Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Unfathomable circumstances of the impending pandemic continue to envelop us…and this was only week 1. I hope you are healthy and safe…and maybe while happy is not a correct describer at least content and cheerful in nature. All are having to dig a little deeper to find the resolve needed to maintain a pleasant attitude and a can-do spirit…we will come through this and, while inadvertently and inherently changed…we will be stronger!
 
Admittedly there are not many community updates to send your way today…except for the daily updates regarding isolation, quarantine, social distancing and the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While important to be aware and current, we all need a little normal and “good” news to brighten our lives. While this won’t be that…I will try to keep it upbeat…at least different from the daily histrionics filling our airwaves.
 
I attended 2 meetings in person this week (in my life that’s actually newsworthy!)…both early in the week and before we continued to cancel virtually everything as the week continued. The City Commission study session only had 10 people in the room…and no one sat next to each other. Here is a picture of the sparse gathering last Monday…study sessions have been cancelled into the future and will probably be conducted using some form of electronic gathering going forward. I don’t want to give the impression the business of the City is shutting down…far from it. In fact I think we should specifically thank City workers and staff which continue to make sure our lights come on, water flows to our taps and our streets remain safe…and for that matter every worker whose job requires they remain on the front lines providing services – especially healthcare workers!
 
Peoples Financial Advisors:
 
Robbin Kerth is a longstanding stalwart in our local community having provided financial advice to local citizens and investors for years. Formerly with Peoples Bank, he left the bank when Bank Midwest purchased the local asset and established his independent advisory office…he was allowed to keep the name Peoples which is a valuable and recognizable brand in the community…it helped in his the transition. Now located in the new office suites at 401 S. Main Street, Robbin recently brought in a new adviser to start acclimating him to Ottawa and Franklin County…I had a chance to meet Ryan Wilkerson and welcome him to Ottawa this week (here is a picture). Albeit not a great time to move and begin diving into the life of a new community, I assured Ryan normality would return to our community at some point. Ryan is looking forward to hosting a Chamber event sometime in the future to be introduced formally to Ottawa and learn ways in which he can ingrain himself in Franklin County. Coincidentally I learned while attending Kansas State he was good friends with one of my daughters …always fun to make connections which immediately strength a networking relationship. Welcome to Ottawa Ryan…looking forward to getting to know you better.
 
Ottawa Strong:
 
We have begun work on a new resource page via our website…check it out here. When complete you will be able to access small business resources, restaurant information, local health information and also find remote-working tools. We will continue to update the resources…next week we will contact all local restaurants to learn of schedules and availability during this time of uncertainty. Call us if you see something which needs to be added to our page. Locally for the most up-to-date information and the latest news the best resource continues to be the Franklin County webpage…click here.    
 
Birthday Party:
 
Last Saturday…before the CDC recommendation of 10 or fewer in a gathering, our family had a 3 & 5-year old birthday party (pictures here). It was a princess party…the boys came as super heroes! Even Elsa of Arendelle braved the COVID-19 scare to make an appearance…pictures here. Here is a picture of a couple of 6-month old princesses getting to know one another. We understand family gatherings are going to be different for a while…my niece had to cancel her wedding which was planned for this weekend. She and her fiancé were sad beyond words but they and their parents went to a judge in Manhattan and were officially married…we will formally celebrate the union as a family once this pandemic passes. I know your family and ours are already craving a return to “normal”. 
 
Really BIG Announcement:
 
Cherry and I have some big news…at least it is big for us – and it is different from the daily inundation of pandemic fears and updates. After 36-years…we are moving off the farm. We have purchased a home in south Ottawa (just outside the city limits…so still country) and have begun the transition. Here are a few pictures of the melee ensuing. We are quickly learning 36-years of clutter is a lot to sort through! We both agree it does give us something to take our minds off the daily news which after several days tends to get dreary and monotonous. I’m finding moving is similar to planning my daughter’s weddings…I only need to learn to say “I agree.”…and repeat as often as necessary. I will keep you up-to-date on how this goes…and the state of our marriage after the move is complete!!
 
Be Safe & Healthy:
 
Mostly I want to encourage you all to stay healthy and safe…this epidemic will pass and we will be on to the next thing before we know it. Who could ever have guessed a month ago we would be craving for news on the election!?! Now there is a topic which has faded into oblivion. Take care of yourself…and be as happy as possible. The one thing you still get to choose is your attitude – choose to be joyful!
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000