Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It was a great Chautauqua Festival fireworks display last Saturday…on a beautiful summer evening. My family sat in our yard and enjoyed the fireworks from the community display as well as many personal displays all over the city…we had a great vantage point from the top of our hill in South Ottawa. Here are pictures of the Chautauqua committee preparing the fireworks display between the river dikes in the afternoon…and the final display product (pictures provided by Tiffany Evans the co-chair of the Chautauqua committee). Thanks again to the sponsors of the display…here is the list.  
 
There have been 9 new COVID cases in Franklin County this week…here is the full report. This week Kansas was added to the list of states which require others, when traveling from our state, to self-quarantine when returning home to other states…not a good list to be on! The number of positive tests in our state is running over 10%…a benchmark the CDC sees as critical and too high. We must remain vigilant…use good judgement. For sure we do not want another shutdown…a second shutdown would be more challenging economically than the first. This crisis is teaching us to become more tolerant of other’s feelings…some feel comfortable without masks…others more secure wearing them. Please respect everyone…keep your 6 feet distance, wash your hands…use common sense and appreciate the perspective of individuals who have different comfort levels than your own.
 
New Housing Development:
 
It is good to see new construction this summer…it helps us realize things will get better and return to a more regular pace at some point. Here are pictures of the new housing which has just started to build on the former Lincoln School site at Cedar and Massasoit Streets. The developers are local investors…Kyle Thurman and Joseph Thomas and are building under the name of Heartland Rental Homes. The homes will be duplexes which will be for rent – not ownership…the property will be managed property which means no mowing. These new homes will be market-rate housing and will really change the look of this block – there has been a church and/or a school at this location since back in the 20’s. If you are interested in one of these homes you can call either Joseph (785.565.3236) or Kyle at (785.418.4837)…thanks for your investment and confidence in our local economy.
 
Legacy Square Playground:
 
Construction is now moving along on the new playground – pictures here. I met this week on-site with Community Planning Director, Wynndee Lee and the manager of Kalmar Ottawa’s operation, Alan Wilson to discuss placement of the truck being donated to the play area by Kalmar. In the pictures the roped area will be playground turf provided by a grant…on which the play equipment (donated by a Pathways Grant from BCBS) will be located. Our largest donor to the play space is the Goppert Foundation…the park will carry their name in some fashion. The Goppert family has invested many dollars in this community to youth and healthful living. I am pleased we were able to save as many existing trees…the area is perfect for a kid’s playground. Shade, on the existing trails and across the street from Legacy Square. Additionally, improvements are to begin on 1st Street this summer. The sidewalk will be improved on the north side of the street, there will be more signage and the Prairie Spirit Trail will become more defined…and charging stations for electric cars will be installed (donated by Evergy – formerly West Star and KCP&L). All in all…this is a big community win!!
 
Speaker Pro Tem – Blaine Finch:
 
Our own Blaine Finch spoke to Rotary this week…giving an update from the Kansas Capitol and describing the workings of the Kansas House leadership team. Any community benefits in unseen ways when their representative is represented in Leadership…either the House or Senate. Blaine described (as we have all come to understand) how much changed in governing since the pandemic. Kansas has a part-time legislature which only serves 90-days each year…this year the 90-days was cut short. Our state constitution requires a balance of power between the Legislature, Courts and Executive Branches…however the courts and the governor’s office are fulltime putting the Legislature at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of equal balance of governing. It is the duty of the Legislature to oversee and approve the budgeting process and spending of state funds…while at times the process seems combative, it is really the process established to make sure no one branch of government becomes stronger than the other. Democracy is far from easy and a constant struggle!! As Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government…except for all the others!”   
 
Front Porch Antiques:
 
For the first time in 4-months we held a Chamber Coffee this morning…at Front Porch Décor Company on North Main Street (pictures here) – formerly Front Porch Antiques. New owners Alan and Lisa Myers were introduced and talked about their new investment in Ottawa…not necessarily good timing in relation to COVID. But Lisa admitted it caused her to learn how to do online marketing, clean-out her wares and be ready for stronger economic times. Lisa has 15 vendors…it’s like walking back in time to stroll through their store. I remember the location was Cheney Grocery and I use to shop there with my grandmother back in the early 60’s. Lisa is also striving to bring modern décor choices into the store as well as Kansas’ products. Our numbers were smaller this morning…we predicted as much – but I must admit it was good seeing people coming together in a safe fashion and enjoying one another’s company. It is a fun store to browse…and I couldn’t escape without making a purchase. Stop by and see the Meyers sometime and welcome their new business adventure!    
 
Family Independence Day pictures:
 
While all our family wasn’t together we all celebrated Independence Day…here are pictures. The 4th of July was a good time for everyone to take a break and celebrate our nation’s freedoms…I hope you were able to get some needed recharge as we head into the “dog days” of summer. Cherry and I are also enjoying our fresh garden produce now…one of my favorite parts of summer. 
 
Take care of yourself…be safe! Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000