Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This was Franklin County Fair week…the hot and dry weather seemed like fair week but it hardly seemed like the Franklin County Fair. When my kids were growing up this was always one of the biggest weeks/events of the year. Getting animals and 4-H projects ready to be judged and delivered to the fair for a week meant juggling chores and farm work with all the activities going on at the fair. While admittedly different for our family now (and has been for a number of years), it was also completely different for those currently involved with showing and displaying projects for a completely different reason – COVID!
 
Young people brought their animals in to show but, after judging, took them home…same with other projects. Cooking, woodworking, clothing, photography were all judged, but not displayed – no conferencing between 4-Hers and judges either. Another unfortunate sign of the times.
 
Latest Numbers:
 
Here are the most recent Franklin County numbers…102 confirmed cases – 71 of whom have recovered. This will be updated again this evening. The State of Kansas is running just under 11% positive tests of all tested…I did the math – Franklin County is just under 4%. By these numbers we are doing pretty good locally…4 people out of every 100 people you come in contact with have COVID. Still need for caution…and when you travel outside of the county, your chances of contact definitely change to higher odds.
 
Fall 2020 School:
 
Parents are pulling their hair out (as I’m sure Dr. Cobbs – our local superintendent is too) over the start of school. The school board spent several hours at their most recent board meeting developing a plan to make children and teachers safe and get school opened on time…the Governor changed all that on Thursday afternoon with an executive order not allowing any Kansas schools to start until after Labor Day (here is the Governor’s press release). Also with the order, many new rules and regulations were established, with which all school districts must comply and additionally will take time and resources to implement. Parents are trying to juggle childcare, careers and the possibility of again becoming part-time teachers…all this plus a moving target for the first day of school – it is frustrating!
 
It is the same for Ottawa University and Neosho County Community College…developing plans to keep students safe, return to campus and allow education to proceed. Tough times…tough decisions – for everyone involved! 
 
BCBS Phase 2 – Pathways Grant:
 
Here is some much needed fantastic news!! This week Franklin County was named as a grantee to receive a second round of funding of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Pathways to Health Kansas initiative grant – $200,000.00 – WOW!! Franklin County was one of the original 6 counties to receive the funding in 2016…now we are one of 24 to receive a second phase funding (full press release here). Shelia Robertson from the Franklin County Health Department is administering the grant. I know you’ve heard me talk about the projects which have been completed with the first round…for Ottawa there has been money for schools, restaurants, grocery, Legacy Square playground. All smaller communities have received funds as well – too many to list all. Here are the 6 pathways to healthier living for the next 4 years: Social and Community Context, Neighborhood and Physical Environment, Food, Healthcare, Education, and Economic Stability Pathways…all worthy endeavors.   
 
For the next several years our local Pathways committee (called Live Healthy Franklin County) will work on programming and ideas to increase awareness and community engagement in healthy lifestyles featuring the above pathways. Our goal is to help our local citizens make healthy choices as their default choice all with an outcome to improve overall quality of life. When you have actual dollars to work with it makes the goals and outcomes possible. By the end of Phase 2, BCBS will have invested over a half-million dollars in Franklin County making it a healthier place to live and work. It’s a big deal…thanks BCBS! And thank you Shelia for your leadership!!
 
Roasted Café:
 
For the first time I remember we had a three-fer this morning…three new business in one coffee! Roasted Café hosted the coffee and we officially cut the ribbon for this already popular restaurant…albeit they have been up and running since February (here are the pictures). Chris and Angela Hooper and son Garret Loiacono explained how they searched communities all over Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri…when they visited Ottawa they fell in love with the building and the community…lucky for us. Their café is a great lunchtime and breakfast choice…I can vouch for great hamburgers!! They served the Chamber breakfast this morning…biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, muffins and fruit – really good food. It is almost too convenient for Chamber employees having them right down the street!!
 
Lockbaud, LLC:
 
We also introduced new Chamber member, Samuel Sapp (pictures here) this morning and his new Ottawa business, Lockbaud, LLC. Lockbaud is an IT business and handles all the Chamber’s IT needs. I’ve been at the Chamber almost 10 years and in this time stretch, Samuel has been the best IT person we have had. In this day and age it is impossible to not have someone you can call with help with phones, computers and programming in some cases…he is also good to help us with our mobile devices too. He explained the word Lockbaud is a combination of the words “lockbox” and “Blackbaud” (which is a large computer software company which deal in security programs). He was looking for a name that conveyed security and efficiency…the Chamber gives him thumbs up for that. 
 
Grass Man Lawn Services:
 
Lastly this morning Chris Hooper, Angela’s husband told attenders about his lawn care business…you can reach him at 785.893.3526. Along with the 2 business, the Hooper’s also have downtown apartments above the Café which they manage and volunteer their “free” time to plant and maintain Haley Park. All three have been a great addition to the community…2 businesses, rentals units and volunteering. Ottawa hit a home run with this family!!
 
Legacy Square Playground:
 
Work is progressing at a good rate on this new addition…pictures here. Remember this is a result of one of the BCBS Pathways grants plus several other grants. It blows you away to know how much playgrounds cost…but they are good investments in our children – and this one will be nice and conveniently located in the downtown. 
 
Family Movie Night:
 
Here is something not cancelled, it is free and great for the whole family! Come to Legacy Square this evening to watch the Disney movie, Abominable. It is being sponsored by the Chamber, Library, Auditorium and the Recreation Commission…bring your blanket and lawn chairs. Free popcorn will be available. I’m looking forward to it…I’ll have a couple of my grandkids at the movie tonight. I hope to see you.
 
Be safe…talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000