Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
After all the rain this week, Cherry’s and my first thoughts were, “it’s good to be living on top of a hill now!” Having spent the first 39 years of our married lives living several hundred yards from Tauy Creek, the greater than 3 inches of rain this week would be making things tense with potential flooding problems. Still…3 inches of rain in July is a huge plus for the local crops – this was what they call “a million dollar rain” when you consider how many dollars this significant moisture added to the potential crop production for farmers in 2020. If we just don’t have a flood now!
 
Here is this week’s COVID update…up 19 cases from a week ago – now 142 positive cases with 114 recoveries.  Franklin County updates the numbers every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons after 5:00. Also, a plan is developing for Ottawa schools…classes will begin for students September 9 with teachers reporting the last week of August. Dr. Cobbs presented the school board 3 options for starting classes this fall…the board voted for the plan to start classes after Labor Day. 
 
Parents will have a choice of schooling their children at home remotely or sending them to classes at school…families are supposed to make their decision for the semester but Ryan said the district will remain flexible with everyone – just as we all do in these uncertain times. Situations change in moments right now. Once the district has an idea of how many students will actually be in each school building, planning can begin to establish class sizes at numbers which allow social distancing to be maintained. Plus…additional COVID safety measures will be implemented too. It certainly isn’t your typical start of school!! Schools and administration staff need until September 9 to make the adjustments and execute the proper procedures. High school sports are still up in the air.
 
Halloren Building:
 
This morning we rededicated the Halloren Building…located on the southeast corner of 4th and Main Street, it has been a fixture in downtown Ottawa since 1923. Over the years it’s been home to the Reinhart Motor Company, Price Motor Company, Mode O’Day and Pence & Bales IGA among others. Since 1954 it has served as a professional building with several office suites.
 
Local developer and building contractor, Josh Walker purchased the building a couple of years ago and has breathed new life into the grand structure. The Corner Market Café on the corner opened last fall and is already a very popular place to grab breakfast, lunch or just a quick cup of coffee. This morning Josh invited the Chamber to see the completed project (pictures here)…lower level is office suites and the upper level are suite apartments to house 34 OU college students…here are a few pictures from a suite. Some of the suites are 6 students and some 4…each student has a bed, desk, closet and dresser. They share common living and kitchen space but every 2 students has room and bathroom within the greater suite.    
 
This one project is tremendous for our community and particularly downtown Ottawa. Think of the possibilities when 34 new residents have been injected into the central business district of Ottawa…it will be a game changer for the life of the downtown. Thanks Josh for your vision and confidence in Ottawa…especially in the challenging time we are living in. Lead on Josh!! 
 
SERC Physical Therapy:
 
SERC Physical Therapy treated the community to sno-cones this week…the Chamber staff was happy to participate (pictures here). Located at 1410 South Main Street, SERC (which stands for Spine Extremity Rehabilitation Center) has been in Ottawa for 2 years now under the direction of local hometown girl, Dani Swartz. They offer a full range of physical and occupational therapy treatments. Wednesday it was fun to visit casually with the full staff and enjoy the refreshment of a Sno-Shack Tropical sno-cone…on an extremely humid day! If you want to know more about their services you can reach them at 785.242.2113…they will be glad to visit with you about your physical therapy needs and establish a plan just for you. 
 
2020 Census:
 
The 2020 Census steams along…under the veil of COVID quarantines and also, for the first-time, the decennial count is being conducted online. Franklin County is not doing too bad at self-reporting. The local count committee is led by Wynndee Lee…the Kansas self-response rate is 66.6% of households and locally we are at 69.1% in responding. This is before the door-to-door canvas begins. The national response rate is 62.3%. By these standards we are ahead of the curve…but if the count stopped today, Kansas would be forfeiting $21 BILLION (that’s billion with a “B”) by not getting responses from the last unreported 34% of households. 
 
I hope everyone understands when it comes to getting local COVID relief (or any type of federal assistance in the next 10 years) these are the numbers which will determine our share locally…for the state, county, and city. We need everyone counted! The count is constitutionally required every 10-years…pandemic or not. If you have not yet completed the census (or if you know of people in your workforce or circle of friends who have not) please go to the Kansas Counts webpage and be counted. It takes less than 10 minutes…it is very simple!! (please forward this website to all in your organization…it is important) 
 
Janet Peters:
 
I normally don’t mention promotions here, but wanted to give a shout-out to my good friend Janet Peters…this week she was promoted (press release here) to Vice President of Advancement of Ottawa University – congratulations!! Janet and I have served together in many capacities down through the years…most recently on the Ransom Hospital board and currently on the AdventHealth Ottawa board. I am also chair of the Advancement Committee at OU giving me even more opportunities to work with her. I told Janet we are looking forward to the millions of dollars she will raise to be injected locally to the Ottawa University campus…it is one of our bigger economic engines in the community!! Good job Janet!!
 
Cedar Vale Parade:
 
I mentioned last week we were headed to Cedar Vale for the weekend…we were lucky to be able to catch the Chautauqua County fair and parade. Here are a few pictures. It certainly was a slice of Americana in a small community in which the fair is always one of the biggest events of the year. 
 
Here are some pictures of one year ago (August 2)…and a few more here. We had a lot of rain that week too (to say the least)…makes this week’s 3 inches seem trivial!!    
 
Hope you are staying high and dry…as well as safe and healthy!! Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000