Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
Labor Day weekend is here…later than normal since this year with September starting on a Tuesday…and with it the start of the NFL season. Historically the NFL plays it’s first game the Thursday following Labor Day. I’m sure many had doubts about play happening this year…but at least as of right now – the first Chiefs game is this Thursday evening. We all can use some diversion…I watch the Royals every evening but they do not create a great deal of excitement this year! And…by the way – I still re-watch the Chiefs’ playoff games and the Superbowl about once a month! It is still exciting!!
 
There is a lot of tension now surrounding the beginning of school, sports and any event which brings people into a group, potentially a spreading ground for COVID…I’m praying it all works – at least on some level. We need the return of a degree of normalcy in a summer which has been anything but. Sports, school routines, fall gatherings, while all looking different are a chance for us to see if we can live safely with the pandemic and still have contact with others. I don’t know if it will all work…but I know for our sanity we need this.
 
COVID Update:  
 
Since last Wednesday there have been 12 new cases locally (full report here)…active cases are now down to 29. Franklin County did experience the third death from the disease. This time a friend I’ve know for years…makes it hit a little closer to home…prayers for their family. Nationally the epicenter of the disease is a moving target…this article was printed in Time magazine this week predicting the Midwest as the next target with states in the center of the U.S. experiencing double-digit positive growth. Nationally cases of COVID and deaths are trending down…but the Midwest is the only region in the country in which daily counts are rising (including Kansas). Currently Kansas is reporting a nearly 16% positive rate…we are doing better here in Franklin County hovering in the 5-6% positivity range. Five percent is what the CDC recommends before opening businesses and starting school.
 
Still a big need for caution and common sense…I know teachers are doing their part. Locally teachers have spent the last 2-weeks in schools without children learning and implementing safety precautions and designing classrooms and lesson plans which can be both remote and in-person. While school is starting next week…it will look different. There will be morning kids and afternoon kids and time to disinfect classrooms. Also, USD 290 has new software to allow students to receive classroom instruction at home…whatever is happening in the classroom can be viewed by students at home. I’ve said it many times…it’s a whole new world!!
 
Legacy Square Playground:
 
The new playground made big strides this week…work began on Wednesday to pour the rubberized surface (pictures here). The soft surface was made possible by a waste tire grant from Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The playground equipment was purchased by a grant from BCBS Pathways for a Healthier Kansas. The Goppert Foundation also made a large contribution and the area will bear their name in some fashion. Additionally work will begin soon on the sidewalk (via a grant from the Sunflower Foundation) and trail amenities from Hickory to Walnut Streets (made possible via a transportation grant from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism). In addition to the sidewalk, there will be benches, shade and signage added to the area…a continued enhancement of our downtown and trail areas. While change and growth have been slowed through the pandemic…it has not been stopped! The trails are a great refuge from being inside and social distancing…Jeff Carroll of Ottawa Bike and Trail reports his sales have been up significantly since the onset of the virus. As we’ve had a few events in Legacy Square, I’m amazed at how many people are biking and walking on the trails…we’ve always said it would happen – now it’s is. 
 
Advantage Electric:
 
Speaking of change in the downtown…City Commissioner, Eric Crowley, owner of Advantage Electric has made a bit of a splash. Have you seen his newly refurbished building at 419 S. Main Street (pictures here)? Formerly at 209 N. Main, Eric recently purchased the building which (when I was growing up) was Crites Service…it was a gas station, service garage, they also had a tow truck and sold appliances. The paint and the spice up really makes the area look nice…and another great addition to the downtown. Thanks Eric for your investment and your service to the community…great job!
 
Couple of Reminders:
 
  •  Summer is winding down but we still have a free movie night planned in Legacy Square on September 18…the Chamber in partnership with ORC, the Library and OMA will be showing the Disney movie, “Onward”. Free popcorn and the ice cream truck will be there. Great way to spend a late summer Friday evening with family in a socially distanced environment…hope to see you there.
 
  • Another fun event…we will be having a “Mask”erade With Friends the evening of September 22. We will gather at The Corner Market in the gallery for the Legacy Square grill raffle drawing (get your raffle tickets here). Even if you are not in the raffle, please come…we will have door prizes and a relaxing evening. We hope you might enjoy your evening meal or a cocktail (on your own dime) and some “socially distanced socializing”. And…who knows – you could go home with this new barbeque grill
 
Sad Note:
 
I learned this week that Chad Bruner, director of the Ottawa Recreation Commission for the last 3-years has left Ottawa and taken a new position closer to his family. Chad had been a huge advocate for the ORC, our youth and the community in general. I’ve served on several committees and boards with him and he is very dedicated to his work. His stepfather recently passed and Chad has moved home to be closer to his mother. Because of the lack of gatherings and ability to network most didn’t hear of Chad’s leaving until he was gone…sad – no chance to say goodbye. We certainly wish him all the best! Chad was great for Ottawa!
 
Labor Day:
 
I took yesterday off to help my daughter Whitney…she needed a babysitter to watch her kids (pictures here) while she is required to continue to work remotely. In the pictures the girls were having a rodeo on the trampoline riding a unicorn…last night I felt like I had been in a rodeo. Keeping up with a 5, 3, and 1-year old is WORK… glad to be back at the office today!! 
 
Cherry and I are going to Cedar Vale this weekend to celebrate Codie’s 1-year birthday…a real cowboy rodeo is in Cedar Vale tomorrow – we are looking forward to a relaxing weekend. I hope you can rest too…while life is far from normal, we need to find respite when and where we can. Please use the weekend to rejuvenate!!
 
 Stay safe…talk to you next week (after the Chiefs win #1 on the road to defending the title!!)…
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000