Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
We survived the first round of elections…I hope your candidates all won! Not any real surprises in Franklin County…at least that greatly affected the larger state outcomes. In the State Senate race it was a little shocking that Bob Hamilton received the most votes locally…defeated by Roger Marshall when compiled with the rest of the State votes. The County Commission race for District 2 was close…edged out by Rod Harris who now has no opposition in the fall election. Rod will be replacing Rick Howard who did not run for re-election.   
 
I guess the bigger surprises locally (or at least close races) were in the Republican township and precinct committee races where Deb Henningsen is currently edging out long-serving Cathy McClay by 3 votes in the 8th Precinct and Randall Renoud did the same to Greg Bohannon by 19 votes in Peoria Township. Another long-timer, Loren Stewart (2nd Precinct) is surviving his election by 2 votes over political new-comer, Tim Cronin. I put these in the present context because County Clerk Janet Paddock reports her office is still receiving mail-in ballots…also the election will not be official until the County Commission canvas of the election next Wednesday. So…the elections totals which are this close could actually change by the time all the votes are finalized. Generally the results of the committee races are not given much attention…however the winners from each precinct and township are the individuals which make up the Central Republican Committee in Franklin County. The work they do is important.
 
COVID Update:  
 
Franklin County saw another surge in new Coronavirus victims this week…up 30 new cases from a week ago – this is a total of 49 new cases in a 2-week period. Here is the complete COVID update. Of the 172 total positive cases in Franklin County, 120 have recovered. Here’s praying when the schools restart we do not see another wave of new positives…also this week Ottawa University students started to return to campus (here are a few pictures of move-in). It only stands to reason we will have more cases when all students and teachers plus the OU students are tested. We are all hearing stories of asymptomatic positives…I can only believe more who did not know they were positive once tested, will be discovered. It is prudent to continue to stay safe…especially those with underlying health conditions. 
 
We all have new vernacular now don’t we…using terms such as “asymptomatic positives”, “underlying conditions”, and “social distancing” to name a few. I genuinely hope these become terms which fall from our conversations soon…it can’t happen too quickly for me!!
 
Legacy Square:
 
The Chamber has several upcoming events planned for Legacy Square…we think outdoor events are safer and much easier to maintain the required 6-feet of distance from those not from your household. We still recommend masks.
 
  • The first is Monday, August 17 which will be the Chamber’s second summer farmer’s market in the Square. Our first was largely successful…we are hoping for another big event with the onset of sweet corn, watermelon and peaches. The Farmer’s market will run from 4:00-6:00…but in addition to the market there will be food trucks and live music. Sara Morgan will perform…Brad Howard at KOFO put us onto her – a new artist getting started in country music. We are hoping you might come for the market but stay for your evening meal and enjoy a late summer afternoon outdoors. The music will go on until 7:30 p.m.
 
  • OU Fusion is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9…when we officially welcome Ottawa University students to Ottawa. Box suppers will be served and many local businesses are participating. Always a fun evening.
 
  • Additionally we are raffling a new Blackstone Grill to benefit Legacy Square…details here. The raffle drawing will be September 22 at Legacy Square with a “Mask-erade” contest for the best/most original face mask. Tickets are not that expensive to get in the fun…click here to buy tickets online – or call the Chamber at 785.242.1000 and we will get you hooked up. 
 
  • Lastly I’ll mention the fall Candidate Forum scheduled for Tuesday, October 20 in Legacy Square (with the rainout date being the next Thursday, October 22). We were very pleased with the turnout for the primary forum…we will use the same format in October to hear the positions of the candidates which survived the primaries. The general election is November 3…if we can endure until then with all the political ads and innuendos.
 
HomeBase:
 
Chamber members officially welcomed new store manager Scott Johnson to Ottawa this morning with a gathering at HomeBase located at 2138 South Princeton Drive in South Ottawa. Scott moved to Ottawa just before the COVID outbreak, so this was our first chance to greet him and his new staff. HomeBase is an affiliate of Sutherland Lumber, the much larger parent company but owned by the same family. Scott told attenders this morning (pictures here) business has been brisk…when the stay-at-home order was in effect, everyone began working on all the home based, honey-dew projects which had been put on hold. HomeBase is just now beginning to get caught up from the COVID confinement push. If you haven’t been in the store since it switched from DIY you should go…it is super nice inside and greatly changed. Cherry doesn’t want me to go there because I always come home with a new tool or some new gadget…really a fun place to shop!! 
 
Congressional Update:
 
Nightly we hear all the political saber-rattling regarding the latest COVID relief package which is seemingly mired down in Congress. If you would like to boil-down past the soundbites and get a side-by-side analysis of the Senate and the House plan you can click here. When you look at the 2 plans, they are very similar and seemingly not far apart…in reality it is the small things in which Washington politicians feel they must quibble about and make outlandish statements. I think all Americans are tired of the political posturing which happens these days…regardless of your political view. The one area we all share common ground is the mistrust and lack of confidence in the congressional process. 
 
I take stock in what we have locally…family, friends our community. All the things we can feel and touch…and actually make a difference in.
 
Here are a few grandkid pictures for the week…stay healthy and safe. Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
john@ottawakansas.org
785-242-1000