…it is truly a faith movement and dedication which built this new campus. Already home to 800 students the vision is for it to continue to grow student numbers. Surprise is the fastest growing city in the Phoenix Valley…I believe it when you see the change in the last 4 years!!
 
AdventHealth-Ottawa:
 
Our hospital has received a couple huge recognitions in recent weeks…AdventHealth Ottawa just achieved a 5-star rating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). You can read the full press release here. CMS uses a 5-star quality rating system to measure the experiences Medicare beneficiaries have with their health plan and health care system — hence the Star Rating Program. Health plans are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest. The overall hospital rating shows how well each hospital performed, on average, compared to other hospitals in the U.S. The more stars, the better a hospital performed on the available quality measures. The most common overall hospital ratings are 3 or 4 stars…5-star is the top accomplishment. There are only 10 hospitals in the State of Kansas and only 407 out 4,500 hospitals nationwide that earn the 5-star rating. There are 4 facilities in the metropolitan area besides Ottawa which were awarded the top award: St. Luke’s-Overland Park, Providence Regional Health, AdventHealth Shawnee/Mission and AdventHealth Ottawa. 
 
In addition to this recognition we are also honored to be named as a National Rural Health Association Top 20 Rural Community Hospital in the United States…you can see the honor here on the National Rural Health Association webpage. The 20 overall selected hospitals have achieved success based on the Hospital Strength Index, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance in the United States.
 
Both of these awards were unsolicited but most certainly deserved. Sometimes we don’t realize top status and quality because it’s in our own backyard…fantastic job AdventHealth Ottawa!! Our local hospital cares for us in multiple ways…but with a very high standard of care!
 
Wynndee Lee:
                      
A second celebration at our OU board meetings in Surprise was recognizing and honoring our own Wynndee Lee for 18-years’ service on the OU Board of Trustees (pictures here).  Wynndee termed off the board this year but we will not lose her wisdom and service…she was granted Lifetime Trustee Status – a top honor to long-serving and dedicated board members. Wynndee is an OU alum – as is her husband David, daughter Samantha, and also both her parents…truly an OU family through and through. I know personally I have gained from her boardsmanship and experience in serving the OU community. Congratulation Wynndee…job well done!
 
American Dining Creations (ADC):
 
Speaking of OU, our newest Chamber member hosted us this morning (pictures here) on the Kansas OU campus at the Gibson Student Union. American Dining Creations has recently been named the cater and food service organization for our local university. It was reassuring seeing Jarrod Soza, a former manager of a previous food service, back in the management position. I was duly impressed this morning with their offerings and food service…if you didn’t realize, you can eat either breakfast or lunch at the cafeteria which has a wide selection of entrees. Ryland gave a personal testimony as to the high quality of the meals…he eats there every day. Welcome to Ottawa ADC…and welcome back Jarrod.  
 
Wal-Mart Distribution Center:
 
Paul Bean, the Franklin Co. Development Council (FCDC) director since November has hit the ground running. This week he organized an FCDC membership interacting event at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center. I don’t have pictures for you because Wal-Mart has a strict “no picture” policy inside their distribution facility. Attended by 50 FCDC members the lunch was a good and beneficial networking event. John Cessna is the distribution manager…if John’s name sounds familiar it’s because John is in his second stint in Ottawa. Previously John lived and worked in Ottawa in the 90s…he said the biggest change from his previous years was the availability of workforce. His sentiments were echoed by most in attendance. It’s great to have low unemployment but the flip side is our local employers’ inability to maintain a quality and substantial workforce. Conversation is always good to brainstorm solutions. Paul plans on the networking lunches to continue on a bi-monthly basis.
 
I’ve got to run…I have several meetings this afternoon. Talk to you next week…   
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000