Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I hope you are already enjoying your Independence Day Holiday in some fashion…we need something to celebrate more than ever right now. Democracy and freedom are as good as anything…even though we are all feeling a little pent-up and captured!! This is an appropriate time to take a deep breath and evaluate what is important as we still struggle to beat this COVID thing. Imagine this day in the late 1770s…how uncertainty and struggle were the commonplace and the expectation. Not so different 250 years later, in the 2020s, as we define “social distancing”, staying apart and resuming life. Then they were dealing with smallpox…now COVID. Then independence from oppression…now systemic racism (and still oppression of some). It really makes Ecclesiastes 1:9 all the more true!!
 
Chautauqua Festival:     
 
Please enjoy the community Chautauqua fireworks at dusk on Saturday evening being fired from between the river dikes at Forest Park…the Chautauqua committee is very pleased to present this display. Many communities cancelled…and we called off the Chautauqua activities in Forest Park this year. But the fireworks celebration will happen!! Come to the park or stay in a place where you can feel safe to watch the show. Tiffany Evans and Tim Van Leiden chaired the committee which raised enough money to make the display a reality…here is a poster giving credit to our community donors. Thanks to all our community supporters for presenting this “display of freedom” during this time of uncertainty. 
 
Farmer’s Market:
 
We had a huge event at Legacy Square last Monday evening…9 vendors selling local products, free ice cream (made possible by large donations from American Eagle Outfitters, Bank Midwest, Edward D. Jones – Ryan Henningsen), KOFO broadcast live from Legacy Square, over 500 local citizens participated. It was all very festive…pictures here. Another feature of the market last Monday…the first 40 families received $10.00 vouchers to be spent with the vendors only at this event. The money came from the BCBS Pathways Grant…encouraging healthier eating is one of the BCBS pathways – so enticing families to buy fresh vegetables clearly qualifies. You can view a video here about Franklin County as a healthy pathway community and many of our completed pathway projects. Just across the street, the children’s playground has begun construction and is also a benefactor of a pathways grant…over $30,000 to encourage active play and a healthier lifestyle. 
 
We have 2 more farmer’s markets planned for this summer…August 17 and October 26 (both Monday nights). In August we are hoping to have a food truck event to coincide with the market…I’ll keep you posted. We realize not everyone is ready to attend an event such as this…but for the most part people respected the space of others, many wore masks. It felt good seeing people laughing and enjoying the outdoors and ice cream. 
 
Hospital Auxiliary:
 
Having served over 20-years on the hospital board of trustees, the one thing I have learned for certain…our hospital could not function without our local volunteers which make up the auxiliary. Jody Lancaster helps organizes the auxilians…and they also elect officers – but their main purpose is to serve. Normally we would have had a banquet to honor each and their service…but in this time of drive-by every “things” the volunteers were honored individually as they drove up to the front of the hospital…pictures here. CEO Dallas Purkeypile greeted each as did Jody…all were presented with a small gift of appreciation. Fred Searls was honored as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year…a great tribute. Fred has been long-serving in this community in many different facets. I can think of no one who deserves the award more.  Thanks Fred for all your service and leadership…and to all the auxilians – many thanks!! Without your efforts healthcare in Franklin County would be greatly diminished. 
 
OHS Football and Soccer Fields:
 
The football and soccer fields at the high school are getting a big makeover this summer…converting from grass fields to turf (pictures here). This will be a huge change for our local athletes and also for the look of the school. With the fields being situated directly south of the high school building along Ash Street…Dr. Ryan Cobbs, superintendent of USD 290 said it will add to the WOW! factor of the look and feel of the school. I agree. The opportunity to provide the turf came from good fiscal management of the 2015 bond issue. With interest rates favorable, the school board was able to refinance the bonds and save enough money to turf the fields…good job! The players are not the only ones who benefit from the turf…so do our band musicians and physical education students…now the field will be able to be accessed at all times without worry of damaging the grass. Great addition to the community!!
 
Free Masks:
 
Most are familiar with the governor’s recent executive order 20-52 requiring everyone to wear a mask in public places…you can read the full order here. In light of this, Franklin County will be distributing free masks to all county businesses…first come first serve basis. This weekend you can get free masks by calling for an appointment to the Franklin County EMS building (on 14th Street – next to AdventHealth)…the number is 785.229.7312. Here is the full Franklin County press release.
 
Also…as an additional service, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment produced posters for businesses to display in your stores to help communicate the message to customers. You can download the printable posters here.  
 
Happy and Safe 4th!!:
 
Here is wishing all of you a very safe and happy 4th of July. My family’s celebration will be low-key…we will watch the community fireworks and enjoy each other’s company. Not all of us will be together…some are having their own celebrations. 
 
Here is a picture of some of my grandkids eating ice cream at the Farmer’s Market this last week. Also…we are having “cousins” week in our family. The 3 oldest cousins are at the Champlin’s house in Cedar Vale and the 3 youngest cousins are in Shawnee at the Brown’s house. Here are pictures of kids having summer fun…enjoy!!
 
Happy Independence Day…talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000