Dear Chamber Supporters:
Today is Cherry’s first day of school…teachers report to get specifics on how scheduling will work and learn new protocols and safety measures to protect students and staff. Students report September 9. School…as everything, will look very different this year.  
All students will be divided into 2 groups and will attend only with their group…group A will attend in person in the morning, group B in the afternoon. This allows schools and classrooms to be cleaned and disinfected between groups. When students are not at school, the expectation is for them to be participating remotely. Some parents are choosing to keep their children home for remote learning the entire day. The bus transportation schedule is still being developed.
What a nightmare…for administration, staff, parents and students. We need to remember kids are very resilient…they will adapt – easier than the adults. Fall sports begin on Monday with normal schedules. Ryan Cobbs, superintendent, says the main goal is to return students back safely into a learning environment…lead on Ryan – you have a tough job…this year more than most!!
Sadly we had our second death in Franklin County, but most confirmed positive cases continue to recover…241 total positive cases with 191 recovered (48 active cases). August saw a total of 90 positive cases of which 41 have recovered. Here is the complete report. The percent of positive cases locally is running at 7.8%…compared to the State of Kansas which is hovering around 10% and generally climbing. The national average runs fairly consistently at about 6.5% positive. Health officials use these numbers to benchmark the disease…under 10% is preferred. You can go to the official State of Kansas Department of Health and Environment COVID-19 website for more statistics than you can possibly digest!
Ottawa University (OU) Blitz:
The Chamber always helps the OU Advancement team with the OU Blitz…we take a morning and visit all the downtown stores to offer them an OU sign and let them know students are back in town…pictures here. Usually we give information regarding Fusion…the evening students come downtown for their evening meal and interact with local businesses. This week the 2020 Fusion was cancelled…another sad fatality of this pandemic year. Still…we need to officially welcome students to town. I ate lunch one day this week at the Corner Market…it is fun to see all the students coming and going. With 38 students living above the Market the place felt hoppin’!  Please be sure to welcome students as you see them…Ottawa is their home away from home.
Women of Franklin County:
The Franklin County Historical Society has an intriguing display currently on the lawn of the Courthouse…pictures here. The name of the display is Women’s Suffrage in Franklin County and features the names of 150 men and women who advocated for the suffrage movement. The names include students, mothers, grandmothers, professors, journalists, and leaders in organizations such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, American Woman’s League/American Woman’s Republic, and Ottawa University’s Woman’s Civic League. 2020 is the 100th year anniversary of the 19th Amendment (actually this week)…the amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920 and guarantees all women the right to vote.  
Farmer’s Market and Sara Morgan:
Last Monday evening was a beautiful summer evening and we had a great event in Legacy Square (picture here). The Farmer’s Market set up for a special summer market and Sara Morgan…an up-and-coming county star performed live music for 3 hours. Many brought lawn chairs and enjoyed the evening. We had 4 food trucks at the event and KOFO broadcast live. Kids had fun playing and families enjoyed a meal and great music. It genuinely gives you hope that things will once again return to normal at some point. Our next Farmer’s Market will be a fall market on October 26…perfect time to buy sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apples, turnips and fall squash. Mark it on your calendar!!   
Signs of the Times:
I’m going to close today with a few random thoughts and observations…people seem especially divided and divisive right now. Stress levels are currently high for most everyone…for many reasons: COVID, the elections, figuring out family dynamics and school schedules, isolation from friends and normal social gatherings…there tends to be more negative comments on social media which then just fuel more negative thoughts.
Now is a time to take stock…we need to take care of ourselves and others.  It is nice to think we are not trenching in for the long-haul on this social distancing…but we could be. Having a mindset of choosing to be happy is important…especially now.
Best thing you can do is shut off the news, close social media and take a break. If you want to know facts on the Coronavirus, go to John Hopkins University webpage and consume factual scientific data which isn’t filtered through news media, politics, or Facebook. When we gain a better understanding of the disease it might not be as frightening. 
Earlier I mentioned kids are resilient…adults must be just as strong. Most of all…let’s be civil – we are all neighbors, friends and family. At the end of the day, we will come out of this together and continue to be a community! 
Family Pics:
No grandkid pictures this week. We did have a family wedding…my niece got married and only adults were allowed at the ceremony and reception. Mainly to keep numbers low and maintain social distancing rules. Here are pictures of my adult children…I know – not cute, but Cherry and I are still proud.
Also…here is me and my beautiful bride (her birthday is Saturday) – still as beautiful as the day we got married. 
Be safe…take care of yourself. I’ve got to run – we are having a birthday party tonight. Talk to you next week…
Onward ~ John
John Coen
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce