Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This winter has not been terrible (yet)…still, I do find myself wishing for warmer days. Last weekend when the temperatures rose to 70 degrees on Sunday afternoon it made us all just a little envious for warmer weather…here are pictures of me and my grandkids sitting around a fire last Saturday evening. It was a perfect evening with temps in the high 50s…it was back to reality this week however. The sun did finally show itself on a cold Thursday…it was nice to still see light in the western sky at 6:30. Longer days are coming – so is warmer weather…hang in there!  
 
Sherri out-of-office:
 
Ryland and I will be begging for patience the next several weeks…Sherri is going to be out on an extended leave for surgery. She is hoping to return to work approximately the 2nd or 3rd week of March. Nothing serious…but not easy either – Sherri is having both knees replaced. With Sydney having left the office in January and now Sherri’s anticipated absence, we scrambled a little to find some bullpen relief. Stella Tharp, the director of the OHS’ Career and Tech Education Department has a couple of senior high school students with promising talents in graphic design and marketing…they will both work in the Chamber several mornings each week and help with social media, newsletter design and promotional materials. I will introduce them more fully in next week’s newsletter once they officially begin. Still…patience please – if you are making a special trip to the office, call to make sure someone is available…and we will get to calls and phone messages. Sherri covets all your prayers during her convalescence.  
 
Cultural Breakfast:
 
I was amazed and completely enthralled at the 3rd annual Cultural Breakfast in Memorial Auditorium this week…120 attended. Two years ago, Tiffany Evans, Director of the OMA, kicked the now annual series off with a presenter on Ireland…last year our own Ottawa University President, Dr. Reggies Wenyika talked about life in Zimbabwe. This year, Tiffany engaged an Ottawa University senior, Dakota Bunch to present and educate us regarding the Ottawa Native American tribe…really the founders of our local community and Ottawa University. To help in her presentation, Dakota (a ninth-generation Ottawa Indian) brought her whole family…here are pictures of her presenting and of her family. She told of tribal history from the early 1800s when the tribe was forced from their north lands in Michigan because of the “trail of tears” legislation (Indian Removal Act of 1830)…this legislation required all tribes to locate west of the Mississippi River. The Ottawans landed in Kansas following a five-year south and western migration. Here are a few artifacts Dakota shared Thursday morning.   
 
Dakota attends the University on the Ottawa Tribal scholarship…tuition, books and room and board all paid as recognition of a treaty signed in the 1800s giving the land and the school to the American Baptist OU Board of Trustees. Jonathan Meeker, a Baptist missionary was instrumental in starting the school to educate the local tribal members. The university predates the founding of the Ottawa Township by 2 years. The word Ottawa comes from the Native American word “adawe” which means – traders. Thanks Tiffany…and Dakota for a very interesting and educational morning. 
 
First Friday Forum (FFF): 
 
Our first FFF of 2020 was interesting and very timely…Dr. Kevin Blackwell, a history professor and Liberal Arts Division Chair for Neosho County Community College presented on the history of impeachments in our country. Here are some pictures…Dr. Blackwell visited about different impeachments which have happened throughout history. In our 244 years of being a Republic there have been 20 impeachments…15 were federal judges, 4 were presidents and one was the Secretary of War (before it was Secretary of Defense). Here is Dr. Blackwell’s PowerPoint for those interested. Dr. Blackwell had the ability to poll the FFF crowd anonymously using cell phones and texting about the recent impeachment trial of President Trump…a majority felt the House should not have impeached; a majority felt the Senate should not have taken witnesses; but it was exactly 50/50 on whether the president should have been acquitted. I don’t know what that say’s exactly but it does I think reflect the tumultuous times and chaotic political waters through which we are currently navigating.   
 
Super Bowl:
 
Okay…how can I not talk about the Super Bowl this week!! One word…WOW! Andy Reid got his 222nd win on 02/02/2020 and propelled our Chiefs to World Champs. I’m going to share my bona fides…including the initial viewing last Sunday, I have watched the game 3 times now…and the 4th quarter a couple of more than that. It was a game for the ages…hopefully we don’t have to wait another 50 years for another. It has been a fun week watching the parade and the triumphal return of the team…we all deserve to party a little bit this week to celebrate this victory – you know “you have to FIGHT…for your RIGHT…TO PARTY!!”  
 
Here is an interesting (or not) trivial fact regarding the date of the win…02/02/2020 is the first palindrome date (written: mm/dd/yyyy) in 900 years. A palindrome reads the same backwards and forwards. We do not have to wait another 900 for the next one however…in fact December 21, 2021 is next – 12/21/2021. Now some will argue there are multiple ways to write the date which will give you additional palindrome dates…but not by using the two numbers for the month and day and four numbers for the year. Here was Tiffany Evans at the Cultural Breakfast when I shared this piece of trivia with her!!     
 
Birthday and Baptism:
 
I mentioned last week we were heading to Cedar Vale for a baptism and 3-year old birthday party…always fun to get the whole family together. Here are a couple pictures from the church of the baptism…Codie Cherry is 4 months old. Of course a birthday party the night before the Chiefs Super Bowl game had to have a Chiefs/Patrick Mahomes theme. Here are some more pictures from the weekend…also of the babies!! 
 
I’m heading to the Empty Bowls supper tonight at the high school…a partnership between the Art Department students who sculpt the bowls and Cherry’s culinary students who prepare the meal. You buy a bowl and then get a meal…the dollars raised go to fight hunger locally. The Appanoose Elementary School chili supper is tomorrow night…it’s that time of year!!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John