Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
I hope everyone is enjoying the amazing trees and the enjoyable weather…what a beautiful autumn!! It’s a little hard to fathom others are experiencing hurricanes and wildfires while we get absolute perfect fall weather. It will be our turn at some point…be sure to appreciate what we have now!
 
COVID Update:
 
A little better news than a week ago…positive cases are down again. I’ve had a week of visiting with several doctors…I had my annual check-up, an eye exam and a colonoscopy – all this week. All doctors I’ve chatted with seem to agree we are in for a long fall of coronavirus and the pandemic continuing…they also encouraging everyone to get flu shots. Locally our percent positive is edging down again…during September it was an all-time high of 10.66%…so far in October we have been at 5.61% positive testing. The national average is running at 5% and Kansas has been averaging 15%…we are still doing a good job locally, but continue to use good judgement…the October 7 report here
 
1st Street Improvements:
 
Have you noticed the construction work on 1st Street…pictures here. This work is being done as a result of a Sunflower Foundation Grant to enhance and improve the trail system in the City of Ottawa. When complete it will include not only the 6-foot sidewalk to connect the Flint Hills Trail from Hickory to Walnut Street but also will add signs to help trail sojourners more clearly identify the trail route. There will also be shade structures included and benches added…this is a great enhancement project.  It is the last stretch of unimproved trail through the City. Thank Wynndee Lee for the effort…she has a good team but it is her initiative which keeps things rolling. 
 
Franklin County Health Department:
 
The Health Department hosted Chamber members this morning…pictures here. Attenders were given the opportunity to get their flu shot…many did. Erin Laurie, Assistant Interim Director stressed how important it is to get immunized for the flu…we don’t need 2 pandemics at the same time!! To better protect our citizens from the flu, the department is hosting drive-up clinics in most Fr. Co. communities…full schedule here.  Erin also updated everyone on the department’s mobilization to safeguard Franklin County against coronavirus…kudos to everyone who works at the Franklin County Health Department. It is fantastic we have such a great Health Department, especially when something such as COVID happens…where would we be without their dedication.
 
Early Voting:
 
You can vote starting next Wednesday (October 14)…if you are not registered to vote, Monday is the last day to do so for this election. County Clerk, Janet Paddock reported this morning she has over 3,000 requests for mail-in ballots…last presidential election the request was 1,200 – so over double this year. She and her staff are expecting a large showing for early voting. You can go to the Clerk’s webpage to see a sample of the ballot or get registered if you are not.  The Chamber candidate forum (also sponsored by AT&T and Franklin County Farm Bureau) is scheduled for October 20 from 6:00-8:00 at Legacy Square…certainly encourage all to come and be informed voters.    
 
Ladies Day Downtown:
 
Last Friday was Ladies Day Downtown…it was a success (a few pictures here). I’m not classifying it as the huge event it has been in past years…but it was a good afternoon. We’ve collected anecdotal reports from participating businesses…several indicated it was the best day they’ve had since COVID hit back in March. We don’t know how many participants for sure…Mark Cation of Papa’s Attic (who meticulously keeps official numbers every day) had 114 in his store last Friday. Several others reported their largest retail day this year. Our goal was to create some activity downtown, spread the crowd over a longer time and have a fun and safe event…mission accomplished. We will look at more events similar to this going into the holiday season. Also…huge shout out to our 2 sponsors – Price Chopper and Rock Creek Ottawa. Their sponsorship infused $1,000.00 into the downtown and encouraged more shopping!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
 
Birthday Weekend:
 
I mentioned earlier I spent (what seemed like) half the week with doctors looking literally everywhere…a sign of getting older – which I will officially do on Sunday. On October 11 I’ll complete my 64th trip around the sun!! Our family celebrated October birthdays last weekend…my son-in-laws Mark Flory and Joe Brown all share my same October week (pictures here). I am very blessed to have a great wife and family…we had everyone home for the celebration. 
 
I’m also blessed to be your Chamber president…I’m so grateful for such an awesome community. I am thankful for you every day…what an honor to go to work and represent all the outstanding people, businesses and organizations which make up Franklin County. This pandemic is causing us to struggle a little right now, as is the entire world…but we will survive – and good times will come again.
 
Stay strong Ottawa…I’ll talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000